Last we spoke, I was telling you about the “Lost Sea Expedition”. It was just mule Polly and me traveling across the USA in our wagon. We were looking for stories behind the Lost Sea, the ancient seabed that once covered the Great Plains.
I filmed the journey without a film crew, support vehicle or sponsor. I charged my camera gear off the solar panel bolted to the wagon roof. Now, that footage has been turned in to the “Lost Sea Expedition” TV series.
First, a bit about the journey:
As I bumped across the USA in my wagon, I folks what they knew about the Lost Sea. Early on, a Lakota elder told me about “buffalo stones” - fossils from a marine creature called a baculite. From there, the story took off in all directions. I thought I was looking for a vanished sea. Instead, I unearthed an all-American web covering topics as far ranging as the Ogallala Aquifer, Creationism, Evolutionism, Prairie Fever ,and Depression-era horse breaking.
Who knew that diving in to the origins of a long vanished sea would turn in to a journey to the heart of America?
I think I dove so deep in to the fabric of America because I went so small. I traveled in the manner of our ancestors, men in wagons with time and high hopes but not much money. I built the wagon myself. It was so tiny, I could heat it with a few candles and my mule Polly could pull it alone. It was big enough for my film gear, a few clothes and some food…just.
Photo: A visitor checks out the wagon. At just over 30 inches, it soon became clear why my friends referred to it as the MRI machine (or the porta-john). Damn, I could barely roll over in that thing, a task that got tougher and tougher the higher I piled the sleeping bags!
Out there rolling across the land, I learned that the smaller you travel, the more you expose yourself to the weather, the heat, the cold, the ups and downs and the people you meet along the way. Because my mule needed to eat and drink every day, I was limited in how far I could travel every day. On average, I went 8 to 10 miles before knocking off for the night.
That meant every day, wherever I was a few hours before dark, that's where I spent the night. That also meant I knocked on a LOT of doors asking my well prepared line, “Hi I'm Bernie and this is my mule Polly. Do you have a place we could camp for the night?”
And that, that dependence on strangers met along the way, that documenting all weathers, animals and climes, is what gives the “Lost Sea Expedition” such incredible insight in to America.
Photo: The wagon had a tiny window at each end. The round one framed the scenery like a ship’s porthole.
I made the “Lost Sea Expedition” for all those people who dream of adventuring, running away, or just taking a break from life's responsibilities. I made this series for all the folks I met on the road who said, “Man, I'd love to do what you're doing but…” and then they'd give me reasons why they couldn't break free. Hopefully, it will inspire others to finally break the bonds of what's keeping them back.
Plenty more about the Lost Sea Expedition at lostseaexpedition.com.