A letter from the Lost Sea Expedition Wagon

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

A letter for you, straight from the Lost Sea Expedition wagon (Otero County, NM)

Polly’s tied up in the wind to a road sign that says “Pinon Creek Rd” – a road that leads from dust to more wind.

That’s how the letter started.

Traveling from Canada to Mexico with my wagon for the Lost Sea Expedition TV series, I kept in touch with friends largely through letters – occasionally a phone call. Toward the end of my voyage, crossing the parched expanses of the Chihuahua Desert, sending these letters got tougher. There just weren’t any post offices in this land of choya, prickly pear and wind. Forget about phone booths.

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

Day’s end. Here mule Polly and I knock off for the day. We’re camped way off the road in the New Mexican desert. That didn’t mean the filming stopped. On this particular evening, I broke out my dulcimer and serenaded mule Polly with a 3-string concert. Okay, it was one song. It was just good enough to include on the Lost Sea Expedition TV series. You can stream the series on Amazon included free with Prime and Vimeo. Or you can buy the DVD here at the RiverEarth.com General Store

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

Can you see my tiny home? You may have to look reeealllly hard. It’s the yellow speck toward the middle of the picture just above the century plant, the aloe-looking plant with all the spines. This is where I wrote the letter you’re about to read.

These simple paper and pen missives reeked of wind, the dust and the alone-ness.

Here’s a letter I wrote to my dear friend M. Looking back on it now, through the lens of all the electronic communications that’s eroded my attentions span since that voyage, I like how it feels better than ever before.

From Crow Flats, New Mexico, I wrote:

Dear M,

Polly’s tied up in the wind to a road sign that says “Pinon Creek Rd” – a road that leads from dust to more wind. I haven’t been able to call for over a week now so decided to write you a note and have one of the road construction guys mail it on his way home.
In the past week we’ve climbed and rattled down 2,500 feet of elevation. More important, we haven’t heard from the outside world, the “crisis” having a way of filtering into our every day lives.

With 2+- weeks left in the voyage, I’m already looking forward to returning home to spring, complete with fingers digging in moist soil, making tiny bed holes for even smaller roots.

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

I must bring you something home from this desert, something that a little water and prosperity won’t kill. Oh, wait, that could be me…
Well, better run. The gravel truck is heading this way.
Now this letter’s adventure begins. Please note the postmark so we can see where it was mailed from.
See you soon! Give my regards to J and W.
PS: Hope school’s going well. I couldn’t send you a cactus for your garden but I could draw one for your letter.

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

So that’s what I wrote. Now I just had to get that letter in to the US Postal system.

On board the Lost Sea Expedition wagon, I carried a few stamps. I stuck enough postage on my letter to carry it to its destination. The only traffic I’d seen were the occasional gravel truck I’d mentioned in the letter. It got me thinking.

Then I just waited. And waited. And waited some more.

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

Waiting is a big part of wagon travel. I’m good at it, having had lots of practice. This is a skill that’s easily eroded by social media. That’s why I regularly go offline. Just to keep my waiting skills honed.

Finally, a cloud of dust on the gravel road I was traveling. A gravel truck.

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

The gravel truck that appeared out of the desert road dust cloud. It belongs to the Otero County Road Department (New Mexico)

I flagged down the driver. Gave him my letter. Asked him to post it when he got home.

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

The hand off. You can see by the grin on my face that I’m mighty happy to be seeing someone way out there in the desert. Thanks Otero County Road Department!

That night, alone in my wagon, I thought of the new journey my letter had begun. How that letter, entrusted to a flagged down stranger, would be making its way back to civilization. Outside, the desert wind blew. I felt a little less alone knowing word of my existence would reach the outside world.

Mule Polly and I are home now. Here’s how you can watch the entire Lost Sea Expedition series:

Public TV:

-Rocky Mountain PBS (Colorado)
June 7, 14, 28 and July 5 / 7p


Amazon included free with Prime. If you enjoy the series please leave a review on Amazon. These really help.



– available at the RiverEarth.com General Store.

PS: I have a hard wired need to mail folks letters and cards. Oh, and to pay for my travels as I go. To help finance my half-year journey around Tasmania on a $10 bike, there was the Postcard from Tasmania….

bernie harberts mule wagon tiny home vardo lost sea expedition letter

The Post Card from Tasmania

That series sold out but here’s some of the cards I sent from:
– the southern-most pub in Australia.
-wallaby-thick Flinders Island, Tasmania
Yes, I discovered you can even send a beer can postcard from Tasmania to anywhere in the world

4 Responses to A letter from the Lost Sea Expedition Wagon

  • I just finished watching the entire “Lost Sea Expedition” in one go. I LOVED your show! Having lived in NE and KS and also traveled in many of the areas you went, we share similar memories. Although I was not traveling nor roughing-it as you did.

    What you don’t discuss at the end is how you went about returning home.
    Could you please tell me this?
    You are truly a very interesting person. I admire what you have done.

    Warm Respectful Regards,
    Luci Nelson (now residing in No Calif)

    • Hi Luci,
      How to nice to hear from you! It’s always wonderful hearing from folks that enjoyed the “Lost Sea Expedition” series. It’s especially nice to hear you enjoyed revisiting memories from your old NE and KS stomping grounds.
      You asked how I got mule Polly home at the end of the trip.
      From Fort Hancock, I trailered her back to North Carolina on my home made “trailer contraption”. I say “trailer contraption” because it’s a trailer I cobbled together from a flat bed trailer and a horse trailer. Polly rode in the horse trailer part and I hauled the wagon behind her on the flat bed trailer part. It worked great. The trip home took about a week as my truck is old. I still use it. Polly’s having a great summer hanging out with her buddies under the willow tree and eating surplus green beans and cucumbers from the garden.
      Great hearing from you Luci. I hope all’s going well with you out Northern California-way!

      PS: If you haven’t already, it would be great if you could leave a review for the “Lost Sea Expedition”. A few moments and words is all it takes.
      The link: https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review/?channel=glance-detail&asin=B078T13W9P&ie=UTF8&

  • This is Kenneth Henderson. You stayed with Rose and I in Seminole,Oklahoma for 3 or 4 days crossing Us. We sold the mansion. We have a home in western Wyoming and south Florida. I am in SLC st Huntsman Cancer Center presently CB or a few days. I do have a terminal Canvet(multiple Myeloma) but remains very active. I climbed Kilimanjaro a year ago. I rode my bike 70 miles for cancer infusion…… one thing left on my bucket list is to travel by wagon from Seymour Texas to Tahoka Texas. My grandmother did this 1914 with 4 kids. Do you have any interest in this.??

    • Dear Kenneth,
      Wow, what an incredibly nice surprise to hear from you! I think often of the day you and Rose took mule Woody and pony Maggie and me off the streets of Seminole. I smile remembering how that knock on your door lead to that huge bed in the guest quarters and the beautiful tiles in the kitchen. More important, it’s a lovely reminder that there are folks out there that are still willing to open their lives to a man riding across the land with his mule and pony. One of the definite high points of my travel.
      I am saddened to hear you’ve been struggling with some health issues. Damn. Not fair after all you and Rose did for me.
      I think your idea of a wagon trip from Seymour to Tahoka is super. At present, I have no plans for another trip in the near future as I’m spending time on the farm with my wife Julia (yes, I finally got married!) and also working on my new book. Having said that, I looked up the distance you’re looking to cover – about 170 miles. Should be very do-able.
      Still, I’d very much like to speak with you and Rose about how things are going and also about your trip. Please drop me an email at my contact https://riverearth.com/contact or you can email me at: my first name “bernie” at riverearth.com.
      Sure was good hearing from you Kenneth. Please give Rose my best regards.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

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