DATE: 2:15 PM
Winston Salem, NC
The first night's encampment
Outside Portsmouth, Ohio
Lost Sea Sunset One
Bill Smith's farm
Outside Portsmouth, Ohio
Presently 50 miles north of Indianapolis, we're Chicago-bound. Yes, we're out of "Frank's Deer Urine" country now - a reference to the homemade signs advertising the deer scent of choice in these parts. Enjoy your weekend.
(Thanks Bill Smith for putting up mule Polly and I. Good luck with your land preservation work.)
DATE: 11:14 PM
Think of it as a game. You're traveling from Canada to Mexico in a mule wagon and you have to earn enough money to keep your mule in oats and your belly in, well, more oats. You'd sell books, right? If this sounds familiar, well, I thought it was a good idea too so that's how I'm going to pay for my cross country mule wagon journey.
The book I'm selling from my wagon is "Woody and Maggie Walk Across America", the best-selling children's geography book based on my last 3,500-mile cross country mule journey.
"Woody and Maggie Walk Across America"
But selling books out of a mule wagon takes a bit of thought. It's not as simple as vending them from a Barnes and Noble. First, there's the matter of space. Remember, the Lost Sea wagon only has 21 square feet of heated area. Here's what the inside looks like.
Inside the Lost Sea Wagon
Then there's the weather thing. I'll be traveling through all conditions, from mountain to desert, through rain, wind and snow. It got me to thinking. How did I ever keep things clean, dry and aired on my boat Sea Bird, the steel cutter I sailed alone around the world?
Sea Bird (Will and Deni McIntyre Photo)
That's right, I cut holes into the bulkheads, the walls that divided the cabins. That allowed air to circulate freely through the boat. It got me to thinking. The Lost Sea Wagon really wasn't more than a small, hopelessly run aground vessel. So I cut holes into the compartments to allow air to circulate through the wagon.
Then, since my mule-powered land yacht can't sink, I cut holes into the floor of the wagon's two cargo holds. Only after my wagon was peppered with drafty openings did it occur to me that while proper ventilation is good for books, dust isn't. So I cut out a small wood square that could cover each hole as needed.
Now you see the hole
Now you don't
This allows me to open and close the holes as desired.
To finish the ventilation system, I stapled a square of mesh screen under each hole to keep the critters out. Then I loaded the cases of "Woody and Maggie" books into the Lost Sea wagon.
The cargo in the ventilated cargo hold
So that's how I'm stowing the books that'll pay for my journey across America - and why I'm a bit late lighting my candle tonight.
Interested in supporting the Lost Sea Expedition by purchasing a copy of the 40-page, hardcover "Woody and Maggie" book? Great! You can meet mule Polly and me in the South Dakota Badlands or you can just order a copy from the RiverEarth.com General Store. Your book will ship via Priority Mail and you'll have it in two to three business days - and you'll be putting oats in mule Polly and my belly.
DATE: 10:13 PM
Nothing gets the point of wealth across like being a billionaire. But who says it has to be measured in dollars? I mean really, it's just a measure, right? Well, this week I met a billionaire - in a generally overlooked currency.
Meet Reverend Hans.
I spotted him pedaling North on US 1, outside Southern Pines, NC, and just had to pull over for a chat.
The Reverend's rig
Southern Pines, NC
The first thing that struck me about him were the tan lines on his face.
Unlike the ski set that jets to Taos and returns sporting tan lines that make them look like raccoons, Hans' tan line strangely resembled a chin strap.
Which is precisely what created the white-on-tan effect.
Then there was the dark spot on the back of each of his hands.
"Oh, yeah," he replied when I commented on the odd tan mark, "kids tell there parents 'Look! That man has spots on his hands".
This set of tan lines came from an opening in his gloves.
Immediately, I felt wimpy, pasty, the way blades of grass get when they're covered with a board. I was, after all, the guy who rode a mule across America wearing two bandanas, long-sleeved cotton shirts, gloves, sunglasses, and, where, horrors, the sun might touch my skin, SPF 30 sunblock.
Parked on the side of US 1, the good Reverend explained how he'd earned his unusual pigmentation.
It was largely a story of stick-to-it-ness. A meticulous record keeper, as of 2007, he'd pedaled 168,000 miles, replaced 315 inner tubes, and crossed the United States 14 times - once with a hamster named Schroeder.
But the Reverend was chasing more than just big numbers.
He traveled by bicycle to spread word of his cycling ministry "Pedal Prayers". "Pedal Prayers is a hands on mission," he explained. "I want to show people that the best sermon is an example. That the best way to preach is to do." To back up his philosophy, he has pedaled to natural disasters, including the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, to offer physical and spiritual assistance.
Other sermons in action include helping build, "over sixty homes for Habitat for Humanity."
It was sinking in that I was speaking to an adventurer who was the perfect complement, yet perfect opposite, to me. I explained that I too, had once traveled across America by mule, slipping in that the feat had consumed almost 13 months - a good pace, I reckoned, because I stopped along the way to help folks from time to time.
So how long did it take him to ride coast-to-coast on his metal steed?
"61 pedaling days." he replied.
I never bothered mentioning that I planned to travel by mule wagon from Canada to Mexico. Or the fact that I planned to measure the mileage in mule steps instead of miles. There was no way I could compete.
How I travel these days
Smith Creek Bridge
Then he hit me with the Big Number. As of April 2007, the Reverend has completed 1,055,928,402 wheel revolutions, which, yes, in my traveling book, earns him the honor of a bicycling billionaire.
With that, he remounted his bike and disappeared up US 1.
Reverend Hans, I wish you well on your second billion - give or take another sixty Habitat Houses.
Millionaire (in mule steps)
DATE: 12:37 PM
Folks ask me, "So are you going to make mule Polly pull the Lost Sea Wagon all the way to Canada to start the Lost Sea Expedition?" "Nope." I tell them, then explain I've built Polly a special trailer. I can haul her in the front and the Lost Sea Wagon in the back. That way we can drive to our starting point.
The rig that's taking us to Canada
For route planning, I was a bit more spontaneous. They say behind every great explorer there's a great mule.
Mule Polly takes a hard look ....
With that in mind, I handed Polly my trusty road atlas, an old riding crop and told her to figure out how we're getting from Southern Pines, North Carolina to Radville, Saskatchewan. After a pause, she placed the crop on the map at a north-west angle.
and now we have a route...!
Impressed by her navigational savvy, I double-checked her route online and she was right. It's just under 2000 miles from Southern Pines to our jumping off point and Polly had nailed it perfectly. Here's the "grown up" version of my route.
Okay, so we've established the route. That just leaves the matter of stabling. So just where are we going to spend each night on the road?
I haven't a clue. I've always travelled off the cuff, prefering to find lodgings as serendipity and circumstance dictate. Still, if you looked at the route above and said, "Hey, ya'll are coming right through my town and we have a place." then just drop us a line.
Mule Polly and I don't need much. A fenced pasture would be nice but lacking that, a barn would do. Yes, mule Polly has her health papers in order - and I'm carrying my passport. Mostly we just need a flexible schedule. No hard departure date has been set but we're shooting for the middle of April. We plan on traveling about 400 miles per day so that means we'll be in-late, out-early house guests.
See you up the road - maybe in person...