9/7/14 Outback Ranch, Houston, MN; state #39 (one of the nicest, and popular to locals campgrounds ever) I talked with the couple in the enormous/fancy rv before I pulled out of WI camp. He pulls a long trailer with it loaded with his truck, 2 atvs and 2 kayaks. This guy can drive! He is in the business of building scientific labs. They were really nice and asked for my blog address. In response to my answer of why I had taken on this trip he said “its amazing how little time it takes a schmuck to do a lot of damage”…well put I thought. (I am posting 2 pictures from my ride on WF my last day in WI now too, on the scary bridge and with the 2 horse statues and logging wagon. I must of missed them on my last post.) I had a big mess in the corrals to clean out, tons of wet hay. I let them graze a while till they wandered too far. I went up to the owner’s house to use her wi-fi to publish a post for WI (but I’m not sure if it actually did it or not), dumped the tanks and pulled out by 10:30. On the way to Minnesota I stopped at Walmart and stocked up on groceries. I got into camp around 4 or 5. The route was half interstate and the rest was beautiful state highways which Wisconsin keeps in great repair. I crossed into Minnesota and my exit ramp was closed, ugh…it re routed me nicely tho. I opted out of the “sharp turn” directions off the camp’s website directions and had no trouble on the “cut across road” which was dirt. There was another long dirt road leading to camp and the entire MN area coming in is gorgeous. Hills, farms, and the weather was lovely… Camp is set in a little valley and the side walls of the valley are the grass pastures for the campsites. There are 2 barns, a big dirt arena. There are a lot of sites, some are electric, some not. A few cabins and different areas of camp sites, its a huge ranch and spread out. There was an old black lab wandering around and adorable little boy shuffling around in new cowboy boots that were too big for him (I was told he refuses to take them off). A guy, I think the owner? Jake? and another young boy, helped me fill my water tank since there is not people water at the sites. He crawled under the trailer to see if he could fix my clogged air hose issue. I have to keep pulling the hose out to “burp” the tank. Some time ago I discovered a twig in my air hose. I can’t get it cleared and have just accepted doing this but he said if the twig gets loose in the tank and gets into the water pump it will break it. He said the hose is all under metal and maybe I can access it from inside the trailer. Ugh… The horse water is in big tanks on flatbed trailers stationed around camp. The hose is like a fire hose and when you open the valve it comes out with tremendous force. But it fits nicely over the 5 gallon tank that Jack gave me back in ID and it fills it up in less than a minute. I use the hand truck to get it back and forth to my horses’ pasture. I have been very friendly at this camp, not that I’m not friendly, but it is coming more easily now, like I used to be a long time ago, actually almost “outgoing”. I have met everyone here I think, even the group at the remote cabin when I was out riding Dreamy. Last night, after Liza got here, we joined a campfire of 2 couples that are here together and had invited us to their fire. We had a hoot, I laughed so hard at times my eyes were watering. They had a hollow log that they had been saving and put it in the fire, then fed old christmas lights to it, the copper wire making green and blue flames. It was really cool. And incredibly hot. Liza kept asking if she should move away as if it might explode. I got to sit in one of their super comfy bungey cord lounge chairs. I really wish I had one of these chairs, but I don’t have room for it really. We talked about e cigarettes (and how I had dropped mine in the porta potty here and retrieved it and then angsted about how to sanitize it and my hand), parents dying, diabetes (one of the couples has a 24 year old diabetic son who is a tri-athlete and has gone thru many of the same fears and failures I have), shorts in the trailer (one woman got a super shock from plugging in her blow dryer while soaking wet outside and they had a bad ground in the plug), rowdy campers and rider stories (one woman works for the DNR and related a wild story and how she shut it down with one phone call). Its nice to know that other experienced campers have the same troubles I do and that we can all laugh about it now. It feels so good to laugh. I had a great ride on Dreamy yesterday, into the state park trails. I spent the first half hour feeling grateful and praying. I prayed for God to use me to shine his glory, peace and joy onto others. Especially for my sister who was on her way here. I held my hands to the sky and arched my back and looked up. Dreamy is used to this and she just keeps going. I have gotten so I can do this with my upper body and still guide her with just my seat and legs. Then I thanked her for being such a good girl and letting me pray and we picked up the pace. She was acting like it was too hard for her on the way out, blowing hard at times. Lots of steep hills up and down. I was feeling bad about it and after an hour and a half or so I stopped at a small empty campground to let her rest & graze. There was no water there and I thought she was thirsty. When I got back on her and headed home she took off like a rocket down hill. She got me again! Why do I fall for this. Its not faking lame, its buddy sour super bad. But I didn’t get mad about it, its natural for her to want her herd. Anyway it was a very fun ride back and she showed me again how capable & fit she really is! Natural impulsion is so much fun on her. God I love this mare. The trail map they gave me is very hard to read so I downloaded it off their website and messed with it in photoshop and printed out one I could read. The trails are very well marked with numbers on the trees at all junctions. They even have “caution steep” signs. One it named “the man from snowy river”. I am going to check that one out today on Wildflower. So far the footing is really pretty good, some sand, some dirt, some grass, no down trees to navigate, some rocky sections but not bad at all…and now super bad mud. I have grown to HATE mud more than anything else on the trail. Well that and ground bees. I have encountered riders here and in WI that got swarmed now. I remember getting swarmed when on the single track in Cherry Canyon back in CA on Wildflower. It was pretty scary. WF started bucking and rearing so I spured her into a gallop…on a trail that was not suitable, we were on the side of a mountain. But she is so agile and sure footed and we outran the swarm. She had 20 some huge welts when I got home that day. Last night I was reading the old journal I found of my SHLEP planning notes, the pre test trip fiasco with Tommy in CA and Utah’s notes (my 1st camp stop at 7M feet, primitive, no cell & super bad choice for the novice I was). Its sad to see what a mess I was, I was so afraid of everything all the time. Every page had at least one mention that the fridge was still cold. I was so nervous about the fridge quitting and all my food going bad. I never published these notes on my blog I think. I remember texting Rachel with my DeLorme InReach device that I was afraid and she replied of what? I said Everything! But my biggest fear right then was not just what I had gotten myself into with this journey and feeling completely incapable of continueing and that I had made a huge mistake about undertaking it… but my future. Even Nalla is coming out of her shell, she darted out the door last night! This is the cat that has not left the trailer for a year now (except when I was at dad’s in FL), and is usually under the covers hiding. La la kitty I call her. I don’t know why. It is almost 9am and I am still in my slippers. Liza fed the horses and Tommy and made 2 pots of coffee. She is now off hiking with Tommy. I have gone thru my photos and chose one for MN to start a painting of. I have tried to remember everything that has happened since I got here and written it down (my memory is not so good and I should be doing this daily). Our campfire buddies from last night pulled out and came by to say good bye and ask for my blog address. What a nice group of people. One reminded me to remove my e-cigarette from my pocket when I go to the crapper… late afternoon. I started the MN painting, which may prove to be difficult with the fog, then saddled and booted Wildflower. It is a gorgeous day here. I headed up on the yellow section of trails. She was acting pretty tired with the hills and heat today. We did a lot of walking. Going up the man from snowy river trail she had to stop and rest several times. I told her it wasn’t as bad as Owl Trail back in Cherry Canyon which she did weekly with no boots and it was much rockier but she didn’t care, she was winded pretty bad. It is a long steep hill but its not like the one in the movie at all, so if you are gonna ride here don’t let it scare you off. The riding here is hilly for sure and my horses are not used to the hills like they used to be. So I let them catch their breath when they need to. We got back to camp in about 1-1/2 hour, I gave her some water then headed back out. There is no water on the trails. Next we went to the lower part of the yellow trails up to the look out area where there are some beautiful views and lots of wildflowers and grass. She has gotten much better lately, giving me her head with just a little lift of a loose rein. Riding alone is much better with her than riding with another horse, unless its Dreamy. We even saw a bunch of deer running thru the woods and she didn’t react at all. I can let her go downhill with a loose rein finally too and she doesn’t rush it. I am quite pleased how well she is listening to me and how she has calmed down. Its not fair to compare her to Dreamy, she is half her age and is built differently. And she was an orphan. I’m glad I kept her, I had my doubts at times when she was younger and I was broke and not a very confident rider. 2 trailers of day riders pulled in this morning and rode out, leaving one on a picket line. Are they trying to teach him how to picket? or patience? He is in the sun with no water and its been at least 4 hours now, maybe more. A new couple rode by and said hi. They came by earlier too and have been admiring my hay rack which I think is a big waste of money and only prevents me from getting under low archways. It holds my generator and horse waterer and some bags of shavings but I haven’t had hay in it since CA. You need heavy equipment to get hay up 12’ in the air. But they are pulling a 4 horse stock trailer with an RV so don’t have a truck bed for hay as I do. And they have a tractor at home. They have 4 sons all together from different marriages, that are all grown, one baby granddaughter and one on the way. Again I think of how I have skipped a generation by having my children so late in life. I wonder if I will ever see any grandchildren. It must be so much fun. They said they don’t get to see them often. You would not be able to get rid of me, my kids are gonna have to kick me out of their house when babies come. We started a scrabble game on the picnic table and didn’t keep score which makes it much more fun for me. I prefer to make real words. But it was getting cold after the sun went down so we quit. Liza went down to the barn to take a shower, and I dyed my roots in the trailer, my hair is looking pretty scruffy lately, can’t remember the last time I actually brushed it. We had Bertollis stir fry for dinner. Nice and easy. Tomorrow, North Dakota (#40!) 9/8/14 I slept good and didn’t get too cold, I unzipped my sleeping bag and used it as a blanket which worked pretty good. I don’t like sleeping in it any more, its a mummy bag and too confining and I get too hot, then unzip it and get cold, back and forth all night. Tommy ended up on my right side when I woke up, he is always on the left side. Wonder what happened. I got up and fed the horses and mucked, drinking coffee in bed now, pondering the day. I need to get hay which they will sell me here, dump (not sure if they have one tho), add some shavings to the trailer since they are kind of damp and smelly now and haul 160 miles I think to just north of Minneapolis. The overnight is also a trailer repair shop according to the overnight directory. So maybe I can get a few things fixed, like the leaks in the ac, the busted fan cover and the twig in the air vent for the water. 3pm Got thru Minneapolis despite the crazy highway system & construction going on. Horses resting in the arena at Woods & Trails in Elk something, MN. Time for a nap.