Mule Woody Hits Mile Five

Woody disputes the merits of the journey at the entrance to my tipi. Did he think he was going to have to sleep inside my cone shaped home? As crazy as it sounds, some folks thought just that. “How,” they asked, “do you get that horse in to your tent at night.” At which I’d explain Woody wasn’t a horse and, well, you can see how much it takes to explain away life on the road with a tipi.

In the days leading up to my trip folks asked, “so, how far are you going?”. I searched inside for a satisfying answer but could do no better than, “oh, I’m thinking of maybe going across North Carolina.”

Yes, I’d ridden out of Oriental with a cup of Bean coffee in my hand. But two miles out of town, safely out of sight from all those that sent me off, I was walking. I hadn’t counted on how hard my cavalry saddle would be.

In Ben Casey’s front yard, just as I was extolling the wisdom and knot-savyness of mules, Woody tied himself up in a tangle so knife-worthy it hurt. Me. Oh Woody was fine. But it sure pained the sailor in me. I hate to cut a new rope.

On the occasion, Woody had been grazing on the Casey’s waterside front lawn, content to watch dolphins and the occasional eighteen wheeler pass between tugs of clover. It was St. Patrick’s Day after all. The long rope that Woody was straining toward the closest patch of shamrock seemed to be holding him in check so I set about pitching my tent.

The usual tent noises were interrupted by a chocking sound and when I looked Woody-ward, there he was leaning up against a long leaf pine tree with his hind leg bound behind his over-sized ear. The gurgling sounds came from just below the ears.

I jumped for my sheathed knife to slash the rope and just as the guilt of parting new nylon hit me, Woody relaxed and I was able to slip the rope off his hind hoof. He’s good that way. Just when all looks lost, he relaxes and pulls off the stunt. Then, just for good measure, he tangled his front feet and managed to almost pry off his front shoes. When all was free again, I stood him up on the highway and pounded the clenches back down with my Leatherman.

St. Patrick’s cabbage and corned beef with the Casey’s was interrupted by my constant departure “just to check Woody” or “just seeing how the old bugger’s doing”. Life on the road with a mule can get snarled so quickly and today we had our first brush. All is well though and tomorrow we take on the Minnessott ferry. (to be continued)


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