Thursday, October 30, 2014

Flint Hill Trail Ride Part Two

After our short ride on Friday, 
Cloud and Sarge lugged us around for 18 miles on Saturday and another 12 miles on Sunday.

This was Cloud's first outing with lots of other horses 
and her first overnighting at the trailer.  
She handled everything like a seasoned pro 
and was a delight to partner with all weekend.  
The ride was a "go at your own pace" event, 
which meant that the trails were marked but you did your own thing either riding alone
or with a group of your choosing.  

The signs, ribbons and map were easy to follow.
It looks like Cloud and Sarge are reading the sign in the above photo! 
There were various options for loops and with the mileage available, 
that meant that we rarely saw other riders
and there was no bunching up or "nose-to-tail" riding.  
The lunch stop held out on the trail was a welcome break 
about halfway through both Saturday and Sunday.  
We rode into a clearing and were surprised to find 
that ride management had set up picket lines in a treed grove 
and erected a food tent 
where hot BBQ sandwiches, cole slaw, chicken chili, lentil soup and more
were dished up by kind volunteers!
I could get used to this kind of service!

Probably 3/4 of the trails were woods trails 
that popped out onto unexpected vistas 

and gave us glimpses of mountains through the trees.
This area with it's 4' high stone walls stretching as far as you could see
looked like a scene from the rural British Isles.  

At the end of each day, after getting my sweet mare rubbed down, 
fed and groomed, 
I was ready for some relaxing myself. 
From the weather to the people and from the food to the trails, it couldn't have been a finer weekend. Our rating of the Flint Hill Ride was a perfect 10!  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flint Hill Trail Ride

I'll admit it:  over the years of trail riding, I'd become picky about who we chose to ride with.   
I'd pretty much decided that if Joe and I weren't riding with a few select friends 
or at a NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference) competition 
then we'd prefer to ride by ourselves. 

Not because we're loners, but spending the day with people 
who can't control their horses, don't follow the rules of the area where we're riding 
and who aren't safety conscious isn't for us.  

It was a major leap of faith when we decided to try a public trail ride 
being held near Shenandoah National Park.  
My fingers and toes were crossed that there wouldn't be 100 crazy beer drinking riders out there 
with Joe and I wearing our helmets.  
I'm delighted to say that my fears were totally unfounded 
and we had a fabulous time at the Flint Hill Trail Ride! 

We've finally begun using our big living quarters trailer again, and what a grand time we're having! 

A normal day ride for us means taking our small bumper pull trailer and using our GPS's to plan out a day out in a National Forest or other nearby public trails. 
This was our second trip in the big trailer this year (I'll post about Trip #1 later) 
and our first to a destination here in Virginia!  

So.... about Flint Hill which was a fundraiser for the Flint Hill Volunteer Fire Department.....
We left the barn in the AM on Friday 
and it was an easy 2 hour drive up to the Huntly/Flint Hill area south of Front Royal.  

The field where we parked was HUGE.....  
And did I mention scenic?!

Set up was easy for us as we didn't bother with electric corrals 
instead we chose to overnight the horses NATRC style:
tied to the trailer on their overhead Hi-Tie arms.  
Look who got to come along to camp....
Although Attagirl had to stay behind while we were out on the trail she loves to travel! 

Our entry fees included meals for the weekend but not on Friday,
so after sandwiches at the trailer, 
we saddled up and went out for a short leg stretcher of a ride.

We hadn't gotten our maps yet and were supposed to be back in camp by 4PM,
so we quickly did an "out and back" jaunt of about 7 miles. 

We'd come prepared with gloves, hats, coats etc but didn't even need a jacket on this first afternoon.  
Sunny and with a lovely breeze which bought down a few leaves 
as we relaxed on our beautiful horses.

We decided that we were perhaps the luckiest people alive ......
We only saw about 12 riders out on the trails 
and everyone was polite, in control and yes.... sober!
(Trust me this would NOT have happened in Louisiana where the words "public trail ride" 
normally go along with how many iced down beers can fit in the saddle bags!)
 We turned around at "Cougar Rock" 
and were excited about the prospects of what the trails would be like the next morning.  
 When we emerged from the woods, there were definitely more trailers in the field 
but no way that you could imagine that there were over 250 horses and riders.  
 The tent which had been blown down by winds the night before 
(I'm glad we missed that!) 
had been re-erected. 
We went for a walk with Atta, took care of the horses and made a filling stir-fry for dinner.
 The next morning it became apparent how well run the ride was....
a delicious breakfast was dished up from the food tent.  
Not just edible but excellent
homemade muffins, real scrambled eggs and sausage cooked in cast iron skillets! 
 We visited during breakfast with a few riders in the dining tent, 
got our maps
 and went back to these two characters 
who were as yet unsuspecting that they were about to be asked to  haul us around 
in the mountains for 17 miles. 

Tomorrow I'll post photos of the trails.
In the meantime, ride along for a few seconds on this Hyperlapse video....

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Sad Reflection on Our Tastebuds

I could hardly believe my eyes 
when I saw this sign....
Just thinking about it boggles my mind.  

Repeat Visitors!

It was shaping up to be a busy fall with company 
due to arrive in a steady stream for a few weeks.  

I found the motherlode of local pumpkins at Swisher's Market
and had bought about ten beauties for the porch

I'd hung up the witch mobile and put out the Halloween/Fall decorations
in preparation for the next wave of guests.  
And then I think word may have gotten out about us!

First our W&L parents, Emma and Steve from England, emailed to say they weren't coming.  
They had stayed with us last year as part of the "Habitat Hotel" fundraiser 
and were looking forward to returning but family concerns 
made them cancel about 2 weeks before they were due to depart.  

The very next morning Cathy and Otto called 
to say that the second half of their trip had fallen apart 
so they wouldn't be coming.
They'd cancelled their airline reservations and car rental that morning
and were staying at their second home down in Florida.    

It had been a year since their last visit, 
so after a day of moping around on both my part and Cathy's, 
our dear friends got in the car, 
drove 12 hours north and came anyway.  
Cathy had an aching back so we didn't do any hiking,
I tried unsuccessfully to make a chiropractor appointment for her
and had to resort to medicating her with an occasional bourbon cocktail.  
She's almost more stubborn than me!

On the way to the barn one afternoon, we stopped by McCormick Mill Day.
The demonstrator for the lathe thought that he'd never get rid of us.  
Once Cathy got the rhythm of pumping her leg and holding the chisel, 
she was ready to keep turning all day.  
A British car show in Waynesboro 
kept Joe and Otto happy 

and made me wish we hadn't sold our Triumph before the move.  
Now it's up to me to prove that the road goes both ways 
and get down to Florida!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guests On The Hill

The guest room has been getting a lot of use.....

In early fall we hosted our first "famous" guest on the hill!
Steve Katz who was playing at a Krantz music party,  
accepted our invitation to spend two nights with us.  

Steve was one of the founding members of Blood Sweat & Tears 
and has recently finished a memoir about his career.  
He was a delight to get to know, 
and listening to him in concert was an experience I won't forget. 

He interwove stories about the beginning of his musical career, Greenwich Village 60's memories, and his more recent musical interests with songs that reflected each of those segments of his life. 
Dave. Steve and Linda
His recollection of the evening that he accidentally slammed Eric Clapton's fingers 
in a car door gave me shivers though!

I'll be looking for his book to be released in the spring. 

You never know who's going to turn up in this town!
A corner of the Krantz Music Room
Famous musicians and then not long after Steve left, 
I had some REALLY special VIP's......

My brother, Randy, and my sister, Carol, 
came for their first Virginia visit!  

Nobody knows you like your siblings.... 
or at least they know you in a way that no one else does.  

Funny how I still can feel like the "little sister" at times even though I'm an old lady!
I can't express how good it was to be able to see both of them again. 
Lots of reminiscing happened out on the back porch!
Good times, but I think I wasn't alone in missing our mother and father. 

I managed to get several good photos of our next guests so I'll give them their own post.

I could kick myself for not taking more photos of Randy and Carol!
Too busy talking I guess!  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back again!

I said a little prayer when the Blogger window actually opened without asking for a password or saying that the blog had been disabled.  It's been way too long.

My last post was about Cary's visit .... and he's been back for a repeat trip since then!

Why I can't manage to get a post knocked out, I don't know.... lately it seems that there's always something else demanding my attention.  And then there's that nasty habit that I have of wanting to do a worthwhile post; something with a stunning photo or grand words of wisdom.

Oh well I'm back at the keyboard again and unfortunately there will be no award winning photos or Pulitzer quality writing to be seen on this page today.   :)

Since mid August there's been a harmonious blend of daily routine (working at the shop, cleaning the house, chores around the property etc) with the special (house guests, travel, hikes and new experiences).  

But what's happening today?  Joe's at Lee Chapel all day giving tours and I'm about to go ride my wonderful little mare and then cook a supper that I hope we'll be able to eat by the outside fireplace.   The washing machine and dryer are running, Noel and Attagirl are keeping me company as I type, and I've got a cup of hot tea here on the desk.  The normal rhythms of a quiet life: dailiness.  Is that a word?  Since spellcheck didn't turn it red, then I suppose it's okay.

Somehow, miraculously perhaps, dailiness manages to incorporate change.  I spent a few hours last week packing away my summer clothes and saying hello to my corduroys, fleece pullovers and coats as they emerged from the storage boxes.  Sweater weather aka Fall has arrived and with it came not only the cool nights and changing leaves but slow subtle shifts like the unique angle of sunlight on the mountains and the disappearance of our summertime Blue Ridge haze.  

My delight in having Blogger allow me to start a post might be premature.  As I've been typing, dire warning pop-ups (highlighted by a grim looking red box) have been giving me the news that "an error has occurred" and my post isn't being saved.

It could be that my visit to the barn will be delayed while I try and coax Blogger in to publishing something again.  Wish me luck!