MOLINE, ILLINOIS, May 27, 1915
When I wrote you from Los Angeles the conclusion of the account of our trip west, I did not think I should so soon be able to write you of our return. Which only goes to add evidence to the old saying that "you never can tell." Early in March I was taken sick with pneumonia. We had originally intended returning about May, but upon recovery I felt that I did not care to return to my position in Los Angeles for so short a time, so we altered our plans somewhat. I had been out of the house but four days, but I experienced no more difficulty on this account than had we remained in Los Angeles longer. The nature of my illness naturally made me weak and "shortwinded," which caused me some delay and difficulty in making our camp preparations at night, but the riding and driving was really exhilarating, and, I think, a matter of commendation for the riding qualities of our Ford.
Before leaving Los Angeles we provided ourselves with a sleeping tent, warm blankets and other necessary camp utilities, and prepared to camp where night might overtake us. We wanted the benefits of the outdoors, as well as the matter of economy, which is no small item. We carried the necessary accessories for repairing blowouts, etc., extra gas, and an extra tire. I started from Los Angeles with the same front tires and one rear tire that I had driven out from Michigan. One of these front tires had never been off the wheel until the day before I left Los Angeles when I had reliners inserted, which I now believe to have been a mistake, for this very tire gave out forty miles on the road and I then bought a new Lee tire and Fisk tube. I carried the casing, and made it and the other front tire go more than 6,000 miles.
We left Los Angeles at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 31st of March. We had a boulevard road to San Bernardino, 64 miles east. From here we went north through the Cajon pass of the San Bernardino mountains. This pass is quite scenic and has some very sharp turns and stiff grades. It is entirely upgrade to a point called the Summit, which we reached at about 4:30. The descent from this is quite gradual, good straight roads, and all the way upon the desert. It seemed peculiar to me that looking down from this summit one side should be of pronounced mountain growth, while the other should be typical desert quite in contrast. We drove until about six o'clock, when we found a good camping place and pitched our tent and enjoyed an excellent camp-cooked meal. We had traveled 114 miles.
We arose rather early the next morning. The dawn and sunrise on the desert were very beautiful. Just as the sun was coming up I took a picture of our camp. I took a time exposure, but being unfamiliar with photography, under those circumstances, especially, I gave it too much time.
A short way on our journey we passed another Ford car. The gentleman driving it was going through to Indianapolis, Ind., for the Auto Club of Southern California, reporting road conditions on the route via Cadiz and Parker, Cal., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso and Dallas, Texas. He assured us that he would reach Indianapolis in two weeks. We out-traveled him during this day and I am sure that I could not have made it in two weeks via the route we were traveling, and the route he was to go was much longer, so we dubbed him the "speed maniac" and accredited his story to a variety of late fiction. If he encountered the same kind of roads we did subsequently he would have been nearer two months.
We stopped a short while at Barstow for supplies. From here we turned east and for the remainder of the trip across the desert to the Arizona line at Needles, Cal., we followed in general the line of the Santa Fe Railroad. This auto road is through desert all the way, sometimes through what appears to be the center of a broad valley, at other times skirting the base of the mountain ranges which border this desert. At one place we passed at some distance a huge bed or lake of alkali, which formed a perfect mirage, until we were reasonably close. At another point not far from here the road wound through a bed of lava, heaved up here by some volcanic action. The rock appears blackened and in some instances porous like coke, while in others it has taken on a flinty glare as though extremely hardened by the action of the beat. Far away to our left were huge bills of sand absolutely barren, and the glare of the sun reflected upon their sides seemed to intensify the heat that prevailed. Not a particle of vegetation grew upon these hills, which were in reality small mountains and their very barrenness seemed to set them apart from the rocky hills or mountains surrounding them.
Not all of the desert is desolate during the entire season. Just after the evidences of barrenness I have mentioned we passed through a section covered with several varieties of flowers and I do not recall many prettier views. The ground was covered with a plant of matted nature that bore quite profusely a flower of light purplish hue, not unlike our native violet. Another plant grew about two feet high, bearing flowers of bright yellow, while still another not so tall bore flowers of a very beautiful pink. There were others, too, but these predominated, and when viewed at a distance the whole formed a harmonious blending of color that would have been a charm for any florist, and in this particular location it seemed to be one of the strong and strange contrasts of nature.
Roads this day were typical desert trails, gravelly and in some places rocky. The heat was quite severe to one unaccustomed and this, with the nature of the roads, was also quite telling on tires. In the afternoon of this day one old rear tire gave up the ghost with one of those sickening sounds one learns to expect but never ceases to dread. The blowout occurred near the base of a large hill and the spot was well protected from any intervening breezes. I do not recall a much hotter job. We replaced it with a new tire and after an unusual delay for trouble of this kind we were on our way again. The heat began to tell upon us. We were traveling with the top down and our faces began to burn. Mrs. Whitaker developed a severe headache. We reached Cadiz about 5 o'clock, where we refilled our water bags and after leaving here began to watch for a suitable place to camp. This we found about four miles from Cadiz. Mrs. Whitaker felt so badly she lay down upon the ground and I began preparations for camp. Our supper was late, but much relished.
Two automobiles passed us before dark, and a young fellow who had ridden a motorcycle from his home in Corona, Cal., to Williams, Arizona, came by on his way back. The Auto Club man had informed me that I might expect bad roads when I got in the higher altitudes, owing to the melting snows, and this young fellow reported the same. He said they were so bad I should not be able to get through for two weeks, that all streams were up, roads hub deep in mud and washed out between Williams and Flagstaff, and between Williams and Grand Canon.
Next morning, much refreshed from the night's rest, we were on our way by 8:35. We were 64 miles from Needles. We had good roads, though not fast ones, through a country that grew more rolling as we approached the Colorado river valley. At Fenner we replenished our water supply and procured from an elderly lady who conducts the only store a quart of real cow's milk. I think she is the only person on the road who keeps milk cows. She finds a good market for her produce among the mines located close to this place. We arrived at Needles at 1 p.m. This is the first California town one reaches when coming tourist on the Santa Fe, and its population is composed largely of Indians. The first civilian we saw upon entering the town was one of these copper hued brethren industriously steering a wheelbarrow up the center of the main street of the town. It seems to be their habit to dispense with headgear, and if they ever saw a comb or brush they remained in absolute ignorance as to the legitimate functions of these articles.
We stopped at Needles long enough to get gas and inquire the road. I felt the heat freely this day and remarked to the garage man that it was warm, but he vigorously denied it. He said they did have a little warm weather last summer when the thermometer reached 127 degrees and remained at that point for three weeks. I neglected to ask him if that was in the shade, but I presume that was a small matter, as there is but little shade in that country.
We had our choice of two roads from Needles. One via the ferry for a fee of $5.00, the other south 16 miles to the Santa Fe bridge at Topock, Arizona. The road via the ferry was through mountains, with one grade of 32 per cent., and as we also presumed the mountain roads to be muddy, we took the railroad bridge. After crossing this bridge we traveled over some very rolling country, still through sand, gravel and other appurtenances of desert, reaching the little town of Yucca a short while before sun down. We drove on about 4 miles where we found a good camping spot.
We were away next morning at 7:30. Our roads were much better and as we approached the town of Kingman they were graded and in excellent shape. This is a very enterprising town, from appearances, being the county seat of Mojave county, Arizona, and a distributing point for ranches and mines for a considerable radius. From here east for 25 miles we had splendid roads, where good time was made through a desert looking country, but used for grazing, as we could tell from the herds of cattle and sheep we saw.
Alongside the road we saw a great number of dead cattle and I have been curious to know the cause. I am sure we saw at least 50 during that 25 miles.
At the end of this stretch of good roads we passed through the little town of Hackberry, Arizona, and a short ways beyond we came to a fork in the road and as usual followed the sign, but forty rods ahead we ran abruptly into a sand wash, down a bank of about six feet in height and nearly perpendicular. At the bottom was a dry river bed some 80 feet wide. I saw the embankment soon enough to slow down the car, but not soon enough to avoid going down it, and as soon as the car got into the sand, which was really fine gravel, our trouble began. This stuff is worse than mud, and when the wheels moved it was only to spin in their tracks and "dig themselves in" like the European combatants. We labored here two hours and a half, when a perfect gentleman came along in a spring wagon and gave us a lift. He also informed us that we should have taken the other fork at the sign, contrary to the sign's instructions, and which no one would ever do. No precautions had been taken to set travelers right.
At Peach Springs we found one of the most hopeless looking places on the trip. Ten miles farther on we passed to the left of us a half mile the town of Nelson and for some distance thereafter we encountered newly graded roads that have become somewhat cut up from traffic following a recent rain. We were gradually approaching higher altitudes, a fact apparent from the character of the surrounding country and from the growth of mountain cedars which we frequently found, and which are always on the plateaus and foothills of the mountains. These were quite welcome, for they afford good' wind shelter and excellent wood for camping purposes. We had expected to pass Seligman this day, which would bring us within 40 or 50 miles of Williams, where we would be able to learn the true state of affairs concerning the bad roads, about which we had heard considerable. We reached Seligman about sundown. I purchased oil and gas here and Mrs. Whitaker looked after the wants of our provision basket. The clerk at the store where I purchased gas also confirmed the bad roads story about Williams and Flagstaff, and said there was lots of snow about there. We drove on from Seligman seven miles before we found a desirable camping place. We traveled 121 miles this day.
Having made camp rather late we did not arise very early the following morning, Sunday, and felt no particular need of it as from reports we had received we would not be able to go further than Williams. We left at 10:05. We found the roads somewhat rough. Eighteen miles on our way we arrived at a fork of the road we had traveled on our way out. The roads were getting worse. At Ash Fork a young man gave us the cheering information that we could not get farther than Williams, possibly for three weeks, that there was three feet of snow at Flagstaff. This sounded incredible, yet it seemed that an individual 20 miles from a place ought to know something about it. Between Ash Fork and Williams the graders were at work reconstructing roads which the mountain streams had washed out from the spring thaw, and they were quite heavy. Just before reaching Williams we entered the pine forests, and spots in this were real "boggy." Here we saw our first snow for the winter. Several large drifts of it lay on the sheltered sides of the hills, and far away we could see the snow covered San Francisco peaks which are north of Flagstaff. A short distance from Williams we came up to a camp by the roadside and stopped to inquire if they had come from the east. They were traveling in a Ford, and were going east, to Detroit, coming from Bakersfield, California. They were a family of five, by the name of Lord. They informed us that because of the washouts it was impossible to get to Flagstaff direct from Williams, 37 miles. They had been camped there two days. They had learned, however, that one could go from Williams to the Grand Canon and from there back to Flagstaff. This meant a detour of 66 miles to the Canon, and 82 miles from the Canon back to Flagstaff, but it was that or camp there indefinitely, and as they were going up the next day we decided to accompany them. We drove into Williams and had dinner at the same Chinaman's restaurant as on the outward trip, but this time the bar bells and hamper of empty bottles were missing.
We pitched our tent near that of Mr. Lord, among some pine trees, and as the ground was quite damp we cut small pine boughs and laid about to walk on.
We were out next morning fairly early and stopped in Williams for supplies. We went north from here to the Canon and would encounter seven streams to ford. We left Williams at 9:30 and a short ways out came to our first stream, a shallow, wide affair that looked miry. We put on our chains, and as I had the lightest load I went first and made it with no difficulty. Mr. Lord is an experienced man with automobiles. So he knew well how to handle a car and he made this ford with no trouble it all. Farther on we crossed another stream and within a few rods came to one of the worst, a rocky crossing of a stream that was flowing quite swiftly. Because of the rocks, I made the mistake of slowing down and when I got about two-thirds of the way across, the water, which had run well up on to the engine, had gotten into my commutator and into the carburetor and stopped my engine and I came to rest just a short way from the opposite bank. Mr. Lord, profiting by my experience, backed up a considerable distance and made a run for the ford going around to one side of us. With a good amount of physical assistance he managed make the bank and then towed me out. He was also obliged to tow me for a considerable distance before the engine would run.
While we were getting out of the ford a party in a six-cylinder Lozier came up. With some difficulty we made him understand our instructions to back up and get enough momentum to carry him well across. The stream was running so swiftly that we could scarcely make ourselves heard across it, although it was not wide. The party in the Lozier consisted of a Mr. and Mrs. Terrell of New York City, and their chauffeur, Mr. Eugene Fitzgerald. The chauffeur lashed a piece of canvas across the front of his radiator to keep the water out and made it all right.
We negotiated the remainder of the fords with no trouble and had fair roads the remainder of the way to the Canon. Forty-four miles out we found some roads with very high center and a heavy brush growing on the centers. In here I loosened my speedometer gearing on the front wheel, and lost a portion of it. Mrs. Lord, being ahead, chanced to look back when we caught up with them on one occasion and saw the tube dragging. We drove back about a mile and found the gear, but the bolt was gone and I had no speedometer until we got to Flagstaff.
Several miles before reaching the Canon we again entered the pine forests. These are very beautiful, in this government forest preserve of the Grand Canon, which includes the Canon itself and embraces 800,000 acres. Snow lay about in spots where it was protected or the drifts had been unusually thick, and the air was chilly. The afternoon turned cloudy and cool. We arrived at the station of Grand Canon about 3:30. From here a steep road goes up to the El Tovar Hotel from where a splendid view of the Canon may be had. The altitude here is about 8,000 feet and the lowering clouds were hanging down below the brink of the Canon. Far down at the bottom the sun was shining brightly and across the chasm where the sun broke through a rift of clouds a most beautiful rainbow was formed. From our station we could barely discern on the bottom of the Canon a trail which looked like a mere string, and later a crowd of tourists returning on burros coming up this trail looked like so many ants. The atmosphere below was very clear and gave a long range of vision; houses of some distance down the Canon looked like mere toys. The magnitude and splendor of this scenery far surpasses any idea one can form of it.
We left this point of the Canon about 5 o'clock and drove back on the trail we came for about six miles, where we found a good camping spot among the pines. It had begun to snow a little, turning into a sort of sleet about bed time. A huge camp fire of pine logs dispelled the chill until we retired, and we slept comfortably until morning.
In the morning our tent was covered with a coating of sleet. We did not break camp until 10:30. We drove easterly then to a point called Grandview, where we stopped for another look at the canon. I took some pictures here, as well as at the other place, but the weather was too cloudy and they were no good. It is very hard to get a good picture of the Canon at any time, I have been told, and especially with a small camera.
We had used considerable gas on the trip up the day before, and divided with Mr. Lord the contents of a five gallon can which I carried as an extra. Up there they want 50 cents per gallon. And there is no chance for the entire 80 miles to Flagstaff to get any.
We traveled through a beautiful country on the way to Flag. After emerging from the pine forests we could plainly see the San Francisco peaks about 60 miles away. About 20 miles from Flagstaff I discovered one of my front tires was developing a knot in one place that would soon mean a blowout, so I concluded to fix it first. This was one of the old tires which I had driven out. I replaced it with the other old casing which I had carried since the puncture early in the trip and went on into Flagstaff with no more trouble.
We arrived at Flag at 5 o'clock. We had found it chilly because of the wind blowing from these snow-covered mountains, but the three feet of snow and the hub-deep mud we were to encounter here was entirely lacking. In fact, here were the best roads of the trip, before or after. We drove into a garage to get gas and I found that I had just a half gallon left in the tank. Rather a narrow escape. I also filled up my five-gallon reserve can and purchased another full, for after leaving here there are but two places in the next 350 miles that one can get gas for less than 40 cents. This gave me 19-1/2 gallons.
I made arrangements to have the carbon cleaned from the engine and the valves ground the following morning. The owner of the garage was mayor of the city, and Mr. Lord was advised by him to go west of town to the city park, which is really nothing more than a natural grove of pine trees, and camp for the night. This camp proved rather uncomfortable to me, for the ground was very damp; in fact, water-soaked, and a large snow bank stood within six feet of our tent. The grounds of the park had been cleared and there was no fallen dead timber for fuel.
It required until noon to have the engine cleaned up. Mr. Lord had a rear spring repaired, which also took until noon. We left Flagstaff at 12:15. It was 80 miles to Winslow and 37 miles farther to Holbrook. After leaving the pine forests, about 30 miles from Flagstaff, there were no trees of any kind until within about 23 miles of Holbrook. This was over the route on which we had traveled out, and knowing that we would have to travel far to find a camping spot where fuel might be had, I wanted to make good time. Also, we had been losing so much time that I wanted to make good use of good roads, for I knew there would be more of the other kind coming. I was ahead and soon had considerably outdistanced Mr. Lord, but knowing him to be an expert driver I supposed he would reach us shortly after we stopped for the night, if not before. So we kept going, at a good rate of speed.
After the cleaning my engine was running fine and, I made but few stops. We struck one stretch of sandy roads here where the graders were just at work and the loose soft sand had been thrown to the center with no track broken through, and I think this was the longest stretch of sand we bad on our entire trip. But most of it was made on high. Sixteen miles from Winslow we came up to a new Studebaker car containing four men, three of whom were grouped about the engine as at the bedside of a sick friend. I stopped to enquire if they were in trouble, and was requested to have one of the boys from Kiddoo's garage in Winslow come out and assist them, as they were unable to get it to run. When I got to Winslow the boys at the garage informed me that the gentleman driving the car was master mechanic for that division of the Santa Fe. Which reminded me that I might have much to be thankful for in the simplicity of the Ford.
At Winslow Mr. Lord had not yet overtaken us, so I left word at the garage to tell him that we had gone on and would prepare camp for the night. I was told that I would find good water, and wood as well, in Canon Diablo, which was twelve miles out. I planned to make this place and have a camp fire prepared when they should come. We reached this place at 5:45, and found a most unusual state of affairs in the fact that while there was a sparse growth of mountain cedars, sufficient for firewood, there was absolutely not a spot where one could erect a tent. The ground all about was a solid shelf of rock, with these cedars growing out of crevices, and in a few washes was some sand, but so fine and soft it would not hold a tent peg. A very chilly breeze was blowing and as the nights get real chilly there, we were undecided what to do. I felt it to be unwise and even dangerous for me to risk sleeping out in that raw wind so we decided to go on to Holbrook, 23 miles away, and take supper with a Chinaman with whom we stopped on our way out. We reached Holbrook at 7:15, having come 117 miles in exactly 7 hours, including our stops at Winslow and Canon Diablo (which is not a town, but a fissure in the earth's surface about 40 feet deep, and which I mentioned in my other letter). Our Chinaman friend knew us and prepared a most excellent meal. We camped this night 14 miles from Holbrook, being compelled to travel this distance before we could find any sort of windbreak, and this was nothing more than a low place with a protecting knoll to windward.
We did not hurry out next morning, and drove rather leisurely, expecting to spend some time in the Petrified Forest, and hoping Mr. Lord would catch up. We reached the forest at 9 o'clock and spent more than an hour taking pictures and examining the many kinds of phenomena which abound, but finally gave Mr. Lord up and proceeded on our way. This forest is exceedingly interesting to me, and I should like to have spent more time in it.
While eating our noonday lunch several cars passed us, and among the number was the Lozier which we had left at Flagstaff. They told us Mr. Lord had tire trouble the day before and had stopped at Winslow. This was so far behind that I gave up thought of him overtaking us and we devoted our attention to getting on our way. At St. Johns I stopped for water and oil. Reports here were to the effect that from Springerville on the roads were impassable. Springerville is near the foot of the White Mountains, and I had expected trouble around there.
One old gentleman with sideburns, whom we dubbed "Father Calamity," assured us we would have to camp at Springerville, and advised us we had better do so there, for it was not so cold. There were any number of machines, according to his version, that couldn't get to Springerville, and numbers at Springerville that couldn't go on. We had heard the same story at Williams and at the Canon, concerning points near those places, one lady who lived at Grandview point at the Canon telling us there were 140 cars waiting at Holbrook to get through. Yet I never had so good roads on the entire trip as at Flagstaff and Holbrook. So I told them I would not cross any mudholes until I got to them, and it would be time enough to camp when I had to do so.
When we left St. Johns a stiff breeze was blowing from the mountains, cold and raw, and we had to face this all the way. It was so raw that I was obliged to tie a veil over my face to keep the cold, raw wind from my nose. A short way out the road had been changed a little and we got off the trail. Coming back to find our way out we met the Lozier which had stopped in St. Johns, where we had gotten ahead of them. We finally found our right road, and 1 kept the lead until I had a puncture about 15 miles from Springerville. As we neared this town we could see evidences of trouble in the mudholes and little streams which indicated the melting snow in the mountains. We reached the town about six and stopped with Mr. Reagan again. Mr. Torrell, of the Lozier, made inquiries here as to the roads, and found that here we would have real trouble, because all the little valleys on the road were soft and boggy, and some of them running with water. Mr. Torrell requested us to travel with them in the morning, for we would probably need each other's assistance. We left Springerville at 7:15. The roads were rough and nitty. These deep ruts are very bad for an eastern car, for the tread of the west is 60 inches, whereas ours is but 56 inches. This causes one wheel to be riding the top edge of the rut, is hard on tires and hard for the car to hold the road. We came to our first ford about 8:15. Here we came upon another car which had been camped there during the night. They were from California and were going to Peoria, Illinois, having left Los Angeles about a week before we did. The stream we bad to cross was not very wide, but the ground for a considerable length each way was watersoaked and boggy, and the bottom of the stream soft. We cut cedar boughs and corduroyed the approach, and when ready ours was selected to be the first car through. (Strikes me as strange how in all such instances they seem to like to see a Ford go first.) I made the crossing all right and then fastened a tow rope to the Lozier to assist, but he made a good run for it and my help was not needed. The Lozier then helped the other car across and we were soon on our way. Ten miles farther on we came to a veritable lake, caused by the overflowing of a natural lake and the road was entirely impassable. We had been instructed to detour to our left 15 miles here, going via Salt Lake. We drove around over considerable country, hoping to get around this lake, but it was impossible, for this valley was narrow enough to make the water deep, and both sides were high bluffs over which no car could go. So we turned about until we struck a trail going to our left. This was a miserable road. Two great big gashes of ruts had been cut when the ground was wet, and now it had dried, making the ruts narrow and wheels would wedge in them. Clumps of mud had dropped from the wheels that made the ruts, and drying, had made bad bumps. Ditches had been cut across the trail, some of these four feet deep. After traveling this for considerable distance we became a little uneasy. Finally we saw a cowboy some distance away and hailed him. He was the genuine article, with leather vest, goatskin "chaps" a fine saddle and a cheap pony and excellent lariat. He was Mexican, but could understand enough to answer our questions and told us the road went to Salt Lake. So we continued the road, breathing easier, and finally approached a ranch house, near which we passed through a gate. The ranchman came down to the gate and in answer to our inquiries informed us we could not get through that way, for the Largo Canon was overflowing, and freighters were camped on the opposite bank waiting to get across. The only way we could reach the main road we had left and get on the other side of this overflowed lake we were trying to shun was to go out through his private trail. Over this route we would have two very bad hills to climb, but otherwise we should experience no serious trouble. He said his two girls had driven out with the "hack" that morning. So we took this road, and found that all he said about steep hills was true literally. The terrible roads we had all day had been severe on the cars and both were frequently boiling. I had the misfortune to break my fan belt, too, and had to resort to a small book strap. On our first hill the Lozier stuck about two-thirds of the way up. I pulled ahead and tried to assist him, but on the steep grade could not get a start. Finally he backed up to a shelf or level place on the hill and got a better start and made it all right. Not far on we met the rancher's two daughters in the "back." You should have seen them. They were the typical western daughters as the movies would have us know them. One was dressed in boy's clothes and they both wore men's broad brimmed hats. They said we were on the right road and also informed us that ours were the first cars that had ever been upon those roads. I was quite willing to believe it! Shortly after leaving them there was a faint track led off to the left and we raised some question about it at the time, but the trail ahead was so plain that we concluded it to be the right one, and went on. Passing through a gate we continued this trail for seven miles, when it seemed to run out, and getting out of our cars we went ahead to scan the valley that lay before us. We were emerging from a little grove and ahead was the valley and the lake we had been trying all day to get around! I will leave it to your imagination to interpret our feelings. The only thing left for us to do was to return to this dim trail we had left and follow it out. I took the lead on the return and drove up rather fast, considering the roads, for it was getting late, and I felt I should rather know something of where we were before we stopped for the night. As for the people in the Lozier, it was more of a serious matter, for they carried no camping paraphernalia, and were obliged to get somewhere for the night. The nearest "somewhere" was Quemado, a Mexican village, but furnishing accommodations of a sort. I got back to the gate and examined the tracks of this hack we had met but could get no clue to their direction. The Lozier did not appear, so I walked back up the grade to see if something had happened. They were not in sight. I felt rather uneasy about this, for they could travel much faster than we and should have been up with us. While standing by my car listening for sound of them coming I heard a dripping underneath, and looking under saw that something had turned the lower oil cock in the crank case and the oil was running out. This was a narrow escape, for if the oil had all run out I would have been stuck for sure. Our water was about all gone, for the severe strain to which we had put the car had boiled it away more than usual. So if we were obliged to camp out here we would have no water to cook with. I knew the Lozier had had time to reach us and I began to suspicion they had found a short cut and taken it, yet I could not reconcile such actions with squareness under the circumstances, for if they had found one it would not have been much trouble to have overtaken us, rather than leave us to our own resources after the assistance we had given them and their earnest desire when we left Springerville that we should travel together that day.
While we were going ahead to investigate this dim road, I chanced to look back and saw two men coming, and I believe they were two of the best looking men I ever saw in my life. I inquired of them the way to the road to Quemado, and they very obligingly offered to show me the way out. They told me they had met the Lozier and directed them to a short cut, thus confirming my suspicions. I felt a good deal of resentment for this action, for it hardly seemed proper to me to leave another party out on those plains, virtually lost, when to have come on and taken the same road would have been so little trouble.
One of the fellows was a son of the ranchman mentioned. He had a familiar appearance and I finally recalled that I had met him in the store at Quemado on our way out and had inquired of him the distance to Springerville.
The trail was so dim one could follow it only in spots, but we were soon on the road and about 20 miles from Quemado. Just before reaching Quemado we had the worst ford of all. When I came up to the ford the Lozier was there unable to get across. They had arrived there not more than 15 minutes ahead of us. It was impossible to make this ford without assistance, and Mr. Torrell went back the road a ways to see if he could induce some freighters there to come down and pull us out. While he was gone two Mexican cowboys came down to the ford from the other side and came across. I watched their ponies and noted they did not get into deep water until in the swift current flowing near the bank on our side. This was such a jump-off that one could not make a run for it and I asked the boys for assistance in crossing. They offered to tow us for $5.00. This seemed to me the best way out of it, so when Mr. Torrell returned and reported no success with the freighters we arranged to have the cowboys tow us across. Meanwhile another cowboy had come up and showed us a better ford about 100 feet up stream from the main ford. This was shallow and no swift current, but the bank on the other side was all sand, very steep and with a step in it and greasewood clumps at the top. When we were ready to cross the cowboys concluded they wanted $5.00 each, but as they had agreed to take us for $5.00 total, which was the greatest of plenty, I refused. I told them I could make this upper ford myself, and was determined to try it, when they came down to $6.00 and finally to their original sum. They doubled a lariat and attached to the front axle, then each fastened his own lariat into this doubled one and took a half hitch around their saddle horns and were off. They never tightened the ropes on my car, but had to hump to keep out of the way until in the sandy bank, where they gave just the slightest boost. The Lozier was so heavy it began to sink when they started, but they were soon across, and I'll warrant it was the easiest $5.00 they had ever accumulated.
Quemado consists of a large store and a sort of hotel with a church nearby, in one place, and about a quarter of a mile farther on the store and residence of Anastacio Baca, a wealthy Mexican. Recently he has begun the service of caring for such travelers as are obliged to stop there, but it is not inviting, and our New York friends were somewhat concerned as to where they would stay. We passed up the first mentioned place and at Baca's place were told we might pitch our tent on the prairie nearby and supply ourselves with all the wood we needed from Baca's wood pile, free of charge. As it was a considerable distance to any wood on the road this was a very welcome offer, for it was then after dark. Mr. Torrell inspected the room Mr. Baca had to offer and finding it clean and comfortable looking he and Mrs. Terrell engaged that. The chauffeur arranged quarters in their car. I soon had the tent up and the others had a good fire made and supper cooking. We used our cot for a table and we had a "filling" meal, if not so elegantly served, the Lozier company eating with us.
We took time next morning to rearrange the things in our car, fill up with oil and water and purchase two gallons of gas. Here it was 40 cents. Although I had refilled my tank at Holbrook and carried the two extra five-gallon cans, expecting this to carry me past Magdalena, 80 miles farther, I would not have had enough to get me to Magdalena. When I arrived at Magdalena I had just two gallons left, having used 191 gallons coming from Holbrook to Magdalena, a distance of 235 miles. The roads from Holbrook to Springerville had been fair, and from Flagstaff to Holbrook I had made better than 23 miles to the gallon, but over the entire distance of 235 miles mentioned I averaged only a trifle over 12 miles, even though 100 miles were fair roads. This will give you a better idea of what kind of roads we had to contend with through this section.
As we were supposed not to have anything worse than rough roads from Quemado to Springerville, I told the Lozier people to drive ahead for they would make better time than we. We had no particular trouble on this route other than the roughness of the roads until we reached the Datil mountains, where the melting of the snows had made some bad ruts and mud holes. The surface of the ground was still frozen and snow still lay on the northern slopes and in protected places. But frequently the snow water coming down the slope had lodged in a low spot. This was thawed out to a considerable depth, and the low spot had overflowed, the water following the rut for a considerable distance. These spots were treacherous, for the ground being so solid outside them misled one, and at one place where to have shunned the spot would have brought us rather close to the edge of the road bank I ran into the rut and the right rear wheel dropped until the axle dragged. We tugged two hours with this proposition, which delayed our arrival at Magdalena.
At Magdalena I stopped to have new hose connections put on and a new radius rod, having broken one in the rough roads we had the day before. At the garage I was told that the roads were good from there on, and that our troubles were over. A young fellow who had just come over them from the Ford factory in Detroit said they were splendid, but that from Albuquerque we should go east through Clovis, New Mexico, and then through the Pan-Handle of Texas and Oklahoma, over the Pan-Handle-Pacific Highway, for the mountains in Colorado would give trouble. This was what we had heard all along, and was not encouraging, for we wanted very much to go through Colorado and visit relatives at Colorado Springs.
While waiting for the car to be fixed, we called upon Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, the doctor and his wife with whom we had stopped on our way out. We were hardly in a presentable appearance for making social calls, for we were blistered from the sun and wind until our faces were peeling, and one does get dirty in traveling. My dress suit consisted of an old coat that I had used on the outgoing trip, and a pair of khaki trousers and brown canvas leggings. Mrs. Whitaker was burned to the copper hue of an Indian and could have given a hair dresser a real job. Mrs. Thomas very kindly allowed us to wash and this helped us considerably. Bidding them good-bye we returned to the garage and got our car. A boarding house just across the street from the garage was serving supper, and upon inquiry the landlady agreed to give us a meal. So we ate here and drove out about ten miles from there to camp.
Next morning we did not prepare breakfast, but left camp at 6:40 and drove to Socorro, going through the Blue Canon where I had the experience with the Indian and his pony on the way out. At Socorro we stopped for breakfast at Hotel Winkler. It was 87 miles from here to Albuquerque, through a rather picturesque country in some respects. The day was bright, and I never saw a section of the country where the atmosphere was so clear. The day also became very hot and through some heavy sands and grades our engine would get pretty hot. One of the peculiar conditions one finds in traveling through this route at this season of the year is that such extremes of heat and cold will be met with in a day's drive.
Just about five miles from Albuquerque the Lozier people caught up with us. They were somewhat surprised that we were ahead on the road. This was the last we saw of them on the trip. We made inquiry at the garages as to the northern road and were told that they were advising everybody to go east from there, for the Raton Pass at the Colorado line was very bad. After looking at the proposition from all view points we decided that we, too, had better take the eastern route, for by going the other way we would not only encounter the bad roads in the mountains, but the cold weather, too, and be obliged to make the remainder of our trip through a colder climate. I felt that on my part this was taking too many chances for a relapse and that we had better go east.
Ten miles east of Albuquerque we entered a canon, or mountain road, through the Sandia mountains. This is a very bad road of hills, rocks, mud and ruts and is up grade most of the way. We passed several Mexican homes through here and a few Mexican villages. At one place I stopped for water, and they brought me out a bucketful. While filling my canteen the entire family, consisting of grandfather, father, mother and four children, together with the family dog and the family hog, grouped about me to view this operation as though it were the most interesting thing they had ever seen. Mrs. Whitaker lost a fine opportunity for a picture.
We camped among some mountain cedars 30 miles from Albuquerque. Next morning we were on the road at 7:20 and our first town was Moriarty. From here we went south 18 miles to Estancia. The roads were fair, but this is all comparatively new country and there is not much travel.
At Estancia we got a few provisions and purchased gas. Here it was 20 cents, which I thought quite reasonable for this locality. But we found everything here much cheaper, and so all the way east. The last mountain range through which we had come seemed to mark a sharp difference in prices, as well as in the nature of the country. From here on we began to see green grass, and as we went farther east and neared Texas it grew steadily more fertile looking.
We passed this day a number of homesteads, rather lacking in prosperous looks, many of them without water; and a large number of water barrels and a tank wagon were frequently in evidence. About twelve miles from the little town of Encino, while going down grade we came up to a flock of sheep. A large portion of the herd imagined the other side of the road was better and, as you may know, when the leader starts all others follow without regard to what may be in the way. I managed to slow down before getting into them, and in fact they were all out of the way except one straggler which stopped just in front of my left wheel and I ran into it, knocking it down, and both front and rear wheels passed over it. I am afraid it never got well, and I felt rather bad about it, for a sheep is so innocent looking that it seems shameful to cause one pain, even though entirely accidental.
A little ways from this accident we had a blowout in the front right tire. This was the old one we had been traveling on since leaving Grand Rapids. We had a little difficulty in fixing this, but patched it up so we got to Encino. This is just a general trading point consisting of a large store and a small hotel and three or four houses, but I was able to get a Goodyear tire in Ford size. I filled our water canteen here and went on over a trail that was fairly good traveling, but rather confusing. At one, point we were at a loss to decide which way to go, but the Blue Book helped out and directed us to a windmill where water might be had. When I got out for the water, I found that our old tire was again looking suspicious, so to save further trouble, I put on the new one here. For some distance before reaching Santa Rosa we had some good roads and made time. We arrived at Santa Rosa in time for supper, and drove out eight miles to a camping spot.
Next morning we were without fuel, so we decided to get our breakfast somewhere on the road. We passed a few houses, but as none of them looked appealing we passed the breakfast up. On the road we met a couple of men of whom I asked the road. They had driven out from Oklahoma, and when they learned our destination advised us to make straight for Hereford, Texas, leaving Clovis far to the south, and saving about forty miles. They told us to inquire the road at a little store on the other side of the Alamagordo valley. This valley is a very interesting section. The entrance to it go" down a rather steep road and at the bottom you get a view of twelve miles across the valley to a bank on the other side, even higher and steeper. It seems like the bed of a mammoth river. The banks of this are very high, some places of strata rock, colored somewhat like the Grand Canon, and quite beautiful. At the opposite side we found one of the stiffest hills we had encountered. At the little store, called Amis, we inquired the way and were told to go nine miles south, where we would strike a road which ran due east for ninety miles on section lines, into Hereford. We found these roads very rough, due to recent rains. This section of New Mexico has only recently been settled by homesteaders, many of the places being dugouts, others more prosperous looking, with fair buildings and windmills for water. The presence of windmills in such numbers is accounted for by the strong winds which prevail there and make cheap and easy power for pumping water. This is an especial advantage on account of the large numbers of cattle which must be watered. A few seasons of drouth had tended to depopulate some sections through here, as some of the homesteaders had been unable financially to meet this hardship, but now, since a few seasons of extra good crops, they were coming back in large numbers, so I was told. This same condition prevailed in the Pan-Handle of Oklahoma.
Our travel this day was accompanied by a stiff wind, blowing from the southeast. At times it was so stiff as to interfere with the steering of the car, and on our already blistered faces it proved anything but a balm. My face was sore and peeling so bad I could not shave.
Our information as to straight travel for 90 miles was misleading, as usual. At Holleen, Texas, a store, 50 miles on the road, we were told we would have to go five miles north and then straight east into Hereford. At this store we bought gas, and though 40 miles from a railroad, we got it at 20 cents-something quite unusual. After getting on the eastern road again, we found that it wound through the prairies, and gates were even more frequent than we had found them all through the day. Except for the wind, however, we experienced no difficulties, and drove into Hereford about five o'clock. This is a very nice little town of about 4,000 people, the center of an extensive cattle industry in which the breed of Herefords predominate, hence the name. We took supper here and drove out expecting to find a place to camp, but clouds came up, accompanied by lightning, and the indications of rain caused us to stop at a little town we came across, which we thought to be Umbarger, but which we learned next morning was Dawn, Texas, a new town just platted. The hotel was a very nice place, new and clean. No garage facilities were to be had, so I was permitted to drive the car up on the porch of the hotel, which afforded excellent shelter, especially so since it didn't rain.
Next morning we drove to Amarillo, about 30 miles, by ten o'clock. We spent four hours in Amarillo, and then drove out to the Canadian river 20 miles north. The brisk southeast wind still continued. When we reached the river we found that it had risen during the night and washed out the fording place and it was impossible to get across. There were two Ford cars on the south side and two on the north side, and the only prospects seemed to be to trade cars. They were building a new bridge, which would be completed in ten days. Ordinarily the foreman on the job would tow one across, free of charge, but owing to the fording place being destroyed, this was now too dangerous. This is a very treacherous river, the bed being composed of shifting quicksand, and one never can tell bow it will be washed. The foreman advised us to return to Amarillo and ship to a station called Channing, the first town on the other side of the river, on the Ft. Worth & Denver Railroad. The freight house at Amarillo closed at five o'clock. We tried to get them by 'phone, but the wind was blowing such a gale we could not get connections, so we decided to run for it. The roads were by no means the best in the world, and the awful wind which we must face all the way back made it rather a hard proposition. We left the bridge at 4:15, had three gates to open on the way and were at the freight house at Amarillo at 5:15. I was referred from one official to another and finally got out to the platform man, whom I found to be a rather haughty individual and much set against tendering any accommodations to the suffering public, but after a great deal of persuasion he agreed to open a car and put in the Ford if I would help block it in. He essayed to drive the car down to the loading platform while I got a revenue stamp from the freight office. He succeeded in getting the car down to the end of the platform, but when he tried to climb up the plank grade he had it jumping in all directions and my hair rose on end as I saw him make a charge for the railroad side of the thing. Then he stalled the engine and let the car run backward until one front wheel dropped off and dragged the axle on the planking, stopping the car. As a matter of self protection I felt it time to intervene and drove it up myself. Then, in assisting to open the door, he jammed the door on my finger and smashed it. (What pleasant memories that individual calls to mind!) In the car was another Ford, a, new car from Frederick, Okla., also being shipped across the river.
We were then obliged to remain in Amarillo until one o'clock the next afternoon. We went to a hotel, cleaned up as best we could and made the best of a long wait. That night a steady downfall of rain set in and was still at it next morning. We reached Channing a little after three, and by the time we got the car unloaded it was after four. The other Ford in the car belonged to a party of five men who were going up into Colorado to look at some land. They had driven the car but eighty miles when they started and were not very familiar with it. They decided to remain in Charming over night, but I thought of going on to Dalhart. However, when I got out on the roads I found them heavy, and as I had no lights, and knew not what we might find, I thought it folly to venture out so late, so we turned about and went back to the hotel.
This was on Thursday evening, the 15th of April. Next morning it was raining quite hard and we were advised the roads would be impassable so we had to stay Friday at the hotel. Saturday it rained until in the afternoon, when it cleared up and gave promise of better weather, but that night started raining again and continued until in the morning. I walked out on the main road and found it packed quite hard and in the afternoon, the sun having come out nicely, I couldn't stand it in that village longer, and told the party of five I was going to Dalhart. They agreed to go along, and there was also a Studebaker car going up. We got away at three o'clock and had no trouble until, in the edge of Dalhart, on a new graded road, I got stuck. The party of five all took hold and with this boost I got out.
We left Dalhart about eight o'clock the next morning. We had reasonably fair roads for fifteen miles, but from there on I do not think we traveled more than half the time during the day in less than eight inches of mud and water and sometimes in low places it ran up on the chassis, almost into the engine. The roads are only trails, in which the wheel tracks are worn into ditches and these were standing full of water. Frequently we would have to stop and wipe the water from the windshield before I could see the road. East from Texhoma we had heavy going, and six miles from Goodwell, the next town, we had a blowout in a rear tire. At Goodwell I wanted to get an inner sleeve and hook-on boot, but nothing of that kind was in the town, so we drove on to Guymon, arriving at five o'clock, with no more trouble, and having made but 80 miles this day. The car could not be seen. It was completely covered with mud.
All through this section the rains had been very heavy for the past ten days, a thing quite unusual for that country at that time of year. We wanted to get to Moline the middle of that week, and as it was then Monday night, and still about one thousand miles away, I saw but little chance. The roads ahead as far as we could learn about them were just as bad. We had had so much bad roads on this trip that we were getting tired of it, and taking all things into consideration we decided to ship on home. I had the car washed up at the garage, and the next day I was fortunate in getting a freight car going east in which I could load, otherwise I would have been obliged to wait for two days. So we hastily made our preparations to take the train Wednesday morning. I consumed the greater part of the forenoon of Tuesday with a fellow who wanted to buy the car and camping outfit, as be was going out over the road we had come, but he was unable to make the sale of a team which he expected to provide him with money, and at noon I concluded not to wait longer on him but take the freight car while I could get it. Guymon is in the Pan-Handle of Oklahoma, that little strip about thirty miles wide which extends across the top of the Pan-Handle of Texas. It is about 800 or 900 miles by rail from Moline, on the Rock Island, a direct line. We left Guymon on Wednesday morning at eight o'clock and arrived in Moline on Thursday morning at 9:15, completing a trip that was rather tiresome, but quite eventful.
I gave some items of statistics for the outgoing trip when I wrote you from Phoenix, but it might be interesting to have some covering the entire trip.
From Grand Rapids to Phoenix we traveled 2,674 miles on 150 gallons of gas and 6-1/2 gallons of oil, at an expense on the car of $27.92 for gas, $4.85 for oil, $3.50 for repairs, $32.45 for extra inner tubes, patches, inner sleeves, skid chains, hook-on boots and vulcanizing. From Phoenix to Los Angeles we traveled 455 miles on 281 gallons of gas and one gallon of oil at an expense of $6.80 for the gas, 90 cents for the oil, and 75 cents for repairs. From Los Angeles to Guymon, Okla., we traveled 1,780 miles on 112 gallons gas, 7-1/2 gallons of oil, at an expense of $22.75 for gas, $5.55 for the oil, $25.00 for tires and tire accesseries, $9.00 for repairs and cleaning of engine. For the entire trip of 4,909 miles the expense for gas was $57.47, oil $11.30, tires, etc., $57.45, repairs $13.25. This made a total of $139.47 for the 4,909 miles, or a trifle less than three cents per mile.
From Grand Rapids to Phoenix we required 176 hours, 30 minutes, making an average of 15.2 miles per hour for the trip. From Phoenix to Los Angeles, through lots of mud and sand, we required 40 hours for the 455 miles, or 11.4 miles per hour. From Los Angeles to Guymon, we required 129 hours for the 1,780 miles, or 13.8 miles per hour. Considering the nature of the roads as a whole on the return trip I think this good time.
I think further comment is unnecessary and I shall bring this lengthy account to a close. You might tell Mae and Miller that my Ford is as good as ever, and all who have seen it here remark with wonder at its appearance after the trip. It is a most excellent method of seeing the country and the benefits one may get in many ways only add to the pleasures of such a trip.
With sincerest regards to all the Dean-Hicks force, I remain Very truly,
SAMUEL N. WHITAKER,
1821 24th Avenue,
| TITLE PAGE |
| PHOENIX, ARIZONA, Dec. 7, 1914 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, Feb. 19, 1915 | MOLINE, ILLINOIS, May 27, 1915 |
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