A note on this “glamorous” journey…
It has been brought to my attention that some may think this is a glamorous extravagant trip I am taking; hauling my horses and riding in the lower 48 states. It is true that I am blessed to have the opportunity of time to do this. I will be 60 years old in 6 months, I am in the middle of a divorce and my 3 children are in college. I could not afford to live in the Los Angeles area, at least not in a safe place, and I could not find a job there. Let alone keep my horses, the amazing gifts from God that saved me from ending my life the last 8 years. It seemed like a good thing to do and when my therapist (Dr. Glass who generously waived her fees for me) endorsed it, it was set in stone.
Let me set the record straight… I am living in a trailer, that means I am living in about 95 square feet. About the size of my bathroom in the house I left behind. I stay in campgrounds that sometimes have electricity. I am struggling with a crushed self esteem, guilt and regret daily. I sleep in a sleeping bag because the trailer is so drafty and cold. I wake up from nightmares. I am scared often. I worry about the toll this trip is taking on my horses. I lost my sweet faithful dog to cancer in Arkansas. My kid’s think I have abandoned them. My rock, my dad, has cancer. My mom is struggling with private issues as are my two siblings. I have no trusty friends around me, only new ones that I meet along the way. I have very little money and I have borrowed most of what I do have. I am frustrated by my divorce which is lingering in the sluggish LA court system, dragged on and on by my ex not doing what he is supposed to do and who has possession of all of our assets. I usually do not have cell or internet service. I have been harassed by creditors from debts I got stuck with from my marriage even tho I have not worked in 15+ years, (I was a stay at home mom after we moved to CA).
I am on this trip to get my s— together, find a new affordable state to live in, and to reduce my cost of living in the process. Many wonderful things have happened and I am growing and healing by the grace of God (and my horses and the people I meet and the things I see and the time that all healing requires)….
but it is not “glamorous”.
Well that wasn’t a very positive way to start the day…
It was below freezing last night and I couldn’t get my fingers to work outside until it warmed up around 1:00. I had intended to ride Dreamy, sorry to have favorites, but she is mine. I wake up on her days and think “I get to ride Dreamy today!” She does best if she’s only ridden every other day so I try to stick to it. Dr. Bamford is sending me some Adequan to my next stop for her. When she’s on it she feels better and can go out more often. What a stupid company to stop production of such a popular drug for 6 months to move their factory.
They both had yesterday off because I just didn’t feel like riding and I got a bunch of other stuff done. I got the dumb phone internet issue fixed by going over to a neighbor’s and using his phone and wi-fi to contact Straight Talk. Two retired bachelor brothers that have a bunch of Rocky Mountain horses. I spent a long time there getting to know them, they were so friendly. Then I went to Whitley City and sat in McDonalds working on route planning and my blog. Also got a propane tank filled. It was dark when I found my way back to the cabin.
I moved out of the cozy cabin this morning. When my fingers started working again I rode Dreamy and since I heard gunfire I felt sorry for leaving Wildflower alone so I ponied her. We did the Cotton something loop which is 10.5 miles plus maybe 4 to get to it and back. I didn’t allow enough time so I was keeping an eye on the sun as it started go set. We had to trot whenever we weren’t scaling a big hill or going down one. There were several water crossings, one was kind of deep. There was a bunch of switchbacks built out of wood going down one grade, I’ve never seen anything like it.I didn’t see a single other person out there the entire time. We were out 3-1/2 hours. We are all beat now. I’m thinking that this is too much mileage for quarter horses. I’d like to ask Charni about that.
The other folks arrived when I was away. There’s about 6 horses and 2 trailers here now. I haven’t met any of them tho.
Its freezing again tonight but the trailer is warm. I made a Bertollis dinner with garlic bread and a salad. Now for a quick hot shower (the hot water tank is tiny) and early to bed.
BTW my next stop is Leatherwood in North Carolina. I leave here Sunday.
Kim had told me that when she arrived Friday I would be able to park by her barn and plug in until I left Sunday. As I was getting ready to go to bed, one of her guests knocked on my door and told me that I had to move to the road and run a cord thru the woods because Kim could not turn around in her lot with me there. I had texted her earlier about the parking situation and she responded so I was not thrilled to now be told to move in the dark. It is a tight entrance to her place, I had already hit my awning on the way in. Her 4+ Ohio guests helped me hook up, move and plug in (they were really nice and asked a lot of questions about my SHLEP and wanted to see the inside of my trailer) but during the night the electric went out. I switched the heat to gas (which it did automatically) and started my generator this morning.
My batteries are 2/3 full which means they are not holding the charge very well, something else to test and probably replace. (I later realize I read the monitor wrong) I heard that marine batteries hold their charge the longest but aren’t cheap. So in the long run I didn’t get such a great deal after all. I had already overpaid Kim $25, but I’m not paying the maid fee of $50 as her instructions said too. I left the place clean and washed the sheets, towels and dishes. So in my opinion if any adjustment is made, she owes me credit for the electricity for two nights, at least for refilling my propane tanks. But on the bright side (which I am trying to do more and more) it gives me the opportunity to test my heating/propane/generator system going primitive in a relatively safe environment.
There are at least 9 horses here now, not including mine, (all looking at me with interest when I fed at 7:00, the cabin was dark and none had food yet) and 5 trailers (so 3 came in after I retired). 2 trailers are on the road with me. It is a gravel one lane road and there are only 2 houses on it so there is virtually no traffic but for horses, but in talking to a neighbor yesterday I learned that one of Kim’s corrals is on “common area” (not permited I guess) and that the place is not kept up very well and when she comes she brings in too many horses. This neighborhood is a board governed community of some sort. She used to bring a lot of horses here and they would stand knee deep in muck in the paddocks according to this couple. They didn’t sound like they liked her too much.
Since I am parked on the road now, I locked up my trailer and slept with my gun by my head. I’m still a little spooked by that woman on the road that told me I could get shot if I stopped in front of a house. I slept pretty good and enjoyed Nalla’s cuddling, she missed me when I was in the cabin, awwww.
My horses seemed fine this morning considering their extra long hard ride yesterday. I intend to ride each short today. Tomorrow’s trailering will be about 6 hours.(actually took 7 hours) I heard from the neighbors, who are from Canada, that it will be a big climb to get to Leatherwood. (not true at all, but it was very narrow and curvy the last stretch) In the old days that would of made me consider canceling but how bad could it be after the Rockies in CO or Pigs’ Trail in AR?
In looking thru my blog I see that I didn’t write anything about Utah, I started the SHLEP blog with my pre-test-trip to Eastman Lake in CA. I can’t get on line now to see if I did do it or not. If not, I will recreate it from my journal. It was my 1st stop after leaving CA on 9/18/13. I went to beautiful Pine Valley, UT and camped in the Forest Service campground. It was primitive, but there was a water spigot at the next site. Unfortunately my hose was not long enough and I had no water tanks to haul water to the horses. My new horse water tank’s hose had come off on the highway and it had drained. The trailer has a human water supply tank too, but no outside spigot. I had to tie a muck bucket to my hand cart and wheel it to the corral. Half of it would splash out on the way.
I remember freezing most of the time, worried about running out of propane and pretty scared, I felt very vulnerable and didn’t have a gun. I had no cell service but my inReach satellite communicator allowed me to text to my dad. There were no other campers in the equestrian section most of the time. Cows were free ranging all over the place and there were wild turkeys. The lake was unbelievably beautiful, as were the trails. The horse corral sucked. The bolts faced in and stuck out!! Dreamy was a bloody mess the last morning. I’ll read my journal to see if I missed anything…
Back to now, here in KY:
I rode Wildflower on the Blue Heron Mine trail but didn’t make it all the way to the mine. She was so exhausted, I’ve never seen her this tired, she drank at every water crossing and was huffing and puffing most of the time. I noticed some muscle quivering in her legs too. The hills here are pretty tough and they just keep coming, up and down and up and down… The trail is deep with fallen leaves so you never know what you’re stepping on, could be rocks or could be sucky mud. Lots of water crossings, some kind of tricky. So glad they have shoes on. But yesterday was definitely too much for both of them. I have to be careful to not get into the trail mentality that a lot of trail riders I’ve met have. They trailer to a place and ride hard all day long. Then they go home and I have no idea what they do there. This is our life every day, its not a vacation and there’s no need to feel that “we better ride all day ‘cuz we drove all the way here and we have to go back home in a day or two”. Its just starting to sink in, I’m a little slow…
11/11/13 North Carolina #9
Hauling on Sundays is great, I hit no traffic anywhere. The drive seemed easy (and I’m getting so comfortable doing it now). Door to door was 7 hours. Packing and loading was simple, I’m getting my organization down to a routine so I don’t have to keep lists of stuff to do and checking it. My anxiety is gone so I think more clearly, it makes getting stuff done so much easier. Thank God!
Leatherwood, NC is a really beautiful setting, about 2,000’ altitude. It is an equestrian community with homes, places to rent, a bunk house, primitive and hook-up camping. The stalls are big, matted and have a dusting of shavings. Buckets are permanently installed and there are hay rack feeders. There are spaces between the boards so they can see each other and they have low walls to the outside so they can enjoy the scenery which is horse heaven. The 4 turn outs are huge. The residents’ private grass pastures are enormous (I’m talking acres), have run in sheds and 2x a day feeding for $300 a month. There is a lodge that has a restaurant open Thur. – Sun. The lodge has wi-fi and a shop too. The trail maps are rated and described like a ski map (finally!). There are trails ranging from easy to expert. I’ve been told that “D” for difficult and “X” for extreme are very hard. I’m planning an “E” for easy pony ride today! I’m paying $58 a night for a hook-up site and 2 horses. So far so good in my book.
Last night was freezing. After the sun warmed us up this morning I heard it was 27. I also heard it is going to snow Thursday. I am not taking this lightly. I do not want to drive in the snow in case it sticks. And my fingers and toes keep going numb outside as it is now. I am using about 1/2 tank of propane a night to stay warm. The heater is electric but if its a 10 degree difference between the room temp and setting, the propane takes over. I’m going to get a 3rd tank when I go to town for hay today. And maybe an electric space heater too.
After I settled in I met a group of campers from NC. I like them a lot but they are leaving today. I hung around their campfire and they fed me and gave me a beer. Sharon invited me to come stay where she lives. They also told me about a couple they know that did a similar trip to mine, they didn’t do all 48 but 30-something. I’m going to google them to try to get in touch with them. Rose knows all about EAP and EAGALA. She was trained by one of the founders who now runs a kids’ program called OK Corral. Its the same OK Corral that was at the fairgrounds in Golden, CO where I was. I could kick myself for not going over to their barn and meeting him! I guess he is a legend in the horse therapy world. Sharon and Rick(?)’s son is in Afghanistan now, his second tour. OMG, I didn’t know how to respond, I can not imagine the fear racing thru her blood. We talked about the war some…
The young man feeding the private pasture horses shared some old timer weather predictions. If there are a lot of walnuts on the walnut trees, its going to be a rough winter. Also how many squirrels you see. He said he’s never seen so many squirrels on suicide missions running across the roads. Its going to be a bad one… Turns out he is one of the families that owns this place. His daughter turned 3 yesterday and it was her birthday party in the lodge that was wrapping up when I arrived. She slept in her new sleeping bag last night, pink of course. I remember when everything Rachel had was pink, soft sweet memories…