Jun 21, 2009

well for just about fifty years hoke county has had a wagon train ,so this year we just trailered over because the heat was just to much for a all day ride.i had chose my stagecoach for this event.people ask whats it like to ride on a stagecoach well just hop on for a ride. we pulled out headed for down town loaded with kids and the first question one asked was do stagecoachs have flat tires ,i said of coarse not. but about five miles down the road i learned they do.we were just walking along and the front right wheel had come loose and the axle hit the pavement mules groung to a stop .what would we do asked the kids ,well i said we will just like they did years ago fix with what we can find. so with some help we picked up the front and slid the wheel back on,and we could see how it came off .the stage coach had been in a dry building for a while and the steel inside had got loose ,so the best way to fix this is put the wheels in the creek ,but we didnt have time for that.we then asked around anybody got nails ,i heard yea from the back i have some horse shoe nails ,so after puting the wheel back on i drove the nails between the wood and steel to tighten it up (worked great)so off we go .this would be a short ride because the day would just be to hot .as i travled along i told the kids in the old days we would have set up camp ,found a creek and put the wheels in . as we came back in i began to think about what i had read about early travel it had to be just plain tough. some times it gets a little boring so when something does happen it gives you something to talk about and surly a lot of questions from kids such as did they have to go to school if the wagon broke down . why yea i replied they just went late just like you when the bus breaks down.

Jun 15, 2009

dupont forest

pulling logs at dupont

the carolina mule club had a volunteer work day at dupont forest (north carolina state forest) and a ride on the next day. on our work day we pulled locast logs down the mountain to make fence post ,the next day we set out on our ride on the place called land of a thousand water falls some of the most beautiful places in north carolina .dupont forest is located in the blue ridge mountains just south of asheville north carolina what a great place to drive over 90 miles of trails ,most fit for driving with spectacular views .this had to be one of the best places i have been with my trail wagon . shortly after we pulled out i could see how this got its nick name ,just amazing water falls .a camera just dosent do this place justice if you have the chance visit this place .it is open to the public for hiking ,horses and some of the best views of nature in north carolina we had a blast

Jun 14, 2009

well of to uwarrie by wagon ,we hooked our mules at my wagon buddys house(ronald tash hudson)and headed into asheboro first stop golden corral for lunch .after lunch we headed down to happy hollow where we met mr. king ,he had a great place for us to camp by the lake .the next day our friend bernie (river earth.com)had come to ride with us so off toward uwarrie with mr. kings team of pony mules along with us .as we were riding along bernie asked can you get on top of this wagon ,i said i dont see why not boy did we get some strange looks with bernie on thr roof while going down the road but it made some good pictures.we had found a place to camp at abner just a cross road .while being camped there we met one of the most amazing wemon i have ever met ,she said my name is miss iva and this is my farm .we found ourself talking to her for hours .she said i am 93 years old and i have lived here all my life ,it was such a joy to talk to her about old times .after leaving her house the road became steeper as we headed up to a road named low water bridge .i would soon find out why the name as we rounded a curve on a steep hill there it was a narow bridge with no guard rail well no turning back with little room to spare three mule abrest we went across .we then came to a place called coggins gold mine just as in the movies thre it was a goast town .the old hotel stood on a hill all boarded up across the road the store and black smith shop stood it looked like no one had been there in years .after sitting on the old hotel steps for a break we headed out for 4b farm in uwarrie. mr. king and bernie had to leave so tash and i headed out a differant way down a road named king mountain i dont think there was a flat place on it .we made our way out to pisgah covered bridge and camped for the night .only one day left as we headed out down to asheboro to the pancake house for dinner then off to the end of the drive (that just happens to be the name of ronalds farm)

Jun 10, 2009

Driving in the rain! This was a ride we did from Cedar Falls, N.C. (just south of Greensboro)to my house just east of Raeford, N.C. -Kenny

A Day at the Beach.....Muleskinner Style

As seen in Rural Heritage Magazine - Spring 2009
By: Shannon Hoffman as told to her by Kenny Tyndall

For miles and miles all you hear is the clip-clop, clip-clop of mule’s hooves on pavement. The rump, rump of wooden wagon wheels turning at a steady pace. The men driving these wagons are modern day muleskinners. Are they old souls from another era or men who have figured out, that the simple things in life are still real and true?

Ronald “Tash” Hudson and his co-pilot Billy Stevenson from Asheboro, NC drive a wooden wheeled wagon, original from the early 1900’s. Kenny Tyndall of Raeford and his co-pilot Danny Tart from Dunn, NC drive an interesting but very functional, home made wagon. Bright yellow with green trim, rubber tires and a few running lights complete the look. He has some luxuries that others don’t, roll down clear plastic, like the kind on a golf cart, he can keep going even in the rain and stay warm and dry! The wagon also sports a fold out bed in the back and tons of shelves and storage compartments. Don’t tell the mules, but he also carries a small TV, radio and a Laptop so that he can check his business’s email! This trip, being just after Halloween, there is a human skeleton decoration hanging from the back of the wagon! I am sure this makes motorists look twice, never mind the mules!

All important mule power is provided by, Mary and Jane, owned by Kenny, the 6 year old sisters are a nearly perfectly matched team of Molly’s except one is a touch darker black than the other. Ronald’s mules are Alice and Tippy, solid built, good looking Belgian mules that have won several World Championships at Bishop Mule Days. They are in their late teens now but still have so much heart that Ronald usually travels in front.

This is not their first adventure; this crew has been many miles on North Carolina’s roads. Ronald with a team of black pony mules, traveled many times from Asheboro to Benson for Mule Days. Only to rest the mules a few days and then compete in the wagon races and the parade that weekend. In September 2008, the group made the trip from Asheboro to Benson Mule Days again, taking 4 days and 85 miles. This time they attracted the attention of a Raleigh TV news crew!

This trip however had a very special goal in mind. Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Why you ask? The goal is to drive the mules across the last free-floating drawbridge on the east coast. The center part of the bridge floats up and down with the tide. Cars can cross any time, but at low tide they have been known to get stuck in the middle when the angle was to steep for cars to climb the other side of the bridge. When a boat needs to pass the bridge is released at one side and floats out of place, once the boat is clear it is pulled back. This was the most popular type of drawbridge but the need for it to be manned and the larger amounts of boat and car traffic the drawbridges have been replaced with large span bridges at other beaches. Cars can travel night and day and the spans are tall enough for most any boat in the sound to pass under.

So how would the mules handle crossing the bridge, well the muleskinners have a few days to worry about that!

November 6th – Ronald trailered his mules to Kenny’s house in Raeford to leave from there. Kenny started the day off by having to run one of the mules for half an hour, because she seemed to know that something was up! After finally getting mules, wagons and people loaded, they pulled out at 9:37 AM with 112 miles to go!
They headed towards the town of Wagram and crossed the Lumber River on an old wooden bridge. As they passed through Wagram’s down town they got a few looks from people, but the town folk here are just about used to seeing Kenny and his mules.
They covered many miles and came to Maxton Air Port, this used to be Maxton Air Fore Base during World War II. It was a Glider Base for training troops for the D-Day Invasion. With Fort Bragg near by, the training of troops continues, the Mules and Muleskinners were treated to a training mission of Paratroopers parachuting from the sky. They set up camp that night by a lake and cooked steaks! Maxton has a rich history and culture of Bluegrass. The group had arranged the start of their trip so they could be with in walking distance of Buddy Locklears place on Bluegrass night! Kenny bought three beautiful handmade quilts (Don’t tell the mules they had to carry that too) from Buddy’s Grandma. He is not sure how long she has been around but Buddy was born in 1924. Buddy and his friends played into the evening! He has an interesting band, with one of the members being Chief Leon of the local Tusoroara Indian Nation. That night Kenny and Danny decided they needed a bath and this might be their last chance for a while, so they braved the cold water in the lake, Kenny swears it was only 45 degrees. Brrrr……

November 7th – Broke camp early that morning, heading toward Evans Cross Roads and on to Rowland. They needed to stop at the grocery store to stock up. They stopped at a Fish House for dinner. They came across a horse trader who told them about a farmer, on the other side of town, who might let them camp at his place. They called ahead and sure enough he gave them permission. That night the local horse trader and a few others took the group out to supper! Sounds like a day of more eating than driving!

November 8th – Everyone was up at daybreak, eager to hit the trail. After a good breakfast of grits, eggs and a side of meat, the mules were harnessed up. That is when a light drizzle started. Kenny rolled the plastic down on the sides and front of the wagon. Being clear and form fitting to the sides and a space at the bottom to slide the rein through it makes for a dry ride! As they headed down the desolate road towards the town of Fair Buff Kenny counted only six cars passing that morning. As they arrived in town about 4pm that day, they were surprised to find it a near ghost town. Fair Bluff used to be vibrant town with shops, restaurants and a Tobacco Market. Kenny used to come to town each year with his grandfather to sell the crop. The found a place to camp right across from the police station and learned from a resident that the last restaurant closed two weeks ago. The man was in his seventies and said he used to own the Chevy dealership in town. Sad to grow old and watch your town, grow old with you. Kenny lost his co-pilot Danny that night, because he had to return to work.

November 9th – The next morning the group headed out of Fair Bluff, rough and ready, towards the beach. From this point on there will be no more towns, just small communities between here and the beach. Suddenly the challenge for the day was in front of them. A cotton picker, taking up the whole road, was headed straight for the Muleskinners! Lucky for them, there was a yard without a big ditch on the side. They piled mules and wagons into some one’s front yard! They got lucky and the mules decided to show how broke they really are. After covering many miles that day they arrived at a place they had stayed once before. The owner had told them to come back any time and so when they found no one home they just pulled in and set up camp. When Steve finally came home he as a little surprised to see the group, but welcomed them all the same.

November 10th – Setting out early today and good thing because the group took an unplanned detour. After getting back on track and heading on “Old Tram Road”, after crossing Waccamaw River Bridge the traffic began to pick up. They arrived at an old store that sells corn and feed. Kenny said that “You would not think there were very many honest people left, but bags of corn where just left outside, a sign says, Just put the money in the box.” After setting up camp next to the store and having dinner, the mules where treated to pears from two trees.

November 11th – The group woke up to “frost on the pumpkins” that morning and excitement that they would reach the beach today. They headed East down Rt. 17, called Beach Highway. More excitement built as they passed a sign saying, Sunset Beach, 1 Mile; this is what this trip was all about. As they arrived they saw the bridge, but it was low tide, too much of an angle to cross right then with the mules and wagons.

A crowd of people had begun to gather over the three-hour wait for the tide to come in. People wanted to see the mules and wagons and asked many questions. One man asked what they were going to do after they crossed the bridge. When Kenny told him that they would like to go out onto the beach for a little while, the man offered to call his friend, the police chief of Sunset Beach. With permission granted and the tide in, the muleskinners headed toward the bridge. Billy Stevenson said he would walk across because he could not swim! Ronald got another co-pilot, a lady on vacation from Georgia. Ronald told the lady, “If I say jump, you better jump quick!” she asked why, Ronald said, “Because I will be right behind you!” What a story she will have to tell about her vacation at Sunset Beach!
The bridge was now level but still moves as it floats and the deck plates are metal. The mules were more confident than the muleskinners at this point as they only showed a little reaction when the wagon wheels changed sounds as they hit the bridge.

The group was rewarded by a nice drive on the beach and Kenny found that the mules were more afraid of the waves than the bridge!