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!

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!

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!

Saturday, April 24, 2021 – A Bit of Preparation Today

Hi Babe,
Managed to accomplish getting a lot of little things done today, in preparation for my departure on Monday. Checked the power steering fluid and it was perfect, checked the air in the truck tires, the back four were fine, the front two just needed a couple of pounds, I repaired a couple of things with superglue, including the lid on the garbage can that Lola had unceremoniously shoved off the bench seat in the dining room the other day and broken. I tried to find another one at Walmart yesterday, but all they had were huge ones, so I just fixed it with superglue and duct-tape, that should hold for a little while, anyway. Did some housekeeping and laundry, made up some satin balls for Lola, did my PT exercises, and still managed to play a bunch of computer games and read in between. It’s what passes for a busy day these days, though it’s nothing compared to the way it used to be, when I didn’t have time for anything. Got a lot done, at a leisurely pace, kind of nice. Anyway, I’m further along in getting ready than I thought I’d be, and since I’m only traveling about 80 miles on Monday, it should be an easy trip as long as nothing goes wrong. Finally settled in for the evening, a few hours of telly, and now it’s time for shower and bed. Good night, my sweet! Love you!

Friday, April 23, 2021 – Another Wasted Day!

Hi Darlin’,
Such a beautiful day today, but I ended up spending almost all of it inside sitting in the same chat room that I’ve been trying to get help on for the last two days, and after SEVEN HOURS watching the queue go from 230 to 22, the dang thing cut out on me AGAIN!! I still don’t have an answer to my simple question, but I finally managed to find a place on their website where I can actually send them an email, though I highly doubt anyone will get back to me anytime soon. Meanwhile, I finally had to run out to do some shopping and drop off some mail, plus I needed to take a longer test drive on the truck just to make sure it’s running okay (well, stopping, actually), and it seemed to be working fine. I’ll check the power steering fluid again in the morning and see if everything looks okay. So another mostly wasted day. I did have one good bit of news, the manager and Loretta Lynn’s ranch has agreed to let me come in a week early and volunteer for whatever help he needs, and he seemed amenable to hearing my suggestions about how they can improve their ride, so there’s that! So now I have to finish planning my trip up there, can’t decide if I want to try some new places after St. Sebastian, or do some repeat visits. I’ve covered most of the places between here and Tennessee over the years, especially those that can handle a big rig like mine, so I’ll have to do some more research and make some decisions soon. Meanwhile, it seems like the season is just about over down here, I was in the Walmart at what should have been a very busy time, late on a Friday afternoon, and it wasn’t busy at all! Still poorly managed, things the website said they had they didn’t have, so it was a bit frustrating, but oh, well, I’ll get over it. Settled down for the evening, had a nice shower, now I’m off to bed shortly! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Thursday, April 22, 2021 – Truck Repair DONE!

Hi Sweetie,
Well, after days of waiting around, I FINALLY got the parts to repair the truck, they arrived right around noon, so I quickly got busy taking everything apart and putting it together again. While it seemed like a straightforward job (famous last words!), and in fact it really was, but there was this ONE bolt, high up under the brake pedal that took me longer to take out and put back than the rest of the entire job put together! I swear, I had to ratchet that darn thing about 300 times, and that was after I tried every configuration of wrench adapter I had! I was beginning to think I’d rounded out the stupid thing, but I finally managed, about 1/32 of a turn at a time, or so it seemed. Anyway, I finished the job, then took it for a quick test drive up to the mailbox and back, stomping the brakes every so often, and it worked like a charm! No leaking, power steering fluid stayed up well, so I think that solves the problem. I’ll so a little shopping tomorrow, which will give it a little longer test drive on pavement and see how it goes, but I’m pretty confident. Frankly the scariest bit is this tiny little tin clip that connects the brake pedal to the entire braking system, I’ve checked it a dozen times to make sure it’s on right, it just seems like such a flimsy piece for such an important job! At one point during the repair, while I was inside the truck, thank goodness, a tree limb fell off above me and came crashing down, slamming the hood down and make several dents on the hood and along the windshield frame, not to mention making a horrendous noise in the process. If I had been under the hood when that came down, I’d probably have been knocked out cold! I took some pictures in case I decide to claim it on insurance, I’ll call tomorrow and see what that entails. Of course, I can’t do it now, but I might be able to manage to get it done the next time I have to fly out of town on business, maybe find a body shop near whatever airport I decide to fly out of. We’ll see. My hood definitely needs new paint anyway, the clear coat is peeling off and my little repair, though it keeps it from peeling more, doesn’t exactly look very good, if you look close. Anyway, after that job was done, I decided to reward myself and Lola by spending some time by the pool, and the weather was perfect for that, and Lola had a great time, too. I’ve been ignoring her for the last few days, she really needed the exercise. Then, of course, it was feeding time, James and I got that done in no time, and I was soon settling down for the evening. Jeff even noticed that I had combed out Gandalf the goat, which I finished off last night, thanked me, and said he looked like a million bucks now. He was so straggly looking before with his winter coat hanging off in patches, and I took pity on him considering how hot it has been, and he stood perfectly still for me both days. Good goat! Well, now it’s time for shower and bed, so good night, babe! Love you!