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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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6/29/2012 12:01:00 AM
Pioneering spirit: Long trip by covered wagon brings couple to Prescott rodeo, parade
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Chuck and Mary Reagan have traveled from Kentucky to Prescott 
in a mule-drawn covered wagon and are staying at the home of Kim Chalfont, center, before traveling onto California.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Chuck and Mary Reagan have traveled from Kentucky to Prescott in a mule-drawn covered wagon and are staying at the home of Kim Chalfont, center, before traveling onto California.
By TONI DENIS
Special to the Courier

PRESCOTT - When Chuck and Mary Reagan set out to see America in a covered wagon pulled by mules, their goal was to travel from Crab Orchard, Texas, to Butte County, Calif. That was in May 2010, and they're still on the road. They hope to make it all the way west by November.

Since June 10 they've been in Prescott, staying on the property of one of the many kind strangers who have reached out to make their travel a little easier. They will be in the Frontier Days rodeo parade in downtown Prescott 9 a.m. Saturday.

Kimey Chalfont, a retired furniture store operator, spotted their wagon on Walker Road in Prescott and followed behind them in her car with flashers on, concerned about cars speeding close by. When they stopped at a cattle guard, she chatted with them about their journey.

"I thought it was really intriguing," Chalfont explained. "I had room and a place for the animals, so I invited them over."

While they bunk on her property and use a vacant stable and corral for their two mules and two horses, Chalfont said Chuck has volunteered to make dinner each night and is an excellent cook. She has enjoyed their company. "Mary and I do girl stuff together like shopping and lunching while he looks after the animals."

Chalfont's kind of hospitality has been anything but unusual during their extremely long road trip, Chuck said. In fact, it has been heartwarmingly common. While Chuck, a Navy veteran, gets a disability check from losing a leg and enduring a shattered pelvis in a head-on collision when a car hit his motorcycle, they have run out of the money they'd saved for the trip and rely on donations. They also sell postcards with the wagon and mules on it for $2.

"We usually wind up with at least two or three offers from people to stay with them when we're traveling each day and have to turn some down," Chuck said. "We've had people come by and bring hay. One guy unloaded three carloads of canned goods for us when we were staying in Texas. Sometimes people will buy our postcards and give us a $20 bill."

Chuck said he had the idea for the trip from when he was young in 1969 and saw someone else doing the same thing - selling postcards for a quarter. Though he'd traveled cross-country on a motorcycle before, it wasn't as appealing.

"We're going 3 miles an hour instead of 70 - we see a lot more," he said.

Despite nights of enduring wind, rain and snowstorms while sleeping on the queen-size bed in the wagon, "it's all been fun," Chuck said. A fan of the movie "Junior Bonner" filmed here, he and Mary had traveled to Prescott previously and look forward to the rodeo.

For her part, Mary joked she could write a one-page novel about the trip that says, "Don't do this."

"But I'm still here," she said.

While the journey may be taking longer than Mary anticipated, Chuck is happy with their progress.

"Sometimes I take a wrong turn that turns out to be a right turn," he said. Last winter they stayed in New Mexico for five months to take care of a ranch and farm animals, which gave the Reagans and the animals a long rest. They travel no more than 20 miles a day and no more than three days in a row to keep the animals from becoming weary. Also, the animals need 14 gallons of water each day, which requires carrying 75 gallons of water.

Chuck writes a blog about their experiences, "America Found: Best of the Free Life" (www.americafoundbestothefreelife.com), to describe the interesting people and places they've encountered, as well as history they've learned. He plans to write a book about their experiences, as well as children's books told from the perspective of Pearle and Pauline, their mules.

Both animal lovers, the Reagans rescued a black Labrador retriever puppy along the way that had been tossed out of a truck window, as well as their horses - Dan, a Tennessee walker, and Dusty, a palomino. Once they are done with their travels, they plan to open a horse rescue in New Mexico.

For now, they plan to move on after the "World's Oldest Rodeo" to Chino Valley, then follow wherever the roads lead them west.






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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012
Article comment by: Guthrie and Steinbeck inspired?

People love this stuff and it is an okay story but it has a sad and pitiful look to it. In this economy, you'd think we were back to the 30s. I do love them for their patriotism and wish them luck. If they make it to California, they'll need it.

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012
Article comment by: 30 Year Resident

What a great story. But.... as usual the Courier staff writer left out the most important information..... like where we can help this wonderful couple. DAH... if we'd like to donate to the cause how can we do that???? C'mon Toni Denis, this is basic journalism 101. Remember? How, When, Where,Why and ?????????????????

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012
Article comment by: Sandra Leach

Crab Orchard is in Kentucky NOT Texas



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