Coming soon: the Lost Sea Expedition TV series
January 4, 2016

 bernie harberts mule polly lost sea expedition
Mule Polly and me during the New Mexican phase of the Lost Sea Expedition, our wagon voyage across America. Looking back on it now, I’m sure Polly wondered why I kept stopping and taking pictures like this one. She was right to wonder. That footage – including lots of interviews with folks met along the way – is now the Lost Sea Expedition TV series. (Hope, New Mexico)

Hey, ‘just wanted to give you a sneak peak at a massive project I’m just wrapping up. I’ve sailed alone around the world, been across America twice by mule and then some. But hands down, this is the biggest project I’ve ever completed. It’s a TV series called The Lost Sea Expedition .

A while back, I traveled across the United States with my mule. It was just Polly and me and our tiny home made wagon. Our gear was substandard, old, some borrowed. Instead of planning the route before hand, I let strangers point me in the right direction.

I wound up following the sea bed of a vanished sea – the Lost Sea – that once covered the Great Plains. My journey started in Canada and ended on the Mexican border 14 months later.

fbernie harberts mule polly lost sea expedition
The route across America. It covered 10 states, spanned 4 seasons and took over a year.

I carried film and audio gear in my wagon to document the trip. This is where I spent most of my limited budget. I went for the highest quality, most rugged gear I could afford at the time. I charged it with a solar panel bolted to the top of the wagon. Nope. I didn’t have a film crew, chase team, support vehicle or sponsor. I had time, though. And that’s the most important piece of equipment. Time and the kindness of strangers.

fbernie harberts mule polly lost sea expedition
Living day after day with my film gear let me capture the voyage inside and out. Here, I’m capturing a bit of life aboard the Lost Sea wagon. (Tokio, Texas)
fbernie harberts mule polly lost sea expedition
Because I spent so much time on the road, I was able to film nature in all her moods. Here, Polly wishes I’d quit filming South Dakota’s winter mood and go ahead and get us on to a stable. She’ll be proud of the footage when she sees it. (Black Hills, South Dakota)
As I rolled across the Great Plains, I asked folks what they knew about the sea that once covered the middle of the United States. I filmed interviews with Lakota elders, paleontologists, a creationist and regular folks. Many of those stories I shared with readers here on RiverEarth.com.

But what I never showed you was the film footage. Yes, at long last, that footage is being turned in to a 4-part TV series. It’s called the Lost Sea Expedition .

Turning a voyage in to a TV series is a big project. Here’s how it goes if you’re a commercial TV production company with a decent budget. In the field, there’s a camera person, an audio guy,a grip, a producer and that’s just a bare bones crew. Back in the studio, to get that footage broadcast ready, you need a producer, audio person, the guy doing color correction and the list goes on. And on. And on. Ever seen how many names there are at the end of Ken Burns documentary?

Thing is, I didn’t have any of those. No film crew. No staff. Instead of a sponsor, I self-funded my trip by selling books from my wagon.

fbernie harberts mule polly lost sea expedition joe taylor
To help pay for my voyage across America, I sold books off my wagon. They were about an earlier voyage I’d taken across America, this one from Atlantic to Pacific. In addition, folks gave me “green handshakes” – aka – cash. (Hope, New Mexico)

Because I filmed the whole project myself, I was able to control the whole production. Remember, I lived, filmed and traveled alone in my wagon for over one year. And that let me gather up experiences you can only buy with time. It let me understand how the Lakota creation myth is linked to the Ogallala aquifer. How a prairie dog town sounds. What it’s like to catch Prairie Fever.

Yeah, I’m so excited with the end result, I figured you’d enjoy checking out the project’s final stages!

Sure look forward to telling you more about this project soon. ‘til then, leave a comment or drop me a line. Be great to hear from you!

(update August 16, 2016: the official Lost Sea Expedition site is up now. Come on by for a look)
(Map Note: map shows spot close to where last photo was taken)

Posted Monday January 4, 2016 by Bernie
Where this story happened:

Falkland Shearing
January 2, 2016
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I know. I told you I was sailing a wooden sailboat from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia. Somewhere along the way, I ended up going from my sea berth to chasing sheep.

I’m new to this sheep thing. Here are some photos. Hope this makes you appreciate that wool sweater you’re wearing!

Yes, I still plan to sail to South Georgia in early January.

falkland islands bernie harberts
Before you can shear sheep, you have to catch them. In the Falklands, it’s called “gathering”. In days past, it was done with horses and dogs. Today, it’s done with Land Rovers and motorbikes. Look at that photo. You’ll see a lot of land and very few sheep. The island we’re gathering on has 750 sheep on 3,000 acres. If you look closely at the hood of the Land Rover,you’ll see….
falkland islands bernie harberts
….caracaras. Known locally as Johnny Rooks, these birds of prey will pinch your hat as quickly as they’ll nab an injured penguin chick, a camera, clothes off the line, or, if you’re digging potatoes, spuds. Curious by nature, these two had an affinity for Land Rover windshield gaskets. It doesn’t take long to figure out why the island’s Land Rovers are missing their wiper blades.
falkland islands bernie harberts
The sheep are driven from the island paddocks down to the shearing shed. The shed sits just on the water, a few feet from this shipwreck. It is said to the second oldest shearing shed in the Falkland Islands.
falkland islands bernie harberts
The big wait: sheep are either terrified or waiting. Here, they’ve been put in pens to await their annual hair cut. The sheep in the far paddock are lighter colored because they’ve been shorn (or “shored” as some islanders say).
falkland islands bernie harberts
The sheep are moved from pen to pen via gates. Hinges don’t last long in this salty environment. Chains soon replace well intended latches.
falkland islands bernie harberts
The sheep are Pollworth crosses. I don’t know what a Pollworth is, but even with my beard starting to grow in….
falkland islands bernie harberts
….I still have a long way to go. I don’t think my wool will bring much.

Coming next, what goes on inside the shearing shed.

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Posted Saturday January 2, 2016 by Bernie
Where this story happened: