SAIL ACROSS AMERICA
of the road
So this is it - there isn't any more road north to sail in the US! I have crossed the United States from south to north by wind power and it's time to head for home. Streetsail Across America has exceeded my highest expectations and was the experience of a lifetime. And,of course, it was my pleasure to share every day of it with everyone.
So..... why? I've had 49 days of sailing to think about it, with the best conclusion being to see if I could do it. I'd like to be remembered as the guy who figured it out and went after a cool wind-powered idea. That's it.
Money - It seems like money is the only reason that people do things anymore. Financial gain is certainly not a reason I've done this, otherwise I've failed miserably! I have had plenty of help from sponsors and private donors which I will thank below. After the dust settles my total financial hit will be ~ $7,000. Not bad for the experience!
Obstacles: There were many reasons not to go, certainly had I been less passionate I would have abandoned the idea for a number of good reasons: Fear - known (semi's & Streetsailing don't mix) bad weather, injury potential, etc. - unknown ...? Naysayers - there were many -you all know who you are. The negative people only fueled my drive to go. Thanks! Job - a 10 week unpaid leave of absence is hardly a career-builder.
HUGE thanks to my sponsors and supporters:
BioCrave : you gave me last minute support that lessened the financial sting. I believe in your product and wish to promote it- had my father not smoked he would have just turned 67 and been on hand to witness my finish.
Ezzy Sails USA: thanks Tim and David for your great sails & mast. They were the engine that drove me along 2119.3 miles of countryside. They always rigged easily and dependably, and were a pleasure to sail with. (Plus they look cool!)
Da Kine: Your windsurfing gear was the best. I never had any problems with any of it breaking or wearing out - thanks for everything!
Globalstar: The satellite telephone was an invaluable tool that not only allowed me to share this experience with the public, but provided a margin of safety when there was potential danger. DeLorme: Your Atlas and Gazetteer series navigated me safely through the countryside with such great detail, I never had any doubt where we were. Speedtech: The wind and weather instruments came in handy for wind readings, which helped determine which sails to use.
UN Clothing: Thanks for all the sportswear - it looked and fit great!
Fish Outta H2O: JR, your Streetsailers are awesome! Definitely the right choice for the project and I strongly recommend to anyone interested in trying the sport to check out www.streetsailing.com. There's nothing closer to flying (legally) without leaving the ground. Also for the incredible job you've done with this website. It wouldn't be the same without your creative input. We'll ride again my friend.
Individual donors: THANK YOU ALL who believed in me and the project. You helped me to make a little sailing history. I look forward to contacting you all individually to give my thanks by phone. Friends & family who were there when I was in doubt, who lent an ear to my ideas and encouraged me to go for it.
My brother George, who took his entire year's vacation to accompany me on the first leg through TX
Gator - for cheering me up through all the Caddyshacking and achieving the desired effect!
My wife Nathalie - for supporting my dream. Yours is next.
Towers Productions: thanks for taking interest in the project. Hugo, Jeff & Doug - you guys were a blast to work with despite all the retakes and delays. Through your work we will be able to share Streetsail Across America with the public.
Guestbook signers: your words of encouragement drove me to the finish. I read them late at night before retiring - carrying your words into my dreams. All the folks we met along the way: though too numerous to list individually, you know who you are. Your kindness and hospitality were the most enjoyable aspect of Streetsail Across America.
If anyone else would like to contribute I wouldn't refuse.
Simply send a check to:
4975 Del Monte Avenue, #106
San Diego, CA 92107
What's next? Streetsail Across Australia has a nice ring to it.... for now I'm going to spend a leisurely week with my wife driving back to San Diego.
Mothership Commander's last words
I am very pleased that Bob was able to pursue his dream, and relieved that everything went without any major incidents. Sharing a part of the journey with my husband was worth all the money we spent, and all the sacrifices. It was a great experience that I will never forget, and I'm coming home enriched by memories. I met the kindest people in the world and made new friends. This trip has been the best of all. I'd like to thank all my friends for their great support: David for getting up at 5:00 am on a Saturday morning to take me to the airport Claudia for your hospitality and your friendship Simone for helping Bob on his research for info, and giving him the idea of such an event.You are the one at the origin of this. Tania for calling me from Italy just to wish me a good trip. Steve for being there always, and keeping an eye on me when I was alone, and ...feeding me. Thanks for the restaurant. Jason & Lauri for entertaining me when Bob was away. I won't forget that night...Bats are among us.... Serge & Lulue for all your ideas of sponsoring. Holly for e-mailing me almost everyday, and being there for me. Thanks for your friendship. Rich & Lynn, Tony, Fred & Bene, Andy, Rick, Souad, Heather and her family, and all the others for believing in Bob and supporting his dream.
49 - Final Day
June 16, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 21.5 miles
Cumulative Distance: 2119.3 miles
Distance to Finish: 0.0 miles
Location: Maida, ND
Latitude 49 D 00.00 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 21.89 Min West
Has Been Streetsailed
Today started like all of the other 48 days of Streetsail: WIND CHECK! Nada. Uh oh. No worries - this is North Dakota, it has to blow from somewhere. The early risers of Langdon were driving by our parked morthership, slowing down to read the signs with looks of puzzlement on their faces. We had George over for a pancake breakfast before heading out to the starting point around 9:30 AM. It didn't look good, all the flags were indicating a north wind.... Uh oh. We arrived at the site and found the wind was north out there as well. Uh oh. After Hugo and Jeff filmed George and I hemming and hawing about the fickle wind maybe swinging west later.... it did! Funny how a small change in wind direction can change your entire day. We began to rig up the 5.0 just as Andy Wakefield from WDAZ TV arrived and conducted an interview - allowing the wind to rise and swing even further west. By 11:00 AM we were off sailing for the border. Being Saturday, highway 1 was fairly devoid of truck traffic, but we had a little convoy of media and well wishers slowly making its way through Langdon, causing some attention from locals on the street. Just north of Langdon the wind began to strengthen, picking up the pace. It seemed the finish line was coming sooner than I thought. The countryside out here is so green and lush, with just a few trees planted in windbreak rows. Nathalie was commanding the mothership while George rode shotgun, playing some of my favorite music out the speakers rigged outside of the mothership. It was like I had fantasized the finish - sailing fast and in control along the green countryside. Everything was going perfect until... pssssst. At first I thought I'd startled a rattlesnake in the grass, but then I thought "rattlesnakes in North Dakota?" What a time for a flat! The tread had worn so thin that just went. That's okay - Nathalie needed something to eat anyway. In a way I too was glad for the delay while I changed it - I didn't want Streetsail to end just yet. Sailing on a little farther I came over a ridge and there it was: Maida, ND with a population of six (sometimes seven), one dog and one cat. The border crossing was humorously small and unthreatening like most national borders are. There were no massing of Canadians along the border looking for a way in to the states, no guard towers, etc. As I sailed up to the checkpoint, I was told I could sail just beyond the stop and to the actual border a few meters more. Nathalie and George pulled in behind me and helped celebrate my finish - it was a sweet ending to a long voyage. America has been streetsailed. After conducting a few more interviews with WDAZ (which ran first story on the 6:00 news - thanks!) and the film crew for The Weather Channel production, it was time to pack up and have a beer! The only visible commercial building was Jack's Bar and Steakhouse, just adjacent the border and the beer was the best of the trip and seemed a fitting way to wind down. So that's it! Tomorrow I'll submit my final wrap up of Streetsail Across America - tonight is time to celebrate and relax. Thanks for following and all the support - it made a HUGE difference. Sail On! bob
last news from the mothership commander
I'll be brief because I drank way too much celebrating Bob's success. It was a great moment that I will never forget. The TV, the interviews, Bob passing the Canadian border, and the excitement were overwhelming. My husband is the first one who ever crossed the USA by wind power, I'm extremely proud of him. His determination, hard work, and high spirit paid off. He is a great inspiration for me because he proved that everything is possible if you believe in yourself. Now we're looking forward to going back to San Diego and see our friends.
June 15, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 88.6 miles
Cumulative Distance: 2097.8 miles
Distance to Finish: 23.2 miles
Location: 6 miles south of Landgon, ND
Latitude 48 D 41.32 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 21.707 Min West
Thanks to all of you who have been wishing me wind - it came today all at once! Today was like taking the final exam in Advanced Streetsailing, applying nearly two years of planning, R&D and knowledge all in one long day. Tomorrow should be graduation. We knew it was going to be a big day - in order to increase the chances of reaching the Canadian border on June 17th we had to sail up as close as possible. I've learned that in North Dakota, the green light to the north doesn't stay on for very long, so with the westerly wind forecast we knew we had to come up with some big miles. Nathalie and I were both up early - she to work out like she always does before I put her in the cage of the mothership for most of the day, and I to prepare for all the contingencies today might bring. We drove the 9 miles out to our starting point from Cooperstown twice, since we drove away with a pair of shoes on the ground. Small delay. The wind was definitely west and brisk enough for the small 4.0 sail. Choosing sail sizes is like choosing golf clubs - it all depends on how much wind there is and what relative direction to it you plan to sail. It was great to be moving north again after being skunked yesterday! At 8:35 AM I had to stop for a live phone-in radio interview with Rob on KSDN's Aberdeen Today show, then right again on KSDO in San Diego on the Sully & Scooter Show. One of the favorite questions people seem to like to ask is what happens to me when a semi truck screams by. I like to tell them that's when I can catch some air off their shock wave. No worries about that on this Highway 1 - apart from a few cars now and then I had it pretty much to myself. The wind continued to build to the point where the 4.0 was overpowered, so Nathalie helped me change down to the 2.8, my smallest sail. How can a little sheet of plastic pull so hard? When the wind increases in strength it also becomes much more turbulent, with giant air punches attempting to violently yank the booms from my grip. In these conditions its not safe to use the harness around my waist for risk of being tossed off the board to leeward, so all I could do was hang on and try to keep my arms in their sockets. Nathalie was great at encouraging me with calm reassurances over the radio along with reports of upcoming cars. North Dakotans must all be in a hurry, since today most of them barely slowed at all while passing us. Hugo and Jeff from Towers Productions intercepted us in their rental van around midday to begin filming the final days for The Weather Channel's Atmospheres segment. It seemed ironic that they filmed my start in calm conditions and now near the finish in a gale. Even the mothership signs are blowing off, we're having to do a lot of retaping. During one of our rest breaks we were visited by Dana King from the North Dakota Highway Patrol. These guys have all been very supportive and offer loads of local info. In these conditions I was able to sail along cautiously between 12 - 15 mph. The object was to not go too fast and loose control. I had another fall onto the road when a fast-passing car momentarily distracted me, but I was okay. We were passing through Lawton, ND when a squall line made it even windier! We resumed again after a nap, focusing on getting to Langdon, which would have been a total distance of around 92 miles for the day. The wind had been clocking around northward all afternoon, and by early evening it had become so north and so light I was reduced to a crawl. Changing back to the 4.0 didn't help, and it was getting late, so it was time to just hang it up and come back tomorrow, six miles south of Langdon. Total distance for today was 88.6 miles, not bad given the conditions. The 100-mile day will have to wait until Streetsail Across ?..... Pulling into Langdon for the night it seemed like the whole town already knew who were. News travels fast out here! Tomorrow's forecast is for more NW, although less of it. 23 miles to the finish... stay tuned! bob
June 14, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 0 miles
Cumulative Distance: 2009.2 miles
Distance to Finish: 111.8 miles
Location: Jct highway 1 and 200, 9 miles east of Cooperstown, ND
Latitude 47 D 26.53 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 18.47 Min West
Is A Virtue
I think I'm going to take up a sport that isn't totally dependant on something as fluky as the wind. Mother nature certainly isn't cooperating today with more northerlies and incessant rain. We've driven over to check out the nearest civilization at Cooperstown until we get a wind shift. It gave me a chance to conduct three radio call-in interviews and a local interview, as well as set up a few more. Nathalie and I were able to windowshop around and meet a few locals out and about in the rain. The break also made a good rest day, since the plan for tomorrow is to hit it very hard in the predicted strong westerlies and shoot for Langdon, about 95 miles away. It is possible if we don't stop too much or get held up by unforseen circumstances. That way Saturday's finish will be just 17 miles, wind permitting. Hugo and Jeff from Towers Productions are flying into Devils Lake this evening and driving down to rendezvous with us to cover the final days. Hope they brought their raincoats!
June 13, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 41.2 miles
Cumulative Distance: 2009.2 miles
Distance to Finish: 111.8 miles
Location: Jct highway 1 and 200, 9 miles east of Cooperstown, ND
Latitude 47 D 26.53 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 18.47 Min West
North Dakota isn't going to let me pass easily.... but I knew that from my wind research. The general pattern is for SE preceding a front, followed by N afterwards. This morning we had the kind of big wind San Diego only gets but once a year if we're lucky. Only problem was, I had to beat into it! Even my smallest wedge of a sail @ 2.8 square meters was a handful as I clawed slowly along to windward, one mile at a time. The forecast had it clocking E, as it had yesterday, but instead it petered out around noon, and began to rain. Wetsuit time! After switching to the 5.0, we continued on in the rain, when we were found by reporters from the Jamestown Sun newspaper. That's been the hard part for media to drive all the way out from the major cities to the remote areas we're at. A Fargo TV news station was supposed to come out today... but we never saw them. We've had quite a few radio interview requests via email, and I'm doing my best to phone in on time. The problem is that I'm allowed 30 minutes/day on my Globalstar satellite phone, which is used mainly for sending and receiving email. There are no payphones in most of these small towns we pass through. We pulled into Hannaford for lunch, spotting a house that had a few large, peculiar signs out front, with sayings like "All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Creepy. Wonder what their neighbors think? During our lunch break the wind had veered even more north, making sailing northward almost impossible. It is these conditions which frustrate me the most, and I would have given my left wheel to have been able to sail off in another direction. So, I was stuck again. Nap time! The wind seemed to have veered E, but after a short attempt found it was a temporary fluke. So we sat a bit longer, and while out on a run, Nathalie came back saying she thought the wind had changed.... she was right! It wasn't much, but just a few degrees makes a huge difference. I was able to sail slowly up to an intersection at walking pace where the road ran due west for six miles, which I knew would be a fast point of sail. Sure enough, I soon forgot today's frustration and burned up those six miles on one of the most enjoyable sails of the trip. Nathalie has a lot more fun too, when things are going faster and smoother. All good things come to an end, like our day at the point where the road turned north again. 41 miles isn't too bad considering the wind conditions. The forecast is for more north (hope they're wrong!) and drier. While de-rigging, we met Bob who owned the place we were parked out in front of and invited us to park in front of his house. He's 71 and just finished building this huge building by himself, hoping someday to open a restaurant here. That's his dream. My dream is to just finish this trip on Saturday! I passed the 2,000 mile mark today, which about doubles the previous record distance covered by wind power over land. Thanks to all who have signed the guestbook - I read them all today. Wow, your words of encouragement mean a lot and motivate me to fight on against the wind.
Luck has played a very important role in this trip - and today was a perfect example with the wind being right from the NE in the morning, clocking to a strong SE by afternoon. Perfect. About the only thing not perfect with today's sailing was the rows of trees planted right along the roadside to break the wind. Where's my flamethrower when I needed it? It was bouts of speed sailing at 25 mph followed by what seemed like endless stretches of pumping with a little 4.0 sail in near calm conditions. It all worked out though, and we were able to finish nearly 70 miles north of where we started this morning, all by wind power. Our friend Duane from Forbes has been acting as our Publicity Agent, contacting all the local newspapers and Fargo TV stations which is keeping us busy. I don't mind, I want to deliver full value to my sponsors without whom I certainly wouldn't be here now. We sailed through the towns of Oakes, then Verona where we had lunch in the local park. The ride was bumpy, with the sporadic trees and other structures stirring up the wind to the point where I couldn't harness in without worrying about being lifted off my feet and pitched over the front of the board by a sudden, unanticipated gust of wind. In fact, I notched by second real fall when I failed to notice a single, bushy tree to windward. Normally, the wind pressure on the sail gives me something to lean against. That tree had my name on it and formed a wind shadow, literally sucking me towards it and into the grassy ditch as I passed through its void.... it was over in an instant. Lucky again, I was okay. My hands are beginning to suffer from the constant gripping of the booms. I can hardly form a fist in the morning, as if arthritis is setting in...maybe it is?! We're right near the town of Fargo, ND - and I want to say I haven't met a single person who talks like they did in the movie "Fargo." In fact, all the people I've met here in the Midwest have been nothing but genuine, friendly and supportive. That movie portrayed them in a bad light. During a rest stop, while Nathalie was off on a walk to the next county, a patrolman stopped to see if we were okay. He could have driven off, but instead spent 20 minutes giving me helpful information on road conditions ahead, weather and restaurant locations. This road is fairly busy, with a fair number of semi trucks heading up to catch I-94. They've been great at slowing down and passing way wide with a friendly wave. Often cars will come up on the mothership, read our "PASS WITH CARE WORLD RECORD IN PROGRESS" sign, and hang back. Nathalie always radios me that they're there, and I'll wave them to come around. Only on this road that process happens quite frequently. By 5:00 PM we sailed over the I-94 overpass, and finished the day six miles farther near Sanborn, ND. Dark clouds with streaks of rain were approaching, and we were both drained from sailing and driving. After de-rigging Nathalie and I drove into Sanborn looking for a laundromat. While still in her workout clothes, Nathalie popped in to ask for the location of one at the only building that seemed occupied - a tavern filled with all the local grain elevator workers who stopped talking and just stared at her.... so we went to the next town to find a laundromat. Currently we're parked in the Valley City municipal parking lot, waiting for another t-storm to hammer us. Tomorrow's forecast is for more NE winds - and LOTS of it at 20 - 30 mph. Looks like the little 2.8 sail will see some action. I have 153 more miles to sail in four days.... I will need some luck!
This morning I checked the fluids in the mothership (yes, Bob wants me to do that too), and we left. I wasn't very comfortable driving on the road we took because of the traffic, and the big semi trucks we encountered many times. There was no shoulder to pull the mothership into, and Bob was having some strong wind and big problems with the evergreens along the way that were forming a wall preventing the wind to pass through. I was very tense and a bit nervous specially when I saw him going straight into the ditch. It was like a cartoon when you see the character getting smashed and getting up again. The only thing I could see was Bob's hat floating on top of the thick layer of grass that was covering the ditch ( fortunately there was grass). A second later he got up and on his board he was sailing again... Now that we are almost at the end of our journey, people realize what Bob has achieved and that he is really going to make it. They made him a local hero. The word had been spread all over North Dakota, and everywhere we go people know about us. Some take pictures along the way, and kids are asking for autographs. We don't have to call for media coverage, reporters are driving all over to find us. It is funny, and almost embarrassing because we are just regular people after all. The end is near and it's almost sad, because I'm having a very good time.
June 11, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 40.2 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1898.8 miles
Distance to Finish: 216.3 miles
Location: 1.5 miles east of Ludden, ND Position:
Latitude 46 D 00.50 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 05.66 Min West
Wind But North
I knew North Dakota wouldn't be as easy wind-wise. My wind research showed that the wind could be more variable than in any other state. Now it seems like all the south wind I had coming up had slammed against the Canadian border and is rebounding back southward again. We had a quiet night at Elm Lake last night, and had a few raindrops tapping the roof in the early morning, with some heavy weather passing just north of us. I had a phone-in interview at 8:30 on our friend Rob's morning show Aberdeen Today at KSDN 930 AM. I was a surprise guest who made a "unique" topic for Rob's show. Good fun! We drove back to Forbes to start the day's sailing with most of the town residents including two great locals we met yesterday, Duane and RusselI, who were standing by to watch me rig and depart. I knew we weren't going to go far, since the wind was howling from right out of the north. Dang! I did my best to make a graceful exit, but looked more like a novice trying to pump my way out of town, stumbling over in the turbulent breezes. We pulled over just clear of town, waiting for the wind to veer enough to sail on. During this time a reporter from the Ellendale newspaper stopped by for an interview, tipped off by our friend Duane, who drove over to let her know we were coming. Again, Nathalie had her weights out and was squat thrusting all over the fields. By 12:30 PM the wind had veered enough east of north to sail somewhat. I had the little 4.0 up in the strong gusty blasts, and it was a real challenge to eek some headway to windward. I tried all the tricks too - over inflating my tires to reduce rolling resistance, fine tuning the sail for max power - even wearing streamlined clothes! At times the drag overcame thrust and I came to a standstill. It was 5 miles of this effort until I came to ND 11, running east/west. Since the wind was more north than east, I was able to make good speed to the east, which I had to do anyway to pick up ND 1, running right up to the finish at Maida. This was extreme streetsailing, with powerful gusts nearly blowing me right off the road. (JR - like the squall we sailed through in KS, but lasting all day!) Nathalie and I sailed into Ellendale, ND and did some shopping and other chores. Our friend Duane took my headset for our 2-way radios over to an electronics shop to re-solder the wires that are shorting. Without the headset we only have 1-way communication with Nathalie talking to me, and all I can do is nod in acknowledgement. Unfortunately the repair didn't remedy the problem. Duane also led us over to a park where we could take on more RV water. What a great guy - he really helped us out. The 20 or so miles from Ellendale out east to the corner of where highway 1 turns north were extremely windy and exciting. It was nice to be back on starbord tack again after spending most of the trip on port. We were both enjoying all the wildlife I was flushing out from the roadside grasses. Pheasants, grouse, ducks, etc are all accustomed to cars driving by, but the sail spooks nearly everything. So we get to see lots of wildlife in flight! A white pickup drove by, then stopped up ahead to chat. Turns out we passed a farmyard and the couple was in such a hurry to catch up to us they didn't even put their shoes on! They used to sail land yachts at over 50 mph on this same highway and had to check us out. What a fun-loving couple! Just beyond the little town of Ludden, ND was the dreaded corner where ND 1 bends from east to north.... and I was stuck. Hopefully tomorrow's wind will allow some northing. We headed back to Ludden, where the bar keep said we could park next to the old jail for the night. Come on SOUTH wind!
News from the mothership commander
My trip on board of the mothership has been very educational. I'm getting better at "feeling the wind", noticing the change of directions, the different patterns, and the effects that can cause such things. I'm learning more about the weather and how to "read the clouds" and distinguish the armless ones from those that can build up into thunder storms. I also read the brochures on how to spot tornadoes that George left for us. My tasks beside being in charge of the mothership are various. I help Bob to get started: bring the sail, unfold it, make sure he has everything, sunscreen on his face included. At the end of the day, I do the same thing but in reverse. I also do all the cooking (make sure his diet isn't based on cookies only), and the massages in the evening. Sorry guys I'm not available anymore!
June 10, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 28.8 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1858.6 miles
Distance to Finish: 256.5 miles
Location: Forbes, ND
Latitude 45 D 56.60 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 46.94 Min West
The Bosenko family made sure we were properly nourished for the day ahead as we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday breakfast with them. Fortunately there wasn't any storm damage down here, but there was hail damage up in the area we that were going to stay. After refueling the mothership with nearly a day's wages in gas, we headed back out to the park we fled last night. Nathalie was able to get a run in while I caught up with today's journal. Wind-wise we were looking pretty good with NW blowing in behind the storms. At this point our route ran due east for nine miles before turning north again, so the sail through Leola went quite fast. It was that turn north that became tricky, since the wind was more north than west, and very light which makes it tough. We parked for a couple of hours waiting for the wind to swing back to the SE as forecast, but it never did. Rob from KSDN 930 AM radio in Aberdeen, SD stopped by to set up a phone-in radio interview with me tomorrow morning. He just happened to be driving by... The day became hot and sticky, but not much wind. I was able to pump the 18 miles to Forbes, ND which was a real challenge. Luckily the terrain out here is super-flat. The wind seems to phase in and out, so at times I can sail fairly well, but then it will veer more in front of me and die, nearly bringing me to a halt. We met a local gal in front of her place who said they watched last night's wall cloud pass right overhead, with little swirling fingers of funnels hanging down, but none made it to the ground. Creepy. They talk about these storms with such nonchalance, like they happen all the time. I'll go back to San Diego. The county road we were on was so small that there was no sign to mark the border between North and South Dakota. We knew we had passed into North Dakota when we arrived in Forbes, pop. <50. The only bar in town, the Long Branch Saloon, was closed, but the owner Rus happened to be inside defrosting a freezer and let us in for a cold beer which really hit the spot on a day like this. I decided that the day's sail was over, since the wind was still so light, so we packed up and headed for Elm Lake Resort, on a reservoir just a few miles away. We followed Rus out there because its really out in the boonies, without any signs to show which dirt road to turn down. It was almost like we arrived at the secret getaway for locals only, with families enjoying themselves on the shady shores on picnic tables. We went for a refreshing swim and had dinner at the resort's restaurant. The folks here are so friendly and warm - we were really feeling North Dakota! The sun now doesn't set until 9:30, with light lingering past 10:00, so it gets late quickly. We're parked just off the lake, with crickets chirping and peace all around. Tomorrow I'll continue to sail north approx 20 miles before turning east to catch ND 1, which runs straight up the entire state. Locals say its a great road with not much traffic, so I feel good about that. Streetsailing and semi's don't mix... bob
June 9, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 75.7 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1829.8 miles
Distance to Finish: 285.3 miles
Location: 4 miles west of Leola, SD
Latitude 45 D 43.35 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 01.86 Min West
News from the
June 8, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 68.9 miles Cumulative Distance: 1747.9 miles
Distance to Finish: 361 miles
Location: 8 miles north of Miller, SD
Latitude 44 D 38.94 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 59.30 Min West
Light For North
Had a long, quiet morning in a farmer's barnyard lot, just outside of Kimball, where we finished last night. The wind didn't come up right away, so while Nathalie worked out, I checked over the mothership, wrote emails, etc. Nathalie cut my hair yesterday morning, since I was sporting the world's worst haircut from a barber in OK. Why do you think I'm always wearing a cap? As predicted, the wind started filling in light from the south, and I headed off on the westward road towards Kimball. This would have been impossible yesterday due to the west wind. The big 7-oh sail carried me along nicely in the slight breeze, and allowed me to pump a lot of air when needed. Sometimes Streetsailing more resembles rowing than sailing. The drawback is that the sail, mast & boom are heavy. We almost had a clean getaway from Kimball when Darla, the local newspaper editor, saw us and conducted a short interview for their paper. The wind began to build, but out of due south, making sailing due north rather slow. Sometimes it would veer to either side for awhile, allowing me to scoop it with the sail and really accelerate. This part of South Dakota is absolutely perfect for streetsailing - even better than Kansas. The few hills are slight and it's just ranchland and grass all around. Tomorrow may be the trip's 100-miler if the wind blows as expected... We pulled into a shady picnic area just off the road in Gann Valley for lunch. There are 25 residents - and we met about half of the them while resting there. Nathalie cracks me up on our rest stops. Since I'm getting all the exercise sailing and she's sitting behind the wheel, we switch so that I'm sitting and she jumps out with her weights for a few sets of lunges, squats, curls, etc. I can't blame her - it's a long day following me around at slow driving speeds. Before long the few folks that were around came out to say hi and meet us. Again, meeting people has been the best part of the entire trip. Since the wind was still blowing and we had another 40+ miles to go, we hit the road. By now the wind had veered to a more SW and strengthened, allowing higher sailing speeds. It was also more work, for I kept the big sail up all day, pushing myself faster and faster. What tires me so much is the constant concentration while sailing at high speed. I'm always looking around for clues to the wind conditions I'll encounter just a few seconds ahead, like the bending grass on the roadside, upcoming obstacles like trees or buildings that cast wind shadows. Then there's traffic to anticipate and steering around road kill and holes in the road. It's amazing how much the land causes friction of the wind. Sailing past a lake is always fun because the wind blows much harder off of it than the land. By 4:30 we'd reached Miller, SD and paraded down the main drag. I always feel a little uncomfortable going through towns and just wish to be less visible. The folks were great though, offering their best wishes for my success. Nobody even yelled out "you're crazy!." After stopping for a few groceries we hit it for the final eight miles out to the place where I should be to catch up totally on my 45-mile per day pace. If I can average 45 miles per day for the next eight days I'll be at the Canadian border on the evening of June 16! Of course, anything can still happen to sabotage that plan, but I'm going for it. It also worked out that the Lake Louise Recreation Area is just down the road, so we're camped out there, enjoying a gorgeous lake setting. EIGHT DAYS TO GO! bob
It's been a hot day for me. Driving at 10 to 15 miles/hour didn't give me enough air to cool off my feet which were getting pretty hot (too close to the engine). The day went by pretty fast and we are now in a gorgeous area, listening to the sound of birds near the lake in a cool evening. Life would be almost perfect if there were no mosquitoes. Earlier Bob found a turtle next to the campsite, and when he picked it up the poor animal got so scared that it peed on him soaking his T.shirt. Now, please excuse us, but it's time for wood ticks close inspection.... Sail on.
Hi to Laury and Jason, Claudia and David, Simone and Tania
June 7, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 38.3 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1679.0 miles
Location: 4 miles east of Kimball, SD
Latitude 43 D 43.85 Min North
Longitude: 98 D 51.27 Min West
This Snake Creek Recreation Area is amazing, wish I could stay here a whole day to recharge my batteries. However, each day I delay adds another 45 miles of sailing later. Nathalie and I had a late start today, since the wind was light and we had the facilities to wash all the mud off the mothership, re-tape the sign for the front, and McGyver the hail damage sustained in yesterday's storm. Setting off from the east bank of the Missouri River, it was a struggle to climb out of the valley in the light airs, but there was enough with the big 7.0 sail. It's amazing how little traffic there is out here, and with a wide shoulder, the stress level stays down. Once up on the flats, we moved north again towards Academy, meeting a nice family of four kids and their mom standing out in their driveway to see us sail by. Thank goodness, for they offered some good local road knowledge that saved me from sailing another gravel road. EEK! They also offered us fresh eggs from their chickens. The road didn't run due north near Academy, and with the wind WNW I was forced to sail to the east for six miles to pick up SD 45 which will take me most of the way up through the state. Problem is, it too isn't continuous, and jogs to the west at Kimball before heading north again. I had a great sail up to that point, ripping along nicely with the 5.0 and Nathalie spinning some great CD's out the speakers facing me out the front of the mothership. This countryside is very Streetsailing friendly. Very flat and open, with just a few patches of trees. SD 45 is smooth and wide with very little truck traffic. Stopping early (4:20 PM) at that corner just east of Kimball doesn't bother me so much, since the wind forecast is for strong southerlies to begin kicking in after midnight tonight that could persist through Saturday. YES! We're still less than one day behind schedule but I'm confident I'll whittle it away in the next two days. That's another thing - experienced cruising sailors know that keeping a timetable is tough. Time is a luxury! After marking our finishing point we drove into Kimball which isn't much of a town, then decided to head to Chamberlaine, 20 miles west on the river to sightsee, shop and now we're stuck in the Laundromat. Not too exciting, I know, so we'll cut it here. Eight more days to Canada! Thanks to all who have been signing the guestbook and sending email. It's hard to respond to each one, but I do read them all! bob
News from the mothership commander
I started the day with a long run along the Missouri River. The sun was just rising up, and it was one of those moments when you feel in tune with mother nature. Gator, you probably understand what I mean, you would have loved it! Today was a quiet day, no major surprises. There were a lots of dead animals on the road so I was extra careful; didn't want to kill another one. Later on I decided to give the inside of the mothership a good cleaning. It needed it!
PS: we're still in the laundry place. Bob is struggling with the dryer machine. Nothing's working.
June 6, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 46.5 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1640.7 miles
Location: Snake Creek Recreation Area, South Dakota
Latitude 43 D 23.24 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 07.02 Min West
a Lifetime In Just One Day
I spent all my energy getting through today, I don't know how intelligible this will sound, but will do my best. Sailing cross country, each day brings on new challenges and experiences - you never know what you're going to get. Today we got alot. Our overnight spot was a quiet turnoff just next to a cemetery out in the middle of nowhere, so it was very quiet and still, save for the windchimes on a nearby gravestone. But it comforted me to know that the wind was blowing... In fact, the SE continued after a little rouge thunderstorm skirted eastward to the north of us. We were underway by 9:20 AM, after Nathalie had run for an hour along the deserted highway. It was ideal sailing, with the wind steady enough to harness in and let the miles tick off. The mileposts are my rewards - seems after pumping and sweating to get up a hill another post comes up and I mentally chalk up another mile closer to Maida. I reached the Nebraska/South Dakota border around 10:30, with a couple of old abandoned, derelict stores and a well-kept gospel church marking the spot. Four states down, two to go. The run to Burke was all dead downwind, which had shifted to S and intensified. Running downwind is always a little tough, since you can't exceed the speed the wind is blowing at. We sailed into Burke, SD around noon to feed ourselves and the mothership. I paid $1.89 for gas at 12:30, but when we returned at 3:30 it had dropped to $1.72! It will be hard to return to CA. We were followed to the town park by Mona, a reporter for the local paper. She was just driving by and saw a potential story... After lunch I noticed the NW sky filling with towering, ominous thunderheads, which were headed our way. To make things worse, the road I wanted to sail north on is closed, and the detour is gravel! I knew the oncoming storm would turn it to mud, so I tried to make it as far as possible before it hit. The storm appeared to be moving ENE and we were on the SE edge, so the strategy I learned from my brother George was to drive south away from an approaching wall cloud. Sure enough, as soon as the rain began we quickly derigged and turned tail back to Burke, about 6 miles distant. Nathalie drives the mothership like a Formula 1 car now. I was busy snapping away at the ugly appendages hanging from the approaching storm. Nathalie snugged us up under some trees in the park from whence we came just as pea-sized hail began to fall - lot's of it. One of our skylights was punctured by a few stones, so the price tag of SAA just went up. So much rain was falling we decided to head for higher ground to wait it out. Turns out that the storm actually passed south of us, dropping two tornados just four miles SW of town. There were no civil defense sirens. Hugo - you guys are wasting your time filming the storm chasers in Colorado, you should have stayed with us! It all blew over in an hour, and we went back to the spot we stopped at to continue in the mud. Dang, it really slows the wheels down and makes it twice as hard to cover the same distance. Along the way, Nathalie spotted a fawn in the road so young, that it could barely stand up! Somehow it had strayed onto the road, like roadkill waiting to happen, since locals whiz by at 60 mph. It's mother was in the tall grass just off the road, but across a barbed wire fence, baying out. As I approached the fawn just cowered to the ground, helpless. After it saw I wasn't going to hurt it, began to follow me around like a dog! I couldn't get it back in the grass without touching it, so I placed it over the fence near the mother as my good deed for the day. Finally the gravel gave way to pavement, but not before the Streetsailer and I were coated in more mud. Shortly thereafter we met Mike from Lucas, who gave us some great route tips and made a generous financial contribution to the project. Thank you, it will be put to good use! We spent much time talking to curious locals, and we never refuse the chance since we've met some fantastic folks along the way. After a few zig-zags I was poised at the top of a five mile, 6% downhill run into the Missouri River Valley and a one mile long bridge across. Getting up too much speed on the downhill is a free ride to the hospital, so the trick is to keep your speed under the max you can run, in case you have to jump off and slow yourself down. Fortunately, the wind was blowing lightly uphill, allowing my to use the sail as an air brake. At the foot of the bridge, a local gentleman and his wife offered to drive to the other side to halt oncoming traffic until I crossed the mile-long span.... which he did! Amazing. There was hardly any traffic at all, but the act was moving for me. Our goal for today was the Snake Creek Recreation Area, just west of Platte, SD. It's a gorgeous park with campsites and hot showers! Funny how after you've cleaned up and rested, you tend to forget all the bad stuff and let the good experiences linger in your memory... It feels like today we had enough experiences for a lifetime. Tomorrow's another day! We're closing in on the finish, two states away. I'd like to do some networking here with national media coverage. If anyone has connections or #'s to CNN, Good Morning America, etc. I'd love to let them know that we're about to complete the farthest wind-powered journey over land ever documented. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any info. Thanks! Sail On! bob
News from the mothership commander
What a day! Driving through the morning fog and then into an afternoon hail storm was pretty exciting and demanded a lot of concentration. We met great folks along the way. People are extremely friendly and curious. Some of them stop when Bob takes breaks along the way to ask if he crashed ( thinking he was flying that thing)!!!! Life is so different here: simple, authentic and rough. I love it. Sail on Nathalie
June 5, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 51.0 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1594.2 miles
Location: 17 miles N of Newport, NE
Latitude 42 D 50.09 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 22.11 Min West
Today had all the ingredients of a 100 mile day, but unfortunately, I missed the window of opportunity. Nathalie uses the early morning hours to go for a run and work out with the 40 lbs of weights I've been carrying since San Diego, while I lay dead in bed. We stopped at a service station to have the mothership's hazard light switch replaced and refill the propane tank before driving back out to our finishing point last night. During the morning hours the wind was light NW, so I used my big 7.0 to sail the final four miles north into Ainsworth. The Sheriff stopped by to chat and I had him sign our witness book. Then the reporter for the town newspaper interviewed us and snapped some shots roadside. It was after noon before we even started out of Ainsworth sailing slowly east on highway 20. By the time I hit Long Pine the wind began to clock around to the east... BAD! I was hoping to get to the turning point of Newport and catch the predicted wind shift to the SE for the long run N into South Dakota. I was able to just get into Bassett before the road bent back due east, effectively halting all progress. Luckily they had a municipal swimming pool so Nathalie and I went for a swim and wait for the wind to clock further south. Sure felt great to swim, and they even had a diving board - but my professional diving days seem like a different lifetime. Refreshed after the swim, we found that the wind had indeed veered more southerly - not much, but just enough and it also strengthened which is better to sail against than a very light headwind. This is because the forward progress of the Streetsailer doesn't change the angle of the true wind as much in a strong breeze as much as in a light breeze. Make sense? Anyway, I was able to just eek it out along the shoulder to Newport while Nathalie played bits of my favorite hard rock album from Filter over the 2-way radio we use. I needed it, since upwind sailing in a blow is a real challenge! When I finally reached the turning point of Highway 137 north in Newport around 7:30, I was laughing! The owners of a corner convenience store said I created the most excitement in Newport in 10 years by sailing in... There's around 100 people here. Let me say something about the folks out here. I was about to draw the conclusion that people became colder as I moved north from TX, but I retract that. I've met some awfully great people in each state, and today in Newport is no exception. The fun part of the day was just beginning... the SE wind was still blowing quite strong and this road was paved and vacant. The few trees in town soon gave way to some of the most scenic countryside I've seen on the entire trip. Blasting along at 20+ mph I sailed through vistas straight out of the film "Dances With Wolves." I was able to cross the Niobrara River and climb the substantial hills to the north (all rivers create valleys) during the sunset at 9:00 pm. The long daylight to sail by is another reason I favored this time of year for the trip. A nearly full moon rose over the prairie as we derigged and thought about just where we would park the mothership overnight. There's nothing out here but ranches. We settled on a turnout next to a small cemetery with a killer view. It doesn't get any better than this. It would have been nice to be in Burke, SD tonight, but we'll keep chipping away at the pace which seems to race ahead of us just out of reach each day. Finishing on schedule on June 16 will be a real challenge, but with lucky winds, it might just happen! We're going for it. Tune in tomorrow. Also, everybody go sign the guestbook if you haven't, and sign again if you have. I love reading all the great things you're sending. I'd also like to know how many folks are following along on this crazy wind-powered adventure.
News from the mothership
I arrived 4 days ago to take the commend of the mothership. I'm in total control now. Actually it's really fun as long as I have several breaks to go for a run or a stretch. As George was telling me there is a lot to do on board: taking pictures, filming, checking the 3 mirrors, getting a glance at the GPS while putting some cool CDs, and entertaining Bob....and driving eventually. I saw a lots of cows, horses running wild when Bob approaches, wild turkeys, ducks, dears crossing the road in front of me and ...more cows. The countryside is beautiful. Sure you get a sense of freedom. Here drivers are used to doing this special greeting when they pass each other which I learned pretty quickly: you kind of raise your index up while still holding the wheel, and you try to get the "cowboy attitude". Easy! I say hi to all my friends and to my girls from the kick boxing class. Heather, be a good girl and go running.
June 4, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 74.2 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1543.2 miles
Location: 4 miles south of Ainsworth, NE
Latitude 42 D 28.64 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 52.30 Min West
Mud In My Eye
I should have brought my wetsuit... it would have come in handy today. We had a nice night at Tomahawk Park in Broken Bow, save for all the trains that rumbled through all night. They actually shake the ground when they pass and are blasting their horns at who knows who. We drove 10 miles back out to Merna and asked at a filling station about the road leading up through Milburn and Brewster, since my map indicated it may not be paved. The local said it was paved all the way, (NOT!) making it the best option. I could have continued on the 2 NW to Dunning, then NE to Brewster, but I didn't want to beat into today's stiff easterly, and this route was more direct. Word sure travels fast in these parts. No sooner had we reached our rigging-up point, a pickup pulls in with a mom and two 11 year old boys to see me off. They were called by the gal at the filling station. The drizzle which was to fall incessently throughout the day began just as I started. Not having any fenders meant spray everywhere! The road rose and fell through lumpy, grassy terrain, and with all the gray skies and mist I felt like I could have been back in the English countryside. At least there was wind - and plenty of it. We covered the 19 miles to Milburn before noon. Soon the day's nightmare began with the pavement's end. Having come this far, it was too late to turn back so we went for it. With all the rain and drizzle it had turned soft, sinking my wheels in and greatly increasing the rolling resistance. On top of that, the wet sand on the deck became slippery, so I couldn't really hike out to power through the muck. Luckily I had brought a pair of Da Kine footstraps and installed one of them. (Sorry JR, I had to drill a hole in your deck) My San Diego beach sailing experience paid off in spades since there are a whole different set of skills to use when sailing on sand. That dirt road ran for over 16+ miles, whick took most of the afternoon to get through. To slow us down even further, the mothership wouldn't restart after a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. Flat battery due to lack of H2O. It was over 3 miles into Brewster, and just as I was preparing to set off on the Streetsailer to bring back a tow truck, we were able to flag down about the only car we saw on this road all day. Kevin, Kris and Derek saved the day by arranging the jump from their truck with cables from the house we were stopped in front of. The barbed wire and dogs kept us from going in and asking... You guys were great and I extend my heartfelt gratitude for the time and effort you saved me today. You will have good Kharma! Soon we were back on pavement in Brewster, Nebraska and I was soaking wet and covered in mud from my wheels. It was just past 5:00 and I had wanted to get to Ainsworth, another 43 miles due north. The wind was still up and there was absolutely nothing in Brewster. I thought about how JR would always say "we're here to sail" and imagined him right with me calling me a "wus" if I called it a day. We can't afford to waste the wind, so went for it. The terrain had flattened out nicely and the going was extremely fast on a broad reach. I was digging deep for the strength to continue, and Nathalie was digging deep for the strength to stay awake at the wheel. At the 10-mile mark she had a short nap to keep going. Even though I was cold, wet and extremely tired, this part of the day was the best for me. The sailing was fast and there was almost nobody else on the smooth road. It was very dark gray with a constant drizzle giving the grassy countryside a very different appearance from what I've been seeing so far. Perhaps Nathalie enjoyed it more than I, since I had to focus on the sailing. By 8:30 the wind had all but died and the sky opened up to drop more buckets of rain on us. We had sailed to within four miles of Ainsworth, which is just a few miles short of being back on schedule for a June 16th finish. Big day! With any luck we'll be in South Dakota tomorrow....? NW winds are forecast which are not good but could be sailable, depending on how much west there is. Nathalie is holding up fairly well - she's a Personal Trainer and not used to sitting so long. I think I earned some points with her for camping right next to a running track so she can run tomorrow morning before we set off.... bob
June 3, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 53.7 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1469.0 miles
Location: Merna, NE
Latitude 41 D 28.92 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 45.92 Min West
and 200 Foot Waves
Nathalie and I didn't sleep so well last night, but not for the obvious reasons... a vicious thunderstorm pounded us as predicted with fierce winds and torrents of rain, thunder and lightning. I dreaded getting up at all knowing what kind of weather I'd face since the mothership was still being buffeted by the remaining gusts. The temps have certainly fallen as I've come north, which is refreshing. After feeding the mothership with $68 of gas I sailed out from the northern city limits of Lexington in a strong easterly which became SE later in the day. (Sorry JR!) Low clouds raced westward and the light of day never seemed to change all day. My 4.0 sail worked well in the flats of the Platte River valley, but soon I was climbing into the hilly countryside on the quiet Highway 21 where the 5.0 really came in handy in pulling me up and over the 200'+ high rolling green hills. If I had seen what I was about to sail through I probably would have selected a different route - sails definitely didn't belong out here but luckily the wind made it fun. The road was very quiet and Nathalie and I caught up on life over the two way radio which was working again. Lunch was at Oconto, where the streets were totally deserted. Where is everyone? The 28 mile leg to Broken Bow was a real challenge with the road bending more eastward and the road more winding. The high hillsides were filled with grazing cattle that would all stare as we passed. Nathalie is providing excellent protection from cars coming up behind and has learned all the mothership driving tips. Our goal was Broken Bow but with the wind so favorable we pushed on to Merna, 10 miles farther. We're catching up on the pace, but still have to kick some butt tomorrow to get ahead. More easterlies are forecast so perhaps we may again approach the mythical 100 Mile Day... Would love a fast crossing into South Dakota. At the moment we're camped out at Tomahawk Park back in Broken Bow. Nathalie and I spent the evening window shopping around the town square and soaking up the small town ambience. bob
June 2, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 9.8 miles Cumulative Distance: 1415.3 miles Location: North City Limits of Lexington, NE,
Latitude 40 D 47.4 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 44.91 Min West
Changing of the Guard
What a crazy morning! Since our finishing point last night was about 8 miles south of town, I told the guys that if there was any sailable wind this morning we'd make an attempt to Streetsail into Lexington before driving 60 miles off to drop them at the North Platte airport. We had a gentle westerly breeze which set off my wind alarm, so we dashed back out to our bend in the road that stopped us last night and rigged up. Doug and Hugo had us miked up in no time for individual wrap up interviews out in the farmer's fields. I was itching to sail, but was also willing to take the time it takes to set up the right shots. It was a crisp, clear morning and the wind was calling.... or at least whispering since we didn't have enough to make it all the way into town before we had to tear down and head off for the airport. It was a good try - JR & I gliding down into the Platte River Valley which is a broad and flat. Gator was alerting us of all oncoming semis and farm trucks, while playing music out the outside speakers for us to sail by. It was a last sail for JR, ending in some frustration but capping a great week for the three of us. Time seems to pass so slowly for me with so many new experiences occurring each day - living life fully I guess. We were able to shower and pack at Doug & Hugo's motel rooms - a BIG luxury for me. The drive out to the airport had all of us reminiscing about the previous week's events - we three amigos had truly bonded. The timing was perfect - we could see the United Airlines puddle jumper on final approach and were able to intercept my wife Nathalie as she skipped across the tarmac into the terminal and my waiting arms. It was highly emotional for me to see her again after five weeks - and also to be seeing my mates off shortly afterwards on another flight to Denver. At least we were able to all have lunch together. The torch has been passed and Nathalie rose right up to the challenge by following me into and through the busy streets of Lexington. Being a Saturday afternoon, there was a fair amount of traffic, but we had scouted a route around the back side of town, avoiding the downtown area that main roads often pass through. I also avoided a gnarly overpass over the train tracks that would have backed traffic up for blocks waiting for me to cross. Fortunately I had the PERFECT wind! (JR, are you sitting?) It was SSE and strong enough to parade me through town on the 5.0. I kept it on the road, unlike JR who's quite prone to hotdog off the road because he can! I had a cop yell at me from her squad car to get off the highway... until she saw the mothership. I sailed free... The goal was only to get to the city limits in preparation for a clean getaway tomorrow morning and ease Nathalie into the picture. The forecast is for easterlies @ 10-20 mph which work well since I'm sailing due north. I'll need them too, since this part of Nebraska is not flat. It is rather folded east/west, so traveling south to north one rises and falls over each fold. Tomorrow's wind should enable that. My destination is at least out to Broken Bow, NE at 48 miles. If I arrive early enough and I have the strength I'll push on for more miles beyond. I need to make up some time lost today. Tonight we're camped out back at Lake Johnson, a beautiful wooded spot next to a large man made reservoir from which hydro is generated. The mothership is getting a much needed cleaning - Nathalie said "I can tell there were men living in here..." It's nice to have a woman's touch. bob
June 1, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 41.0 miles Cumulative Distance: 1405.5 miles Location: Lake Johnson, 10 miles south of Lexington, NE
Latitude 40 D 41.25 Min North Longitude: 99 D 47.73 Min West Elevation: 2606'
Some time during the
afternoon a cold front swept over us, driving the winds straight down
from the north again and effectively halting our northward progress. Dang.
Luckily we were just coming up on Lake Johnson, a fairly sizable lake
with a swimming beach so we stopped for awhile to swim and relax. The
hope was also that the wind might swing away from north and we could continue
in to Lexington, 10 miles downhill. No such luck. So instead JR & I sailed
a 2 mile stretch of the road that bent west to east, allowing the film
crew to get a few final high speed sailing shots of the two of us. At
least we had some fun! Once we hit the bend back north all fun stopped
and we took a few wrapping shots with the film crew while the sun was
setting. All in all we put in 41 miles and we're not very far behind pace
for finishing on June 16. We headed off for Lexington and had a ton of
Chinese cuisine for a late dinner. They restaurant had just closed but
reopened for us. Very special! Tonight is a little melancholy since it's
the last one for JR and Gator who both fly out of North Platte tomorrow.
I'll be missing them both since they added their own spice to the event.
The three of us guys have a good chemistry and worked well together -
something that was absolutely crucial to smooth Streetsailing. Again it's
late - 12:30 AM and the plan for tomorrow is to wake early to see if the
wind has switched away from north so JR and I can sail the final 10 miles
into Lexington before I drive the over to the North Platte airport. I'm
especially looking forward to seeing my wife Nathalie again for the first
time in over 5 weeks. She'll become the new mothership commander for the
remainder of Streetsail Across America. Stay tuned!
May 31, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 28.8 miles Cumulative Distance: 1367.5 miles Location: Hwy 283, 8 miles into Nebraska
Latitude 40 D 07.90 Min North Longitude: 99 D 53.63 Min West Elevation: 2328'
Not in Kansas Anymore...
What a day! Things were looking very bleak at daybreak, with the wind still blowing hard from the north. There's a low pressure system sitting to our east that won't move off, bringing down all this cold air from the north. After breakfast, we drove back out to our finishing point to check the conditions... which were not good but we rigged up and finished the two mile stretch to the north with slow pumping. At that point we were able to turn east and rig our big sails for some relatively fast sailing into Norton, KS. The camera crew from Towers Productions was able to get some good footage of JR & I sailing along. It was fun to parade into Norton under sail, with Gator in the mothership watching our tails. At the very end of the run where the route turned north again, we took a little detour and sailed right through a car wash! JR's a nut. We were pretty much stuck there until the north wind abated, so we gave cameraman Doug a streetsailing lesson and headed for lunch at a wonderful organic cafe. We tried to submit the story to the Norton newspaper, but they said that they had "too much other news" and that they had people coming through town doing this all the time to cover Streetsail Across America. Heading back out the check the wind, we found the northerlies had died, leaving it "light and variable," which for us is sailable. I rigged my monster 7.0 square meter sail and hit the road, sailing due north with destination the NE border. This part of the state is more rolling than farther south, giving me plenty of hills to negotiate. I was pleased with the lack of traffic on this highway, which really helps. JR & Gator were really helping me along to finish, which I did at 7:00 PM right at the Nebraska border. YES! Three down, three to go. A thunderstorm was just overhead as I finished, so we derigged and headed towards the next town up to spend the night. As the road there was closed, we jumped out and noticed that there was some wind! Not much, but enough to sail on... so we drove right back to the border, rigged up and I sailed another 8 miles during one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen on this trip. Coming to this point gives us an option tomorrow if the wind is still north as it is forecasted to be. Then we'll head west which still works. It was 9:15 by the time I finished, just light enough to see. We had lot's more filming which took awhile and now were spending the night in Beaver City, NE. Sorry this journal is so short and plain, but it's been a very long day and I'm rather exhausted. I hope everyone is enjoying the website!
May 30, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 18.7 miles Cumulative Distance: 1338.7 miles Location: 5.8 miles SW of Norton, KS
Latitude 39 D 47.90 Min North Longitude: 100 D 00.00 Min West Elevation: 2402'
Wind of the North
Streetsail Across America had great wind... except from the wrong direction! JR & I were poised to cross the KS/NE border, but were cruelly denied by a foul wind right from the direction we wanted to travel! Again, since we have to follow the roads, there's not much choice for changing direction to take advantage of the wind. There was an option that we did take, and that was to sail a diagonal road up to town called Norton, which was pretty much the end of the road for us since the road out of there was due north. JR & I FLEW along though in tandem through a hilly, tree filled valley, experiencing quite a few more trucks than usual. As the wind was stronger from the side today, the blast from the semi's was much stronger to the point of being scary. Suddenly standing on a skateboard in traffic felt more dangerous. Obviously these truckers have never seen something like something like this before. After 18 miles the fun stopped since the road turned sharply to the north for 4 miles, and pumping into it was out of the question. Not only would we be going so slowly, but the shoulders were soggy mud the locals call "Gumbo," which isn't too pleasant to roll off into. Sometimes it's just better to lay low and wait for the wind to switch around, which it is forecasted to do tomorrow. YES! That will allow us to sail directly up into Nebraska. So.... I marked my stopping point and we drove off to Norton for supplies and to wait for the camera crew from Towers Productions to arrive from North Platte. JR & I were able to take care of lot's of chores that really needed doing like putting the mothership's signs back up with aluminum tape, among many others. Around 7:30 PM Hugo and Doug arrived from Chicago to film for two days for a segment of The Weather Channel's Atmospheres program. It will likely air in September. Come on Sweet Wind of the South!
May 29, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 44.8 miles Cumulative Distance: 1320.0 miles Location: Jennings, KS
Latitude 39 D 40.00 Min North Longitude: 100 D 17.80 Min West Elevation: 2469
I awoke to the patter of rain drumming softly on the roof of the mothership and rolled over to sleep some more... until the civil defense siren went off right next to us! I "hastily" sprung up from my bed on the floor of the mothership to look for cover when we realized that it only sounded once and it was exactly 7:00 AM. Being in KS in spring my mind prepared for the worst. Back to bed.... and a knock on the door. The mayor of Grainfield was delivering fresh strawberries from his own garden. Only in a place like this. After cleaning up we drove out to the edge of town to look at the wind direction and strength. In town it's hard to determine with the trees and buildings in the way. Today is the first ugly morning with low, scudding clouds and a wind howling out of the east... directly from the direction we needed to leave town. Another somber rigging session later, (and a quick Streetsailing lesson for Gator) Jean & I hit the street, pushing and pumping the mile into a veering ESE wind before catching the 23 north which allowed us to RIP north. We both had our smallest sails rigged, and today they were enough! Before long we were sailing in an all out squall with driving rain and big wind bending the grasses right over. Jean said if he was going to fall on this trip, it would have been then. It demands constant concentration with every muscle of the body responding to lightning-fast shifts in wind and road inputs. Falling at 25 mph would not be a good thing. By the time we reached Hoxie, KS after 17 miles, the wind had nearly died, leaving us badly underpowered. One of the gals we met yesterday in Grainfield asked us to stop at the Stop N Shop which had a killer deli. We were having lunch when I turned around... and there was my aunt Karen from down the road in Great Bend, KS! She and her husband Bill had tracked us down from the last website entry and drove over. What a great surprise and it was easily the highlight of the day. Unfortunately we were trying to make some distance while the wind was blowing so JR & I rigged up the big sails again and hit it, sailing another 13 miles north when the weather started to close in, with a severe thunderstorm nipping at our wheels. According the weather radio, these cells were producing tornados and where headed our way, so again we "hastily" de-rigged and drove ahead to Dresden, where we had a panoramic view of the weather approaching. I felt little like a storm chaser, watching these sinister wall clouds go tearing by just overhead, looking ready to drop funnels at any moment. There was a tornado warning for the Hoxie area, where we had just had lunch a couple of hours before. All we got was lots of lightning and rain. It hurts to be shut down by bad weather when we could be out reeling in the highway. It wasn't until 7 when the western sky appeared to lighten some, and even though the rain continued, I decided to drive back out to the end point from earlier and sail as far as I could. Swarms of frogs were hopping all over the roadway. The wind was whistling again out of the east, and I was rather apprehensive about getting back out there, but conditions were changing fast and soon the rain had tapered off. I thought I'd only be able so sail two miles at most to the intersection where the route changed east. JR decided to join me and rigged up alongside. By the time we were done rigging our smallest sails, the wind had again abated and we were in need of more sail acreage. The post-storm clouds had taken on a wavy, smooth appearance, with some amazing shapes and textures we never get in San Diego. Combined with the evening light and the fields of grain, the effect was magnificent. By the time we reached the intersection, the wind had veered, allowing us to just barely sail easterly the short distance until it turned north again. It was getting late, and the mothership's headlights were beginning to provide our light. JR & I again re-rigged our largest sails and headed on to Dresden, which was a nice surprise with the wind holding on. JR & I could have stopped right there, since it was late, the wind had dropped, and we were at a town. However, we pushed on, in the fading light and wind towards the town of Jennings laying seven miles distant. It wasn't very fast, but we were able to pull in just after 9 PM. Our perseverance paid off, we'd just turned a 30 mile day into 44.8! It's been a long day, full of events and experiences that all combined, have made the last 31 days I've been out seem like a lifetime. Tomorrow's wind forecast of north winds is not a good one, hopefully the experts will be wrong. We need to sail north! So far so good though, we're right on schedule. Stay tuned!
May 28, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 88.9 miles Cumulative Distance: 1275.2 miles Location: Grainfield, KS
Latitude 39 D 06.86 Min North Longitude: 100 D 27.91 Min West Elevation: 2781'
With The Wind
Today will be hard to top. Ever. After driving back out to the spot 10.5 miles north of Cimarron where we hightailed last night from the approaching storm we ended up sitting around with a contrary wind blowing right in our face. We found out that it was good we didn't stick around last night because there was extensive hail damage and one of the nearby giant crop sprinklers had been toppled by high winds. An RV is not a storm shelter. While waiting for the wind, a farmer and his son came by to chat, and soon his brother Leon (the local windsurfer we met yesterday) joined us. Funny how the wind always comes up when you aren't paying attention. It was a late start, but we got underway with the wind building from the SE, the PERFECT direction for sailing north. What's happening is this wind is feeding the thunderstorms building in Colorado, which in turn will drift back over this area later today... sail away! Jean was using my largest sail, at 7.0 square meters and I had the 5.0 square meters. This gives us fairly even speed between us. The road just seemed to roll easily by under our wheels as we were able to sustain 20 - 25 mph. This kept up mile after mile, hour after hour. I put two speakers outside and pointing forward on the mothership so we could enjoy the CD's that Gator was playing. Fun! We had a little lunch in the town of Dieghton, KS. We knew there was potential for putting in some major miles, so we kept pressing on, ticking off the miles. I can't get over how totally flat this part of Kansas is. There were a couple of long but gentle hills which we hardly felt with this great wind. Just outside of Gove we were stopped by the local sheriff who received a complaint about us slowing traffic. When he arrived Gator had just gone ahead with the mothership, leaving us with no warning vehicle behind us. There wasn't much traffic anyway, but he was right. He let us continue, but only with Gator back behind us. Once in Gove though, we were greeted by Lois, the Magistrate Judge and her mother who took our pics and asked us all the standard Q's. Like I said, this trip has been made extra cool by the great people we meet every day. Just 10 miles beyond was the town of Grainfield, our destination for the night. Those last 10 miles seemed to go by so fast, since by now the wind was blowing pretty hard from the SE and JR & I were really sailing in the groove. We stopped sailing right at the park on Main Street, 88.9 miles from our start this morning, putting us right on schedule again for a June 16 finish in Maida. We're both still high from that run today.... again it's hard to explain the rush it is to be whizzing along at such high speed for so long. My words cannot fully describe. The folks in Grainfield came out to see us as we set our gear down. JR gave a large group of the local kids Streetsailing lessons, handing out stickers and being the perfect PR guy. I'm so touched by their genuine enthusiasm for this project. It's one of my most vivid memories to date. Time for bed. These emails don't seem to fully depict what we're going through, but my intention is to touch on the highlights that readers might be interested in. Looks like the Nebraska border is on the horizon.... Tomorrow's wind forecast is for more of the same. Perhaps we can uncork a 100-miler? Stay tuned!
For my gal, mon amour, Stephanie De Mi Alma! We are the modern day barn stormers. We fly from town to town.
Well it's 11:30 here and I don't even know where to start. I think I'll just make it short and let the pictures speak for us. Charisse and Grami are probably waiting to get this log so they can post it and go to bed. It has been a great day and we are very very tired after such a huge leap across Kansas. The frustrations and anxiaties of the past 2 days have totally been forgotten. Today was an incredible adventure..........JR
May 27, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 33.5 miles Cumulative Distance: 1186.3 miles Location: 10.5 miles north of Cimarron, KS
Latitude 37 D 57.47 Min North Longitude: 100 D 21.29 Min West Elevation: 2634'
Kansas Kalms &
May 26, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 23.9 miles Cumulative Distance: 1152.8 miles Location: 7.5 miles from Dorothy's house (North of Meade)
Latitude 37 D 25.00 Min North Longitude: 100 D 20.60 Min West Elevation: 2601'
The Plan was to drive to Liberal, KS from our nifty campground at the Lake Meade State Park to pick up Jean Rathle who is flying in from San Francisco today to join us for a week of Streetsailing fun. Just as we got going I hit the brakes and decided to sail another stretch of road that could be difficult if the wind switched to the east. That way Jean would start out on a perfectly flat and northbound stretch of roadway. The Wind Gods were smiling too, with strong southerlies to push me north. I covered the 9.4 miles in 40 minutes, and that included climbing a long, steep grade up one of the streams that cut through this area. Fun! The 30 mile drive to Liberal was fun, but we lost one of the big signs off the side of the mothership. Hard to keep on. At 11:30 I called in for the San Diego TV station KUSI's "Cybersegment." They showed the video from the website while interviewing me about the trip. JR arrived right on time, and we were three! It took us an hour to drive back to the starting point of today's sail.... and the wind had gone! It was hot and virtually calm. What? Anyway, it was a ball to sail with a second person along the road, although we had to work pretty hard to make any headway. At least it was fairly flat. Stopping in Meade we did some shopping and let Gator run. At the end of town we met Dorothy and Rex, who farmed a large area of land in this area. They'd been married 61 years and told us all about their farm. This is pretty cool. By 6:00 there was just a breath of wind, so we hit the road to try to get some miles in. Sailing late in the day is the best. Being out here in this surrounding is nearly impossible for me to articulate. And having a second person to share it with makes it even better. Gator was leapfrogging with us again, and I had him drive up another two miles and pull off for the night. JR broke his mast from pumping so hard, so the day ended there. At the moment we're pulled off on the edge of a large wheat field, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It's fairly cramped in the mothership with three of us guys and equipment, but we're managing. I would have liked to finished in Cimarron tonight, 27 miles down the road, but I think we can make it up over the next couple of days. Wind forecast is SE 10-20 tomorrow. Bring it on!
May 25, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 41.0 miles Cumulative Distance: 1128.9 miles Location: 10 miles south of
Latitude 37 D 06.69 Min North Longitude: 100 D 27.25 Min West Elevation: 2530'
How about that - a day without wind howling from the NE! It was one of the most enjoyable days weather-wise that we've had. Gator and I took a very casual approach to today's journey. Since the wind was light and variable from multiple directions, I'd sail on ahead of him in the mothership and he'd leapfrog ahead a mile or two until I caught up. I think we found the only "flat" ground in OK between the towns of Gate and Knowles. On one of our breaks we investigated an abandoned old brick farmhouse with the roof all caving in, windows gone and interior in shambles. Beside it laid the flattened remains of a mobile home.... twistered to pieces? Later on we met Marie Matthew of Knowles, who is promoting her son's new country music CD and gave us a copy. It's called "Matthew Phillips Love in the Making." That's been the best part of this whole trip - meeting people along the way from all walks of life who take an interest in what I'm doing and I can in turn learn something about their lives in their home territory. After struggling to get west, I turned the corner onto highway 23, the road the runs virtually arrow-straight north through Kansas. There's also much less truck traffic than on the last couple of roads, making it safer and more enjoyable. The view of Kansas across the Cimarron River from a high ridge on the Oklahoma side was straight out of a Streetsailer's dream: (and what most folks would classify as dreadfully boring) land so flat that the highest point between me and the horizon is a fencepost, roads so long and straight they run off into mirages, and best of all - nearly devoid of trees! Call me a nut, but this is why I chose this route. Surfers scour the earth for the perfect wave, this is the Streetsailor's equivalent. Right before we crossed into Kansas Gator got in another 7 mile run - he's going to easily top 100 miles for the two weeks he's with me. I sailed just over eight miles north into Kansas in the early evening hours which happens to be my favorite time out here, when the heat of day fades and shadows grow long. The grazing areas for animals seem larger here than in OK, and we had whole groups of horses running alongside us in curiosity - beautiful sight! So I'm positioned fairly well to fetch JR who flies in tomorrow from SFO to join me for a week. I wanted to get him started on decent terrain - I think I found it! Tomorrow's wind forecast is ideal: SE @ 10 - 15 mph. May be the perfect wave... Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend everybody!
If my blood pressure drops any lower, I might break out into health. I miss you Steph! Later, Gator
May 24, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 26.1 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1087.9 miles
Location: Gate, OK
Latitude 36 D 51.18 Min North
Longitude: 100 D 03.67 Min West
in the Panhandle
North or West? When I researched the wind patterns for this area a year and a half ago there wasn't any indication that they would stay north this long - it's killing me! Woke up at the Sawyer's and said our good-byes, then headed off for town to do some shopping and laundry. I noticed the rear of the mothership sagging more than usual, to discover we picked up a screw in one of the four rear tires. Luckily a garage in town fixed the flat easily and reasonably. The wind was blowing since dawn, but I wanted to wait until late morning for the direction to settle. Lately it shifts around some as the day heats up. If it were coming from a general southerly direction I wouldn't be so concerned, but since I have a choice of two roads running north or west, and the wind is blowing in from the NW, its critical to find out EXACTLY which direction so I don't start down the road to discover that I can no longer sail so close to the wind. Sailing has limitations! I don't think anyone has ever encountered the situation of having to pick the best roads to sail on before. This is truly Streetsailing pioneering! It was tempting to pick the road north and hop across into Kansas, just nine miles distant. However, the wind was forecast to shift more northerly by tonight, and it was already starting to feel a little more north than west.... so I took the west road from Buffalo. It was still slow going, having to sail so close to the wind is not a fast point of sail. There were still quite a few cattle trucks and the occasional semi roaring along, but not as bad as yesterday. I gave each one the complete roadway, politely pulling off into the grass. Gator would leapfrog me in the mothership, driving ahead and waiting while I caught up. This way we didn't burn up gas and have Gator behind the wheel all day. We also seemed to be climbing all day, which the land generally does as one heads west. The terrain out here is patches of gently rolling farmland and sagebrush, with smatterings of trees along the roadside, which create wind vacuums in their lee. Bad! We rolled into Rosston, OK (pop. 56 in 18 houses) after only about 14 miles of clawing to windward for an afternoon break, since after this the road bent even more into the wind, which I wouldn't be able to sail unless the wind shifted more to the north. We pulled the mothership into the shade of an old church with nobody out in the street. Shortly a truck pulling a couple of horses pulls up in front of me, and three working cowboys pile out in full cowboy gear to unload the horses. We were actually at Victor's place, where he bought and preserved few old buildings he uses as his house and gallery for his artwork. He's a multi-talented man who created an enviable lifestyle. If you're ever in the OK panhandle, do come to Rosston and check his gallery out which is full of cowboy artwork and cool handmade furniture. We spent a couple of hours with them and Gator went for a long run. By this time I observed that the wind had indeed shifted more northerly and increased again to 20 - 25 mph and gusty. We were invited to stay the night with these guys which was very tempting but I saw opportunity to sail a few more miles before dark. So I rigged a small 4.0 meter sail and had one of the cowboys taking pictures of the Streetsailer saying that their friends would never believe it if they told them they saw a guy sailing a skateboard out here.... Going west paid off for the wind had indeed shifted more to the north, which would certainly have shut me down if I was still trying to sail on a northbound road in KS. I could sail quite easily on this stretch of WNW road. At one point I had been sailing harnessed in (using a belt around my waist to which I can hook the sail on to reduce strain on my arms) when a HUGE gust caught me coming from much farther aft than I'd been experiencing. Usually I just feather the sail into the wind and ride it out, but there was no time to react and I was carried right across the road and into the opposite ditch, falling right on the sail and breaking the boom at the gooseneck. I was fine, but it could have been much worse. This was the first time I'd been thrown like that, (most windsurfers know what this feels like!) and it's hard to guard against. Scary. We flew into the town of Gate, OK by early evening and settled in a nice park on the west side of town. I didn't cover much distance today but the important thing is that I'm very well positioned (wind permitting) to access the small road running north right through KS. I'm finding the importance of picking the right road out here. These highways are not as vacant as the ones in TX. We're also well positioned to retrieve Jean Rathle, a.k.a. "JR" from the Liberal, KS airport on Saturday afternoon. JR is the builder of my Streetsailer and this website in fact! I've invited him to sail along on a portion so we'll be sailing together through KS to North Platte, NE. This should be fun! Stay tuned.
We met Devil Dirk , and his Pal, who told us about this park in Gate, OK which we stayed in, and was a perfect call. We met Victor, a cool cowboy, who has a gallery/cowboy museum/antique store, and fun place to hang out and tell lies in Rosston, O.K. (the best kept secret in O. K ) And we met Trey and his Pal, both of whom are storytellers whose stories I'm anxious to hear. We had a good day, made some time, I got to suck in the O. K. prairie on a 8 mile run, and I'm satisfied before bed.
May 23, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 35.6 miles
Cumulative Distance: 1061.8 miles
Location: Buffalo, OK
Latitude 36 D 50.76 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 37.56 Min West
The weather here continues to be incredibly great, except for the wind direction (but that's what makes it so great!). We're still getting WNWesterlies due to a major dip in the jet stream, meaning I can't sail to the west. Unless I want to wait in Fargo, OK until the wind switches, some creative rerouting had to be done. The morning sail north out of Fargo went great with a cool wind just right out of the west. At the point I was supposed to turn west I went east instead, onto another dirt road and into a wildlife preserve. Turning north we hit the beginning point of highway 183, which didn't seem very busy and ran mostly north across the KS border. After I'd gone a few miles, it seemed every cattle truck and 18 wheeler came barreling down from both directions. There was no shoulder. There is no other route choice, so I stuck to it, pulling over for all passing traffic. To make matters worse, the wind had increased to 20-25 mph and became extremely turbulent as it flowed over the hills and trees. At times I felt like a rag doll, flailing along holding on to a sail buffeted by punishing blasts from varying directions. My arms and shoulders began to ache and l was losing control of the board. This was not safe sailing and I became quite frustrated and angry at myself for placing myself in this situation. Gator saw my worst side emerge as I eventually smashed my helmet in a fit. I'll never finish if I keep this attitude, and Gator put me back on an even wheel. That's what friends are for. Now I need another helmet. Kelly Sawyer from the Buffalo newspaper received a call about us (usually the police are called first) and drove out to get our story. From then on the day went much better. She invited us over to her house in Buffalo, OK for an interview and we spent the rest of the day relaxing and talking. We met her son Colby and daughters Rebecca and Sarah. Her husband Sid, who manages a feed lot for 35,000 cows came home and BBQ'd some of the best steak I'd ever had. Thanks again for your hospitality, it is much appreciated and came at just the right time!
Tomorrow's sail depends again on the wind direction. I'm 9 miles from the Kansas border, but a little more east than I wanted, and not on the small roads I had planned. I can't just turn west off this road if the wind won't let me, so I don't have too many choices until I get up into KS and the winds swing more southerly. I had a chance to view the website tonight, thanks again to the Sawyers, and am really amazed by all the guestbook entries. Thanks to all who signed - your words give me strength. Thanks also to Jean, who put it all together. I look forward to sailing with you across Kansas in a few days. Until then its "SAIL ON!"
Hello to all my friends and family (Stephanie, Sweet C & Brodie., Lynda & Dennis, Kathy, Josh, Jamie, Jennifer, Kurt, Kelly, Mary, J.J., Selena, Eric, Jessica in Swisa, Dad & Julie, Aunt Byllie, and my pal Al) Today was a great day, and we're about 9 miles from Kansas in Buffalo O.K., in the front yard of a great family( the Sawyers), who fed us, and showed us extrarodinary hospitality!!! Sail On!!!!!!!!!!
May 22, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 34.3 miles Cumulative Distance: 1026.2 miles Location: Fargo, OK
Latitude 36 D 22.30 Min North Longitude: 99 D 37.41 Min West Elevation: 2125'
Fargo Against the Wind?
Not very. Today was perhaps the hardest I have worked per mile of progress made. We awoke in the countryside to the sounds of wild turkeys, geese and most importantly, the sound of wind from the west! It worked well for the first few miles of remaining dirt road to the highway, but I would have rather had the wind back out of the north like yesterday for the next 11 miles to where the road turned north again. I set this route up for the prevailing S/SW winds, and couldn't count on this weather pattern from the north. This basically meant a very slow, hard slog to the west against very strong winds blowing from the NW at an angle I could just barely sail. It took until 5:00 to cover that 11 miles, and just another hour and a half to cover the remaining 16 into Fargo, OK. One bright point was that around noon I passed the official 1,000 mile mark. Gator was great at keeping me going and keeping the humor up, something I didn't have much of throughout the day. Another great thing is that I'm finally out of this hilly area and up on a more typical "Oklahoman" scenario of fairly flat terrain dotted with farms. Land out here is selling between $250 and $350 per acre! Would love to take a couple acres back to San Diego with me... After finally turning the corner and heading north towards Fargo I was able to change up to a 4.0 square meter sail from the little 2.8, one that I haven't used much until now. My arms and shoulders really began to ache since sailing into the wind is the most difficult physically and also I couldn't use my harness much due to the turbulence of the wind flowing over the road which was yanking me around a lot. I stopped for most oncoming cars to minimize the risk of being pulled in their path. Towards Fargo the wind mellowed a bit, allowing me to actually start to enjoy the scenery some and not have to worry about landing in the ditch with every gust. Overall I eked out just over 34 miles and remain pretty much on schedule. More northwest winds are forecast for tomorrow, so perhaps I will modify my route accordingly. The KS border is nearing and I'm close to the halfway point in total miles. Stay tuned!
Gator's Two Cents
I've been talking about my wife today alot with different people and I can't wait to be "reunited, and it feels so good" again. Yesterday was great to be able to mountain bike through remote parts of OK, and meet some good folks like Cody and Terry. Today it was fun to be able to make my run ahead of Bob while he was resting and report upcoming conditions, and at the end of the day, in remote farm field looking at the sunset with a glass of wine. More tomorrow.
May 21, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 8.4 miles
Cumulative Distance: 991.9 miles
Location: 6.8 miles WNW of Camargo, OK
Latitude 36 D 03.02 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 26.35 Min West
When we turned in last night, the stars were out by the billions, the air calm and cool - perfect sleeping conditions. Turns out a very strong cold front swept through around 1:00 AM, with more thunder, rain and worst of all, a north wind that persisted all day! Once again, I have to wait for a wind direction change to make decent progress. As Will Rogers (totally Oklahoman) said "if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change..." Well, we waited, and waited. Gator's wife had to get back to Albuquerque to help her daughter move, taking her vehicle and leaving Gator and I to figure out how to sail out of Camargo, OK. With the wind right out of the north at 20 mph+, there was no way to continue along the planned route up through Vici (pronounced "Vie Sigh") though Gator and I drove the mothership the 10 miles there anyway to buy groceries. We ended up meeting some very nice folks in the shops, including a gal who just moved out here from San Diego. Big change!
Back at Camargo, I decided to try to make more distance to the west along a road I had originally intended to use, but changed since it wasn't paved. It was the only choice and beat sitting in Camargo twiddling our thumbs waiting for the wind to change. I did get a chance to send and receive some email via a satellite telephone graciously on loan from Globalstar USA (thanks Jason!) which I do usually twice per day. The phone works great for data transfer, and I can usually get on and off in under one minute. Gator helped me rig my new favorite sail, the little 2.8 square meter Ezzy Wave, which is just enough of a foil to pull me along in the strong winds. It was all I could do to sail just 8.4 miles before realizing I was "Caddyshacking" (new term coined to describe persevering in extreme conditions, much like the golfing priest playing through the thunderstorm in the movie Caddyshack). The wind was just too strong and close to the direction I was trying to sail. Add roadside trees, hills and bends in the road and you get the picture. One benefit of coming this way is that it put us out in the middle of nowhere. There wasn't a single car on the road all day, and I was sailing past horses and livestock without fences between us. They mostly herded alongside me for awhile, instead of running in fright like usual. As I went so slow and took so many breaks, Gator had a chance to hop on the mountain bike I brought and check out the road ahead. By late afternoon, we found ourselves high up on a ridge overlooking the area we just came up and decided to call it a day. At least we're better positioned to take advantage of a wind shift to the south again, like its already starting to. While preparing dinner we had a visit from Cory, a local who maintains oil well machinery in this area. He gave us some excellent route advice which will save me some miles ahead, and filled us in on some of the local history. Thanks for coming by, we enjoyed meeting you. Chef Gator prepared an amazing chicken dinner, and we were visited by Cory's father Terry, who just came by to chat over a couple of beers. Nicest folks you could meet. Tomorrow's forecast isn't much better than today's for wind so we'll see what happens. I've cashed in all my time and am ironically exactly at the place I wanted to be on this date. I'm not stressed for I know (thanks to Cory and Terry's local knowledge) just north of here the ground flattens out so much you can see the tornados coming for miles and the wind blows hard from the south. Will be ready to tear it up. Should pass the 1,000th mile tomorrow. bob
from Elk City
It sure was great to get out of Elk City today. I'd been here for two days without moving much, and felt the momentum slipping. Had a great gift from nature today: a SW wind @ 12 mph! We had some thunder and rain last night, but was clearing by this morning. Rigged up the Streetsailer asap, and was on the road by 9:00 am, to take advantage of the winds while they were there. It only took a few minutes to get the rest of the way out of Elk City, when yesterday it would have been impossible. Just had to wait. We called some news stations in Oklahoma City, and only one, Channel 9, seemed really interested in the project after seeing the website. Jean Rathle has done such a fantastic job designing posting everything. They said they'd send a film crew out to meet us, but we never saw them. Hard to hit a Streetsailing target I guess. Sailing north on highway 34 was pure pleasure. Being a Sunday, there was little traffic, a wide, smooth shoulder, and the wind angle gave me a fast ride to Hamon, our first rest stop. Gator is getting into commanding the mothership, giving me good traffic reports and learning how to help with all the tasks of running this show. His wife Stephanie is driving ahead and shooting the countryside with our camera, and us as we pass by. Continuing north on 34, I passed quite a few armadillo roadkill yet I'd not seen a single one all through TX. The highway soon lost its great shoulder, the wind began to wane and the terrain became hillier. Who said Oklahoma is flat? I changed up to a larger sail but still struggled into Leedey, TX. It was time for a break, so we pulled into a nice little park and met some very nice locals there having a birthday party for one of their daughters. They extended all kinds of hospitality and gave me a Cowboy's bible. Too bad we won't be staying the night. Folks here are amazingly warm. We used the break to tour the quaint little town and let the afternoon heat pass. Gator had a nice run. Darla from The Little Rascals was born in one of the Main Street buildings. We were a little concerned about more severe weather, and my brother George is now sending periodic weather forecasts and information via email, so we can see what is coming. Today the severe weather is forming more to the east of us, and we can see the huge towering anvilheads forming off to the east. Tonight a cold front is forecast to bring us 39 degrees! At 4:30 we headed another 10 miles on down to road to Camargo, OK which is situated in the Canadian River valley after a 47.5 mile run. I'm now about a half day ahead of schedule. As I was de-rigging the Streetsailor, out came Barry Day, who lives at the city limits, to ask if I'd run out of wind. We spent the next hour talking with him about this area, with all the history and places to see. Most people don't know about the hidden treasures in this state. He let us pull the mothership into his property to spend the night. That's another aspect of this trip I like - spending the night in a different location and meeting new people. Tomorrow I've set my sights on getting to Fargo, OK and should also log my 1,000th mile! Streetsail Across America sails on.
May 19, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 4.4 miles
Cumulative Distance: 936.0 miles
Location: Elk City, OK
Latitude 35 D 23.57 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 25.57 Min West
Gator and his wife Stephanie arrived last night, almost driving to Quanah, TX where we were originally supposed to rendezvous today. Fortunately they checked their phone messages and were able to head up to Elk City instead. They'd been vacationing in southern OK the last week, so this worked into their schedule well. I met Gator in 1992 while helping a mutual friend sail his 56' boat from La Paz, Mexico through the Panama Canal, and on to the Mediterranean. I only made it as far as Cartegena, Columbia, but had the time of my life visiting way cool parts of Latin America. Finding friends available to assist me for several weeks has been a challenge, and I'm fortunate Gator can be a part of this adventure as well. His wife will spend a few days driving thier car with us before she heads to Santa Fe, NM. Once again I'm battling against the elements instead of "going with the flow." I'm negotiating a 6-mile road running due east, just south of Elk City, OK before turning north on the 34. After readying the mothership with over $60 of gas @$1.69/gal and filling the water tanks, we headed back to where I last left off on Thursday night. I knew it would be difficult going, since the wind was out of the ESE, nearly directly in my path. We waited for a local thundershower to blow over, then got under way. This was even harder than pumping the sail in no wind conditions, since holding up the sail against the strong winds was a challenge. I had only made 3.6 miles when it began to rain and thunder again. I don't mind a little rain, but this was getting pretty ugly. Turning on the radio we learned there was a tornado warning in effect just to the north of us, which was by now darkened by wicked-looking clouds approaching from the west. Where's my brother George, the certified SKYWARN watcher? It didn't take an expert to see that something was about to happen. Shortly, the warning was downgraded but another tornado warning was issued for our county with a cell approaching from the west that had a history of producing tornados. Great. I "hastily" derigged the Streetsailer and we headed north back into Elk City, since the cell was passing south of us, travelling SE. It never delivered another tornado, but gave us torrents of rain which is stubbornly persisting, and close lightning strikes. And this is precisely part of the attraction of sailing through the midwest in spring. We have zero weather in San Diego. It's always nice. I'm about to go out again, now that things have quieted down, and see if I can get at least to the corner of town heading north. That way I'll be positioned for a clean getaway for any winds but north. People have been asking me if I've actually sailed the whole distance and not skipping certain areas. Well, if I did that, why would I be going through all this trouble, spending thousands of my own $, and writing all about it, then cheating? That would be like turning back just short of the summit of Mt. Everest, and telling the world they made the summit, when they knew in their heart they actually didn't. Sometimes my route may be blocked, but it's only by wind conditions. I'm tenacious enough to wait it out until they swing around. I still have one day ahead of schedule in the bank.
Well, I'm back from my second attempt at getting to the NE corner of town, and failed. It was nearly impossible to sail against the still strong ESE wind, and truly ridiculous to be out there in rain which really hasn't let up all day. Pickup trucks with guys in cowboy hats would drive slowly by, with that familiar "what is that idiot doing?" look. If only they knew! At any rate, I'm closer to turning the corner to the road north. In a way, I'm glad we didn't make better time to the north since they're still under tornado watches. Tomorrow I'll take another crack at it.
May 19, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 0.0 miles (rest day)
Cumulative Distance: 931.6 miles
Location: Elk City, OK
Latitude 35 D 23.35 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 30.32 Min West
My Wheels in Elk City
Wicked is the word to describe last night's t-storms that hammered us with 70 mph winds, (so the radio said) torrential rain and lightning that kept us up most of the night. We were worried at times the mothership would capsize and our signs took a beating since the tape has melted in the sun. Sure is a lot cooler though! I feel like I'm freezing at 70 degrees now. I got George up and on the bus to Dallas to catch his flight back to Minneapolis. Sure am sad to see him go - he is the perfect man for this mission. So, while waiting for Gator (next driver) to arrive tomorrow, (in theory) I set off with a list of tasks to accomplish today before we set out on the next leg of SAA. This leg should see higher average daily runs, with perhaps a day or two of non-sailing due to contrary winds. Yesterday was a perfect example of what happens when the prevailing winds are interupted.
May 17, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 43.7 miles
Cumulative Distance: 931.6 miles
Location: Elk City, OK
Latitude 35 D 23.35 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 30.32 Min West
The sailing today was very tactical with the ultimate goal to reach the north city limits of Elk City, OK. The challenge was that nature had a few tricks up her sleeve, which meant timing and decision making. I rigged up and headed out of Mangum, OK around 10:00 A.M., due north on highway 34 with a nice east wind giving me 15 - 20 mph of speed. I could feel the wind gradually clocking more to the northeast and dropping, so by the time I reached an intersection just SW of Elk City, was unable to continue sailing north! This is a problem with sailing - one can't sail too close to the direction the wind is coming from. Imagine a square, with our position at the bottom left corner, the objective at the upper right corner, and the wind blowing diagonally down from top right to bottom left. Normally a boat on the water would be able to progress to either corner (north or east) then over. Unfortunately we were down in a valley with hills and trees obscuring the wind, meaning we were stuck until the wind shifted. So we sat and waited in the high heat and humidity until it was apparent the wind wasn't going to blow for awhile. Packing up, we headed into Elk City to do reconnaissance on possible routes through town and find out where George was to pick up the bus back to the Dallas airport tomorrow. Glad we were able to do this, since it's a much larger city than I expected, and I wouldn't want to be sailing on some of those busy roads. It was getting past 6:30 PM when we headed back to where I last finished just SW of town. I could see rain falling out of the clouds off in the distance, and wait.... there it was - a faint zephyr out of the ESE. After changing a spare tire on the streetsailer the wind had intensified to the point where I could once again sail north. It was actually the advance winds of the incoming thunderstorms, cool and gusty. The 4 miles up to the NE corner of the imaginary box flew by, just as the sky began to open up. The timing was perfect - 5 minutes later and I would have been caught in an Oklahoma thunderstorm. Our position is good now so when the front passes overhead tonight and tomorrow, I'll be able to sail the last side of that box east in the prevailing southerlies. A bit like a chess game.
Currently George and I both have our laptops out, camped out at the truck stop from which George will hop on the Greyhound early tomorrow morning. It's still pouring with lightning flashing all around, but nothing severe is forecasted. I'm going to miss George immensely - he pioneered many of the methods we used for safe driving and he took such good care of me and the mothership. He is truly a huge part of this project.
Tomorrow is another rest day while I wait for my next driver, Gator, to arrive. It will be a good chance to clean things up and call the media!
Greetings from George on the SAA Mothership! Well, my 3-week tenure as commander of the Mothership has already come to an end. It has been an amazing time for me being with my brother as every day brought new and exciting challenges that I will fondly remember as I return to my windowless office next week.
It has been great hearing from so many people during the trip via email and in the guest book. I loved the suggestion about turning on the heat and fan when the engine gets too warm rather than giving the engine more air using a 2x4 to prop open the hood. I imagine the heater would help out but it was not high on my list of options with temperatures averaging 95-100 degrees in the Mothership on those slow downwind trajectories.
Being a part of this journey with Bob had so many highlights I could never list them here. Spending quality time with my brother doing something a bit off the wall is vacation time well spent! And as those in the office know, I am a Weather Channel fanatic so being a part of an Atmospheres episode is a real kick for me as well.
Tomorrow morning I will be boarding a bus here in Elk City, OK to catch a flight back to Minneapolis in Dallas, a total of over 8 hours on the bus. As I am traveling on my Northwest Airlines frequent flier miles, I contacted Northwest several days ago about moving my return flight from Dallas to Oklahoma City, and they said I could do so for a $50 fee. We thought, way cool, I could just take a bus to Oklahoma City and have a shorter flight home. Well, when the time came a day later to make those arrangements the Northwest agent said that return trip location could not be changed if first segment has already been flown! Like it even matters! Itís hard to be sympathetic to troubles with airlines when they play this kind of crap. I guess I will have an extra 5 and a half hours to re-evaluate the thousands of dollars of air fare tickets a year I have been spending with them.
Anyways, with many of Bobís challenges behind him, I feel confident that he will be successful in completing his trip to Canada. His motivation and dedication to this and his other projects are an inspiration to me.
Many thanks to everyone who has been following Bobís adventures and to Jeanís terrific work with the web site! The work he has put into it is much appreciated and it looks great! I too will be following along daily, and will try to provide him with some meteorological intelligence daily.
Sail on into history Bob!
May 16, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 46.4 miles
Cumulative Distance: 887.9 miles
Location: Mangum, OK
Latitude 34 D 53.72 Min North
Longitude: 99 D 30.15 Min West
Today's sailing was more like "Heatsailing Across America" as the temps soared. We spent the morning in Quanah lining up my brother George's return trip to Minneapolis. He was supposed to leave from here, but since we are ahead of schedule and to save me from sitting here for two days waiting for my friend Gator to arrive, will drive me up to Elk City, OK. This means juggling his schedule some. Northwest Airlines told him he would have to buy a whole new ticket back to Minneapolis now that he's already used the first segment of his Minneapolis-Dallas ticket, rather than let him change the city to Oklahoma City. Bless his heart for sticking with me like that - it only drives me harder to complete this journey. Funny to hear people comment on our mothership signs - to hear the "yeah, right" attitude about a world record. After topping off with LPG we rigged up and made a quick six miles to the Red River, which forms the TX/OK border. Yep, it's red. Suddenly, we're in Oklahoma which is a huge milestone for the project. It's only one state, but represents over one third of the total distance, and the toughest terrain at that. I realize there's still a long way to go, and many things could derail me so I have to stay sharp. After a long, slow climb into the first town of Eldorado, OK, I called a siesta because the wind was still light and the heat was killer! The Territory Cafe made a good pullover where the object was to sit as still as possible to stay cool while temps in the mothership rose to near 100. By 2:30 the wind had come up enough and we were off again along a fairly busy road without a shoulder. When the wind velocity rises, it get very turbulent as it flows through the trees and over the land. Passing cars must think I'm not in control sometimes because the sail is not very steady. I do a lot of pumping and angle adjustment while Streetsailing, so they usually give me plenty of room when they pass. The route turned from NE to due north, allowing me to sail much easier on an almost deserted road. Again, the wind phased up and down, sometimes giving me a fast ride and sometimes leaving me hot, sweaty and exhausted from trying to generate my own wind by pumping the sail. Instead of getting frustrated, the best thing to do is just hop off and wait a few moments for the wind to return, which it usually does. Off in the distance we could see the Wichita Mountains - bet you didn't know Oklahoma had mountains! A quick rest stop in Duke, OK revealed a slow leak in one of my tires. No wonder I felt like I was going slow. Usually I can tell if I'm climbing a hill or on a bad wind angle by my relative speed to the wind speed. A low tire, like a bicycle tire, slows everything down. Some flat fixit and 42 psi from the electric pump and we were back in business. Another 16 miles down the road and we were rolling over the bridge into Mangum, OK. I desperately wanted to dive off the bridge and join the kids swimming in the creek we were crossing! Sailing through town to the opposite city limits was like usual - locals driving by real slow to gawk, people asking me where I'm going, etc. One gal yelled from a passing car "YOU'RE CRAZY!" How did she know? George did an outstanding job car blocking and keeping things smooth in the mothership behind me. I couldn't imagine doing this without that kind of support. After high-fives at the city limits and de-rigging, we tried to blend in to the city by parking in the local hospital parking lot to clean up. The mothership's interior thermometer still read over 100 degrees after 5:00 pm. It's supposed to cool down to 80 in a couple of days. Too hot to cook, so we hit the local Sonic drive-in for dinner and relaxed back at the hospital parking lot. Now I'm rambling. Tomorrow's goal is Elk City, OK about 50 miles distant. Thanks to all who are signing the guestbook - I read them all and will try to reply to as many as possible. Keep them coming!
Distance from OK
Couldn't escape the Texas heat with temps in the low 90's, heat off the road, no apparent wind since I sailed the same direction the wind was blowing, and the magnifying effect off the sail. George was pretty toasty in the mothership with the hot engine right next to his legs and no air conditioning. Had a good day of sailing though, with the winds a notch less than yesterday, but still enough to pull me up the hills of the three river valleys we traversed. We're on Highway 6, running pretty much due north. I'm pleased with the wide shoulders and lack of traffic. Passing through Benjamin, TX, we were pulled over by a couple of gals, including the postmaster, for a photo. People see us coming and drive ahead to alert the troops. We're happy to do it and it's not every day someone sails through. In Crowell, TX, we pulled off at the main intersection to pick up one of life's essential ingredients: Diet Coke. The corner shop was one of those classic old country stores which has been there since the 1800's, and even the cash register was manual, with the metallic numbers cha-chinking up. Gotta love it! We'd been spotted, with folks coming out of storefronts to ask where we started, where we were going, etc. The local newspaper was notified and we did a quick impromptu interview right there on the sidewalk in the shade. You see some funny things out here, like the pickup truck with three live goats standing on top of it, staring at us staring at them as we passed... Dogs have become a game for us, for if they're not restrained or fenced in, will almost always come bolting out of the farmhouse driveway right at me. George will gun the mothership and pull up tight on me. What cracks me up is seeing the dog look at the oncoming RV and back at me, then hesitate and halt his pursuit. Chalk up another one for the Streetsailers!
There were some stretches of hilly terrain, during which we climbed and fell several hundred feet. We're now on the flatland of the Great Plains. There were a few stretches of tree-lined roadway, but with the wind running straight down, it didn't matter too much. This is a hard direction to sail! Around 4:00 we rolled into Quanah, TX, marking a significant landmark of the trip - it's the last Texan town we'll pass through! The Oklahoma border is just six miles away. It was also to be the driver transition point, but since I'm so far ahead, and my brother still has some vacation time, we'll continue to "mosey" on down (up) the road to Elk City, OK which we should reach by Friday, latest. After the obligatory sail through town to the opposite city limits, de-rigging and documenting our finishing position, we headed for the local cemetery to shower up before heading to town. You'd think it would be a quiet place, but we had several fly-bys by folks I think just checking us out. The moment finds us camped out at the local laundrymat, under the air conditioner, eyeing the Dairy Queen across the street. Life becomes brutally simple when you're on the road! Tomorrow's forecast is for 99 degrees...
I must have paid my dues yesterday for today's ideal sailing conditions. The high pressure moved off, giving us a nice 15 mph wind from the south right from our first cup of coffee. It's clear and warm, low 90's, but feels great since its dry. The sailing today was along small roads leading through old farm towns like Hamil, Rule, O'Brien, Rochester and Knox City. With so much wind I used my smaller 4.5 meter sail all day, even running downwind since you can't outrun the wind when you travel with it. I found an amazing analogy to windsurfing on water. The wind creates flowing waves along the tops of these fields of knee-high grain, with their whooshing sound similar to water passing by the board, so the senses are almost fooled. It's quite the sensation out here. This is the type of sailing I dreamed about! We just ticked off mile after easy mile, waving at the cars and trucks as they passed, even stopping for photos for passing motorists on a couple of occasions. George got our two-way radios working again, after we found a short in the hands-free headset I wear. It's essential to have that communication for upcoming traffic and other info. We also wired speakers to play outside, ahead of the mothership so I can have tunes as I sail out ahead! One of our "Streetsail Across America" signs fell off the side of the mothership, as did the rear sign. I told you it's windy out here!
With such great wind, we covered just under 66 miles in about 5.5 hours, including all our breaks and a fueling stop. We stop often so I can drink and rest my feet which become numb after so much vibration. When sailing cross-wind, they actually heat up from all the downward pressure and vibration on them. Bet you really wanted to know that. So we're within striking distance of Quanah, TX, the changeover point for my brother George and my friend Gator. Problem is, we're here quite early, and we're thinking of pressing on to Elk City, OK to change over. Tomorrow's forecast is for more of the same, if not more, WIND! It's only 50 or so miles to Quanah, so I think we'll arrive by early afternoon and stay overnight. Nice to have time on our side.
May 13, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 54.3 miles
Cumulative Distance: 716.5 miles
Location: Royston, TX
Latitude 32 D 48.72 Min North
Longitude: 100 D 17.94 Min West
Long periods of slow, windless pumping, punctuated by brief periods of exhilarating sailing. These words pretty much sum up today's run. It was not easy going for several reasons:
1. I haven't learned to wait until late afternoon when the wind usually comes up. High pressure has settled in, causing lighter than normal wind for this area, and I want to take advantage of any wind, so we go when it just starts to tease us, around 10 am. By the time I've sailed till I drop, the wind is just right and the heat has gone. Idiot!
2. The route today ran more east than north, which combined with the light breeze, made sailing into it a chore. The roads we took zig-zagged all over, so we logged nearly twice the distance over the road as by the crow flies. I even jumped onto a dirt road for three miles as a shortcut. (Never again unless absolutely necessary!) So we ended up in downtown Royston, TX which shows up on the map, but there is nothing there, just a farm road intersection. Poor George, he had to put up with my tantrums when things got ugly. I think I threw my Streetsailer in the ditch three times and burned his ears over the radio with my curses at the wind. He's a great cheerleader and kept me going. As I mentioned yesterday, my email account is now working, however the server tried to send all the messages from yesterday again, which takes a long time at 9.6k! Please, DO NOT SEND ME ANY PHOTO OR VIDEO FILES, TEXT ONLY PLEASE. Thanks. At the end of the day we covered just over 54 miles and are still on schedule. Tomorrow's run and beyond is more northerly which will make for more pleasant sailing. We're nearing the TX/OK border, which at one time seemed impossibly far. Baby steps.... bob
May 12, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 0.0 miles (Lay Day)
Cumulative Distance: 662.2 miles Location: Colorado City, TX
Latitude 32 D 25.13 Min
North Longitude: 100 D 51.60 Min
West Elevation: 2245'
Low With No Wind To Go
Sure is nice staying in a real campground, rather than pulled off the road somewhere. What a LUXURY to take a hot shower in the morning! We took our time, checking the mothership fluids, taking on water, etc. before heading out. In the next campsite over was Royce and Melinda from Odessa, TX. They came to the lake to unwind a few days and said they saw us going through town yesterday. Thanks for your support, it meant a lot to me and I hope your foot heals real fast Melinda! We pulled out to our finishing point yesterday at the city limits, only to find the wind was almost non-existent. It had been stronger in the morning over the lake, but was fading. So we decided to kick off and check out nearby China Grove, made famous by the Doobie Brothers. It was accessible only by dirt road, with no signs to tell you that you were actually in China Grove. In fact, I think it was just a couple of houses nestled a grove of trees. Made me wonder what was going on here that inspired the Doobie Brothers to write a song about it. There was no "music at night," "Sheriff," or "Miss Perkins." Just a stop sign riddled with bullet holes. How disappointing! As we are so far ahead of schedule, we decided to call a lay day, and headed over to Lake J.B. Thomas, about 15 miles out of Colorado City. It's a reservoir lake, created by a huge earthen dam. A few fishing boats dotted the muddy red water and cows waded in the languid shallows. Very peaceful! As I hadn't received any email in the last two weeks I called my ISP to discover my account has been locked, so I've only been able to send but not receive email. They unlocked it, creating a flood of really great messages of encouragement and support. Good thing I called the lay day, since it took all afternoon to respond to most everyone. If I hadn't, it won't be long. So feel free to keep them coming! I appreciate each one. George spent the time touching up the mothership graphics and adding some that we hadn't had a chance to apply. People driving by slow way down to stare with a blank look at our logo and sign-covered wagon. Had a few afternoon thundershowers which cooled things down about 10 degrees and brought the winds way up. That's okay, we both needed the rest and the wind has a more east in it than I would like. We should be back on the move tomorrow, with a rather zig-zag route up through Hamlin, TX. Tune in!
May 11, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 46.0 miles
Cumulative Distance: 662.2 miles
Location:Colorado City, TX
Latitude 32 D 25.13 Min North
Longitude: 100 D 51.60 Min West
Free as the Breeze at 32 Degrees
We must be immune to the Friday the 13th jinx - we had a GREAT day! Slept in, had a long coffee/breakfast and route strategy session. The wind was going pretty good by the time we rigged up at the southern city limits sign at Sterling City, TX around 10:45 am. The weather has been warm, dry and windy. After turning onto the 163 N a woman approaching from the other direction slowed down to a halt as I sailed past - I think I saw her tonsils.... She didn't start up again until we'd moved on a considerable distance. Obviously these people have never seen a Streetsailer before! I had about a 14-mile straightaway section of road, nearly all of which could be seen from the top of the hill it started on. Amazing how much space there is out here. To descend down some of these longer, steeper hills without building up too much speed I use the sail as a sort of spoiler, backwinding it into the apparent wind to check my speed. On this road there were more snakes, but my snake radar is still on from yesterday. Also on this road were millions of grasshoppers, which made crunching noises as I rolled over them. (see today's pic) There were lot's of great photo opportunities which we stopped and shot, like whirling windmills and broken down old barns. The 40 miles into Colorado City went by very quickly, and we were there by 3:20. A reporter from a local paper came out to interview me, saying someone called in that I was incoming. That's usually how the papers and the police find out about us. I had changed down to a smaller sail, which makes running through towns much easier, although I get choked from the lack of breeze. Pushing through towns is always stressful, and I get all kinds of comments and questions from cars passing by. Before long, we'd reached the north side of town and called it a day after 46 easy miles. We have one eye firmly on the Texas/Oklahoma border where my brother will head back to Minneapolis and I will pick up a friend of mine to continue commanding the mothership for another two weeks. At the moment we are parked in the Lake Colorado City State Park, right next to the lake. It's still windy, but very warm, dry and pleasant. Looking forward to heading NE tomorrow, not sure exactly where we'll end up. Free as the breeze!
Greetings from the SSA Mothership commander! Today was a pleasant sailing day with little traffic and favorable winds most of the way making for quick runs on the streetsailer. On many of the legs we would encounter occasional light tailwinds slowing Bob down to 5 mph or so. This is hard on the Mothership as no fresh cool air makes it into the engine compartment and causing it to somewhat overheat and idle roughly. My solution of tossing a short 2x4 under the hood over the release latch to prop the hood ajar seems to give it just enough additional ventilation to keep it from getting too hot and running smoothly. However today was a different story with the quick pace and bountiful crosswinds, the motor stayed nice a cool.
Otherwise the RV ran well today with no unexpected behaviors. This morning in Sterling City we made a refueling stop which are becoming a smoother process for us. At the first part of the trip, we could not fill the tank full because of a leaky fuel hose from the tank. After several days into the trip we were able to find an appropriate sized replacement and Bob replaced the hose as good as new. We began to fill the tank to the full point but learned that the fuel will not travel up the filler neck to pop off the refueling hose. Instead gas comes gushing out of a vent line down underneath the Mothership without warning. We now have the process down to be looking for the first few drips underneath to cut off the flow of gas into the tank which seems to work well for us.
When approaching oncoming traffic, most everyone provides us with plenty of room and waves as they pass by. This even surpasses Minnesota NiceÖ Iím impressed! The local townspeople that I have met have been very friendly and helpful.
Thatís about all for now from the Mothership. Stay tuned.
May 10, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 79.2 miles
Cumulative Distance: 616.2 miles
Location: Sterling City, TX
Latitude 31 D 49.95 Min North
Longitude: 100 D 59.54 Min West
What a great day! I know it's going to be good when the trees are moving before the first cup of coffee. Before starting off, George and I shopped around Ozona for a flashing amber warning light for the mothership, to no avail. We rigged up at the city limits, where we left off last night. Usually I'll sail through a town last thing, so I can get a clean start the next morning. I knew we were going to burn up some Great Plains miles today, with a stiff SSE breeze @ 15 gusting to 20. The 5.0 sail I first rigged proved too big and dangerously unmanageable after a short run, so I changed down to a 4.5 which hasn't been used too much yet. This is the kind of sailing I had in mind - fast, easy miles harenessed in while watching the countryside slide by. Sailing off the wind a few degrees is physically easier and faster (up to 25 mph) than directly downwind or cross wind. Once again, I virtually had the roadway to myself. There just isn't much traffic out here - just the odd oil company truck. Also, you'd be challenged to find an imported car out here. Just before noon I was hitting the brakes in Barnhart, TX when a pickup truck pulled up to George, and Lola's first words were an invitation to lunch at the Community Center, just up the road. That's Texas hospitality! When we arrived there were about 30 local residents and a group of 7th grade boys from nearby Mertzon gathering for a monthly luncheon. George and I introduced ourselves and Streetsail Across America to the group and joined them for a delicious, home cooked buffet. Georges PB&J sandwiches are good, but couldn't top this. Don't tell my wife about the pecan pie :-p Then each of the boys gave a short talk about some aspect of WWII that they found interesting. There was a WWII veteran in the group, who served in Germany. After a few pictures with the rig and signing some autographs for the students, George and I were off. At this point the highway lost its shoulder, but since there was so little traffic, it didn't matter. We were rising and falling through sparse ranchland, with occasional flocks of fleeing sheep or groups of cows that would watch me sail past, then as if in a delayed reaction, bolt away. I never knew cows could run so fast! The horses continue to amaze me by running towards me and following along the fence as far as they possibly can. What's the attraction? Sure is a beautiful sight nonetheless. It was at about this point when I began the "snake slalom." The first near-miss happened just as a pickup was coming the other direction and I noticed this 2.5 foot long, light green snake in the road. I dodged left, and it also went left, slithering fast and straight, without the characteristic sidewinding most snakes do. I was committed left, and was able to just clear it without slamming into the oncoming pickup. Streetsail Across America nearly ended right there. There were others, but my snake radar was definitely switched on and I gave them plenty of room. We reeled Sterling City in around 6:00 after a 79 mile run. Today had 100 mile potential, but we stayed awhile at the luncheon and on other breaks, so it will have to wait. We're now 2 full days ahead of schedule, which is nice since the wind could stop blowing anytime. Tomorrow's objective is to continue northward through Colorado City. Remember the Doobie Brother's song "China Grove?" Well, we plan to sail through, wind willing. Stay tuned!
Greetings from the SSA Mothership! Todayís route on Hwy 163 thankfully was a mostly quiet route with little traffic and a good portion of it providing wide shoulders to duck onto when traffic from the rear approaches.
For those who have been following Bobís early updates, he mentioned that the gas gauge on the RV does not function. Today it offered a teaser by pegging at the far end of the full side, then to drop down and dance between the quarter tank mark and full and end by dropping back to the bottom of the gauge below empty for the rest of the day for no reason. Determining tank refills are an interesting exercise, as we are not exactly sure what gas mileage is when the Mothership follows Bob on the streetsailer between 5-20 mph. We are guessing itís about 7-8 mpg. Needless to say we are being conservative with relatively frequent fill-ups. At every fill-up, the trip odometer on the RV is reset until the next fill-up.
This system worked great for the first few days of the trip until the spastic RV speedometer broke! Thank goodness for the onboard GPS we have been using for tracking the Streetsailing Across America event. We are now tracking not just the distance covered by Bob on the streetsailer, but also for the RV for keeping on top of refueling stops. The GPS also indicates speed down to the tenths of a mile per hour, far more accurately measuring speed than what the RV could display. Since the Mothership is a í79, things like this are bound to happen. Overall its in very good shape. We will see how it holds up on its journey with Bob across the country. Till tomorrow.
May 9, 2001
Distance Sailed Today: 41.3 miles
Cumulative Distance: 537.0 miles
Location: Ozona, TX
Latitude 30 D 43.63 Min North
Longitude: 101 D 11.83 Min West
the Great Plains |
Texas Hill Country - SEE YA! Wind power prevailed supreme over canyons and steep grades. (see pic) After having completed this leg of Streetsail Across America, I feel as if we are ending the first phase of experimentation and terrain challenges, to begin a more enjoyable style of sailing on level, open grasslands. This was the fantasy version of the dream. Today's goal was to make Ozona, TX. To do this, we had to sail up the remaining 40 miles of this gnarly, winding road deep in canyon country. Fortunately, the section today was more open and exposed to better tailwinds. I also used the big 7.0 sail for more pulling power up the hills. Shortly after starting out, George and I celebrated our 500th mile with a round of duplex cream cookies and Diet Coke. Fuel! We passed a road crew laying fiber optic cable in the road, handing out autographed cards and stickers. The weather is cooler and drier, now that we are on the north side of the dry line. 80 degrees now feels cold! On the final stretch of long, steep grades onto the Great Plains plateau, I broke out my "secret weapon," a type of spinnaker designed to help a windsurfing sail pull downwind. It sure isn't pretty and looks home made as it is, but it got the job done. I would have never been able to pump or walk up if I didn't use it. Funny how empty these highways are. At one stretch, we didn't encounter another car going the same direction for several hours! Another observation is how beautiful the countryside looks when you are out in the open and moving slower. Okay, maybe after awhile one part of Texas looks the same as another, but I appreciate that aspect. Sailing through Ozona was fun. I kept the big sail up which will not clear all the wires and trees. City traffic flowed right around us and George did a superb job of warning me of obstacles and hazards. I don't think I could have gone this far without his support in the Mothership. Apart from info, we chat back and forth almost constantly over the radios. This is real quality time spent together! After a celebratory dinner at Pepe's, a Mexican cafe, we headed for the laundermat to catch up on washing and email. (see photo). Ozona seems like a nice small town with a Davy Crockett Museum and a town square that reminds me of the "Back to the Future" set. There's a row of large, well-maintained old houses nestled beneath gigantic shade trees that indicate some history. Every town has a character to it, and these midwestern towns have plenty. Physically, I'm hanging in there fairly well. Skin on my hands no longer feels like my own, rather more like a plastic coating. My arms are pretty wiped out by the end of the day and my calves feel tight from all the rocking on the board, but after slamming a beer (medicinal purposes only!) and a shower at the end of the run, I feel like new. Tomorrow we'll continue to head north on 163 towards Sterling City, covering as much of the Great Plains as the wind allows.... Stay tuned!
Mothership Update from George
Greetings from the SAA Mothership! My name is George and I am Bobís younger brother. As the RV driver supporting Bobís endeavor for the first 3 weeks