“I thought I might do some writing along the way, perhaps essays, surely notes, certainly letters. … I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless.”
— John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, 1961
A habit that I acquired during 16 years as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press was to prepare for a reporting trip by collecting bits and pieces of information about some of the people and places I might encounter on the journey, facilitating the task of writing on the road.
In those days before cellphones, laptops and the Internet, this background information was on paper — newspaper clippings, printouts of wire service stories, notes from books — and was tucked into a file folder. Dispatches from the road were pecked out on a Hermes Baby portable typewriter and given to a hotel Telex operator for transmission or dictated by telephone to an editor in London or New York.
But now reams of such information can be contained on a flash drive smaller than your thumb. And dispatches can be sent from a laptop, or ultra-portable “netbook,” wherever the correspondent can find wireless service or a wi-fi hot spot.
Because, like Steinbeck, I hope to do a little writing as our small bicycle caravan progresses across the United States from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., I have been collecting snippets of information on the places we will pass through.
That’s why you might see on this blog posts that have nothing to do with bicycling — like yesterday’s entry on the notorious shootist John Wesley Hardin (“The meanest man in Texas”).
Besides, who wants to read only about bicycling? Even I would become bored.