Cook Forest Scenic Trail Ride Horse Camp, Clarion PA; state #36

8/25/14

trees growing right out of rocks

trees growing right out of rocks

IMG_8406

IMG_8407

NY painting

NY painting

IMG_8409

IMG_8412

trail herd is under the clump of trees, look closely

trail herd is under the clump of trees, look closely

my boots

my boots

PA campsite

PA campsite

Ohio sunrise

Ohio sunrise

speed bumps on the closed trail

speed bumps on the closed trail

fancy mushrooms

fancy mushrooms

Kathy

Kathy

Toby Creek

Toby Creek

Ohio sunset

Ohio sunset

bedroom view

bedroom view

baby

baby

mud

mud

IMG_8374

IMG_8377

IMG_8393

trail horses in pasture

trail horses in pasture

IMG_8389
Cynthia spent some time talking to me this morning about natural products that she uses, not products actually, stuff she makes. She gave me a bag full of sulfer which can be mixed with Desitin for cuts, scruffy legs, etc. She says sulfer heals stuff and is a natural antibiotic. She also gave me a bowl full of fresh garlic she grew. She makes great eye contact as she talks. She really loves her horses. We hugged and I left at 10.

2nd long haul 2 days in a row, wearing my tens pack…glad to report no back pain! I had forgotten how good that thing works, so glad I brought it along. I decided to try the strictly interstate route again on Cynthia’s suggestion. It is probably a lot easier on the horses, no stop lights, turns, bumpy roads, etc. It takes longer but since I rediscovered my tens pack that doesn’t matter.

They have had a lot of rain here. The trails out of camp are a mess. I may get a stock trailer ride to another area to ride on dryer land. I went over to the only other person here (but she was not camping here). It was the trail boss’s mom feeding her daughter’s 2 horses corn on the cob. One horse is blind in both eyes, the other is his guide horse and wears a bell so he knows where he is at all times. They are inseparable obviously. Her daughter showed up eventually and she filled me in on the trail conditions and the shuttle they run and the guided rides and all the festivities planned for next weekend which I just found out was Labor Day. I enjoyed talking to them. While Kathy was mucking out her horses pen, she dropped the hot wire handles to the ground and Tommy grabbed them, he must of thought it was a toy. Poor puppy got shocked badly. That’s the second time an electric fence has caught him, I was surprised he forgot.

I am the ONLY camper here. Why does this keep happening to me???

I set up a corral for the horses, nice sized. I ran about 200’ of hose to the water spigot (bad planning on my part), plugged in, took Tommy for a muddy walk, went thru my NY photos for a painting, made dinner and am now going to bed. Its 10pm.

I am now on a 3 night schedule:
1. Haul to camp, set up.
ride one horse, start a painting
ride the other horse, finish the painting.
Break camp & repeat.

I also added in a couple more overnights. I hate the long haul days and I love the people that I meet at the overnights so much. This is not going to leave much idle time so I have cut some stuff out. No more major rearranging of the trailer horse’s area. No more awning. No unhooking the truck (unless I absolutely have to do laundry or go the grocery store). And no rest day for me ;(

8/25/14
Its almost 3:00, I haven’t ridden or painted. At 8 I decided to investigate the trails with Tommy on foot. I followed the blue dots on the trees for Toby’s Trail which I was told was 2 hours. It took us 5 hours. The footing is awful. There are some nice areas but mostly it is soggy, over ridden or rocky. The lumpy speed bump looking mud (with puddles between the bumps) is the same as I saw in Maryland where it was over ridden. The horses put their feet exactly in the same place on these nose to tail trail rides and create this weird ground. After an hour of sucking my boots out of the mud I should of turned around, I kept hoping it would improve. One of the last sections was thru an area that had been clear cut, what a mess, such devastation. As I physically weakened, my mind wandered to reconciling with Bill. Isn’t that strange?

I knew I would not subject my horses to this. So now, do I not ride in PA. Does it count? Or should I just ride down the road or around camp. Or should I just leave early? There is no point in staying, I am not going to ride those trails. I guess I’m just a light weight really. I don’t find that kind of riding any fun. I’m too old for these gung ho kind of riders that will ride anything for hours on end. And I know I walk slower than my horses but not that much. The time quoted to me must be at a quick pace and it would be impossible in that mess. For me anyways.

I hear a baby crying.

(In re reading this, I have to make a comment: I was being a big cry baby myself here, ugh. You will see, I did end up riding and having a great time)

I got back to the trailer (barely, really, I was spent) finally ate breakfast, and laid down with a bag of frozen peas on my back. I also took alleve and 1/2 a pain pill. Tommy is still crashed up in the goose neck, covered in mud but I don’t care. I hosed off my pants and boots.

I am going to be so sore tomorrow.

Evening
I feel so stupid. As I picked up my trail map to go discuss trail options with the owner here, I saw she had written “green ribbons” next to Toby’s trail. I had followed blue dots. She had said it was rerouted but I didn’t notice the note about the ribbons. I had hiked a closed trail. No wonder I hated its condition.

I went up to talk to her anyway. She was holding the baby I had heard earlier, its her granddaughter, 4 months old. We talked for some time before her daughter came for the baby. Her husband built this camp some time ago and has “put everything he has made back into it”. Later she spoke to Kathy (the guide I met yesterday) and came to tell me that she would take me to the river trail in the stock trailer and ride with me. Wow. How accommodating can you get. I saddled up WF real fast and headed up to the barn. First I went with her to take all the working trail horses to their enormous grass pasture. They have over 30 horses on this pasture. They are all trail horses for trail rides (mostly inexperienced riders). They go out 3-6 hours a day. And when she goes to get some for the days work in the morning, they come to the stock trailer and get on. She does not have to catch them or bribe them with grain. They actually like their jobs. Well there is one that usually runs the opposite direction, but that is still pretty impressive.

We went to the river trail with WF and one of her guide horses, Hitchcock, a small appaloosa. WF had boots on all 4 feet. None came off (Yeah!). It wasn’t as muddy as Toby’s trail but it was still muddy and tons of rocks, big ones and little ones. WF had to really pay attention to her feet. No time to worry about monsters or Dreamy back in the corral. She did real good but refused to cross the river and I gave up after a while, she was getting all “bunched up” and I didn’t want an explosion. She was wet and blowing hard on the hills. She has gotten out of shape lately (my fault of course). I don’t think Kathy realizes how tough the terrain here is. We talked the entire ride, about my trip, my previous life, her life, her horses, working here. It was thoroughly wonderful.

When we got back to camp I met a regular here who says he’s ridden his horses in 37 states. I told him I was on #36 now. He invited me to go out to breakfast tomorrow and called the tack shop owner about getting a boot replaced for me that I’d lost a few states ago. Very friendly guy. There was also a neighbor there with the most adorable shaggy labradoodle looking dog. She was so shy, I couldn’t touch her at all. He lives down the street, where I want to walk Tommy tomorrow. He has a bunch of minis there, I just adore minis.

It is amazing to me how my mood can flip flop around so much in the matter of just a few hours. Is that normal? Is there a pattern? Isolation vs socializing. I am beginning to see it.

8/26/14
I am holding on to you, I am holding on to you, in the middle of the storm I am holding on to you.
Its been stuck in my head for 3 days now.

I slept like a log, but had to get up 3 times to drink something. Guess I dehydrated myself on yesterdays hike. I didn’t carry water, but drank from Toby’s Creek every time we crossed it. And I am not sore. Amazing.

While I was hiking I kept thinking about how the horse picks his way thru mud and rocks. I go for the rock, log or highest point of the mud. The horse goes for the puddles between. So I tried doing it that way. The puddles are usually not that deep and firm ground beneath from all the horses setting feet there. This really surprised me. Of course sometimes the puddle was just deep sucky mud. I go back to my thoughts about how footing equates to life. Its hard to follow a map or trail markers when you are concentrating on your foot plant so much. And my fear of getting lost causes anxiety. And thinking that the visible higher ground is safer is not always the best choice. And concentrating so much on the ground doesn’t allow me to enjoy God’s beauty all around me. So I can thank Him for his miracles, so I can stay close to Him and enjoy his Peace.

I’m drinking coffee and mulling over riding Dreamy today. Will the trails here be too hard for her bad leg? Probably.

Evening
I had a nice day, gorgeous weather, nice folks around.

I painted the NY painting first. I chose a shot from the beautiful overnight I went to. The sun was coming up and the grass was lush. Its exactly the kind of place where I want to live some day.

Then I walked Tommy about 6 miles. Kathy taught me how to do a better whistle than I knew how to do. I’ve been practicing and its getting louder. Tommy is starting to recognize it is me calling him.

I spent some time uploading stuff onto my blog from my last stop and updating the 48 paintings page. I have regularly forgotten to put them up there. As I was trying to figure out which ones were missing, I got confused on which state some paintings were. Its gotten kind of overwhelming, some of the states are starting to blur together to me. Especially the early ones. I was such a mess emotionally, it seems like such a long time ago.

I checked out the route to my next stop which is an overnight in Ohio. It is interstate the whole way. I-80 West, about 200 miles. Then Michigan to stay at Jo-Jo’s sister’s place.

I went over and talked to the owner for a while in the lodge. I ordered 6 bales of hay to take with me too. She is a super nice woman. Huge heart. She told me some awful stuff that is going on in the news about violence against children and Christians in Iraq. It is so hard (and terrifying) to believe that such true evil actually exists in this world. And they say its in the name of a religion???? They are just insane. We also talked about death and chemo and dialysis. Her mom did chemo, which didn’t work, then lingered for over 2 years. Seriously something has to be done about letting people die with less pain for such long periods of time.

Then I decided to ride Dreamy. I went back to her bosal. I started off on the new green trail but decided after a while that the combination of the muddy downhill and rocks and her hesitation that it would not be best for her. So I rode her around the campground, on the roads, and between the hundreds of big trees and over the rocks. I asked her to do all the things we used to do, she is very handy. She behaved perfectly. We would trot to our area (Wildflower was calling and fussing the entire time) then canter away. I worked her for an hour and she was perfect. She listened perfectly without reins as well. She is not in the least bit lame. I am so happy. I just love riding this horse. We are one. When she returned to Wildflower I saw that WF was a muddy mess. She ran around tearing up the ground and kept dropping and rolling in the dirt when she was fussing about Dreamy being away from her. I am not cleaning her up.

As I mulled over what to make for dinner, Kathy dropped by and sat in the trailer with me. I really like her. We spent some time getting to know each other better. She said I should stay for the big Labor Day weekend. There will be 100 folks here, clinics going on, food…the “regular” camper guy I met yesterday had tried to talk me into staying earlier. It sounds fun but I am pushing on…I am worried about having to abort due to this polar vortex thing I have been hearing about. I want to get as many states done before it hits and I have to head south.

I’ve heard from Liza, my sister. Her chest pain from her fall off Dreamy has improved and she is buying a riding vest & raingear. She thinks she can join up with me in WI. Her help and companionship is uplifting but I wonder if its in her best interest to ride. I do not want her to get hurt again and I don’t like being responsible for that. I have enough to feel guilty about at this point. Leaving my children so abruptly, stressing out my horses, mom dying, dad not well, no home, no job, Tucker dying. Consciously I know I am not really responsible for any of this, but it doesn’t make the guilty feeling go away. That’s just how I’m wired. I strive to fix things even when its way beyond my control.

8/27/14 Maple Crest Farms, Castalia, OH (overnight)

I took my time leaving camp today. I got 6 bales of hay after I dumped my tanks. The “regular” camper guy came over to say good bye and asked to see my painting from yesterday and also for my website. The mares loaded nicely. I don’t have to use a chain or string on Wildflower any more and I just unclip Dreamy and send her in now, (she is always at least one grade ahead of WF).

I stopped at Walmart on the way out of Clarion and got a few groceries. I have started using my “Next Exit” book to plan my gas and grocery stops along the way to the next stop. This saves me the trouble of unhitching the trailer to go run errands when at camp. It also tells me which diesel fuel stops are “RV friendly”, a big plus. Anyone traveling on the interstates should have this book.

I used the tens pack again and it worked again! I stocked up on 9 volt batteries at Walmart to be sure its always ready to use.

I got into my overnight, Maple Crest Farms in Castalia, OH around 3 or 4 I think. The mares are in a big round pen with a dirt floor (and a lot of old manure). And they don’t think too highly of my new hay, they were still picking at it several hours after I served it. There are 3 stallions nearby and bingo, Wildflower is in season again. For some reason, maybe cuz its kind of warm here, I got very tired and laid down to try and nap. When I got out of the trailer to check on the girls I was treated to the most amazing sunset I have ever seen. Brilliant colors streaking across the horizon. I took a photo but it is missing many of the colors.

This is a Tennessee Walking horse breeding farm. The couple that owns the place greeted me and got me set up. They seem pretty nice. They have a super nice trailer with slide outs parked next to me charging the battery. I guess they are going somewhere, he said they are trail riders. It is Labor Day weekend, I keep forgetting that.

There are four 6 month olds in the paddock next to my mares. They are so cute with their little tiny hooves and baby eyes. I talked to the couple that work here training and caring for the horses. They breed for fall babies which somehow helps them in showing them? They need special care thru the winter as newborns. They also told me they weaned them at 3 months old which seems very early to me but what do I know.

It cooled off considerably tonight thank God. Tomorrow I head to Michigan, relatively short haul, under 200 miles. I like the added overnights. I like how the drive days are shorter and more bearable and allow me to take interstates instead of super direct routes. And its kind of neat getting a glimpse of all these country horse farms along the way.

8/28/14
I’ve been in contact via email and texts with Liza, my 2 sons & Kate while overnighting. Liza is back and forth about where & when & if she will join up with me again. She wants it to not complicate my plans. It will be hard to come up with a meeting point, I am never close by a major airport. And I am moving every 3 days. And the weather is unpredictable so I may change my plans. She said she wants it to be fun & relaxing. I can not offer up any guarantees of either. I know it is neither of those things for me. My son was distressed about his dad, I wish I could fix this but I probably can’t, at least not until I am thru with SHLEP. And even then I don’t know how I can make housing in the LA area work financially. My other son did not come home for a visit this month as he said he was going to do. Not sure if his visa is valid. Not sure if he is going to do the IT Boot Camp or not. Honestly I am so not sure of what either of my boys are doing or planning or if they are really ok. And it distresses me, I can’t let it go.

Are everyone’s lives as complicated as mine?
Well its almost 9am, I have not eaten yet, but I am not in a hurry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s