Mules West

Grain Bin Drowning Danger

How is a grain bin like an above ground pool? You can drown in both.

I’m sure the mules are thinking, “you tied us to a drowning danger?”

Last week the mules and I took a lunch break in the shade of an Illinois grain bin. I had the usual sardines and dry ramen noodles washed down with jug water. Then I strolled around the grain bin and discovered how it might kill me.

I’ve always considered grain bins friendly… Continue reading

Bridge Across the Illinois River

Going solo: Cracker leads the way across the bridge that spans the Illinois River outside of Meredosia, IL. Unlike other bridges we’ve crossed on this trip, we didn’t call for a police escort.

In the past month, mules Brick, Cracker and I have crossed 4 major rivers: the Ohio, the Wabash, the Illinois and the Mississippi. For the first two, we enlisted the help of local law enforcement to get across. For the Mississippi, the mules got a ride… Continue reading

Crossing the Mississippi River With 2 Mules

Mules Brick, Cracker and I have crossed the Mississippi River! No, not on a barge, ferry or flatboat. No, I didn’t ride them down Interstate 24 across the bridge that connects Quincy, Illinois to Missouri. No, I loaded them up on a trailer and hauled them across Big Muddy behind a red Ford pickup.

The bridge that needed crossing. Look closely and you’ll see a tug going underneath. What you don’t see is the west-bound traffic on Interstate 24. Just… Continue reading

Herald-Whig (Quincy, Illinois) Photo Essay About the “Mules West” Ramble

Waiting to cross the bridge across the Mississippi. This barn is on the farm where Todd Curry of Quincy, Illinois, grew up. Todd and his wife Julie are giving me and the mules a place to rest for a few days. Full photo essay at the Herald-Whig. (Herald-Whig / Katelyn Metzger photo)

A wonderful photo essay in the June 13 issue of the Quincy Herald-Whig. It shows how mules Brick and Cracker and I are passing the time waiting… Continue reading

How Cracker Cracked my Helmet Not my Brain

I got the space man’s view of the rodeo. There I was way high up in the air above my mule Cracker. There he was way down below me bucking his guts out. Then gravity took over and I re-entered the earth head first like a faulty Russian rocket. CRACK! Landed right on my skull….which was snugged up in my helmet.

The wreckage: That’s Cracker’s saddle and my Troxel helmet – split in to 3 pieces.
This could have… Continue reading

How I Met Young Captain America

Cracker meets young Captain America – aka Pierce Robinson (outside Mosheim, TN)

The mules and I are in Quincy, Illinois today preparing to cross the Mississippi River in the next day or two. I’m sorting photos. This photo I took a few weeks ago caught my eye. I thought you’d enjoy knowing how it came to be.

I was holding Cracker in a Tennessee pasture and looked up and there stood young Captain America. Dressed in a red and blue… Continue reading

Resting up After 62 Mule Days on the Road.

With mules, there’s no going to NAPA for OEM (Original Equine Manufacturer) parts. The only things that fixes wear and tear on mules is time. After 62 days on the road, the mules and I need to catch our breathes a spell.

Napkin may
United States of Naplkin: how far the mules and I have come. No journey should take more than a napkin to explain.

This week mules Brick, Cracker and I hit the 750 mile mark of our journey from… Continue reading

Welcome to

Howdy. This is where I (Bernie Harberts) post about my travels by mule, boat and bike.

Mules Cracker and Brick on my recently completed 2,200 mile ramble from NC to ID ramble (Sue Waddell photo)

To join me for an authentic mule voyage, check out the Lost Sea Expedition, the Rocky Mountain PBS series about my 14 month mule voyage across America.

Stream the series on:

My wife Julia’s take on things at Considering

Happy Adventuring!


The Final Miles Across Illinois

Mule Brick by pond we spotted from the road – and ended up spending the night next to. (Outside Quincy, IL)

Good night from the banks of the Mississippi River. Well almost the banks of Big Muddy. Tonight mules Brick and Cracker and I are camped 10 miles East of Quincy, IL. Thanks Todd and Julie Curry for putting us up (and sending over those sloppy Joes with all the trimmings!)

From here, the plan is to cross Ol’ Man… Continue reading

She Wants to Catch a Turtle

There she stood with the fishing rod and the shoulder tattoo (outside Pana, IL)

I rode the mules over the hill and there she stood on the bridge holding a fishing rod. She and the star tattoos on her shoulders and a man and a boy drowning small worms on big hooks in a shallow creek.
I asked, “are you catching anything?”
She said, “he caught one” and pointed to her son.
Then she said, “I really want to catch… Continue reading

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