Hi. I’m Bernie Harberts, author, film maker and rambler. I’m married to Julia who writes of our travels at her blog ConsideringAnimals.com.
The RiverEarth.com travel site covers my travels. Imagine what you could do with a mule or a tent or a stack of plywood or a $12 bicycle and you’ll get an idea of the sort of voyage that speaks to me. My rambles include:
- 1993: built and sailed my 18 1/2′ Sam Devlin-designed sailboat “Garage Sail” down the Hudson River to Florida and on to the Bahamas after my stint as a steeplechase jockey
- 1998-2003: worked and sailed my way alone around the world on my Tom Colvin-designed sailboat “Sea Bird”
- 2004-2005: spent 13 months traveling with a mule named Woody and a pony named Maggie from Oriental, North Carolina to San Diego, California
- 2008-2009: traveled 395 days with my mule from Canada to the Mexican border for the Amazon Prime “Lost Sea Expedition” TV series
- 2010: pedaled 6 months around Tasmania on a $12 bike trying to avoid leaches
- 2011: traveled by mule and cart across Newfoundland chasing down 4 photos on an album cover
- 2017: sailed from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia, off Antarctica, where our wood ketch got a hole punched in the hull (which we patched before sailing on to South Africa)
- 2010: rode 7 months on 2 mules Brick and Cracker from Lenoir, North Carolina to Triumph, Idaho before winter caught us on the trail
Where is home?
When I’m not out rambling by mule, boat or bike, home is Caldwell County in western Carolina. Julia and I live in what she calls our “shoe box valley”. Nature and topography are the box. The hay field is our front lawn. The mountains have our back. The forest are the walls and the stars are the roof.
Our home is under 500 square feet which feels big after years of living in wagons, tipis and tents. We heat with wood, wash with gravity water and make about as much energy as we use with the solar panels on our roof. You can read more about how we live right here.
Our home is close to some great horse and mule-back riding. Sometimes Julia and I just ride out our front gate and see where we end up.
North Carolina Roots
I grew up in North Carolina and went to NC State University where I completed a degree in Wood and Paper Science. After a few years in the corporate world, I decided I’d rather commute with a mule than a Volvo.
In my thirties, on a saddle mule named Woody, I rode 13 months across America, capturing glimpses few have slowed to document. I wrote 2 books about that voyage which you can find in the RiverEarth.com General Store.
Since then I logged thousands of miles more miles by mule and wagon. UNC-TV (University of North Carolina TV) and “Our State” magazine joined my mule Polly and me for one of these trips. That episode, “Mule Rider”, won an Emmy award for the South East region.
The “Lost Sea Expedition” series
Traveling with a single mule and a tiny wagon I built in a friend’s garage, I spent 14 months traveling from Canada to Mexico across the Great Plains. Just as I did in North Carolina, I explored things that are particular to an area. This time around, it was horse breakers, Lakota elders, sod hut dwellers, ghost towns and a vanished sea that caught my eye.
I filmed the whole voyage myself – a first ever for a cross-country wagon voyage. Back home I edited that footage in to the award winning “Lost Sea Expedition” documentary. The 4-part series premiered on Rocky Mountain PBS (Colorado).
I’m currently writing my next book about my mule voyage from North Carolina to Idaho with mules Brick and Cracker. Think mule adventure tangled up with thoughts on religion, herbicide, interesting folks I met along the way and one of my long standing fascinations, road-side litter.
If you’d like a heads up when the book comes out, just sign up here and I’ll drop you a line when it comes out.
Getting in Touch