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12/15/08, Shelbyville, IN - The high winds and rocking wagon of last night broke this morning to falling temperatures and an occasional freezing drizzle. My spirit was lifted when my hostess Rhonda, invited me in for a great bacon and eggs breakfast.

To give you an idea of what fun it is to harness and hitch four horses in these conditions, here are some of the highlights:

    First the lead ropes are frozen and are almost impossible to tie and untie.

    The collars are stiff as boards and have to be pulled apart and together when they are unbuckled and buckled.

    When you throw the harness over the horses back, it doesn’t fall into place, it has to be pulled into place.

    The horses pick this weather to be the most uncooperative.

    To keep any feeling in my fingers and still have the dexterity to put on the harness, I have to keep taking off and putting on my gloves.

    On the plus side - I don’t half to pump any gas!

The picture below was taken by Barry (my outrider from the weekend) when the team was crossing the overpass over I-70.  It gives you an idea of what the motorists on the interstate must see.  It’s amazing I haven’t seen any accidents from the many interstate overpasses we have gone over.

Bob's team crosses interstate 70 in Indiana with ease

Fortunately, the freezing drizzle stopped about an hour after we got underway. We stopped for breaks in the crossroads of Homer and Manilla, where we met some nice folks. 

Lunch was in front of a grain mill in Rays Crossing. Because of the shorter days with less time to drive, lunch in the winter normally last only an hour. About 40 minutes of this is unhitching the horses, taking off their bridles, watering, giving them their oats, putting on their bridles and re-hitching them. That leaves about 20 minutes for me to thaw myself out and wolf down some soup. But, I also get a lot of visitors at lunch.

Today, when I had my third round of visitors while trying to eat my soup, I had a few unkind thoughts (“suffering succotash - or something like that). Well, now I feel bad about those thoughts.  One of the two guys left $20 on the wagon seat (without saying anything) and the other guy gave me a sack of oats. Reflecting on this event, I realize that all my visitors are well intentioned. I just have to learn how to eat soup and talk at the same time.

When I pulled into Shelbyville, I was pretty cold, so I stopped alongside the Applebees restaurant, went into the lounge and ordered a glass of antifreeze to thaw out. The horses allow me the occasional indulgence and waited patiently outside.  No one in the restaurant was seated near the window, and no one else inside noticed a wagon and four horses 50 feet away!

I’m camped tonight at Co-op grain/hardware store in Shelbyville. The folks here have been great.  This is actually a pretty good camping spot.  It allowed me to buy some grain, buy a valve to fix a plumbing problem and eat a nice hot supper at the Bob Evans restaurant just down the road.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ve got about a 12 or 13 mile ride to a prearranged stopover with one of the members of the Red Hats and Purple Chaps organization.  They are a ladies riding club here in Indiana and have been extending me all sorts of hospitality - Thanks Ladies!