Travel by Mule

Mule Ramble Camps

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Camp #2: Leatherwood Mountains (Darby, NC)

Stressing about Hurricane Florence? Julia has posted a photo of each of our camps during our mule ramble. Just looking at them will calm you down. They’re on Julia’s blog Saddle Under the Stars. We’re holed up waiting for the storm to pass. We’ll resume the ramble as soon as the weather settles.

Shelter from the Storm

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Mules Polly, Brick and Dusty enjoying a late summer snack – chestnuts from the tree off our front porch (Lenoir, NC)

Shelter from the storm: this camp looks familiar because it’s….home. Home as in where we live. Big thanks to Sam Coffey for helping us get here. The critters’ well-being comes first. They’ll be fine here. Mule Polly, Brick and Dusty are preparing for Hurricane Florence by eating as many chestnuts as possible. We’ll be back on the road as… Continue reading

Dave Demour: ex-monk, Stone Layer, Singer Songwriter

Ever heard rain drops falling on the New River coming out of a piano? No? You just haven’t met Dave Demour yet. Dave’s an amazing stone artist, ex-monk, singer song writer and resiedent of Todd, NC. This week, Julia and I had an amazing sit down session with Dave at the RiverGirl Fishing Company piano. He coaxed a thunderstorm, beavers and a cricket out of the ivories. We filmed the recording. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Riding the Wave

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Ridin’ the mule wave. My mule Brick and I on one of the high points of our mule ramble. (Outside Todd, NC)

Our mule ramble is taking on the character of a wave train. One moment we’re on a wave peak (plenty of food and water), the next we’re in the trough (run out of water but, good news, there’s a hurricane coming). Julia writes of this week’s highs and lows at

Bottle Cabin

Varnished luxury log cabins trimmed with fake rocks to red clay chinked cabins. Our mule ramble through the western North Carolina High Country has exposed us to the full range of abodes. I lean toward the rustic side of the range. This low slung cabin caught my eye. It’s on Eustace Conway’s Turtle Island Preserve.

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Dave Demour – aka “TT Taylor” aka “Totem Todd Taylor”: stone layer, philosopher, and piano player. Here, bursting in to song at the RiverGirl Fishing… Continue reading

What's a Mule to Drink

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Mule ramble up the New River. The New River is though to be the world’s second oldest river after the Nile.(outside Todd, NC)

In western North Carolina, it’s water, water everywhere. But where’s a mule to drink? Every day, our mules need to drink a few gallons to keep the mule ramble moving up the road. But water’s too heavy to carry so we have to pick it up as we go. This leads to some odd watering sites: puddles,… Continue reading

Slowing Down for Apples

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Always apples: a few of the apples we gathered this week spend their last evening on a caboose at RiverGirl Fishing Company. In the morning they were gone. Mule Polly had eaten them.

Good Sunday morning from the RiverGirl Fishing Company here in Todd, NC. A mule ramble forces you to slow down to the speed of grass, water and shelter. Oh, and apples. Riding through the High Country of North Carolina, Julia and our mules have ridden right… Continue reading

Todd Greetings

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End of the line…well the day at least. The mules tied to the caboose at RiverGirl Fishing Company in Todd, NC. We are spending the night here before heading toward West Jefferson.

The last 3 days we climbed the escarpment from Darby to Todd, NC. Highlights include catching up with Eustace Conway (Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Last American Man” / History Channel’s “Mountain Men”), roadside graham crackers and a gift of water when our throats were as dry as our water bottles.… Continue reading

Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention…by Mule

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Happy to be in Happy Valley: Julia and I arrive at the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention. The 8 miles to get there took 5 hours. Hey, when you’re mule rambling, you gotta visit neighbors. (Happy Valley, NC)

Note: I’m writing to you from a mountain pasture with an internet connection as slim as a cow pie. That means I’ll have to post the full photo essay in parts. Here’s the first part, a glimpse in to our first days on… Continue reading

The Good-Enough-to-Get-You-Out-the-Gate Saddle Bags

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Mule Polly rockin’ her new (to us) pack saddle bags.

In starting mule trips, good enough gets you out the gate and perfection keeps you at home. This week I’m fitting mule Polly with bags for her pack saddle. They’re not new. They’re not perfect. But they’re good enough to get us out the gate. At least they don’t smell like vomit.

Julia and I are 2 weeks away from heading off on our mule ramble. I’m calling the caper… Continue reading

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