Traveling at the Speed of Rice

This week mule Polly and I travel through the Uwharrie Mountains at the speed of rice. That’s right. My faithful travel partner (we’ve traveled together from Canada to Mexico and hauled Special Forces troops under tarps, but that’s another story…) hit the road armed with little more than a wood wagon and a bag of long grain.

Polly: mule, friend, rice hauler

Yep, rice.

Rice. The darker colored rice in the background has been roasted in olive oil. Makes it so you can eat it without cooking (old Japanese voyager’s trick I learned in Tasmania). The rice in the spoon is lighter-colored because it hasn’t been prepared in any way. This is the kind of rice I’ll be traveling with.

You see, with fall falling, it’s time to turn off the computer and cell phone and step out into, well, autumn. I mean really. Cold weather and long nights are on the way. We’ll be web surfing tropical getaways and cut rate tickets soon enough, right? Better to make our getaway now, armed with – instead of social media commitments – rice.

You see, if a fellow hits the road with his trusty mule and a few pounds of rice, his hunger will soon lead him to gardens. Gardens filled with late tomatoes and early greens. And here, among the ordered rows ending in now-fading seed packets, are the kind of folks that I enjoy visiting. People who know it’s more important to capture a falling yellow walnut leaf on the brain’s soft drive instead of your camera’s hard drive. Folks that have more ways of putting away green tomatoes than you have virtual friends.

Uwharrie farm plot

And I want you to join me.

That’s right. For the next week or so, we’ll be traveling the central Carolina back roads – you, me and mule Polly. Our transport? An 80-plus year old field wagon. Our goal. Just to see what sort of produce we can rustle up to complement that bag of rice we’re carrying.

So, ready to hit the trail? Good. Climb in. Hold Fast. Let’s go. And if you want to catch me on the real road, you might find Polly and me at the Eldorado Outpost sometime this weekend. Look for us parked behind the cricket cage.

Now turn off your computer and go do some autumn rambling of your own.

Shhhh…. Polly doesn’t have internet. She doesn’t know we’re hitting the road yet. I’ll get her up as soon as she’s finished her snooze. Something about letting a sleeping mule lie….

The country we’re going to visit (outside Lovejoy, NC)

(The map below shows you where Lovejoy, and the Uwharries, are located. Look closely, and you’ll find Eldorado.)

Kaye Parsons
2011-10-17 16:54:36


How did I miss you??? Dan and I went on an overnight trip on the motorcycle (spent Saturday night at my sister Dew’s house in Hickory)trip and returned home late on Sunday. My daughter, Sydney, passed you this morning on the south side of the bridge! I left home this morning at 5:15, and I did NOT see you! I AM not a morning person and am probably not very observant. I have a Statistics (ugh) exam tomorrow after noon, sooooo maybe we can hunt you up? I’d love to visit with you, what say??


Deborah Slagle
2011-10-20 01:53:46

Hi Bernie and Polly!

I hope you make it to the Outpost by Sat morning- I think we may ‘ramble’ our way down there from Morrisville to see you! (I may call ahead and ask them if you are there first- as it’s a 2-hr drive each way for us) Loved following you through Tazmania thanks to Bob Skelding(and his Boys) blog! Maybe you will share your rice secret with me? = ]
Stay dry and warm!


2011-10-23 09:14:17

Hi Kaye, Dan and Deborah,

Sorry I missed you all out there in the Uwharries. Polly and I must’ve had the “Mule Wagon Invisiblity Shield” turned on.

Seriously, we stuck to the roads back of beyond. Made the run from Immer to Pumpkin Center, NC almost detection free. I guess most folks were inside glued to their internet instead of out picking persimmons, late tomatoes and early collards. Still, more rambles are planned so hopefully we’ll catch up.

Deborah, you asked about the secret rice recipe. Here are the parts: bag of rice, cast iron skillet, camp fire. Mule and whiskey optional.

Actually, you’re just parching the rice kernels in the skillet until they pop like faulty popcorn. Yes, a more detailed recipe to be unveiled the next time Polly and I find ourselves around a fire with Mahatma (the rice, not the guru).

Cheers from mule wagon! Bernie

2011-12-25 09:14:11

Hi Bernie,
Fantastic, I’m looking around for christmas what the people I met on my travels are dooing. What a fantastic Idea, but it is a bit far away from Switzerland. Wish you nice Christmas and a Happy new Year… All the best with all your ideas.

Jan vo Bärn, the one you met in the north of Tasmanie last January!

Roger Haldenby
2011-12-29 08:57:02

Check your email for a mutual “catch up”. I’ve moved to Vietnam. Hope to hear from you. Happy New Year! Chuc Mung Nam Moi!!


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