Archives for January 2022

Monday, January 31, 2022 – Recon Ride on Lower Dupuis

Hi Babe,
Didn’t get to bed until after midnight last night, then woke up around 4:30, read for awhile, then fell back to sleep and didn’t wake up until nearly 9:00! What’s up with that? Did my chores, then got involved with a bunch more OTL paperwork before I was finally able to saddle up Flash, load him in the small trailer and drive down to the southern end of Dupuis near the boardwalk, where we departed down the trail past the sheep shearer’s cabins. We went all the way to Corbett, following the fabulously and permanently marked pink trail, Anita and Scott and their crew did a GREAT job. I only had to add one paint splotch, and that was only because it looked like the mower cleared a bit off to one side and could have been mistaken for a turn, and there was only one short pink spot there, so I put another one about 20 yards further on as a confidence marker. I also opened the cable gate to make sure that the combination worked, which it did, then painted from that water stop up to the beginning of the FTA orange trail. I only put a few ribbons out at the water stop, just because I’m sure some riders will still turn right, despite the multiple times I’ve mentioned the route has changed and they have to turn left, but hopefully they won’t be able to miss the ribbons and get it right. If the north end of Dupuis is marked as well as the south end, I may not even ride it on Friday, I may just trailer down with Jeff to the water stop/take out point and ride into Corbett from there. I still need to mark a short stretch from the Gopher Canal to the Tomato Grade, and there are a couple of changes I want to make along the east side, and I may just do that on the day. But I still have to do Saturday morning’s ride, not sure how we did that last time. Most of it is marked permanently already, but I remember putting some markers out there, just can’t remember if I did it during the ride or some other time. Weird. Anyway, we didn’t get on the trail until nearly 1:00, and made it back to the small trailer by 4:30, so we were back in camp right at 5:00. Spoke to Anita for a bit, then fed the horses and settled down for the night, finally feeling a bit more relaxed. Nothing like a long ride in the wilderness to calm one’s soul! Like they say, there’s nothing like the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man (or woman, of course!), and it did the trick for me, as usual. After a relaxing evening (and a comatose dog, Lola had to run most of the way to keep up, as Flash was full of it today!), I’m more than ready for my shower and bed. Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Sunday, January 30, 2022 – Housework, Odd Jobs, New Bad Neighbor

Hi Darlin’,
Stayed in bed a lot longer than usual, probably because I was so snug and warm and the outside was in the 30’s, you think? Finally warmed up enough to get out of bed, got my chores done, then started doing some odd jobs, then some housework, and, of course, some OTL work, having to revamp the Ride Information document now that we’ve decided to offer early take-outs on the first two days, so I wasn’t exactly idle today. A pretty relaxing day, at least until a friend of my neighbors showed up and behaved so completely inconsiderately that it made my blood boil. This guy shows up, parks on the road to get his horses out, puts a hose on the spigot without a splitter (which should have been my first clue of his selfishness), then decides to park between me and my neighbor, despite the fact that it completely blocks off anyone from being able to get out from either side of him. We’ve been keeping that space clear so that people can turn around on the road, and get in and out of the field behind us, but no matter what was said to this guy, he refused to even recognize how inconsiderate and downright unsafe his actions were. So HE’S able to turn around and back up, but now, NO ONE ELSE can! It’s people like that that give the rest of us a bad name. I just don’t understand how some people can be so selfish! Even the woman that was with him, and his neighbors, all tried to tell him it he shouldn’t do it, but he did it anyway, the rest of us and all of those who follow be damned. A whole field was wide open for him to get into, but instead he blocks the whole damn egress. Grrrr! And now I have to put up with this guy for at least a week! I guess it’s a good thing I’ll be gone a lot this week, it’s just so irritating to be around someone like that. Just as I was about to call it a night, I got a call from Anita and was on the phone with her for nearly an hour working on more stuff, now I’m exhausted and I still haven’t done my French lesson! I was going to trailer out to Riverbend or JD tomorrow to mark trails, but that’s both been put on hold for now. Anita’s trying to get Riverbend to let us put up permanent markings, so there’s not point in putting up temporary ones if we can do that instead, and she said it’s too early to do JD, plus we’re trying to figure out whether volunteers and trailer drivers have to pay the entry fee or not, and she’s going to have to call about it tomorrow. So I guess I’ll probably just take ride tomorrow and see how the mowing went last week, and maybe put up a couple of pink paint marks here in Dupuis just for fun. I just need to get on my horse and ride, I’ve been sitting in front of my computer too long! Anyway, it’s really late, so good night, my sweet! Love you!

Saturday, January 29, 2022 – Computer and Laundry

Hey Babe,
A lot cooler this morning, but I managed to get two loads of laundry done. Very windy and dry, even though it was cool, so it didn’t take very long. Then I spent the entire day re-working the OTL T-shirt. Not as happy with the design as I was before because it seems the only font the printer was happy with was a really choppy, blocky thing, but since this is about the fifth time I’ve revamped it, it’s done, no matter what! Got a few more sign-ups, actually got to 50 riders today, yay! And only four are Sunday only, and that’s always the biggest day, so I’m thinking we might just break a record here, wouldn’t that be great! Worked through till after 5:00, then fed the horses, had dinner and settled down for the evening, with a brief stop at my Canadian neighbor’s campfire beforehand. Put the winter blankets on the horses since the temps are supposed to get down to freezing, plus a wind chill factor. I opened up an extra propane tank, just to make sure I don’t run out overnight! Headed for shower and bed shortly, so good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Friday, January 28, 2022 – Busy, Not Very Productive Day

Hey Darlin’,
Didn’t get to bed until after midnight last night, then ended up waking up early, but forced myself to stay in bed and fall back to sleep. Eventually got up and got busy. My first job after my usual chores, and after yet another bout with the printer on the T-shirt design, I headed into Okeechobee. I had three empty propane tanks, and with a cold front taking us down to literally freezing temps, I didn’t want to be short, so I headed to Tractor Supply, only to learn that their pump has a broken seal so they shut it down. I ended up going to a bait and tackle shop, which surprisingly had a very competitive price. I also asked Tractor Supply about maybe donating some water buckets for the ride, and the manager claimed they only had a $100 a month budget for donations, and offered me a gallon bucket. Really? Very disappointing, so I passed. Then I took a quick trip to a local trailer sales yard, where I had found a great 6 horse trailer that I was hoping to persuade to loan us for the take-out on the OTL trail, but it was on consignment, with difficult owners, apparently, so that was dead in the water, too. Finally I headed to Walmart to get fuel and do a little shopping, then finally got back to camp just before 3:00, all the while having to deal with the problems of the T-shirt design. I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon on OTL stuff, and finally settled down around 7:00. Long day, not as productive as I would like. One good thing was I had to buy a lamp for my low beam headlight, and one of the other campers jumped in and changed it for me. Saved me 20 minutes on Youtube trying to figure it out, so I was glad for the help! That was the best thing that happened all day. I managed to get the final maps done, happy that we’re finally able to incorporate the FTA trail in Corbett on it. Still have a lot of work to do tomorrow, but with a forecast that temps won’t get out of the mid-50’s tomorrow, staying inside seems like a fine idea! Anyway, I managed to unwind, watch a little TV, had some popcorn in lieu of dinner, now I’m just about ready for shower and bed. Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Thursday, January 27, 2022 – Final Recon in Corbett, OTL Meeting

Hi Sweetie!
A long, tiring day! It started out with yet another problem with the T-shirt design that I had to fix, I sure hope that job is done now! After that, and chores, and breakfast, I finally saddled up Flash, loaded him into the small trailer and took the forty minute drive back down to the Dupuis/Corbett border, discovering a bunch of cars around the FTA trailhead parking area, so I couldn’t park there. I thought maybe they were having a work day, so I passed by and saw that the next gate was open, so I parked along the side of the road and left from there. I entered Corbett one gate south of the FTA, but soon managed to find in before too long, and took it all the way to Gopher Canal, which is where we usually come up off the big C-8 canal, the one I’m trying desperately to get away from. Turns out, we can! Though there are some tight spots on this trail, a few knee-knocker trees if you’re not careful, it was only ankle deep pretty much the entire way. It’s PRECISELY the kind of riding I’ve been promoting, wild, swamp, wetlands, and much safer than trying to navigate through the very deep waters on the roads. Once I got to Gopher Canal and headed up the road, I passed the usual turnoff to explore the area that Anita and Scott found the other day, and which was apparently part of the original plan for the trail in the first place, and found an excellent, mostly dry alternative to getting to Camp I, so no wading through lakes to get there! Whoo-hoo! It might be a tad longer, but it is definitely worth it! I managed to mark all the way from Camp I back to the Tomato Grade, so the only thing left is from Gopher Canal to Tomato Grade, which is barely half a mile, I can just about do that on the morning of the ride! It ended up being almost 17 miles up and back, so it was 5:00 when I got back to camp, I barely had enough time to feed the horses, feed myself, change my clothes and rush out of here in time to get to my first “in-person” OTL meeting back in Jupiter at 7:00. That lasted two hours. Then I stopped at Jeff’s on the way back to pick up a package that I had delivered there, it was still out by the gate so I didn’t even have to go in, which was fine considering it was so late. I discovered one of my headlights is gone, well not the brights, just the low beam, so it was a bit tough seeing out here in the pitch dark of the country. Something else I need to take care of tomorrow! Long day ahead, so I’m heading for bed right now! Good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 – Computer Day, All Day!

Hey Darlin’!
A bit warmer this morning, though still a good nip in the air, but it turns out that the folks printing the OTL T-shirts need a very specific set of parameters, which I didn’t know before, so I had to spend the entire day on the computer reworking the entire design, changing the DPI, altering the size, putting it all in black, all stuff I thought they could do easily, but evidently not, or at least not affordably, so it was up to me to get it right. It was a long slog but I finally finished it up at about 5:00, just in time to feed the horses and settle down for the evening. Not that I did that right away either, I had a couple of phone calls I had to take, and a bit more work to do, but finally managed to get back to the routine. I just hope the work I did today works, and that I’m done with that. I have so much other stuff to do, this was kind of extra-curricular, but happy to help and glad it’s done now. Time of shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Monday, January 24, 2022 – Recon Ride in Corbett

Hi Sweetie!
Stayed in bed late just to stay warm, it got down to 37 degrees this morning! Finally crawled out of bed and got the day started, getting to be the same routine, feed the animals, have breakfast, did some OTL work, then finally hooked up the small horse trailer to the truck, saddled up Flash and got him loaded in, and headed down two gates and along the powerline grade until I finally reached the crossover under the powerlines that makes the border between Dupuis and Corbett. My plan was to follow Road 3 to see if it improved any over the way it looked on the other end, and I’m sorry to say, it didn’t. In fact, it got worse. We’d get about 10 or 20 yards of sandy road, then have to wade through 50-100 yards of water, sometimes pretty deep water, and often with no way around it. It wasn’t long before I was soaked from the knees down. Never quite had to actually swim, but there was some lunging going on a number of times. At one point I tried to get around it, and ended up just going in one big loop and ended up right where I started, so we had to traverse another long stretch of water to stay on the road. FINALLY made it to the Gopher canal, which is where we usually come up off the canal, and that section eastward isn’t bad, until we turn north again. Scott and Anita said they think they found a good dry grade further east, but it was getting so late, I didn’t want to go that far, and I still wanted to see how Road 4 was, so I cut up Road 5, which goes along the Gopher canal northward, and it’s really nice. I wish there was an east/west road as nice as that one! It ran into Road 4 and I turned west again, and while it was slightly better than 3, with a few easier ways around the water, there were still sections where it was deep in the cypress swamp, so I’m thinking some folks are really not going to like it. I finally joined up with the trail I came in on, and headed out that way for a bit, until I reached the FTA trail. I had intended to check that out, too, so I headed out to see what that little section was like, and it was the best riding of the day. Ankle deep water most of the way, and some knee knocker trees you had to watch out for, but really, the best riding of the day. So that’s no doubt going to start a debate. My next jaunt will have to be the whole length of the trail, to see if it holds up, at least until Gopher canal again, at which point there are a few options, including the new one Anita and Scott found. Considering that when we leave Camp I we pretty much stay on the FTA trail anyway, I don’t understand what the big deal is about us using the west side of it as well, if it’s in good shape, which, as I said, will be my next recon trip. Anyway, we got back to the trailer and got loaded up by 4:45, and back to camp by about 5:30, so I fed the horses, filled the trailer’s water tank, got my dinner and settled down for the evening. Didn’t make as much headway as I thought today, but it certainly was enlightening, so I guess I accomplished something. Getting late now, so I’m off to shower and bed. Good night, babe! Love you!

Sunday, January 3, 2022 – Quiet Sunday

Hiya Babe!
Though I fully intended to go riding to scout some trails, it was so cold and damp today, I ended up changing my mind. It was supposed to get in the mid-60’s, but it never even came close. It was supposed to clear up and get sunny in the afternoon, but it didn’t. So I spend the day mostly just lazing around waiting for the weather to improve until it got too late. I didn’t even take the blankets off the horses, and I was almost tempted to put their winter blankets on because tonight their calling for frost warnings! Brrr! I ran the generator a couple of times and put the fireplace on just to warm it up a bit. Of course, if it’s like that down here, you can imagine what it’s like up north! I actually got a call from Mike Gerard, from Pleasant Hill Lake State Park, you’ll remember he was the guy that you spoke to quite a bit while we were staying there, he called me out of the blue, but he said it was below zero and snowing in Ohio, so I guess I should be happy that mid-30’s overnight is as bad as it’s going to get. Anyway, I spend most of the day working on OTL stuff, then read and watched TV, a nice quiet day. It’s supposed to be sunny but still cold tomorrow, so I’m going to have to wait and see if I ride tomorrow. Meanwhile, going to be early just so I can get warm and cozy! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Saturday, January 22, 2022 – Recon Day at Corbett

Hey Darlin’!
Up early this morning, got my chores done and headed out to JW Corbett to meet Anita and Scott and his cousin Todd so that we could motor around and scout out trails. Scott had an ATV and Todd has a big 6-seater side by side, which, if I had known, I would have brought Lola along for the ride! I left her back at camp on her tie-out, I was worried that if I left her in the trailer, she’d tear it up, which seems to be her tendency lately. Needless to say she was happy to see me when I got back! Anyway, we did a whole lot of wandering around, trying to find an alternate route to the canal, and so far, no luck. Ran into a lot of water, too much for the vehicles, not surprising considering it rained a lot overnight, so hard that it woke me up at 4:30 this morning, and went on for quite a while. We were out all day, and it was a cloudy, occasionally drizzly day, not the best weather for this kind of exercise, plus it kept getting colder throughout the day as well. They dropped me off at Camp I around 4:00 and I got back just before 5:00, where I was greeted by a happy Lola with cold ears! I got the horses fed and blanketed, as it’s supposed to be wet and get down in the low 50’s, not a good combination, the finally settled down for the evening. I had leftover calzone from lunch yesterday, watched a little TV, now I’m ready for shower and bed. Tomorrow the plan is to trailer Flash down to the east side of Dupuis and try to find better trails coming in from that direction. Even though the vehicles got stopped by deep water, it’s not so bad that horses can’t get through, so I just need to find the best alternative on horseback. There’s only about 2.5 miles missing on the overall trail, but that’s quite a long stretch through cypress swamp, though I don’t think it’s all that bad, just a short section. I’ll know better tomorrow! Meanwhile, I’m off! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Friday, January 21, 2022 – Runaround Day

Hi Sweetie!
Had to run down to the SFWMD office in West Palm Beach to get my fingerprints done so they could do a background check on me. Apparently that’s required for park volunteers, or at least for someone who is staying as long as I am. Figured if I ever want to be camp host they’ll require it anyway, so I didn’t mind. Stopped at Anita’s to pick up some paint and a new sign for Indiantown, I had picked up the old one on the way out because of a piece of plastic that had come off. Went to Jeff’s to pick up the small horse trailer, then we went out to lunch at Angelo’s Too. Finally got back to camp around 3:00, then I washed the horse trailer since it hadn’t been touched since last year and was covered in algae and dirt. Looks a lot better now! I even found the long lost key for that little padlock on the hitch which we thought was missing! Had several conversations with folks about the OTL, including one phone call from a woman in South Dakota who’s trying to figure out if they can make it down in time! Got a couple more sign ups today, happy with the way the numbers are increasing, even with the higher price. Finally settled down for the evening, finishing off with another phone call with Anita about our work day tomorrow, which means I have to get up early in the morning, so I’m off to shower and bed very shortly, already later that I would have liked! Good night, babe! Love you!