Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – Started on Taxes

Hi Sweetie,
Well, because there was a forecast calling for an abundance of rain today, I made plans to work on my taxes, with the hope that I could finish it today. Unfortunately, neither thing happened. It didn’t rain, and in fact the morning was one of the loveliest you could imagine, not a cloud in the sky and the perfect morning temperature. It did cloud up somewhat later, but not a drop of rain came down. Glad I don’t make my riding decisions based on the weather forecast! I got to work on the taxes, but it is so complicated for last year I was nowhere near finished by day’s end. Between me becoming a widow, selling the house, and the stupid covid stuff, everything just seems impossible. There’s actually a rule that all of the depreciation on the house that we’ve taken since May 6, 1997 has to be recalculated and have taxes paid on it as if it were income, down to the exact number of days from then until now. Can you believe that? Who keeps track of stuff that happened 20+ years ago! What a nightmare! I just hope that I can get it finished tomorrow, I sure don’t want to drag this all out. Grrrrr! Anyway, the horses stayed in all day because I didn’t want to be distracted by making sure they didn’t wander off, so they’re probably as grumpy as I am by now. Put me in the mood for wine, which I haven’t had for weeks, but you know how that goes… Enough of this day, time for shower and bed. Good night, my darling! Love you!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 – Twelve Mile Ride on Flash

Had a decent night sleep, got up at the usual time, fed everyone, had breakfast, then after awhile I saddled up Flash and off we went along the Withlacoochee River. I’ve ridden here on the property every other time we’ve been here, but this time I wanted to extend out into the Twin Rivers State Forest which borders it on the south and east. I decided to do the south section today, which follows the river for quite a ways, and it truly was lovely! Lola came along, and I was a little worried because on the map it seemed like there was a busy road we had to cross, but it turned out the trail went under the bridge, which was spanning the river, of course! Don’t know why I didn’t realize that before! So we were safe, though there was one section that paralleled the road for a bit, but far enough off of it not to be a concern. We stopped at one spot known as Pot Springs, I guess because there’s a spring that comes up in the river. Hard to see the difference, really, but they had it all decked out with a parking area and a ramp and hitching posts and a deck with benches, so we stopped for a few minutes, and Lola went down and took a swim. There was one point on the trail where the water was really high, high enough for me to pull my feet way up and to touch Flash’s belly! But he did really well, I was very proud of him for carrying on with very little fuss or hesitation! Saw a lot of wildlife today, too. A deer jumped out right in front of us, that startled Flash for a second, but I hung on. Saw a cat running along the trail, lots of big birds from buzzards to an owl, and on top of all that, the trail is COVERED with chaney plants! I’m going to have to come out and try to dig some up after the rain we’re expected over the next two days. On the way back, I took him into that nice little obstacle course, put him through that tunnel, you remember that? Tried him on some of the other ones, too, and he managed most of them. Got back to the farm, gave him a bath (he had rolled in his stall and had manure stains on him!), then let them graze in the yard for the rest of the afternoon. Maggie was generous the other day and gave me a gel pad for my saddle seat, and it really felt good! Last week my bum was kind of aching, but I figured that was because I was out of practice, but I was a little tougher this week. But the gel pad felt very good, too, and I only started to feel uncomfortable during the last half mile or so. Anyway, it was a lovely ride, then I did laundry, rested and read for most of the rest of the day. A bit of TV tonight, now I’m off for my shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Monday, May 3, 2021 – Travel Day to McCulley Farms

Hi Babe,
Got up at around 7:00, was packed up and moving out before 8:30, then had a straight shot up I-95 to I-10 in Jacksonville, everything seems to be working fine, though on sharp corners the power steering makes a bit of a noise. May be low again, or may be going bad, I’ll check it tomorrow. Stopped for fuel at a Pilot, and after filling up, I started to pull off the pump and the truck stalled out, much like it did before I changed the fuel filter. Popped the hood real quick, pumped the fuel canister, and thank goodness, it started right up, and didn’t have another problem with it again. Arrived at McCulley’s just before 2:00, just about when I figured. This was one of the longer legs of this journey north, but it was mostly freeway so it was fairly easy. They’ve added some sewer sites since we were here last, and I found a nice spot near a tree and close to the barn so I won’t have so far to walk. Sorry to say that they haven’t done any repairs on the barn since we were here last, the wooden planks are mostly chewed or cracked, and many of the gates are rusty and hard to move. Still, there’s good riding here, and having a full hookup will let me get caught up on laundry and cleaning. I let the horses graze in the yard for awhile, there’s only one other camper here, and they look permanent. Got the grill out and grilled a sausage, then settled down for the evening after all the chores were done. Whew! I’ll be glad when I can start staying at places for two weeks instead of one, this is a lot of work to do weekly! Anyway, looking forward to a good night sleep and hopefully a ride tomorrow. Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Sunday, May 2, 2021 – A Lovely Visit with Maggie, Pack Up for Departure

Hi Sweetie!
Not a whisper of a breeze last night, so it was pretty hot for awhile. I’m really sorry I didn’t get further north earlier this year, these 90 degree days are a killer! After chores and breakfast, I did my PT exercises, first time in over a week! I thought that with all the riding and walking I’ve been doing that my knee would be fine, but when I did my exercises today, I had really taken a step backward, so I’m going to have to be more diligent in future! Maggie arrived just before noon, but it was so hot by then we decided just to hang out today, and ended up chatting all afternoon, grilling burgers again, and just having a pleasant day. She left around six, then I got busy packing up everything so that I can get out of here early tomorrow, it’s going to be a long day. I had a little trouble with the generator, it started fine, then petered out a few minutes later. I figured it was the propane so I opened another tank and started it again, and the same thing happened. I remember the low oil default, so I checked the oil and it was low, so I ended up putting about half a quart in, started it again, and the same thing STILL happened, though I think it was probably just because it was too hot. When I opened the cover, there was a big nest in there, so I know I still have mice. And last night, Lola had another barking fit in the middle of the night, so that’s another clue. I’m going to have to get brutal next week and really chase them down. Anyway, I still had two bars of fresh water left, and enough power in the batteries from the solar panel to watch a little TV and keep the fan running in the bedroom till I go to bed, so it was a really good experiment in boondocking this week. Had my shower, now I’m off to bed! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Saturday, May 1, 2021 – Nice Quiet Day

Hi Darlin’!
Had a FABULOUS night sleep, after all that exercise yesterday, even going to bed early I ended up sleeping in a bit, really nice! Had a pretty relaxing day, just took one short trip to Tractor Supply which is right up the road, and took a little chaney root hike, but other than that, I just mostly read for the day. Guess I needed the rest! I’ve been really doing well on fresh water and solar energy this week, we’ve had so much sunshine, I probably haven’t had the generator on for more than an hour or so total this week, and I’ve been able to start it without jumping it every single time! Also, I’ve only just gotten down to two bars on the fresh water tank this afternoon, amazing considering I’ve been showering every night, though I did wash my hair with the trough hose the other day. I’m getting more confident in being able to boondock and dry camp a bit more, so my only consideration for doing more backwoods stuff is the size of the rig. Sandy called to say she’s pretty sure she’s going to join me at Loretta Lynns later in the month, which will be great, and Maggie may be joining me as well. Getting a pretty good network going here now. Sandy really wants me to come up to Michigan and stay at their place, bragging on their green grass for the horses, and I see no reason why that shouldn’t be a good place to go in July, since it’s definitely above the 42nd parallel! Anyway, time for shower and bed. Love you, babe! Good night!

Friday, April 30, 2021 – Wonderful Long Ride with Friend

Hi Babe!
Had a good night sleep, though it took awhile for the room to cool down, quite a hot one today with not a lot of breeze in the evening. I was still reading when I suddenly felt a cold, clammy presence on my leg, which I instinctively flicked away, then I turned the light on to see what it was. Didn’t see anything for a minute, then suddenly it landed on me again, and then jumped off and went to the wall, where I saw it was a tree frog! Eeewww! I put a sock on my hand and managed to catch it, got up and threw it outside. Obviously I’m going to have to be more careful about Lola leaving the door open! After I got up and did chores and had breakfast, I decided I had time to run to the feed store for some hay (which was kind of dusty, but I didn’t have much choice), another stop at Tractor Supply for propane and Nutrena, and a quick stop at the gas station to fuel up the truck, and I still made it back before 10:30. Maggie and I had agreed to meet between 10 and 10:30, and she had arrived only a few minutes before me, so it all worked out. I put the hay and propane away, then we got busy saddling the horses. I had trimmed Apollo’s front feet yesterday, and decided to trim Flash’s today, so that took a little bit of time (though not much, he was quite still for me, thank goodness!), and we left shortly after that. There’s a small civil airport nearby, and we had a lot of planes going over us in the Preserve, and then we saw a whole bunch of skydivers appear out of seemingly nowhere! Very colorful chutes! Later we saw the biggest flock of buzzards I’ve ever seen, and though I could smell some carrion, never did see what it was, but it was in a cow pasture, so that’s what we figured it was. We took the long loop in the opposite direction, with a couple of variations, and Maggie did a brilliant job of getting Apollo to resume his nice little jog that I love so much, which is just the right pace to keep up with Flash. He’s been ridden by so many newbies lately that he hasn’t done it in awhile, but she got him right up to snuff. Flash also managed to do a nice little fino, just a half gear up from his walk, which is very smooth, so we made decent time, but it still took more that 2.5 hours to make the trip, and it was quite hot (over 90 again today), so we were both worn out by the time we got back to camp. Maggie went straight over to the trough hose and ran cold water over herself, but she soon recovered. I untacked the horses and ran the hose over them before putting them on their anchors, where the spent the rest of the afternoon. Maggie and I crashed into the loungers and stayed THERE the rest of the afternoon as well! We had more lively discussions today, until she had to leave to have dinner with her roommate Nancy, who has been gone for a couple of weeks and just got back last night. I had dinner on my own (sausage on the grill!), and settled down for the evening. SLIGHTLY cooler tonight, and I’ve been running the fan in my bedroom for a few hours, so hopefully it will be easier to get to sleep tonight. Going to bed early, though, definitely need to make up for my tiredness! Still kind of coming down from all the stress of the past few months, but starting to get back in the swing of things! Shower soon, then bed, so good night, sweetie! Love you!

Thursday, April 29, 2021 – A Second Ride at St. Sebastian Preserve and Visit with Friend

Hi Sweetheart!
Starting to feel like things are getting back to my normal! Slept well with earplugs in, then just after breakfast I took Apollo out for a short loop, just over 5 miles. He was a bit skittish today, lots of smells and a whole new landscape, so I kept my hands near the horn just in case he did something silly. After all, I’m under doctor’s orders not to fall off my horse onto my new knee (if that’s even possible!), so I was being extra careful. We mostly walked, but I did manage to jog for a bit, which I suspect is all good for my knee-strengthening. We got back to camp a bit after noon, another hot one today, so I rinsed him down and put them out on their anchors. Not long afterwards, my friend Maggie arrived, and we chatted away until the vet arrived at around 2:45. When the other vet in Jupiter did all the vaccinations, he wasn’t able to float their teeth because he had recently had back surgery, so I found another vet locally (recommended by Maggie) who was able to come out today to do that for me. She did a great job, using electric tools, and was done in good time for a reasonable price. Afterward, I cooked some burgers on the grill and Maggie and I had a great dinner, chatted some more, made plans for tomorrow, then she and her crazy dog Sedona headed out. By the way, I put a mousetrap out in the back of the trailer last night, and sure enough, there was a mouse trapped in it this morning! Wonderful! Lola’s been hearing them in the middle of the night, sometimes trying to scare them off with a fury of barking (which is hard to sleep through!), so I’m hoping I can stop an infestation and get rid of some more, if there are any. Settled down for the evening, washed my hair using the hose by the water trough in order to save water in the trailer (I do not want to go through the hassle of trying to fill up the tank again, so I’m being VERY stingy), but will take a quick shower before heading to bed, just to get off the sweat of the day. I might have done that at the horse trough hose, too, but two women, three horses and a mini showed up to do a photo shoot around sunset, so I decided not to. Anyway, time to go now, another hot one tonight, stayed in Florida a week or two too long! Oh, by the way, got my lab results back and my cholesterol took a significant plunge since my last test. Don’t know if it’s my change in eating habits or the chaney root tea, but the doctor seems happy with my progress, so hopefully I won’t have to start taking any pills. I’ll just keep doing both and see how it goes! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 – Another Truck Repair Done and Labs

Hi Darlin’!
Woke up to the sound of vehicles again, I think tonight I’ll put my earplugs in so I can sleep a little later! Since I couldn’t have breakfast because I was having a cholesterol lab done late in the morning, after chores I went to work on the window of my truck. I found a really good video that made it seem really simple, and believe it or not, it actually turned out that way! I started around 8:30 and 75 minutes later I was putting my tools away! Now my rear window goes up and down perfectly, thank you very much! I decided to head out early to my labs just in case they could take me early, but I ended up waiting even beyond my original appointment time, though not by too much. Of course, the labs only took a couple of minutes, but by then I was starving, so I looked up diners on my phone and found one on the way back called the Pelican Diner, which actually ended up being in the clubhouse of a golf club! Service was kind of slow and the corn beef hash I had was actually mostly corned beef with very little hash (which can be a good thing), topped off with a couple of poached eggs, which made for a nice change. But it was a heavy meal, and when I got back to camp and stretched out in my lounger, I actually dozed off for nearly two hours! I guess I’m starting to get back to my relaxed self, finally letting go of the stress of being in close quarters with others and having to live by someone else’s needs and schedule, now I can do what I want when I want it, and it’s quite a relief. I put a little more power steering fluid in this morning, but I’m not seeing any leaks, so maybe the air in the system is slowly working itself out, it seemed like it was all working a little bit better today. I spent the day reading a book that I had gotten from a friend of a friend, about a family in East TN during the Civil War, and really enjoyed it. I actually read the whole thing today, finishing it off just before it was time to feed the horses. I let them wander in the field again (though Flash kept heading for the road, so eventually I did put an anchor on him to slow him down), and the nurse came again by with both her kids today and played with Lola for awhile, wearing her out, thankfully. Watched an hour of TV, but now it’s time for shower and bed, so good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 – FIRST RIDE BACK ON THE ROAD!!

Hi Babe!
Had a pretty good night sleep, though I was awakened by the sound of a vehicle after the gates opened, then the sound of one of the horses trumpeting at something, but still, it was a good time to get up. There was a beautiful full moon just about setting when I looked out the bedroom window, so lovely! For some reason the clock on my phone jumped ahead an hour for awhile, don’t know what that was about! I was going to go riding first thing, but I’ve been trying to find a new wastebasket (my duct tape fix didn’t last, and I really like this small size), and I had ordered one from a Walmart in Vero, but then got an email that it was canceled because they didn’t have it after all, so I went searching again (obviously it’s an item that’s about to be discontinued), but I finally found one in West Melbourne about 25 miles away, so I figured I better go get it before it was gone, and they were nice enough to put it aside for me. I ran up there, got that and a few other groceries, then when I got back I saddled up Flash to go for a ride. It was FANTASTIC! Well, the trails are mostly just typical Florida savanna, with one nice section on the west side that’s wooded and shady, but it didn’t matter. Flash was in the mood to go, go, go and we averaged between six and seven miles an hour for the most part. He was a little flighty just because he hasn’t been on a new trail in awhile, but he soon settled down. Lola had a job keeping up with us! In any event, it was a great ride. We saw lots of deer including two baby spotted fawns and a big box turtle crossing the trail in front of us. There were some patches of water along the way, too, apparently they had a lot of rain last week. It was perfect, a nice breeze kept it from getting too hot, and a great time was had by all! After we got back, I rinsed Flash down, then got Apollo out on his anchor and let them graze around the field for a few hours. Meanwhile, the left rear window of my truck has suddenly dropped down overnight and won’t come back up, so I did some research and discovered the repair I need to make, a new power window regulator assembly, which I was able to get at an Advance Auto less than a mile away on the main road, with a good discount for ordering online. I also picked up some Chinese food for dinner, in the mood for something a little different, bourbon chicken, which wasn’t bad. I love sitting outside having dinner! I put up the front panel of my screen room just to block out some of the sun since I’m facing mostly west and it really made a big difference. Still got a nice breeze, but cut down on the direct sunlight big-time. A nurse and her kid stopped by to ask if they could say hello to the horses, and they played with Lola for a bit, too. It was sunset when they left, time for me to come inside and settle down, watched a movie, now it’s time for shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Monday, April 26, 2021 – FINALLY BACK ON THE ROAD!!

Hi Sweetie!
Finally got back on the road again, YAY!! I feel like I wasted so much time these past few months, but ultimately, I guess I got a lot done in retrospect. The trailer is in much better working order with the slide-out repair, new ramp rubber and new awning, the truck has new suspension and shocks and a new brake booster, and I’ve got a new knee that I hope will eventually work better than the old one, so it’s all good! I got up bright and early, though, in order to try bleeding the power steering fluid, something in the system just doesn’t feel quite right, so I spent an hour doing that, then going for a test drive, and even though the power steering still feels a bit tight, the brake problem I was having seemed to disappear. I’m more worried about brakes right now, I can live with slightly harder steering for now. So I managed to get everything packed up and ready to got by about 11:45, then all I had to do was catch the horses. Flash trotted away from me once, but didn’t go far and I managed to catch him without much trouble and got him loaded, and he did great going up the new ramp, no slipping at all! Apollo was so funny, that after I got Flash tied in and closed the partition, I just stepped out of the way and pointed, and Apollo climbed right in, no halter, no lead, no nothing! I get him tied in then off we went, just before noon. It only took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to reach Sebastian Ranch Camp, and finding the campsite was easy. There are four nice little wooden paddocks, mostly covered, so it didn’t take me long to get hay out for them, but I really had a problem with water. They have one spigot of non-potable water that was so crusted up I couldn’t get the hose off, and the hose was too short to reach any of the paddocks except the nearest one. I had to carry buckets of water over to fill Apollo’s bucket, and took about fifteen minutes maneuvering the trailer close enough to reach it, it could barely reach so I had to bungee it in. I called the office and they managed to get a volunteer, Joe, out about an hour later, and because the hose was so short, the water was getting blocked by an air block of some kind, and it had only gone up from empty to about a third by the time he got there. He saw the problem and went back to his shop and managed to find a longer hose and some channel locks (which I had tried but was afraid I would break it, and didn’t want to destroy it, leave that for them!), but he managed to get the hose off and replace it with one that had a splitter. He said he’d leave it on for the week for me, take it off later. Anyway, that whole deal took me to after 4:00 before I was even able to complete the filling up of the trailer tank, so now I had to move the trailer over. I was hoping there would be some shade, but there wasn’t really, so I focused on getting the best placement to get the most breeze, so I pointed the back end northwest, so I could catch the east wind that’s coming through today and tomorrow, and hopefully wind from just about anywhere else to some degree. Anyway, got out my rug and chairs and my solar panel, then went down and got my permit paid at what they call the “bunkhouse” and was back in camp by 5:00, ready to settle down. I sat out in one of my chairs for a bit, suddenly Lola perked up and I saw her looking at a deer come into view, then a few moments another one, then another, and another! They were a good 100 yards off, but it was nice to see wildlife. Fortunately, it’s far enough from the freeway not to hear any noise, so I expect it to be nice and quiet tonight, apparently there are no other campers here except me and Joe (down at the bunkhouse), and he closes the gates at sunset, so no traffic either. With temps in the low 60’s, should be perfect sleeping weather! Anyway, enough rambling, I’m just so glad to be back on the road, doing my own thing! Lola had a good walkabout, we fetched for a bit, had dinner, now I’m ready for an early night, just a quick shower and off the bed! Love you, my darlin’! Good night!