On Monday July 3, 1972 seven members of a young family of eight awakened early in the home of friends in Eugene, Oregon and quietly and without fanfare drove their VW bus and U-Haul trailer seventy miles to the Pacific ocean. In the U-Haul trailer were four bicycles and other gear that they had towed across the country from Ithaca, NY.
One might wonder what aspect of the human ego is most gratified by a shore to shore bicycle ride: identity and the desire to be just a little different, unusual; plus the usual cliches, "it's there", it's a (surmountable) challenge, certainly enter in. But two aspects of our family of eight were most influenced in propelling us to take positive action. One, we were physically active folks and the one or two not so inclined were socially and service active; two, we were a closely knit group and had always vacationed as a family in the past. During the school year we went in eight different directions and with the passage of time, the eight ways became increasingly divergent. So what could be better than the kind of challenge that was abundantly physical, had a specific common goal on which to focus, and demanded unity, harmony and selfless serving for its success than a bike ride across the United States?
As we approached the Pacific, I could not know what was going through the minds of our little group. For myself there were many things to be apprehensive about. We had done virtually no prior conditioning. The bikes were brand new and all but untried. We knew little about them mechanically. We hadn't even practiced changing a tire. How were the two twelve year old’s going to hold up? I had done some biking in my youth and recalled the limitations of boys that age. I was glad I had insisted on one bike for the two of them and having them alternate pedaling days, although at the time of the decision in early Spring there had been not a few tears. And what about the 43 year old (myself)? Friends in all sincerity had questioned the advisability. And what about those family members not directly involved, my wife, Sue and daughters Leslie and Marilyn? This last question was resolved in a fairly satisfactory way. I hired Leslie to drive the VW bus. She, together with Matt and Drew alternating days became the support team for the bikers. That team was augmented in the first three weeks by Sue and in the third week with Marilyn as well. Marilyn had been at camp in Colorado and then joined us in Idaho. Sue and Marilyn also accompanied us on the segment from Ithaca, NY to Hampton Beach, NH. The support team had serious responsibilities and were kept busy throughout the journey. The routine for each day was pretty much fixed. Each evening Leslie and I would figure out (with the help of a map) the next day's destination, hopefully no less than eighty miles, no greater than 120. If we were camping, the boys had two pup tents for sleeping, the girls slept in the VW. At daybreak we were up and the bikers would have a quick breakfast (cold cereal, fruit, milk) and be on our way. The support team would break camp, pack the VW and follow. When they overtook us, usually 30 miles and 2 hours later, we would settle on our destination. Weather, terrain etc... would influence the final decision. Then the team would be gone and we would be out of contact until the end of the day. Occasionally they would backtrack to report on anything unusual up ahead.
Other things were troubling. We had driven non-stop to Eugene in 66 hours but even though that was a relatively short time, the distance seemed immense, the desert unfriendly, the sun unrelenting, the wind, fickle. The road was all two lane. Was there enough room for two cars passing each other at 50 mph and us all in the same space? The bikes were ten speed touring bikes and so new we didn't feel we had good control in tight situations. The bike's saddle was extremely uncomfortable for me. After one hour the numbness and pain were barely manageable. I was hoping with time that the tender region would become calloused or reshaped. Fortunately this was not a problem for the children. In fact as the Pacific coast loomed ahead, they became more and more excited. We put the rear wheels of the bikes in the Pacific ocean and the time for fretting was over.
THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME
Thursday June 29, 1972
The Schlaepfer family (all but Marilyn who was at camp in Colorado) packed themselves into the VW bus trailing a U-Haul loaded with four bikes and assorted gear, and exited the driveway on Bostwick Rd, Ithaca, NY, culminating months of talk and weeks of planning. The seed had been planted when the children learned of their Dad's misadventure when attempting to ride his bike across the Continental United States in late summer of 1949. He failed miserably having thrown in the towel after just 400 miles. He did his share of rationalizing i.e. a three speed bike (which after all was two more gears than any bike he had ridden previously), a bike loaded with all his gear including tent and sleeping bag, and falling behind 20 miles a day on his very tight schedule to be home in time to begin his junior year at Cornell. There were enough stories within those 400 miles to peak the kids interest and imagination this led to someone's suggestion that we should do it as a family. The suggestion took root and the drumbeat began and continued off and on thru the winter of 1971-72 I finally realized that Leslie and Phil would be high school seniors next fall, so it was now or never for the family as a whole. With Sue's concurrence we began the planning and the preparation.
The plan was to travel from West to East to take advantage of prevailing winds. We also knew that the Rocky Mountains and the passes through them were of lower elevation in the North of the US so we chose our route across the higher and cooler latitudes.
Our destination this date was Eugene, OR, where friends Dick and Annette Ragatz and their children lived. Dick was a professor at the University of Oregon and I believe his field was City Planning.
Our goal was to drive straight through to Eugene. We had four licensed drivers after all. The first indication of progress this day was when we passed out of range of the WTKO radio station. We took the New York Thruway to Buffalo, picked up Route 80 and stayed on 80 all the way to Salt Lake City, UT.
Friday June 30, 1972
Chicago at 12:30 am, breakfast in Des Moines, IA, at 8:00 am. Took a wrong turn for 25 miles and had to retrace. Continued thru Iowa, Nebraska, and arrived at the Wyoming border at 9:00 pm. Weather clear and dry. According to the map we had to have passed through North Platte, NE the terminus of my abortive trip in 1949.
Saturday July 1, 1972
Crossed the Continental Divide at Rawlins, WY, at 1:00 am and had breakfast in Ogden, UT. Tough headwind all day. Called the Ragatz' and decided to push on. These three days are a blur in my memory. Thank goodness I have a few, if brief, notes in my very limited log.
Sunday July 2, 1972
We arrived at the Ragatz's home at 12:20 am. When we got up in the morning we went for a short bike ride, to church and spent the afternoon at the 1972 Olympic track trials being hosted by the University of Oregon. It was very exciting and a real privilege to watch the best track athletes in the US competing for a berth on the US Olympic team. I still remember the steeple chase which I had never seen previously. I also remember the walk race and I'm wondering if it is still an Olympic event. I believe that walkers must have one foot on the ground at all times. In order to achieve speed they use their hips a lot and look like waddling ducks, but they are fast.
Monday July 3, 1972 =Day 1 - 69.1 miles=
Up at 6:30. Breakfast, drove to Florence and the Pacific just beyond. Unloaded bikes, dipped rear wheels in the ocean and began pedaling East. Drew pedaled the first half of day 1 and Matt the second half. The first 14 miles in the first hour felt good. Coastal weather was cold and foggy. Stopped for lunch along the road and in the shade ( which by then was welcome) around 11:30. Cyndy was becoming uncharacteristically tired. When we checked her bike we found a brake pad rubbing on one of her wheels. No wonder! We had gone approximately half way for the day and other than Cyndy all were doing well. We had traveled about half way and were looking forward to tomorrow, July 4, which was to be a rest day. We used the moment to remind ourselves that a big goal is most easily achieved by breaking it into a series of small goals. We already had done 30 miles so all we had to do was repeat the process another 120 times and we'd be at the Atlantic ocean. I did not delude myself that the last 30 miles of a 100 mile day is the same as the first 30 miles. We crossed the coastal range and arrived at the Ragatz' around 4:20. Weather had been beautiful but hot.
Tuesday July 4, 1972 =Day 2 - Rest day=
Our only scheduled day of leisure. We drove back to the coast, swam in the ocean, played on the beach, had a picnic lunch. This evening was our last with the Ragatzs with whom we had been good friends in Ithaca and in Eugene, had been such very gracious hosts.
Wednesday July 5, 1972 =Day 3 - 68.5 miles=
The bikers said goodbye to our friends and started East and up, carrying with them happy memories of our time in Eugene. We traveled on Rt. 126, paralleling the McKenzie river, a fast flowing and crystal clear mountain stream. The grade was gently up most of the day. We had a tail wind so we never really felt the grade. It was decided that Phil would lead and that I would take up the rear but that lasted for only a little while since he set such a torrid pace and none of us could keep up. So he and I changed places. Everybody could keep up with me and Phil became the buffer to other road traffic passing us. By afternoon Rt. 126 had turned North leaving the McKenzie. Before that we had stopped for a swim, but the river was too cold. Evening found us at Trail Bridge campground, our first night dining and tenting under the stars.
Thursday July 6, 1972 =Day 4 - 84.2 miles=
On the road by 7:45. Continued North on Rt. 126 to where road tees into Rt. 20. Turned East on Rt. 20. Climbed up to Santian Pass (4817 ft) where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses. Looking South along the Crest Trail we could see the Three Sisters, all over 10,000 ft. Road takes us down to Sisters where we again turn East onto Rt. 126. Lunch at Cline Falls, continued thru Redmond, road became Rt. 26 at Prineville and on to Ochoca reservoir where we camped for the night. Everyone holding up well. Our team of three providing great support and good meals.==
Friday July 7, 1972 =Day 5 - 40 miles=
Up early today and on the road by 5:40. Left camp set up at Ochoco reservoir. Climbed thru Ochoco pass 4722 ft, beautiful country, tall trees in open forest. Passed thru an area that had had a flash flood the day before. Coasted 15 miles into Mitchell where we parked our bikes at a garage and joined the team in the VW bus for a side trip to Crater Lake National Park. The drive was about 150 miles but the scenery was worth it. Crater Lake had once been a volcano that collapsed into itself. The rim is about 6500 ft. so it is a steady climb up the side of a mountain that has no top. When we reached the rim, the view to the lake several thousand feet below us greatly exceeded my expectation. It is at the same time beautiful and dramatic, the water turquoise. We had no time and little interest in hiking down so we headed back to camp at Ochoco reservoir, stopping in Bend for dinner.
Saturday July 8, 1972 =Day 6 - 83 miles=
Up early at Ochoca and hitched a ride with our team to Mitchell where we picked up our bikes at 6:50 and climbed out of Mitchell for seven miles then a few miles level and then 14 miles downhill along the John Day river to Dayville and just beyond where the road crosses the river we had lunch and rest and a swim. Had our first flat tire (Phil) which we fixed in 15 minutes. Continued on thru Mount Vernon to John Day where we swam in the municpal pool and went another 13 miles to Prairie City where we stopped for the night. Don't remember the campground.
Sunday July 9, 1972 =Day 7 - 37 miles=
Up at 7:30, climbed thru Dixie, 5279 ft., then down and up thru Blue Mountain Pass and down to Unity lake where we stopped for the day, rested, swam, all of which was needed and appreciated. Sun warm, breeze cool, wonderful.
Monday July 10, 1972 =Day 8 - 86.5 miles=
On the road by 6:50. Climbed thru El Dorado Pass, 4673 ft. followed by two long down hill runs and 30 flat miles over rough road into Vale. Lunch behind a gas station and on to Ontario. A restaurant dinner and a motel overnight (The Stampede). The valley is segmented by three rivers (the Willow, the Bully and the Matthews) before they join at Ontario and dump into the Snake river. The rivers provide irrigation water for intense vegetable and fruit production. I believe the area was populated with Japanese internment camps during WWII. Today we passed into the Mountain Time Zone. Progress.
Tuesday July 11, 1972 =Day 9 - 34.3 miles=
Rest day. Left the motel around 11:00, crossed into Idaho (progress) and biked to the first campground, Mann Creek Recreation Area. A treeless pristine lake with great swimming and surrounded by purple hills. We are now headed due North on US Rt. 95.
Wednesday July 12, 1972 =Day 10 - 72.7 miles=
On the road at 6:40, climbing up several long hills and then down again on our way to our destination at New Meadows. This is "high meadow" country, dazzling with tall pines, open meadows, sparkling streams. Had lunch with our feet in a brook. Stayed at Zim's, a privately owned campground with a hot water pool. At 2:00 pm we all piled into the VW and drove to Boise to pick up Marilyn who flew in from Colorado. The support team now had its full compliment and Sue and Marilyn would stay with us another five days, the family reunited. Back to Zim's and in the sack by midnight.
Thursday July 13, 1972 =Day 11 - zero new miles=
Today was a rest day in the celebration of Les and Phil's 17th birthday. We drove north for 30 miles to make arrangements for a power boat excursion on the Salmon river. Back to Zim's, picked up the kids and drove west to Seven Devils Mountains scenic area. Had lunch while we absorbed the gorgeous view. Stopped at a salmon fish hatchery on the way back to Zim's for a birthday dinner.
Friday July 14, 1972 =Day 12 - 34 miles=
Pedaled downhill to Riggins, 30 miles in 1:35. Took Glenn Schubert's one day jet boat ride up the Salmon river. The Salmon river is a tributary of the Snake river and flows into the Snake another 40 miles north and the Snake in turn dumps into the Columbia river. The Salmon is a roiling river flowing down a canyon with steep and high cliffs on both sides. The trip upstream thru huge rollers requiring a powerful engine to counter the rush of water. It was exciting, colorful canyon walls, new vistas around every corner. We stopped for lunch at Glenn's Ranch and later we met and spoke with Buckskin Hart, "the last of the mountain men". Saw Glenn's power plant and air strip. See February 1970 issue of National Geographic which features a segment on this very same area. A truly memorable day, we all agreed.
Saturday July 15, 1972 =Day 13 - 92.6 miles=
Up early and refreshed. Continued down along the Salmon to White Bird where the road abruptly leaves the river and climbs steadily from 1600 ft. to 4420 ft. in 15 miles via a long series of switch backs to Summit pass from which we dropped abruptly to a vast plateau and to Grangeville. Shortly after Grangeville we plummeted in a few miles to the bottom of a canyon where we stopped for lunch. We continued following the creek to Kooskia where we turned East again on US Rt. 12 climbing along the Clearwater river to Wild Goose campground right on the river, a beautiful spot, cool and refreshing swimming.
Sunday July 16, 1972 =Day 14 - 85 miles=
Fixed a flat tire and were underway at 7:55. Climbed along the Clearwater river almost all day. Except for about 40 miles of old burn area it was all pine and spruce along both sides of the river. Pulled Lolo pass (5123 ft.) at the end of the day and were tired. Top of Lolo pass is Montana border (progress). Glided five miles to Lee Creek campground. Had hot shower and hot swim at Lolo Hot Springs.
Monday July 17, 1972 =Day 15 - 50 miles=
Downhill to Lolo and level into Missoula. Stayed at Agevine Park along the Big Blackfoot river. Stayed near Missoula to get a Matchbox car wheel out of Matt's ear and to make arrangements for Sue and Marilyn to travel home to Ithaca. They boarded their bus at 10:50 pm sans any money. I had all their money and we both forgot about it until she was gone. I know it was an unpleasant experience for both of them - no money, no credit cards, no cell phones, no email a real set back in an otherwise incident free adventure.
Tuesday July 18, 1972 =Day 16 - 72.5 miles=
Up at 6:30. Leslie and Andrew's first day of being fully in charge. Climbed up and down towards Rogers pass and the Continental Divide. Huge open meadows, lots of ranches. Winds from the East began to pick up and became very strong after lunch. The climb plus the headwind made the last 20 miles really tough. Arrived at Aspen Grove campground at 3:30. Leslie and Andrew waiting for us. Put up canopy before the heavy rain hit us. Leslie had prepared a chicken dinner with noodle salad which we downed with relish as we shivered in the rain. After dinner we all drove back to Lincoln and found a cafe which provided warmth and hot chocolate. Sitting in the booth we looked out and saw that the rain had turned to snow. This was the last straw. We crossed the parking lot and checked in at the Blue Sky Motel. Camp with the bikes and all our gear was seven miles East and the Continental Divide another eleven miles from there.
Wednesday July 19. 1972 =Day 17 - 0 miles=
Woke up to a wintry day. Four inches of snow on the ground, windy, snow flurries, rain. I believe Rogers pass was closed for a while. We drove around a little but spent most of the day keeping warm and playing cards. I don't remember dinner but I do remember washing dishes in the bath tub of one of our rooms.
Thursday July 20, 1972 =Day 18 - 82 miles=
Slept in until 7:00, had a cafe breakfast. Weather cold and bleak. Drove to Aspen Grove, picked up bikes, still bucking strong headwinds. Climbed Rogers pass, took a quick picture, snow on the ground but none falling. Shortly after an initial downhill we encountered rough terrain, long steep up as well as down, 15 mph headwind, rain begins. Steady, hard rain from Bowmans Corners all the way into Great Falls. Changed some of our clothes at lunch time, stayed dry for a few miles. After Simms the road flattened out. Motel stop in Great Falls. Leslie cooked dinner in the room. Called home. Laundromat stop.
Friday July 21, 1972 =Day 19 - 112 miles=
Rain stopped after breakfast. Wind was pretty much at our backs. Averaging 17-18 mph when moving. At Fort Benton we looked down on the Missouri river from the bluffs, rolling wheat country, mountains on the horizon. At the end of the day we intersected US Rt. 2 which soon will run adjacent to the Missouri river and the Lewis and Clark Trail. We stopped at Havre on Rt. 2. Canada is less than 40 miles north.
Saturday July 22, 1972 =Day 20 - 110 miles=
On the road by 6:25. Good, level going with help of strong tail wind most of the day. Some really rough roads as well. Stopped in mid afternoon at Sleeping Buffalo Recreation Area situated on the Nelson reservoir, a beautiful lake. Impossible to enjoy however because of the millions of mosquitoes the size of dragon flies. Found an indoor hot springs pool which we soaked in for a couple hours and had dinner in a pavilion. Back to our campsite early, scrambled into our tents and envied the girls in the VW bus. Found out after the fact that because we were in the middle of a Sioux reservation, spraying mosquitoes is prohibited.
Sunday July 23, 1972 =Day 21 - 124 miles=
Left Nelson reservoir and the mosquitoes by 6:40. Made 84 miles before lunch in Rawlins thanks to level going and some tailwind. Met Leslie at Wolf Point where we had planned to stay at the Municipal campground. The entire area was packed with Sioux Indians attending a major gathering. We were advised by local people that it would be unwise to camp anywhere near because things tended to get a little wild at night. We wisely made an unplanned hotel stop, a brand new place, the Motel Sherman. Before settling in we pedaled on to Poplar and left our bikes in safe keeping at a gas station.
Monday July 24, 1972 =Day 22 - 109 miles=
On the road at 7:20. Encountered East winds which got progressively stronger during the day. After 20 miles Phil's bike began to vibrate violently. Checking, we found 3 broken spokes on his rear wheel and all the rest in various degrees of loose. Put the saddle bags on my bike and continued to Culbertson, 3 miles, where we tightened the remaining spokes, had Drew ride Phil's bike, Phil ride Cyndy's bike and Cyndy ride Drew's bike. Crossed into North Dakota at 1:15 (progress) and into the Central Time zone, (also progress). Lunch at 1:30 (hadn't set our watch ahead yet). Drew was having trouble reaching the pedals on Phil's bike, so we changed their rear wheels and put them back on their own bikes. Continued to struggle against vicious headwind. Reached Williston at 5:00 and Ray at 7:30 (8:30 Central Time). Just before Ray, Drew had a bad spill. We patched him up. Met Leslie in Ray and drove a few miles South to Lewis and Clark State Park on Lake Sakakawea, where she and Matt had a beautiful camp site and a steak dinner which we consumed around 10:00 pm. Still daylight with the time change and at this latitude. Toughest day! Lake Sakakawea is a huge reservoir, one third the length of North Dakota fed by the Missouri river in the West and drained into the Missouri river in the East. This was our last day on the Missouri and the Lewis and Clark Trail.
Tuesday July 25, 1972 =Day 23 - 0 miles=
The wind had been wild all night long. We awoke at 5:45. We broke camp in 15 minutes just ahead of a violent thunder storm. Drove to Ray, had breakfast in a cafe and waited for the weather to clear. Finally we decided to leave the bikes and drive 90 miles to Minot where friends of our family, Leon and Fionna Bekkens lived and spent the rest of the day with them. (I don't remember how we knew of the Bekkens, but I do remember that they were delightful people and we very much enjoyed our stay with them.)
It was in Minot that our adventure got its first publicity as reported in the Minot Daily News: "Biking Family Overnight Minot Visitors. The Walter W. Schlaepfer family of Ithaca, NY, were overnight guests in Minot during their return from the west coast on a bicycling trip. Staying with the L.E. Bekkens, 612-17th St. SW, were Schlaepser and his children, Phillip and Leslie, 17, Cindy, 16, and Matthew and Andrew, 12. The family drove from Ithaca to Florence, OR, and from there began bicycling home. Leslie, Phillip's twin, drives the camper bus and sets up camp each day for the cyclists. Andrew and Matthew who are also twins, alternate days on bike riding. Preceding the other members of the family home were Mrs. Schlaepser and daughter Marilyn. When the family arrives in Ithaca they will have biked through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, a portion of Canada, Michigan and New York."
Wednesday July 26, 1972 =Day 24 - 92.2 miles=
Got up at 5:00. Drove back to Ray and started pedaling at 7:30. Heavy fog for two hours. Finally lifted some. Rolling country, marshland, lots of ducks. Back at Bekkens we worked on bikes, Phil's spokes in particular. Went to church where we met Air Force Captain Howard Robinson from Minot Air Force Base. In those days Minot was a major SAC base. Stayed up late visiting with our hosts.
Thursday July 27, 1972 =Day 25 - 55.3 miles=
Was tired this a.m. so when we got up at 7:00 we decided to take up Captain Robinson's offer to visit a missile launch simulator. We had a most interesting tour at Minot AFB. I think the kids enjoyed it. No doubt everyone got an earful of Dad's own Air Force experiences. Had lunch at the Bekkens, said our good byes and started out at 1:15. Stopped for the day at a rest area eleven miles short of Rugby, ND. Rugby, ND is the geographical center of the North American continent.
Friday July 28, 1972 =Day 26 - 136.7 miles=
Near flat going all the way, headwind til noon, tailwind to 3:30, headwind for last 25 miles. Pretty tired. Stopped at Turtle River State Park. Great swimming, pool, showers.
Saturday July 29, 1972 =Day 27 - 92.3 miles=
Another early start. Crossed into Minnesota (progress) at Grand Forks. Missed the "welcome" sign so didn't get a picture (I wonder where all those pictures are?) Very flat around Grand Forks. After 45 miles, Cyndy sick. Waited for Leslie to catch up and put Cyndy and her bike in the car. I don't remember the incident or how long it lasted. I'm sure Cyndy can help with this. After lunch, began gaining altitude, gentle grade, headwind changing to tailwind by the end. Stopped at Bagley Municipal Park. A beautiful spot and great swimming.
Sunday July 30, 1972 =Day 28 - 92.3 miles=
Up and on our way by 6:00. Light tail wind most of the day. Passed thru Bemidji and went by Paul Bunyon Statue and Lake Bemidji which is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Stopped two miles short of Grand Rapids and camped at Pokegama Recreational Area, another lovely spot and went swimming two miles away at School Craft State Park. IT HAD BEEN A HOT DAY. We were very fortunate that today was Sunday because of what we encountered the following day.
Monday July 31, 1972 =Day 29 - 132.4 miles=
The background for what we encountered today was a treaty or document in which the US had sold to Russia untold amounts of wheat, and US Rt. 2 into Duluth was filled with a continuous stream of trucks carrying wheat to Duluth for shipment to Russia and another continuous stream of empty trucks going west to reload. Trucks both ways were traveling at least 50 mph and Rt. 2 was two lane. It was the most dangerous day on our whole trip. The trucks didn't slow down for us and there were several times when we got blown off the road. Fortunately this only lasted for 80 miles and we were in Duluth by lunch time. After lunch we crossed into Wisconsin at Superior. Mr. and Mrs. Eric Torrance and son John, parents and brother of Ken Torrance and his family who are our friends in Ithaca, overtook us on the road to Iron River. The Torrances who live in Minnesota had apparently been tipped off on our adventure. We had a Coke with them and they brought a chicken dinner which we ate in camp that evening. We stayed at Bruce River State Park.
Tuesday August 1, 1972 =Day 30 - 110.9 miles=
Ran into a headwind early and it got really tough around Ashland but subsided later in the day. Crossed into Michigan at Ironwood, had lunch in Wakefield, and continued on to Watersmeet where we camped at Marion Lake Campground. Hilly all day. Tired!
Wednesday August 2, 1972 =Day 31 - 129.2 miles=
Got a late start because bikes were locked in a garage. Had a tailwind almost all day. Country is rugged wilderness. Iron mines. Ski resorts. Iron Mountain at noon. Lunch with Leslie in Norway. Road becomes level as we finish the day in Escanaba. Staying at municipal campground. Hot showers.
Thursday August 3, 1972 =Day 32 - 66.2 miles=
Cold front passing thru this a.m. We bucked a north headwind for 12 miles, then turned East again. After a few more miles we encountered road construction which we had been anticipating . Gravel road and pot holes. After six miles a pickup truck driver took pity on us and gave us a lift for the next five miles. At Manistique the road turned North and back into the wind. From Thompson to Manistique the road is right on the shore of Lake Michigan and very beautiful, but the headwind is killing us. Elected to stop early and take half a day rest and clean bikes and VW. Found the Dreamland Motel two miles west of Blaney Park.
Friday August 4, 1972 =Day 33 - 121.4 miles=
On the road by 6:00, mostly level, some headwind. Beautiful scenery along the shore of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. We reached the Mackinaw bridge at 11:40. The bridge is two miles long and bicycles are prohibited. People at the toll booths generously offered to drive us across in their vehicle. Leslie had gone ahead to Mackinaw City, but we both got lost looking for each other when we got there. Finally hooked up and were on our way on Rt. 23, the first time we had been off Rt. 2 since Havre, MT on Day 19. (Progress) We were now on Lake Huron shoreline. This is very much a Midwestern vacation land, scenery is beautiful, the sandy beaches are clean and the weekend traffic is heavy. We stopped at Hoeft State Park campground just north of Rogers City. It was nice, but crowded. Hot showers.
Saturday August 5, 1972 =Day 34 - 106.5 miles=
On the road at 6:40. Rt. 23 continues to follow Lake Huron shoreline. The lake and the beaches are beautiful. Heavy traffic. Motorists most inconsiderate. The worst we experienced on the entire crossing. Lunched on the beach at Harrisville. Strong headwind for last 30 miles. Camped at Tawas State Park campground. Crowded in like sardines. Swam in Lake Huron. Hot showers.
Sunday August 6, 1972 =Day 35 - 99 miles=
Started early from East Tawas. Rt. 23 takes us South to Standish and becomes Rt. 13 which takes us further South to Bay City where we continue South on Rt. 15 and then turn East on Rt. 46. Rt. 46 is due East and cuts off the top of the thumb of Eastern Michigan. It's been raining steadily all morning and the wind in our faces and getting stronger. We finally give up at the intersection of Rt. 46 and Rt. 24 where we leave our bikes and drive North to Caro where we find rooms in the Caro Motel.
Monday August 7, 1972 =Day 36 - 115 miles=
Pouring rain in the morning so we sleep in for a while. Drive South to get our bikes around 9:00. Quartering tailwind and intermittent rain. Make it across the "thumb" to the Huron coast again and turn South to Port Huron where we cross into Ontario, Canada at 2:00 p.m. Another 45 miles to the Bambi Motel at the intersection of Rt. 22 and Rt. 81.
Tuesday August 8, 1972 =Day 37 - 124.2 miles=
Started slowly but got some helping wind and not too much rain. All farm country, tobacco, grain, hogs. The Canadians are friendly, gracious. Stopped at Dunnville. Stayed at the Grand Motel. Cooked supper at Provincial Park. We're getting close to home, we can almost taste it.
Wednesday August 9, 1972 =Day 38 - 102.5 miles=
Best tailwind yet. Crossed the Peace Bridge into New York at 11:00. Lost a little time in Buffalo, but finally found Rt. 20 and made it to Avon which is due South of Rochester. We left our bikes in Avon and went to Tom and Mary Halpin's to spend the night. Excitement growing.
Thursday August 10, 1972 =Day 39 - 85.3 miles=
Picked up our bikes at 8:00 and headed home. Rt. 20 to Waterloo, Rt. 96 to Trumansburg, back roads to Bostwick Rd. Had helping wind, but took our time, arriving in mid-afternoon to a wonderful reception awaiting us - banners, ticker tape, friends and refreshments. Hugs all around.
Friday August 11 - Monday August 14, 1972 =Days 40 - 43 - 0 miles=
A long weekend of rest, some work at home, some work at the office, visitors and visiting. We must have celebrated Cyndy's birthday, but I don't have any recollection. Whole family posed for a picture that made it to the Ithaca Journal together with an article about us. We talked about not finishing, but nobody liked that idea.
Tuesday August 15, 1972 =Day 44 - 111.0 miles=
On the road at 6:00, down Bostwick hill across the west side of Ithaca with a long climb up Rt. 13 by-pass thru Dryden, Cortland, DeRuyter to Rt. 20 at Cazenovia. Phil lost a derailleur wheel and Sue brought us a new one catching up to us at Cazenovia. Rt. 20 takes us thru beautiful farmland in upstate New York. Thanks to the Thruway a little further north, the car traffic is light, though lots of long ups and downs. We stopped at Richfield Springs and bedded down in a rooming house. Richfield Springs was quite familiar to me. I had worked as a hired hand on a large dairy farm there for two summers (1947, 1948). That experience is a whole other story which we need not get into for this trip.
Wednesday August 16, 1972 =Day 45 - 114 miles=
Fog and steep hills all along Rt. 20. Breakfast after 20 miles. Met family including Sue's sister, Jane Martin, at Westmere just west of Albany. Interviewed with Albany press. Had lunch at Carrolls. Pushed on Rt. 155 to Rt. 7 which became Rt. 9 as we crossed into Vermont. Camped at Woodford State Park campground. Whole family together again. Bennington is a quaint town. Hills around here are steep.
Thursday August 17, 1972 =Day 46 - 86.5 miles=
Very hilly, scenic country. Some great down hills. New England and its quaintness will always have a place in a corner of me. Crossed into New Hampshire about 10:30. Took Rt. 101 at Keene. Rt. 101 will be our road to Hampton Beach. Stopped for the night in Milford - The Milford Motel.
Friday August 18, 1972 =Day 47 - 56 miles=
LAST DAY! Cloudy and cool, up and down. Arrived Hampton Beach around noon. Front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean. Hugs and handshakes all around. Roberta Gibson and Jill friends from Ithaca were the reception committee. Had a lobster dinner which took all afternoon to be served. Rented a U-Haul. Loaded it with bikes and gear and started for Ithaca, somewhat weary, elated with our achievement, a feeling of let down that it was over. Got as far as Brattleboro, VT.
Thirty five hundred miles on a bike, seven miles in the back of a pick up truck. Thirty nine days of pedaling, seven days of rest. Ten states, one province. A side trip to Crater Lake, a side trip on the Salmon river. Oregon, Idaho, Montana mountains, Montana summer snow storm, Montana mosquitoes, Montana Indians. A day of Midwestern wheat harvest thundering across Minnesota on its way to Russia. Most days filled with hard work, much fun, stunning scenery or wide open spaces or American heartland agriculture. We ate well and I remember having no trouble sleeping. We were never bored, never discouraged. The apprehension and uncertainties that I entertained before we began, gradually receded as we became preoccupied with the weather, the terrain, the scenery. The only niggle for me was the stand off between my butt and the bike saddle which never improved throughout the journey. It doesn't hurt today and I feel that it had minimal impact on my appreciation of what we were doing and the fun we were having.
Our support team functioned superbly. Their many responsibilities - locating a site for us to stay, setting up and taking down camp, preparing meals, grocery shopping, doing laundry, driving with care, enabled the bikers to focus on biking. As the team leader, Leslie took charge and exhibited leadership, creativity and enthusiasm for her job. I'm still quite proud of that performance. The fact that Sue and Marilyn were involved in the beginning and end completed the circle of a "whole family" undertaking.
Three thoughts dominated my consciousness when it was over: one of fulfillment because we had achieved our goal, one of let down because there was no more to do tomorrow, one of gratitude because we had come all that way without serious incident or injury. I think we all had a sense of satisfaction with a job well done, if not the exhilaration of winning a ten second hundred yard dash or a seven minute crew race or even a sixty minute hockey game. I attribute the feeling of let down to an awareness that for 47 days I had been able to suspend most of the other aspects of life, the office and the need to continue to earn a living, the day to day domestic issues, the home and the yard. The former was covered by Evelyn and the latter by Sue and Marilyn while my 47 days were totally uncomplicated and enjoyable. So that having to return to "the grind" and to resume my other responsibilities and catch up on "things" was a less than attractive awakening.
Finally as special and as fun as the trip was, no "sea change" occurred in the lives of any of us. The kids' values were well grounded. They were balanced, self assured and already headed in the right direction. The trip surely reinforced the good that was already there and gave us a common thread to bind us together. All of them went to college and excelled and all of them became upstanding and outstanding adults. We lost Marilyn the year she graduated from Principia. We miss her still and grieve in our own private moments.