In Praise of Salamander Water Part Two: Keeping the Cistern on the Hill

Last week I told you how my wife Julia went to turn on the tap in the kitchen and we didn’t have water. I thought it might have been a salamander plugging up the works. It turned out our cistern was about to topple off the hill.

We get our water from a spring above our house. Here’s how it flows to the kitchen sink.
One of the salamanders in our cistern. Sometimes they stop up the plumbing and… Continue reading

On Becoming Harriet Bighorn

My wife Julia and I are thinking about our next trip. My way of getting ready for a trip is just leaving. Julia makes lists. One of the things on her list of things to do before heading out is, “Teach Pie and Magneto to pack and remain calm even when the pack saddle flips under their bellies or they see a bull elk or a mountain lion.”

Julia with my mule Brick, on the left, and her pony Magneto.… Continue reading

In Praise of Salamander Water: Part 1: The Dry Tap

“There’s no water in the kitchen sink,” my wife Julia told me recently and I knew it was one of two things. Our water comes from a spring behind our cabin. Either a salamander or a crayfish had gotten stuck in the plumbing or the cistern that gathered the spring water was empty.

A crayfish we found walking up the driveway one recent frosty morning. They sometimes get stuck in our water supply.
Julia in the kitchen the day we… Continue reading

Pony Sunday: How to Exercise Three Mules at Once

Recently, my wife Julia and I exercised our small herd of three mules and one pony all at once. I thought you might enjoy a few photos of how we did it.

Three for the price of one: here, I’m riding mule Brick and leading Polly (L) and Cracker (R). We’re coming around a turn so everyone’s a little all over the show

Usually, when you think of saddle riding, you think of a person sitting in the saddle riding… Continue reading

Happy New Year 2022

Happy 2022. Here are a few photos from ’21 that made me smile. I wish you all the best in the New Year.

Bernie

Mule Polly checking out the new bed I built for my brother Christian when he came to visit. It’s built of red cedar and two-by-fours. In case you haven’t seen it already, Polly was the mule that pulled my wagon 14 months across America for the Lost Sea Expedition documentary which you can stream here on… Continue reading

Smell the Laundromat: Two-month Roadtrip in a 1923 Model T

Their rig: the Ford hot rod that caught my eye (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California)

My wife Julia and I were driving around the campground looking for a place to park our tiny gypsy wagon trailer. We drove by a black hot rod Ford parked in a camp site, and I thought, “I’d like to meet those people.”

Our rig: our Subaru Crosstreck towing our home-built gypsy vardo wagon

How We Got Here

Julia and I were on a… Continue reading

When Land Burns and Rivers Run Dry: A Rafter’s Story

My wife Julia and I walked by a large green inflatable raft sitting on a trailer under a redwood tree. A man was sitting in the boat, stowing gear. He was tan and lean with a trim beard. “Is that your little wagon?” he asked and pointed to where our tiny gypsy camper was parked. We told him it was. “I love it,” he said. The man said his name was Mark.

Mark and his raft (Jedediah State Park, Oregon)… Continue reading

Fire, Drought, and Crash: Julia’s Letters From the West

“Tada!” Old growth forest to clearcut (outside (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park)

“Before we hit the deer in California we hit somebody’s carburetor in Idaho.” excerpt from one of Julia’s emails to friends

Julia and I are exploring the West in our small car and homemade gypsy trailer. We went west looking for the perfect place to start our next long-distance saddle journey. We knew the West was burning up, drying out, and running out of… Continue reading

Total Vehicular Destruction in Two Acts

Act One. The Blowout

It’s after dark, I’m driving, and the caffeine jitters are kicking in. My wife Julia and I are heading across the desert in our Subaru Crosstrek, towing our tiny red gypsy wagon. We’re outside Idaho Falls, pushing through the night to get to Hailey, 130 miles away.

Our rig: a 2015 Subaru Crosstrek towing a homemade vardo gypsy wagon I built on a $250 trailer I bought from Northern Tool. This is the same wagon my… Continue reading

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