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Stories from Bernie's current trip - a mule voyage from Canada to Mexico

Where's MuleCam?
May 28, 2006

MuleCam is visiting the Blue Bottle Garden in Oriental, NC this week.

Also, RiverEarth has released a two-minute clip of the “65 Days Alone at Sea” DVD (available in the RiverEarth General Store).

Here is a two minute sample.



Bernie

Posted Sunday May 28, 2006 by Bernie
MuleCam, Pork and a DVD signing - Oriental, NC
May 25, 2006

This week I’m visiting Oriental, NC ,where I began my circumnavigation aboard Sea Bird – and my mule trip across America.


Coast-to-coast mule trip departure – Oriental, NC, March 2004, Melinda Penkava photo

But no, this time I’m not here to go sailing, muleing or dragon hunting.

Nope, this time I’m here to attend Tennessee Ronnie’s annual block party barbecue.

I caught up with Ronnie this morning as he was inspecting the grill on his pig cooker.


Ronnie checking for burned-on grease

He quickly got me up to speed on preparations.

“You gotta start with a clean grill.” he said as he ran a finger across the grill bars. “That’s real important. I learned that at a place called Chuck’s Smokehouse where I worked in high school. Once a week, we cooked a hundred shoulders. But Chuck was real particular about cleaning the grill every time before we used it. He’d say “You don’t want to taste every pig you cooked before the one you’re about to eat, do you?”“.

As always, he’s going to cook up a few chickens because, as Ronnie notes, “Not everyone’s a pork eater.”

As with all his past cookouts, there’s no charge to eat. Maybe that’s why up to 300 people have descended on his cooking in the past. The catch? Just remember to be neighorly and bring a side dish.


Town dogs Ceilidh (pronounced “Kaylee”) and Jack waiting for a waft of barbecue


You’re all invited to come on down. For those of you with a dead-ringer-beats-em-everytime corn bread recipe – cook up a pan and enter it in Ronnie’s corn bread contest. Three judges will sample the premliminary rounds and Ronnie will pick the winner who will be crowned the 2006 Corn Bread Idol. Tips for winning? “Impress me. Be creative.” Ronnie counsels – then adds – “I’m open to bribes, too.”

It got me to thinking. Not everyone can come to Oriental and spend a day watching Ronnie cook. Why not rig it up so anyone out there could just drop in from time to time for a look. Why not – broadcast the event on the MuleCam!

So yes, all day Friday and Saturday, you can drop by the MuleCam to see how Ronnie’s doing.


Ronnie tweaking the MuleCam housing

On Saturday, May 27, from noon to 4 pm, I’ll be down at the Bean coffee shop signing copies of my “65 Days Alone at Sea” DVD. If you can’t be there, you can still drop by the MuleCam. Chances are by the time Ronnie pulls that pig out of his cooker, you’ll be in your car headed Oriental-way.

Remember, dinner starts at 5:30 pm and the Corn Bread Idol get to be first in line.

Bernie
RiverEarth.com

For more on Oriental, visit towndock.net.

Bernie
RiverEarth.com

Posted Thursday May 25, 2006 by Bernie
Your Basic Busted Wheel Moment - Southern Pines, NC
May 19, 2006

Now before you say “Awww man!” like I do when Woody sticks his leg through Maggie’s cart and busts the wheels, remember this – mule and boat travel is fraught with delay.


Your basic “Awwwwww man!” moment – Fairbank, AZ

When you count on wind and hooves for locomotion, as I often do, travel times get skewed. A few years ago, old man Neptune took a bashing to my boat and I spent a year and half in New Zealand catching wild cows and building a new mast. A few years later, mule Woody kicked me in the guts and I spent a few days sipping ice tea through a straw and slathering myself in emu oil to draw out the pain.

So, having softened you up with those plans-gone-bung, I can deliver the news.

The “Lost Sea” expedition has been delayed by a few months.

Like the gale that has you hove to for a few days staring at your vessel’s tongue and groove ceiling, or the mule kick that has you studying the patttern on your rescuer’s couch, an unexpected delay has me looking closer at the details of my daily life.

So what happened?

Well, when I hit sixty miles per week on the road with Jack and Bill, it dawned on me that what I needed was a faster, younger team. A team that, while not crazy-headed, had more step-out-and-go in them.

Why?

Jack and Bill were simply too quiet. Experience has taught me that when you show up in the wind-swept plains of our great nation, you better have a mule team that you have to hold back, not urge on. The distances are great, the fodder’s thin and you better get from one feed source to the next in short order.


A place to keep moving – High Lonesome, Nutt, NM

So I made the gut-busting decision to delay my trip until I found a new team.

Jack and Bill have found a new home. And by the look of things (check out the latest MuleCam shots – even though I sold them, I drove them just last week), they’re doing great.

But finding a new team is harder than finding, for example, a new car. Shoulders have to be toughened up. Muscles have to be conditioned. Voices have to be learned.

So, to allow enough to train up a proper team, I’ve decided to postpone the departure of the “Lost Sea” expedition until January or February of the coming year.

The good news is this.

Now there’ll be time to focus on finishing my books “Too Proud to Ride a Cow” and “Woody and Maggie Walk Across America”. There are talks to give, Woody and Maggie to ride.

And most important, friends to visit.

So, if you’re in the Southern Pines area, drop by. It’s the house with the big yellow wagon in front of it. And hopefully, petty soon, a team of eager mules.

Bernie
RiverEarth.com

Posted Friday May 19, 2006 by Bernie


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