Tractor traveler comes to island

"William Appleby drives his antique tractor and camper through the Ken's Corner intersection Thursday on his way north. The former Whidbey Island resident has been driving his rig across the country.Matt Johnson / staff photo A former South Whidbey resident driving an antique farm tractor and towing a camper trailer on a cross-country journey became a curiosity during the Thursday evening ferry commute between Mukilteo and Clinton.Just before 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, William Appleby drove his tractor off a car ferry at the Clinton dock, pulling a converted flatbed trailer that held a camper filled with 10 dogs and a number of bicycles and other items, as well as a log splitter.The tractor drew a good deal of attention aboard the boat and even more when it rolled north on Highway 525 at 20 mph., backing up rush-hour traffic for more than a quarter-mile.Although he did not stop along the way to tell his story to the drivers behind him or to bystanders who scratched their heads at the strange sight, Appleby's tale of a cross-country drive with the tractor and trailer had become the talk of the town in Mukilteo a day earlier. Mukilteo Police Chief Mike Murphy said one of his officers arrested Appleby Wednesday after stopping the tractor-trailer-log splitter conglomeration for failing to display license plates. Upon checking Appleby's driving record, the officer discovered that the 49-year-old man had an outstanding Snohomish County arrest warrant for a 1998 DUI charge. Appleby parked his tractor at the Mukilteo State Park, then went with the officer to the Mukilteo Jail. He later called a friend on Whidbey Island to ask him to take care of the dogs in the trailer.By morning, the friend had not shown up at the park, but a Warner Brothers film crew had. Chief Murphy said one of the crew members, who were in Mukilteo shooting an episode of the television series The Fugitive, called his department to ask whether the barking dogs in the tractor's trailer could be removed from the waterfront park. The barking was disturbing the shoot. When the crew members learned of Appleby's plight, they collected enough money among them to bail him out of jail. To help him and the unlicensed tractor on their way to Whidbey Island, the crew loaded the whole menagerie onto a trailer and put it aboard the Mukilteo ferry.Murphy said Appleby told officers he had driven his tractor from Indiana to Washington. In checking his recent driving record, department officers discovered that Appleby had been stopped in Idaho and Sultan, Wash. for moving violations.Appleby is now staying with friends on Whidbey Island, Murphy said. Appleby lived on South Whidbey for several years in the early 1990s. "

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