Sunday, October 24, 2010

Videos and Photos - this time for real!

Tuesday, October 26 note: What a moron!! I started getting this post ready on Sunday while we were visiting a friend in Indy -- we had had a couple of beers and some rakija, and like I moron instead of just saving it as a draft, I posted it and I did not have the video's and photos uploaded... DUH!

My apologies to anyone who read this on Monday or today.......

We were in a campground without shower facilities. We knew ahead of time there would be no showers, so John came up with a solution.... This is our horsetrailer.....

Here are the Allegan County Riders!

John was operating the video camera, so we had to make a separate video for him...

The parks in Michigan require securing the horses with a high line. We never had to do one before, but thankfully Karen knew how....

High tech camper in a primitive campsite!!!!

The last bottle of Giacamo Mori Chianti! Thanks to Tom and Dolly for sharing!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Allegan County Michigan -- Silver Creek Campground

Our friend Dee Dee, who is the horsewoman extraordinaire, has been telling us for the longest time that we need to go up to Michigan to go riding. So we finally got our horses Coggins tested, and set off for a weekend of horse camping at Silver Creek Campground, Allegan County Michigan. She was not exaggerating. The riding at this place was amazing.

Here is an overview of our campsite.....

When we first rolled into the campground my thoughts were "Oh my...this is really rustic!" And it was. The campsites have no electric, there is a pump for getting water, and there are only pit toilets. So it is really roughing it, but it was worth it. (John devised a shower system for us which will be explained in a separate post.)

Here is a photo me at the water pump....

There are miles and miles and acres and acres of trails. The camp itself is not real big, but it is right next to some sort of state-owned preserve area with snowmobile trails, and fishing and hunting areas which was available to equestrians. The trails consisted of everything -- woods, meadows, wide sandy trails, narrow muddy trails, switchback trails with trees too close -- challenging and seemingly endless riding....

Here is Dee Dee (left) and Karen (right) on the trail. These pictures do not do the trails justice -- the colors and the beauty of the scenery are much more striking in person.....

We had visitors -- day riders on Friday Tom and Dolly, and then for the evening festivities and riding on Saturday was Vern ("He's All That") and wife Sara, who is expecting their first child!

The weather was really warm for this time of year (in the 80 degree range!) and the leaves were turning, so it was just beautiful. One trail takes you to a lake, and you can actually ride in the lake just a bit offshore and meet up with the trail instead of just riding thru the woods. We went to the "Water Trail" and let our horses get a drink. We rode the Water Trail for a bit, and it was really refreshing.

The above pictures were the last ones I took the whole weekend, because just after they were taken, Divna decided the lake was so refreshing she just had to lay down! That's right -- Divna laid down in the water, with me on her and the camera strapped to the saddle horn! Unfortunately we do not have a photo of that event, but I can tell you it was an experience! I was soaked up to my armpits, but finished the rest of the ride. Surprisingly, the camera survived

Dee Dee's birthday was Saturday, and we had a cake and gifts for her. She rode the Michigan Shore-to-Shore event this summer, which is no small accomplishment. We are grateful to her for introducing us to Allegan County, and we will definitely go back for more fantastic riding!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Potato Creek Camping-Mishaps Continue-Part II

John woke me in the middle of the night -- there was a full moon outside, and the dying campfire was still glowing. "I just saw a big black shadow go by. I think one of the horses is loose." I jumped up and out of the tent, and sure enough, there stood Divna. All I could think was, "Please don't run. I am not up to this!!" Luckily, she just stood there. I took the lead rope (soaking wet -- it must have fallen into the water bucket) and got her back to the hitching post and re-tied her. No big deal, no horse-running-full-speed-through-crowded-campground scenario -- so it was all OK.

Back to sleep.

Very early morning. Sun just barely coming up -- that real dim, grey light. I woke to a sound....strange sound...a crunching sound. Then I realized it was a horse eating grass. Immediately I knew it had to be Divna. Sure enough, once I was out of the tent again, there was Divna grazing. Zora was still tied to the hitching post and she was not happy. I could see on her face that she was upset that Divna was grazing and she wasn't!! So once again, I got lucky -- Divna did not try to get away. I just grabbed the lead rope and put her back in place, this time tying a better knot!

Back to sleep.

After an uneventful breakfast (I cooked over the campfire rather than the out of control roaring inferno of a Coleman stove), we decided it was time to deal with the low tire situation. Some other folks in the campground told us there was an air pump at the Camp Store, located near the family campground on the other side of the park. Potato Creek is a large park, and it is quite a ways to the other side. So I took off to go get air while John took care of things around camp. I got all the way over there on a low tire, and was told that the place to get tires aired up in at the Service Center, near the Horsemen's Campground! The park employee at the family campground called the Service Center and they said for me to drive around back -- they would be waiting for me.

So back I go to the Horsemen's Camp and the Service Center. The guy was real nice and filled the tire. As soon as he put the valve cap back on we started hearing a hissing sound. Sure enough, the valve stem was leaking. Not good. So I drove back to our campsite and gave John the good news/bad news. We noticed that if we held the valve stem to one side, it stopped hissing, so we started brainstorming ways to keep the stem in place. We came up with this......

It was John's idea, but with me being a former Dental Assistant, I think it is very appropriate. We tied the valve stem in place with dental floss -- mint flavor at that!! Got us all the way home with no more loss of air. Take that, McGuyver/McGruber!!!

We were able to take our final ride of the weekend without any worries about the tire.

We did not know, though, that we had to worry about the donkeys.
More and more we are seeing donkeys/mules (which is it??) on the trails. I think they are becoming pretty popular. There were some at Potato Creek that weekend, and we came upon them on the trail. The people riding them had children with them. One woman had a small child on the saddle with her -- there was another child on the donkey/mule alone, but another woman was ponying it.
John and Zora were in the lead, as usual, and the group moved over on the trail to let us by. Once Zora got past, and Divna was close to the group I could feel her getting nervous. I think she knew these were not horses. With Zora now out of sight, she got scared of being near these "creatures" by herself. I was talking to her and coaxing her to walk past them, but as we got close to them she did a half turn and kicked out. She did not make contact, but it scared me because there were children on these animals. I immediately turned her around and walked her back down the trail in the direction we came from.
I told the group that she was afraid, and that she might kick them, so I was going to keep her out of the way. I thought it might help if she could see Zora, so I started calling for John. All the time I am apologizing to the people in the group. They kept saying it was alright, it was not a problem, they were really cool about it. But I was not wanting to let Divna walk past them with those children in the saddles.
John and Zora appeared, and the people in the group said they would move off the trail, over into the meadow area. They did, and we went by them safely. All the time with me apologizing all over the place. They kept saying it was no problem, but I did really feel bad about it. I was just really nervous because of those young children.
The rest of the ride was beautiful, but uneventful. We got back to camp, ate lunch, packed up and went home. A good camping weekend all-in-all, in spite of the many mishaps.
Next weekend, camping in Michigan with The Girls and friends....

P.S. Dolly sent me the GPS map that Tom made on his Droid when we were trail riding. It is really cool -- you can see the whole route we took. I cannot figure out how to get it uploaded here. I am going to work on it and see if I can post it.....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Potato Creek Camping Part I - Everything worked out OK

I got out of work early last Friday so we could go camping with the horses. Our reservations were made on September 3, so we were glad the weather was cooperating. Upon arrival at the gate to Potato Creek State Park they asked the question they always ask, one to which we believed we knew the right answer: "Are you bringing in firewood?" Of course we told them "yes," because we were. Next question (also one they always ask), "From which county?"

Indiana is at war with the Emerald Ash Borer. In an effort to keep it from spreading and destroying our beautiful woods, there are residents of certain counties that are prohibited from bringing in firewood. LaPorte county does not have an Emerald Ash Borer problem (or so we thought). So our answer was "LaPorte."

Then we heard something we never heard before "LaPorte county has been quarantined. You will have to unload your firewood here." Shocker!!! Turns out that LaPorte county went on the list of Emerald Ash Borer counties on September 4 -- one day after we made our camping reservations. After much whining on our part, the DNR person told us that they would have some "safe" firewood brought to our campsite. So that turned out OK after all. Whew!! A late September weekend in a tent in Northern Indiana is no place to be without firewood. We proceeded to our campsite.

Once there, after everything was unloaded, I noticed the low tire -- back tire on tbe right side of the trailer. We figured we would deal with it the next day. Drive into town, go to a gas station and fill it up. No big deal. We set up camp.

First we took a quick ride around the area, just to get acclimated. It is always so neat to see all the horse, the different rigs and camping styles of everyone in the park -- just really enjoyable.

We came back and started in on dinner after a couple of libations. We had bought a new camp stove, but it was still in the box, so we were cooking over the campfire. At one point, things got frantic -- the fire was a bit high, the steaks needed to be turned, the smoke was blowing in, our faces. In an attempt to help, I moved the foil-covered cooking grate, but made a wrong move -- the food flipped around. Two steaks at the edge of the fire, one ended up wrapped in the foil and on the ground. But after retrieving the two from the fire and washing them off, we put them all back on the grate and everything was OK. We had a great dinner and settled in for the night.

Next morning we were ready to make a wonderful breakfast on our new Coleman stove. First thing I saw when I got out of the tent was that we still had a low tire on the trailer, but now the one in front of it was completely flat! Then we discovered we forgot the coffee pot!!!

We needed to eat first, so the tire we have to wait. We had the coffee and filters but no pot!! We had to make what my mother used to call "jailhouse coffee." I have also heard others refer to it as "cowboy coffee" which in this case is more appropriate. By putting water and grounds into a pot and cooking to a boil, we had coffee after all. So it worked out OK.

John started changing the tire on the trailer, and with the new Coleman stove set up, I started to make breakfast. It was windy, which made it difficult to light the stove. It was sunny, making it difficult to see the height of the flame. When I turned the control down, the flame would go out. This happened several times, and I was going thru matches like crazy because of the wind. I decided to just make the best of it and cook on the sky high flame. It was a challenge, and though slightly burned, breakfast was edible. So it worked out OK. John got the tire changed in spite of not having the proper jack.....

Our friends Tom and Dolly came out with their horses, and the four of us had a great trail ride.
The trails are really pretty, and thanks to Dolly we did not get lost. Tom had a cool phone witha GPS gizmo that actually mapped out our course. Our horses behaved, and even walked with the quarter horses. We were all so calm and slow, that I actually fell asleep on the ride! I woke to Tom yelling at me to be careful, as I was about to strangle myself on a low hanging grapvine.

Back at camp we had a great lunch and a lot of fun just talking and laughing. It was a great trail ride. John and I took another ride later that afternoon and also ran into some people we know from riding at the Dunes and our saddle club.

It was a little colder than it was forecasted to be, but we really did have nice trail rides and a lot of fun with our friends. So it worked out to be a great Saturday!

Part II -- Sunday's adventures......