Dixie If you see a horse-drawn wagon driving through Walla Walla today, don't be surprised.
Bob Skelding, who goes by the "Wagon Teamster," has embarked upon a multi-month journey across the American West powered by a team of three horses.
Skelding departed Colorado on April 30 for a "5,000 mile walkabout," which he estimates will take him until June of next year.
His horses, named Bob, Doc and Bill, each usually take two days pulling the wagon, and then take a rest day trailing behind it. He tries to cover about 20 miles a day, but has been stopping earlier in the day recently due to the heat wave in the Valley.
"It's a lot easier to travel in the cold than it is in the heat," he said,
But even with the long days in the wagon and sometimes stifling heat, Skelding still very much enjoys what he does.
"It's the best way in the world to see America, at three miles an hour," he said. "And the best thing about America is the people, and you get to meet them all at this speed. And I've got the perfect icebreakers when you do meet them."
While he's out on the road, he's still not far from the comforts of home. The wagon has 120 volt AC power, a shower with hot and cold water, a bed, a stove and a refrigerator.
Skelding has mounted a solar panel to the roof of the wagon that he uses to charge a pair of deep-cycle marine batteries.
"The wagon is a horse-drawn RV," Skelding said.
After he stops for the day, Skelding pulls out a laptop and writes a short blog post detailing the events of the past hours. According to Skelding, 20,000 people read his posts from the road.
Skelding used to work as an electrical maintenance instructor at a nuclear power plant until four years ago when a divorce caused him to re-examine his life.
"Everybody gets four or five do-overs in their life, when they can do their life over," he said.
After the divorce, he decided he wanted to drive horses around the country in a wagon.
When asked about his inspiration for his journeys, Skelding referenced a famous quotation: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."
"And I just try to prove the old bastard wrong every day," he said.
When asked what he hoped people would get out of his adventures, Skelding had an immediate answer.
"My message is don't live up to society's expectations. Do what you want to do, even if it doesn't involve making money and buying things."
For more information about Bob Skelding, or to follow his blog, visit wagonteamster.com