Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Sunday at Clipper Gap

In the morning the landscape, which a few hours before was white with chaparral bloom, is now even more white with the bloom of the snow. My hostelry at Clipper Gap is a kind of half ranch, half roadside inn, down in a small valley near the railway; and mine host, a jovial Irish blade of the good old "Donnybrook Fair" variety, who came here in 1851, during the great rush to the gold fields, and, failing to make his fortune in the "diggings," wisely decided to send for his family and settle down quietly on a piece of land, in preference to returning to the "ould sod." He turns out to be a "bit av a sphort meself," and, after showing me a number of minor pets and favorites, such as game chickens, Brahma geese, and a litter of young bull pups, he proudly leads the way to the barn to show me "Barney," his greatest pet of all, whom he at present keeps securely tied up for safe-keeping. More than one evil-minded person has a hankering after Barney's gore since his last battle for the championship of Placer County, he explains, in which he inflicted severe punishment on his adversary and resolutely refused to give in; although his opponent on this important occasion was an imported dog, brought into the county by Barney's enemies, who hoped to fill their pockets by betting against the local champion. But Barney, who is a medium-sized, ferocious-looking bull terrier, "scooped" the crowd backing the imported dog, to the extent of their "pile," by "walking all round" his adversary; and thereby stirring up the enmity of said crowd against himself, who - so says Barney's master - have never yet been able to scare up a dog able to "down" Barney. As we stand in the barn-door Barney eyes me suspiciously, and then looks at his master; but luckily for me his master fails to give the word. Noticing that the dog is scarred and seamed all over, I inquire the reason, and am told that he has been fighting wild boars in the chaparral, of which gentle pastime he is extremely fond. "Yes, and he'll tackle a cougar too, of which there are plenty of them around here, if that cowardly animal would only keep out of the trees," admiringly continues mine host, as he orders Barney into his empty salt-barrel again.

Today is Sunday, and it rains and snows with little interruption, so that I am compelled to stay over till Monday morning. While it is raining at Clipper Gap, it is snowing higher up in the mountains, and a railway employee 'volunteers the cheering information that, during the winter, the snow has drifted and accumulated in the sheds, so that a train can barely squeeze through, leaving no room for a person to stand to one side. I have my own ideas of whether this state of affairs is probable or not, however, and determine to pay no heed to any of these rumors, but to push ahead.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Sunday 27th Apr 1884 (17:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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