Last night I was sitting in the Split Rock Bar and Cafe celebrating my arrival in a busted uranium town when a man walks in and says, “your mule is over at Isabel’s house.” Isabel owns the bar.
I put down my beer.
So I climb in to the man’s car and he drives me out in to the night and we go down a long driveway and there, in the headlights, is Cracker. He’s munching on a bale of hay next to a corral full of horses. He looks chill, only mildly happy to see me.
I am, after all, busting in on his late-night buffet.
So I grab some bailing twine and lead him back through the night with my make shift lead rope. Back to my camp where I discover Brick’s tangled up in barbed wire.
But Brick, being a mule, has done this elegantly. Instead of ripping her legs to hamburger, she’s standing in the loops of wire like they’re honey suckle vines and if she waits that way, I’ll come untangle her.
Which I do.
Then I set about finding out how Cracker escaped. Turns out the metal ring on his Weaver hobble broke. That ring is attached to his picket. When the metal ring broke, Cracker just walked off in to the night.
I’m a very lucky man. I hugged Cracker and Brick hard before I slid in to my bedroll. They’re great mules and have taken wonderful care of me. Give or take their occasional escape….
Okay, my mule Polly’s pulled a runner in her day too….
Just a subtle reminder that, no matter how hard you try to stay focused out here on the road, things can go south real quick.
Today the mules and I head toward Sweetwater Junction. In the distance, I see snow on the Wind River Mountains. Winter is coming.