BTW, yesterday would of been my 25th anniversary. I got thru it OK.
Arrived at North Dakota camp safe & sound (but cold and wet too).
We left the over night around 8:15am and got in around 2 I think. It was smooth sailing on state highways, interstate and 8 miles of a nice dirt road. The land flattened out as we moved west. The colors in the fields are showing me that winter is coming, beautiful earthy tones of yellows, browns mixed in with some greens. Sunflower fields, soybeans, but mostly corn. The roads are stick straight, smooth and flat. The only hills are overpasses over railroad tracks, of which there are many around here, I assume for loading up crops to go to market. I have seen so many silo systems, big groups of them on all farms. I have been wondering why they need so many, how they work, what’s in them anyway? We passed an area that had so many rv dealers. Here and in MN I saw round bales lining the highways, it seems that they are harvesting the grass along the highways as well…smart.
This camp is well set up, all sites pull thru, most with full hook ups. 10×10 pipe stalls, 2 cabins and a teepee you can rent, hay & wood for sale, very nice bathrooms with showers, laundry room (all heated and clean). There are about 10 other rigs here, 20 horses (4 horses are blanketed for the record). These guys stayed huddled around one campfire all afternoon yesterday laughing it up. It was way too cold for me to stand around outside so I didn’t go over there. Its very windy and raining too. The low was predicted to be 39 last night and I began getting anxious about my horses not having enough winter coat on them to stay warm. I gave them a huge pile of hay each and big tubs of water and hoped for the best. I posted on Facebook about my concern and got a lot of advice ranging from put them in the trailer, to make a shelter with a tarp, to lots of hay and water, get some blankets…Jack called me and told me to not worry, just give them a lot of hay. I knew he would say that. He may be moving his ranch to Oregon which is better pasture and milder winters. We talked about me leaving WF & Dreamy there in October for a couple of years. This will be hard for me to do but they will be happy and I won’t go broke paying LA board and hay prices. It will also give me more time to concentrate on my children when they need me, paint and write this book I have been talking about. It is just a temporary situation, I am not getting rid of them, but it will be hard any way.
Its going to be cold for a while, especially in the Dakotas. Its a “early cold snap” I’ve been told. Well I hope it snaps out of it before I hit Montana’s primitive camp. Its hard to get motivated to get out of the trailer. I know the horses need a romp today, they are pretty frisky in their pens when I was cleaning them this morning. There are empty beer cases flying around the campground left over from yesterday. No one emerged from their trailers till after 9 or 10. One trailer packed up and left. She had shorts on…
I downloaded the DeLorme InReach map of the area but I have no idea where the trail starts here. There are no maps. I saw a trailhead about 5 miles down the road on the way in. I’m going to pull out long underwear for today. I wish I had brought my one piece ski suit, it was so warm, it would be perfect. Many of the other campers are wearing camo hunting gear.
Rachel has sent me links to some rentals in the area we want to live in together when I get back. I am looking for a realtor to work with her. She and Tommy can pick the place so I can arrange for storage stuff to be delivered and I can get settled quickly when I get back mid October.
While making the horses supplements, the wind slammed the trailer door shut and knocked me over, spilling the buckets. The group of party campers had to have seen it. Ouch. I got up quick and pretended it didn’t happen. Kind of embarrassing.
The weather app called for a high of 55 around 3pm, its overcast and windy too and that’s cool to me. So I put on extra layers top and bottom and at 2:00 I got on Wildflower and ponied Dreamy onto the trails. Liza found a map in the laundry room, it is basically a big loop with some branches. Some one on FB told me to expect a lot of gates. They aren’t the kind of gates you can open on horseback, you have to dismount. This is a pain if you are ponying and there is lush tall grass everywhere. My Woah isn’t as effective then. We went thru one gate without much hassling around but I avoided going thru any more and just stayed with in that fencing, which was enormous anyway. Its rolling grasslands with coves of oak trees. You can follow the trails or just ride thru the grass. There was no reason to venture anywhere else. Also knowing it was fenced, I dropped Dreamy’s rope and she just followed. She was pretty spunky and led for a while, cantering off. Wildflower tried to run off after her. This horse can not be allowed to do this ever. She rushes and is choppy, holding her head high and back hollow. Its a panic run and very uncomfortable and I hate it. She listened to me today which was great. Its one thing to be left behind by a new buddy but something entirely different when it is your life long buddy running away. We came upon a very tall squeeky windmill (this is not WF’s first so she was pretty good) and enormous water pool troth, I guess for the sheep that graze here (I didn’t see them just the signs and how they are protected by Great Pyranese dogs). WF would not approach the troth but of course Dreamy walked right up to it and drank deepy (very good since she has not been drinking much in her pen). Slowly WF edged up and sipped some too. They crack me up. I think the rolling grasslands reminded Dreamy of where she lived prior to me buying her when she was 5. She was a roping horse that lived on a ranch in Hollister, CA. It looked a lot like this but less trees and bigger hills.
You could get disoriented in these hills, I was trying like heck to memorize how we went, what we passed, not just so I didn’t get lost but as a mental exercise. My sense of direction is coming back to me and I just want to work on it. Somehow with all the stress of the last years in LA and the advent of and my reliance on gps, I had started to feel like a wandering old person with no sense of direction. I have gotten much better thank God. When I think back to how I was driving this rig all around the country and never even studied the atlas it scares me. If the gps got unplugged I would go into a panic. I had no idea where I was or what route I was on. Well anyway, we didn’t get lost at all and had a terrific time.
I met a couple that was in the big group of campers. Lovely folks, they left today. Some of the others had been in a big rodeo last weekend. They have all been here since Sunday. Today a ton of rigs arrived. It is a Wednesday. The place is practically full, well not full but a lot more campers than I’ve ever seen at a camp when it wasn’t a special ride or holiday. This is a very well used and popular place. I see why after riding today. One couple headed out on the trail after hauling 8 hours to get here because the guy was so excited about riding here. No comment…
Liza said she wanted to ride tomorrow. I have thought about it and told her no. I feel badly but I had been clear about it before she came. I hope she isn’t hurt by my decision. Its in her’s and Dreamy’s best interests.
Liza has no problem with my decision about riding. She woke up today and her ribs are bothering her again (they are broken from her fall).
When I woke up at 6:30 it was still kind of dark out, winter is coming…I got up, fed, mucked, drank coffee, planned the next painting, grazed the horses for an hour, loaded the new hay, then rode. Liza took Tommy for a super long walk in the hills.
While loading my hay, a guy came over and helped me out. That was great cuz these bales are much bigger and heavier, its hard for me to get them up over the wall of the truck bed. His jacket said Dead Horse Ranch, which is their ranch name. It came to be their name after a sad story about a horse he bought with payment plans and that died after 8 weeks. They laugh about it now but it wasn’t funny then, I guess it was a long time ago. He had proposed to his wife with a horse instead of a ring. How could she possibly say no?!! He invited me to ride with their group and I did. We went a different direction than I did yesterday, it was just as pretty. They all rode quarterhorses too! They live in Minnesota, a few hours away and come here often. They knew which gates can be opened and which ones you don’t go thru. They told me about the spring loaded gates that go up when you release them, (I would of never figured that out). It wasn’t too long, all walking. I ponied WF who was her bossy self, she hates being ponied and considers it a demotion. Every chance she gets she goes ahead of my leg or pushes Dreamy’s side. It kind of takes the fun out of it for me having to stay on top of her all the time. But she has gotten better, so I’m not complaining really. It is still pretty cold, especially out in the open fields where the wind picks up, and if the sun isn’t out. I’ve spent more time than usual inside the trailer with the heat on here.
Tomorrow I leave for Custer, SD, I have 2 overnights planned on the way. Luckily this will be just enough time for it to warm up there and for the SNOW that they got today to melt. This cold snap we experienced here hit WY, MT & SD with snow. I am so happy I missed that. I love how pretty the snow is but I do not want to haul in snow. I do not have 4 wheel drive.