Archives for August 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020 – Travel Day to Hueston Woods, OH

Hey Sweetie,
Once again, I went to bed expecting one kind of weather and woke up to something else. Forecast last night was a 30% chance of rain for about an hour later in the morning, woke up with rain coming down heavily and a 100% chance of rain, duh! Fortunately the radar showed it wouldn’t last too long, and that Hueston Woods was sunny, so I crawled back into bed to wait it out. Once it started to wane a bit, I got up and had breakfast, and by the time I was done, the rain had gone. I finished packing up, hooked up and pulled out the trailer, loaded up the horses and off we went! It was an uneventful trip (my favorite), except when I arrived at Hueston Woods, I noticed a long scratch a several dents along the compartments under the manger. I have no idea how they got there. I’m sure I didn’t run into anything, but I don’t know how anything could have run into me, though I did stop by the side of the road one time, but I pulled off pretty far, and I would have thought I would have noticed if someone slid along my side. I took the long route on purpose, to keep me mostly on freeway, but I don’t know, it’s a mystery. Anyway, my first stop at Hueston Woods when I arrived at 2:00 was at the dump, since Hocking doesn’t have one, and then off to my site, which is in the middle of a row of sites. There must be some kind of event or something here this weekend, because practically every site is booked. I barely have enough room for the trailer here, but I managed to get in okay. I had do to some extra maneuvering, because the electric boxes are side by side every other site, which means for my site it’s on the wrong side of the trailer, so I had to stay close to one side to make sure it would reach, just barely! That gave me a tiny bit of room to put up an electric fence around the (sigh) hitching post, and up along the slide-out, but it’s hardly enough to turn around in. The good news it that the newer maps show a lot more trails than the older maps did, so it looks like we have a lot of trails to explore. The bad news is they’re busy “upgrading” the trails with gravel, big chunks on the bottom, then some of that netting material, then small chunks on top. Looks like it’s going to be boots for the boys for the next 10 days! I really can’t understand why these decisions are made, everyone I talk to KNOWS that horses don’t like gravel, but some bureaucrat somewhere has decided that this is the way to do it, and that’s that! Frustrating. Anyway, I was completely set up with screen room, fence, grill, the whole works by about 5:00, then settled down for a nice grilled pork shop and sides and an evening of reading, TV and extremely frustrating letters back and forth to Equity about meeting their absurd covid requirements. Grrrr! For a union of artists, they have NO imagination. Anyway, I finally showered, and am off to bed. Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Sunday, August 30, 2020 – Final Trail Recorded!

Hi babe!
All went according to plan today! I had a good night sleep, and after breakfast I saddled up Apollo and headed for Buckskin Canyon. The guys up the hill decided to take the pink trail that I recommended, they were looking for something challenging, and that one certainly has it’s moments! Other than losing a boot a couple of times (there are some thick bogs after all the rain the other day), but only for a few minutes, thank goodness. We finally made it to where the red trail turned off, and I took what looked like a forest road downhill a bit, but that quickly turned into quite a challenging downhill grade, quite scary at a couple of points, but we made it down just fine. Thank a nice but short stretch along the creek before another almost straight climb out. What I didn’t understand was the third arrow on the intersection. The trail I took one way I thought was going to bring me back to that point, but it never did! So I have no idea where that arrow was pointing, but I’m not worried about it. According to the map, when I overlaid the recorded GPS trail, it was a perfect match to the map, so I’m happy. So I’ve ridden and mapped every single trail in Hocking State Forest now. I wanted to get it done, because I knew I would regret leaving it, since I don’t plan on coming back here for many years (if at all), simply because there are too many other places yet to visit! No regrets! It did make for a long day, though. The ride was just about 3 hours, then I had to start putting everything away for my departure tomorrow, and that took the usual few hours, plus I did three loads of laundry, checked all the essentials on the truck and trailer, etc., so it was a busy day! Didn’t do as much housekeeping as I usually do, but then I did some earlier this week, so it’s not looking too bad. I think Lola will be happy to go someplace new, she’s exhausted from all these long rides we’ve been taking. Like me, she seems to be stiff first thing in the morning, but that could just be from all the exercise. We’re both going to need a day or two off to recover! I like this place a lot, but I’m ready to move on to the next few places, none of which I’ll have time to stay two weeks in, so it will be a busy month of moving. I’ve had dinner and fed a big dinner to Lola (I made her another batch of satin balls, with all this exercise she’s been looking thin again), so she’s content now, too. It’ll be an early night for me, need to get a good start in the morning. That’s all for now! Good night, my love!

Saturday, August 29, 2020 – Surprising Long Ride Day

Hey Darlin’!
I went to bed last night convinced it would be too rainy today to ride today, and by the time I woke up, the whole forecast had changed to almost NO rain, cloudy in the morning and clearing in the afternoon! Evidently the front moved through faster than they expected (are they EVER right these days?), so after chores and breakfast I saddled up Flash and we headed out just before noon. Since there were still a couple of trails way out on the eastern side of the forest I hadn’t done yet, I decided to take the opportunity to do so. We weren’t out 15 minutes before the sun started coming out, and it turned into a glorious day! Of course, some of the trails were quite muddy, as I expected, but we managed to keep his boots on until we hit one very mucky spot way out on the orange trail, and I knew that most of the rest of the trail was just dirt, so I took them off for awhile. We rode all the way into the valley to Twin Falls, and I thought the map showed that the trail kept going, so Flash and I started up a very steep hill before I realized there was no trail there, so we had to come down, very slowly, switch-backing every two steps to keep from sliding down the hill. Then we went back and rode into Chapel Cave, which was pretty cool, both literally and figuratively, then came all the way up the orange trail until we got to Airplane Rock, where I stopped to rest him for a bit. There were two girls and a guy there when I stopped, and we got to talking, and would you believe it? The guy used to be a counselor at Skymont Boy Scout Reservation under old Harvey Raper!! I told him how Harvey was the first person we became friends with when we moved there, and we got to chatting about that for awhile. What a small world! Well, they moved on, and we rested for a bit before heading back. I put his boots on again as we started getting to the gravel parts, and we managed to keep them on almost all the way home, losing one on the very last really deep muddy spot on the last hill home. Before we got that far, though, I met a couple of guys, Dane and Jeff, who were camping up here. Both recently retired and tempted to do what I’m doing, but I don’t think they have the partners for it. Anyway, we chatted for quite a while before I finally started back to camp. The whole ride was over 14 miles, but it was over 5 hours in the saddle with all the stops, but a thoroughly enjoyable day! I rinsed Flash down and put him away, and started getting dinner ready, since I had completely missed lunch! Had a nice fat pork chop on the grill, one of the ones I was given at Tippecanoe by a camp neighbor, it was practically an inch thick! Delicious! Then I filled up with water since I have laundry to do tomorrow, and I was down on the final red light, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out tonight while taking my shower. After dinner, I walked up to the guys’ camp, we had been talking about Brown County, and I had a trail map from there so I took it up to them. We got to chatting again, really nice guys from my era, I did my Snowy River for them and they seemed to be duly impressed. We might ride together tomorrow. I usually don’t ride on the day I pack up, but I really would like to take Apollo for one last ride (he was literally pouting with his back to me after we got back to camp and I was letting Flash eat clover!), and I still would like to try to do that one final loop down at Buckskin Canyon, now that I’ve seen the map more closely I think I can make it okay. That would mean I would then have mapped every single trail out here! And it’s supposed to be a gorgeous day tomorrow, with lots of sunshine and cooler temps, down in the 50’s tonight, yay! I figure it only takes me about two hours to break down, I should have plenty of time to do that, and I can still spread it out through the afternoon and evening. I do have to move my hay from the truck into the trailer, but these bales are so light I won’t have a problem, and I’m down to my last bale in the trailer anyway. Well, enough pontificating, time for shower and bed! Good night, my sweet! Love you!

Friday, August 28, 2020 – Rainy Day

Hi Babe.
A good night sleep and a lazy, rainy day. Did little else but the minimum of chores, put the horses out on anchors for a bit to get some fresh grass and clover, repaired a tear on the dining bench that Lola made, read for awhile, watched TV, played games on the computer, just a relaxing, luxuriously boring day. Unfortunately, it looks like rain again tomorrow, clearing up on Sunday, so I guess I’m not going to get another ride in, since Sunday I’ll be packing up. I imagine the trails are super muddy by now with all the rain we’ve been having, and the remnants of Hurricane Laura will be coming through overnight, which will only make it worse. The trails here do tend to get muddy, though I will say, this is the quietest Friday night I’ve ever seen, so not many horses out on the trails today! Heading for shower and bed, we’ll see what the rest of the weekend brings. Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Thursday, August 27, 2020 – Slow Day

Hi Sweetheart!
I had another great night sleep, did my chores, then decided my saddle and saddlebags were long overdue for a cleaning, so I pulled them all out and spent quite a few hours getting those in shape. I had to switch out the other stirrup from the other Aussie saddle, because I felt the wood crack on the OTHER side when I was riding yesterday, so now both stirrups have been changed out. My saddlebags were absolutely filthy, mud everywhere, so I took everything out an re-sorted it, washed everything down, restocked the first aid kit, and discovered that my emergency blanket had pretty much disintegrated. Who knew it could do that? Got everything cleaned up and put back together, so it was a productive day. The rest of the day was spent arguing with our union about how I’m supposed to meet all their covid requirements (ridiculous!), so that I can get a contract so I can keep my pension contributions and health insurance going. Sigh, I hate bureaucracies! Anyway, it’s been threatening with rain and thunder all day, Lola keeps diving behind my chair whenever the storms get close, but it’s only rained a little bit so far. Supposed to be worse tomorrow. No worries, I’m snug as a bug in a rug here in my luxury trailer! I finally settled down for the evening, watched a decent modern western for a change, then broke down to watch the last 90 minutes of the Republican Convention. I tried to watch it once or twice earlier this week, but seeing all the awful presentations just made me crazy. But I was compelled to listen to Trump’s speech, and he did a good job. He’s got himself a pretty good scriptwriter now, and if he didn’t keep leaning sideway on the lectern, I’d say he did a half decent job of it. Anyway, I showered long ago, and Trump didn’t finish until about midnight, so I’m getting to bed late. Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – Ride Day, Hay and Shopping

Hi Darlin’,
I had a GREAT night sleep last night, woke up refreshed and raring to go! After chores and breakfast, I saddled up Flash and headed down to Buckskin Canyon, one of the few trails left I haven’t done. I put his boots on before leaving this time, since there are a lot less muddy patches on that side of the forest, but still a bit of gravel, and I knew that part of this trail was actually along a road, some of which had gravel. We got through the first part okay, but I missed the turn into the southern unit of the park (I forgot that my neighbor Opal had told me to look for a chain link fence. I got distracted because a nasty little dog was making a fuss the whole length of the yard!), but I had put it into my GPS so it didn’t take me long to find it. There were a bunch of cars blocking the entrance but I managed to get around them, and I met all the drivers hiking up the trail, they were apparently associated with the park somehow. We chatted a few minutes before we went our opposite ways. There is a red loop and a white loop, so I took the white loop as the first part of a figure eight I planned to do. It was obvious no one’s been on the trail for quite a while, lots of undergrowth and not much sign of horse traffic. When I got back to the red trail to do, I ended up at an intersection with arrows in three directions, but the map wasn’t very clear on where they went, especially since it was right on the fold I had made, but it looked like one went down the mountain and stopped and the other one looped around. I tried to take the loop but there were a lot of trees down, and it quickly began to look like it was going to be cross-country through the woods for a ways, and I wasn’t willing to do that, so I abandoned it and turned around and came back a slightly different way. We were about a mile out when we heard a thunderstorm coming our way, so we picked up the pace, coming up that long stretch on the white trail where it’s not too steep, but a long incline, and gaited most of the way up there until we had to dip back into the woods. We managed to get back in time, though, I was able to get him unsaddled and everything put away before the rain hit. I didn’t have time, nor did I feel I needed to bother rinsing him down, since the rain did a fine job of that. It didn’t last long, and soon the sun was back out, but it only made it steamier. It’s been getting hotter the last few days, but there’s rain coming in the next few days, and it will be cooler after that. Once it passed through, I headed out to get some hay from a woman I had messaged earlier, she had some grass hay for $5 a bale. The bales were a lot lighter than I’ve been used to, so they won’t last as long as the ones I have now, but they’ll get me halfway through my next camp, which will be plenty good enough. Fortunately, the rain had passed through there before I got the hay, so everything will stay dry. Headed out to Tractor Supply to pick up a little horse feed, then Walmart for some shopping, then back to camp, where I had dinner, a nice Angus burger on the grill. While I’ve had neighborly interaction with Opal and her friends, I hadn’t really chatted with them at length, so I went over and spent some time with them. They all wanted to see the inside of the trailer so I brought them up for the grand tour, then we went back to her trailer and I asked them if they would be one of my preview audiences for my Snowy River production, and they agreed, so I performed that for them, which they seemed to thoroughly enjoy. We chatted till well past dark, until the mosquitoes got to be too much, then said good night. They’re riding in the morning, but they all want to buy a book, so I’ll see them again in the morning. Settled down late, of course, but got in one Voyager and a shower, now I’m ready for bed. So good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 – Not a Great Day

Hey Babe,
I don’t know if it was too much wine or sugar before I went to bed, but I had a terrible night’s sleep. I read for what seemed like hours, then woke up around 6:30 feeling like I’d barely slept, then couldn’t get back to sleep so I spent a couple of hours stretching and working on my shoulder. I must have slept at some point because it was nearly 9:40 when I realized what time it was and got up. I felt exhausted all morning (what was left of it!), decided not to go riding, just to rest today, and ended up falling asleep in front of the TV. Then I took a nap for awhile in the afternoon. A distant thunderstorm knocked out the power for a few hours, no big deal, my batteries were fully charged. Filled up my water tank again, and the neighbor, Opal, borrowed my hose to fill hers as well. Finally settled down for the evening, finishing off a double-strength Sleepytime tea in the hopes that I’ll sleep better tonight. Off to shower and bed here shortly, hoping for a better night! Love you, sweetie. Good night!

Monday, August 24, 2020 – Birthday Ride on Apollo

Hi Sweetie!
Well, I’ve had my first birthday since 1985 without you, without anyone today really. I know we never made a big deal out of holidays, so I’m not making a big deal out of this one, either. I did some computer work in the morning, mostly rearranging park reservations, then finally saddled up Apollo for a 7 mile ride on a couple of trails I hadn’t done here yet. He did pretty well, considering some of the climbs were pretty steep today. We managed to only lose his boot once, and got it put back on right away, not losing it again for the whole trip thank goodness. There was one long stretch along a road, and I put Lola’s leash on because she tends to get too far ahead and out in the road, but she stayed perfectly beside me once the leash was on. No cars came by anyway, but better safe than sorry. Got back, rinsed him off, then let him eat some clover for awhile, while I smacked a couple dozen horseflies as they landed on him. Eventually made a nice surf and turf dinner with shrimp and steak, rice and asparagus, then settled down for a usual evening. It was an enjoyable day, and that’s all I can ask for! Heading off to shower and bed, so good night, darlin’! Love you!

Sunday, August 23, 2020 – Rest and Laundry

Hi Darlin’!
A good night sleep, but still feeling a bit tired after the exertion of the last couple of days, which is fine, since the only thing on the books today other than my usual chores is laundry and rest. I had to fill the tank up twice to accomplish it, but otherwise, I spent the day binge-watching ST Voyager, that’s it. Already had my shower, and I’ll be off to bed soon. Not much else to report! Love you, babe! Good night!

Saturday, August 22, 2020 – Another Long Ride Day with Trish and Friends

Hi Babe!
For once I managed to go to be early, as promised, and fell asleep while I was reading, slept through till almost my alarm going off, a nice full 8+ hours, which I really needed! Had breakfast, then saddled up Flash, who was willing but not thrilled about heading out again, and even Lola needed a bit of encouragement after our long day yesterday. We headed out on the orange trail (probably my least favorite here, mostly because a lot of it is either muddy or gravelly), but I had to do nearly five miles on it to get to the parking lot where I was meeting the rest of the gang at 11:00. I gave myself 90 minutes, and was just a couple of minutes later, mostly because Flash was really a slug this morning. I put his boots on when we got through the muddiest sections, just before the gravel got really bad, and that improved his tempo considerably. We headed across the road from the parking lot, and within minutes arrived at a couple of the hot spots on the map, Table Rock, which is one of those crazy big rocks teetering on a much smaller pointed base, and Fat Man’s Squeeze, which was where the trail went between the main escarpment wall and a couple of big rocks that had fallen down eons ago, leaving about a four to six foot wide path between them. We then continued on the trail all the way down to the overflow parking for the Old Man’s Cave, which, it turns out, is a real destination point. The place was packed! A big main visitors center and a constant stream of foot traffic followed the path past a couple of waterfalls, along a creek for a bit more than a quarter mile, to the actual cave, so named because of a settler back in the 19th century that lived there, and circled back again. It reminded me of Watkins Glen without the incline, but nowhere near as big or long or interesting as that. I was kind of surprised it had such a crowd, and was such a big tourist site. I mean, it was nice and all, but it wasn’t all that big a deal. Well, maybe for city folk who never get out to the country, but the cliffs weren’t much more interested than the ones by our house back in Tennessee! But it was a beautiful ride, nonetheless. After we walked through, we headed back to our horses, who were waiting patiently across the road at a hitching post, had our lunches, then headed back. That was the only drawback, it was all linear, just out and back again, but still, a lot was in pine forest, which I always like, and there were some nice trails and grades to traverse. It was about 18.5 miles for me, but I had a few more miles than the group, because their camp was closer to the parking lot. Flash did great, I even put him at the back of the pack just to get him used to not being in front all the time, and he was pretty good. Once the group peeled off, he started to run faster, but that didn’t last long, wisdom set in, and he slowed down for most of the rest of the way. As soon as we hit the gravel again, I put his boots back on, since I had taken them off earlier when we hit dirt trails. We managed to get all the way back to camp without losing one, even when we went through some pretty deep mud, yay! Washed him down, put everything away, and after awhile, headed back over to their camp for supper, which this group takes great pride in. Beautiful grilled pork chops and lots of sides, delicious! And always better because I didn’t have to do any cooking or cleaning up!. Got back just before it got dark, fed the horses, showered, had my ice cream, watched one Voyager, and now I’m SO ready for bed! Tomorrow will be a laundry/equipment clean up day, with as much rest in between as I can manage. I need a day off! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!