Posted by: millspaw | April 30, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 27

Day 27: April 29, 2015

The Ride Home

Kentucky to Pennsylvania

We got going at 6:30 and drove all the way home. The horses were good, traffic bad and we were happy to finally get past the bigger cities. We stopped twice for gas, but other than that, we just drove on through.

There were several things that I, personally, got to do while on the trip. One was to paint watercolors of the places we visited. It is a nice way to help me remember our trip.

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Jack Johnson’s Cabin

Stormy night

A stormy sunset at Caprock

Gila mountains

Gila Mountains, New Mexico
Caprock Canyon, Texas  Caprock sketch

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Another hobby that I could do while Dan was driving was crocheting. This afghan was finished about 10 minutes before we got home.

Being gone for almost a month gives you time to ponder about where you live compared to other places in the United States. We talked about their weather, lifestyles, homes and cost of living. We knew nothing of the trouble in Baltimore or Nepal until on our way home and came to the conclusion that we are truly blessed.

Even though we have miserable, cold winters with lost of snow, we don’t have poisonous snakes, mountain lions or flash floods at our house. Our home is beautiful, spacious and has lots of light. After living in a 24 foot motorhome for 27 days , we feel rich.

We were spared any serious accidents and had people helping us whenever we needed it. God has shown us great favor and for that we glorify Him and praise Him.

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Posted by: millspaw | April 30, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 24 and 25

April 26, 2015

Maple Springs Campground

Mammoth Caves, KY

Last night was full of thunderstorms and wind, knocking small branches off of the trees. We spent about an hour in the morning watching gobblers in the campground in full display. Then the deer came to eat as squirrels scampered around. None of them are very afraid of us.

The morning was cool and cloudy so we decided to find a laundromat. We knew they had one at the Park Office, but that was about an hour away. We decided to see if we could ride the ferry across the river.

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I had never seen this type of road sign before. Unfortunately, they said it was too rough loading and would hit under our camper causing damage. We had to drive around.

We didn’t have to go the whole way around. The small town of Brownville, halfway around, had a laundromat in an apartment complex and a car wash took the dollars I had saved so we could get quarters. We have been surprised at the number of washing facilities that didn’t have change machines!

We had a nice 3 hour, 12 mile ride today. We started at the Maple Springs Trail that turned into the Raymer Hollow Trail. We then followed Collie Trail across to the Buffalo Creek Trail and back to camp. The sun came out and it warmed up to 60 degrees. We were able to gait at the beginning and the end with a nice steep climb and decent in between. The horses are in such good shape that this didn’t bother them at all. A steak dinner on the grill finished a perfect day.

The area is so great for gaiting and pretty that we decided to stay another day.

April 27, 2015

Maple Springs Campground

Mammoth Caves, KY

The day dawned without a cloud in the sky and the turkeys strutting again. This time I got out the camera and took some great pictures. These two Toms hung around as Dan called to them. Both are Trophy Toms, for sure.

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We took the horses to “The Homestead” today. There is not much left except an old well. It is fun to imagine what life was like back then. Our ride was 12 miles today. Some places were very muddy. We always hose off the horses legs to check for nicks and ticks. Here Stoney enjoys a snack while he gets hosed off.

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We got back in time for lunch and a nap. I had time to work on my watercolor of the Grand Canyon and before I went to bed, I found a tick on me.

It is pretty hard to not feel itchy and worried when you have a tick. I did the research and found that I should have saved it on a piece of tape in case I develop symptoms late. There are actually three kinds of ticks here, deer ticks, dog ticks and lone star ticks.

We have decided on just one more day here. Tomorrow we will take an all-day ride and pack a lunch.

Posted by: millspaw | April 30, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 22 and 23

April 24, 2015

Maple Springs Group Horse Campground

Mammoth Caves, KY

We left at 6:30 from Devil’s Den Horse Camp and 13 hours later arrived. There is only one other camper here. We put up the tie line, fed the horses and it was already dark. Exhausted and goodnight.

April 25, 2015

Maple Springs Group Horse Campground

Mammoth Caves, KY

The time zone changed again, so it looks like we slept in! When we went out to check the trailhead sign, which was about 30 yards from the camper, we found that it was a Mandatory Horse Tie Area sign. Whoops! We had put up our highline and the horses stomped up the ground overnight. We are hoping that the Park Rangers will understand that it was late when we arrived and we didn’t know any better. And we moved them as soon as we found out.

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This seems like a luxury campground to us because there is actually water and electric. We are the only ones in the camp, since the other horse people left this morning. When they found out that we needed to buy more hay, they gave us a few bales of theirs. Horse people are just so nice!

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We took a late morning ride expecting those thunderstorms predicted, but they never came. We rode Sol Trail for 8 miles total. The beautiful, easy trail took us around some very pretty woodland views. There were no rocks or roots to speak of and we gaited a good part of the time.

I practiced making Oreo stop and wait while Stoney gaited out of sight. She is not very good and paws and protests. I would not let her go on until she had all “four on the floor” for 15 seconds. Dan did the same with Stoney. We are not sue if they have ever been ridden apart from other horses and this technique, though sometimes a fight, will teach them to wait. We also practiced backing. I am hoping to teach Oreo a quick stop and backing after saying whoa will help her with this skill.

After our nap, I took Oreo out for a solo ride. This was only the second time that I had been on her without company. She was a perfect lady and never protested, looked back or whinnied. We went another 6 miles in short time. I followed the Maple Springs trail to the Raymer Hollow Trail stream and back. Her stop and back was perfect without the distraction of another horse.

Her reward for such a good job was a nice cool bath. She loves her baths and cleans up nice!

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Posted by: millspaw | April 30, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 20 and 21

April 22, 2015

Devil’s Den State Park

Winslow, Arkansas

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We made good time and arrived around 1:30 at Devil’s Den State Park. At registration we found out that a group had reserved the entire horse camp and we would have to drive down and see if they would be willing to let us have a spot.

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They immediately said that we were welcome and invited us to a “Meet and Greet” at 6:00, group trail ride tomorrow and supper. There are three trails here. Yellow is 4.5 miles and takes about 2 hours, Red is 7 miles and takes 4 hours and Green is 9 miles and takes 5 hours. Unfortunately, while I was grooming Oreo I found a soft tendon. She must have hurt herself in the Manzano Mountain Wilderness two days ago. I won’t be riding anywhere today and we will see about tomorrow.

Day 21: April 23, 2015

Devil’s Den State Park

Winslow, Arkansas

The people from the Northwest Arkansas Cavalcade are the nicest people. Oreo’s tendon had cooled down and we were able to ride with the NAC. They took us on an organized trail ride today. We were to all meet at the camp sign at 9:00. While we were waiting, a horse spooked, started bucking and ran over its owner. The poor man had to be taken to the emergency room. We heard later that he would be operated on tomorrow for a badly broken upper leg. Our prayers are with him.

We got the trail ride underway at 9:30. Half way through we stopped and sat on rocks to eat our lunch. A lot shared horse stories from the past.

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When we got back to camp, I wanted to go to the laundry since it had been 10 days since I did the wash. One of the members saw us about to unhook our motorhome so that we could drive the mile or so to the laundry, he insisted we take his truck. These are some of the nicest people around

Later at suppertime, the club had a big tureen dinner and invited us to attend. The trail boss presented us with a light that he made for camping using a plastic container, bulb and cord.

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By the end of the dinner Dan and I decided to become official members of the Northwest Arkansas Cavalcade. They meet at Devil’s Den three times a year. The next meeting is in June and then in October. We hope to be back for the October ride this fall.

Posted by: millspaw | April 30, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 19

April 21, 2015

Foss Lake State Park

Foss, Oklahoma

We spent all Day 19 driving from Mountainair, New Mexico to arrive at a nice State Park. On the way we saw many windmills and this cross was next to some of them.

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The horse camping section of Foss Lake State Park was not open yet, but they allowed us to camp in the regular section that just happened to have a horse corral for overflow from the Mouse Creek Horse Camp section.

We hooked up to electric, water and sewage and we both took long showers! Sometime after midnight a thunderstorm arrived. We were up and out by 7:00 driving in that storm. Along the road we saw what looked like snow, but it was much too warm. We decided it must be hail.

Posted by: millspaw | April 30, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 18

April 20, 2015

Red Canyon Horse Camp

Mountainair, NM

The terrain is entirely different than Throw Down Camp, NM six hours away. The perfume of pines fills the air. It is 7952 feet in altitude. Both of us noticed that right away, even though we were at a pretty high altitude before.

If you have never had altitude sickness, let me describe it. Your nose and ears feel plugged, your breathing is labored, sometimes you get a headache and it doesn’t go away with medication and your muscles ache just walking on the flat. It usually only takes a couple of days and then it is better.

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This camp area is one of the prettiest we have been in. There are cement picnic tables, a grill and a fire pit at each campsite, along with pipe corrals for the horses. This is a dry camp, which means you have to haul in your water for yourself and your horses. The best thing for me is that it has 3G Internet service. That means I can keep contact with my family without having to wait to be near a bigger town.

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There are several trailheads yards away from our campsite. The cost to stay here is $7.00/night, but with our Golden Age pass it is only $3.50.

We decided to take a short ride to see what the trails were like. There was one that looped back to camp that looked short, so that was the one we rode.

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Don’t let anyone tell you that Rocky Mountain/Tennessee Walker horses and Spotted Saddle Horses don’t have heart. This trail was steep, rocky, narrow and just hard. The horses had to rest about every eight minutes and they are conditioned. We rode uphill for an hour and a half looking for the trail that would cut across to the one that we would take back down. Because it was 5:30 already, we decided to turn and go back down.

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When we got to the steepest, rockiest parts we got off and led the horses. It was all they could do to hold back and not stumble down on top of us. After 2 ½ hours we arrived back at the camp. Both horses were safe and sound and Dan and I, too. Leaving for Foss, Oklahoma tomorrow.

Posted by: millspaw | April 20, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 17

April 19, 2015

El Paso Throw Down Horse Camp

Apache National Forest

The horses are healthy and happy with their new accommodations. It was 20 degrees outside and 40 degrees inside when we woke. Our ride to Largo Trail #14 took us through a beautiful wide valley surrounded by pine covered mountains. The posted sign at the trailhead told us that bear, mountain lion, and coyotes were common here.

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We followed posts across the valley and into the forest where, after a mile or two they disappeared. Piles of rocks are used to mark trail in many of the places we have ridden. We found this marker.

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It means to turn right. We found two more rock piles marking the path and then there were no more. We decided to turn back for camp. The horses enjoyed gaiting in the soft soil. Riding here is a horseman’s dream. It is so open. Dan took this picture of me in front of where the lake starts.

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We rode after lunch and a nap for another 7 miles following the tracks around the big meadow. I wondered where they would lead, but we ran out of time and had to return to camp. We saw a lot of Mountain Bluebirds in this meadow. They are completely blue and very bright, unlike our Eastern Bluebird. There are many elk herds around here, too!

Tomorrow we head out to another dry camp. We will have to find someplace to fill our tank and the horse’s tank. We are traveling to Red Canyon horse camp in Manzano, New Mexico. Hopefully, a shorter drive.

Posted by: millspaw | April 20, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 16

April 18, 2015

El Paso Throw Down Horse Camp

Apache National Forest

We thought we had a shorter drive today. According to the map program in my phone it would take 6 hours. We were up at 5:15 AM and ready to leave at 5:45.   We arrived at El Paso Throw Down Horse Camp around 3:00 PM. The views were nice as we drove closer to the Gallo Mountain range. The camp itself is just past Quemado Lake where there were a lot of fishermen.

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The horse camp itself is not really a horse camp at all. We saw no signs of any horses having been there. There were no corrals, hitching posts or manure bins. There are three regular camping areas at the trail head and those had some RVs and tents in them. We drove past those and the next area that was the Throw Down Camp, had an RV in it and further down a big white tent. The RV had fishermen and we parked across from them. The big tent is out of sight, and has a young Mexican family camping in it.

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Since we had time, we took a short ride to explore the trailhead. It is about a mile from where we are camping up a dirt road. The road has a cattle guard and we got off and led the horses across it. You must ride through the first El Paso camp to get to the trailhead itself. The area is fenced and the gate across the trail was chained shut. Beside the gate are two posts just wide enough apart for the horses to fit through. The trail appeared to be an old road, double wide so that we could gait side-by-side. We rode for an hour and a half and then headed home to fix supper. Tomorrow we will explore it more.

Posted by: millspaw | April 16, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 14

Day 14: April 16, 2015

Mather Horse Camp

Grand Canyon, AZ

We had an uneventful 6 ½ hour ride to the Mather Horse Camp. The scenery was flat and uninteresting, but changed as with the altitude.

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The check- in was also uneventful. We were asked if we had our paperwork for the horses (The Coggins test and they didn’t even look at them), and showed our Senior Pass. The Senior Pass is well worth the $10.00 fee, as it saved us half of the camping fee and all of the entrance fee for a total of $62.50 at this location. If you are over 62 and are going to be going to National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments, etc. it is well worth paying the $10 for a lifetime pass!!

Our registration was for three nights at the South Rim Horse Camp. There are only two sites, but they are beautiful. Far away from everyone in tents and campers.

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The horses each could have had a large pen to themselves, but we put them together because they love each other. There were two feed bins and a water bucket. They were happily rolling and then eating when Dan and I left to go talk to the backcountry service.

Although it is supposed to get down to 19 degrees and was snowing when we arrived, we aren’t too worried. Our camper has a generator and a heater so we will be toasty warm. We also left Corry in the snow, so we have all our heavy winter clothing with us.

Tomorrow we will ride! Can’t wait to see the Canyon.

Posted by: millspaw | April 16, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 13

April 15, 2015

Horse Motel and Bar S RV Park

Milan, NM

We drove until we could drive no more.   We left at 6:30 in the morning with great hopes of getting to the Grand Canyon. We chose what looked like a direct route to the main highway. It ended up being a mountain drive that took four hours. The scenery was fantastic and the hair pin curves exhilarating.

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After 10 hours of driving we found a horse motel and RV park to stay in. There were no state parks or national parks that had horse camps, so we had no choice. The horses are in a nice pipe paddock with shelter. I got sick after eating my lunch and still am…so a short blog for today.

Tomorrow we hope to drive about 5 hours and arrive at the South rim of the Grand Canyon where we have reservations for three nights.

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