Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mohican Memorial State Forrest - Chili Cook Off 2013

Last weekend was another camping weekend for Guinness and I, but this time were were considerably closer to home and on familiar territory at Mohican-Memorial State Forrest

We attended an OHC State Ride, meaning that all members of the Ohio Horseman's Council, regardless of the county chapter they belong to, were invited to attend.

While being a primary member of Wayne County, I'm a secondary member of Ashland County OHC, who were the hosts of the ride.  Wayne County does a lot of work at Mohican in the form of trail maintenance, grounds maintenance and improvements.  It's very close to our home (about 45 minutes) to we consider it to be our "Home Turf".

Mom and I loaded up and headed out Friday afternoon after work.  When we arrived, the sun was low in the sky, it's light dancing on only the tops of the trees surrounding us.

We hurried to set up camp and get the horses settled in and chores done before nightfall.  This past weekend was quite a bit chillier than we've had so far this summer, so we were sure to put the horses' blankies on them to ensure that they stayed nice and warm overnight.

No shivering for Guinness this time!

Once all of the necessary stuff was done for our couple day stay, it was indeed dark out, so we joined some friends by a fire.  There we stayed warm and cozy until bedtime, drinking spirits and telling stories, laughing and making merry.

Saturday morning we awoke to a crisp 39 degrees.  While we don't have a heater in our trailer, the walls are insulated and paneled to keep condensation from forming and making it wet inside.  Hey, it's better than a tent.

This lovely young lady rode past our campsite soon after we got up, and I just had to ask if I could take a picture of her and her Pretty in Pink mare.  Finally, a kindred-pink spirit!

We got a late start to our riding Saturday, I think because of the cold.  I know I for one was in no hurry to leave the comfort of my sweatpants and hot cup of coffee for the coolness of the woods.  We headed out around noon, after the worst of the chill had worn off, roaring up to about 65 degrees.

We headed out with Guinness in the lead, where he stayed for most of the ride.  Last weekend at Beaver Creek he was relegated to the rear of the pack for most of the weekend because of the size of our group.  He gets very nervous in groups of more than 3 or 4, so he did better in the back than he would have in the middle or front.  Needless to say, he was thrilled at being able to stretch his legs and go at his own faster pace instead of having to half-step behind a bunch of slow-pokes the whole time.

One of my favorite parts about Mohican, is the varied terrain to be found all in one park.  Everything from densely wooded with thick undergrowth, to rocky cliffs, to the sparse undergrowth of the pine forests.

It remained fairly cool all day, only reaching the high 60's, low 70's.  I kept my hoodie for comfort.

Mom and Beezley seemed relaxed and more than happy to follow along with the pace that Guinness set.  

My old man Jake got to come along on this camping trip.  As opposed to our last camping trip together, there was very little mud, which made His Highness very happy.  He was still a little pissed about the leach, but he didn't really bitch.  Much.

Guinness got a new accessory!  A pretty pink hay net to go along with his other pink stuff.

"Thanks, Mom!"

Doesn't he look smashing?!  :D

Part of the Chili Cook Off is having a theme for your club to present at each chili tasting station.  The best theme is crowd chosen, and is a coveted title to hold:  2013 Chili Cook Off Best Theme.

Ashland County OHC decided to go with M*A*S*H* as their theme this year.  They convinced a 6'4" 300# male member to dress up as Klinger to complete the theme.  It worked, and they walked away with the best theme for 2013.

After sampling 7 different kinds of chili, then making our way through the pot luck dinner on top of all that, we retired to our campsite to digest and visit with friends that stopped in for the festivities, including RCT.

It's easy to relax when this is your "front porch" view.

Once all the visitors left, Mom and I headed to some friends campsites to enjoy a fire again.

On Sunday, we decided to ride with a few friends instead of on our own like we had on Saturday.

Sisters in pink.  :)  Photo op for sure!

So, Guinness and I, Mom and Beezley got all tacked up and ready for another day on the trail.

Around the 1/2 way point we stopped for some refreshments.

The horses ate some greenery that was close by...

While us riders pulled something with a bit more kick out of our saddle bags.  :)

It was a beautiful day on Sunday.  The only thing I really don't like about Sundays, is the fact that you have to pack up and go home.

So, that was how I spent my weekend.  In the wilderness, surrounded by friends and favorite animals.  I love it, there was only one thing missing...maybe someday.  ;)

~The RoadQueen

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beaver Creek State Park

I spent last weekend with my horse at Beaver Creek State Park.  I was the ride host/coordinator for the club planned outing.  There only ended up being one other camper that joined us, but there were others from our club that joined us for a ride on Saturday without spending the night.

What a weekend!  The weather was PERFECT - 70-ish degrees and sunshine all the way except for a few scattered clouds.

Beaver Creek is strictly primitive camping, like many of the horsemen's camp grounds around the state.  I don't mind, and our trailer is well equipped to be self sufficient.  The campground is basically just a huge mowed field with high lines around the tree-lined perimeter, but it did offer a pit toilet, and a nice one, at that.

"The Shitter"
I know that a lot of people would be offended by staying somewhere that doesn't offer at least flush toilets, but honestly, when faced with the call of nature and having to consider your options, (soiling a bush or digging a hole in the dirt), this thing starts to look like the Ritz.

Hey, at least it's clean. Plus, no Poison Ivy.
We arrived about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.  The park wasn't full of weekend warriors like ourselves yet, so we pretty much had the pick of the place.

"Our House"
Friday night we didn't ride because we were busy getting our campsite set up, plus seeing how I was the ride host, I had to be around for any potential members that may arrive and/or field phone calls from people trying to find the place that were lost.  Dinner was a couple cans of soup heated up on our little propane stove.

It wasn't fancy, but it was filling, and that's what's important.

As I mentioned before, only one other camper joined us for camping that weekend, so we parked next to each other and her horse, Koda, was Guinness' high line neighbor for the weekend.

After campsites were set up, horses settled in, supper slurped and chores done, we settled in for a nice evening by the campfire.

Friday night was a cold Mo-Fo.  When I got up Saturday morning and went out to do chores for the horses, poor Guinness was shivering in the early morning chill. 

But, luckily our campsite got a little early morning sun, which we all enjoyed.  I stoked up our fire from the previous night, and enjoyed standing in front of the warmth while the early morning sun was on my back.

Ahh, sunshine
By the time we were all tacked up for the day's riding, it was warm enough that we were comfortable in our T-shirts.

Mom, Kim and I headed out for a short ride while we waited on the rest of the day riders to arrive.  It turned out to be shorter than we anticipated...

What was supposed to be about an hour ride, turned out to be 20 minutes.  Why?  Because we don't know the trails, they aren't marked for sh!t, and we got 'lost'.  More like, 'slightly misplaced'.

Which was just as well, because when we got lost back to camp, our riding buddies were just pulling in, so we waited for them to get tacked up and head out for bigger adventures.

Ready and waiting!
Finally everyone was ready, so all seven of us hardy souls headed out for the day.

Then don't 'cha know, all seven of us got lost and wound up back in camp after a very short ride.

So, never to be discouraged, we headed out again...

...and got lost.  Again.

Trying to read the worthless map.
We did stumble across this pretty cool old mill, though.

Never to fear, because we simply ended up back in camp.  Again.  But as luck would have it, as we were bitching and pissing and moaning as a collective, frustrated group of equestrians, we ran into someone who rode in this park every other weekend and knew where the hell he was going!

So, we headed out again, only this time we had a tour guide.  :)

Tour guide Nate in the red shirt
Then, the journey got beautiful.

RoadQueen and Guinness playing in the water

Lunch Break

Finally, after a ton of fun, challenging trails and beautiful scenery, we arrived back at camp after 6 hours in the saddle and 18 miles under our horse's hooves.  We were careful to sponge them down well and apply liniment to prevent muscle soreness, then put the horses on their lines to relax and eat hay for the rest of the evening.

As the ride coordinator, I had designated Saturday evening as a potluck dinner.  Since there was just the three of us (me, Mom and Kim), we had a casual, small meal by the campfire, complete with hot dogs cooked over said fire.

Sunday morning Mom, Kim and I got up early and headed out on our own for a short couple hour ride.  We ended up being lost - again - for 3 hours, but it was so pretty, we didn't mind.

One of the coolest things that happened on Sunday, is that we met up with this guy.  We passed almost underneath him as we went down the trail.  He never startled or spooked, in fact he watched us with great interest.  We could see him still watching us long after we passed him and he was just a dot in the distance.  Pretty freaking cool!

Bald Eagle!!!

~ The RoadQueen