Ezer Vavala Wants to Pull Her Wagon by Hand 800 Miles to Missouri
My buddy Brad Saunders called me this week and said there were some “traveling homesteaders” camping in nearby Hickory (North Carolina). He said they needed a better place to stay, so I hooked up the horse trailer and drove to Hickory to see how I could help. That’s how I met Ezer Vavala and her husband Brian.
Loading up in Hickory
Ezer and Brian were camped in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Hickory which wasn’t great because, in addition to the two of them, there were all their animals. Brad offered the two travelers a place to camp at the general store he owns a few miles from where my wife Julia and I live. He called Foster’s Towing, a local wrecker service, to haul Ezer and Brian’s wagon to his store. Meanwhile, I would haul all the animals in Julia’s and my trailer. Here are some photos of Brad and me helping Ezer and Brian loading up their gear and animals which included a pony, three sheep, two geese, three chickens, two quail and, if memory serves, five dogs.
Oh, and a bunch of potted plants, food, folding chairs, a swamp cooler that used ice to cool the air, a t-post and a t-post pounder.
Catch the Geese, Load the Wagon
The first things Ezer did was round up the geese which live on a small trailer. Then Brad and I helped load their wagon and animals onto the flatbed and horse trailer so we could move them to Brad’s place.
Driving to Brad’s Store
Brad’s general store is about 25 miles north of Hickory up Highway 321. Brian rode in the tow truck carrying the wagon and Ezer rode with Brad and me in my pickup. On the way over, she told me about herself and her trip.
Ezer says she started her her current trip in Albermarle, North Carolina this June. That’s about 100 miles from Hickory, where she arrived this week (August 20). “We try to travel about five miles per day,” she says. “From here, we want to travel to Missouri, which is still about 800 miles away.”
This isn’t Ezer’s first wagon trip. A few years ago, she hit the road with a small cart and two dogs. That trip took her from Virginia down through eastern North Carolina and down to Florida. That wagon trip stretched to three years and somewhere along the way, she built a larger wagon.
The wagon she’s traveling now is even larger. “My old wagon was okay when it was just me,” she says. “But now that Brian’s with me, we needed something bigger.”
She says she had help building her current wagon which is about ten feet long and six feet wide. Though she’s happy with it, she says, with all the gear and animals she’s traveling with, it’s getting too heavy to pull long distances by hand.
She’s currently looking for a horse or mule, or maybe a team, to pull the wagon. She hopes to find a suitable animal or team while she’s in the area.
Setting up Camp Outside Lenoir
Brad, Ezer, Brian, the menagerie and I arrived at Brad’s store, where we unloaded all the critters and gear and helped Ezer and Brian set up their new camp. Here are some photos of them setting up their new camp up the hill from Brad’s store Saunder’s Old Country Store
Ezer and Brian want to make some repairs on their wagon while they’re at Brad’s. They might also be in the market for a horse, mule or team to pull it. They hope to make it to Missouri by November. Ezer is posting of their trip on Facebook at Walk the Way -Nomadic Living and also on her personal Facebook page.
Postscript: Brian Leaves
A few days after I helped Ezer and her husband Brian move their wagon and animals from Hickory to Brad’s, Ezer wrote on social media that, “Brian has left. It’s a long story that’s really not anyone’s business.” She added, “If you want to know where Brian is if you can find him ask him. I don’t see how I’m responsible for telling anyone where a grown man who said not to tell anyone where he was going is and he didn’t tell me. Ps . I didn’t kill him , there’s witnesses to him driving off with his car,dog, wallet etc.”
Ezer says she is taking a few days off to think things over. One option she is exploring is to ship her wagon and animals to Missouri and maybe walk there from where she’s camping. Or, she says, she might consider, “selling my wagon and buying a smaller one, preferably with bigger wheels than 14″ and easy to roll. Say what you will but funding isn’t what I was told so that said ..any interest? Any small pony wagons for sale? Please pm me no comments. I can always build another.”
Get A Free Copy of my New Photo Book 19 Million Mule Steps
If you enjoyed Ezer’s story, here’s one I think you’ll love. A while back I spent seven months riding my mules 2,300 miles from western North Carolina to Idaho. My journey took me through Missouri, where Ezer was heading. I’ve just published a photo book about the journey and I’d like to give you a FREE copy. It’s called 19 Million Mule Steps and contains 134 pages of photos, sketches and musings about the nomadic life with two mules. Read on to see how you can download a free copy.
Here are some of the illustrations from 19 Million Mule Steps you’ll enjoy.
Download a Free Copy of 19 Million Mule Steps
Another Story About a Woman Who Pulled a Cart a Long Distance
Ezer’s story reminded me of Adeline Hallot, who I recently wrote about.
Adeline set off with a small hand-pulled cart, two dogs and a cat and crossed the Pyrennes – in winter. Julia and I recently visited her and she told us her incredible story. Here’s the two-part series I wrote about Adeline’s voyage: