Oh, What a Bell

What a Bell

What a Bell

In this photograph, what is its most salient feature? I mean besides her. It is that stereotypical Bell helmet. Now it shouts dork, but back then it was on the cutting edge. There were no stylish lids back then. It was either this or go bare head naked. We were fearless back then in our matching bonny bonnets. We cruised our laden bicycles through the South, the East, Midwest and Northwest, all self supported. This was in 1982. There was no Internet, cell phones, or digital cameras. We used postcards to tweet our progress, occasionally called from a pay phone and wrote a journal instead of a blog. Our camera was of the 35mm film variety. We used mailers to send the film rolls off to be developed and didn’t see the results until after the trip. We met a woman in rural Louisiana who wanted to put our picture in the local paper, but she couldn’t locate the photographer. She was nice to us, but she thought that we were crazy.

Our journal makes for a nice window into an important part of our lives that is now many years in the past. Anne kept detailed financial records. We had budgeted $10K for a six-month tour of America, but only spent about half that. An anachronistic ledger item included, “expensive dinner” [for two]: $6.97. Other recurring expenses include, laundry: 50¢, motel: $24 and camp $6.

The journal had a daily form to fill out. Each page started with the housekeeping items, Title, Date, From and To points and the day’s Start, Finish and Totals for both Miles and Time. We used the mile markings from state road maps to gauge our mileage. There were no bike computers. The maps often left much to the imagination, which usually devolved into a spirited debate. I was always the more expansive one, while Anne was more conservative. Since she usually held the pen, her opinion always seemed to carry more weight than mine. We ended up with 5,000 miles or about 50 miles / day, if you count only riding day, which was about two-thirds of the total. On each page is space for descriptions of:

  • Road Surface / Terrain / Traffic
  • Map(s) / Guide
  • Weather
  • Flora / Fauna
  • Others in Group
  • Points of Interest.

The Roads section was usually just a listing of our path, but sometimes “paved, few shoulders, lots of traffic” meant four miles across the Atchafalaya Swamp, on a raised two lane causeway, with no shoulder, in rush-hour traffic. I think that later that same day a cop ordered us onto the sidewalk. Maps listed the maps that we used, which were usually state road maps, USGS topo maps and in Michigan, county maps. Weather paid most attention to wind and rain and less so to sun and temperature, unless there was no wind or rain. The last three sections pertained to wildlife, people and place and were more interesting and varied more from day-to-day. Afterall, our main objective for taking this trip was sightseeing. Here are some examples:

  • Paved, four mile causeway east of Krotz Spring, heavy traffic on 190
  • Louisiana State, USGS
  • Cool, sunny and hazy in AM, in PM rain slow at first, later heavy
  • Lizards doing it, Blue birds, Spanish moss, “star-flowers” (white) and red orchids? both in swampy areas
  • Talked to Mr. Dreyfuss of Dreyfuss’s Grocery in Krotz Springs for almost an hour and Mrs. Chauvin in Rosedale.
  • Some nice Ante Bellum homes around Maringouin and Rosedale

The Comments section is where the real story telling took place, but that will have to wait for another day. This was our ‘Great Adventure’. It took six months to live, it will probably take a life time to retell.

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