Rainy Day Hole up at the Monk King Bird Pottery

The Wyoming wind blew the snot from my nose in to my eye and I steered the mules for the sign that looked mis-spelled: “Monk King Bird Pottery”. I blamed the snot but sure enough, there was an “N” in the name where I would have expected a “C”.

The Monk King Bird Pottery. Owner Byron is on the left. (Jeffry City, Wyoming)

Pulled the mules to a halt in front of the storefront. Out of the wind I wiped the snotty tear from my eye and stared. No motion. Then, from a recliner, a body rising. That’s how I met Byron Seeley, owner of the Monk King Bird.

Byron Seeley: owner of the Monk King Bird Pottery

Hanging out at the Monk King Bird

Byron owns the Monk King Bird Pottery. The first thing he said after introducing himself was, “I’m kinda sore right now because my dog ran away today. They found him over at the school and brought him back. First time he’s run away in months. That’s why he’s on the zip line. I hate to tie him but he can’t run away like that. He’ll get hit on the highway.

Byron as I met him. Hanging with him is Floyd

I asked him what the dog’s name was. He said, “Right now it’s Mud. His real name is Floyd but I’m pissed off at him right now for running off.”

Byron said it was okay if I tied the mules out behind the pottery for the night.

Introductions over, Byron gave me a tour of his studio.

In to the Monk King Bird

Byron grew up west of here in Big Piney. He worked cattle with his family before heading out to Taos, New Mexico then swinging back to Caper, Wyoming. Over a decade ago, he bought a gas station in Jeffry City and converted it in to the pottery.

Here’s a look inside.

How to get up with Byron if he’s not around.
The sign reads:” MaKE SOme NOISE if I’m not Here i’m CLose By Please USE CB Raido Push to talk Let go to Listen Don’t waste my noise one BLAST is PLenty”
Hanging above the sign: an air horn labeled “NOISE”

“This is what got me going,” Byron said of these layered pots. “After I turn the pots, I sand off the outside layer to show the different colors in the layers of clay.” Byron’s next idea came was…
…the shot shotglass. “I make these shot glasses. Then I take them out back and shoot them with a .22. Then I patch them back up and fire them.” Byron says the shot shotglasse are now among his biggest sellers.
Where the pottery gets made.
Work in progress: Byron repairs the front doors while Mud, aka The Dog Formerly Known as Floyd, supervises.

A Place to Weather the Rain

Last night the rains washed the stars from the sky. I took shelter in a cabin surrounded by Byron’s collection of vintage campers. I woke to a soggy scene of dripping sage brush and muck. My boots are leaking. My bedding is damp. Some days the best thing to do is nothing.

The gathering storm: Brick tethered to one of Byron’s campers.
The cabin where we spent the night
A look inside. Those saddle pads became my mattress.
A soggy scene in Jeffrey City

So the mules are getting a day off. Tomorrow morning, under hopefully dryer skies, the mules and I head toward Sweetwater Junction.

Jeffrey City Thanks

Deep in dust and sage of eastern Wyoming, the mules and I are more dependent then ever before for folks we meet along the way. Thanks to:

  • Byron of the Monking Bird Pottery: for putting the mules and me up through this patch of wet weather
  • Isabel, Lisa and Bill at the Split Rock Cafe and Bar: for the beer, eggs and wi-fi
  • Eddie at the Split Rock Cafe and Bar: for telling me so it was going to rain in time for me to crawl in to one of Byron’s cabins
  • Lynn and NaNa: for the roadside cherry and nut chocolate bar
  • LeRoy: for teaching my how to say “see you later” in Navajo – “a-con-a”

Get A Free Copy of my Photo Book “Nineteen Million Mule Steps”

I’d love to give you a free copy of my new 134-page photo book “19 Million Mule Steps”. The book is about my 7 month, 2,300 mile Long Ride from North Carolina to Idaho with my mules Brick and Cracker. Yes, there’s a photo of Byron in it!

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