Archives for July 2021

Saturday, July 31, 2021 – Another Nice Long Ride with Alayna

Hi Babe!
Wow, what a party the neighbors were having last night! I went to bed around 11:15, and it was still a raucous bunch, with some laughing really loud, and another singing at the top of their lungs, and the loud generator going strong. Thank goodness for earplugs! I put mine in and the world faded away, so it didn’t take me long to get to sleep. Woke up at a reasonable hour, got my chores and breakfast done, fixed one of the fans in the horse compartment, it had fallen off and pulled it’s wires out, so that was a chore waiting to be done. Alayna was supposed to be here around noon, but she had a lot of things not go right, so she was late and showed up with Sundance instead of Glory, which was fine, probably better, since Glory tends to make a fuss with the geldings, it was much calmer with two geldings. Anyway, she finally got here around 1:30, so we were on the trail by just after 2:00, and had a very nice 10.5 mile ride around most of the perimeter. Sundance is mostly blind, so he was having a little trouble navigating some of the steeper hills, but he managed pretty well. When we got back to camp, we decided to do the obstacle course, which has quite a number of interesting things to do. Steps, gates, logs to step over, and Flash managed most of them. Got back to camp, put everyone away, made a nice grilled salmon dinner that we ate at the picnic table, then settled down for the night. What a beautiful day! Because we had a cooler night last night, the bugs were a lot less today, and the weather, with a nice little breeze, was just perfect! And it’s supposed to be a great day again tomorrow, exactly the kind of weather I love to chase, seventies in the day, mid-50’s to low-60’s at night. Couldn’t ask for more beautiful weather! Hope it stays this good throughout August! Alayna has put up her tent, and we’ll be sitting around chatting for a bit before I hit the showers and head off to bed! So I’ll say good night early, my love! Love you!

Friday, July 30, 2021 – Nice Long Ride on Flash

Hi Darlin’!
Had a good night sleep, managed to get up before 8:00, got more chores done, had another one of Alayna’s grandma’s cinnamon rolls (mmm, mmm, good!), did a few essentials on my computer, then saddled up Flash and headed out for a ride. What a beautiful day it was! Perfect temps in the low 70’s, sunny skies, just fabulous! This is a fairly small park so it’s not too easy to get lost, but I did manage to get off-track from the route I had planned for myself. Part of the problem is that, whereas there are numbered intersections on the trails, those numbers aren’t on the map, so it’s impossible to plan accordingly. Also, the map is hand-drawn and bears no resemblance to where the actual trails are, my GPS is so far off it’s ridiculous. That said, I still managed to get all the trails I wanted done in, just not necessarily in the order or direction that I had planned, but no worries, it was still a nice ride. It got a lot cooler last night, so the bug levels were way down today, especially the mosquitoes, so that made it a lot more pleasant. That didn’t necessarily make Flash go any slower, though, he’s getting in very good condition, and he’s quite happy to go as fast as I will let him, which is as fast as he wants to go! Lola had quite a run for her money, too, she’s sleeping soundly in her bed. They have quite an extensive obstacle course just next to the camp, so I took Flash through most of it, and he did quite well, even with the ones he hasn’t seen before. One was this crazy spidery looking thing with a barrel on it’s side in the middle, and the point was to get over the barrel, but it was pretty big for Flash to step over, so he pop-jumped over it instead, which threw me a little off balance but I managed to stay on nevertheless. There’s one obstacle I just haven’t been able to get him to do, and they have the same one at Loretta Lynn’s, it’s a big wide tire on it’s side. This one is nice because they’ve even put a rubber stall mat on the top instead of concrete, but I still haven’t been able to get him up on it. I’ll keep trying, though! Got back to camp, got him settled in, then I went and filled up the water tank and redistributed it to the horses tubs and the trailer, with some leftover, which I may need for laundry on Sunday, or not. Settled in for the evening, watched a nice Reese Witherspoon movie and another Broadchurch (not sure why I’m watching those, it’s so depressing!), now it’s time for shower and bed. Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Thursday, July 29, 2021 – Lazy Day in Camp

Hey Sweetie!
Well, surprise, surprise! Despite a 90% chance of rain, and radar that did look a bit looming, we ended up with virtually no rain last night. With earplugs in, I had a great night sleep. Temps weren’t really much cooler, but low 80’s is very tolerable, especially compared to what’s going on south of here! Decided not to do much today, just in the mood for a quiet day, so I mostly read, did a bit of work on my computer, mostly planning the next couple of months of travel and camping. Made my reservation for the flight out to Vegas for work in September, decided against trying to be at Loretta Lynn’s for the Fall Ride, logistics were just too complicated, so instead I’m flying out of Indianapolis. One of the Indiana ladies I’ve been riding with, and who’s a good friend of Trish, has a boarding stable, so I contacted her about keeping Lola and the horses and trailer there, and she was more than willing. I was even more ecstatic when she gave me her address and it turns out she’s only ten miles from the airport! Couldn’t ask for a better location! Plus it means I don’t have to rush south when it might still be pretty hot down there. I’ve pretty much decided to stay in Michigan as long as possible, especially now since I’ve bought my annual Recreation Pass, with two weeks each at three more horse camps just west of Detroit. I’ve done my research, and they’re the only three that have fairly easy access to water, i.e. it’s not a bloody 1st century A.D. hand pump! What’s up with that?? Anyway, that will take me right up to the time I need to get to Indianapolis, then after I get back from Vegas, heading south again. I’m determined to not get stuck in near freezing weather again! I’m always a week or two late getting far enough south to avoid temps where I can see my breath, and I’m going to do everything I can to make it to Florida, at least north Florida, before it gets too cold. I’ve also noticed my EECVI runs out in mid-October, and even though that’s a bit earlier than usual, I’d love to try to get down there before it runs out, so I can save myself that hassle of trying to get one on the road. But that’s a long way off, so we’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’ve had my quiet day, had my shower, and now I’m ready for bed. Good night, babe! Love you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 – Second Ride at Ionia on Apollo, Then To The Lake

Hey Babe,
Had a terrible night sleep last night. Read until 2:00, and still didn’t get to sleep for a long time afterward. Lola woke me up with barking a couple of times after that, so not surprisingly, it was nearly 10:00 by the time I got out of bed. I hate it when I start the day so late! Thank goodness I have patient horses, they didn’t make any fuss until they saw me come out of the trailer. Got more chores done, then ran down to the office to pick up a pair of replacement Ariat boots that I had delivered here, then came back and saddled up Apollo for a short ride today. Despite reasonably good footing with only a few spots of rock, he kept trying to stay off the trail, which meant I was constantly being pushed into the overgrowth, which unfortunately here has a lot of vines covered with pricklys and thorns, so I wasn’t too happy about that. Not sure what his problem is, his feet seem fine, but I’m going to just put boots on him for awhile, or better yet, not ride him at all for awhile to see if whatever it is gets better. Just worried more about him getting stiff from standing around all the time! We went about 5 ½ miles, including a small loop south of camp that goes through the day parking area, so I’ve pretty much covered most of the trails, just a few crossovers that I haven’t done yet. It was actually a bit more interesting today, less around fields and more in the woods, but still, not the most exciting trails I’ve ever done. The bugs were bad again, but when I went shopping yesterday, I pretty much emptied the shelves of what remaining insecticides they had there, so I sprayed myself and Apollo pretty good. Lola decided to stay home today, guess we wore her out doing our fast pace on Flash for ten miles yesterday! After we got back and I put Apollo up, I decided to take a quick dip in the lake, it had gotten pretty hot today. Blew up my River tube rather than my kayak, put together an oar and headed down to Picnic Point. The mosquitoes were terrible on land, but once I got out onto the water it wasn’t bad. Wasn’t exactly refreshing, though, the water was practically bathtub warm, like a pool in summer in Florida. Glad I did it though, made for a change. Got back, did a few more chores, put some stuff away since we’re expecting rain overnight, and hopefully cooler temps! Settled down for the evening, grilled a nice burger, now I’m headed for shower and bed, hopefully I’ll bet to sleep a bit earlier, I’m yawning already! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 – First Ride at Ionia Recreation Area, Then Shopping

Hi Darlin’,
Well, I probably should have driven around camp a bit yesterday to look for another site, since the group next to me is very large, fairly loud, has countless dogs that bark for no apparent reason, and have several generators that they run a LOT, one in particular that’s really loud. That said, I put my earplugs in last night and slept like a baby. One generator finally went off around 11:15, but there was another one still going when I put my earplugs in, so who knows when that got turned off. Too much trouble to move, though, so I’ll just have to live with it. Got up a little after 8:00, did my chores, had breakfast, and saddled up Flash since I wanted to get out before it got too hot. I took heed of the advice I got about how bad the bugs were and really put on a good layer of fly spray on Flash and doused myself with a lot of Deep Woods Off. I found the trailhead and headed out of camp, and within moments were were covered with flies and mosquitoes, though they were repelled a bit by all the insecticide. The first couple of hundreds yards were through woods, and though there were a lot of trees down, it wasn’t bad. Then we spent the next several miles doing little more that go around fallow fields full of wildflowers, very boring. We finally came into some more woods as we reached the west side of the park. I took a turn that went by a big pond, which was the most interesting part of the trail up to that point, then realized it was a wrong turn and had to go back anyway. I also took what looked like a more interesting trail, the first single-track I’d come across, but that turned out to be wrong, too, it had a bunch of trees and limbs down on it, obviously not maintained, and eventually I came to a big tree across the trail with no way around it, at least not one I would take Flash over, so we had to backtrack again back to the main trail. Essentially, there aren’t any single track trails here, it’s all wide roads, with just a few places with stones so not too bad, didn’t need boots. Other than a few crossovers between trails, there’s not much else to see here, so one week is going to be more than enough here. I did see a couple of deer, one nice big buck in one of the fields, but this place is designed more for hunting than horseback riding, pretty boring by my standards, even without comparing it to Hungerford where I just left. The flies and mosquitoes were really bad, too, and Flash’s answer was to try to outrun them, so we were flying along most of the way, averaging about 5-6 mph with spurts up to 7+. We did 10.23 miles in under two hours, so he was definitely booking it. Not sure what’s going to happen when I ride Apollo tomorrow, but I’m definitely taking my horsehair flyswatter with me! Got back, put Flash up and gave them both more hay, then changed and headed into town, which is only about 10 minutes away. Refilled two of my propane tanks and went shopping at Walmart for some essentials, then got back to camp around 4:00. Settled down early for the evening, grilled a nice Italian sausage, with leftover mac and cheese and a nice salad, and relaxed the rest of the evening. Now, as always, it’s time for shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Monday, July 26, 2021 – Travel Day to Ionia Recreation Area

Hi Sweetie,
Got up with the alarm and got everything packed up and ready to go by about 9:30, then waited a bit for Alayna’s grandmother who wanted to see the trailer before I left. She came bearing delicious gifts of some melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls, one of which I had for breakfast on the way. A fairly short and uneventful trip here, though the site I was first assigned was way too small for me, so I drove around until I found one that works just fine, though it’s not really close to water or have corrals, like I had hoped. Regardless, it’s a nice spot with lots of room, even thinking of putting up the fence tomorrow since there’s a lot of nice grass here. It took me a couple of hours to set up because I even put up the screen room. I had been warned that the bugs here, particularly the mosquitoes, were brutal on the trail, and as I sat outside in daylight, they were already starting to get to me, so for the first time in a LONG time, I put up the screen room. It took me awhile to fill up with water and fill the trailer tank and all the horses’ water buckets, and it was quite a hot day today, though it’s supposed to get cooler after tomorrow. Alayna is coming to join me on Saturday, and Trish was planning on coming Thursday but isn’t sure she can make it now. Her mom’s funeral was on Saturday, and I think she might just need some time along, but we’ll see how she feels in a couple of days. Anyway, I’m all settled in, though it’s nowhere near quiet here, there’s a big group just a few sites down from me, and there scheduled to be here all week, lot of noisy, barking dogs and whinnying, neighing horses, so I’m not sure how peaceful it will be here. Looking forward to seeing what the trails are like here tomorrow. Meanwhile, it’s time for a much needed shower after all my sweaty exertion today, and looking forward to hopefully a good night sleep. Love you, babe! Good night!

Sunday, July 25, 2021 – Ride With Alayna, Pack Up Day

Hi Babe,
Not a bad night sleep, but got up with the alarm so I wouldn’t be late meeting up with Alayna. We had arranged earlier to ride today, so I got my chores done, which included two loads of laundry through the wash and hung out to dry, then had Flash saddled up in time, though I was delayed a few minutes because I put on the breast collar I had bought for him back in late May. I didn’t think it would fit him, but once I got it on, it was fine. We headed off to do the new trails, surprisingly Alayna had never done them before, so we went directly up there. They are both beautiful trails, again alternating between beautiful deciduous and gorgeous pine plantation sections. It was a bit over 11.5 miles. The last trail we did was Trail 10, which is along a pipeline (though it doesn’t look like one), and it’s a straight shot back to the day parking area. By that time, Flash was tired of going slow, and Alayna’s horse Glory wasn’t quite up to it, so Flash and I took off at top speed, just to use up some of his excess energy. We cantered and gaited the entire trail, jumping over logs and just having ourselves a good old time. We reached the trailhead in no time, and waited for them to arrive. She had told me her grandma was disappointed that she didn’t see my Snowy River performance the other day, so I offered to come over to their house, which is only a few miles away, and do it for them, which I did after I had dinner. They had some company that enjoyed it, too, and we all had a nice visit. After I got back to the trailer, I packed a few more things away before settling down for the evening. I’ve already had my shower, I’ve made the bed, and now I’m heading for it! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Saturday, July 24, 2021 – Quiet Day

Hi Darlin’,
Another late start getting up this morning, even though I went to be early last night. It was cloudy and drizzly most of the day, so I took advantage and did a bunch of little chores, like try to beat my feed bins back into shape (one got a bit bent up when it was in the back of the truck while I was hauling Sandy’s horse), and sew hooks onto Lola’s safety vest because the velco isn’t holding as well as it should. No surprise there, considering how she loves to plop down into every muddy puddle we come across, it’s hard to keep the velcro clean enough to hold very well. During one bout of rain I took the bedroom window frame off trying to pinpoint where it was leaking. Not sure if I found it but there was one screw that seemed to be off-center right in the corner, and it’s been a concern for me, so I unscrewed it and then put it back as straight as I could, hopefully that will make a difference. There wasn’t any more rain today to confirm it, so I’m just going to have to wait for the next storm to check it. Did a few things with the mail I picked up the other day, and then pretty much just read and watched TV the rest of the day. It finally started clearing up around dinner time, turned ito a beautiful evening. So a pretty lazy, quiet day today. Tomorrow will be busier, Alayna is supposed to be coming by, she wants to ride Trail #24 and 25, which I did the other day for the second time, and it’s a long ride. Then I’ll need to do some packing, including moving the hay I bought from under the gooseneck back into the stall, I’m hoping I can get her help with that. Supposed to be a nice day, so everything should be dry, plus I need to get my laundry done and hanging before we leave, so I’ll have to get up early in the morning. So, another early night for me tonight, and an alarm in the morning! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Friday, July 23, 2021 – Finally Got My Truck Back

Hi Darlin’,
Slept well, only woke up when some rain came in early, but went back to sleep and didn’t get up until almost 9:00! Did my chores, had breakfast, then began my day with building the new framework for the water tank, since I was supposed to get my truck back. Naturally, every simple job turns into something more complicated! The screws that we used originally to screw the rubber chocks (which I’m so glad we splurged for, they’re still in perfect shape!), were mixed between Phillips and star shaped. The screws I bought were also star shaped, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was just looking for the right length. I had no trouble getting the Phillips ones out, but naturally, I didn’t have the right size star bit for the old screws, even though I did have one for the new screws. Weird! So it took a bit of hammering and unscrewing with vice grips to get them out. I had to use the jigsaw to cut the 2X10, which took a lot longer than a rotary saw would have, but I did manage to get it done. The whole thing took about two hours, but it should last another 5+ years like the last one, maybe more if I don’t have to remove it for any reason. I was surprised I hadn’t heard from the body shop by then, so I called them only to learn it will be late before it’s ready, but that the new paint job was satisfactory to them. It was cloudy and occasionally drizzling so I didn’t want to ride, so I just killed the afternoon reading and watching TV. I got a book order, so I put that together, though the books were in the truck, so I ended up leaving early, running down and getting a book, going to the post office to mail it, then picking up gas in the rental, finally getting back to the body shop right at 4:20. Got my bill paid, and they brought the truck up, it looks great! I wish I could have afforded to have the whole thing repainted, but I just didn’t have time to get it all done. They did replace the hood, though, because it would have been more work taking it down to the bare metal, and the insurance company wouldn’t cover that anyway, go figure. Anyway, I drove away, then realized my radio wasn’t working so I went back. We played with the wires and fuses, still not sure what we did but we got it working again. Finally headed back to camp, arriving about 5:30, and spent the next two plus hours getting the frame into the truck, the tank into the frame, filling up the tank, then redistributing the water into the trailer and the horses buckets. We actually made it through this morning without refilling the three large buckets I put out on Monday, though I did add a couple of gallons from a bucket that caught some rainwater overnight. So I should be good with water, at least with the horses, but may need more in the trailer depending on how much laundry I do on Sunday. Finally settled down around 8:00, watched one hour of TV, now I’m heading to shower and bed, early! I have to get on a schedule that doesn’t have me going to bed and midnight and getting up so late! It’s these long days, they’re driving me crazy! Anyway, good night, babe! Love you!

Thursday, July 22, 2021 – Ride With Alayna to Woodville Store

Hi Babe,
Slept well, did my chores, then saddled up Flash, just mounting up when Alayna arrived at exactly 10:00 as planned (love it when people are prompt!), and we headed out. We had a lovely two hour ride to get to the Woodville store, which is just a nice little convenience store with gas, one of those old-fashioned, family operated kind of places. It had a couple of hitching posts in back (built by Alayna’s relatives a long time ago), and a bench seat. We decided against lunch, and instead splurged on ice cream (even their smallest cone was two scoops!), before heading back to camp. Got back right around 3:00 (took the trail by the lake so it was a little longer), got Flash put away, then Alayna came by to sell me a nice pink bandana with the trail map on it, which I had asked for. Then I headed into town, thinking I would be picking up my truck, but it turns out they weren’t happy with the paint job and wanted to spray it again, so it won’t be ready till tomorrow. I went into town anyway to get some propane, stopped at the post office for my package from Jeff with my mail, and pick up a couple of my books from the truck (Alayna wanted a copy for a friend). I went to Lowes to get the supplies I needed to build a new frame for the water tank in the truck, and couldn’t believe the poor quality of their 2X4s. I mean, seriously, it looked like they were rough cut straight off a tree! None of them were square, all of them had terrible knots, and that was the pressure-treated stuff! I managed to find some “project” wood, whatever that means, but they were the right size so I won’t have to cut them. Not so with the 2X10, all I could get was a 10 foot length and it was extremely expensive, but there’s been a shortage, apparently someone’s been hoarding it, plus their lumber saw wasn’t working (how often has THAT happened to us. Like, EVERY TIME!), so now I’m going to have to figure out how to cut it down. All I’ve got is a hacksaw and a jigsaw, but I only need two cuts, so hopefully I can manage that. I’m pretty sure my assortment of jigsaw blade includes a wood one, we’ll see! Finished off my running around by picking up a few things at Walmart, got back to camp, just got settled in, then had a video call with Pam Daly, you remember her from Actor’s Rep in WPB? We knew her before we got married! She’s still married to her husband (30 years), and she’s been very busy working, she’s teaching and coaching actors and has apparently quite successful at it! And she’s been doing most of it via video, so she’s stayed busy throughout the pandemic. Anyway, we had a nice chat, and we’re hoping to get together at some point in the future. Afterward, I signed off, then settled down for the evening. Time for shower and bed! Good night, my sweet! Love you!