Tuesday, August 3, 2021 – Laundry and Runaround Day

Hi Sweetie!
Had a great night sleep last night, went to be early, got up at 8:00, got my chores and breakfast done, as well as a load of laundry first things. Surprisingly, the generator started with no problem, even though I didn’t run it at all yesterday, so I guess my solar panel is helping to get the charge up on the battery, just as I had hoped.. I’ve been chasing down some hay and was hoping to get some today, but the earliest will be tomorrow. We’re so close to civilization here that I wore my earplugs to keep out the noise of sirens and a little traffic, but it makes it pretty convenient to everything. The nearest Tractor Supply is less than 10 minutes away, so I went there and filled up a couple of propane tanks, plus ordered a couple more bags of Balancer because they could have it delivered by next Friday. Then I headed to Walmart for a few things (which, as always, turned out to be MORE than a few things!), then went to Kroger for fuel, though I had trouble finding the station, as it was behind the store rather than in front of it. Thought about riding when I got back, but decided against it. I’ll go tomorrow in the morning, and be back in plenty of time to get hay in the late afternoon. Spent the day doing some research, was a bit flummoxed when I went to the Waterloo website and it said that the entire camp was sold out for the whole week of Labor Day, when I was planning on being there. When I called, though, they said they just don’t accept reservations during that time, it’s first come, first served, and said I should have no problem even with a rig my size. I was relieved to hear that! Did some reading as well, and generally relaxed most of the rest of the day. Settled in for the evening, watched an interesting movie with Judi Dench called Red Joan, based on a true story of a WWII spy. Now I’m ready for shower and bed, so off I go! Love you, darlin’! Good night!

Monday, August 2, 2021 – Travel Day to Highlands State Recreation Area

Hi Babe!
I had a terrible night sleep, though I don’t really know why. The temperature was great, though I had to put the heavy quilt on, which was cozy, but I ended up reading until about 2:00, then still couldn’t get to sleep. Eventually I did, but then it was 9:00 by the time I woke up in the morning. No worries, though, my trip today was short, but I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before, I left behind my leveling ramp, darn it! I called down there as soon as I realized it (I had reach Highlands by then), and they claim they couldn’t find it, but the camp was nearly empty so I don’t know who grabbed it. Well, I do have that piece of 2X10 leftover from when I build the new rack for the water tank, thank goodness, so all I need is the metal ramp end, which I can pick up at Lowe’s or Home Depot when I go out. I was disappointed, but, hey, that’s the way things go, and it seems to me that that board had broken when I backed up on it this time anyway, so no big loss, I guess. Anyway, we arrived safe and sound at Highlands, a primitive camp with a single water spigot, which, I can’t believe this, has a spring-loaded handle! How dumb is that. Well, thankfully, that’s easily defeated with the right size bungee, so I managed to fill up everything before I parked anyway. The Michigan DNR website is weird though, it claims that only RV’s up to 30′ can fit into a 70′ site! I’ve been finding that in a lot of places. Fortunately, we got it straightened out in the office, and they did have a couple of sites available for the two weeks I plan to spend here, and one, #9, turned out to be just fine. All the sites have highline posts, but it’s not exclusively a horse camp, regular campers can come here, too. By the look of the highlines, none of them have been used in a long time! I decided to put up the fence so they would have more room to move around, and they’ve been stuck on a highline for several weeks now, and they really liked grazing and rolling, so I’m glad I made the extra effort. I arrived about 12:30, got to the campground around 1:00 when I started filling up with water, then got everything setup in a couple of hours. I didn’t put the screen room up at first, hoping the bugs weren’t too bad, but by 4:30 the mosquitoes started to make an appearance, so I put the screen room up after all. This place is pretty wide open, though they’ve planted some saplings around, (in places that will probably be a problem for a big rig backing up in twenty years or so!), but I’m certainly going to get my share of solar power! The forecast is for sunny skies all week, 70’s during the day, 50’s at night, so perfect weather. I’m going to experiment and see just how long I can go without running my generator (except for laundry, which I need to do), just to see if I can make it through an evening of watching TV and recharging my electronics from the solar energy I store during the day. With 15 hour days, and wide open spaces where I should get almost all of that converted to battery power, it will be interesting to see how that goes! Anyway, it’s already getting cooler, I’m hoping for a better night sleep tonight, so I’m planning on getting to bed early. I’ll be heading in for my shower soon, then bed, so I’ll say good night now! Love you!

Sunday, August 1, 2021 – Final Ride at Ionia, with Alayna

Hi Sweetie!
Well, once again, the weatherman threw us a curveball. While it was a beautiful day yesterday, there was a forty percent chance of rain overnight at 4:00 a.m., which turned into 100 percent rain at about 1:30. It was so loud, I heard it even with my earplugs in. I had to get up and close my windows, and unfortunately, there was still some wet spots on the bedroom window in the morning, so I still haven’t completely solved my leak problem. I felt bad for Alayna in her tent, but she got through it all right, even with the thunder and lightning. Anyway, by daylight it was all gone, and it was a beautiful morning. We didn’t exactly get an early start (like me, Alayna’s not an early morning person!), but we did get out on the trail just after 10:30, after I did a load of laundry and got it hung up so it would dry while we were gone. We did another 9 ½ miles today, and Sundance wasn’t any worse for the wear despite how little he’s been ridden this year. Flash was perfectly fine as well, despite it being his third day in a row. We went through the obstacle course again just for fun, and got back into camp around 1:30. I really enjoyed Alayna’s company this weekend, she’s easy to have a conversation with, and easy to be quiet with as well, a good combination in my book! She got packed up and left not too long after that, then I got busy starting to put stuff away for our departure tomorrow. I paced myself through the afternoon, but it really didn’t take very long, even taking the screen room down is getting to be fairly easy, despite the fact I haven’t used it in quite awhile. I suspect I may be using it the rest of the month, though, since my plan is to stay two weeks at the next three places, and I’d almost forgotten how pleasant it is to sit outside without getting eaten by bugs! I think Lola appreciated that too, even though it keeps her locked in a bit more. She knows she’s not supposed to leave the screen room, and did pretty well this weekend considering the number of dogs running loose, she only insisted on escaping a few times :-). I had a conversation with the last remaining camper from the group next door, turns out she’s into mounted orienteering, a sport I’d like to look into (and keep missing by a weekend whenever I find out about it), so we exchanged contact numbers and she said she’s keep me apprised. I need to get on their mailing list and check their schedule more regularly, I’d really like to give that a try one day. Anyway, I had dinner early, between chores, and finally settled down for the evening, with just about everything put away and the truck hooked up and ready to go. The next stop is less than 100 miles, so I should be able to get there fairly early, but according to their website, they have NO sites big enough for me, even though they say the site lengths are ofter 70-80 feet! Still trying to figure that out. Anyway, we’ll figure that out tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ve had my shower, and I just need to finish up before heading to bed! Good night, my darling! Love you!

Saturday, July 31, 2021 – Another Nice Long Ride with Alayna

Hi Babe!
Wow, what a party the neighbors were having last night! I went to bed around 11:15, and it was still a raucous bunch, with some laughing really loud, and another singing at the top of their lungs, and the loud generator going strong. Thank goodness for earplugs! I put mine in and the world faded away, so it didn’t take me long to get to sleep. Woke up at a reasonable hour, got my chores and breakfast done, fixed one of the fans in the horse compartment, it had fallen off and pulled it’s wires out, so that was a chore waiting to be done. Alayna was supposed to be here around noon, but she had a lot of things not go right, so she was late and showed up with Sundance instead of Glory, which was fine, probably better, since Glory tends to make a fuss with the geldings, it was much calmer with two geldings. Anyway, she finally got here around 1:30, so we were on the trail by just after 2:00, and had a very nice 10.5 mile ride around most of the perimeter. Sundance is mostly blind, so he was having a little trouble navigating some of the steeper hills, but he managed pretty well. When we got back to camp, we decided to do the obstacle course, which has quite a number of interesting things to do. Steps, gates, logs to step over, and Flash managed most of them. Got back to camp, put everyone away, made a nice grilled salmon dinner that we ate at the picnic table, then settled down for the night. What a beautiful day! Because we had a cooler night last night, the bugs were a lot less today, and the weather, with a nice little breeze, was just perfect! And it’s supposed to be a great day again tomorrow, exactly the kind of weather I love to chase, seventies in the day, mid-50’s to low-60’s at night. Couldn’t ask for more beautiful weather! Hope it stays this good throughout August! Alayna has put up her tent, and we’ll be sitting around chatting for a bit before I hit the showers and head off to bed! So I’ll say good night early, my love! Love you!

Friday, July 30, 2021 – Nice Long Ride on Flash

Hi Darlin’!
Had a good night sleep, managed to get up before 8:00, got more chores done, had another one of Alayna’s grandma’s cinnamon rolls (mmm, mmm, good!), did a few essentials on my computer, then saddled up Flash and headed out for a ride. What a beautiful day it was! Perfect temps in the low 70’s, sunny skies, just fabulous! This is a fairly small park so it’s not too easy to get lost, but I did manage to get off-track from the route I had planned for myself. Part of the problem is that, whereas there are numbered intersections on the trails, those numbers aren’t on the map, so it’s impossible to plan accordingly. Also, the map is hand-drawn and bears no resemblance to where the actual trails are, my GPS is so far off it’s ridiculous. That said, I still managed to get all the trails I wanted done in, just not necessarily in the order or direction that I had planned, but no worries, it was still a nice ride. It got a lot cooler last night, so the bug levels were way down today, especially the mosquitoes, so that made it a lot more pleasant. That didn’t necessarily make Flash go any slower, though, he’s getting in very good condition, and he’s quite happy to go as fast as I will let him, which is as fast as he wants to go! Lola had quite a run for her money, too, she’s sleeping soundly in her bed. They have quite an extensive obstacle course just next to the camp, so I took Flash through most of it, and he did quite well, even with the ones he hasn’t seen before. One was this crazy spidery looking thing with a barrel on it’s side in the middle, and the point was to get over the barrel, but it was pretty big for Flash to step over, so he pop-jumped over it instead, which threw me a little off balance but I managed to stay on nevertheless. There’s one obstacle I just haven’t been able to get him to do, and they have the same one at Loretta Lynn’s, it’s a big wide tire on it’s side. This one is nice because they’ve even put a rubber stall mat on the top instead of concrete, but I still haven’t been able to get him up on it. I’ll keep trying, though! Got back to camp, got him settled in, then I went and filled up the water tank and redistributed it to the horses tubs and the trailer, with some leftover, which I may need for laundry on Sunday, or not. Settled in for the evening, watched a nice Reese Witherspoon movie and another Broadchurch (not sure why I’m watching those, it’s so depressing!), now it’s time for shower and bed. Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Thursday, July 29, 2021 – Lazy Day in Camp

Hey Sweetie!
Well, surprise, surprise! Despite a 90% chance of rain, and radar that did look a bit looming, we ended up with virtually no rain last night. With earplugs in, I had a great night sleep. Temps weren’t really much cooler, but low 80’s is very tolerable, especially compared to what’s going on south of here! Decided not to do much today, just in the mood for a quiet day, so I mostly read, did a bit of work on my computer, mostly planning the next couple of months of travel and camping. Made my reservation for the flight out to Vegas for work in September, decided against trying to be at Loretta Lynn’s for the Fall Ride, logistics were just too complicated, so instead I’m flying out of Indianapolis. One of the Indiana ladies I’ve been riding with, and who’s a good friend of Trish, has a boarding stable, so I contacted her about keeping Lola and the horses and trailer there, and she was more than willing. I was even more ecstatic when she gave me her address and it turns out she’s only ten miles from the airport! Couldn’t ask for a better location! Plus it means I don’t have to rush south when it might still be pretty hot down there. I’ve pretty much decided to stay in Michigan as long as possible, especially now since I’ve bought my annual Recreation Pass, with two weeks each at three more horse camps just west of Detroit. I’ve done my research, and they’re the only three that have fairly easy access to water, i.e. it’s not a bloody 1st century A.D. hand pump! What’s up with that?? Anyway, that will take me right up to the time I need to get to Indianapolis, then after I get back from Vegas, heading south again. I’m determined to not get stuck in near freezing weather again! I’m always a week or two late getting far enough south to avoid temps where I can see my breath, and I’m going to do everything I can to make it to Florida, at least north Florida, before it gets too cold. I’ve also noticed my EECVI runs out in mid-October, and even though that’s a bit earlier than usual, I’d love to try to get down there before it runs out, so I can save myself that hassle of trying to get one on the road. But that’s a long way off, so we’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’ve had my quiet day, had my shower, and now I’m ready for bed. Good night, babe! Love you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 – Second Ride at Ionia on Apollo, Then To The Lake

Hey Babe,
Had a terrible night sleep last night. Read until 2:00, and still didn’t get to sleep for a long time afterward. Lola woke me up with barking a couple of times after that, so not surprisingly, it was nearly 10:00 by the time I got out of bed. I hate it when I start the day so late! Thank goodness I have patient horses, they didn’t make any fuss until they saw me come out of the trailer. Got more chores done, then ran down to the office to pick up a pair of replacement Ariat boots that I had delivered here, then came back and saddled up Apollo for a short ride today. Despite reasonably good footing with only a few spots of rock, he kept trying to stay off the trail, which meant I was constantly being pushed into the overgrowth, which unfortunately here has a lot of vines covered with pricklys and thorns, so I wasn’t too happy about that. Not sure what his problem is, his feet seem fine, but I’m going to just put boots on him for awhile, or better yet, not ride him at all for awhile to see if whatever it is gets better. Just worried more about him getting stiff from standing around all the time! We went about 5 ½ miles, including a small loop south of camp that goes through the day parking area, so I’ve pretty much covered most of the trails, just a few crossovers that I haven’t done yet. It was actually a bit more interesting today, less around fields and more in the woods, but still, not the most exciting trails I’ve ever done. The bugs were bad again, but when I went shopping yesterday, I pretty much emptied the shelves of what remaining insecticides they had there, so I sprayed myself and Apollo pretty good. Lola decided to stay home today, guess we wore her out doing our fast pace on Flash for ten miles yesterday! After we got back and I put Apollo up, I decided to take a quick dip in the lake, it had gotten pretty hot today. Blew up my River tube rather than my kayak, put together an oar and headed down to Picnic Point. The mosquitoes were terrible on land, but once I got out onto the water it wasn’t bad. Wasn’t exactly refreshing, though, the water was practically bathtub warm, like a pool in summer in Florida. Glad I did it though, made for a change. Got back, did a few more chores, put some stuff away since we’re expecting rain overnight, and hopefully cooler temps! Settled down for the evening, grilled a nice burger, now I’m headed for shower and bed, hopefully I’ll bet to sleep a bit earlier, I’m yawning already! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 – First Ride at Ionia Recreation Area, Then Shopping

Hi Darlin’,
Well, I probably should have driven around camp a bit yesterday to look for another site, since the group next to me is very large, fairly loud, has countless dogs that bark for no apparent reason, and have several generators that they run a LOT, one in particular that’s really loud. That said, I put my earplugs in last night and slept like a baby. One generator finally went off around 11:15, but there was another one still going when I put my earplugs in, so who knows when that got turned off. Too much trouble to move, though, so I’ll just have to live with it. Got up a little after 8:00, did my chores, had breakfast, and saddled up Flash since I wanted to get out before it got too hot. I took heed of the advice I got about how bad the bugs were and really put on a good layer of fly spray on Flash and doused myself with a lot of Deep Woods Off. I found the trailhead and headed out of camp, and within moments were were covered with flies and mosquitoes, though they were repelled a bit by all the insecticide. The first couple of hundreds yards were through woods, and though there were a lot of trees down, it wasn’t bad. Then we spent the next several miles doing little more that go around fallow fields full of wildflowers, very boring. We finally came into some more woods as we reached the west side of the park. I took a turn that went by a big pond, which was the most interesting part of the trail up to that point, then realized it was a wrong turn and had to go back anyway. I also took what looked like a more interesting trail, the first single-track I’d come across, but that turned out to be wrong, too, it had a bunch of trees and limbs down on it, obviously not maintained, and eventually I came to a big tree across the trail with no way around it, at least not one I would take Flash over, so we had to backtrack again back to the main trail. Essentially, there aren’t any single track trails here, it’s all wide roads, with just a few places with stones so not too bad, didn’t need boots. Other than a few crossovers between trails, there’s not much else to see here, so one week is going to be more than enough here. I did see a couple of deer, one nice big buck in one of the fields, but this place is designed more for hunting than horseback riding, pretty boring by my standards, even without comparing it to Hungerford where I just left. The flies and mosquitoes were really bad, too, and Flash’s answer was to try to outrun them, so we were flying along most of the way, averaging about 5-6 mph with spurts up to 7+. We did 10.23 miles in under two hours, so he was definitely booking it. Not sure what’s going to happen when I ride Apollo tomorrow, but I’m definitely taking my horsehair flyswatter with me! Got back, put Flash up and gave them both more hay, then changed and headed into town, which is only about 10 minutes away. Refilled two of my propane tanks and went shopping at Walmart for some essentials, then got back to camp around 4:00. Settled down early for the evening, grilled a nice Italian sausage, with leftover mac and cheese and a nice salad, and relaxed the rest of the evening. Now, as always, it’s time for shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Monday, July 26, 2021 – Travel Day to Ionia Recreation Area

Hi Sweetie,
Got up with the alarm and got everything packed up and ready to go by about 9:30, then waited a bit for Alayna’s grandmother who wanted to see the trailer before I left. She came bearing delicious gifts of some melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls, one of which I had for breakfast on the way. A fairly short and uneventful trip here, though the site I was first assigned was way too small for me, so I drove around until I found one that works just fine, though it’s not really close to water or have corrals, like I had hoped. Regardless, it’s a nice spot with lots of room, even thinking of putting up the fence tomorrow since there’s a lot of nice grass here. It took me a couple of hours to set up because I even put up the screen room. I had been warned that the bugs here, particularly the mosquitoes, were brutal on the trail, and as I sat outside in daylight, they were already starting to get to me, so for the first time in a LONG time, I put up the screen room. It took me awhile to fill up with water and fill the trailer tank and all the horses’ water buckets, and it was quite a hot day today, though it’s supposed to get cooler after tomorrow. Alayna is coming to join me on Saturday, and Trish was planning on coming Thursday but isn’t sure she can make it now. Her mom’s funeral was on Saturday, and I think she might just need some time along, but we’ll see how she feels in a couple of days. Anyway, I’m all settled in, though it’s nowhere near quiet here, there’s a big group just a few sites down from me, and there scheduled to be here all week, lot of noisy, barking dogs and whinnying, neighing horses, so I’m not sure how peaceful it will be here. Looking forward to seeing what the trails are like here tomorrow. Meanwhile, it’s time for a much needed shower after all my sweaty exertion today, and looking forward to hopefully a good night sleep. Love you, babe! Good night!

Sunday, July 25, 2021 – Ride With Alayna, Pack Up Day

Hi Babe,
Not a bad night sleep, but got up with the alarm so I wouldn’t be late meeting up with Alayna. We had arranged earlier to ride today, so I got my chores done, which included two loads of laundry through the wash and hung out to dry, then had Flash saddled up in time, though I was delayed a few minutes because I put on the breast collar I had bought for him back in late May. I didn’t think it would fit him, but once I got it on, it was fine. We headed off to do the new trails, surprisingly Alayna had never done them before, so we went directly up there. They are both beautiful trails, again alternating between beautiful deciduous and gorgeous pine plantation sections. It was a bit over 11.5 miles. The last trail we did was Trail 10, which is along a pipeline (though it doesn’t look like one), and it’s a straight shot back to the day parking area. By that time, Flash was tired of going slow, and Alayna’s horse Glory wasn’t quite up to it, so Flash and I took off at top speed, just to use up some of his excess energy. We cantered and gaited the entire trail, jumping over logs and just having ourselves a good old time. We reached the trailhead in no time, and waited for them to arrive. She had told me her grandma was disappointed that she didn’t see my Snowy River performance the other day, so I offered to come over to their house, which is only a few miles away, and do it for them, which I did after I had dinner. They had some company that enjoyed it, too, and we all had a nice visit. After I got back to the trailer, I packed a few more things away before settling down for the evening. I’ve already had my shower, I’ve made the bed, and now I’m heading for it! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!