There are very few times in life when a person gets the chance to start over and do things differently. For Bob Skelding of Deerfield, N.H., that chance came about a month ago when he decided to take to the road with a makeshift trailer home hitched to a team of Percheron draft horses.
Skelding said he doesn’t have any goals, objectives or purpose for his journey other than to meet people, which so far hasn’t been a problem.
Riding behind a team of horses leaves plenty of time for strangers to approach him, take pictures and ask questions.
As Skelding passed through Hagaman on Wednesday, on his way to no particular place other than south, Blanca Pancheco, who said she is fascinated with gypsy life, shared a lunch with Skelding consisting of cheese, crackers and a bottle of Australian wine.
Many of the people Skelding meets relate to his journey and new way of life, he said.
“I’d say about half of all Americans would like to pack up and travel, free of the daily grind,” Skelding said, “whether it be to sail around the world or travel in an RV. I just choose to do it with horses.”
Skelding’s team of four Percherons — Deedee, Joyce, Dollie and Doc — pull Skelding’s new home, a small trailer equipped with running water and electricity, and enough room for a small shower, toilet and full-sized bed. Skelding rides up front and has enough space for one passenger, but his permanent companion is a deaf 17-year-old teacup poodle named Clementine.
Skelding doesn’t seem to worry that he’ll run out of money, food or clean clothes.
“The wagon has a way of working things out,” he said.
Skelding said he has enough clothes for two weeks and by that time he usually finds someone to do his laundry.
In fact, Skelding is getting by largely on the generosity of others, who frequently give him bags of oats (his equivalent of gasoline), food, wine and the use of guest houses and spare rooms.
While traveling through one small New Hampshire town, Skelding said, he stopped near a restaurant and the chef came out and offered Skelding anything he wanted.
An hour later, Skelding was enjoying a large piece of chateaubriand, chocolate truffles and a bottle of wine.
“I get to see the good side of America,” Skelding said.