This wasn’t the way I planned to end my voyage across Newfoundland by mule and wagon. Saturday afternoon, October 6 2012, a four-door vehicle drove head-on into the back of my wagon. There were no skid marks or signs of collision avoidance at the scene. The impact was strong enough to separate the wagon in two. Mule Polly, the driver of the vehicle and I are okay.
The collision occurred in Lethbridge. The community was the final destination of my 4-month, 1000 km voyage across Newfoundland by mule and wagon. The accident took place about 5 km from where a group of friends was assembled to welcome Polly and me at their home.
Polly and I were travelling south bound. The sun was low. The driver that struck the wagon said the sun was in his eyes. There were no skid marks or other signs of collision avoidance evident at the scene. The impact deployed both the vehicle’s air bags and ruptured the radiator. The car was removed from the scene by tow truck.
The bright red wagon Polly and I were traveling in was marked with three high visibility safety flags. It displayed the slow moving vehicle as required by law.
Following the accident, mule Polly and my wagon were trailered to Jesse and Louise Peddle’s home in Lethbridge. Polly is sore but expected to be okay. In addition to harness breakage, the wagon suffered multiple broken welds, bent framework, body and roof damage.
Today, October 7, is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Now I have something to be really thankful about. It could have been much worse. A few hours before my wagon was struck, a local teenager lost his life in a vehicular accident. By comparison, we have emerged unscathed.
I would like to thank the citizens of Lethbridge and Newfoundland for their concern and assistance. Thanks as well to everyone who brought Polly treats after her close call.
October 9 update: Polly and I are currently dealing with wagon repairs and preparing for our return to North Carolina.
(Map note: the map shows the general area of Lethbridge, not the site of the accident.)
Where this story happened:
Heart-stopping image. Glad you put at the top of the post that you & Polly are ok. Wishing you safe & easy return home
— kt · Sunday October 7, 2012 · #
Just looking at your site this morning to get your email address. Wow, we are glad you all are OK, Thank God, it could have been so much worse. Give Polly a big hug.
— Jesse and Cyndie · Sunday October 7, 2012 · #
Dang – well Happy Thanksgiving Bernie. I’m relieved to learn you and Polly are fine. That is an amazing photo – it looks like man and beast were fortunate to escape harm.
Salut to the north…
— Keith · Sunday October 7, 2012 · #
Thanks Giving indeed! Your friends at Two Whales (Port Rexton) are relieved you all emerged uninjured from the accident – that low sun is quite the thing when you are driving. What a shock.
Wishing you both a safe return home and we look forward to seeing you again some day.
— sue · Sunday October 7, 2012 · #
You and Polly are indeed lucky that this is the Year of the Happy Dragon!!! Please let us know when you return to Oriental, NC. We look forward to seeing you again and hearing of your amazing travels and good luck!!!
Bernie I am so sorry about the accident. It just scared the pujeebers out of me when I popped up you site and saw the photo. I know not only Polly is sore, but imagine you are also. As I live in North Carolina and have given a hand to Bob Skelding, if you think I could help you in anyway feel free to ask. My ph# 828-635-5510.
— Larry Riddle · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
My cigarettes haven't tasted the same lately, but this end to your current adventure is not what we’ve been looking for, except it’s good news you and Polly are OK. Have a safe trip home and back to Oriental. Grace
— Grace B. Evans · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
Happy to hear that you two will be able to carry on with your travels. Let me know if I can help.
— Mike Anderson · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
Hello Bernie (and Polly too of course!!)….I was driving to Clarenville on Saturday, and passed by you on the Bonavista Highway… you were stopped at the Cabot Highway Campground, with many admirers… it was wonderful to see the 2 of you again, and that beside the incident on that very day, that all went wonderfully. Don and I enjoyed having you for a visit when you were in King’s Cove, and I hope that you enjoyed the Jam and Beets during the rest of your travels. Hope you have safe travels home….give Polly a scatch behind the ears….. Good Luck, and Good Grace!!
— Lesley Byrne · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
Howdy everyone. Bernie with mule Polly here in Newfoundland. Just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts and offers of assistance. Polly and I are preparing for our journey – truck and trailer style – back to ‘Carolina.
To all my new friends in Newfoundland, a hearty tip o’ the salt and pepper cap. Look forward to seeing y’all again in the land of jiggers, kitchen parties, pickled beets and partridge berry jam. Sue, the Whale bagel may have been the extra bit of padding that saved me from concussion.
To everyone south of the Rock…
Larry, I’m taking you up on that cup of coffee in T-town this fall. Mike, I’m glad I don’t have to ask you for another tiny home. And to everyone in Oriental, look forward to seeing you the water or Water Street. Cheers! Bernie – Polly – Lethbridge, Newfoundland
I am very sorry your trip has ended in such a terrible way, but I hope that you will return to our province and finish your trip! You two are like celebrities here!!
Everyone is so relieved to hear that you and Polly are alright after the accident and we all wish you a speedy recovery! And I can speak for everyone here in NL in saying that I do hope the person responsible will be dealt with accordingly, and that your equipment gets replaced.
If you are ever in the Gander Bay area and need anything please drop us a line.
God Bless you both, Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to you and darling Polly.
— Bobbie · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
So glad you both escaped more serious injury.
— Candace Young · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
Bernie we were shocked to read of the mishap but oh so relieved to know you both are okay after that frightening incident.
My father, Henry, says that Polly is one fine mule. He continually talks of the days you visited him in Trinity and especially when Polly stood proudly side by side with the Leah Caroline.
He truly enjoyed your visit and we both wish you well in your continued adventures.
By the way, how did your LP hold up in that collision? Hope it was well protected.
Your visit was a definite highlight for young and old alike.
— Josephine Vokey Johnson · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
Bernie – WOW – what an adventure you are having in Newfoundland. Not like you would like it to be. Glad both you and Polly excaped serious injury. Will be glad when you can visit us all here in Oriental — Travel safe:)
— Jane Wright · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
Bernie……I was so sorry to hear this, but relieved that you and Polly are okay. You are always in our prayers.
— Jane and Sparky · Monday October 8, 2012 · #
We just heard about the accident and are happy to hear you and Polly are not seriously injured. Your vist was one of the highlights of our visit to NL this past summer. Best regards and hope to see you on “the Rock” again in the near future.
— Ron Barker · Tuesday October 9, 2012 · #
Ahoy Bernie….Whether in Newfy or Mississippi, ‘ you can’t fix stupid ‘ concerning a few mindless drivers. Thank goodness You & Polly walk away with only bruises & near the finish line. Fair thee well friend !!
Don Skelding…..Bob’s Dad
— Don Skelding · Tuesday October 9, 2012 · #
I’m sure you are taking good care of Polly and yourself…so sorry for the upset. It sounds pretty awful and jolting for both of you. Be well and reflect on what must have been another lovely journey.
— Bama Lutes Deal · Wednesday October 10, 2012 · #
I heard about your terrible accident, but never dreamed it was to this extent!! I was shocked to see the above photos but ever so relieved that you and Polly both came out okay…it could, as you said, have been much worse!
I too hope that you return to our beautiful Newfoundland some day…it was a pleasure meeting you and mule Polly. You both have a place in my heart.
Take care and on your next journey, try to stay off the road in low sunlight….wouldn`t want a repeat!
Safe travels Bernie…..and keep writing..your book is great!!
— E. Denise Mouland · Saturday October 13, 2012 · #
Oh my Bernie and Polly, I just heard about your accident. I hope you guys are doing fine, the next time your in my area please feel free to drop in. I will keep checking to see when you make it back home. All the best
— Ruby Denney · Saturday October 13, 2012 · #
So enjoyed talking with you a few months back and glad you and Polly didn’t get too badly banged up in this end of your adventure — you went out with a bang, not a whimper — tse wasn’t always right. I took your advice and bought a local music CD and Simani kept me company on my way to Hermitage, Galtois, and McCallum. My blog is on hold — a little technically challenging at a time when I have little patience or time to deal with it. I am retiring at the end of the school year and so hope to return to Newfoundland next summer with more time and perhaps a little more technical expertise if I dare use that word in context with a reference to myself. Have a safe journey back to North Carolina. You and Polly were certainly one of the highlights of my time in Newfoundland. You’ve provided a great vicarious journey for more than you will ever know. Cheers. SVN
hi,everyone is wondering where you are.i hope you and polly are safe from the storm.hope to hear from you soon.take care.
— kelly peddle · Monday October 29, 2012 · #
My family and I were also sad to hear about your accident shortly after you left Charleston. We’re glad to hear that you and Polly were not seriously injured.
I hope you liked the mushrooms that I gave you! :D I’ve picked many more since, about 50 pounds in total!
It was very nice to meet you and share some stories.
— Neal Tremblett · Friday November 2, 2012 · #
Just wondering how you and polly are doing.been watching for you on highway after you were sopose to leave lethbridge.hope all is will. Nick and Shannon enjoyed the ride at Terry’s.
Take care JIM
— Jim Oldford · Saturday November 3, 2012 · #
Glad to know you made it back home ok. Sorry I missed you when you came back through Port Blandford. All of your friends here says hello and was glad to know you and Polly were not seriously hurt in the accident and we all look forward to seeing you again.
— Roland Keats · Wednesday November 7, 2012 · #
Dang, Bernie! That low sun has caused many an unfortunate mishap. I’m glad you and Polly are ok. See you soon.
— Andy · Monday November 12, 2012 · #
I am glad you and Polly arrived home safely. Your stories from the road are terrific. Hope you and the equines and familes have a terrific Thanksgiving.
— Linda Solomon · Thursday November 22, 2012 · #
Im very impressed you did such a huge journey. I am about to start building a gypsy wagon in New Zealand. I was wondering if you had any tips for keeping it light enough for one horse to pull?
— kathy Davis · Sunday May 5, 2013 · #
Howdy down there in Kiwi Land. I spent 1 1/2 years in Whangarei fixing my boat to sail back to the US. The whole time I was chipping rust in the bilge, I day dreamed about traveling the island with a horse. One day…
You asked about light wagon travel. I used a Pioneer one-ton chassis for my first one-horse/mule wagon. Don’t think you’ll find one there. Still, if I were to tackle the project today, I’d be real tempted to build a two-wheeled cart. Like the forecart I used on my Newfie voyage. Then, if I found I needed it, just build a small, lightweight covered trailer to pull behind that. It’d be a miniature version of the rig I used for last year’s voyage across The Rock.
Good on ‘ya for trying to do it with one horse. Too often we build big, heavy wagons – just so we can haul around our insecurities and comforts. I’ve done it myself. Dig through the RiverEarth.com archives and check out the wagon I gave to Bob Skelding….
Keep in touch. Maybe one of us will finally get to travel New Zealand in the fashion I’d dreamed all those years ago in the bilge.
Great to have you visit the Co-op today. Love your site, thanks for sharing your journey with us. Jane and Terry Hielman
only learned this news recently, I am very glad that you and Polly are ok after this ordeal.
Take care, Paul & Sandra Dolk