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Broken and Forgotten: Route of the First 2 Weeks

Folks stop the mules and me and ask, “where did you come from?”
They never ask, “what did you break? What did you forget?”
I drew you this map to answer all 3 questions.

Bernie Harberts, mule, map

My first 2 weeks on the road. The mules and I set off from our farm outside Lenoir, NC. We’re now in Mosheim, TN. Don’t ask me how many miles that is.

Call this a mixed media trip. While I carry a laptop, phone and camera,… Continue reading

Sleeping Under Tractor Trailers

It’s an odd relationship. Days, I live in fear of getting run down by a tractor trailer. Nights, I’ve slept under them, peaceful as can be. Here’s a few tips if you plan to bunk down under one. Tip Number One: mind the grease.

In the past, I’ve written bucolic posts about waking up in a hay field. Of how meadowlarks warble and the fresh grass smells like hope and I put on my top hat and eat oatmeal in… Continue reading

Tennessee Easter Sunday Lodgings

Bernie Harberts, mule, tophat, allie brewer, yolanda treece

Easter evening with Allie Brewer and Yolanda Treece. Allie was up from Knoxville visiting her parents. Yolanda is known for her incredible voice and vocal performances. (outside Russellville, TN)

Easter Sunday evening I was really starting to wonder where the mules and I would find a pasture for the night. Enter Allie and Yolanda. They were in the front yard visiting. I rode up. Problem solved. Allie’s dad, Gary Brewer, owned the pasture next door. We’d found a place to… Continue reading

Isuzu Mule Anchor

You keep your car from rolling away with your parking brake. But what about your mule? Most days, I spend 6 – 8 hours riding my mules West as I make my way across America. But how do I keep them from wandering away at night?

Bernie Harberts, mule, picket, isuzu

A bucolic scene. The mules hanging around my tent on Rick and Tracey Love’s property. I’d like to think they’d just hang with me. They don’t. Without tethering, they’d soon wander off to the… Continue reading

A Top Hat Full of Easter Eggs

Happy Easter. The mules and I are waiting out a patch of wet weather at Ryan and Pam Crick’s in Mosheim, TN. Because I can’t give you a chocolate bunny, you’ll have to settle for a top hat full of eggs.

Bernie Harberts, mule, picket, isuzu

A top hat full of eggs. They’re a gift of Pam and Ryan Crick. The big one’s a turkey egg, the small ones are bantam eggs. The medium-sized one might be a Sexlink or an Oprhington (because those are… Continue reading

Pink Purse by the Road

Bernie Harberts, mule, road, sign

The mystery of the roadside suitcase and the pink purse. (Hwy 107 outside Greeneville, TN)

Did she break up in a hotel? Did she throw her old life back East out her car window as she stormed off West? Did someone rob her? Did US Air loose her bag? I’ll never know. All the mules and I found was her Samsonite suitcase and pink purse on the side of Highway 107.

Bernie Harberts, mule, road, sign

Brick and Cracker inspect the find.

Bernie Harberts, mule, sign, pink purse

The purse.

Should… Continue reading

Johnny the Chicken Slat Man

It happened in Globe.
The man walked up to mule Brick who was tied to a poplar tree and said, “I thought she was loose.”

“She’s not,” I said, “but thanks for checking.”

Bernie Harberts, mule, chicken slat, johnny, man

The man, the tree and Brick. (Globe, NC)

The man looked tired.
Me: “What do you do for a living?”
Him: “I build chicken slats.”
Me: “What’s that?”
Him: “It’s what chickens lay eggs on and the chickens will always keep laying.”
Me: “Where’s your job?”
Him:… Continue reading

Ryan Crick and Opening a Bottle of Strawberry Wine

Tonight the mules and I are the guest of Ryan Crick of Crick Enterprises in Greeneville, TN. Ryan fixes heavy diesel things – think tractor trailers and dump trucks.

Bernie Harberts, ryan crick, mule, fence

The Crick Enterprises garage. I just rode off the highway to ask if it’s okay to spend the night there. The guys are waiting while I find Ryan Crick, the owner, to ask permission. Ryan said that would be fine. He had some grass that needed mowing anyway. Thanks Ryan! This… Continue reading

Through the Ice

A young mother stopped the mules and me this week and asked, “why do you travel with a top hat on your pack mule?”

Bernie Harberts, bamboo, trailer

The top hat that rides atop my pack saddle.

She asked, “Is it in memory of someone? Is it like putting an empty pair of boots in an empty saddle when somebody dies?”
She was giving it way more symbolism than I did.
“No”, I said. “It’s the top hat I got married in.”
“Oh”, she… Continue reading

Monday Mule Commuting Blues

Bernie Harberts, mule, road, sign

Even mules have to make commuting decisions. At least – for the moment – traffic is light (outside Limestone Cove, TN).

Good Monday morning. It’s off to the races time – me, you and mules Brick and Cracker. If it makes you feel any better, this is what my commute looks like. Only today it’s raining and my mules don’t have heated seats and windshield wipers. Yuck. Today we’re riding from Limestone Cove toward Erwin. If you see us on… Continue reading

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