PHOENIX, ARIZONA, Dec. 7, 1914
MICHIGAN TO MISSOURI
Now that I have become partially settled down here in the land of roses, sunshine, tarantulas, centipedes, anti-alien demonstrations and high priced gasoline, I am going to fulfill my promise made to write you when I got to my destination. I tried to remember you all with at least one card each en route and think I succeeded, but I found the sending of cards was much easier promised than performed, for on most of the trip we were obliged to make some certain town by night in order to secure accommodations, and as most of the time the weather was chilly, we traveled with top up and curtains on and it was very inconvenient getting out of the car. Our noon stops were most frequently made in little towns where cards were scarce or of such a price as to seriously deplete my gasoline fund, and other minor reasons combined to make this apparently trivial matter more of a task than a trifle.
We arrived in Phoenix Friday night, December 4th, about 7:30 o'clock, with no serious troubles, no accidents, and after the most pleasant and enjoyable trip I ever made. The following Sunday would have been even four weeks since we left Grand Rapids, a week of which was spent visiting on the way, leaving less than three weeks actual traveling, during which we covered 2,674 miles, in no day traveling more than 166 miles, and several days less than 100-namely: 65-75-77-87-42-78-76-73. So you see we did not drive hard, though some of the days of shortest mileage were the hardest of the trip.
We are both feeling fine, and I think the trip has done Mrs. Whitaker a world of good. We both early on the trip developed ravenous appetites, and though never tired in the sense of being physically exhausted, we both could get barely enough sleep. The ever changing panorama of a beautiful and historical country, the delightful weather, the minimum of machine trouble and the new acquaintances made with nature, all combined to form a most pleasant experience, and to recompense for the sacrifices we were obliged to undergo to make the trip; and under more favorable circumstances, with the cause of the trip removed, I think we could easily pronounce it the event of our lives-so far. And I should like nothing better than to start tomorrow on a similar trip, were I financially able to spare the time and expense. I will give you some statistics at the end of this "story" covering this item of expense, which to me was a revelation in that it cost less than expected-contrary to the usual custom-and with the experience gained from this trip could be made to cost less than it did.
LEAVING GRAND RAPIDS
I suppose the best way to tell you the chief incidents of the trip would be to give you a brief resume of the notes from my diary in sequences as taken.
"Prior to reaching Wayland we ran over a chicken and just going out of Wayland we ran over a hunting dog, but as it was a Ford neither was seriously hurt."
We left Grand Rapids on the morning of November 8th, at 6:35 o'clock. The pleasant weather we had been having for some weeks past seemed about to end, for the morning was cloudy and much cooler and the air had the "feel" of rain very strongly. I began to feel that, after all, the start was being made just a little too late. Almost at the eleventh hour the people with whom we boarded the last week in Grand Rapids decided to accompany us as far as Kalamazoo, near where they had relatives, returning that night or next day by train. With all of our baggage we were a little crowded but this discomfort was not noticed, and we enjoyed their company. We found it quite chilly as we were traveling with the top down. We left via Kalamazoo Avenue, going due south until due east of Wayland, and at this latter place saw some signs of rain. Prior to reaching Wayland we ran over a chicken and just going out of Wayland we ran over a hunting dog, but as it was a Ford neither was seriously hurt. We arrived at Kalamazoo at 9:30, the speedometer registering 53 miles. Here we left our friends, rearranged our baggage and got started alone on our trip (not unregretfully), passing thru Paw Paw and Decatur to Dowagiac, which place we reached at 12:15 and stopped for dinner-97.8 miles. We left at 1:30 and but a short ways out of town we felt obliged to put up the top and on the curtains, as it was getting much colder. We reached Niles at 2:30, where I first stopped for gas and oil, and on to South Bend at 3:15-123.3 miles. Here we picked up the Lincoln Highway, that transcontinental highway that was started a few years ago, but which I had forgotten. From Kalamazoo we found the roads well sign posted to South Bend, and as soon as we began traveling westward the telegraph posts of the main traveled routes were all painted in a distinguishing manner to mark the particular routes, which are quite numerous (all named, too) and are so well posted that it will at once impress the stranger or the amateur tourist with the extensiveness of overland travel which can afford to provide this, and also with the enormous influence which automobile traffic is exerting toward establishing good roads. And I may say here I found this influence as prevalent on the wild trails of the west as it is on the graded and improved section-line highways of Indiana and Illinois. Not that I found such good roads by any means, for after entering Colorado I do not think we traveled 20 miles on graded roads, and those 20 were at the approach to some of the important towns. The remaining distance from Colorado was over winding trails, over 1200 miles, from lowlands, washed out, rutty and bumpy, to mountain roads, steep, crooked, and narrow, and mesas covered with rock and sand. Oh! such roads! For miles upon miles you wouldn't see 100 yards of straight road in a single stretch. (I saw a dead snake one place-think he had tried to crawl up the trail and the effort had broken his back). Tell Mac and Miller that if they want to learn to be skilful drivers and to limber up their cars, to come out and try these trails. I can recommend them for that purpose.
INDIANA & ILLINOIS
The Lincoln Highway from South Bend I considered bad roads at that early stage of the trip, because I hadn't the experience that came to me on this end of the trip. They had recently been graded nearly all the way to La Porte and crushed rock placed in the center, preparatory to macadamizing, and were in this unfinished state practically all the way. Temporary roadways were made along either side of this center grade but were rough and rutty and somewhat muddy from recent rain. However, they offered no serious difficulties and we arrived at La Porte at 5:25, a little after dark, a distance of 150 miles in 91 hours running time.
Next morning we left La Porte at 7:20 and were advised to go to Chicago by way of Valparaiso, which afforded good turnpike roads all the way, though not so direct. The day was clear, but chilly. It warmed up during the middle of the day and in all was a very pleasant day. The roads were simply great and in many places we traveled 30 miles an hour, which is plenty for a Ford. We went through Hammond, Ind., and into Chicago through Jackson park and Michigan boulevard. We spent but a short while in Chicago, purchased a Blue Book for the West and went out on Jackson boulevard to Garfield park. A slight misunderstanding of the Blue Book at the little suburb of Maywood sent us three miles out of our way, but once back on the main road we had good going and reached Geneva at 3 p.m., 37 miles west of Chicago, which latter place we had left at 1 p.m. At the little town of Malta the Blue Book road was closed and we had to go around thru the town. By a little confusion we again got off the road, this time for 5 miles, and it was getting late, nearly 5 o'clock. We reached the little town of Creston at 5:30, after dark, but the hotel accommodations were nil and we decided to go on to Rochelle, only six miles farther. We reached there at 6 o'clock and stopped at the Collier Inn, having made 166 miles in 9:40 actual running time.
Rochelle is a town after my own heart. A very pretty and prosperous looking city of 3500 inhabitants. The structures are mainly brick, the stores all neat and well kept and quite up-to-date.
From Rochelle we followed the main traveled road for Clinton, Iowa, from Chicago as far as Erie, Illinois, where the route to Davenport, Iowa, diverges. We followed this latter route from Erie to Hillsdale, and here began to find rough roads through the bottoms of Rock River. At Hillsdale we stopped for dinner, and found the hotel to be one of the old fashioned country town affairs. Just after leaving Eric I noticed a bad cut in my left rear tire, caused evidently by some sharp rock over which we passed that morning. From Hillsdale we went to Geneseo, Illinois, a distance of about 14 miles, arriving there at 1:30, where we stopped to visit friends and I had the cut tire vulcanized. A little more travel would have resulted in a blowout. Up to this point we had good roads, excepting the last 40 miles, which had been rough, sandy, and crooked.
The next afternoon, Wednesday, we left for Moline, our friends accompanying us. We found more sand here than in Michigan. Our route was somewhat picturesque, taking us across a ferry on Rock River. That night we visited Mr. and Mrs. Frommader, which gentleman some of you will remember me mentioning as being quite a photographer. He very kindly developed the films I had taken, and we discovered that the shutter was not working properly and some of my best ones came up missing. And I suppose right here is as good a place as any to tell you of the only disappointment of the trip, and the keenest one I have experienced in many years. The shutter was fixed so it worked all right, and when I got to Grant City, Mo., where we stopped for several days, I had the films which I had used between Moline and there developed, to be sure it was all right. These came up fine. After leaving there we did not stop at any place long enough to have any developing done, and when I got here I had accumulated 14 rolls of films. Anxious to see them, I attended to having them developed at once, only to find that the shutter had gone bad again, and outside of one roll used after leaving Grant City, I didn't have a picture of the whole western part of the trip. The mechanism of the shutter would click and seemingly work fine but the shutter didn't open. To say I was disappointed is putting it in the mildest form possible. I was simply sick. I had some most excellent views of mountains and plains, adobe Mexican villages, Indians, and petrified forest-everything of unusual interest I saw on the trip, and had planned to send you all a typewritten story of the trip "illustrated". Had they all turned out good I would not have taken $50 for the collection.
Thursday we spent in Moline, leaving there Friday morning at 9:30. The weather had turned cooler and shortly after leaving Davenport, Iowa, we were obliged to put the top up again, and the remainder of the trip was made with it up. Thru Iowa we went by way of Muscatine, Washington, Fairfield, to Ottumwa, for our first night's stop, and the next day from Ottumwa, thru Albia, Osceola to Afton Junction, following the Blue Grass Trail. From Afton Junction we went south on the "Ayr" line through Mt. Ayr and Redding, arriving at Mrs. Whitaker's grandparents about 6 o'clock. The first day out from Moline Friday the 13th, we had our first puncture, a large tack (or small nail) picked-up in the most obscure place a tack might be. This delayed us 45 minutes, and as we had a late start we were obliged to drive from Fairfield to Ottumwa after dark, 27 miles. From Ottumwa on the roads were bad, being hilly and rough. The soil thru that part of Iowa is of clay composition and instead of getting dusty gets bumpy. Hills during the two days trip through Iowa were more numerous than I thought possible without setting one on top of the other-in printers' parlance, imposing them two up. These hills delayed the game somewhat so at darkness on Saturday (the 14th) we were still some 15 miles from grandfolks. And then to help matters we ran up against a threshing machine broken thru a bridge and had to go back a mile and take another road. This threw us off the blue book route and we had to inquire. I earnestly hope my prospects in life will never look as dark complected as that night did. And traveling over strange roads after dark is not conducive to new speed records. But we got in at 6 o'clock, and though they had practically given us up, they soon had ready a splendid supper which only a prosperous farm home knows how to prepare, and we did ample justice to it.
The weather was getting cooler and in the mid-afternoon had begun to cloud up. The wind arose late in the afternoon and a change in the weather was plainly imminent. Next morning we found it had turned considerably colder and had rained quite a bit. I drove into Grant City Sunday morning and found it had rained enough to make a good slick and stiff coating on the clay hills and I had fun shooting around over them. I purchased skid chains and on the way back had no difficulty.
All this Sunday the weather continued to get colder. At night we went into Grant City to Mrs. Whitaker's parents. I put the machine in a private garage and next morning the thermometer registered 20 above-and I had forgotten to drain the radiator! Of course it was frozen. I took it to a garage, where they had a large stove fire going and left it there until it thawed, and found to my relief no tubes were bursted. Here I took my films I had exposed to be developed and got a gallon of wood alcohol to put in the radiator. For the balance of the day I kept close communion with the stove. On Tuesday we drove up into Iowa to visit some relatives. Wednesday we made the necessary preparations to continue our journey.
Thursday morning we expected to get an early start and get into St. Joseph, Mo., about noon. But I reckoned without knowledge of the ways of small town business men, especially on cold mornings. The proprietor of the garage where I left the car was formerly a bank cashier. This might indicate his idea of which business is the more profitable-and by the way, Mac, he handled Ford cars. I presume he had never overcome his banking hour habits, for it was 9 o'clock before I got the car. I had been waiting since seven. And the thermometer this morning was 6 above! Fortunately, the wind was in the north and we were traveling south most of the way. We reached St. Joseph at 3:00, leaving next morning at 9:30, going thru Atchison, Kansas, to Nortonville, where we stopped for dinner, and from there thru Oskaloosa, and Lawrence to Ottawa, which we reached at 7 o'clock, 142 miles. The weather had moderated considerably and was quite pleasant. We stopped at the Nelson Hotel. Our room was heated with a small gas stove burning natural gas, which is so abundant and so economical in this section it is used extensively for fuel and heating purposes. In conversation with the garage man, he advised taking the western route instead of south through Dallas, as I had planned. He said we would find the weather quite favorable, the roads much better and the route at least a week shorter. I reasoned that at the most, four days would put us in New Mexico, and as the temperature had moderated so much, I felt it would have to get real bad quite soon to cause us serious trouble, and a week's time saved, was well worth the chance, besides being the most traveled route.
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| PHOENIX, ARIZONA, Dec. 7, 1914 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, Feb. 19, 1915 | MOLINE, ILLINOIS, May 27, 1915 |
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