TN to KY

11/3/13 Sunday

I am leaving True West today.  I will be back, this is the best place I have been to so far, and I don’t see how it could be any better anywhere else.  I want to settle down here after my trip is over.  This area is magical and I am not exaggerating. Yesterday was the crowning glory to my week here.  In the past week I rode alone a couple of times and also with 3 different rider groups, one from FL, another from TX and the last ride was with one of the True West owners. I rode to the river, to the overlook, TeePee loop, to Fiddler’s Arch, and yesterday to Charrit Creek Lodge area where we hiked to the Twin Arches. Each ride was very different and each was a blast! My horses are fit, healthy and happy.  My cat is now venturing out from under the covers more, I guess she was afraid of the dog.  I miss Tucker but don’t dwell on it as much any more.

Donna and Shaun own this place (True West Campground, Jamestown, TN).  They bought it from a grumpy man that ran the business into the ground and deceived them when they purchased it.  They sold their home in NH and moved here with their daughter 3 years ago and have struggled and worked hard to turn around the camp’s reputation.  They are accommodating in ways that you never would expect… And they are on the edge of the most beautiful wild country anywhere… And the trails are well marked and the footing is great.  What else could I ask for?

Yesterday Donna took the day off and we trailered in their stock trailer to another trailhead.  We rode down a long hill, crossed another stream and tied our horses at Charit Creek, only about a mile from where we parked.  At the Lodge we chatted with a boyscout leader there with his boys hiking and a couple of other people hanging out on the porch there.  Everyone I’ve met here in TN thinks its the best place in the world to live, some have lived here their whole lives and others have ventured out but returned.

This lodge/hostel/horse facility is a dream-come-true place in the National Forest. Its a very old place that has recently been refurbished to a quaint hostel thru a commissioner named Larry.  Its history is long, it started as a hog farm then became a hunters lodge and then was almost shut down by the Forest Service until Larry came into the picture. A caretaker runs the place and lives there (a dream job I think, altho it is a lot of hard work).  There is no electricity. Everything is done the old ways, wood burning stoves, oil lamps, etc.  There is however a bath house with hot water (propane). For somewhere around $100 a night you can sleep here, be fed 2 meals a day and hike or ride some amazing country.  There is room for 10 horses in a barn, 2 corrals and a pasture. The bunk houses sleep 12 people and there are several other private cabins, one is a honeymoon suite.  Everything is rustic and nothing looks out of place as far as the modern world intruding on this little slice of heaven.  We put our horses in the corrals to take a hike up to the Twin Arches which are breathtaking.  I tried to upload a video of it but its too slow so I quit it. The view from the top is spectacular (altho my butt muscles are sore this morning from the climb).  I took a short video of the view.

I etched my new initials “KB” in the rock at the top.  Its sandstone so it was pretty easy and will probably fade rather quickly but it was a good place to do it.  My name change won’t happen until my divorce is final and that is still dragging on but I am looking forward to the day….

I got to hear Donna’s stories of their huge decision to change their lives by buying this place, about their newly wed daughter, about a horse that died and was buried here, about her first horse that is now battling EPM (? the disease that horses get from hay that a possum has urinated on), about the horse she was riding that she bought not knowing it was pregnant (the babies name is BOGO; buy one get one), about the ACTHA rides she has put on here and a bunch of other stuff. I like her and we had a peaceful fun time together.

I am going to a cabin in KY (state #8) next.  It has 3 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, laundry room and a HOT TUB!  My haul is very short, its just on the KY side of the same forest I’ve been riding here in TN. The woman I have been in contact with will be coming on Friday at which point I will stay in the trailer again, but I can use the cabin for my first 6 days.  They have cell service there, yeah.  Amazing how we get so dependent on these things.  I still don’t have plans for upcoming states: WV, VA, NC, SC and an overnight in northern FL but since I’ll have cell service it should be pretty easy to do in the cabin.

I am so looking forward to seeing Tommy in SC.  He’ll be there visiting a college buddy for Thanksgiving.  I miss my kids a lot even tho I didn’t actually see them that much before I left CA, we did text often and I felt more in touch with them that way. I hope they are all ok.  They are all little birds learning to fly on their own now. And I suppose I am empty nesting…somehow I thought I would feel liberated when this stage hit me, but its not that way, I feel sad and full of regrets, like I could of done it better for them somehow.  I think I’ll start watching the old family videos to try to remember the good times.

And I can’t wait to get to Jupiter to be with my dad.  He has had cancer for almost a year now and has responded to his treatments well.  I last saw him in June.  He has been my rock my whole life and especially this past horrible year.  I don’t think I would of made it this far with out him.  How can I learn to fly on my own without him?  Seems like a silly question for someone almost 60 years old.  24 years ago I danced with my dad like all brides do.  The song was Wings Beneath My Feet by Bette Middler.  I had cancer and didn’t think I was going to be able to have children. I was scheduled for a hysterectomy in 2 weeks but upon my mother’s insistence I agreed to spend our honeymoon in NYC visiting other doctors. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. The wedding was at my 200 year old farm house on 10 acres in the woods of Schooley Mountain, NJ.  Alex who was 2, called the place Fantasy Land.  I sold it…It seems like a century ago to me. I was so young (35) but felt so old already.  I thought I knew it all.

view from overlook ride on Dreamy

view from overlook ride on Dreamy

overlook view looking to the  left

overlook view looking to the left

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Donna

Donna

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honeymoon suite cabin

honeymoon suite cabin

the old barn

the old barn

bear trap

bear trap

stream crossing at the bottom of the hill going to Charrit Creek Lodge with Donna

stream crossing at the bottom of the hill going to Charrit Creek Lodge with Donna

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me on the porch of one of the cabins

me on the porch of one of the cabins

hostel bunk house

hostel bunk house

Our horses in the corrals

Our horses in the corrals

hike

hike

Twin Arch #1

Twin Arch #1

my new to be initials with my maiden name, Burns

my new to be initials with my maiden name, Burns

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me under an arch

me under an arch

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view from the top of the arches

view from the top of the arches

view from the top of an arch

view from the top of an arch

view from the top

view from the top

riding after our hike, it showered and we hoped for a rainbow when the sun came out but got this light show instead

riding after our hike, it showered and we hoped for a rainbow when the sun came out but got this light show instead

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2 thoughts on “TN to KY

  1. Kathy, this is amazing stuff here! You are growing by leaps and bounds and I’m so happy for you and your horses. Experiencing life at this level is inspiring to all….I love you!

  2. Kathy – what an amazing journey you are on and I was so happy you chose True West to experience what Tennessee has to offer. If you ever do come back, to visit or to stay, I certainly hope you will stop in to say hello. I enjoyed our ride together – it’s the best one I’ve had in a long time. I had a great time showing you some of Big South Fork’s best secrets. Take care and enjoy the ride!

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