Ezer Way 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 Way (who also goes by Ezer Vavala) and her husband Brian.

The rig Brad was referring to as I found it in some guy’s back yard in Hickory
Ezer Way and her husband Brian. They are pulling their wagon – by hand – from Albermarle, North Carolina, toward Missouri
Ezer and one of the dogs she and Brian traveling with. Ezer pulls the wagon and Brian pushes.

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.

The chicken trailer that Ezer and Brian tow behind their wagon
Two quail that live in cages on board the trailer
Fresh quail eggs
Ezer setting off to catch the two geese so she can load them onto the chicken trailer
The geese sorta like it in Hickory and decide they want to stay
Ezer would really like to load up and get out of town….
The rabbit that rides with the quail, geese and chickens
Winching the wagon onto the flatbed. Ezer and Brian are pushing. That’s my buddy Brad Saunders in the coveralls looking on.
Ezer and Brian aren’t traveling light, which is impressive given that, for the most part, they pull there wagon to get where they’re going. The collection of potted plants their bringing on their trip include spider plants, cucumbers, aloe, an everbearing strawberry and basil. The two met and married not long ago. “My old wagon was fine for me,” she says. “But once Brian was with me, I needed to build something bigger that would fit both of us.”
Loading the chicken wagon into our horse trailer

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.

Brad’s store, Saunder’s Old Country Store, where Ezer and Brian plan to rest and regroup for a few days

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

Brad lifting the chicken trailer out of the horse trailer
The pickup-up full of Ezer and Brian’s gear that a friend of Brad’s hauled up the hill to where they were camping.
Brad’s beehives
Ezer’s tattoo
Heading across the creek and up the hill to where Ezer and Brian’s new campsite
Assembling the crew top pull the wagon across the bridge
One of Brad’s friends, Jesse, showed up to lend a hand. Here, he’s taking a photo of Ezer an Brian with the Instamatic camera.
Brad, Ezer, Brian and me posing in front of the wagon on Brad’s old bridge. Ezer wears what looks like a backpack hanging between the wagon’s shafts to help her pull the wagon. Brian pushes the back of the wagon as she pulls.
The wagon in its new location, up the hill from Brad’s store. The wagon was too heavy to pull by hand so Brad pulled it with his tractor.
One of the wagon’s four motorcycle wheels
The hand operated brake. It’s on the rear wheel. Brian operates it from the back of the wagon because that’s where he pushes the wagon while Ezer pulls it from the front.
Settled in under a giant beech tree at Brad’s

Making Repairs

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 about their trip on Facebook at Walk the Way -Nomadic Living and also on her personal Facebook page (where she posts as Ezer Way).

Chicken and Pickin’! Brad hauling the chicken trailer to where Ezer and Brian will be camping. Brad hosted one of his Back Porch Pickin’s the weekend Ezer and Brian arrived.

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.”

The last photo I took of Ezer and Brian. Here, Brad is carrying their chicken trailer up the hill on his tractor to where they were camping on his land.

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.

Click on the “PREVIEW” button for a look into 19 Million Mule Steps. You can buy a copy on Amazon, or keep reading to find out how you can get a FREE copy.

Here are some of the illustrations from 19 Million Mule Steps you’ll enjoy.

Into the American West: windmill water just when the mules and I needed it most (outside Lost Springs, Wyoming)
A good long drink

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:

Part 1: Dogged: How Adeline Hallot Crossed the Pyrenees With Two Dogs, a Cart and a Cat
Part 2: How Adeline Hallot Went From Cart Traveler to Horse Traveler



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Christian H
Christian H
9 months ago

Impressive endeavour! Some animal pulling help seems in order, will make this journey way more sustainable… I do wonder what route they’re plotting through the mountains. You warned them about following 321, I imagine…


9 months ago
Reply to  Christian H

A horse or mule would sure help. But with more horse(mule) power comes more complications. Learning how to drive the animal, buying harness, care and feeding, reinforcing the wagon in case of runaway, etc. I discussed this with Ezer and she’s still keen on finding a draft animal.
Highway 321 from Lenoir to Blowing Rock is steep and busy. Back roads through the Blue Ridge Mountains can be ticklish with a wide, slow load sharing the same road as logging trucks. I’ll wish them the best of luck whatever animal and route they choose!

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