Setting out from a ranch in northwest Montana late last summer, Lee Crafton is currently passing through Wisconsin in a slow pilgrimage to Boston atop his homemade horse-drawn wagon. Accompanied only by his two Great Pyrenees dogs and the pair of rare Suffolk Punch draft horses powering his vehicle, this pilgrim known as "The Horselogger" is approaching Madison this Monday afternoon.
Brian Boehnen spotted Crafton on Sunday afternoon in Sauk City. "I read in the Portage newspaper that he was coming," Boehnen says, and came upon the traveler in the town to the northwest of Madison after taking a route down Highway 12 instead. "I saw the horses parked there, and asked if it was him," Boehnen continues. It was, of course, and the two struck up a conversation, which is one of the goals of the Horselogger's travels.
"His is a remarkable story," Boehnen shares, noting Crafton's diagnosis of cancer and his plans to meet up with his childhood sweetheart. The Horselogger, who started his trip with a mere $75, briefly relates this story in an introduction to his life and trip:
Living life as an adventure day to day. Receiving my gift of cancer, continuing the path of learning, letting the ranch go, falling in love with my first, and only, childhood sweetheart, beginning the journey to see her in New England, and loving life...My story...
Boehnen subsequently helped Crafton set up his bivouac at the Kelly's Market outside of Middleton on Highway 12, where he plans to make a stop Monday night. "I spoke to the manager, and she said it would be okay," Boehen says. "He seems like a really nice guy."
Isthmus staffer Jason Joyce drove past the wagon just outside Baraboo, near the Badger Ammunition site, on Sunday afternoon and mistook him for an Amish farmer, albeit one flying a large American flag.
Crafton was spotted in Amery, Wisconsin (just to the northeast of the Twin Cities) back at the beginning of March. "As luck would have it, he was stranded for a couple days at the Baldwin mill due to the snowstorm," reported the Goldstar Cooperative's Amery Country Store. "Staff there helped him out with a warm place to go and oats for the horses." Many more encounters are recorded in the Horselogger's guestbook, with sightings Ã la The Straight Story in Sauk City, Baraboo, Wisconsin Dells, Falls Creek, Tomah, and on up north through the state. If you have any stories or photos of Crafton as he travels through Madison, please send a message.
As the weather warms, Crafton will have less need to use his propane heater or to take shelter from blizzards, but he will continue to need plenty of help along the way.