Skip’s Honey Map

One of the main reasons it took 14 months to travel across my mule Polly is that I relied on word of mouth –  not technology – to find my way from Canada to Mexico.

Bernie and Polly take a break on the road
Bernie: “Which way is it to Mexico, Polly?” Polly: “Just keep walking……” Outside Beach, ND

I didn’t have a smartphone, GPS, wifi connection, digital maps or sat phone. Instead, I wanted to interact with people. That’s how I ended up on the receiving end of a sketch map and the giving end of three jars of honey.

You see, as I traveled from Canada to the Mexican border with my mule Polly, I just wanted the voyage to unfold. Let it grow by twists and turns. I never set out with a master plan or a wagon full of electronic equipment. I didn’t want to know what the road ahead would look like.

No, I just hit the road with my movie gear, a vague notion of which way I should head every day. Keep the sunrise to my right kind of stuff. Keep filming.

Outside Beach, North Dakota. When the road ahead is this beautiful, why would you want to stare in to a glowing screen in your hand?

In Beach, North Dakota, I met this huge biker looking dude. His name was Skip Beach. He rode a chopper with a Maltese cross mirror and paid the bills by hauling, among other things, bees.

Yes, honey bees.

Skip Beach
Skip Beach. Here, he’s holding a chunk of fossilized clams from the Lost Sea that covered the Great Plains millions of years ago.
The mirror on Skip's chopper.
The mirror on Skip’s chopper.

I had a great yarn session with Skip and I told him of my rambling ways and he asked me where I was going next. I told him I wasn’t sure which of the many back roads I should take.

About dark, he whips out a piece of paper and three jars of honey. Tells me I should bring the honey to his buddy. Sketches a hand drawn map out for me and sends me on my way. Voila. I knew where I was heading after Beach, North Dakota.

Skip's hand drawn map to North Dakota's back roads.
Skip’s hand drawn map to North Dakota’s back roads.
Skip's honey on the wagon running board.
Skip’s honey on the wagon running board.
Written on each lid was "To Murril From Skip Beach". The honey was to be delivered "Via: Mule".
Written on each lid was “To Murril From Skip Beach”. The honey was to be delivered “Via: Mule”.

The next day, Polly and I headed out with three jars of honey in our wagon and that sketch map in my pocket. It was clear where we needed to go.

Skip and I are still in touch. I don’t think that would have been the case if I’d always known the road ahead.


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