Day two turned into day one. We had hustled around the lodge, cleaning up after our first scrapbooking group of the season: all 13 rooms to clean, 19 beds to change, 21 loads of laundry, etc., etc., etc. … and me SICK. Bill was just getting over some silly virus and I seem to have volunteered to take it. I haven’t been sick in so long, I had forgotten how miserable you could be. I was developing a really good WHINE! The only logical thing to do was postpone leaving on our trip; not that we had much choice. It turned out that Monday was a ‘holiday’, according to some silly “Monday Holiday” bill thing that we all loved when we worked in the corporate world. So … no mail and no banking. We had to wait on the horses’ health papers before we could leave. We spent Monday finishing up tasks and getting lots of odd jobs done – that we probably would have fretted about while on our trip anyway.
Tuesday morning arrives and we are set to go; all the totes are in the trailer, horses are excited to load up, everything at the lodge checks out and we pull out. Yippee! We are headed out horse camping – working our way across Kansas to visit friends on the east side of Missouri – going to the Mississippi River. On our last big foray with the horses, we rode them to the Rio Grande River going through Santa Fe, NM. We’ve also hauled them to Yellowstone and ridden them over the Yellowstone River on a hanging bridge. It seems only ‘right’ that they see the Mississippi.
Half way across Kansas we meet a friend/lodge worker for lunch, tour her town and visit her marvelous home that represents many cultures she has visited. It was a refreshing stop … but we had to get going because we were still hours away from our first campground – The Rockin’ K in Kanopolis State Park.
We should have known things were going a bit too smoothly. I had printed out Google map directions to the park. I had also called the park to see if reservations were needed at this time of year (no). Yeah, right! Usually I think Google does a great job, but I have to take exception with this time. We did find our way to NEAR the park, but where are any of the road names listed? After driving up and down the highway three times, we decided to just use our atlas and wing it. We could see the lake (huge by Colorado standards). It has now gotten quite dark and the print on the map is smaller than finite (NOT my eyes, even with my glasses on). We opt to turn toward the lake on the largest of the streets and find ourselves in a residential neighborhood – of course! Kept going on faith and did actually run into the main entrance – nothing like the directions.
Next problem: we can’t see a thing and since we are two hours after the closing of the offices, there is nobody to ask about which campsites we can use and how to get to them. Kanopolis State Park has at least five campgrounds on the east side of the lake, two of which are set up for equestrians. We did find maps (?) at the self-pay booth and discovered we are still living in the dark ages and the park system has moved on. Big, pretty colored map, color-coded trail systems, and NO names on roads – only GPS coordinates. We must be the only travelers left without a GPS! So we spend a good deal of time wandering around in the DARK, with me directing right or left at each corner; Bill miraculously manages to get the rig around some amazing corners.
Look! There’s Rockin’K! Well, we found the right campground – would be nice if we at least had moonlight to go by – but not up yet. I got pretty excited when my flashlight picked up movement on the lawn and we saw a opossum (a rat-asaurus according to Ranger); soon we saw them all over the place; apparently like our raccoons. We drove around a couple of times and picked a spot near the corrals that did not have a reserved sign on it; discovered only one other RV camper in the entire area (24 individual camp sites). Whoopee, our luck just improved, since our goal was to run away from civilization (aka: people) for just a little while. Don’t get me wrong; we love people and what we do, but when you have other people in your home 24/7 for more than five months in a row …. Well, let’s just say it’s a lot easier to be nice if we get to have a break.
We got the horses off-loaded into one of the pipe corrals right next to our camp site, and they discovered we did have neighbors – the livery at the park – right next door. We could hear the horses moving around and chattering, and had no idea how many, but horses make fun neighbors so no problem. In fact, we are used to a livery as neighbors. We unloaded the trailer, shoveled out the back so it could dry, fed the crew and headed to bed, deciding anything else could wait until daylight. Soon after daylight we discovered our RV neighbors had fled, so we were really alone!
Thursday dawned bright, sunny and a balmy 67*. We lounged around the camp site, getting things set up, spoiling ourselves with cut up fruit and hot chocolate for breakfast while we perused the trail maps. We had planned on two days of riding at this park, which had listed several interesting trails. By cutting ourselves short a ride day, we had to ‘pick wisely, Grasshopper’. We both decided on the same trail, the most challenging, of course, as well as the longest possible. I was slightly concerned with the portion of the description that stated, “some rocky places”, but figured we would turn back if the horses were unhappy. They were so excited to go they could hardly stand still long enough to get brushed. My two grays had not been ridden for almost three weeks (letting their hooves grow) and they were pretty gung ho. I am happy to say that between the time off and the biotin I put them on, there was NO sign of soreness in either horse.
To be continued …..