Mules West

Hoof Boot Friday

You may not know this but today is Hoof Boot Friday. Because I say it is. In honor of this day I’m doing routine maintenance on my hoof boots. The mules have traveled 1,200 miles in them. They need a bit of love.

My hoof boot collection. Brick wears the 4 boots on the left. Cracker’s are the 4 boots in the middle. The 2 on the right are spares. The orange pieces on the far right are replacement soles.… Continue reading

Hordville Hello

Greetings from Hordville, Nebraska. The mules and I arrived here this morning (July 17, 2019) and set up a welcome camp under the linden tree by the rail road tracks. A wonderful place to duck the heat before things heated up this afternoon.

Brick and Cracker grazing in the cooling shade of one of Hordville’s many large linden trees.

Temperatures have been in the 90s all this week with higher temps forecast. This limits the amount of time the mules… Continue reading

Road Kill Fish

Catfish hung on stop signs. Catfish flung on the shoulder. A dead chub on the highway. Lately mules Brick and Cracker and I have come across dead fish where you wouldn’t expect them – along the side of the road. I put them in to a post card-like arrangement I though you’d enjoy.

4 dead fish by the road in 3 states – 2 catfish and a roach. I just labeled the fish with where I found them.

Right now… Continue reading

Sunday Shadow

Morning shadow: I’m riding Brick and leading Cracker.

Good Sunday morning to you friend. Daytime temps here in western Nebraska have been in the mid-90s so we start early. I try to be on the road with the mules before the sun comes up. I hope your Sunday’s going well and you got done in the morning cool whatever it is you had planned.

This morning the mules and I are east of Ashland, Nebraska. We’re heading toward Valparaiso.

Safari Park Day Off

Brick in Day Off mode: you know your mules are ready for a day off when your pack mule hides behind a tree…

A bag of corn, a bucket of water and a salt block. Oh, and a herd of elk. The mules are chillin’ on their day off. We’re guests of the Lee G Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari.

The mules’ arrival at the Wildlife Safari Park.

The Lee G Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari features… Continue reading

Nebraska Arrival

The mules and I have arrived in Nebraska!

Brick and Cracker’s Nebraska arrival. Here, taking the final steps across the Missouri River in to Plattsmouth, Nebraska.

We started the day outside Tabor, Iowa and worked our way through the rolling Iowa country over to the Missouri River. There we got a first hand look at the after-effects of the flooding that has plagued the mid-West all spring and in to summer.

Flooded out

Right now I’m settling the mules in… Continue reading

“Mules West” Article in Herald-Whig Newspaper (Quincy, Illinois)


A man and his mules journey across America

By Ethan Colbert / Photo Katelyn Metzger / Jun. 13, 2019

(NOTE: The following is a re-publishing of an article that originally ran in the Herald-Whig (Quincy, Illionois) on June 13, 2019 / Bernie Harberts)

Bernie Hartberts leans on a support beam in Todd Curry’s barn while he talks about his PBS documentary on Thursday, Jun. 13, 2019. Hartberts is making a cross-country trip from North Carolina to Idaho… Continue reading

Art’s Hamburger

I was grumpy when I rode in to New Boston because I’d taken a wrong turn with my mules and I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was afoot and the extra 8 miles I’d walked in the heat put me in a crappy mood.

The bar where it all went down. (New Boston, MO)

I plopped down across from the town bar and ate my sardine lunch in the shade of a tree.

A truck pulled up and… Continue reading

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

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