Travel by Mule

Spring in Lily, Kentucky

It’s fitting that I ran in to “real” spring (as opposed to signs of spring) in Lily, Kentucky.
After riding mules Brick and Cracker 20 miles up Highway 25, I was loosing the light fast and starting to wonder where the mules and I were going to spend the night.
I spied a lady trimming a vine in her yard. Pulled the mules in to ask if there was a patch of grass where I could tie them up for… Continue reading

Why My Wife Isn't Mule Rambling With Me – This Time

Bernie Harberts, sandwich

Just married: me and my wife Julia on our honeymoon ride. I’m riding mule Brick. She’s riding her haflinger Pickle. Brick and I are riding toward Idaho. Julia and Pickle stayed at home. (Love Valley, NC)

“Where’s your wife?” folks ask me when I tell them I’m married.
I tell them that my wife Julia stayed at home.
I explain that I’m riding toward her brother’s home in Idaho. That she’ll come visit me when I get there.
But that’s… Continue reading

Crackers Ponders the Week Ahead

Bernie Harberts, mule, sunrise

Dawn. Cracker ponders the week ahead. Or is he just contemplating his next bite? (Outside Russellville, TN)

A new week. A new direction. Once a man makes peace with the vagaries of life on the road with mules, he ceases to make hard and fast plans. Where to go this week? Up the road another stretch. The main thing is keeping the mules healthy. There is no other plan. Have a great week wherever it takes you.


Tennessee Morning Dew

Bernie Harberts, sandwich

Tennessee morning dew. Here, in Gary Brewer’s hay pasture. (outside Russellville, TN)

The last nights have been dewy. Evenings, I stack my saddle, pack saddle and gear in to a pile and cover it with a poncho. By morning, the poncho’s creases have captured tiny lakes of water. My tent is soaked.
But the grass loves it. And the mules count on eating on the hoof. Without the grass, we can’t travel the land. Grain is too heavy to… Continue reading

Mule Runaway

The damn mules. I call them damn mules because recently they pulled a runner on me.

Bernie Harberts, mule

Mules Brick and Cracker: I usually find them where I last picketed them out. Usually…..

Last week I was the guest of Dan and Linda Coffey of Tazewell, TN. I picketed Brick and Cracker out in the Coffey’s pasture. During my stay, they escaped. Thanks to Dan help we tracked them down before they ran home to North Carolina.

Bernie Harberts, Dan Coffey, Geneva Lynch, mule

Geneva Lynch, Dan Coffey and… Continue reading

Butterflies

The mules and I spend our days walking America the Beautiful’s littered-up country roads. All day long, we clomp by thousands of Bud Light cans, Gatorade bottles and then there’s the fast food – KFC boxes, Subway bags and MacDonald’s cups beyond counting.

There are the bright spots though. Hundreds of yellow wings and orange dotted tails. Road-killed tiger tails.

Then there are the butterflies. Hundreds of them. Victims todays always on the go society. Smashed mid-flight against bumpers, windshields… Continue reading

Broken and Forgotten: Route of the First 2 Weeks

Folks stop the mules and me and ask, “where did you come from?”
They never ask, “what did you break? What did you forget?”
I drew you this map to answer all 3 questions.

Bernie Harberts, mule, map

My first 2 weeks on the road. The mules and I set off from our farm outside Lenoir, NC. We’re now in Mosheim, TN. Don’t ask me how many miles that is.

Call this a mixed media trip. While I carry a laptop, phone and camera,… Continue reading

Sleeping Under Tractor Trailers

It’s an odd relationship. Days, I live in fear of getting run down by a tractor trailer. Nights, I’ve slept under them, peaceful as can be. Here’s a few tips if you plan to bunk down under one. Tip Number One: mind the grease.

In the past, I’ve written bucolic posts about waking up in a hay field. Of how meadowlarks warble and the fresh grass smells like hope and I put on my top hat and eat oatmeal in… Continue reading

Tennessee Easter Sunday Lodgings

Bernie Harberts, mule, tophat, allie brewer, yolanda treece

Easter evening with Allie Brewer and Yolanda Treece. Allie was up from Knoxville visiting her parents. Yolanda is known for her incredible voice and vocal performances. (outside Russellville, TN)

Easter Sunday evening I was really starting to wonder where the mules and I would find a pasture for the night. Enter Allie and Yolanda. They were in the front yard visiting. I rode up. Problem solved. Allie’s dad, Gary Brewer, owned the pasture next door. We’d found a place to… Continue reading

Isuzu Mule Anchor

You keep your car from rolling away with your parking brake. But what about your mule? Most days, I spend 6 – 8 hours riding my mules West as I make my way across America. But how do I keep them from wandering away at night?

Bernie Harberts, mule, picket, isuzu

A bucolic scene. The mules hanging around my tent on Rick and Tracey Love’s property. I’d like to think they’d just hang with me. They don’t. Without tethering, they’d soon wander off to the… Continue reading
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