Archives for February 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022 – Total Rest Day

Hi Darlin’,
I allowed myself the luxury of staying in bed late, reading for a bit after I woke up just to keep the resting phase going, and it felt positively decadent. I was feeling tired even after a good night sleep, not surprising all things considered. I pretty much did nothing today, just like I planned, binge-watching a bunch of Gilmore Girls episodes. With full sun on the solar panel, it even kept the batteries well-charged throughout the day, and I only had to put the generator on for less than an hour at dinnertime. I ate too much, had a couple of glasses of wine, and now I’m ready for a quick shower and bed. A perfectly boring, quiet day, and exactly what I needed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Sunday, February 27, 2022 – Travel Day Back to Dupuis

Hi Babe,
Well, despite plans to have an easy day today, it didn’t quite thappen that way. I did get up early enough to say good-bye to Lynda and Wendy, which was just before 7:00, so of course it was too late to go back to bed, so I started packing up and ended up getting out around 8:00, which meant I arrived at Dupuis just after 9:00, stopping at the dump to clear out my tanks. Fortunately, the same spot was open so I slipped right in there, then the problems started. I couldn’t get my jacks to come down, so I worked on that for a bit, finally discovering it was a loose ground, so I tightened that up and everything was fine. Then when I started to disconnect, I saw that the big rubber bushing in my gooseneck hitch had literally blown out, and it was preventing the lock release handle from getting high enough to open the lock off the hitch, so with campground host Steve’s help, I cut away some excess rubber and finally managed to hammer the handle past the rubber so I could raise the trailer and unhook from the truck, at last. I’ve noticed that the bulging panel that I’ve had on the trailer has gotten worse, so I wanted to take out the panel screws and see if it would work itself back into place so I could screw it down in a way that the panel wouldn’t bulge, a problem that the manufacturer had tried to fix a few years ago, but didn’t quite get it right. Fortunately I was able to loosen all but one manually, and the one I managed to finally chip off with a hammer and screwdriver. I took the ladder with a towel on top and laid it against the panel along with the weight of the screen room on it, hoping it might encourage it to return to it’s former flat position rather than bulging, If I can do that, then I can screw it back in it’s correct position, at least that’s my hope. I got out my solar panel and then had to go up into the attic for my pressure washer that brother Jeff wanted to borrow, but because I had knocked off my ladder on the ride I had to do a little careful repair there to be able to get to the roof, which I finally did. I finally headed ot to Jeff”s to pick up Apollo, but Jeff had a service call so he wasn’t there when I got there. So I went ahead and started pressure washing some boards he had used to surround his hot tub. This hot tub has been sitting around for YEARS, I couldn’t believe he finally got it up and running, though it wasn’t hot enough to use yet, sorry to say, would have felt good on my sore muscles, I’m sure! I did as much as I could, then luxuriated by the pool for awhile, swimming occasionally and thrown the frisbee for Lola, who was just so happy to finally be able to roam around instead of being chained up like she had been all week. She was exhausted by the time we left for home! Jeff finally arrived and we finished pressure washing the rest of the boards, then I finally loaded up Apollo and headed back to Dupuis camp. I had just enough energy to get out the grill and make dinner before I all but collapsed in front of the TV for a couple of hours. Now I’m starting to come down, and I’m feeling so incredibly exhausted, I truly hope I don’t have to do anything tomorrow! Down to my last tank of propane, though, so I’m a bit worried about that, but I think I can hold out until Tuesday, because I’d really like to take at least ONE DAY off and do nothing. It seems like I haven’t had a day off in weeks, or may just one in about six weeks, I don’t know, I’m too tired to think about it. Anyway, I’m off for my shower and bed early, so good night, my sweet! Love you!

Saturday, February 26, 2022 – Cracker Parade in Ft. Pierce

Hey Darlin’,
Even though it was a later alarm this morning, I still woke up early, though I didn’t get up for awhile. I started packing up when I saw Lynda and Wendy leaving already at 7:30, which was way earlier than I thought we would have to leave, but I was worried about parking, so I quick finished packing and headed out as close behind them as I could. Wendy saved me a spot but it was on the grass, and we had been worned that the grassy areas were soft so I passed by, also because there were trailers come in after me and I didn’t want to block the entrance backing into that spot. As it turned out, I moved over there afterward anyway, which turned out to be the perfect thing to do. I got Flash ready, and ironed my red, white and blue parade shirt, and eventually was ready to go, even though no time had still been announced, or set, as far as I could tell. Crazy! Eventually the wagons started moving out around 10:00, and I ended up hooking up with Augie again, his mare Apolonia and Flash have a very similar look and make a good-looking team, even though she does the fino footwork better than Flash (probably because I don’t make him, he could certainly do it if I tried), and we stayed together for the entire parade route. Flash behaved remarkably well, he had gotten very used to all the whip-cracking that’s been going on, but then suddenly the mounted shooters starting firing their guns, and he was a little startled by that. It would have been nice if they had done a little of that to desensitize the horses in camp, it came as a complete surprise to me that they were doing that during the parade, but Flash recovered well and soon learned to almost ignore it. After parading around twice, we went back to the parking area, then some of us had planned to go to lunch by the pier, and we got lots of attention there. Wendy had actually tied up her horse and gone up to what looked like a really nice restaurant right on the water to reserve a table, because we thought that’s where we were having lunch, but the men talked Lynda into going to some tiki dive bar that had previously put out water and hitching posts for the horses, so we headed down there. What a mistake that was! The tiki bar they went to hadn’t done anything like that, and didn’t even serve food, just drinks, and since the three of us were hungry, we ended up walking to another tiki bar that did serve food, but because there was some kind of event (not us), the menu had very limited choices. I ordered a hamburger, which I quickly discovered had a long black hair in it, and had to sent it back, so I ended up hurrying through lunch because mine came so much later. We made out way back to the trailers and loaded up, then Flash did something weird and knocked me over and ended up stepping on my calf, so I’m going to have a huge bruise there. I managed to get through the whole week relatively unscathed only to end up with a sore leg after it’s all over! Once we got going, we drove over to Causeway Cove, and spacious campground right on the intracoastal, got set up, then I changed into my bathing suit and the three of us rode down to the boat ramp, along the beach, and out into the deeper water and went swimming. It only took a short time to get Flash into the water, and he actually got deep enough to swim a bit, then we just stood in the water to let the benefits of the salt water kick in. The water was nice and warm and everybody was pretty well behaved, though Flash wasn’t as still as I would have liked. We got back to the trailers, I did some mending, then took a shower, and then was expecting to go to dinner with the other two, but missed them because my phone was in the truck when Wendy texted me, so I ended up doing ramen shrimp for dinner instead. Settled down for the evening, now I’m heading to bed fairly early to read a bit. Kind of tired of “camping” next to busy roads and wearing earplugs like I have been for the past month, looking forward to getting away from all this noise once I get back on the road again! Anyway, that’s all the news that’s fit to print, the point being, CRACKER RIDE DONE and checked off the bucket list! I’m off to bed! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Friday, February 25, 2022 – Cracker Ride Day Six

Hey Sweetie,
Well, today was the last full day of riding on the Cracker Trail. It was hot and humid, like it’s been all week, but for the first time I dressed in my normal riding clothes rather than something Western looking, since we didn’t have any particular activities today. Flash behaved brilliantly today, I even managed to get him on a loose rein most of the time. I had nice chats with a lot of people, and it was at least an enjoyable day. All road riding today, again. We were supposed to end the ride with a meeting when they were going to announce the new board members, information about tomorrow’s parade in Ft. Pierce (which was the only thing I was interested in), awards, and then a dance. Unfortunately, once again, there was no set schedule for any of this, and no communication about any of it, and the dinner was beyond delayed. They were still serving at 8:30 and the meeting didn’t even get started until 8:45, and it was all a lot of self-indulgent, self-congratulatory stuff, and I got tired of waiting around to get one simple piece of information (what time the parade started) so I came back to the trailer to write this letter, take a shower and go to bed. The only time I heard was 10:00, don’t know if that’s when we’re supposed to be meeting for the parade or what time the parade starts, so I’m going to assume the latter and be there by 9:00, which means leaving here around 8:30, even more reason I need to get to bed early! So that’s where I’m off to, my love! Good night!

Thursday, February 24, 2022 – Cracker Ride Day Five

Hi Darlin’,
Off to another early start this morning, but was ready in plenty of time. Then on my way to get on the bus I was confronted by three of the organizers here and told if I did one more thing that upset anyone, they’d throw me off the ride. Seriously? I wasn’t doing anything other people weren’t doing, just that I was doing it more often because I had more work to do with Flash! And if all these other horses are all so well behaved, why would a couple of spins and back-ups and canters bother them so much? So now there’s nothing I can do except put Flash on an extremely tight rein for the duration, which feels like I’m bench-pressing 100 lbs for hours on end. This morning was a particularly long ride, over 16 miles before lunch, though we had one water stop. I managed to keep Flash bottled up, though he was still full of energy (I don’t know how he’s not more tired!), but it was hard work. A lot of the other participants helped me, though, by riding beside me and chatting with me, offering me some moral support, which I really appreciated. I did my best to just stay out of the way of everyone else, just in case, and it seemed to work today. For the short hop from lunch to camp (under four miles), I mostly stayed with Augie and Wayne again, but Flash did a much better job today, even though I had to hold him in. I did my Snowy River for a few of the folks that were really helpful to me at lunch today, it’s rewarding to know I have some people on my side, even if the organizers are so dang uptight. Wendy took a great picture of me in all my western regalia, I may use it as my profile pic for awhile. We reached camp before 4:00, and there was a good sized pond deep enough to go horse swimming, so I stripped down Flash, got on my water sandals, and headed down there. It only took a minute to get Flash in the water, and he did some actual swimming! It was a great way to end the day. Well, almost end it. I decided to take Lola down to the pond, albeit on her leash, and threw her Kong Wubba a few times, before I was informed there was an alligator on that side of the pond. I found it hard to imagine that an alligator would still be around with a couple dozen horses stomping and swimming and people in the water, it’s not like the pond was THAT big, but I had gone over on the other side away from everyone to stay out of their way, which was apparently the last place it was sighted, so I had to get Lola out of the water, so not much fun for her again today. I can’t wait to get back to a normal routine, instead of walking around on eggshells all the time, worried about someone getting upset with something I do all the time. Anyway, the day is over, just one more day, then the parade in Fort Pierce on Saturday, and possibly beach riding after that, with a night at the beach park there. Then back to Dupuis, where I fully intend to CRASH FOR DAYS! I’m glad I’ve been getting good nights of sleep, getting to bed really early, though I’m a tiny bit later tonight and I still have to take my shower and wash my hair, but I’m still getting enough to keep from getting overly tired. But that could be the adrenaline, we’ll see how much of a crash I experience once I stop! Anyway, time for that shower and bed, so good night, babe! Love you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 – Cracker Ride Day Four

Hey Babe,
Another early morning, this time a bit rushed because evidently they sent out a text (I’ve yet to receive a single text despite the fact I’ve tried to sign up several times) saying we were leaving early, never got it. I was ready early anyway, but still felt rushed. The latest camp is another cow pasture, but at least this one had some trees, so I found a little shade, and got pointed in the right direction to catch the best breezes today. Got back to the first camp and headed out on the “trail” which was entirely road roading, though it diverted for a short time through a neighborhood. We stopped at another elementary school and took on water and entertained the kids, though Flash wasn’t that into it so I pulled him aside. They had to shut down U.S. 27 to let us pass, and there were a lot of bystanders cheering us on, it was a regular parade. Apparently that’s the official halfway point of the ride. Flash was acting up a little this morning, but I managed to settle him down by running in a few circles and then backing him up occasionally when he tried to go too fast, and it was working, until I was told that I couldn’t do that anymore. So I waited until we got to the lunch spot, made sure I was very clear of the wagons, and then galloped him across the field to run his energy out before stopping at the water trough. Then I was told I couldn’t do THAT. So I can’t be up front out of the way, I can’t be behind the group out of the way, I can’t run alongside the group, I can’t spin circles, I can’t back him up and I can’t run him in an open field. This despite the fact that numerous times this morning they were MAKING us gallop to bunch up together, and throughout the day, but as far as I know, I’m the only one being chastised for it. I also can’t throw a frisbee for Lola once we get back to camp, unless she’s kept on her cable. If you’re getting the idea that I’m getting a bit frustrated, you’d be right. I finally spent the afternoon sandwiched between two other Pasos, one ridden by Augie who did the OTL, and another guy names Wayne, and as long as I was boxed in and kept Flash on a very tight rein, he managed to settle a bit for the rest of the ride. It looks like that may be the only way manage him without pissing off the organizers, though a lot of the other participants have shown empathy, I’ve heard a lot of stories about other riders having similar problems with their own horses in the past. I came into this with an open mind, despite the knowledge of the road riding, but the organizers have not been very welcoming, or communicative. I’ve asked for help three times to get on their texting list, and I kept getting passed around, and the one who was supposed to help never did. I did finally get a text tonight, so maybe they fixed it, but it’s not a very good system. I mean, they sent out a text at around 4:30 that dinner wouldn’t be served until 6:30, so it’s hard to make any plans. VERY glad I didn’t sign up for the meal plan. I have no interest in the socializing aspect of this ride, I’m here for the riding, so I suppose I’m missing out on the spirit of the thing, but again, the organizers have just made me feel unwelcome, so my approach has been to just stay out of everybody’s way. Check it off the bucket list, that’s about all I’ll be able to say when it’s done. I’m heading to shower and bed very soon, as it’s only getting a full eight hours of sleep that’s keeping me going right now, or else I’d be REALLY crabby! Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 – Cracker Ride Day Three

Hi Sweetie,
Another early morning, another drive to the new camp, where I got stuck at a light and missed lost track of the folks in front of me for a bit, then finally arrived at Hickory Hammock State Park, or at least at a huge field across the road from it. Bussed back to camp and got started just before 9:00, for the longest ride of the week, nearly 23 miles. I forgot to turn on my phone GPS until we were almost five miles in, so I’m going to have to get that from Wendy, who apparently saved it. She also took a screen shot of the ride yesterday, to hopefully I can fill in the blanks with that. So we headed out, doing a lot of road riding today, and at first, Flash behaved himself pretty well, and I was able to handle him okay, but after lunch, he got crazy again, fighting me, wanting to run, though we didn’t have much room for a long time, so he kept getting more frustrated and my arms really got a workout trying to keep him in check. I can’t understand why he’s not exhausted, he works himself into a lather, sweating from heade to toe and occasionally frothing at the mouth when I have to be particularly insistent. Kind of wish I had brought Apollo with me, at least for a couple of the shorter days, just to take a break! But the pace is pretty fast, so I’d be fighting with him to get him moving all the time, too, I think. Anyway, it wasn’t too bad a day, lunch was at another ranch where I was able to get off on my own, and lay down to relax for a bit. Didn’t get back to camp until just after 5:00, so I rinsed Flash down and fed him and me. I was tossing a frisbee for poor Lola, who had dug a hole a couple of feet deep in her boredom today, but then got chastised for not having her on the leash, so she didn’t get much exercise today! It was pretty hot today, fortunately there was a little breeze so it wasn’t too bad until late in the day, but today was Western wear day because we had the big crossing at U.S. 27 and the ride by a couple of the schools in town, where all the kids were lined up to watch us parade by. Anyway, dinner’s done, I’ve watched a little TV, and now I’m past ready for a shower and bed. Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Monday, February 21, 2022 – Cracker Ride Day Two

Hey Darlin’,
Was in bed by 8:30, set the alarm for a little earlier than yesterday and even managed to have breakfast before heading out to the next camp. Unfortunately, I clipped that dang ladder on the gatepost going out, and it ripped of the side lamp again, so now I have another couple of repairs to do after the ride. Today it wasn’t all road riding, there were a few woods and a lot of cow pastures, as well as a few back roads. There was a drone taking pictures (I assume video) as we set off in the morning, not sure who’s documenting it. My phone GPS program did something weird so I didn’t get it all, but I put my Garmin on about a mile out of camp, so I’m only missing a little of the middle, which I’m going to have to ask about. Flash started out calm, then quickly escalated to crazed again, but every time we came to a cow pasture, I just ran the heck out of him, back and forth, which temporarily settled him down. He walks just fine when we’re on a break, from trough to trough and around with no problem, but as as soon as the horses start moving, he insists on going into a gait which I’m constantly pulling back on. For the last five or six miles, though, I benefited from being being a young lady named Lexie who let Flash essentially put his head in her horse’s tail, and he managed to keep from trying to pass around him all the time. Still had to fight him a bit, but the rein was looser more often that way. I can’t understand why he won’t just walk! Anyway, it was a pretty good day, with a couple of water stops and lunch (though I didn’t sign up for the catering, too much food, too expensive, better off with my own food!), and just before we arrived at the lunch spot, we came across a herd of cattle that decided to head back out way, so we had a little mini-stampede, just for excitement! We got back to camp just after 4:00. I stripped Flash down, put on my bathing suit and rode him bareback with a towel down to the Peach River, hoping for a swim. It was too shallow, unfortunately, but it was cool and felt great, and I was able to wash a lot of the dirt off him. Settled down for the evening, took my shower early, had my own dinner, watched a couple of episodes of my latest binge-watch, The Gilmore Girls, now I’m yawning and ready for bed, once again, barely 8:30. It’s the only way I can get enough sleep to function and fight with Flash! Hoping tomorrow he’ll be too tired to fight as much, but he’s in such good condition after all the OTL stuff I did, he just keeps getting stronger. Anyway, time for bed. Love you, babe! Good night!

Sunday, February 20, 2022 – Cracker Ride Day One

Hey Babe,
Woke up easily to alarm after having gone to bed early, although it took a while to get to sleep, managed to get everything packed, Flash saddled and tied to the stock trailer and ready to roll by 7:04, which should have been early because a woman at registration told me they left at 7:15, but in fact, the first wave rolled out at 7:00 on the dot, which once again left me wondering just how poorly they communicate here. Nowhere in the ride booklet do they give a departure time, so I guess it’s anybody’s guess! Fortunately, the second wave left about the time I was ready, and we managed to catch up to the first wave a couple of miles before they reached the next camp, so I was able to find a spot next to Lynda and Wendy again. Got the portable fence up and the slide open, so no worries. We were on the bus shortly afterward, and it took off at about five minutes to 8:00, ahead of schedule. Got back, finished tacking up and was in the saddle by about 8:35 thinking out departure was imminent, particularly since it was going to be pretty hot by this afternoon, but ended up standing around until 9:00 before we finally left. A lot of hurry up and wait on this ride so far. Not surprisingly it was all road riding today, which I’ve known since the start would be the case. Flash started out very calm despite his bit of craziness yesterday, but it didn’t last long. Once he got warmed up he wanted to go, go, go, and I ended up fighting with him most of the way. Did an extra mile just running him to the front, then waiting for the line to pass by, and running him to the front again. I really hope he’s not like this the entire way, I can’t say it was entirely fun today. He got kicked at a number of times for being too close to the tail of one horse or another, and he kicked out at a couple of horses as well, so I’ll have to put a ribbon in his tail tomorrow since he’s decided to act like a knothead. We stopped about 11:30, which we thought was just a water stop, but turned out to be the lunch stop, it just hadn’t arrived yet. Then Wendy didn’t even get her sandwich, they ran out before she got there! All she was told was that “sorry, sometimes people take them when they’re not supposed to,” which kind of defeats the whole bracelet wearing thing. I guess they finally got her one at the end of the ride, better late than never. I trust they’ll upgrade their system or supply tomorrow. Unfortunately when we were driving in the morning, I noticed that my truck had less fuel in it than I thought, and since this was the shortest day (14.9 miles, plus my extra going back and forth), I found a gas station five miles away and quick disconnected. I acquired a passenger, a guy named Mike who needed to get propane, so he came along. At least I won’t have to unhook again this trip, fingers crossed! I was so hungry, I only had a protein bar all day, completely forgot I had packed a pack of Tuna Creations, again because for most of the time I thought it was just a water stop and the lunch stop would be later. By the time I figured out it was lunch, it was too late. Anyway, we all arrived safe and sound (albeit fighting with Flash the whole afternoon), I took by quick ride, made some dinner, then settled down a bit, actually napping a little in my recliner. I sure hope Flash is better tomorrow. I thought I could solve the problem at one point by running him down a side road and running him back again before the group passed, which helped a lot the first two times I did it, then was told by the outriders that I couldn’t do it anymore, I had to stay with the group, which is why he got so much worse later in the day. Not sure what I can do about it, I just hope he tires out in a day or two. Well, it’s not even 6:30 and I’m thinking of taking my shower and getting in bed to read for awhile, since I have to get up even earlier tomorrow (still late by OTL standards!), and to recover from the unusually high level of energy expenditure I had to make today. So good night, sweetie! Love you!

Saturday, February 19, 2022 – Relaxing Prep Day Before Cracker Trail Ride

Hi Sweetie,
Had a great night sleep, the field got progressively more and more filled with trailers today, as expected. There was supposed to be an organized ride into the woods across the street but it was canceled at the last minute, so three of us, Lynda, Wendy and I, took a short ride around the field a few times just to stretch our horses’ legs, plus I wanted to try out the Flexbooks I got delivered yesterday. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong when I put them on, but they kept falling off, despite readjusting them multiple times, at every gait, so I won’t be wearing those during the ride! Flash was full of pep, guess maybe I shouldn’t have been giving him the high energy hay until we started the ride. I have a feeling I’m going to be fighting him a lot, at least on the first day, as he tries to get to the front. I foresee lots of little circles in my future! I just hope he doesn’t get so crazy that he gets impossible! Anyway, I got all the information they gave out when I checked in this morning, still left a lot of gaps of knowledge, had to ask some questions, didn’t always get full answers, so a lot of guesswork going on at the moment. All I know at the moment is that we are moving trailers just after 7:00 tomorrow, and have to be parked and ready to get on their shuttle by 8:00, but the drive is only about 20 minutes, and I have to tie Flash to a livestock trailer while I’m gone. I guess the rest we’ll just play by ear. Chatted with my neighbors a bit, skipped the dinner and ate back in my trailer, settled down early to have a relaxing evening, now I’m ready for a super quick shower and bed, so I’ll be up and at ’em first thing. Good night, my darlin’! Love you!