Laura Davis

Laura Davis

Two Wheels to the West Coast

Freedom Press | January 2nd, 2000

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This is an excerpt from my travelogue, Two Wheels to the West Coast

The beauties of nature are scattered with a more lavish hand across the country lying between the summit of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the shores where the surf romps and rolls over the sands of the Pacific, in Golden Gate Park, than in a journey of the same length in any other part of the world. Such, at least, is the verdict of many whose fortune it has been to traverse that favored stretch of country. Nothing but the limited power of man's eyes prevents him from standing on the top of the mountains and surveying, at a glance, the whole glorious panorama that stretches away for more than two hundred miles to the west,terminating in the gleaming waters of the Pacific Ocean. Could he do this, he would behold, for the first seventy-five or eighty miles, avast, billowy sea of foot-hills, clothed with forests of somber pine and bright, evergreen oaks; and, lower down, dense patches of white-blossomed chaparral, looking in the enchanted distance like irregular banks of snow. Then the world-renowned valley of the Sacramento River, with its level plains of dark, rich soil, its matchless fields of ripening grain,traversed here and there by streams that, emerging from the shadowy depths of the foot-hills, wind their way, like gleaming threads of silver,across the fertile plain and join the Sacramento, which receives them,one and all, in her matronly bosom and hurries with them on to the sea.

Towns and villages, with white church-spires, irregularly sprinkled over hill and vale, although sown like seeds from the giant hand of a mighty husband man, would be seen nestling snugly amid groves of waving shade and semi-tropical fruit trees. Beyond all this the lower coast-range,where, toward San Francisco, Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais - grim sentinels of the Golden Gate - rear their shaggy heads skyward, and seem to look down with a patronizing air upon the less pretentious hills that border the coast and reflect their shadows in the blue water of San Francisco Bay. Upon the sloping sides of these hills sweet, nutritious grasses grow, upon which peacefully graze the cows that supply San Francisco with milk and butter.

Various attempts have been made from time to time, by ambitious cyclists, to wheel across America from ocean to ocean; but - "Around the World!"

"The impracticable scheme of a visionary," was the most charitable verdict one could reasonably have expected.