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

UNC-TV to Feature "Too Proud to Ride a Cow" Book
July 31, 2008


“Too Proud to Ride a Cow”
By Mule Across America

Often, the story behind a book’s creation is as interesting as the final creation. Join UNC-TV host DG Martin and Bernie for a televised discussion of the Bernie’s Atlantic to Pacific mule voyage – and how the “Too Proud to Ride a Cow” book came into being.


Rick Pariseau: Rat Rancher
Lexington, Oklahoma

While bunking with rat ranchers and a lady wood poacher was adventurous, writing about it in “Too Proud” was even more challenging. That’s where the wool sweater, straight-back chair and sailor’s knot came in…

Curious?

Then tune into UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch” for the full story. Here are the dates and times:

Friday, Aug 29 9:30 PM
Sunday, Aug 31 5:00 PM

To read previews or order a copy of “Too Proud to Ride a Cow”, click her to go to the RiverEarth General Store.

To learn more about UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch”, click here.

Posted Thursday July 31, 2008 by Bernie
Double Headed
July 27, 2008

Traveling across the Great Plains in my mule wagon, lots of folks have showed me their collections. Folks like Ted Fladeland up in Saskatchewan, Canada.


Ted Fladeland

Ted shared his mysterious collection of arrow-pierced bottles and drinking glasses. Click here for that story…

Here in the mule wagon, though, I don’t have room to collect stuff. Still, like most travelers, I have this urge to collect oddities. My speciality?

Double-headed farm animals – or rather, photos of them.

Right. It’s an odd interest. Back home in North Carolina, folks like mule Polly’s old owner, my buddy Ronald Hudson, would call it “kwur”, or “queer” if you spelled out the Southern dialect.

But I’m not alone. Seems there are others on these Great Plains that collect more than just photos of double-headed critters. Yep, they collect the heads themselves.

So far the tally of double-headed critters I’ve found between Neptune, Saskatchewan, where I began my voyage, and Hill City, South Dakota, where I’m holed up as of this writing, is:
Calves: 3
Sheep: 1
Humans: 0 (but I’m still looking)

Here, in case you’d like to see them, is my collection. I’ve also noted where you can find the heads in real, or rather stuffed, life.


Double-headed calf #1
Carter County Museum
Ekalaka, Montana
Click here for more about Ekalaka


Double-headed calf #2
Stoneville Saloon
Alzada, Montana

The Stoneville Saloon prides itself as the home of “Cheap Drinks and Lousy Food”. And, a four-eyed calf’s head…


Double-headed calf #3
Rogues Gallery art gallery
Hullet, Wyoming


Double-ewe
Carter County Museum
Ekalaka, Montana
Click here for more about Ekalaka

Okay, I was kidding about looking for a double-headed human. Still, if you know of a two-headed mule out here, contact mule Polly and me…!

Posted Sunday July 27, 2008 by Bernie
Dakota in Black and White
July 21, 2008

The focus of my Canada to Mexico mule wagon journey is the Lost Sea, or Western Interior Seaway as geologists call it. That’s the ancient sea that covered the Great Plains 75 million years ago. Along the way, I interview, photograph and film farmers, ranchers, Native Americans, churches and just plain whoever will talk to me about the great inland sea that submerged the North American continent.

For the most part, I shoot in color. Still, deep inside my mule traveling heart, some photos feel better in black and white. Here’s a selection from the Black Hills of South Dakota.


Jawbone
Rochford, SD


Tractor
Pringle, SD


Tipi Poles
Outside Hill City, SD

Posted Monday July 21, 2008 by Bernie
Signs of the Lost Sea
July 14, 2008

You’ve got your sea signs and you’ve got your Lost Sea signs.


Cat’s paw
500 miles off Africa

A few years ago, while sailing alone around the world on my sailboat Sea Bird, I was surrounded by sea signs. A cat’s paw heading my way on a calm day heralded a puff of wind’s arrival. In reefy anchorages, light-colored water signaled shallow water. (For film footage of this and other sailing footage, check out the “65 Days at Sea” DVD preview.)


Sea Bird anchored in shallow water (light blue) off the beach
St Thomas, USVI

Out here traveling across the Lost Sea in my mule wagon though, the signs are more direct. The following are a few of my favorites.


Outside Hulett, Wyoming

No Sir, wasn’t even thinking about it…


Hulett, Wyoming

Funny how runaways love company. I ran across this sign in Hulett, Wyoming a few days after Polly ran away……


Beach, North Dakota

I used to worry about my Carbon footprint. Now it’s the Carbohydrate footprint that I have to reduce


Between Hill City and Rapid City, South Dakota

Mule owners have always suspected there was something funny about the space between those ears. Now they now what it’s called – and just how close it is.


South of Caputa, SD

Mr.Space Man, don’t even think of parking in this pasture….

Enjoy the signs around you.

Posted Monday July 14, 2008 by Bernie
Not Your Pet Store Turtle
July 10, 2008

Talk South Dakota wildlife and you’re talking pheasant, deer, buffalo, prairie dogs and mule Polly. But that’s today.

But how about what back when, like 75 million years ago? Well way back then (paleontologists call it the Late Cretaceous Era), South Dakota was under water – flooded by a sea that stretched 1000 miles from the foot of the present day Rockies east almost to the Appalachians.

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Posted Thursday July 10, 2008 by Bernie
Rodeo Legend Twila Merrill Explains: Ain't a Cowgirl That Can't be Throwed
July 7, 2008


Scenic, South Dakota

In Scenic, South Dakota, they call it bare bronc riding. The concept is simple. You climb onto a bronc, hang on tight and try to last eight seconds as the critter does its best to buck your brains out. Traditionally, it’s been the domain of brute strength and men.

Then, in the early 1950s, Twila Merrill came along.

Recently, while traveling through the South Dakota Badlands with mule Polly and the Lost Sea Expedition wagon, I stopped in Scenic for a few days to visit with Twila. Because the focus of my Lost Sea Expedition is to learn more about the great inland sea that once covered the Great Plains, I was curious to hear about the turtle fossils Twila had collected over the years. I quickly found dead turtles paled by comparison to her bare bronc days.


Twila Merrill with turtle fossil
Scenic, South Dakota

To hear what she had to say on the subject, click on the audio player below.


Thanks, Twila, for serving mule Polly three squares a day during our visit to Scenic.

Posted Monday July 7, 2008 by Bernie


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