Travel by Mule

Mule Fuel

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, gas pump

Mule Fuel. In to which slot does the gas pump go? Cracker’s pretty sure it’s not his blow hole… (Campbellsville, Ky)

It seems odd that a guy traveling across the land with his mules would need to buy gas. Sorta seems to defeat the whole reason to travel with a vehicle that gets most of its fuel from grass.

But, about twice a month, I’ll ease in to a gas station. Tie my mules up next to the gas pump.… Continue reading

What to do About Tornadoes

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, storm cloud, rain, hail, prairie

The waiting is the hardest part: will this become a twister, a hail storm, a thunder storm….or nothing? (Newton, IL)

“What are you doing about the storms and tornadoes?”, folks ask me.
It’s been an active summer tornado season with twisters getting lots of press as they destroy homes and communities.
I tell them, “nothing”.
When the closest shelter is a telephone pole, your options are limited.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, storm cloud, rain, hail, prairie

Where are you going to hide? That treeline is a mile away –… Continue reading

On a Map Versus On a Mule

To get ready for my mule ramble, I looked at a lot of maps – from Google maps to topo maps to hand drawn sketches. They’re fine for giving you a general idea of what direction you need to go. But to see the water run under the bridges, and feel the whoosh of a semi roaring, well, you just gotta physically be there.
It looks different on a map than it looks on a mule. Join mules Brick and… Continue reading

Mule Dawn

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, gas pump

Mule dawn: Cracker ponders the day ahead (outside Petersburg, IN).

I hope you have a good Sunday. I thought you’d enjoy this photo of Cracker starting his day. Yes, the sky really was that vivid.
He’s pretty chill about dawn’s early light but intense skies like this freak out the mariner in me. It’s that “red skies at morning, sailor take warning” thing. Sure enough, it rained like bejusus-crazy-hell for the next three days with tornadoes thrown in for good… Continue reading

Button Lathe and Cooling Casket

Taking a lunch break with my mules at Stephenson’s General Store in Leavenworth, Indiana, I was reminded of one of my favorite books, “Shanty Boat” by Harlan Hubbard. The book is the account of Harlan’s 7 year journey down the Ohio and MIssissippi Rivers in his shanty boat. Accompanying Harlan were his wife Anna, a few dogs and occasionally, a hive of bees.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, catfish

Harland traveled the river with dogs and bees. I’m visiting with mules Brick and Cracker. Here, Brick… Continue reading

Mule Bridge Police Escort Video

Last week the mules and I crossed the Ohio river from Kentucky to Indiana … under police escort. It was a challenging steering job steering Cracker past oncoming traffic and over the bridge’s expansion joints. I really wanted you to experience what it’s like to ride across a river so I filmed it. Enjoy!

Dead Animals of Kentucky

I wanted to show you some of the Kentucky wildlife the mules and I are seeing. But my camera doesn’t have a strong telephoto. So to get nice closeups, I’ve just been photographing dead animals as I find them on the roadside. Here’s a selection of Kentucky creatures I thought you’d enjoy.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, road kill, dead animals of kentucky

Animals of Kentucky: Mule Traveler Edition. To give them a museum-esque presentation, I put laid them out against a black background.

As to my labeling, you know that’s… Continue reading

Week 6: Indiana Mule River LIfe

Western visions pull the mules and me toward the setting sun: piñon canyons, cut throat trout and big horn sheep. This week I encountered a highway catfish, a gravel barge and a cooling casket. Indiana is proving as colorful as the land I’m riding toward. Here are a few photos from this week on the road, Week 6 of my Mules West ramble.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, ohio river, barge

Watchin’ the river go by: Cracker takes in a gravel barge as it heads up the Ohio… Continue reading

Crossing the Ohio River Bridge by Mule

Blue above, blue behind, blue below. Today Brick, Cracker and I tackled the obstacle that’s been on our minds the past few weeks: how to cross the Ohio River.

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, ohio river, bridge

How to get across this honkin’ bridge. This is the bridge that connects Kentucky to Ohio. For weeks I’ve wondered how I would get the mules across. The bridge dwarfs the barge pushing a load up Ohio River. (Brandenburg, Ky)

In the end, crossing the Ohio River wasn’t too difficult. I… Continue reading

Indiana Greetings

Bernie Harberts, mule, trail ride, indiana state sign

Welcome to Indiana (Jack Nunn photo)

Greetings from Indiana. Mules Cracker, Brick and I have arrived in Lincoln’s other home. Funny how he was born across the Ohio River in Kentucky and now both Indiana and Kentucky fight over him.
Wonder how the above photo was taken? For that, I have to thank Pat Green and Jack Nunn. They were taking a lunch break from working at the quarry, saw the police escort I was given coming over the bridge… Continue reading

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