My husband and I have been on the road since September 11th. Thus far we have driven through or stayed in 13 states, including Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and finally Arizona. We spent about $1200 in gas during the month of October… blowing our gas budget out of the water! (We anticipate very little driving while in Arizona!)
I have written about Andora Farm and 4-J Big Piney. Our next camp after the Big Piney was Coldwater Ranch in Eminence, Missouri. This is not the place I had always heard about… a large facility that sometimes included raucous parties and many people.
Coldwater Ranch has 6 cabins for rent, 21 hookups with water and electricity, and 45 available stalls. The stalls are roomy!! Way different than many places. We had an awesome, quiet campsite. If you stay 4 nights you get the 5th night free.
During non-Covid years, there are apparently options for getting meals served at the ranch. During our stay this year, the office and kitchen were closed. There was WiFi available that managed to reach outside the office, and we definitely took advantage of that. Free firewood was available to use in camp, although clearly, they didn’t want you to take it with you when you left! Campers provide their own stall bedding.
Friendship and live music!
Our first few nights there, we had our end of the campground to ourselves. A couple of days before we left, Jacque and Steve Barker parked next to us. We very much enjoyed getting to know them and appreciated the fact that they were fellow Arabian horse lovers. They breed and sell Arabians from their farm in Mexico, Missouri. Steve likes to play the guitar and sing. He had recently purchased some new harmonizing software, and he was anxious to try it out. Consequently, we enjoyed live music while camping!
When riding, Jacque wore a helmet. Steve didn’t… even after having had a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) not long ago from coming off a horse. We had a safety discussion… They bought tags. Jacque emailed me after we parted ways, saying Steve had opted to wear his helmet the next time they rode. Alan and I totally get the fact that helmets aren’t nearly as cool as cowboy hats, but neither is it cool to drool.
Trails and trail maps
Our hostess Kathy was quite nice and readily available for any and all questions. She provided us with an excellent map of the trails. The trails accessible from the Ranch are also uploaded to Avenza Maps. It was the first time I had used that app, and it is awesome! You can easily see where you are and follow the trails without difficulty. I used the free version of the app and it was perfectly adequate.
The Angeline Conservation area includes nearly 9 miles of horse trails. These are easily accessible from camp. However, there are 4 additional National Park Service trails that vary between 5 and 7 miles. The trails are not easy… lots of up and down. The footing varies between sandy and rocky. There are several opportunities to cross the river. The scenery was absolutely beautiful.
We rode two different trails, covering 9.3 miles one day and 10 the other. We didn’t ride every day because our horses worked hard at the Big Piney and were probably not as conditioned as I would have liked. Unfortunately, we spent a great deal of time this summer putting our new place together instead of riding. Honestly, the humans were probably not as conditioned as they should have been… we all needed the occasional day off.
Beware of dogs!
There does appear to be an abundance of dogs in this neck of the woods! There were several kennels around us (hunting dogs?) and several folks who owned their own personal pack. Since we travel with our own pack of four dogs, we had some adjustments to make. One of our dogs is not friendly to other dogs, so Kathy’s own loose dogs required supervision on the part of all adults.
The first ride we took, we left all of our dogs at home. (We rarely/never take our dogs on the trail while at campgrounds, but it was okay to do so here, another perk!) As we returned to camp on a gravel road, we were set upon by one local pack. Our horses handled it fine, but it was not pleasant and definitely not safe. When we took subsequent rides and had our little Border collie with us, we made sure to avoid all dog-dangerous areas. More than once, Kara has been set upon by unfriendly dogs. Her speed has saved her each time, but how traumatic for all of us!
It’s a small world after all…
When we return from a ride, we leave our saddles out on saddle racks to help the pads dry more quickly. One of our camping neighbors happened to notice that we had Aussie saddles. She came over to visit and ask questions about our saddles. Her friends and camping buddies David and Tamara accompanied her. What a surprise to learn that David and Tamera were co-residents of the camp I stayed in when I was building my barndominium, living in my LQ trailer, and recovering from a divorce! It was David who had walked up to me that first day and said, “Welcome to Divorce Camp!” (There were four “permanent” campers living there at that time, and all were post-divorce!) What a small world, as that facility is in Paola, Kansas and we were in Emminence, Missouri!
We had such a good time there, we committed to returning next year. We will spend another 5 nights there after our trip to the Big Piney, which we already plan to do every year. Maybe next year we will get to experience the legendary cooking of Kathy’s mom…
Next week I’ll tell you about High Knob Campground in Equality, Illinois.
UPDATE on the Colorado fires
I am thrilled to report that the Cameron Peak fire that advanced to within 2 miles of our home is now 85% contained! Additionally, the East Troublesome fire that forced the evacuation of Estes Park, Colorado is controlled to the point that residents have been allowed to return home. Our neighbors on Storm Mountain were placed under mandatory evacuation on October 14th and only allowed to return on November 2nd. That was nearly 3 weeks of exile! We are so happy to be out from under that worry. It was an incredibly stressful couple of months. We were glad we were on the road and not witnessing it first hand.