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.

Grand Views and Rain

From this ridge an extensive view of the broad, billowy plains and surrounding mountains is obtained. Elk Mountain still seems close at hand, its towering form marking the western limits of the Medicine Bow Range whose dark pine-clad slopes form the western border of the plains. Back of them to the west is the Snowy Range, towering in ghostly grandeur as far above the timber-clad summits of the Medicine Bow Range as these latter are above the grassy plains at their base. To the south more snowy mountains stand out against the sky like white tracery on a blue ground, with Long's Peak and Fremont's Peak towering head and shoulders above them all. The Rattlesnake Range, with Laramie Peak rearing its ten thousand feet of rugged grandeur to the clouds, are visible to the north. On the east is the Black Hills Range, the last chain of the Rockies, and now the only barrier intervening between me and the broad prairies that roll away eastward to the Missouri River and "the States."

A genuine Laramie Plains rain-storm is hovering overhead as I pull out of Rock Creek, after dinner, and in a little while the performance begins. There is nothing of the gentle pattering shower about a rain and wind storm on these elevated plains; it comes on with a blow and a bluster that threatens to take one off his feet. The rain is dashed about in the air by the wild, blustering wind, and comes from all directions at the same time. While you are frantically hanging on to your hat, the wind playfully unbuttons your rubber coat and lifts it up over your head and flaps the wet, muddy corners about in your face and eyes; and, ere you can disentangle your features from the cold uncomfortable embrace of the wet mackintosh, the rain - which "falls" upward as well as down, and sidewise, and every other way-has wet you through up as high as the armpits; and then the gentle zephyrs complete your discomfiture by purloining your hat and making off across the sodden plain with it, at a pace that defies pursuit. The storm winds up in a pelting shower of hailstones - round chunks of ice that cause me to wince whenever one makes a square hit, and they strike the steel spokes of the bicycle and make them produce harmonious sounds. Trundling through Cooper Lake Basin, after dark, I get occasional glimpses of mysterious shadowy objects flitting hither and thither through the dusky pall around me. The basin is full of antelope, and my presence here in the darkness fills them with consternation; their keen scent and instinctive knowledge of a strange presence warn them of my proximity; and as they cannot see me in the darkness they are flitting about in wild alarm.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Friday 30th May 1884 (22:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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