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.

Looking for Supper

Passing the next night in the dug-out of a homesteader, in the forks of the North and South Platte, I pass in the morning Buffalo Bill's home ranch (the place where a ranch proprietor himself resides is denominated the "home ranch" as distinctive from a ranch presided over by employes only), the house and improvements of which are said to be the finest in Western Nebraska. Taking dinner at North Platte City, I cross over a substantial wagon-bridge, spanning the turgid yellow stream just below where the north and south branches fork, and proceed eastward as "the Platte" simply, reaching Brady Island for the night. Here I encounter extraordinary difficulties in getting supper. Four families, representing the Union Pacific force at this place, all living in separate houses, constitute the population of Brady Island. "All our folks are just recovering from the scarlet fever," is the reply to my first application; "Muvver's down to ve darden on ve island, and we ain't dot no bread baked," says a barefooted youth at house No. 2; "Me ould ooman's across ter the naybur's, 'n' there ain't a boite av grub cooked in the shanty," answers the proprietor of No. 3, seated on the threshold, puffing vigorously at the traditional short clay; "We all to Nord Blatte been to veesit, und shust back ter home got mit notings gooked," winds up the gloomy programme at No. 4. I am hesitating about whether to crawl in somewhere, supperless, for the night, or push on farther through the darkness, when, "I don't care, pa! it's a shame for a stranger to come here where there are four families and have to go without supper," greet my ears in a musical, tremulous voice. It is the convalescent daughter of house No. 1, valiantly championing my cause; and so well does she succeed that her "pa" comes out, and notwithstanding my protests, insists on setting out the best they have cooked. Homesteads now become more frequent, groves of young cottonwoods, representing timber claims, are occasionally encountered, and section-house accommodation becomes a thing of the past.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Monday 09th Jun 1884 (20:00 +0000) | 1 Comment | Permalink

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