1 July 2012 Deltaville, Chesapeake
Start of another month. We’re going away tomorrow for two weeks, so we did a few small jobs to finish off the work that we’ve started. I tidied up the engine room, so that it’s ready for the generator to go back in. Glenys pulled the masking tape off the hull and tidied up underneath the boat. Alba looks good now, but we still need to do some more polishing of the topsides and the blue stripe just above the water line will need painting the next time that we haul out.
I prepared instructions for the boat yard, so that they don’t get carried away while we’re on our travels. After lunch, we jumped into our hire car and drove over to Home Depot, where we bought some tools and parts. We then loaded the anchor and chain into the boot of the car ready to drop it off at the galvanisers tomorrow.
I tried to practise the guitar, but my fingertips are too sore to do any more than five minutes - idiot...
2 July 2012 Charlottesville, Virginia
I ran around in the morning, organising the yard – Chuck is on holiday this week so I had to run through everything with his colleague, Sean. We then dropped off the cupboard doors for the heads to a woodwork shop to get a quote for some new ones, dropped off a gas bottle to get it filled and then drove to Richmond to drop off our anchor and chain at the galvanisers.
We arrived in the historic town of Charlottesville in the middle of the afternoon and wandered around the University of Virginia which was designed by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and the man how wrote the Declaration of Independence. In my opinion, it’s okay - being designed like a UK university with cloisters and grand buildings with plenty of columns, but it looks a little bit clunky to me.
We walked into the main town of Charleston but it was just a shopping centre, so we weren’t impressed. However, we did have a great Mexican meal.
3 July 2012 Luray, Virginia
We drove up to Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Way. We went to the Visitors Centre to pick up a couple of maps and then went for a hike to two waterfalls. It was a very pleasant walk through woods; only 4 miles, but nice and cool in the shade. It warmed up our legs ready for a longer hike tomorrow - we’ve not been hiking for a couple of months.
We drove to a cheap motel in Luray passing an area of forest fires. Western Virginia has had its fair share of problems in the past week with big thunderstorms that have brought trees down, damaged power lines and to top it off they have a heat wave and widespread forest fires. There are two million homes that haven’t had any electricity for several days, which is causing chaos especially in this heat wave – imagine an American without air-conditioning.
4 July 2012 Front Royal, Virginia
We were up at quarter to six and ate a bowl of cereal in the motel room, before rushing off to the trailhead car park for Old Rag Mountain. We arrived at seven o’clock and there were already ten or so cars parked there – it’s a very popular route.
It was a very nice hike up though woods and finished off with a long scramble up a ridge. The scramble is not very exposed, but a few tricky moves where I had to help Glenys up. The view from the top is very nice – you can see why the mountains are called the Blue Ridge Mountains with the hills getting bluer in the haze the further away they are.
We walked down the other side of the hill, which is a good trail for a mile or so, but then turns into a fire road for 2½ miles which, although it’s in a nice, shaded forest, becomes a bit boring. We arrived back at the car at half past eleven – knackered.
We drove to a hotel in Front Royal and collapsed in the wonderfully cool, air-conditioned room, only venturing outside into the 100°F heat to buy a six pack of cold beer from a nearby garage.
5 July 2012 Warrenton, Virginia
We had a chilled out morning and lounged around in the air-conditioned hotel room until eleven o’clock, then went to a couple of equestrian stores. The first one was very up-market with expensive stuff - I needed to buy some short riding boots and half chaps ready for our four days of riding, but they would have cost $250. The second store was called Saddlery Liquidators and had a huge variety of horsy stuff ranging from expensive to very cheap. The store name implies that it was all bankruptcy stock. I managed to buy a pair of leather boots and half chaps for $65, which was brilliant value.
We drove to the cottage that we had rented for five nights and after a ¾ hour wait in the beating sun, a fourteen year old girl eventually turned up to show us around. After going to a supermarket, we chilled out and watched TV for the rest of the evening. Glenys left several messages for Debbie who runs the riding school, but had no response – we have no idea what we’re doing tomorrow.
6 July 2012 Warrenton, Virginia
We were up at quarter to seven, but there were no messages from Debbie, so we had no idea what was going on. Debbie arrived after we had breakfast as we were walking out of the door to go to the barn to look for her – she’d forgotten her phone. She’d another lesson organised at half past eight and so she wanted us to arrive an hour later – it all seemed a little chaotic.
We watched her finishing off her lesson and then we helped her to get my mare (Hobana) tacked up. Glenys was to ride “Kookabora” who was already tacked up. I’m not used to working with horses, but Habanero seemed to tolerate my inept handling.
We had a 1½ hour lesson, which was all about reining and Western-style riding. The lesson was mostly walking and trotting around in circles. By the end of it, Glenys and I were both confused about the various aids that we should be using to control the horses – too much information too quickly.
After lunch and chilling out for a couple of hours, we went back to barn and went out for a 2 hour hack. This was great fun - cantering up and down a field and then trotting through some woods. We were both absolutely knackered when we arrived back at the barn and my knees were killing me. It was half past six by the time we’d removed the saddles and showered the horses - it’s not easy this horse riding stuff.
We collapsed back in the cottage with a nice cold beer. Glenys cooked some stuffed clams that we’d bought at the local supermarket and we stayed up until half past eleven watching a video on cantering made by some mad Australian horse trainer guru.
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