Travel by Mule & Wagon

Three Questions – Southern Pines, NC

As you know, I like to have themes when I travel. Lost Sea. 65 Days Alone. Litter by State. Budweiser vs. Keystone. Moonshine and Voodoo dolls…

Voodoo doll in anonymous hand – Slab City, CA

Ok, so I haven’t told you about the voodoo dolls. Let’s just say people show you the neatest things when you travel by mule.

But let’s get back to the theme for the next trip.

First and foremost, I’ll be investigating the Lost Sea, the… Continue reading

Shark Tooth on Main Street (or Why it's now the Lost Sea Expedition…)

So I drove my mule team from Oriental to Aurora and smack on the corner of Fourth and Main I found a shark tooth.

For real.

Ok, let me back up the plot a little. First let me explain how downtown Aurora is laid out.

Main Street runs down the middle of it. On one side of Main Street is the Aurora Fossil Musuem. On the other is what they call the fossil heap.

Debbie Richardson and Richard Olsen of… Continue reading

Mule Hair Raku – Bayboro, NC

“Where do we sleep tonight?”

That’s Question Number One every time I strike out on a mule or a boat.

From Oriental Jack and Bill and I struck off toward Bayboro. 22,696 steps later we pulled up in front of a massive anchor on the Bayboro waterfront.

Bill: “I don’t have another step in me.”
Jack: “I know. Feels like we’ve done our twenty-thousand for the day. Let’s anchor here tonight…” – Bayboro, NC

Norm Czuchra and Candace Young of… Continue reading

Off Down the Road – Southern Pines, NC

Watch those fingers…

For months I’ve welded, glued, hummed and painted a wagon body into existence. This week, with a bit of good advice and horsepower, I mounted the wagon body on the chassis.

Now all that remained was the shake down. Once the brakes were adjusted and bled (this took three days, mind you) I hooked Jack and Bill up to my new creation.

Ok boys, “Up! Up!”

Then we hit the road for shakedown number one.

Off down… Continue reading

Let's Get This Thing on the Road! – Southern Pines, NC

There comes a time in any journey’s preparation when you look at the parts and say “Ok, no more building… Let’s get this thing on the road!”

So last week I decided to tow the wagon body out of Mel’s garage and mount it on the chassis I’d been using under my hay wagon.

Hay wagon chassis

I pulled the flat bed body off the chassis but then I got to looking at that red running gear. “You know” I… Continue reading

The Stove – Southern Pines, NC

A large percentage of gypsy wagons that are being restored show scorch marks. They come from where the wood stove set the wagon on fire.

Not good.

So to guard against this sort of Viking sendoff, I lined the stove nook with plywood and aluminum sheeting. Just to make sure the air circulated up behind the panels, I routed some air holes into the frame work.

Frame work for stove nook with vent holes that (should) dissipate heat (I hope).… Continue reading

Building the Interior – Southern Pines, NC

Between catching my mules, hauling hay, working on the book and sewing up the odd cat, there’s been scarce little time for working on the wagon.

The wagon shell waits…

Which isn’t all bad.

It gave me time to think…

In the end, I realized that most projects consume exactly as much time and money as you have on hand. So you might as well start off small, on a scale you can finish.

And afford.

With that in mind,… Continue reading

Two Questions -Southern Pines, NC

Two questions came up recently and I only had one answer.

Question One: How much can a horse pull?
Question Two: Bernie, do you want some free hay?

Hey Bill, can you pull this thing…?>

Of course the answer to Question Two was an unqualified “Yes”.

Then Mel told me I had to pick it up in Jack and Bill’s wagon.


The hay was in a hay barn across town. All I had to do was go get it.… Continue reading

Winter Quarters (and a bit of wrotten luck at the end…) – Southern Pines, NC

Back in the early nineties I had this madcap dream.

I was going to become a steeplechase jockey!

Well, I moved back to Southern Pines, dieted from 165 to 125 pounds and lived out that crazy notion.

Win Number One circa 1992 (Hobby Field, Southern Pines, NC)

But the weight loss came hard so to keep my mind off food, I built a sailboat.

At the time I was galloping horses for my friend Mel Wyatt. “Hey Mel.” I asked… Continue reading

Bolting it all Together – Southern Pines, NC

I know, I know! You’re sick of Technical Drawing Number One. Just remember, it’s all I have in the way of blueprints, the only thing I have to go by as I build the wagon that, so far, has only resided in my brain.

Technical Drawing Number One

For months now I have been building the body parts to what look like an enormous slab sided monster. The yellow side walls, flank-like and stiff. The wooden ribs, bowed like they… Continue reading

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