Archives for June 2023

Friday, June 30, 2023 – Ride Day from Dubonnet Lake to Garey Lake-Last Camp!

Pix to come!

Hiya Sweetie!
Well, it finally happened! Coming out of camp this morning, I got stuck in the sand. Apparently yesterday, the DNR guy used his tractor to “grade” the road, but ultimately it just churned it up and made it softer. I almost made it through, fishtailing like crazy, but on the final 500 feet before the turnoff onto a better road, the slight upward grade was just enough to bog me down. I went at it at 20 mph, which had been working up until then, but that final little hill did me in. Fortunately, the DNR guy Mike came along on his tractor (he said he’d be there at 6:00 but arrived about 6:20 to where I was, but he strapped me up and pulled me out in the matter of a couple of minutes, thank goodness! I still managed to get to the next camp by just after 7:00, so I wasn’t delayed hardly at all. Good thing I left camp early! There was a crowd at the new camp cheering me in, happy that I made it. I’ve made a lot of friends here, I must say. Fortunately, the spot next to the well on the other side of the camp host was still open, so I pulled into that, since the plan is to stay here until after the holiday before moving on. I plan on doing nothing for two days, then nothing but cleaning for two days! I actually had a dream where I slept until 12:30 pm, which tells you something! Anyway, got back to Dubonnet on the bus, got Flash ready to go, and was once again out around 8:35. Flash was in a good mood today, quite happy to move along at a good pace even without company. Passed a couple of groups, as always, but was a bit disappointed that the information I got at the riders meeting last night wasn’t exactly accurate. We were told that nearly the whole ride was single-track through the woods, with only about a mile of gravel/dirt road, but, using my definition of a road (anything that a motor vehicle habitually uses), it was more like ten miles of that. As such, I kept thinking the single-track would appear any minute, and finally gave up and put his boots on after about three miles of road. I hit 12.6 miles before we finally did get back into the woods, and even then it was still a forest road, which eventually narrowed down to a single-track for the last three miles or so. I would have managed the ride differently had I known. In any event, once we did hit the last few miles of single-track, Flash was still raring to go, gaiting at every opportunity (without my asking), but then slowing down to a mince step every time we had to go downhill. Not sure what that was all about, but it did get us into camp by 12:20, so we made good time. My GPS said a bit under 17 miles, but that’s consistent with just about every ride. I don’t know if their maps have it wrong or my GPS is just running short, but even when I download it onto Google Earth it says 17 miles. We made good time, that’s all I know! I got Flash settled in, and after some food and drink he laid down for awhile. He sure knows how to relax! I unhooked the truck, got out my solar panel and my comfy gravity chairs, and read and dozed for awhile in the afternoon. The riders meeting was early, at 6:00, so we could do another awards ceremony, lots of fun stories and thank you’s. At the very end, one of the ladies thanked me for my performance the other night, which was very kind and thoughtful, and a lot of other people chimed in and agreed at that point. Very nice. I was particularly moved when Jeff mentioned the list of those that have spent the entire month together on both crossings, all old hands, and then he included me in that elite group, very special. After all that, I got Flash squared away for the night, filled up all my water tanks while the group generator was there, put all my tack away, now I’m more than ready for shower and bed. The bus is leaving at 6:00 tomorrow, but I won’t be moving my rig. I’m getting a ride back with Sammy and Suzie, so I’m going to have to leave here by 6:30 in order to not keep them waiting at the water, so I’m still having to get up early, so early to bed again tonight! Love you, babe! Good night!

Thursday, June 29, 2023 – Ride Day from Schecks to Dubonnet Lake

Hey Babe!
Up once again at the crack of dawn, packed up and out of the camp just before 6:00. Elected to take Brown Bridge Rd. because it was flat and I was concerned about the sharp turns and aggressive hills on the other route. Glad I did, it’s wasn’t half bad, not nearly as wash-boardy as I thought it would be. The road into Dubonnet had some sand, though, so it was a bit tricky, and I was worried that this little four-wheeler with canoes on top in front of me, who evidently wasn’t sure where he was going, kept slowing down, but fortunately he stayed far enough out front so I got in okay. Found a spot without any trouble, got set up and was on the bus in plenty of time. Back to Schecks, saddled up Flash and headed out before 8:30. The first part of the trail wasn’t bad, single tracks and sand roads, but eventually we reached the roads section of this journey, seven miles of paved roads with traffic. Another woman on a young horse was there, Teresa, and she asked to tag along with me since Flash is “steady as a rock” these days. We got about 75 yards when I looked up and saw the back end of a big bear walking into the woods. He must have reached the road and turned around, but I didn’t see his head. Anyway, I asked Teresa if she saw it, she said no, so I just advised her to be careful, if they caught the scent they may sidestep into the road, and it was very busy. Flash hardly noticed, on sniff in that direction, but her horse did get a little jumpy, but she managed to stay on the trail. It was a bad place to cross, too, because there is a curve in the road, and despite there being construction there, cars were barreling down way too fast. Fortunately, another group caught up with us just then, and we all crossed together. I was glad when all the road riding was done! I had to put on and take off Flash’s boots several times, and mounting was pretty tough with my left thigh hurting as much as it is, but I managed it. The last couple of miles were really nice, and about a mile from camp, we passed a house that had put out a big watering trough and stapled a bunch of granola bars onto a board, with a big sign welcoming us to help ourselves! How nice! Finally reached camp at 24 miles and about 5.5 hours, at about 2:00. Settled down after I got Flash taken care of, nodded off a couple of times in my chair, had dinner, went to the riders meeting, now I’m ready for shower and bed! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023 – Layover Day at Schecks

Hi Darlin’!
Had a good night sleep, slept late and laid in even long, finally crawled out of bed around nine, got my chores done. Did a bunch of stuff with getting the contacts I collected yesterday organized, sold a couple more books, then around 3:00, I took Flash down to the river for a swim, though it wasn’t really deep enough to actually swim. It was deep enough to come up to his shoulders, though, so he got a good soaking. He enjoyed, especially once he realized we were just there for fun, not to cross or do anything else. Gail H. took some great pix, I’ll post some of them. Then I took Lola down and she fetched and swam for awhile as well. Then Suzy came down with her two horses and was enjoying a nice cool river bath when some folks in a bright red canoe came along and the horses kind of freaked out. She managed to calm them down, and the canoe actually beached right in front of us before they realized they were in the wrong place. Gave the horses a chance to settle down, then ANOTHER canoe came along and things got really crazy. Since the horses were spinning, I ended up having to grab one of the leads to prevent them from getting really tangled, and after a bit they settled down again. After she left, Lola and I played a bit more, then came back to camp and started packing up. Back on the road again tomorrow, next stop, Dubonnet! Went to the riders meeting, finished packing and hooking up, now back to my shower and bed routine! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023 – Short (Relatively) Ride from Rapid River to Schecks

Hiya Sweetie!
Sorry to say, I did not get as good night sleep as I thought I would consider the nine hour ride yesterday. I took three ibuprofen when I went to bed at 8:30 (yes, children, 8:30!) and was asleep pretty quick, but then I woke up at about 1:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep for nearly two hours. I took some aspirin, since that usually helps, but it didn’t seem to do anything. Finally woke up to the alarm and got the day going. I hadn’t packed up my tack in the plastic bag yet, I left it in the back of the trailer to dry a bit, so I had a little more work to do than usual. Nevertheless, I was moving out at 6:00, right on schedule, arrived at Schecks about fifty minutes later, did my setup, fed Lola and had breakfast, even had time to get my solar panel out, since we have a layover here tomorrow. Caught the bus back to Schecks, where I found Flash laying down. Jeff B. said he was laying down when he left, so he was obviously resting up from yesterday’s long ride. I gave him a bute tablet with his breakfast this morning, first time I’ve ever done that. I don’t like to use painkillers because they mask what might be a more serious problem, but considering I had mine last night, and he seemed none the worse for wear this morning, I gave him one, maybe that’s why he was getting so much sleep! Once we got on the trail by 9:00, he seemed in remarkable good spirits. I was sure he’s be a bit sluggish today (again, maybe the bute?), but we left just after Sammy and Susie, who are always moving out, and Flash was insistent of keeping up with them, going 5.5 mph for the entire first 10 miles of the trail! At one point, we opened up onto a sand road, and Flash took off at a full canter, passing everyone else! Crazy guy! Then they stopped for lunch at the lake where the watering hole was, and after letting Flash make bubbles and smack his lips a few times, we headed out again. Of course he slowed down a bit, but not that much, he was still full of energy, surprisingly! We had already passed all the rest of the ones who left before us from the bus, then I started passing folks with rig jumpers who got out even earlier, like the Gypsy Girls and Lucy and her mule. Arrived at came not much after 1:00, just about 19 miles. Sure seemed like a short ride! And it was beautiful, almost entirely single track, just how I like it, some nice hills, forest, just gorgeous. Got back to camp and got Flash settled in, debated whether or not to do laundry today or tomorrow (I decided tomorrow, it will be drier and sunnier earlier in the day), and then spent the afternoon mostly reading and trying to relax a bit. Eventually after dinner I started going around collecting contact information. I learned from prior experience that the next few days get a bit too hectic to do that, and we actually had a central campfire tonight, so I was able to get most people’s contact information, which is nice to have. Stayed at the campfire until past 9:30 (it was still light out!), decided to skip my shower, had a nice cup of Sleepytime tea, now I’m off to bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Monday, June 26, 2023 – Long 31 Mile Ride from Goose Creek to Kalkaska/Rapid River

Hi Babe,
With the cooler weather we’re back on the 7:00 bus schedule, so I was able to sleep in an extra 40 minutes or so from the last ride. Still up by 5:20 though! Was packed up and on the road by about 6:00, arrived at Rapid River about 30 minutes later, with only one trailer ahead of me, Girl Gail. Evidently, a lot of people are opting out of today’s ride, but I didn’t know how many (or should I say, how few!) until Jeff came by to pick me up on the bus, and I was the only rider on it! Other than Carla and Rachel, the two girls from TN that have a rig jumper and have been out of camp on horseback by around 5:30 every morning (so, not on the bus), and me, that was it! I was the only rider on this entire section of trail! Got back and saddled up Flash and headed out, and he seemed very rested and in good spirits. Leaving camp, you have to go down some steps and make a river crossing, and more steps up the other side, and with all the rain overnight, the water was quite a bit deeper, but he didn’t mind that. He hesitated on the steps for a minute, though, but I managed to persuade him to go down. I had to lift my electronics and my legs up to stay dry, though, it was pretty deep! Got over with no problem. The first ten miles was just gorgeous, mostly single track through beautiful hardwoods and other deciduous trees. Then came the detour, which was all sandy road, very little gravel, thankfully. Saw some bear tracks, big and small, along the road. I actually decided not to put his boots on until we needed them, so that was about mile 15 when we crossed a road and had to ride along a paved road for 1.5 miles, then back to sandy and some gravel roads. Finally took his boots off again about 7 or 8 miles from camp, as again, the surface was mostly sandy, then turned back into forests and single tracts to finish off. Because it was such a long ride, I mostly had him walk for the first 20+ miles, so that he wouldn’t slow down too much, but during the last 8 miles or so, I had him do some short gaits, and alternate that with walking to pick up some time. Finally arrived in camp right around 5:30, just about nine hours in the saddle! Amazingly, the only things that hurt were the things that hurt this morning (a big bruise on my thigh, and my usual toe cramping on my right foot), but it’s definitely going to be a three ibuprofen night! It didn’t start raining until about 3:00, and I stayed mostly dry until my rain pants started channeling water into my boots, so they got soaking wet. The rest of me wasn’t too bad, just socks and boots and hair. Jeff B. came out when he saw me, said he’d just texted and called me to see how I was doing. My phone was still in airplane mode, and I was only about 20 minutes out, so not bad. Actually arrived just about when I figured I would! Anyway, managed to get Flash taken care of, then heated up a bowl of soup, went to the riders meeting, now all I have to do is take a much needed hot shower and go to bed! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Sunday, June 25, 2023 – Layover Day and Board Meeting at Goose Creek

Hey Darlin’,
Didn’t sleep as well as I had hoped, so a little logy today. Read for a bit in the morning, then attended the MTRA quarterly board meeting, which unexpectedly resulted in the sale of a few more books. On my last case of books! Did some packing up since we’re moving again in the morning. The next ride is supposed to be more than 30 miles due to a detour around a swamp which previously was part of the trail, but the landowner died and his son won’t give permission for us to cross, so it’s an extra four miles to go around. Further the forecast is calling for a high chance of rain for the greater part of the day. The MTRA is offering to let it be an “option” day, meaning if you don’t want to ride it, you’re still entitled to a trophy, but I really don’t want to opt out of a 30 mile leg just because it’s a few of miles longer. Besides, Flash is about as conditioned as he’s ever going to get, so I don’t foresee a problem with us making it. And I’ve got my rain suit and my slicker, and it will be cooler so heat won’t be a factor, which are all plusses. Still, it will be a long day. The next day’s ride to Scheck’s is apparently a lot shorter. The map says 20 but it’s rumored as closer to 17, so that will be an easier day. Then we have another layover day. Anyway, rain did come in during the afternoon, just a few waves with breaks in between, which I suspect is what it will be like tomorrow, hopefully not big downpours, although we did have a couple of short ones of those today. Laid up in bed reading and occasionally dozing, trying to store up some sleep. Had a couple of nice lamb chops for dinner, went to the riders meeting at 7:00, now straigth to shower and bed! Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Saturday, June 24, 2023 – 24+ Mile Ride from 4-Mile to Goose Creek

Hiya Sweetie,
Today was a very tiring day. We moved early again, which meant I was up before dawn, on the road as the sky was lightening up, and back on the bus in no time. Parked all by myself again, in a little open area just as you come into camp, while everyone else is further back. Good for playing with Lola, but it does leave me off by myself (nothing new there!). Was on the trail by 7:45, a good hour before we normally are, but there was a lot more of what I call “road riding” than I anticipated, so I ended up actually arriving later than I expected. At the riders meeting, someone asked if there was a lot of road riding, and we were told “no,” but obviously, that was a different definition than what I consider road riding, because by my measure, about 80% of today’s ride was on “roads.” I consider a road to be anything a motorized vehicle can use, including forest roads, sand and gravel roads, utility and pipeline service roads, OHV multi-use roads, etc. For me a trail is single or sometimes double track, through woods, with a dirt surface usually covered with leaves or pine needles, though sometimes sand, as is often the case here. The discrepancy in the information led me to manage my ride incorrectly, and poor Flash, when he was walking, was doing almost half the speed he normally does, because of the terrain and surface of the roads. He also lost a boot a couple of times, not sure why because I kept tightening them up, so that slowed us a down a bit too. Seemed like a very long day, slogging through a lot of deep sand, as well as riding alongside busy roads with traffic. Not my favorite. Thankfully, though, we have a layover here at Goose Creek, and despite rain and cooler temps in the forecast, it will be a good rest day. As soon as I got back and got settled, I had dinner (though I nodded off a couple of times in my recliner first), then I drove into Kalkaska, about 20 miles away, to pick up feed. Apparently there’s a shortage of Nutrena Senior, it’s been difficult to get, and I was hoping to pick up some at the Tractor Supply at nearby Grayling, but they didn’t have any, so I had to drive further to the Family Farm and Home store to pick some up. Got back to camp before 7:00, took Lola down to the river to let her swim and fetch for awhile, then back to the trailer to crash. Feeling really tired, but I can sleep late tomorrow, yay!! Still enjoying myself, but have a few more questions about Monday’s ride, both the length, the terrain, and possibly the weather. There’s and 80% chance of rain right now, so that may end of being the deciding factor if I decide to opt out. Don’t want to, really want to do the whole thing, but we’ll see. Anyway, time for one more Big Valley, then shower, then bed! Got the AC going (it was over 90 degrees today so the inside of the trailer was very warm), but it drops fast here at night, hoping for an excellent night sleep and a very late start in the morning! Good night, babe! Love you!

Friday, June 23, 2023 – 22+ Mile Ride from Luzerne to 4-Mile-New Trail!

Hi Babe!
As any trail rider will tell you, a trail generally looks completely different when it’s done in reverse, and that has certainly been true for this Shore to Shore ride. Today, however, we finally passed Santa, which is the northern route that I cam down on, and turned west onto never before seen (by me and Flash, that is!) trails that will take us all the way to Lake Michigan.What an adventure this has been, and continues to be! Most of the trails were really nice today, fully wooded until the last six miles or so, when there was a couple of miles of recovering forest, then four miles of essentially sand and gravel road all the way to camp. It’s been getting hotter, and some folks have made arrangements to leave earlier and catch rides back, so almost the whole camp emptied out at 5:30, with a second wave a short while after that. I didn’t leave until about 6:00, but Jeff B.had already asked everyone to not park in the grassy area out front of 4-mile so I would have room to move in there, and thank goodness, it was empty when I arrived. Got busy setting up, had my breakfast, and was just filling up Flash’s water tub when the bus rolled by fifteen minutes early, so I just shut off the water, grabbed my last couple of things and jumped on. Again, I think they’re trying to beat the heat, and there were only a handful of people on the bus, so evidently, folks are getting creative! Didn’t matter, I still got into camp right around 2:00, which was just fine with me. Flash didn’t like the last couple of miles of gravel road, so we were a bit slower getting into camp, but no matter, still had plenty of time to relax and play with Lol after Flash was taken care of. Also, I have FINALLY got my stirrups exactly right! The new one on the right felt SO MUCH BETTER, but was just a tad short, so I dropped it one tiny notch and now it’s perfect. Only had the tiniest little twinge in my right foot (which is still a bit swollen from the crackup I had in Tennessee), so I’ve evidently found the sweet spot, at last! Very grateful for working all that out! Have the best cell phone service yet, with four bars! Been told it will be good the rest of the way. It did get into the mid-80’s today, but with 37% humidity and some high clouds, it was perfect for me, even if it was a bit warm for the northerners! Anyway, had my leftovers from Ma Deeters for dinner, went to the riders meeting, and it’s shower and betime! Love you, darlin’! Good night!

Thursday, June 22, 2023 – Layover Day at Luzerne

Hey Darlin’!
What a luxury to have a day off! Slept late, stayed in bed late (relatively!), though I did take some ibuprofen this morning. I haven’t actually taken any since last week, but I was feeling a bit stiff today, and I had a few things I wanted to do, so I indulged. After my regular chores and breakfast, I did some saddle cleaning. I noticed yesterday when I changed the stirrups out that under the straps it was pretty dirty, so I cleaned and conditioned that area. I also took off the lambskin cover and mended that in several placed that had ripped, and even put back the tie straps that have been torn for ages! Did a load of laundry and hung that out to dry as well. Jeff B. came by to see if I was going on the bus tour this afternoon (hitting the Amish shop and a bunch of other local stores) and discussed parking at the next stop, Four-Mile. Drove up to the well and topped off my water tank, refilling the RV afterwards. Did a tiny bit of housework, got just about everything ready to go for tomorrow, then mostly read for most of the afternoon. Drove into town to the famous Ma Deeters for a meal, was able to bring Lola along and sit outside on the patio, perfect weather! I had Wild Game Sausage pasta, which was very nice, with enough leftovers for another meal. Got back to camp, went to the riders meeting, did the Snowy River upon request for this group, which seemed very appreciative, now I’m ready for shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023 – 24+ Mile Ride from McKinley to Luzerne

Hiya Sweetie!
Up bright and early again, seems I’m right on schedule, even got out before Sam and Susie this morning! They caught up with me and I let them pass once I hit the blacktop, they always like to drive a lot faster than me. A pretty short drive to Luzerne, but when I arrived, there were a couple of tenters setting up, and one of them was putting her tent right in the middle of the area that I needed for my rig. Why do tiny tenters so often want to take the biggest site available? Well, I explained to them the situation, and one seemed okay with it, the other one got downright nasty with me, even when I tried to apologize! Of course, that same woman dismantled the firepit that someone had created in order to use the stones to prop up her tiny tent stakes, and obviously wasn’t going to put back. The fact that this trail and these camps wouldn’t even be here without the MTRA was of no interest, she just made a fuss over being kicked out, saying I did it “rudely” when I was actually pretty nice about it, just in a hurry because I had a lot to do before the bus came! Anyway, they moved like snails but finally got moved, though I had to really rush around to get things done in time. Anyway, I just managed to finish in time to get on the bus, and was back at McKinley saddling up Flash in no time. I think we were the last ones out of camp, which is pretty normal, but Flash was pretty energetic again this morning, so it wasn’t long before we were catching up with folks. Uncharacteristically, Sam and Susie were at the back, but that’s because Susie was on a new horse and she was taking her time with her. I passed up a bunch of other groups, too, and I was working on my conditioning pace of one mile slow, one mile fast. Colleen on her paint kept up with me for quite a while, but eventually dropped off. The trail was really nice at the beginning (well, once you get past the half mile out of camp of clear-cutting) until the boardwalk bypass, which was mostly roads, first asphalt then dirt the rest of the way back to camp. Sam and Susie took a lot of shortcuts and popped out in front of me on the asphalt road, but I ended up passing them again and getting back to camp, miraculously, before 2:00! Once again, Flash did a magnificent job! I rode past the bus to get my highline stuff, but it was locked, so I had to just let Flash graze awhile and eat on his hay bag. I broke a stirrup strap today, so the last couple of miles was pretty uncomfortable. I managed to piece it back together but the stirrup was too short, so once I got back and got Flash settled, I started working on it. Happy to say the tenters moved way over to the other side of the campground, happy I don’t have to deal with them! Took me over half an hour to fix the stirrup, but it’s something I should have done a long time ago, hopefully it will permanently solve my problem. Disconnected and drove over for my bucket on the bus afterwards, got the highline done, had some dinner, settled down for a quiet evening. Looking forward to a day off tomorrow, though I will be going into town to see about propane, and to have a meal at the famous Ma Deeters everyone talks about. Flash will be happy about that, too, I’m sure! Good night, baby! Love you!