Mules West

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Turtle Crossing

They lumber heavy as tanks across the road in front of my mules: turtles. Snapping turtles, box turtles and sliders. This week, Cracker and Brick took a moment to admire a slider as it made its was leisurely across the road.

Shadow and slider (outside La Plata, MO)
Closeup: I’m not a turtle expert but I’m calling this one a slider.

My blood pressure’s already pretty low but I felt it drop a few more points. Maybe I’ll look at… Continue reading

Joe’s Joke

The old blue tractor scared my mules when it passed me on the gravel road. Right behind it, the black and white dog in hot pursuit. The next hill over, the tractor was parked by the road and a man climbed out of the cab. He had a grin as big as a round bale and so did I. That’s how I met Joe Stoll and his dog.

Joe, his tractor and the dog.

He spoke first.

Joe: “I was… Continue reading

Stanberry, MO Independence Day

Sirens will blare and hats will cover hearts. Kids will grab candy off the street and dogs will barf Tootsie rolls on the sidewalk. This is why we got divorced from England. Happy 4th of July from Stanberry, Missouri.

And they’re all lined up: An orderly line of youngsters get ready for the candy shower.

The mules and I were there to soak up the action. And catch a Blow Pop and 3 Tootsie rolls. Here are some photos of… Continue reading

Stanberry, MO and a Bridge Detour

The sign on the bank said 100 degrees the day the mules and I arrived in Stanberry, MO. The welcome was warmer than that. The route I had in mind from here? Not so hot….

Stanberry and surrounding locales is home to a large Amish community. Here an Amish buggy tied up one block North the town’s main square.
Top hat, flag and the century mark on the thermometer: summer – and the 4th of July – have arrived.

Bridge… Continue reading

Driveway Visit

I carry an old camera in my saddle bag and point it toward other people.

My trusty camera: years old and still snappin’. It’s a Canon G16 wrapped in an old timey looking case.

So it’s fun when folks I catch up with send photos of our visit. Here are a few sent to me Janet DeClerck. She took these the night I stayed with Rob and Brooke Wangen of Panwee, Illinois. They really capture the spirit of folks just… Continue reading

Trenton, MO Greetings

I steered the mules in to Trenton, Missouri to pick up a a canvas water bucket at the post office. Thanks, Julia, for supporting your husband in his rambles! Brick, Cracker and I arrived last night (Thursday). Right now we’re camped at veterinarian Dr Dale Alumbaugh’s clinic Affordable Veterinary Care.

Brick makes new friends quickly. Here, hanging with Quintin and Spur. Quintin and Spur were cutting brush behind the vet clinic. Quintin said this work beat an earlier job of… Continue reading

Dancing (Sorta) With Mules

Fancy the Self Portrait Mule Head Rub Dance? (Rineyville, KY)

The day didn’t quite start with dancing but it looked that way. In the photo above, I’m faring Luna Ortiz well. She and her husband Kevin put us up for the night. What looks like a Fred Estaire-esque move on my part really isn’t.

To make this photo I set my camera on a tripod and set the self timer to go off in 10 seconds. 3 seconds before the… Continue reading

Playing the Harmonica to Stay Awake

Paul Compton used to play the harmonica to stay awake. “I had a mail route and as I drove around I’d get sleepy so I just played the harmonica to keep from nodding off.”

Paul Compton: mail carrier, harmonica and poet. (Shelbyville, IL)

I met Paul because I needed to find a place to stake out my mules Brick and Cracker for the night. His son, Gerry Compton, said it was okay to picket them out by the old grain… Continue reading

Mule Speed Storm Drain Cover Observations

Traveling the land at 3 mph with my mules, I’m noticing things I’ve overlooked my whole life. Like how, west of Jasper, Indiana, many of the cast iron storm drain covers are humped up, not flat, like back East. They’re the same way here in Missouri.

I’m sure Cracker is thinking, “I can tell we’re in the mid-West now because the storm drains are bowed upward.” (outside Jasper, Indiana)

Have you noticed that humped-up thing about the storm drain covers… Continue reading

The Stay Put Mule Rain Blues

I rode in to La Plata, Missouri, ahead of the storm. The plan was to buy sardines and ramen and then ride out the other side toward Idaho. But the rumblng clouds shattered and poured down on me in pieces. It’s rained over an inch and I’ve eaten most of the sardines and some of the ramen and the damn wet stuff keeps falling. And I’m still in La Plata.

A mucky slog. The mules and I have walked in… Continue reading
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