Travel by Mule & Wagon

A Training Rig for Jack and Bill – Southern Pines, NC

Somehow, in my new-found enthusiasm for welding, sand blasting and paint, I overlooked one small detail of my pending expedition; my mules Jack and Bill.

After all, hadn’t I bought them early in the planning stages of the trip so I could get them in shape? But now they mostly just kept their round bale company.

Woody and Maggie escaped my inattention. I still managed to ride them weekly. But the thought of riding plow mules raised the hollow enthusiasm… Continue reading

Blasting and Macho Green – Southern Pines, NC

Despite what it says on a pack of 60 grit sandpaper, steel needs sand blasting. That’s really the only way to remove the mill scale, the protective coating the steel mills apply to raw steel to keep it from rusting while the metal is handled. Leave the mill scale on and just paint over it and your new paint job won’t adhere for very long.

I rolled my frame to Ken’s White and in two hours his assistant Sammy Parrish… Continue reading

Framed up and Street Legal – Southern Pines, NC

Woody taught me everything I needed to know about wagon design. Strength comes first followed closely by light weight.

Woody strength testing the Forest Service bulldozer he’s tied to. (Forest Service Station, Catherine Lake, NC, May 2004)

Occasionally, when he was tied up and couldn’t get to Maggie, he leaned into his halter with enough force to break the lead rope.

With Jack and Bill I thought it was different. After all, they were older than Woody and came from… Continue reading

The First Sparks – Southern Pines, NC

I decided my wagon should have a light steel frame covered in thin plywood. After all, what other material could survive a captain who’d steered past charges onto shipwrecks?

Beaching…a common theme in my travels (Sea Bird cast up on the beach outside Darwin, Australia. Yet again…)

A ship wreck that Sea Bird actually missed. It was too far up the beach. (Yes, that’s Sea Bird resting on the beach.)

While it’s often true that past performance does not guarantee… Continue reading

Blueprints? We Don't Need No Stinking Blueprints! Southern Pines, NC

It occurred to me after I razed my wagon that I hadn’t have a clue about how to build a new one.

Then I remembered Vernon Laman.

Vernon and Smoky in their home made wagon (Artesia, New Mexico)

I met Vernon in Artesia, New Mexico. He was in his eighties, had driven trucks for a living, and after he retired, he built a wagon out of a twenty dollar VW carcass. He joined us for a day on the road,… Continue reading

Help! – Southern Pines, NC

I’m just wrapping up my book about Woody and Maggie’s ride across American and I’ve run up against a very embarrassing problem.

I can’t think of a dern title.

This is where I need your help!

Got any good notions for a snappy title?

The book covers my journey across America by mule and pony. It’s about all the good people we met along the way like the meth queen that put us up and in the morning I discovered… Continue reading

Signs of Rot – Southern Pines, NC

It started innocently enough as it usually does. It was a fine day, a bit rainy, and I decided that I should introduce Woody, Maggie, Jack and Bill to my new wagon.

The (soon to be) last supper (Southern Pines, NC)

I scattered some buckets out, doled feed into each and my mounts dug in. In the idle moments I looked closer at my wagon.

“Funny” I thought to myself, “that corner looks wet.” When I stepped closer it was… Continue reading

Finally a Mule Team – East Bend, NC

Growing up, one of my favorite pictures in my parent’s house was a photo of a man cultivating tobacco behind his mule.

(One of) the photos that got me thinking run-away thoughts as a kid (Photo by Jack Jeffers 12/4/74)

That old man was slim as a tobacco stake and the great old mule he walked behind had a notch missing from its ear. The man’s cultivator was one of those old wooden ones that relied on river rocks to… Continue reading

Finally a wagon (well, sort of…) – Virgilina, VA

The big news is I have a wagon. Sort of.

I can thank Mike Walker for that.

“Good luck, Bo!” were Mike’s parting words (Mike and Pam Walker, outside Virgilina, VA)

Mike’s the guy that sold me mule Woody for my trip across America. I ran into him recently at Benson Mule days, and when I told him I was in the market for a wagon he said “Bo, I’ve got just the wagon for you. It’s gonna run you… Continue reading

The Next Buck-a-Pound Trip – Southern Pines, NC

Welcome back everyone!

Ok, so I’ve been off-line for the past few months catching my breath from Woody and Maggie’s cross-country ride. I might as well fess up right now.

I’m running away again.

This time I’m thinking mule team and wagon; start in North Dakota and just head South. No time frame, no route, just start after the snow melts and head toward the Gulf Coast.

Bob Sundown put it into my head.

Bob Sundown and dog Skeeter: The… Continue reading

Current Ramble
Other Cool Reads