“So in all you’ve seen” Hoy asked with a grin that was amplified by the hand hooked into his blue overalls, “have you ever seen a steer climb a set of stairs?”
“Nope.” I had to admit.
But if ever a man could castrate a bull and then convince him to scale a flight of steps, Hoy was the man. That was why I was here to see him. Hoy, I hoped, would shed some light on just how I… Continue reading
Somehow, in my new-found enthusiasm for welding, sand blasting and paint, I overlooked one small detail of my pending expedition; my mules Jack and Bill.
After all, hadn’t I bought them early in the planning stages of the trip so I could get them in shape? But now they mostly just kept their round bale company.
Woody and Maggie escaped my inattention. I still managed to ride them weekly. But the thought of riding plow mules raised the hollow enthusiasm… Continue reading
Despite what it says on a pack of 60 grit sandpaper, steel needs sand blasting. That’s really the only way to remove the mill scale, the protective coating the steel mills apply to raw steel to keep it from rusting while the metal is handled. Leave the mill scale on and just paint over it and your new paint job won’t adhere for very long.
I rolled my frame to Ken’s White and in two hours his assistant Sammy Parrish… Continue reading
Woody taught me everything I needed to know about wagon design. Strength comes first followed closely by light weight.
Woody strength testing the Forest Service bulldozer he’s tied to. (Forest Service Station, Catherine Lake, NC, May 2004)
Occasionally, when he was tied up and couldn’t get to Maggie, he leaned into his halter with enough force to break the lead rope.
With Jack and Bill I thought it was different. After all, they were older than Woody and came from… Continue reading
I decided my wagon should have a light steel frame covered in thin plywood. After all, what other material could survive a captain who’d steered past charges onto shipwrecks?
Beaching…a common theme in my travels (Sea Bird cast up on the beach outside Darwin, Australia. Yet again…)
A ship wreck that Sea Bird actually missed. It was too far up the beach. (Yes, that’s Sea Bird resting on the beach.)
While it’s often true that past performance does not guarantee… Continue reading
Thanks everybody for your help. The title suggestions are rolling in! Here they come…in no particular order. Keep sendin’ em and I’ll keep posting em.
10 Legged Journey: Woody, Maggie and Me.
Many Hearts for Ten Legs
The Mule That Walked to the Center of the World
10 Legs, Will Travel
Are we There Yet?
From Atlantic to Pacific with Oats for Fuel
Half-assed Journey Across America
Long Miles with Long Ears
Bullet Holes & Bumblebees: A Story of… Continue reading
It occurred to me after I razed my wagon that I hadn’t have a clue about how to build a new one.
Then I remembered Vernon Laman.
Vernon and Smoky in their home made wagon (Artesia, New Mexico)
I met Vernon in Artesia, New Mexico. He was in his eighties, had driven trucks for a living, and after he retired, he built a wagon out of a twenty dollar VW carcass. He joined us for a day on the road,… Continue reading
I’m just wrapping up my book about Woody and Maggie’s ride across American and I’ve run up against a very embarrassing problem.
I can’t think of a dern title.
This is where I need your help!
Got any good notions for a snappy title?
The book covers my journey across America by mule and pony. It’s about all the good people we met along the way like the meth queen that put us up and in the morning I discovered… Continue reading
It started innocently enough as it usually does. It was a fine day, a bit rainy, and I decided that I should introduce Woody, Maggie, Jack and Bill to my new wagon.
The (soon to be) last supper (Southern Pines, NC)
I scattered some buckets out, doled feed into each and my mounts dug in. In the idle moments I looked closer at my wagon.
“Funny” I thought to myself, “that corner looks wet.” When I stepped closer it was… Continue reading
Growing up, one of my favorite pictures in my parent’s house was a photo of a man cultivating tobacco behind his mule.
(One of) the photos that got me thinking run-away thoughts as a kid (Photo by Jack Jeffers 12/4/74)
That old man was slim as a tobacco stake and the great old mule he walked behind had a notch missing from his ear. The man’s cultivator was one of those old wooden ones that relied on river rocks to… Continue reading