Ronald's Borrowed Vomit Saddle Bags
August 24, 2013
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Here’s a glimpse of what we saw our first four days on the road. Under way I made photos, notes and audio recordings. My route led me from Asheboro, North Carolina to Erect. From there, we headed west through Black Ankle, Flint Hill, Ophir and Low Water Bridge. The fourth day we arrived in Eldorado where I spent a day visiting with friends Melinda, Chris and Marion (and countless others) at the Eldorado Outpost.

It took me two days to prepare for my Uwharrie Ramble. Day One was spent teaching Polly to haul salt blocks without killing me (or the 100 pounds of mineral salt on her back). The square shape in the duffel bag is a 50 pound trace mineral salt block. Day Two Ronald and I clobbered together enough gear for a week on the road. Sunday night I got the bug. Tuesday noon I was gone.
The Uwharries are actually an ancient mountain range. A series of old, worn down hills, it is still home to small to medium scale row crop and feed lot operations. Here, a corn field on Flint Hill Road.
Wayne Hussey’s corn crib. Wayne still farms with mules south of Erect. He stores his corn in the slatted portion of the building. It is lined with galvanized wire to keep the rats out. It’s not worth a damn at keeping weevils at bay. The night I visited they were hatching in to moths. All night the bats ate them just over my head. There was gospel music coming from Wayne’s barn. His mules listen to it. I made an audio recording. Maybe one day I’ll share it with you.
Red barn and crab apples
Life before decals. A traveling man and his mule have time to inspect road signs signs. As in slow down enough to discover that this sign was painted by hand….
….with a narrow paint brush. Look closely and you can see where each stroke begins and ends. The hand is steady as a template. I wondered what person painted this sign. Alone on the road with my mules, I was feeling in need of companionship. So I figured it was woman’s handiwork. Where was she now? Where were her brushes? Was she lonely in this age of decal road signs? Or was it just me?
My home on the road. Nights, I sleep in a hammock. I hang it from whatever I can find. Here it’s suspended from a Massey Fergueson tractor and the posts of Ken’s corn crib. Ken lives in Abner.
For a pommel bag, I used a pair of blue jeans. Ronald paid 33 1/3 cents for them at a flea market. I made a recording of how that came to be. Maybe one day I’ll play the story for you. To make saddle bags, I Just tied knots in the legs and lashed them to the saddle. Filled them with canned kippers and two quart bottles of water. Most days, lunch on the road is fish and water. Or, in this case, some pears picked along the side of the road. If anyone needs a pair of American Outfitters jeans, get up with me after the trip. I think they’re a girl’s size. They come with a hell of story but no tinned fish or fruit.
Destination Unknown. Polly and Buddy ponder another sign. It’s unclear where our road trip takes us next – or even how long we’ll be out.

Hope you enjoyed your mule tour of the Uwharrie Range. From Eldorado, it’s unclear how I return of Asheboro. I’ll keep you posted.

(Thanks, Ronald, for loaning me the pack saddle, grain, poncho and mule. Not so sure about those duffel bags. Another shout out to Melinda, Chris and Marion at the Eldorado Outpost for putting my mules and me up. If you get crazy lucky, Chris might be barbecuing chicken out back. Go for it. Otherwise just consider yourself everyday lucky and go for the fried bird. It’s worth a four-day mule ride.)

Map note: The map shows Low Water Bridge in the Uwharrie Range.


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Posted Saturday August 24, 2013 by Bernie
Where this story happened:

You enjoyed 2mules together ! I feed my horses every morning but I can not find time to get on them ,because money is evil to me ,can make more cinammons than saddle up and go . I enjoy your trip with reading website. k .s

— keiko · Monday August 12, 2013 · #

Hi there Keiko. Thanks so much for sending the veggies. I wasn’t at dad’s when they arrived so now all that’s left for Polly and me are some carrots and a piece of cabbage. He says he couldn’t wait…. As per your hitting the road, I say you just load up your saddle bags with cinnamon rolls and hit the trail. Knowing you, you’ll soon be back in the bake sale business doing fine! Have a great day. Bernie

Bernie · Wednesday August 14, 2013 · #

Bernie, it may have been unpleasant, but now you are poised to dominate an industry.

Look who is #1 in a Google search of “vomit saddle bags”.

— Keith · Wednesday August 21, 2013 · #

I enjoy reading about you, Polly and Buddy. I like your planning…make up your mind and hit the road before you have time to change your mind!
About those American Outfitter Jeans (with or without the pears), if they are my size I’ll offer 10 cents for a pair. That’s triple what Ronald paid for them, and now they are a little more “used!”

Have a great time!

— judy · Saturday August 31, 2013 · #

Hey, My husband and I live in a small town in NC called Wallburg. It is in between High Point and Thomasville. If you ever venture out this way, please feel free to stop by. We would love to host you and your 4 legged babies.

— Elizabeth Denny · Saturday September 14, 2013 · #

Welive in mitchell countyvon pumpkin patch mountain. Mostly trees and boulders but wevwould love to host you in the Pisgah. Also have the wanderlust.

— Barbara · Thursday September 24, 2015 · #

Be great to visit you all in Pisgah. Don’t you worry about the trees and boulders. I’d show up with a gamey pack mule and have Polly haul the gear. I’d hang my hammock from a big tree and roll the boulders down the hill (and get my grandfather Fritz rolling in his grave as he always forbid us the joys of youthful rock-rolling….).
Hope all’s well on Pumpkin Patch Mountain.

Bernie Harberts · Wednesday September 30, 2015 · #

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