By John O'Connell
Idaho State Journal
POCATELLO - Chet Parker wanted to show his mother the Great
American West before it got screwed up. She wanted to travel
the old-fashioned way.
Four years ago, they left their southeast Florida home in
a covered wagon, on a journey with no set destination or timeline.
Parker, a professional carpenter who had some money saved
up for the trip, built the wagon himself.
Tuesday night, they stopped and camped in Pocatello, at Huskey
Auto Electric, 7175 S. Fifth Ave., before leaving for Lava
Hot Springs Wednesday morning. They were joined by Finisia
Medrano, of Arco, a person they met along the way. After they
reached Lava, the Parkers parted ways with Medrano, who is
bound for the Ghost Dance in Moroni, Utah.
Parker and his mother, Donna, are headed for Mt. Rushmore
and then to Texas. After that, Parker said they'll go wherever
the road takes them, until his mother says it's time to stop.
"I want to show my mom this country before we screw
it up," Parker said. "Look at Florida. It's all
Since leaving home, they've traveled about 20 miles each
day in their mule-drawn wagon.
His mother decided she wanted to travel in a wagon one afternoon
when her Winnebago broke down outside of Memphis.
"Mom said, 'If we did this in a covered wagon we wouldn't
have to worry about all of this bull'," Parker said.
He sent her to a dude ranch in Cody, Wyo., where she went
on a wagon ride through the Tetons, for practice. Then they
Parker said he could care less about traveling in a covered
wagon, but he's always up for an adventure.
Parker said he and his mother have encountered "real
good people and some real bad people." But for the most
part, they've been fortunate.
At a Dallas grocery store, Parker randomly met some old Navy
friends he'd lost touch with.
And just outside of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, they
found a cold 12-pack of beer on the roadside.
They've also had one really bad break. One of their mules
died recently after eating too many alfalfa cubes.
After the mule died, they rented a horse trailer and truck
and hauled their wagon and mule to Arco. While in Arco, they
met Medrano at a grocery store.
"A covered wagon at a grocery store is going to attract
some attention," Parker said.
Medrano said their wagon was tattered, and she took them
to her home and helped them restore it before joining them
for the first three days of her trip to the Ghost Dance.
The message "Moroni or bust," is painted on her
Medrano, who is part Osage Indian, makes her living writing
books about Native American views on European lifestyles and
She considers driving cars and consuming fossil fuels to
be "spiritual suicide."
She said she's been using a covered wagon for transportation
for several years but sometimes must rely upon a car out of
"I'm not living a life that's killing the earth,"