He is on a mission from God
Some people dream of a simpler life and dropping out of the fast-paced, hectic, pressure-packed world they find themselves in.
Most never actually do anything about it.
Randy Boehmer from Ashfork, Ariz., decided to get back to basics – and he has done it.
Boehmer traveled through Faribault County last week in his covered wagon, pulled by four large mules.
“I am on a journey, not a trip,” Boehmer tells everyone who stops to ask what he is up to. “A trip has a starting point and an ending destination – I don’t.”
Boehmer’s journey started a year and a half ago. He has been ‘on the road’ since April of 2008. And he plans on being on the road for the rest of his life. Since he is in his mid-fifties, that could be a while.
“People don’t understand that this wagon is my home, my only home,” he explains. “When they ask where I am going, I answer ‘anywhere I want.'”
Boehmer may not have a destination, but he does have a goal. He wants to visit with as many people as he can about Jesus and the Bible.
“I don’t preach to anyone, I just ask if they want to visit with me about Jesus,” he says. “I am not a preacher.”
Boehmer says most people stop and ask him who he is, where he is from, and what he is up to.
On Sunday night he was camped east of BlueEarth next to a cemetery.
Sure enough, people stopped to ask him questions, and several brought him some supplies. His biggest need is water for the mules, and a neighboring farmer was happy to fill his barrel and bring it back.
“Everyone wants to know how I get food and water for the mules and supplies for me,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. “I tell them, ‘the Lord provides,’ and he really does.”
Boehmer’s decision to simplify his life and hit the road, came after his parents died and he saw all of their possessions given away or sold.
“I decided there was more to life than accumulating a lot of things you don’t need,” he explains.
That planted the seed. It was after his wife, Lois, died of cancer in 1998 that he decided he needed to read his Bible and learn about God, Jesus, and salvation.
“I knew she was in heaven and I had to make sure I got there too,” he explains. “So I went to a Bible school for a couple of years and tried to learn a little about Jesus.”
He also spent seven months learning how to shoe horses and mules, an important skill when you travel with four mules who walk on hard pavement each day.
Next, he built his two covered wagons himself, taking six months in Indiana to do so. Inside is his bed, a cook stove and refrigerator, even a television – which he says he never watches.
He has a propane tank for the stove, and solar panels on the roof to charge up his batteries. There is also a wood burning stove inside for heat.
He has two smaller wagons behind the larger one and they hold supplies, including oats for the mules. There is a bicycle strapped on, in case he needs to get somewhere without having to take time to hitch up the mules.
How far does he travel each day? As far as he wants, or until the mules get tired. Then he finds a spot along the side of the road to pull in and set up camp. Sometimes it is literally in the ditch on the side of the road.
“I usually look for a spot where the mules can graze,” he says. He spends from four to six hours a day tending to the mules, setting up or breaking camp, etc. “Its a lot of hard, physical labor,” he adds.
Although he says he doesn’t have a destination in mind, Boehmer did eventually admit he is headed toward South Dakota where he has some relatives. From there he will drop down to Nebraska where he has some friends.
After that, it is south to Texas or New Mexico or Arizona. Or all three.
“I need to be in the south for the winter months,” he says. “Although the wagon is insulated and stays pretty warm.”
Last year he was in Florida. This year it might be Arizona. He never stays long in any one locale, however.
Boehmer’s companions are the four mules – Frank and Jesse, and Dick and Jack. His two dogs, Shep and Proverbs, ride along with him in the front of the covered wagon.
He says he hasn’t had any problems with local law enforcement officers, adding that most of them are just curious like everyone else.
“Sometimes they escort me through the bigger cities, which is nice,” he adds. “I like to avoid high traffic areas.”
Boehmer didn’t want to dwell on any mishaps he has had on the highways, but hinted that traffic can, at times, be a hazard. He does have two flashing red lights on the back of his wagons.
“I don’t want to talk about the negative, I want to talk about the positive,” he says. The biggest plus for him is visiting with people.
“My record for people stopping by in one day is 72,” he says. “Sometimes I can’t get much else done, except talk to folks.”
His favorite topic is not himself, but how the Lord has worked in his life, and hearing how others have found Jesus.
“People in general are really nice,” he says. “I never realized that until I got out on the road.”
On Monday, after the rain, Boehmer broke camp, hitched up his wagon and traveled through Blue Earth.
He was last seen headed west on Highway 16, looking for some more folks to visit with.