Sunday Morning Paint Job

Sand dust on Bernie's hand.
Stay Calm. Paint On. Sanding my wagon this Sunday morning.

It’s 7:00a Sunday morning. I should be freaking out. In less than 24 hours, I load mule Polly on to my trailer and we head to Colorado. That’s 1,500 miles way from North Carolina. We don’t have a clue where we’re staying each of the 4 nights on the road. Instead of panicking, I’m going to paint my wagon.

This is the wagon from the Lost Sea Expedition, the Public TV series about mule Polly and my 14 month voyage from Canada to Mexico.  Since I built it, Polly has pulled it thousands of miles. It’s crossed the South Dakota Badlands, been man-hauled across a Texas bridge and served as a fancy nesting site for the phoebe in my barn.

Yeah, it could stand a coat of paint.

Polly takes a break outside Scenic, South Dakota on her journey across America. That blue Dakota sky is beautiful. It also fades the hell out of wagon paint.
Polly takes a break outside Scenic, South Dakota on her journey across America. That blue Dakota sky is beautiful. It also fades the hell out of wagon paint. This is the same wagon (and mule) I’m taking out to Colorado.

Thing is, I don’t have time to paint the whole rig. Instead, I’ll give the roof, back wall and wagon shafts another coat of Danger Yellow. These are the parts that fade the most.

Sander on solar panel.
I used an old orbital buffer with a sanding pad glued to it to sand down the paint. The shiny blue panel is my solar panel. This is the panel I used to charge my equipment used to film the Lost Sea Expedition TV series.


Bernie's wagon in the shade.
The wagon parked in the shade of the chestnut tree next to my cabin. The white tarp hanging down the side doubles as a movie screen.

I know, it seems a funny idea, even a distraction, to set out to paint a wagon right before a big trip. That’s sort of like NASA deciding they need to paint the letters “NASA” on the side of the space shuttle the day before take-off.

Okay, maybe that’s overstating the case. Thing is, I find painting really relaxing. There’s something hypnotic about laying on fresh paint. The silky drag on the brush.  How, when the brush hairs smooth the paint, for a fleeting second, there is perfection in the world.  There are no blemishes, just a perfect reflective finish.

Then the  gnats start passing out in the paint. The mosquitoes decide they need to rest their wings on that shiny patch of yellow. The ants drag their bodies through what, moments ago, was perfection.

Bernie's wagon in the sun.
The paint job in question. From here, you won’t be able to see the tiny insect tracks in the fresh paint. Happens every time….

Okay, now I’m panicking….a little.  In less than 24 hours, mule Polly and I take to the open road in our truck and trailer. We plan to drive from western North Carolina to Nashville, about 400 miles way. I still don’t know where we’re sleeping.

Hey, know anybody in the Nashville area with a farm where I could picket Polly out Monday  night? Contact me. Seriously….!  I’ll even let them check out my new paint job.

Post Script: Nashville lodgings found. Thanks to all the folks that reached out to mule Polly and me with a place to stay,



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