I am writing to you from a jail cell in Derry, Louisiana. It’s warm and dry and yet another first. The ponies are unconcerned since they are grazing a 40 acre pasture nearby and the promised storm has not yet made an appearance. The good news is that the door isn’t locked and I have access to hot water and electricity – and an internet connection! I’d been warned that the people in Louisiana were “clannish” and “suspicious of outsiders” but what I’ve found has been exactly the opposite. People here have been incredibly friendly and helpful and really fun! The food is rightfully legendary and the weather has been perfect for riding, in the 60s during the days and not too cold at night.
The terrain, on the other hand, is challenging. Somewhere around Colmesneil, TX I went from dry to wet – it’s been a bit of an adjustment (for the ponies as well) and I’m grateful that most of the drivers have been horse-savvy and friendly. Along the very edges of the roads there’s usually a narrow strip of solid ground but it quickly cedes to ankle deep muck and swampy water. There are frequent narrow bridges and many of the enticing small roads that show up on my maps no longer go through. I spent most of last Sunday lost in the woods, trying to follow the old ways through, only to be stopped by gates or roads that simply end. I’m learning to rely almost entirely on local knowledge of road conditions. There are few places to get over or around any given river, bayou or other body of water and I’m trying to find the smallest roads and bridges that seem possible.
Out of three possible routes across the Red River, one isn’t horse legal and one seemed quite far out of my way so I opted to cross at Boyce. Yesterday I learned that a bridge is out between here and Boyce and the horse legal detour would take me 3+ days out back and around. I’m opting for a 20 minute trailer ride instead. I’m laughing at myself because after all my bravery about bears and wolves and snakes and mountain lions, despite all the warnings I’d received about those creatures, I’m now totally freaking out about Alligators! I haven’t seen one yet but I’m watching every least puddle we pass, expecting one to jump out and get us. I know I’m being ridiculous. I can’t help it. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed if I don’t see one (which is actually likely) but when I hear about somebody shooting one in their horse pond which measured 9’1″ it makes me pay attention. Fear of the unknown.
The upside of all this water is the graze along the sides of the roads which is lush and green and abundant and a delight to the ponies. Yesterday it took us an hour to cover the first mile because I didn’t have the heart to tell them No when it was so obviously the best salad bar buffet they’d encountered in months! I recognize grass and clover and some sort of wild pea, but mostly I have to trust them to know what’s good for them and what’s not. I’m using the voice command “heads Up!” and “chow Down” and they’re learning quickly, tho’ sometimes I’ll see something that looks tasty and give permission and they just look at me like I’m a silly biped. (Obviously I’m still learning too! ;-))
The storm that was predicted for today is rolling in now, thunder and lightning and the beginnings of rain coming down from a heavy grey sky. Oops – make that a deluge dropping from the heavens! I’d wanted to mention the town of Natchitoches, where I went to pick up mail. 10 years ago I did an on-line quiz at www.findyourspot.com – a bunch of questions designed to tell you where you’d most like to live in the USA. Natchitoches, LA was in my top 5 and I’d never even heard of it! Tuesday morning I got a quick drive through and it’s lovely, picturesque and a nice size (they filmed Steel Magnolias there) and I really hope to return some day.
The photo sharing idea is starting to turn into a reality on facebook, which makes me happy that I finally broke down and put a page up there. The wee notebook was found over 48 hours after it was lost, along the side of the road, by KT, who’d known I’d lost it and was looking on her way home from work. The amazing thing that came out of that situation was that I’ve gotten e-mails from several people that I’ve never met but who found out about the blog and have been following and want to be on the mailing list! That sort of thing is really exciting for me. WordPress lets me know how many hits I get each day, broken down by country. I’ve now had visitors from 91 countries – how cool is that!? (and of course arouses my curiosity – who are you all?) My ‘phone just beeped and let me know that there’s a tornado watch for this area – I guess a jail is as safe a place as any!
PS – went back and put a few photos up on the last blog post…