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'Horse logger' leaves wagon behind, will winter in ND

Lee "The Horse Logger" Crafton left his wagon with Wally Rodewald in rural Detroit Lakes and trailered his team of rare Suffolk Punch draft horses and his two Great Pyrennese dogs from DL to out West near Devils Lake, North Dakota.

There -- the adventurer who visited Becker County for a week in late-November -- plans to rest up for the winter.

Diagnosed with lymphoma, Crafton was making a trip from East Glacier, Montana to the Atlantic Ocean near Boston when he got waylaid in Becker County. He also planned to visit a childhood sweetheart in New York in the course of this romantic adventure.

"The weather was just starting to get too cold," Crafton said in a phone interview from a farm "outside Doyon, North Dakota. "And after my hospital visit in Detroit Lakes, it became apparent that I needed to rest."

Crafton plans to stay with friends he met on his way to Detroit Lakes -- resting at the farm until early March.

"Bob and Marty Nelson are great hosts," he said. "I've been cutting firewood for them...I've been catching up on the chapters of my book (about the journey) that lead up to right now. There is so much to write...I've met great people."

The Nelsons are "a couple who raises Dole Horses"--a Norwegian breed of draft horse -- "and the only people in all of North America who have this rare breed," The Horse Logger noted.

During his week in Becker County, Crafton was hosted by Ed Gherke, Rodewald and his wife Charlotte, and Laurel McKenzie.

Averaging about 13 miles per day, he had expected to leave Gherke's Vantage Point Peace Center on the morning of November 30, clip-clop through Detroit Lakes, head east on U.S. 10, and get as far as about Frazee by the end of that day.

Health and weather problems changed the plans.

McKenzie boarded the draft horse team for "four or five days after that."

Rodewald "pulled the wagon from Gherke's back north" to his place "where Lee slept in the wagon for a few days"

And according to Rodewald and McKenzie, Bob Nelson came with a truck and trailer picked, up Lee, the horses and the dogs, and away they went back to Devils Lake.

"I'm ready to go right now," Crafton said last Wednesday. "But the rest will be good for all of us...I'll contact you a week before we come back."