Finally a wagon (well, sort of…) – Virgilina, VA
The big news is I have a wagon. Sort of.
I can thank Mike Walker for that.
“Good luck, Bo!” were Mike’s parting words (Mike and Pam Walker, outside Virgilina, VA)
Mike’s the guy that sold me mule Woody for my trip across America. I ran into him recently at Benson Mule days, and when I told him I was in the market for a wagon he said “Bo, I’ve got just the wagon for you. It’s gonna run you about two grand but it’s just perfect.”
Then I dropped the budget bomb on him. “Well, Mike” I replied, “I’m still on the same old budget; dollar a pound.”
Mike chuckled like old ship’s captains do when they think about the hulk they have leaning against the apple tree in their back yard. “Bo” he said, “I really want to see you do this trip. I’ve got an old wagon that might just work for you. It’s sitting up at my place behind the tipi. Run up there and take a look.”
“Bo, I’ve got a wagon for you…”
Mike was right. Next to the shingled tipi behind his house stood a sheep herder’s wagon who’s advanced state of disrepair put it squarely within my means.
A few days later, I took my truck back to pick it up.
Mike lives on a hill and the wagon’s, shall we say, flexible condition, became apparent when my truck and new wagon picked up speed on the grade. Back and forth it wallowed like a top heavy schooner until we ran out of hill and rolled to a stop with a final gelatinous lurch.
I stepped from the truck. My new wagon hunkered off to the right like a souffle on the verge of collapse. Four of the plywood beams that held the roof up had shattered.
Mike produced an old lasso, and with fence posts and boards I broke off the wagon’s sides, I built a new skeleton inside the shell of rotten wood.
More props than a mineshaft
Pam tossed the lariat over the now-shored-up wagon and I lashed the lot down with a knot I prayed would keep my wagon’s new guts in place.
A sight to make a cowboy cry.
Then, in a stupor of a good citizen taking steps toward the bad, I towed my fractured treasure onto the highway.
A few miles down the road when my thoughts were interrupted by a rectangular flash in the rear view mirror. One of the wagon’s windows had fallen out.
Just then, a police car hove into view.
I hit the emergency blinkers, eased onto the shoulder and watched the sliding window thread its way through the oncoming traffic.
The police slowed and I waited for the stab of blue in my rear view mirror. But in a fit of better judgement, the cruiser accelerated and disappeared. He must’ve figured such a rotten catch wasn’t worth pursuing. His luck, I’d show up in court.
I retrieved the wagon window, chucked it back into my rolling hovel and tackled the remaining 120 miles, blinking and grinning.
Remember that Charlie Daniels song “The Uneasy Rider” where the tag line is something like “got to LA via Omaha.”? Well, that was us.
I snuck down those Carolina back roads at 35 miles per hour doing anything to dodge Durham. Now I’ve been to Bushy Fork, Saxapahaw, Silk Hope, Bear Creek… Just on dark, slid into Southern Pines.
All that way without a ticket
The next day I found a team of mules.
(My thanks go out to Mike and Pam Walker, who have, once again, helped me launch another voyage with modest means. If you’re looking for a mule, you might want to give Mike and Pam a ring. Bernie RiverEarth.com)