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journal 1976: memo book III

Memo Book III

July 17 – Aug 9

July 17– 28 day– SATURDAY– continued. Everyone showed up about 3:00. Mama, Daddy, Steve and Sally, Judy’s kids. Had plenty of good eats. Campfire, a few firecrackers, and to bed. I slept under the stars, marvelous. First time I’ve seen them I think. Always asleep, or at least in the tent when they come out.

July 18– 29 day– SUNDAY– Drove around looking for a diversion dam, found ungodly amount of native marijuana growing along the road. Something to consider in the fall.

Everybody hit the road for Wichita 1:00 or so. We headed off east. Strong south wind, much better. Good[?] riding. Lederhosen just the thing for saddle sores it seems. Felt much better. Hand too. Let’s hope the crisis is past.

Made it to Hedron. Park said no camping, looked around for someone to ask where we could camp, ended up that the County Jailer told us a place, then followed out and invited back for showers. On our way now. Had a great shower at the Thayer County Jail in the women’s quarters, but when we got back to camp, the front pole on the tent was broken. Someone must have run by and tripped over the guide line and broke it. There were some suspicious tire marks near. Could have been hit by a car. I fixed it with a splint of wood and tape. Should hold until Cameron and maybe can get it replaced in KC.

July 19– day 30–MONDAY– Late start, about 8:30, but wind about SSW so gave us the little shove we needed. Made it to Beatrice by 1:00, 50 miles. Met 2 cyclists coming from Conn. outside Beatrice. Had been on the road since May 16. Going to Calif. Got enthusiastic talking to them. Feeling better in all categories.

Coming through Fairbury, 22 miles from Hedron, guy called out from Bob’s Upholstery to stop and have a cup of coffee. I did, intending to refuse the coffee, but he already had it poured by the time I turned around. 2nd cup of coffee in my life. Talking with him definitely gave me the old Knulp feeling again. Damit der die guten Bürger neidisch macht, or whatever. Must reread. Something could come of the Knulp’s gallic wars idea.

Back to the day. Slept in the Bicentennial park in Beatrice after eating, longer than I thought. It was 1:00 when we got there and almost 4:00 when we left. I looked for a new pole in Sporting Goods stores in Fairburg and Beatrice, but no luck.

In Lewiston went in for water and an RC Cola in an old general store. A couple of old men who were planting trees around the P.O. were taking a coke break. Told us about a good campsite, Burchard Lake, about 10 miles down the road. So that’s where we are. Nice as usual, and so far the only people here. 2 miles south of the highway. About 140 miles to Cameron, so looks like will be there on my birthday, but not before.

July 20– day 31– TUESDAY– Hot humid day, 92 at 1:00 when we got to Falls City. Had to take a detour to get there. 73 was closed, had to go south on 75 to state highway 8. It led through a nice valley to Salem, a little town on a hill. Went up to have some milk. Sat  in the park and talked to some retired farmers awhile.

Ate lunch at Falls City, slept a little. About 3:00 headed on to Rulo, an old river town, had ice cream and strawberries before crossing into MO over the Missouri River Bridge.

Good flat river bottom land, road along the bluffs slightly above the floodplain. Awful muggy.

In Forest City asked about the Honey Creek Campsite we were aiming for, found out it was four miles off the road on rough gravel. Decided to stay in the Forest City Park, your typical totgesagten park, real decadent. Across the tracks from the train station.

Sad thing, we pitched the tent and stepped on a rabbit warren full of baby rabbits, killing one of them. But the rest were alright.

Night was muggy, unbearable in the tent, opened the screen and the mosquitoes got us. Then the ground shaking trains. All in all a bad night.

July 21– day 32– WEDNESDAY– 35 years old today. Started out of Forest City, through the river bluffs, hilly, windy roads, to Oregon. Cloudy, thick, humid, but not as hot as yesterday. Everything wet. Milk and fruit pie in Oregon, on down the road to Savannah, headed across country on E, rough, hilly. Seems isolated. Think you could be the first to bring the news of Nixon’s resignation. Seems that way. Talk to farmers a lot in the little towns in their parks on the benches, coveralls, CAT hats, chewin tobacco. In their isolated fertile self-sufficient valleys. It seems. Until they say they got to be goin, and climb up on their four wheel drive articulated air conditioned tractor, strap the stereo headset on and pull the 12-bottom plow on out of town.

I’m still flat. Bike giving me minor trouble which threatens to become major within me. Irritation getting out of hand if I don’t watch. The large chain wheel is warped again, giving me very small tolerance for the chain. In fact no tolerance at all in 2nd. The chain hits both sides of the derailleur cage alternately, rup rup rup rip, with the wobble. I have to adjust each time I shift, and by the time I get it set, in these up and down hills, it’s time to shift again. I finally decided not to fight it. Coast down the hills until time to peddle up the next. Not the best way to make time, but a lot better on the Gemüt. Still, I wasn’t enjoying the ride the way I would have earlier. Next bike trip, if I ever ride a bike again, 40-60 miles a day maximum. Total of not more than 1000 miles or so. I will have proved I can cover ground. But less is more. Why push it. Approaching Cameron I’ve felt a rising compulsion to get there. The trip, the riding becomes a means to an end, and not something to enjoy in itself. I fought this with some success today. But I’m sure it will be a problem for the rest of the trip. Compulsion to get to Bloomington, then the compulsion to finish, get to Boston. Now that the spectacular geological part of the trip is over, the intrinsic worth of the ride could become less. Until perhaps New England, even Pennsylvania, could be new enough, and perhaps even isolated enough to become fascinating again. I may also be past the center of gravity, mid-continent drag. It seemed so long across Nebraska. The halfway point elusive. But once we made it to Cameron, looked at the TV weather map, at Leo’s atlas, it became clear we’re significantly past halfway. And when I sit and really try to grasp what I’ve done, pedaled the bike over 2100 miles, every damn foot of the way, it’s awe inspiring. Talking to the other cyclists we meet, it’s exciting. Becoming excited just writing this. I hope Jim can make it. But going alone would be interesting too. Many moments I’ve wished I was alone. The dark eyed stranger woman standing in the open door saying why not ask for more. How many glints of adventure if you would follow. Anyway, made it to Maysville, had lunch about 2:00. Kippers and sauerkraut. Then down 33 to 36 on in to Cameron. Level ground down 33, roaring right along. Got to Cameron 4:45, called Leo but no one home, so had to ride on out. The gravel road wasn’t too bad, only a little over 2 miles. Leo was here about the time we pulled in.

Good to be here. Lois was in KC picking up Jill. Got back about 9:30. Watched Olympics on TV, drank beer. Lois whipped up a batch of sauerkraut and wieners when she got here. All in all a hell of a way to spend your 35th birthday.

July 22– day 33– THURSDAY– Relax all day. Rode the tractor with Fred awhile making a terrace and filling holes on Leo’s place. Watched the Olympics on TV. Steve called, will be here tomorrow night.

July 23– day 34– FRIDAY– Another day of relaxation. Steve and Sally arrived about 5:30. In the afternoon we had a roaring game of $10,000 Pyramids. Fred and I whopped Judy and Lois $10450 to zip.

July 24– day 35– SATURDAY– Lois speaking of memories of childhood with siblings and children, how events are vivid, but to whom, where, when, vague. “It’s all one big wad of homemade butter.”

July 25– day 36– SUNDAY– Another day taking it easy. A little croquet, Chinese checkers, Olympics on TV. Steve and Sally left about 2:00. Tomorrow have to hit the road again. I think I’m ready for it. Fingers still a little numb in the left hand. I hope the 4 days of doing nothing will [not] have too bad an effect.

July 26– day 37– MONDAY– Dan took us in to the highway at a filling station and we were off. Heavy truck traffic. Going into Hamilton we cut off on old 36 for about 20 miles. But mood was spoiled when I daydreamed, got the front wheel in a buckled seam between cement slabs and was thrown from the bike. Skinned knee and no serious damage to the bike, bent the pedal a little more, not sure what effect it had on the chain wheel.

Anyway my mood collapsed at noon in Chillicothe. But picked up in the afternoon on 4-lane 36 without much truck traffic.

Before Chillicothe Judy had a close call. A car slowed down behind her on a bridge, another, and the fool in the third had his head up his ass and had to panic stop to keep from rear ending. It could have pushed the chain reaction. Cars right over her had he not stopped in time. Stopped for a beer, heard about Pershing park. So decided to make it a short day, since there wasn’t much up the road for us to stay out.

A little thunder, could rain tonight. Mood picked up, but nothing great yet. But working on doing away with the compulsion to chalk up miles.

July 27– day 38– TUESDAY– Off and going fairly early. Trucks, headwind, but long hills so you’d pull in one gear for awhile. Small chainwheel all morning so the wobble in the big one wasn’t a distraction.

Ate lunch in the Jackson Street Park of Macon, Mo. Right by the TOBY Show tent.

Truck traffic doesn’t seem so bad in the afternoon. Stopped in at Shelbina for a snack, chocolate milk. Talking to the owners of the grocery and package store, about the Ambassadors (they just passed us today), a group of 90 cyclists we’ve been hearing about all the way from Wyoming. Church group, all the gear in a truck and a motorcycle to go ahead and make arrangements for the night. Mentioned Radfahrer a good drink, and the men gave us 3 beers and a 7-up. Made it to Hunnewell Recreation Area and fish hatchery for the night.

July 28– day 39– WEDNESDAY– Yesterday I didn’t really enjoy it, today I started to enjoy it again. First of all the west wind, and secondly the flat Illinois countryside. What more do you want besides a hand with feeling and an ass with none.

Stopped at Hannibal and saw Mark Twain’s house, The Grant Drug Store. Sort of interesting. But making such good time, even with the stop we made. Barry, 50 miles by 1:00 and lunch break. Left Barry 3:25, and still made a nice State Park by evening, north of Winchester, another 40 miles. Hardwood forest with great water. So far we seem to be the only ones here.

July 29– day 40– THURSDAY–

Mike Wilson

707 Kenton Bld.

Taylorville Illinois


Mike, Kelly & Jeff Kramer

1365 N. Clinton

Decatur Illinois


Dawn Roady

508 E. Snedker

Jersyville Illinois


Debbie & Marcia Roady

1227 Lawrence

Taylorville Ill.


Late start. Slight east wind, but not bad. Completely flat landscape, so not a bad day. Only shifted gears about ten times all day.

A store manager in Jacksonville talked a long time. Seemed to be the Knulpsche Nerd at work again. Marveled that I didn’t have a watch, like he would sell the store in a minute for a bike to come along. In Waverly a man pointed out the city park with public showers. Nice little town.

Ate hamburgers and fries with olives in Auburn. Tall skinny waitress with front half of her hair bleached. A nice bar and grill.

Must be off the beaten path for cyclists. Causing quite a stir now and then. Like the campsite at Lake Taylorville. Not a transient campground, people staying here all summer. We were swarmed by kids when we pulled in, helped with the tent, spread the word of our arrival. We’ll write cards when I make it to the Atlantic. An alternate route was suggested to Bloomington. I will check it out in the morning.

The night promises to be muggy and uncomfortable again, really been bad the last few. Can’t sleep outside the tent, consumed by mosquitoes.

July 30– day 41– FRIDAY– Started off from Taylorville Lake. Easy riding, not much traffic, good time. Noticing crops, corn, soybeans. Narrow flat highway lined with fields. Could have made it all the way to Paris, 100 mile day or so, but Judy doesn’t want to hurry now, her last few days. She will leave at Bloomington. Can’t say I blame her, so I don’t get irritated. (My bike buncles and hands have kept my mind off her lately anyway.)

Number of assholes on the road is increasing (maybe not the percentage, but definitely the number) honking, yelling, pounding on the side of the car as they pass.

One strange thing. Narrow concrete road between Shelbyville and Windsor. Hardly any traffic. Pedaling along, tall corn. Hazy humid. Good rhythm, just dodging now and then a chuckhole. World contained by cap bill and tall corn close along the narrow highway. All of a sudden the roar of a truck coming toward me, roar behind air horn blasting, passing me by 12 inches away, another horn behind 30-45 second blast, another– car and another passing, running a car coming off the road. A large black dog excited by all the noise and the strange two wheeled vehicle in his territory bounds out of nowhere barking along side, a dozen paces then falls silent along with the rest of the empty road.

First trouble really with a campsite. Asked in Charleston and said nothing on 16, but could go south 2 miles on 130 and camp at Lake Charleston. Ask again and got the same reply. So headed south, but the site was posted No Camping. But we were only about 4 miles from Fox Ridge State Park so came on south. Will change our route to Terre Haute now. Go down to US 40, and in. Better than backtracking. It was a nice ride down here too, and a nice park with shower.

Had lunch at Matoon.

July 31– day 42– SATURDAY– Thunderstorm moved through last night. A few cracks of thunder definitely had you hunkering down. Don’t think it rained too much, but the first major test for the tent. It held up well. Not any wetter than some normal humidity nights. Had to pack everything wet. Humidity so high nothing dried. Finally got off at 9:30. On down 130 to US 40, pretty nice ride. Not much traffic until after Marshall, 16 miles into Terre Haute.

Nice ride through Terre Haute. Interesting Court House.

Judy said if Jim doesn’t come along she will keep on with me until Erie, Penn– I can’t believe it. And I thought she’d never last a week (after she actually started, which I thought she never would). Jim can’t let me down now. I feel ready for a new start, with Jim or alone, but now I seemed fated to have her along another week or so. This should be a lesson well learned. Tomorrow should get to Bloomington with any luck, and see what lies in store. Main thing, I hope I can get the chain wheel problem straightened out. P.S. to July 31– Severe loss of the day– my crow feather I’ve worn in my cap since Togwattee Pass, real sad.

August 1– day 43– SUNDAY– Beautiful day to Bloomington. Wind still, high seventies. 46 to Bloomington good road until late in the day when Sunday traffic picked up. Not too bad ever. Someone pulling a horse trailer threw a beer can at Judy. Got to Breon’s about 1:30. They had gone the day before. I’d forgotten all about it, the trip to Chappaquiddick.

Jim had left a number, so we got in touch with him, rode into town. Helped him move, but some hitch in the plans, since his bike had been stolen 5 days previous. Not to worry though, he had a deal worked out for a new one, I loaned him $100 and we were ready on the next day.

That night went to eat at Pancho’s Via with Jim [and] to see movie Somebody Long and his Traveling All Stars [The Bingo Long Traveling AllStars & Motor Kings]. Slept in Brawn’s apartment.

August 2– day 44– MONDAY– Went to Bike Shop, got wobble straightened out in chainwheel, bought Jim’s new bike, did laundry, and took Judy to the bus station.

It was sad. It turns out she told the kids she would be back Aug. 1st because she thought I told her to do it in Lamont. She was so disappointed at not finishing she said she wished she hadn’t come at all. Talking at Pancho’s Via with Jim did a lot to cheer her up, so by bus time she was feeling better.

I was in strange position of glad to see her go, trying to talk her in to staying on if she really didn’t want to go (not wanting her to continue with me, but wanting her to continue because of herself– realizing how sad it must be to come this close and not make it). But in the end she seemed happier about the whole situation.

What made me sad, besides my own double talk and dishonest approach to the whole thing, was (1) if it wasn’t for the sexual context of the whole thing we could be great friends and I would be happy to have her along, and (2) the thought of her not finishing. She really showed a lot of guts getting this far and it really was a hell of an accomplishment for someone who less than a year ago had never ridden a bike.

Had a big send off at Nicks, good food, bullshit talk, and drink. Spent the night on Brawn Leach’s floor, ready to hit it (the trail that is) in the morning.

August 3– day 45– TUESDAY– Hit it, bright and early, a little after 10:00. Brawn cooked breakfast, how could we be so impolite as to leave early.

Jim breaking in his new saddle. Extra pleasant day. Jim’s ass hurting a little bit, so we took it easy, especially since we’d started so late anyway. Had lunch in Morgantown.

By the time we got to Shelbyville it was getting late, so started asking about a place to camp. No one seemed to know of anyplace, but one fellow allowed that we could go out east and camp at any clearing. It all belonged to Tike who’s too old to come after ya anyway. But don’t go further than 13 miles, the white house on the north side of the road is old Miz Miller, and she’ll shoot ya.

We decided to go to the police station and get permission to stay in the city park. Which we did with no trouble.

August 4– day 46– WEDNESDAY– Left out from Sunset park 8:40. Good day for riding. Had lunch in Liberty, where we found a native guide to lead us out of town, showing us a good by-pass of Richmond. 77 year old WWI lt., retired railroad engineer, Northwestern, Detroit to Chicago. Told us all about the towns, 63 HS. girls pregnant last year, dope capital, scandal on the police dept, getting nooky on the side. Murder trial just last week, 2 girls and a junkie, stabbed an old man to death. He felt Carter was God’s and Christ’s disciple sent to put the country right.

Randy C

Irwin Ohio


When we left town he sped by us in his car yelling follow me, and waved us safely out of town. Rode on to KOA south of Arlington. $4.50 for a plot of ground with pump broke so no shower and no table. But on the positive side, the dogs used our area to shit in.

August 5– day 47– THURSDAY–

Harold Spriggs    box 92

Ostrander Ohio


Ed Lowe for shower

box 154

Sprinkling in the morning. Jim did not sleep well but usual entertaining self. But combination of rain, lack of sleep and nubile kayakers who pulled in after midnight the night before, all lead to 10:00 start. Good WSW wind, good road, US 40, empty of traffic, breezed right along.

At the Jt 639 & 40 met a hiker who had started from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 26 days before, seemingly stumbling his way west. He’d already made one wrong turn today. Wearing his fourth pair of Converse all-stars. He talked a little crazy for a minute or two, bought a quart of orange juice which he displayed proudly, and trodded on his way. We figured he’d be frozen to death by the end of September. Only a crazy man would walk across the country. Got on our bicycles and headed for Boston to see the king.

Talked to some boys at Irwin, have their address to send card if we make it. Coming into Marysville on 36, somehow ended up on a freeway. Highway patrol stopped to say we shouldn’t be there. We said you’re telling us. We don’t know how we got on. He said the sign says bikes, farm equipment, pedestrians forbidden. We says, didn’t see the sign. He says it’s not up yet. We say, Oh.

Go on, getting tired, to Ostrander. Glide into town, ask where we can stay. It is the trustee of the United Methodist Church, he says in the church. We don’t have food, so he’ll take us to the store in his car. We set down on the church grass to cook, and many people, mostly Methodists, gather to quiz us. You want to tell the straight story, but somehow, before anything can be done, it’s out that both of us have come from the coast. Too late to recant. Ed Lowe offers showers, we accept, drink ice tea, Harold offers lemon cheese cake, we accept. Talk on peaceful in small night.

Knulp all over again. Envy, admiration that we do what others never will. Harold wants to see a copy of my log.

In the church now. Rolling thunder. May be raining already. Best hospitality yet.

August 6– day 48– FRIDAY– Rain. Nice and dry in the church nursery. Think of old shirtless flabby man telling yesterday about after decoration day when 35 of em took off on motorcycles and circled the continent. Canada, Mexico. We were gypsying out, he says.

We wanted to get to Garretsville by Friday night, which we can’t do, and with this rain, it could even slow us down and make Sat. problematic. We’ll see.

Been feeling mighty good since Bloomington. Only the normal fluctuations of mood. Hands definitely better, very slowly, but better, and bike buncles under control.

Rain. All day intermittent showers. Not too bad, but in the long run hard on the spirits. Everything slowly soaking. It really didn’t get bad until 4:30 when we hit Mansfield rush hour traffic, cold, wet, tired, no campsite big city Friday night rush. (About sold the farm. Coming down a hill, wet brakes, a pickup pulled out in front, no way for me to stop, a resignation came over me, rolling I could do, it was all over if he didn’t stop. He did.[)] No campsite around. Everything wet. A motel for the night. A few beers, TV. Feeling better.

August 7– day 49– SATURDAY– Rain. Stayed in motel watching melancholy rain through the door. About 11:00 it let up, we had to leave anyway, check out time and all. Hilly, rainy, cold. Had feet well bagged, socks, bags, shoes, bags. Rain let up a little, made it into Ashland feeling a little better. Actually not feeling too bad once on the road. It was just the uncertainty of our dry spot. Anyway, in Ashland stopped at Border Burger for a double cheese and fries. Looking great in our ponchos, bagged feet. Jim looking like some Buddhist’s Rasputin. Made a good scene in the Borders and the rain stopped.

Ashland nice looking town. Made it back out to the highway, and hit it for West Salem. Got chocolate milk, but rain coming up again. Road closed, but we could go on, but cold biting rain. Cold. But didn’t last long. Bypassed Lodi and warmed up to Medina. Bought groceries and went out to the place of Jim’s friend Kenny’s sister, where Kenny built a cabin. Nobody home but the dogs. Jim says they’re all in Bermuda with K sailing. George, big brown, seemed friendly, proffered hand sniffed, walked over to sniff Jim, I popped the top of a beer can and George jumped, arched back, raised hair, bared teeth and hates us for the rest of his life. When I came back for water I had to stare him down. The slightest show of fear and he would have attacked.

Nice rustic cabin. Dinty Moore beef stew with mushroom soup and Hearty Burgundy. Slept well.

August 8– day 50– SUNDAY– Overcast, but no rain. Went up to face George and get water. George had time to think it over and is extra aggressive. Touch and go. I notice the car in the garage, somebody home after all. I figure I’d better knock on the door and introduce myself, but the closer I come the more vicious George gets. Mighty upset. Pete, the husband, comes out and calls George off. I introduce myself, get water, and return to the cabin.

Really a great place. Long sloping back yard to a lake. Reeds, currents, wild strawberries. The house had about a 1/4 mile drive through heavy natural environment. To get to the cabin you walked along the lake on a path hewn out of the wilderness. The cabin set back in the trees, L-shaped. Made of old beams from a church, with fireplace and sleeping loft. Strange coming into it, after a Laurel & Hardy entrance through the sleeping loft window and finding the padlock on the door unlocked, to find a wedding picture of Curman and me on the mantle and Curman’s picture of Jim and Moondog. A strange world sometimes for sure.

Got underway. A mist started falling. Another wet cold day, but by the time we got to Hinckley it seemed certain it wouldn’t rain. Just heavy overcast all day.

Out of Hinckley on 303 we had the steepest hill of the entire trip, about a 1/4 of a mile, so everything seemed easy after that. Tail wind a little, traffic not too bad. Nice talk with a woman chemist whose two sons were lawyers, one graduated from Hiram, Jim’s alma mater, and the other living in Atlanta, and we scooted on in to Garrettsville, where Jim’s entire family, except for one sister, was waiting with roast beef, ham, corn on the cob, salad, baked potatoes, peach and raspberry pie. Mighty good.

Went to bed. Had color TV in the room, for some reason watched For Singles Only with Mary Ann Mobley until 1:30 am. So bad, had to watch.

August 9– day 51– MONDAY– A day of rest. Worked on bike. Two broken spokes on rear wheel, replaced, repacked rear bearing. Still a little play in the wheel, but what the hell. While working on the chain dropped the pin down the drain. Had to borrow one from Dave’s bike. Weather looking good.


7-17  1788.9 TOTAL

7-18  50.8   1549.0   50.8

7-19  83.9   1618.9   84.4

7-20  75.1   1689.1   75.1

7-21  71.8   1756.2   71.8

7-22  2069.5 TOTAL

64.7 ave

7-26 63.9   1815.9   63.9

7-27  79.7   1890.4   79.7

7-28  90.0   1974.5   90.0

7-29  73.0   2042.7   73.0

7-30  75.4   2113.2   75.4

7-31  62.9   2172.0   62.9

8-1  56.3   2224.6   56.3

8-2  2570.7 TOTAL

8-3  58.7   2629.4

8-4  89.0   2718.4

8-5  90.0   2808.4

8-6  60.0   2868.4

8-7  45.0   2913.4

8-8  51.0   2964.4

8-9 rest

read more (memo bk IV)
© philip kimball 2015