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Crossing the Ohio River Bridge by Mule

Blue above, blue behind, blue below. Today Brick, Cracker and I tackled the obstacle that’s been on our minds the past few weeks: how to cross the Ohio River.

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How to get across this honkin’ bridge. This is the bridge that connects Kentucky to Ohio. For weeks I’ve wondered how I would get the mules across. The bridge dwarfs the barge pushing a load up Ohio River. (Brandenburg, Ky)

In the end, crossing the Ohio River wasn’t too difficult. I… Continue reading

Indiana Greetings

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Welcome to Indiana (Jack Nunn photo)

Greetings from Indiana. Mules Cracker, Brick and I have arrived in Lincoln’s other home. Funny how he was born across the Ohio River in Kentucky and now both Indiana and Kentucky fight over him.
Wonder how the above photo was taken? For that, I have to thank Pat Green and Jack Nunn. They were taking a lunch break from working at the quarry, saw the police escort I was given coming over the bridge… Continue reading

Road Kill Tiger Tails

The speed of mule is the perfect pace to see what winds up on America the Beautiful’s highway shoulders. It’s ugly: thousands of Bud Light cans, Gatorade bottles, KFC boxes and MacDonald’s cups. Occasionally a love letter and a pink purse.

It’s loud, too. When you’re behind the wheel, you don’t hear what’s under the hood. You’re hushed travel capsule makes a hell of a racket as it’s barreling down the highway at 65 miles per hour.

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Mules Cracker… Continue reading

Mule Ramble Week 5 in Photos

It’s a misty Kentucky Sunday morning. The mules and I had planned to travel from Rineyville to Brandenburg, where we’ll cross the Ohio River in to Indiana. Not so with this damp weather. The rainy weather makes the mules’ heels soft. That means the hoof boots they wear can chafe their heels. Much better to set off tomorrow with dryer weather.

It is a good day to look at mule ramblin’ pictures, though.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, amish, flower

Kentucky morning mist. Brick and Cracker take… Continue reading

Sought: Mule Rambler Lodging

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Brandenburg, Kentucky: my destination for Sunday, May 12. Know anywhere there I could put up the mules for the night? A pasture is all it takes.

Want to host a mule traveler?
The mules and I are heading to Brandenburg, Kentucky on Sunday (May 11, 2019). If you – or someone you know – could put the mules and me up Sunday night that would be terrific. A grassy pasture is all it takes. No fence required. Bonus points if… Continue reading

The Road to Speck

The mules and I are screwed up at the crossroads. Three roads. No signs.
Which way to Speck?
I flag down the muddy truck and ask the guy with the beard, “which road goes to Speck?”
His name is Sean Pendelton.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, shawn pendelton

Sean moments after I met him. He’s holding an ax. More on that shortly.

This flagging down cars for directions is part of mule travel in eastern Kentucky. I still travel with paper maps. Even when I use my… Continue reading

7 Sleeps

Where will I spend the night? Out here traveling across Kentucky with my mules, I rarely know. About 3 hours before sundown I start knocking on doors, asking folks where the mules and I might lay over until the next day.

Bernie Harberts, general store

6 beds. 7 sleeps. I rarely know where I’ll spend the night. Could be a bed. Could be a bivy bag.

Though it’s nerve wracking looking for a place to spend the night with your mules, it’s fun looking… Continue reading

The Colorist

He stepped out of a battered van and told me, “My first color was Play Boy Pink and we sold a 55 gallon drum of it to Hugh Heffner.”

He was a colorist. I’m a guy traveling with mules. People tell me all sorts of things. I just take them at their word. With all the words people pour in to my ears, making judgements is too much work.

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Cracker and the colorist

The words poured out.

Him: “I also… Continue reading

I Hope Their Legs Keep Working

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, Gray, Kentucky

Russ and Shannon

The mules were tied to the chain link fence on the side of the highway. They were eating away their hour-long lunch break.
I heard the putt putt of a 4-wheeler.
Many people I’ve met on this trip that ride 4-wheelers are out of shape. Big. Many look like they can’t use their legs any more. Not all. But many.
I turned. Expected what to see.
These 2 looked like their legs still worked.
“You’re in Gray,”… Continue reading

Whose Lights are the Miners Keeping On?

Bernie Harberts, billboard, miner

Whose lights do miners keep on – the home owner’s or the funeral home’s? (Pineville, KY)

The mules and I are riding deep in to Kentucky coal mining territory. The billboards advertise line boring, hydraulic hoses and prep plants. Retired coal miners and their families talk to me of black lung, cancer and OCPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

When I saw this billboard, I had to wonder. Whose lights are the miners keeping on – America’s or the funeral home’s?


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