8/10/14 evening, still in New Hampshire
Today was a nice easy day. It started with me going to get hay with Slim, who ended up giving me the grand tour of this area. I saw the energy plant that burns wood chips for electricity, a local gymcana competition, sculptured rocks that kids were jumping off into the water, his log home, horse and dog, Plymouth’s downtown area. He is a wealth of knowledge on historical, political and local stuff. He has a head for numbers and knew the heights of the mountains and wind mills, how big the lakes were, how old the houses were…I got a real feel for New Hampshire life.
Later on Kathy took Liza and I out for an easy ride. We were on mowed grass trails in the woods for part of the ride. Then we went thru a logging area to the old mica mine. Mica is on the ground all over the place and when the sun hits it its incredibly reflective. The first time Wildflower noticed it was funny. I picked up a pocketful of the stuff. Its actually transparent, so strange, and its is like compressed sheets that you can peel apart. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees right at the mine entrance that was filled with water, there is actually ice in the water. It was a nice ride and Kathy was so kind and considerate of Liza, encouraging her along. Liza even got a brief canter up a hill in, which kind of scared her but she said was fun. Wildflower was much better behaved today (she had Dreamy along which I assume is the biggest calming factor). No rear boots slowed her down some too.
When we got back to camp we went in the pool. It was a bit chilly but a welcome relief. I was feeling kind of sticky and yucky. Debbie had returned from her camp trip and we all played Scrabble until Linda (Dave’s girlfriend) arrived and her dog knocked over the board. Another couple showed up, friends of Slim’s, looking for him and wanting to meet me. This is a very social camp, pretty cool. They were all arranging rides for tomorrow. If I stay till Tuesday I may join one of them.
I need to decide about whether we are leaving tomorrow or not, going to the state park or the Mountaintop lodge place but I’m too tired right now. Its 10 but feels much later. I’ll figure it out in the morning I guess.
New Discovery State Park, Groton, VT; State #33
I decided on going to the state park option I had originally chosen after all. Linda came by and I was tempted to stay another day to ride with her and get to know her better, I like her a lot. While I prepped to leave camp, Liza went to town to get groceries. We are an efficient team and it has made it so much less hectic on me. We pulled out at 12:30. The drive was short, we were in camp by 3. It is a beautiful camp and there are no other horse campers here so we have the area to ourselves. The entire area is mowed grass, each site has a stone cooking fire pit, chopping block and picnic table. There is a water spigot centrally located with a water troth. The horse corrals are small but I took over 6 that were in a row so its not too bad. They have posts set with electric thingeys on them to string your electric tape. There is a bath shower house with hot water for 50 cents. It felt so good I put in 2 more quarters and just stood under the hot water. We went for a walk with Tommy and its very pretty, but the map sucks (even the ranger said it did). There are practically no bugs at all. This was a very good choice after all. I can hear other campers but they are no where near us. The park is something like 24,000 acres and has several lake/ponds. One of the trails is a rail trail which will be perfect for Liza, who has decided to finish the trip with me. I was so surprised when she told me. Surprised in a good way. I thought she was having such a bad time at one point in Maine that she was thinking of getting dropped off at an airport earlier than NY.
It was a full moon last night, so bright we couldn’t see any stars. I slept like a rock but was awoken a few times by the dog. First I heard something eating his food outside, so I got up and brought the bowl in. Then he had 2 choking coughing kind of fits, I’ve never heard anything like it and don’t know what it was. But he seems ok now. It reminds me of how much I love him and how crushing it would be to loose him.
I woke up this morning and Liza was feeding the horses, what a nice surprise!
Liza fed them again this morning, I could get into this treat!
Yesterday I painted in the morning. I set up on a picnic table. A mom and daughter came by. Mom said that her daughter liked to paint but that she was no good at it. That got my attention. So I showed her my paintings and encouraged her to just draw and eventually if she kept trying she would be able to make things look like she wanted them to. The mom sat down at a nearby picnic table and began reading a book. The daughter hung around a long time asking questions, wanting to pet the horses and watching me which I am not used to and it started to annoy me, she was overstaying her welcome as my mom would of said. The mom was not involved in any of this at all. Liza came back from walking the dog and she started talking to the little girl. What questions she had! What’s your passion? What’s your talent?…She demonstrated some of her gymnastic skills, Liza gave her a tour of the trailer…The mom left for a while then came back to read some more. Eventually they left.
I finished the painting and we decided to ride even tho it was a rest day. Good thing too cuz its raining today. First I took Dreamy out barefoot to see how she was on the trails here, to get her to move some (she dogs it when Liza is on her) and just because I miss riding her. I went one of the possible ways meant for horses (there are only 2 ways out of camp for horses). It was basically an old gravel road (and went nowhere) and she was very tender footed. I got back to our grass and trotted her around to make sure she was ok (she was), booted all 4 feet of both horses and we set off in the other horse trail direction which was much better footing eventually. We were headed to the rail trail but Liza wanted to head back very early into the ride and we never made it there. I need to come up with a plan to deal with Liza riding. I was starting to resent not getting to ride longer/faster and I miss riding Dreamy. We discussed it and I think we can make it work out for both of us.
Last night I was letting the horses graze and 2 young men stopped by to chat. They are volunteers working on the trail. One was from France working on some Peace project plan or something like that. They wanted to know what the horses like to eat and I said grass so one picked some and tried to give it to Wildflower but thought she might bite him and dropped it when she went to take it. I told him she wouldn’t bite. I mentioned to them that the gravel they were using hurt my horses feet. They said they were going to cover it up with something (?)…It was almost dark out when they headed on down the road back to their camp.
Today we hiked to the top of owl head trail for a spectacular view of the mountains and two lakes. It was drizzling on the way out and raining hard on the way back. Only 3 miles total. Liza walks slower than me so I have to keep turning around to be sure she is still there. I don’t want her to get hurt and me be so far ahead I don’t know about it. I asked how she was at the end and she said Miserable. She doesn’t like being wet.
I remember being like that. This trip has made me much more tolerant of these kind of inconveniences. In fact I had been thinking what a nice little hike it was. My rain gear is old and leaks some so I was a little worried about my phone getting wet (it didn’t) but thats all that really was wrong.
The horses look miserable in their skinny, and now very muddy pen. I let them graze for 2 hours this morning (it was only drizzling then, so I hung out with them practicing my horrible roping skills, trying to rope the water spigot and working on Tommy’s “give” as in give me the ball back you knucklehead so I can throw it again) and I’d like to let them back out but its pouring which means getting wet all over again for me (since I have to babysit them), but I’ll probably do it anyway. Camping in the rain is really not much fun, we have run out of things to do. We played cards earlier. We have no cell or internet so I can’t play on FaceBook nor can Liza use her Scrabble games which she loves. It actually would be a good day for a long nap…
When I went to let the horses out to graze it was raining and had gotten colder, they were shivering. I know that this is a natural way to get warm but it really makes me feel horrible when I see it. I do not blanket normally and I do not carry any with me. I am thinking that I am moving climates too quickly for them to acclimate. I think I may buy some for the future even tho Wildflower really is hard to blanket, she hates them. Jack told me horses warm themselves up from the inside and letting them eat green grass has worked in the past so I let them out again. They ate in a frenzy and stopped shivering right away. I walked around trying to figure out what to do. It was going to get colder and rain all night. I went up to the ranger station and explained that the pens were muddy and slippery and that they were shivering. Could I set up a portable corral elsewhere? This place is so beautifully landscaped I doubted they would allow it, but they did. They gave me the overflow area and I set up a big corral over there. How accommodating. This is really a great state park campground.
After I moved the horses we had a few young visitors. One boy helped me fill their water bucket and asked a lot of intelligent horse questions. Two other younger ones came by on bikes. The little boy ate some hay and was asking a ton of questions about what they eat. When I said I couldn’t believe he was tasting the hay he replied proudly, I’m a redneck. I really got a kick out of that. He mentioned several times that they were having home made french fries for dinner and the last time he had them they were delicious. I walked with them over to a small grave yard, 3 weathered headstones from the 1800’s were there. They told me that they had gotten to sit on another camper’s horse last time they were there and that they had helmets. They said this a few times so I said I’d give them a pony ride if they came around tomorrow. I really liked these kids.
Another group of about 10 kids, mostly teenagers I think, are here with their parents who periodically haul them around in an open trailer, the kind you’d use to perhaps haul firewood. They go speeding around the camp roads, the kids screaming at the top of their lungs. Liza calls them the bucket full o kids. They were over by the horses this morning. When I got there they told me that they had gotten shocked by the fence, 3 of them. I asked if they did it all at the same time…no, so I guess they were doing it for fun? One girl said she liked it.
While up at the ranger station I saw other campers using the wi-fi there. So Liza and I went up and used it for a bit. Earlier we had sent a satellite message to our dad and his caregiver. Yvonne answered that he was fine. Its disconcerting to be unavailable when his health is declining.
We used the propane heater last night in the trailer, and slept comfortably after playing a game of scrabble by candle light. It was still raining. I slept like a rock.
The horses looked very happy this morning and had cleaned up all their hay. Their old corrals were a muddy mess, with a few piles of wet hay that they wouldn’t eat that had to be cleaned up. The sun is trying to peek out and it looks like a much nicer day today, altho a bit chilly. I am going to ride alone today, try for a long one, maybe pony them…Liza doesn’t want to ride today or she wants me to get a good one in maybe.
I ponied Wildflower and did the ranger specified route on the map; go on the rail trail, by Lake Groton and back via the telephone trail. It was unclear on the map down by Lake Groton. I asked a ranger down there and did what he said, go into the Nature Center. Well these were all hiking trails but I ASSumed that the ranger knew what he was talking about…no. I got off to get the mares around 2 downed trees and they were very good about it all. The branches were low so I was hugging Dreamy’s neck most of the time. I had to let Wildflower go loose. We crossed a wooden walking bridge thing and Dreamy went thru the board, scuffled off the side and lurched her way out of the rocky muddy fern area (not really sure what it was). She cut her hind leg in the process. I heard something clunk and saw that WF had lost her lead rope. I got off to retrieve it and the 2 girls decided to go home without me. I didn’t blame them. Following them on foot I was thinking that I had a long walk ahead of me. After about 1/2 mile Dreamy stopped for me, I got on her and we then followed WF. I knew this probably wasn’t going to work. I thought she had made a wrong turn onto another hiking trail which was probably the most direct way back to camp, but I didn’t want her to get hurt. She did not want to be caught, so I turned Dreamy around hoping WF would come back to us when she realized we weren’t following her, which she did, galloping up along side of us. But it took 3 of these returns before I could grab her. Then we ended up doing this leg 3 times because the signs are really messed up, telling you to go one way for the telephone trail and then later telling you its the end of telephone trail. Anyway it all worked out. Dreamy went off the side of the trail and into a hole, another lurch…from then on I decided she HAS to stay on the trail even if its rocky. After about 4-1/2 hours I got off and decided to walk back with them. I wasn’t sure if Dreamy was ok after all her mishaps and it is a long ride for her with her arthritis. We all walked back, munching grass the last mile. I cleaned up Dreamy’s cuts and am in the trailer now. It has gotten quite cool out. Even with all the problems it was a fantastic ride, super beautiful and diverse and lots of long stretches to trot and lope.
Meanwhile, Liza took Tommy on a long hike around Kettle Pond, the one we saw from the top of Owl Head trail yesterday. The pictures she took are gorgeous. And Tommy actually swam and she got a shot of it to prove it. Yeah Tommy! We agreed to this kind of ride plan that we had here. I ride short with her one day and off by myself another.
Well tomorrow we are off to Massachusetts, (that took 4 tries to spell that right). A private camp called Wagon Wheel. I really enjoyed our stay in VT, rain and all. This camp could use some more horse trails (there is no reason most of the hiking trails couldn’t be horse trails, it would be very easy to do) and a better map but other than that it was super.
The morning we pulled out we went for a short walk with Tommy down the road to Ossimore (?) Pond. There is a pavillion there and you can get to the shore line easily from there. That’s were all the cars with canoes had been heading. The scene is very pretty and peaceful. What does pond mean anyway? This is a whole lot bigger than my idea of a pond, I always thought a pond was a very small body of water, small enough to throw a rock to the other side.
Two day riders pulled in, this always happens. I am the only horse in camp and the day I leave someone else shows up. They were from VT but had never been here before. They were barefoot and planned on doing the ouchy road I took Dreamy on. We talked about the trails and map problem here. It would be so much better if you could do some loops, out and backs are kind of boring unless the turn around is a “destination” kind of spot with a view or something interesting.
We left at noon and the drive was on the interstate the entire way, except of course getting to it and the last hour finding the camp in MA. It was fast, easy driving which I had kind of looked forward to but I found monotonous even tho the scenery the entire way was spectacular. I can’t really enjoy it when I am hauling, I am too ADD and can’t let myself get distracted by the view. I don’t even read billboards. I found myself getting drowsy, drinking energy drinks, eating chocolate…At the truck stop there were a bunch of logging trucks from Canada. I-91 goes from Canada all the way south into MA. I wonder how much one of those trucks weighs.
Enjoying your blog. Did a map of each state you’ve been through and planning to go through….quite a pattern! I know you had a couple plans (Idaho, Florida, New Jersey) but did you have a plan when you started or just headed off in one direction and “let’s see what comes next?” I so want to ditch the albatross property I have and be free for a year.
My route has changed many times, due to weather (it got cold early last winter) and my parents health (my mom died recently in NJ and I was there for her final month).
I read your blog about your mom and am sorry she passed. My mom is 95 and in a nursing home now. When she is no longer with me the taxes on our home will double – I will be selling out at that point. Who knows, may do as someone you met did – live in my trailer – for me, the rest of my life. Your trip has spearheaded a bunch of women who really want to do what you are doing! Way to go, pioneer!