RO Ranch, Mayo, FL
Best of America by Horseback Ride
I got here Thursday late afternoon. It took 7-1/2 hours to get here, MapQuest quoted 5+ hours. I stopped 3 times I think, trying to inflate the trailer tires. The first attempt which I had scoped out the night before didn’t work since the compressor there died overnight. The second attempt at a gas stop on the Turnpike, I missed the compressor stop, the third one only went up to 80 lb I guess and actually let pressure out. The next time I pulled off because my truck said it was going to start slowing down unless I filled up the DEF fluid. I parked in the tire store lot and the nice guy helped me put it in and filled the tires. He told me that only a tire or truck stop compressor will go up to 110 psi. They had been at 90 psi when cold. They were now close to 110 so he took them up to 115 and the spare as well. So now I felt I had the tire situation up to speed.
The day before I left Robbie pulled my trailer out into the street. It is a tight squeeze and I was really thankful for his help with this again. Those firefighters are true hero personality types. He then jumped the generator battery for me which was dead for some reason. It didn’t make sense since it was a relatively new battery. I ran it for an hour, shut it off and it was still dead. I now know that the generator is obviously not charging its dedicated battery, but at the time thought it was a dead battery and went to Pep Boys to replace it. Once in camp (I have a primitive site here) all systems seemed to work ok. But in the middle of the night the heat went out and it was super cold, low 30’s. I tried to figure it out but couldn’t so I put on all my clothes, ski jacket and got into the sleeping bag for a couple more hours of sleep. I was ok.
During the day a super nice guy who has an ginormous rig, spent a couple hours troubleshooting my problem. The electric source for the heater fan and ignitor, the fridge ignitor and light and the propane detector all run off the generator’s dedicated battery. This is wrong. Running those things overnight draw down that one battery till its dead and those things then shut off even tho the “house” front 2 batteries are full. There are no open electric sites so I ran the generator using the space heater and got it all toasty inside before I turned it off and went to bed. Sure enough when I got up its all dead again even with the thermostat set at 60. All American Trailers in Norco, CA installed this generator incorrectly and it really pisses me off. I talked to them several times that something didn’t seem right before I left CA and they never took the time to figure it out and blew me off, like I was just ignorant or not doing something right. At the time I was having this issue with the AC not the heat since it was so hot there. For you non-RVers the AC, the plugs and the microwave only run when you have an electric source to plug into or the generator is running. The systems on a RV are maddeningly confusing especially when it is wired wrong. And you never seem to see or figure out the problem until you are in a primitive site and its freezing or boiling hot. Someone suggested taking it to Camping World for an inspection and correction. Sounds like a good idea.
Yesterday I joined the Best of America by Horseback ride and watched the mounted shooting demo. Dave’s clinic for getting your horse’s mind back on you was cancelled, I could use that help with Wildflower. She never lends me her ear. She responds to me but is not on the look out for my instructions, she’s on the look out for predators, catching up to anyone in front of us and grass, I’m just an annoying passenger.
I missed the campfire cooking session and equine dentist thing. But I did get to taste the stew that was cooked. Didn’t really like it tho. After supper of a burger and corn on the cob I joined Tom in the lodge where they had gourmet marshmallows to roast and hot chocolate. The marshmallows were shaped like hearts and came plain or stuffed with things like toffee and chocolate chips. Tom spoke for a while and introduced all his staff and a few friends there on the ride. He talked about fulfilling your dreams for adventure. About his long rides; coast to coast and Mexico to Canada. And he introduced a woman who is working on riding in all the states (not me). She has done 30 states so far! I spoke to her briefly and she wished me luck.
I want to finish my SHLEP now, not later. I don’t want to get a job and settle down yet. I am too unsure of where I want to be and what I want to be doing for work. I don’t see the path yet, I’ve been looking for it but nothing seems too clear. I think I am supposed to finish this trip first, continue writing and painting. I’m not done yet. I’m still socially shy which indicates to me that I am not “back” yet. I need more time still. I don’t know what to do…
First bit of daylight appears, one of my mares nickered, time to bundle up and go feed.
Yesterday was interesting. It wasn’t as cold as the first day. I got Dreamy ready to ride and headed over to the staging area for the group ride at 10. The start was a bit delayed again. From there you can see my site. Wildflower was going nuts in the portable corral. Cantering circles and calling to Dreamy to come back. Dreamy who is normally the most mellow horse in the world was electrified. Her back was humped up and we were floating around. She was backing up, spinning, kicking, pawing, lifting up in the front, baby bucking, throwing her head around, she was beside herself… it was the first time I was ever nervous on her. I tried to stay out of the gathering group afraid she was going to cause a wreck. I didn’t think it was safe to get off for a while. I could not get her mind off Wildflower. Finally I got off and walked out of the group. We walked past Wildflower and continued to the round pen. I had her do circles at a lope both ways, switching directions. Her mind was still not on me but she tired out a tiny bit. I got back on and headed back to the lodge but the group had already left. So we headed out on our own. I realized I didn’t have a map with me and I wasn’t going back to the campsite again with her. I figured we’d do an out and back and just stay on one color trail (they are very well marked with colored signs on the trees). Eventually she stopped calling WF and settled down. I encountered 3 women riders and stuck with one of them for the rest of the ride. She lives not far from here and knows the trails very well. It was her 3 year old Tennessee Walker first trail ride, and he did great. We talked about a bunch of stuff along the way. She’s on her 3rd marriage and finally picked a keeper this time. Later I came by where she’s camping and met a few more solo women. We all sat together at the banquet.
I had put up 9 of my state paintings on the mantle and they did a little intro of them during the presentation. I got some compliments and a little interest afterwards. They had a blackjack table going on afterwards and a lot of mingling. I have met several people since I got here that have camped and ridden in over 30 states, one claiming 21 countries as well. This doesn’t seem to be such a big achievement to this crowd.
I swapped out the battery again and a nice man helped me with that. The batteries are too heavy for me to get up on top of the trailer and into the front battery compartment under the goose neck. Again I realize how hard this is all for me solo. I am just not strong enough physically to do some of this stuff. I then ran the generator for a couple of hours to warm up the trailer, but when I tried to start it again at bed time it was dead again. I hadn’t even run the heating system in the duration so the only thing drawing off it was the refrigerator and propane detector. This is just maddening…
It was 44 degrees in the trailer this morning. The sun is finally coming up.
I rode WF to Cowboy Church which was held at the little chapel. (I didn’t take any pictures cuz my phone is dead. So is the generator battery too. Hence the heat and refrigerator and anything I want to charge. Life without electricity is harder. And the wi-fi is out since last night too. ugh) Its a teeney tiny chapel in a very peaceful spot. Red’s wife and son are buried there. Red is the one that donated 2,500 acres to the state to build this equestrian park. He also donated millions of dollars to help build it. He is in his 80’s and a very nice guy. He still lives in the small house that he’s had here all along. It used to be a cattle ranch that he and his wife ran by themselves. He made his money in a prior life something to do with oil or a pipeline or something, I didn’t catch the whole story. There is a house here you can rent pretty cheap too that sleeps 8 and has a gigantic pasture by my standards. It looks new as does the lodge and bathhouse. They are all white with porches, its called cracker style or something like that. The electric sites are all big and have pull thru’s so you don’t have to back into them. I noticed a few empty ones coming back this morning. People are leaving today since the organized part is all over now.
This is when I get depressed or anxious. Everyone is going home, back to their HOME and their JOB and their LIFE and their PARTNERS. Stuff I don’t have. I am trying so hard to be thankful for what I have. My health, my horses, my dad, my kids, my trailer with all it’s problems, my truck, my IRA that is still mine so far. My freedom.
My freedom came at such a high cost. As much as I wanted it, dreamed of it for years, I am now questioning it. How could of it have worked out better? How could I have made it work? I was dying, I was trapped. I was emotionally abused for years. I hated the person I had become. And I am questioning my decision? To use my ex’s words “What’s the matter with you?!” But I hate my life now too. I yearn for the security of a home and partner. I yearn for the comfort and love, even tho I didn’t have that then either. I am still the small insignificant small girl. I am afraid. I am unhappy. I am feeling weak. And so very alone. I am looking for my path but it isn’t showing up. I want to make everything right but I don’t know how. I was so psyched to do this trip around the country with my horse but I am not committed now. I was psyched to get a job but I’ve had no offers and it is depressing, more rejection that I am not strong enough to handle any more. I am convinced now that it is hopeless to find a good job at 60. No one is going to hire me. Its too late for me. I keep thinking that time and reflection and God will heal me and make me strong and happy again like I used to be but now I wonder if its ever going to happen. Maybe I am not ever going to be like I used to be again. Maybe I’m broken. Or maybe I’m different now, maybe this is healed and its “as good as it gets”. Maybe this is just getting old.
The homeless sobbing woman in Pasadena repeatedly asked me “But what do I DO?”. At the time I thought, boy she’s asking the wrong person, I have the same question, then the dreaded thought that I could so easily be her. And I am haunted by her circumstance and pleading question still. What DO I DO? Nothing seems right, clear, convincing, promising.
Later in the day Red came by and while we were chatting someone from the lodge drove up saying there was a horse stuck in the river on the yellow trail. Red is the guy that donated the 2,500 acres and millions of dollars to the state to build this equestrian park. He still lives here in a small red house on a few hundred acres that he hung on to. His wife and son are buried by the chapel. So I rode with Red in his super little John Deere vehicle and found the riders. That little thing went thru terrain like a little 4 wheeler! And Red drives fast even tho he is 80. I hung on tight. The horse was not stuck and everyone was ok. The horse had reared up at the water crossing and flipped over backwards onto the rider in the river. She had a helmet on and seemed ok but cold. Other riders had her horse and she was given dry clothes to put on but still very cold and shook up. Red drove her back to her trailer. She is here solo, like me (and several other women I’ve met here). I checked in on her a couple of times as did others. I think she is ok and so is the horse, a miracle.
So I got a little depressed and too introspective again on Sunday. The cure came later that night when I went to dinner with the people that were still at camp including the Best of America by Horseback crew. There were a few people that, like me, were “members” that had paid to come on the trip and the rest were staff of the show. Anyway, the social interaction was the key to helping me feel better. I know I tend to isolate when I am depressed, that “no one wants to be around me now anyway”. And it just feeds off itself and spirals me downwards. When I was “just a mom” it was impossible to isolate and I thought I just needed some alone time, but having the constant interaction, mostly with children, kept me afloat. When I was working I was constantly on the phone or face to face with clients and prospects, and that stimulated me. When I was married I liked being with Bill when he wasn’t badgering me. And he was always appropriate when other adults were around. I liked being a couple like that. Its just that he wasn’t like that at home most of the time, so I would avoid him, which was easy to do, the house was so big.
The “big decision” has gotten a bit more manageable. I opened up the idea of getting a 4 month rental in LA for the summer to be with the kids. I don’t have to plant down roots again there. I can swing that I think, then go back on the road for my SHLEP. Unless a good job prospect comes along, then I will go where ever I need to be for that.
Before I left for Mayo, I was spending most of every day on line trying to find a job. Linkedin, Career Builder, Ladders, and a whole bunch of other sites. I was applying to almost any sales jobs posted. I was compiling a contact list for all the printers in the US and sending them resumes by email and was planning a mass mailing of my resume. I have sent out literally hundreds of resumes. Nothing has materialized. My biggest strike is my age. The other strike is not working for 15 years. I am beginning to think that it is a waste of time. I’ll keep at it but not devoting as much time.
If I head back to CA by May there are 7 -9 states I can hit on the way. GA, MS, AL, TX, OK, KS, NM, AZ, NV are along that path. At 5 nights per state I need 35-45 days on the road. Then can then go to Idaho to drop off the horses at Jack’s place for the summer… So to be in CA by May 1st I need to leave here March 1st, 31 days from now. I should concentrate on planning that leg.
Come September when the kids go back to school, I have 2-1/2 months to collect my horses in ID and catch more states before the winter will shut me down again. WA, WY, MT, NE, SD, VA, WV, MD, PA… heading east till it gets cold. That’s not enough time to get it all done. I can probably come back to winter in FL and head out again March 2015 to complete the trip with the New England states and any others I missed. The kids will have to stay with their dad for the summer 2015. Or should I just do it now? I’m still unsure of how much responsibility I need to accept for their housing for their school breaks. Ugh…I wish I knew.
My drive from Mayo to Jupiter took 7-1/2 hours to go 350 miles (MapQuest said 5-1/2 hrs, truckers gps said 6-1/2 hrs). I am always longer. I do quick gas stops and water the horses every 3 hours. I drive a few miles under the speed limits. I stop at all weigh stations and agricultural inspection points (FL seems to have more than most other states so far). I have to pad my drive times accordingly. 350 miles is my max daily mileage, I just can’t do it any longer and I hate loading in the dark and pulling in somewhere in the dark. I’m just an old fart.
After getting the horses back in their corrals, I hung out with Marion and her daughter for a while last night. I emptied the refrig and threw most of it away since it had spoiled. I did all my laundry when I got back to dad’s. I checked my emails for the last week, mostly job sites and real estate notices. I like looking at the houses but can’t do anything until I have a steady income, like a JOB or DIVORCE SETTLEMENT…
So today I am off to find a competent electrician/rv repair person to fix this trailer once and for all. I am not doing another freezing camp situation. And I have a phone interview at 6. I forget who its with. And unload all my horse gear out of the trailer. And I want to check out a singles line dancing night in Jupiter Farms that’s held monthly, I think its coming up soon. (Any kind of social interaction is good for me so I need to plan stuff like that even tho I don’t really want to do it.) And ride Dreamy I guess.
Fill up my day and try not to waste the time I have. And remember that I am not “killing time” but rather I am enjoying the gift of time that God has given me. And working on my future what ever that may be.