West Virginia

our paddock and rig

our paddock and rig

EJ's horses being led by the 4 wheeler to pasture

EJ’s horses being led by the 4 wheeler to pasture

progress map

progress map

horses in a remote pasture on the trail

horses in a remote pasture on the trail

at "the trailer" at the end of a trail (or so I thought)

at “the trailer” at the end of a trail (or so I thought)

wild irises

wild irises

target?

target?

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EJ's horses in pasture

EJ’s horses in pasture

WF in love

WF in love

VA painting

VA painting

Ben the pig

Ben the pig

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WF perks up her ears at our trail buddies today

WF perks up her ears at our trail buddies today

WF wants to pass so bad

WF wants to pass so bad

entering Cass

entering Cass

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fudge and ice cream break

fudge and ice cream break

ranger harrassing EJ, blocked trailhead

ranger harrassing EJ, blocked trailhead

old logging town rail cars

old logging town rail cars

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beautiful mule tied while we eat lunch

beautiful mule tied while we eat lunch

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returning on the river trail

returning on the river trail

5/29/14 EJ’s Cottages, Dunmore, WV, State #25
no photos again until faster internet available
I left JK Quarterhorse Camp at 10 am. It should of been a 4 hour haul. I got into EJ’s Cottages in WV after 4. I had to slow way down during an incredible downpour for a while. 92 is the last highway in, about 50 miles. It is a stunning mountain country 2 lane. I missed the turn off in Dunmore and went 5 miles too far but stopped for directions and they let me use their phone to call him. So I’m here now. I had heard a lot about the road coming in off 92. If you are comfortable swinging very wide (as in off the pavement) on all curves (which are continuous) you can make it. Just don’t look in your mirror at your back wheels or the next curve will catch you off guard. The blacktop is about as wide as my trailer (which is extra wide) but there is gravel for swinging wide on the curves. There was no opposing traffic, I have no idea what you do when that happens. But it was only 3-5 miles like this, a skinny bridge and one last crazy hairpin steep upgrade and you are there. Its really not as bad as I had heard. Or I am just getting used to this sort of stuff.

It is definately worth it tho. Again I have a huge wood paddock and grass everywhere. EJ has 6 draft horses (maybe one is gaited) for driving and has at least 4 carriages and wagons in the barn. There are about 10 electric sites and one “cottage” which is really a big nice house. He used to have many more cottages, but had to sell them off because his barn liability insurance was killing him. EJ was short with words when I had called for directions, now I know why, he has a little stutter. I asked his horses names and at one he said whwhwh, give me a minute, it will come. I said take your time. He said Whisper.

I am the only one here, an owl is hooting, it just stopped raining. Birds are chirping. A group is coming to stay in the house tomorrow I think. There is wi-fi, no cell on either phone (but there is one in the barn you can use) a laundry and a shower/bathroom. Full hook ups including sewer. I fed all the animals. There is a pack of hounds howling and Tommy is barking back at them. I guess they are getting dinner? Yes that must be it cuz they’re all quiet now.

5/30/14
Tommy and I went for a 2-1/2 hour walk on the trails here. Everywhere you look it is lush and beautiful. We saw horses tucked into pastures in the woods, including EJ’s brood. The river is wide but not deep, with the rocks at the bottom visible. The climb up the orange trail was long and hard, I’m kind of out of hiking shape. Tommy stayed with me very nicely without me telling him to, even tho I was walking pretty slow for him. I was wearing shorts, haven’t had shorts on since Florida. The weather was perfect and we sprayed with DEET so the bugs stayed away. I had a hot flash at the start and instead of getting annoyed about it or worrying that I should get my estrogen patch refilled somehow, I thought God is telling me I am getting old. Take it slow…and (and don’t know where this came from) don’t think about getting a man, there is no need anymore for all that.

When we got back to the trailer I started my painting for Virginia but got real sleepy again as it warmed up, I laid down and took a nap. I woke up surprised that I had actually slept and had entertaining dreams but I don’t remember them. EJ was at camp and we chatted a bit then he said I hear the group coming in. I didn’t hear anything but shortly 3 trailers pulled up, one medium size one and 2 smaller ones. They are staying in the “cabin” (house). They have 5 horses, a puppy, a small dog and a pig with them. The pig travels in the back seat of the truck. EJ said Only in West Virginia. I really like EJ. He is working on getting a vet to come do my health papers that are expired. He spends most of the day working on stuff in his shop, most to do with his carriages I think. He is taking a group on a ride the entire length of the river trail here, 75 miles. He will pull all their gear in his covered wagon with them. He told me about how his liability insurance increase a few years ago shut down his riding stable. And all the others around here. People still sue even after signing waivers. The judge dismisses them but you still have to go to court which means the insurance companies have to hire a lawyer. So all the little kids that don’t have horsey parents never learn to ride or the joy of being with horses. This is really messed up.

I really enjoyed my lazy afternoon. I spent quite a bit of time just sitting outside watching the horses. It is so peaceful here. The owl hooting all day long (I thought they were nocturnal?). Lots of chirping birdies. Wildflower squeeling…

Wildflower usually spends 24/7 pushing Dreamy around but not today. She is in love. There is a big grey draft gelding next to them. He is not terribly interested in her but looks longingly at Dreamy who stays far away. Wildflower is fit to be tied. She is trying every slutty behavior she knows. Lots of squeeling going on. The look on her face when she spotted the pig was priceless.

I finished the painting tonight, had a really good burger, corn and brocalli, and ready to head to the shower and bed. It was a super wonderful day in every way. And it was a rest day, I used to hate those days.

Oh I forgot something important! On the tail end of our walk we encountered a baby bird in the road. Tommy went for it. I said No and he hesitated, the bird was squawking and others flying around were angry too. I said No and pushed the tone button. He went for it again, but never actually grabbing it. I pushed the shock button and said No again. Come. AND HE CAME OVER TO ME AND SAT DOWN! The bird scurried into the tall grass. I am absolutely amazed. I told him over and over what a good dog he was! Isn’t he fabulous? The shock collar and the instructions work so well, no yelling or yanking on his collar. I love it. One of the key things is not to yell anything and to replace DOWN, OFF, BACK, QUIET, QUIT, STOP, TOMMY, and all the other things I yelled with a calm forceful No. Then quickly a command that brings pleasure/reward (to both of us) like Come. Its so simple.

Off topic: Its amazing how many Americans live in trailers. And no one thinks its bad, or low class. I had such a negative connotation to it before this trip. It was one of the things I struggled with…I AM LIVING IN A TRAILER AND HAVE NO HOME. There are trailers all over the countryside. Parked forever. I don’t remember most of what I have in cold storage anymore. And I don’t think I need any of it. I am very comfortable in my trailer. I cook, eat, clean up, paint, write, listen to the radio or music, read, sleep, shower, everything… in 12’ x 9’. Granted I can’t have a party in it but I haven’t had a party in 20+ years anyway. Or laundry, but some camps have washers (one even had their maid do it for me) and laundromats sometimes have wi-fi and you can do 5 loads all at once, even tho lately I throw all the colors in together in the super sized machines. Boy have I changed. And cleaning…there is not much to clean, it takes about 10 minutes and I’m done. My LA friends are probably cringing at reading this. But oh well, this is me now. There is dog, cat and horse hair (and hay) on everything I own but I don’t care anymore.

There was a group at Elkins Creek that had so much stuff with them, a lot of campers do. They set up homey living areas under their awnings (I never even open mine). Full camp kitchens, chairs, lamps, rugs. They had everything and several kids so there were lots of toys too. This group even had a pool table. Yes, a pool table. They partied hard. The first night the sky opened up and they were all drunk. It was pretty funny, they couldn’t get the awning rolled up, they were getting soaked and yelling and laughing. I was sitting in my trailer painting and watching them, I thought of helping but I don’t really think I could of helped. Awnings are a pain (except the electric ones) and you have to roll them up if it gets windy or rains hard. And I bashed mine on a barn roof corner in Kentucky so I don’t think it will even open up any more. I did open it up once, in Colorado, and when I rolled it back up the tape you are supposed to hold on to, snapped out of my hand and rolled up into the roll. It was not easy retrieving the darn thing. That’s when I decided to just pretend its not even there.

I just realized today that I have stopped clenching my jaw 24/7, something I didn’t realize I even did until I saw a photo of myself about a year ago and said, hey what’s with the funny face? and the loose teeth on my right side? And all the little aches and pains I had moving around all day, most of them are gone. I was so tense, I thought it was arthritis or nerve pain. I still catch myself clenching and tensing up but it used to be a way of life, now its less and less. And now I am aware of it. I remember Jack saying You’re so tense driving, just relax, and it pissed me off… I am not tense… such denial.

I’m rambling and need to just go to bed now.

5/31/14
Well I see that the big grey draft has been moved. This is the story of Wildflower’s life. Its quite cool, the heat kicked on in the middle of the night. Misty and grey. I wonder if its going to rain today, I was planning on riding. Having coffee and looking at my painting, its too bright, I need to fix it. Oh, the grey is back. Wildflower is more interested in him than her hay and Dreamy, hmmm.

I stuffed Tommy’s Kong ball with a stick of cheese. He is so cute. Once in a while he’ll get up and bark at the other dogs here, I say No and he comes back to his towel. Which I really should wash. But I haven’t seen any ticks here so I’m not obsessing about washing everything any more. So maybe I will, maybe I won’t. No big deal, so nice.

Its really a relief not to have any cell or wi-fi. You don’t realize what an interruption and time consumer this has been for me. For someone who didn’t really know what Facebook or social internet was all about a year ago, I got pretty caught up in it on this trip. I used the barn land line phone yesterday to call Fidelity, my lawyer, a camp that owes me a credit and my bank. I haven’t used a land line phone in I don’t know how long. Its irritating to hear the automated phone questions and the reminder that I could do it all online at www…..And its so irritating that the makers of Adequan have not resolved their issue of supply. I can’t get it again. Thinking of asking the vet here for a Legand shot if she has any. Dreamy looks stiff, its been 3 weeks and she is due. I only have 2 doses left of Adequan and want to space it out till I can get more.

EJ doesn’t want the paddocks mucked, he said to just spread it so I am raking it around with his pitch fork. I wonder if this works long term. The paddock is filled with grass but they are not eating it, I assume because of the manure build up?

I started feeding the hay that I watched be put up in Virginia. Thank you so much Ron & Penny, my horses have voted this their favorite hay so far! It is very special hay indeed.

I used some Show Sheen to finally untangle out a super big dredlock that Dreamy had been cultivating for a few weeks in her mane. Probably from the tick issue which seems to be all gone now thank God. I was able to pick off most of Wildflower’s scabs from them on her legs too. I rasped up the rough edges on their front feet and booted them.

evening:
We had a blast today. EJ said he had a stagecoach ride at 11 and I asked if I could ride with him, he said yes. Towards 11 I realized the other group decided this was a good idea too and were joining us. The big grey draft was pulling a small cart, the other 3 were riding. I ponied Dreamy who was perfect. Wildflower as usual wanted to plow faster and faster, but we were behind the stage coach which trotted some but mostly walked and the two adorable palamino drafts are small (slow). It was a perfect exercise for her, altho it was quite a bit of work for me using the bosal now. I remembered when I took her to a Buck Brannaman clinic back in CA. Or maybe it was in the movie about him, anyway, he makes his horse walk …as….slow….as ….he….can. Because one day that’s all the faster he himself will be able to walk. Its very good training especially for an impatient horse like WF. And not just for a few steps, it took an hour for her to get the idea thru her head that we WERE NOT GOING TO PASS THEM! This must be what a gaited horse feels like when going out with quarter horses. Hats off to those that have perfected it.

We took the river trail (another rails to trails state project) to Cass. Cass is an old logging town that was almost abandoned but the state bought it as it was historic. It is very quaint and there is a steam engine that goes up the mountain from there (we can hear the whistle back at camp, so it was cool for the mares to see what was making that sound). Wildflower didn’t want to cross the train tracks so I dismounted and led them (her nose in Dreamy’s but), but she did the return trip fine. We stopped so the stagecoach guests could have lunch and EJ lent me $5 to buy some fudge that they had let me sample and I just had to have. On the way out of town I was scolded by a ranger for having Tommy off leash, ugh. I led the way back and let the girls trot most of the way back. We were gone for about 3 hours.

This afternoon I did my laundry and hosed off all the rugs from the trailer, there should be absolutely no more ticks in the trailer now thank God. And the wi-fi is working up at the house now so I was able to post some stuff, but still too slow to post all the photos from the last two states. Maybe in Maryland I can do it at Joanie’s house. Joanie and I have been friends since the 80’s. We were in a running club together, The Amazing Feet, our logo was a running turtle. We trained and partied together almost every day. I love Joanie. She lives in Maryland and has an antique shop there, and I haven’t seen her much in the last 30 years so this will be fun. I am “camping” at a horse rescue that is near to her home so I can spend time with her. Its called Misty Manor.

EJ was not able to round up a vet for my papers. We are too remote here. He told me how to get to the vet clinic in Virginia he uses and I can just stop by on my way to Maryland. No appointment required, cool. He also went over the roads out of here, good for me too cuz the gps had some bad roads lined up for me. He has friends coming tomorrow morning to ride for a few hours and asked me to join them, I said yes. Horses & mules, not gaited and they know the trails which is always nice for me.

I am sitting outside the trailer writing, watching the girls devour the Virginia hay. The big grey draft is rubbing on the cables supporting the telephone pole that I think has the electric line on it too. He is determined to take it down. Maybe I should go tell someone. I wonder how strong those cables are, he’s been doing it for hours now and he is so huge and strong. Now he’s got his head between the two cables, itching both sides of his neck, I think I’ll go tell someone.

6/1/14
As of today, I have been back on the road for 2 months now, a total of 4 months actually on the road (not including the 4 months I spent in FL with my dad). I have done 25 states, average is 4.8 nights per state. Its cool and misty again. The climate here right now is perfect for me, wish there was a place that was like this all year round. Well there is if I just keep moving, its my trailer. I could find 4 favorite camps and just move every 3 months. I wonder how practical that would be. Florida to Maine, or Arizona to Montana, or something like that. Many of these camps have permanent camp sites and give you a cheaper rate for that or long term stays. Now that is a good idea. Find ones with wi-fi, laundry and big paddocks with grass.

EJ’s friends came up, 3 guys and a young woman and an endurance couple, 2 gaited mules and 4 horses (not gaited). We went a different direction, up the mountain (mostly single track, some rough), thru a gorgeous “holler”, crossed the wide but relatively shallow river (Tommy actually swam for the first time) and back on the river trail. It was beautiful, I took Dreamy who huffed and puffed up the mountain but made it fine. We stopped a few times for them to clear downed trees, they brought along a machete and a chain saw. They do this regularly around here I guess, they knew all the trails very well and were talking amongst themselves about all the little unknown ones, hunting bears and that kind of stuff. It was noted how Tommy gaits, which explains the way I thought he walked and ran funny. I thought it was his mismatched legs but after they pointed it out, he does, its lateral leg movements. I have a gaited dog! Which kind of explains why he can go all day long. They were a nice bunch of friendly folks, lots of laughing. We were out about 3-4 hours I think, about 9 miles. They all left pretty quickly, back to their lives, “gotta go up the road”.

I just found out that the big grey draft is a mare! Boy is WF mixed up. She is a 6 year old Percheron/Draft mix. The house group came over all together to say good bye and for me to be careful. They are a super nice southern hospitality kind of group, once I got to know them. And the pig is adorable, never thought I’d feel that way about a pig.

All in all, I really love West Virginia, everything about it, it has such diversity in the terrain, the quaint little cottages along the river and in Cass. And the river is so beautiful and crystal clear. And I have had pristine weather, that sure helps.

5 thoughts on “West Virginia

  1. I love your blogs about your travels… I look forward to each one you write. I will be sad if you do oil back to a ‘normal’ stationary life. I have also watched that transition that you describe as seeing in yourself. And wonder if sometimes painful situations that force change are actually a catalyst to loosing the tensions we don’t know we have… Hurrah for you and until you write again, take care and God speed…
    Karen

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