Dan Hikes Moxie Bald Mountain on the Applachian Trail in Maine

Paul, Maine hiker extraordinaire

Paul, my Maine hiker extraordinaire

Paul is my wild and crazy hiking amigo. He takes me places I would never go.  Four years back we hiked Speck Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in western Maine; a tough eight mile, five hour hike over rocks, stones, and boulders that brought me to my knees.  We’ve hiked the Loop Trail to Tumbledown Mountain near Weld in central Maine, which has a stony winding tunnel of rocks called “The Chimney” that we climbed through!  The guidebook describes this tunnel through the mountain itself as not safe for novices, children, or dogs.  After, we panned for gold!

Paul at Devil's Doorstep on the way to Moxie Bald Mountain

Paul at Devil’s Doorstep on the way to Moxie Bald Mountain

It’s never dull with Paul.   Now when he suggests a hike, I ask him to send me a link describing it.  The Moxie Bald Mountain Trail is a moderate/difficult-rated four mile round trip to the summit with an elevation gain of 1300 feet. That seems doable; I wonder what I am missing.

Thompson's Restaurant in Bingham, Maine

Thompson’s Restaurant in Bingham, Maine

In his made-for-backroads SUV, we drive north on the Maine Turnpike to route 201 through Skowhegan and on to breakfast in Bingham, some three hours from York this mid-July. With excellent Yelp reviews, the country Thompson Restaurant on the Main Street does not disappoint. It’s a classic small town Maine diner with a menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; counter stools, three booths, and a smattering of tables for four or six. We pay $12 total for coffee, two eggs, home fries, and toast.

The pole with no street sign which we are reasonably confident is Town Line Road

The pole with no street sign which we are reasonably confident is Town Line Road

And then my Paul reality (unmarked roads) hits as we head out of town on route 16 to the east looking for the Town Line Road.   When we pass a road with a metal post with no street sign, we guess that this must be it based on our calculations.

Another unmarked road on our way to the trailhead

Another unmarked road on our way to the trailhead

We go for it. The rocky and gravelly road takes us through country that only moose, hunters, and hermits would love.   Since the massive logging trucks drive this road regularly, the road is well maintained. Aislinn Sarnacki of the Bangor Daily News is the source of our directions to the summit of Moxie Bald.

Just past a Recreational Trail Crossing sign and the Moscow town line, turn right onto Town Line Road. Drive 2.6 miles to the end of the road and turn right onto Deadwater Road (no sign). Drive 4 miles to a fork in the road and take the left fork onto Trestle Road (no sign), staying along the power lines. Drive 2.9 miles and turn right onto an unmarked road (which is just past an unmarked road on the left that has a bridge over Moxie Stream). Drive uphill on the unmarked road 0.7 mile to a fork in the road, and take the left fork onto the unmarked Moxie Bald Road. Drive 3 miles to a bridge over Bald Mountain Brook. Cross the bridge and park on the right, well out of the way of traffic. Walk about 0.1 mile farther to where the Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses the road. Take a right to hike the trail northbound to Moxie Bald Mountain.

Heading north to Moxie Bald on the Appalachian Trail

Heading north to Moxie Bald on the Appalachian Trail

That’s a lot of unmarked and no signage roads (my boldface), but the directions to the tenth of a mile prove spot on. On a July day forecasted to go into the mid-80s, we lather on organic Skeeter Skedaddle and lube on sunscreen. In my lightweight Under Armor shirt and Nike shorts, I strap on my fanny pack with two bottles of water, tangerines, apple slices, and tuna salad sandwiches by Hannah.

MB 2D Paul on trailWe enter the forest to our right a little before 10A.   Covered by leaves lapping onto the trail we run into Itis (his trail name [we never find out why]), the first of five AT thru-hikers we will meet today. Soon after, a young female solo hiking comes by. Trail names are often given by others and as yet she doesn’t have one. Her heavy hiking boots proved uncomfortable at Mt. Katahdin so she ditched them for lightweight hiking sandals.

Rocky and rooted Moxie Bald Trail

Rocky and rooted Moxie Bald Trail

The trail is muddy but not so much that we can’t easily walk around the muddy spots. We gently rise towards Moxie Bald, but it is in no way strenuous on this well-maintained trail. We meet another thru-hiker called Four Ounces. Smiling, he never reveals how he got that trail name, but he is on a smoking pace, having left Katahdin 135 miles away just one week ago.

Views to Sugarloaf Mountain to the west

Views to Sugarloaf Mountain to the west

While the first 1.6 miles is a walk in the park, we come upon a junction where to the left we can take the Summit Bypass Trail or to the right head directly to the summit of Moxie Bald Mountain.  We head right as the trail steepens over the last 0.4 of a mile to the top: but it is not so arduous that we can’t continue to talk and climb and climb and talk.

Dan at Devil's Doorstep

Dan at Devil’s Doorstep

Soon we are upon the Devil’s Doorstep, a series of stone monoliths 4o to 60 feet long with passageways. It’s all very cool as we climb upon rocks and over roots seeking the summit. Emerging out of the forest, we rock scramble over the massive stones on the mountainside on the way to the bald (a mountain top with no trees).

Dan with veteran AT hiker, Wildcat

Dan with veteran AT hiker, Wildcat

We see a thru-hiker in the distance, who turns out to be Wildcat (trail name) who has completed the AT years ago. As a chaplain supported by the Methodist Church, his mission is to follow the golden rule and help out others on the trail. Different from Four Ounces, he has taken more than two weeks to get to this point on the AT; he has had Trail Magic in the form of friends providing a meal and a place to stay off-trail four times since he left Katahdin.

From the summit looking northeast to Mount Kahtadin

From the summit looking northeast to Mount Kahtadin

Atop Moxie Bald Mountain on this hazy Monday, we have a 360 degree view to Mount Katahdin, Sugarloaf, and the Bigelows.  A little after noon, Paul and I are of one mind that we’d rather keep our hiking momentum going by hiking back to the trailhead now and then have lunch in town at a picnic table.

Hauling on the hauling with a deflating tire. We want no part of any Maine version of a trumped up Deflategate scandal

Hauling ass on the hauling road with a deflating tire. We want no part of any Maine version of a trumped up Deflategate scandal.  In Tom we trust.

Arriving at the trailhead more than 3.5 hours later, we drive out the gravelly hauling road when two things occur. One, we see a moose in the road, who scampers into the wetlands before I can ask him to look this way for a picture. Two, the tire pressure light goes on the dashboard indicating one of the tires has been punctured on this rocky road. We opt for Paul to cowboy it out on this logging road at 40 mph to see if we can get to route 16, twelve miles away, before every bit of air is out of the deflating tire.

Paul's trusty work SUV at Lavallee's Garage in Moscow, Maine

Paul’s trusty work SUV at Lavallee’s Garage in Moscow, Maine

Sitting high in the saddle, Paul is rocking along the logging road.  He then comes up with another brilliant idea. We’ll go back to Thompson’s Restaurant and ask the waitress where is the best garage to have a tire fixed. We drive into the lot at Lavallee’s Garage where the mechanic puts the car on the lift immediately, plugs the tire, and charges Paul $10.

Gotta love small town Maine, its people, its hauling roads, and its Moxie Bald Mountain along the Appalachian Trail!


Dan Hikes with his UNH classmate to Acadia Mountain in Acadia National Park

It’s mid-May after the snowiest winter on the coast of Maine in the last 10,000 years.  I am here in Bar Harbor, some 200 miles north of our home in York, for some hiking in Acadia National Park with my University of New Hampshire classmate and full-time Canadian Bill Buggie.

Map of ANPAfter hiking to Sargent Mountain and Penobscot Mountain (To read that blog, go to the categories on the left side of the blog and click on “Maine”) this Monday, Bill and I head into Bar Harbor for dinner. With the glowing recommendation for Geddy’s from Teenia at our Best Western Acadia Park Inn, we drive through a town just rubbing the sleep out of its eyes and ready to wake up for the Memorial Day opening to its brief five-month tourist season.

Geddy's imageGeddy’s, a block from the Bar Harbor harbor, has a Monday night buzz of locals and first-of-the-season tourists. We zero in on the $13.95 Big Burrito; soon we are fiesta-ing on this fantastic wrapped tortilla of chicken.

AC visa credit cardUsing my credit card to pay for the meal, I see the waitress returning with a paper receipt that says decline. I am not totally surprised. On my trip north today, Visa fraud services had called with news that Hannah’s credit card had been used earlier for gas purchases in two separate Florida cities. Once her card was cancelled, Visa said that mine would be fine.  Well, it was not fine. A $600 purchase has shown up on my card with similar fraudulent gas station activity.

I don’t know how they got our card. It wasn’t lost in Florida; we haven’t been there in years. Internet purchases?  Visa offered to send us a new card in 7 to 10 business days by regular mail or send it by Federal Express arriving the next day for free.  Who picks the first option?

AC Best Western APIFortunately Bill loans me a C-note to pay my Best Western motel bill. But what if I had no amigo to bail me out?  What would I do?  Though I keep an extra check in my wallet, I travel with only one credit card.  That is going to change.  I have resolved that this credit card shall not have died in vain and I will always bring a second card for a new birth of financial freedom.  It’s a great lesson.  I do appreciate Visa’s vigilance.

Ah, but the breakfast at the Best Western Acadia Park Inn more than balances out this slight inconvenience. First, a blueberry muffin with some decafe.  It’s followed by a tomato and spinach omelet patty with home fries.  And then the piece de resistance – salsa!  I ladle and ladle some more;  it’s almost heaven West Virginia.

Bill at the steps off route 102 leading to the Acadia Mountain Loop Trail

Bill at the steps off route 102 leading to the Acadia Mountain Loop Trail

With a morning of light mist, we take Eagle Lake Road on to Somesville some 15 miles through Acadia National Park towards Southwest Harbor on the western part of Mount Desert Island.  Since we’ll be hiking in clouds and dampness, we wonder if the rocky climbs will be slick and unplayable: still we decide to challenge 660’ Acadia Mountain with its 500 feet of rocky elevation gain.

On the Sauveur Mountain Trail

On the Sauveur Mountain Trail

Using the $4.95 Acadia National Park Hiking and Biking Trail Map (a must for any hiker at ANP and available to purchase at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center), we find the parking area on route 102 across from the rock steps climbing into the forest.

On the Man o' War Fire Road on the way to Somes Sound

On the Man o’ War Fire Road on the way to Somes Sound

Using the superb trail map which has distances down to a tenth of mile, we enter the forest of pine and spruce.  Turning left on the St. Sauveur Trail, for the next mile we take this loop trail east toward Somes Sound along the Man o’ War Brook Fire Road.

The view from the Somes Sound Outlook

The view from the Somes Sound Outlook

The gravelly fire road allows us to catch a hiking rhythm as we walk side by side through the forest. Large open natural gullies are dug across the fire road to allow the flow of water to the sea; an added benefit is that these cross-wise drainage ditches make it nearly impossible for four wheel vehicles to drive this fire road.

Bill on the amazing granite steps on the way to Acadia Mountain

Bill on the amazing granite steps on the way to Acadia Mountain

A sharp turn on the Acadia Mountain Trail towards the Somes Sound Lookout gives us nothing; a massive cloud remains over all of Mount Desert Island and we can barely see to the water’s edge.  On a clear day we would see the only fjord on the East Coast of the United States.

Soon we rock scramble up the steep stone trail which, for the most part, is dry. Pleased to find granite steps constructed into the mountainside, we find the climb both doable and enjoyable.

AC 3A BB on rocky trail with steps

Rated strenuous, the hiking is never perilous or makes us fearful for our safety.  Bill leads the way as I take in the scene and snap pictures on my iPhone.

Atop Acadia Mountain on a foggy morning in mid-May

Atop Acadia Mountain on a foggy morning in mid-May

Following the blue blazes of this well-marked trail, Bill and I summit and are blown away at the top.  I mean, literally blown away by the howling winds which were nowhere to be seen or felt in the lower elevations of the forest.  We can see for maybe fifty feet.

Bill descending the narrow rocky passageway

Bill descending the narrow rocky passageway

With a mile of descending rocks until we reach the trailhead, we step carefully, slip on our butts a time or two, but return unscathed and satisfied with our choice of hikes.  As we pack up to leave, the sun is burning off the cloud cover that we’ve hiked under for the last two hours. We highly resolve to return in the coming year.

And why the third reference to the Gettysburg Address.  Maybe I am just messing around or maybe it’s the Maine connection to that battle that Lincoln spoke of four score and seven years ago.  It was Mainer Joshua Chamberlain, a Bowdoin College professor, who led the 20th Maine in defending Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. That man, and his troops may have turned the tide of the Civil War in the favor of the Union. We love our Maine Civil War heroes this morning on the coast of Maine.

Dan Hikes the Mountains of Acadia National Park with the Canadian

Bill Buggie and I go way back. Having met in 1983 at the University of New Hampshire’s Summer Writing Program, we are kindred spirits grateful to my Mountain Rushmore of the teaching of writing (Don Graves, Don Murray, Jane Hansen, and Tom Newkirk).  Kids find their voice in their writing by choosing their own topics.  When kids learn to develop a voice in their writing, they are more likely to develop a voice in their lives.

Bill is a veteran of the pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Since each of us lives roughly four hours driving time from Bar Harbor, Maine, we choose Acadia National Park (ANP) as our hiking destination de jour.

Map of ANPUnder skies of intermittent light rain, my solo ride north from York is uneventful, which from a car break down point of view is a good thing.  After 175 miles of highway driving to Bangor, I head East on Route 1A for the coast. It’s all very simple in May. As an aside, I do recommend traveling the coastal roads of Maine during May’s even more beautiful sister months, September and October.  Still warm, fewer touristos.

Sar1 Acadia signMeeting Bill at the Best Western Acadia Park Inn, we are a mere two miles from the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center at the southern end of the ANP.  Parking anywhere we choose on this preseason May Monday, we have the good fortune to be taken care of by Ranger Linda Morrison. As a hiker herself, she recommends buying a detailed map of the park trails for $5. We do and live to celebrate the modest purchase.

Recommending the Sargent Mountain and Penobscot Mountain Trail Loop, she takes out her yellow highlighter and talks us through the hike. In case of rain, she suggests that we hike five bridges in five miles along the Carriage Roads near Jordan Pond; this is an ideal alternative since hiking in precipitation on the rocky mountain granite can be a risky proposition.

Sar4A rocky bald view of inlets

With no rain falling, we choose the 5.2 mile Sargent/Penobscot Mountain Loop with 1300 feet of elevation gain. What would be crowded with vehicles in the summer, the Park Loop Road is basically car-free as we head north from the Visitor Center to Jordan Pond. Packing our rain gear in Bill’s backpack, we venture out ready for the windy mountain summit in a tee shirt beneath a long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt.

Walking easily in conversation for two miles along the Carriage Road skirting Jordan Pond, we do step around fallen trees on the trail due to the winter of Snowmaggedon 2015.  We walk below the more precipitous parallel Jordan Cliffs Trail, which is closed this time of year due to nesting peregrine falcons.

Sar1B D on CR

Along the Carriage Road near Jordan Pond

The gently graded Carriage Trails allow us to loosen our sitting-in-the-car-all-morning muscles and warm up for the steep climb to Sargent Mountain. Conversation with Bill is an easy back and forth. As an old friend, he is both interesting and interested; we each have a voice in our friendship.

Rockefeller's Teeth on the edge of the Carriage Road

Rockefeller’s Teeth on the edge of the Carriage Road

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. made the 50+ miles of Carriage Roads happen during the early 20th century. We pass the cut granite stones placed here on the Carriage Road edges, which act as guard rails. Known as “coping stones” to help visitors cope with the steep edges, they are also referred to as “Rockefeller’s teeth.”

After forty minutes on the Carriage Road, I see stone steps to our right; but there is no sign for the Deer Brook Trail to the Sargent Mountain summit; so we amble on. Fifteen minutes later, I wonder where the hell the trail is. When all else fails, I check the map and realize we’ve gone too far and double back. Though there is no sign to this trail (during a fall 2015 trip to Acadia  Bill and I see that a sign has now been placed at the start of the trail), we’ve made a cardinal mistake of not being attentive to geographical features on the trail map (i.e., lakes and streams) that would have shown us the trail.

Bill leading the way up the East Cliffs Trail

Bill leading the way up, the dare I say, “R as in rocky” East Cliffs Trail

No matter, an extra 25 minutes hiking on the Carriage Road is no sacrifice. Once on the East Cliffs Trail to Sargent Mountain, we find it steep and rocky. Amazingly, more than half of the trail through a hardwood and conifer forest is granite steps placed by trail workers in years past. It’s an accessible Adirondack switchback trail (straight up the mountain); and just the vigorous workout we are ready for after our mellow Carriage Road walking.

One of many sets of rock steps to Sargent Mountain

One of many sets of rock steps to Sargent Mountain

Throughout our hike the trails are well-marked with blue blazes or cairns (piled rocks on the bare rocky stretches of trail). Thirty minutes later after rock scrambling up the mountain, we come out of the forest having climbed maybe half a mile, to the treeless, open rocky sections near the summit. With still 15 minutes to the mountaintop we hike easily over smooth massive rock formations.

Atop Sargent Mountain

Atop Sargent Mountain

With a chilly and windy Sargent mountaintop (at 1373’ it’s the second highest peak to Cadillac Mountain in ANP), we put our sweatshirts back on. With all the rock climbing we have just done, we are again reminded that this is no hike in any sort of precipitation, even mist. We have been handholding the rock in places and pulling ourselves up over steeper sections. Nothing perilous, but the strenuous rating of the trail is richly deserved. Atop Mount Sargent, we check out the 360 degree views of Eagle Lake, Frenchman Bay of Bar Harbor, and out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The cairns to guide us along the massive stone ridge line

The cairns to guide us along the bare stone ridge line

With the wind up, we do not linger and take to the Sargent South Ridge Trail along the ridge line of this mountain bald (no trees).  Prior to Penobscot Mountain, we dip into the col (gap or valley) between the mountains; but the hiking is easy going now that we have summited.  We soon are atop Penobscot Mountain with a view to the south of Maine’s coastal islands and a glorious view of Jordan Pond to the north.

Jordan Pond from Penobscot Mountain

Jordan Pond from Penobscot Mountain

For another mile we continue on the Penobscot Mountain Trail on the bare mountain ridge. With no leaves on the trees, even in this mid-May, we have clear views to the lakes and ocean of Acadia.

More of the beautiful granite steps

More of the beautiful granite steps down the Spring Trail

After a mile, we take the Spring Trail down the steep descent of the mountain. Though we hand hold the granite as we descend, the ever present granite steps make the descent manageable and not dangerous at all.   As we finish our nearly four hours of hiking, we return to the shoreline of Jordan Pond.

You don’t need to be a macho man or woman to enjoy the Sargent/Penobscot Loop Trail.   This is a “go to” hike for the experienced hiker among us. Don’t miss it.


Dan and Hannah Hike the Buttermilk Falls Trail in Ithaca, New York

Our son Will with at Ithaca College overlooking Cayuga Lake

Our son Will with at Ithaca College overlooking Cayuga Lake


Ever been to the town of Ithaca in central New York?  Back in the early 80s, Hannah and I ventured there to visit her brother Doug and his new bride Becky.  At the time we were runners but hardly man and woman enough to handle the very hilly terrain of Ithaca.  Slogging along in slow motion up the local hills, we now learn that Ithaca College is on South Hill and Cornell University is on East Hill.  And there are a million hills in between.

Early morning on Will and Laurel's deck

Early morning on Will and Laurel’s deck

Our son Will and his wife Laurel Ann recently moved to Ithaca; she a nurse at the Cayuga Medical Center and he in the Athletic Department at Ithaca College, here on the easternmost of the Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake (pronounced Cue-ga).  Ithaca seems to be a smaller version of crunchy Burlington, Vermont.  We feel at home with the Bernie Sanders signs in front yards.

Will and Laurel in downtown Ithaca

Will and Laurel in downtown Ithaca

In mid-August we’ve come to Ithaca to chill, hike, and play board games (see the end of the blog).  After living in graduate housing on the Ithaca College campus, Will and Laurel bought a home on the outskirts of town.  With their noses to the grindstone and paint brushes at the ready, they have transformed their house into a soothing, peaceful, homey place.  On their recently repainted deck on a 62F Sunday morning, we talk over coffee and feast on Laurel’s yogurt and granola mix.  We are fortunate to have kids who are such good friends.

Owen at Ithaca Falls

Owen at Ithaca Falls

Known far and wide for its beautiful gorges and hiking trails, Ithaca has us water falling today within minutes of their home.  On a previous visit, our daughter Molly and her family  hiked Ithaca Falls right in town.

3 - D and H at Buttermilk Falls sign

Will and Laurel select Buttermilk Falls Trail just southwest of Ithaca for our hiking pleasure on this August Sunday morning on a day going to 90F.  Though they have an Empire Passport for free admission to all New York state parks, we arrive just before 10A so parking and admission are free for everyone.

Ithaca College selfie

Ithaca College selfie

Known for wearing my VCU gear from coast to coast, I have to say I am in transition.  Though I loved me some Virginia Commonwealth and Shaka Smart, my loyalty is switching to the Bombers of Ithaca College.  Shaka has gone to Texas and Will to Ithaca College.  Blood is thicker than tobacco.

IC bombers 2

Bombers hardly seems like a politically correct name for an open-minded, liberal bastion of sanity, does it?  It does not refer to college comedians who are not very good (i.e., bombers).  Nor does it refer to fighter pilots of World War II returning to college under the GI Bill.  It seems a sports reporter once referred to the basketball team’s long range shots (predating the three point shot) as bombs and coined the name Bombers.

With the falls to our left, we begin the Buttermilk Falls Trail

With the falls to our left, we begin the Buttermilk Falls Trail

At the base of the falls there is a natural pool with a diving board and lifeguard platform.  Still early on this summer day, no one is swimming, but we take to the Gorge Trail on our four mile loop trail made for families.  Beginning at an elevation of 400 feet we will climb over 650 feet along the series of ten falls as the Buttermilk Creek cascades towards Lake Cayuga.

Some of the many steps on the Gorge Trail

Some of the many steps on the Gorge Trail

Loose shale and porous limestone have been eroded by Buttermilk Creek making this a remarkably accessible hiking morning for one and all.  For much of the trail there are steps that appear something out of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) projects of the 1930s.  The craftsmanship of the stone steps and retaining stone walls are something Italian stonemasons would be proud of.

3C - BF more steps

The trail is a delightful never-ending climb on these stairways.  To our right is the forest of central New York and to our left the cascading Buttermilk Falls themselves. Hannah’s right leg (the non-surgically repaired one) is holding up to the climb.

5B - H at falls

On this warm, humid summer day, we see local teenagers jumping into pools along the narrow gorge that heads to Lake Cayuga.  As you would expect of those just turning 30, Will and Laurel are set a good pace and we seniors rock along with them.

7 - Bear Trail sign

Once at West King Road, we cross over for the Bear Trail.  Though an excellent walk in the woods, it has none of the breathtaking beauty of the Buttermilk Falls Trail.  We hike and talk without much elevation change through the forest with the river now placidly humming along.

7B - on road back

After two miles we cross over the Buttermilk Creek to return on the Rim Trail to the trailhead parking lot.  Unfortunately once we do cross West King Road we are so far from the Buttermilk Creek on this wide side that we see none of the majestic waterfalls.  My suggestion is go back down the Gorge Trail of stone steps and relive these magnificent falls.

8 Apples to Apples

It’s lunch of Paninis at the Ithaca Bakery, a nap, wine on the outside deck and one of our new favorite family games: Apples to Apples.  It’s just the game for the ADHD among us.  It’s a Classic Dan game with many of the joys of another Rothermel Family favorite: Mormon Bridge.

There’s some luck and some skill.  Lots of banter between participants – exalting and moaning.  The game itself does not go on forever and ever Amen.  There can be conversation throughout as it is not  a have-to-pay-so-close-attention-that-my-head-hurts kind of game.  We’ll play it the next we are together with you.


Dan Has Some Explaining to Do about Being Jailed in Knoxville (Part 6 of 6)

At 6P Sunday in September of 1971, I heard “Rothermel” from the jailer and knew my bail money had arrived.  It had been 30 hours since the Yellins, our family friends, had sent it.  What had taken so long?  No matter, I was now just glad being out of this hellhole.

Knox men's belt

Taken to the booking desk down the hall from the drunk tank where I had spent the afternoon, I was given back my belt and my $7. I was told that an officer would drive me to Western Union to pick up the bail money.  I asked what happened since I was told the money would arrive early Saturday afternoon?

Sheepishly, the booking officer said there was a call early Saturday afternoon for a “Rothermel” from Western Union.  The officer on duty checked the list of inmates and seeing no “Rothermel,” refused the $100.  They money sat at Western Union until Sunday morning.

Knox western union 2

Come Sunday morning, Western Union called the Yellins and said they were returning their money as there was no “Rothermel” at the Knoxville Jail.  Thankfully the Yellins knew better.  They contacted a judge they knew in the eastern part of Tennessee who made some calls, which determined that I was indeed incarcerated in the Knoxville Jail.

Driven to Western Union, I got my $100.  Once back at the police station, I paid the $60 bail for hitchhiking!  I rented a $10 room (It was 1971!) at a five story hotel across the street.  At this point I called Hannah with my story.  I opened with I just got out of jail here in Knoxville, TN (for she had no idea where I was).  And to that (get ready for this) she laughed.  Really? I thought. It did sound unbelievable I know, but I was looking for a little more sympathy.

I told her I didn’t want to take a bus to Ohio and asked if she would drive south to get me.  Immediately she made plans to do so the next morning; she would pick up my brother Richard at Kenyon College, and drive the 500 miles from Ohio through Kentucky to Tennessee.

Knox court room

Having slept soundly in a bed with a mattress, pillows, sheets, and blankets, I arrived at court Monday morning at 8A.  An hour later I was called before the judge.  I explained the situation.  He nodded and said you got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Earlier this year two hitchhikers were killed in Knoxville when a car stopped to pick them up.

The judge cited me  for “Walking on the Interstate” and fined me $25.  I paid the fine, got my $35 back, which was a ton of money for someone who was hitchhiking with $7 from Arizona.

OB5 on trail to OP preview pic of Han

By early afternoon Hannah, who was not laughing, and my brother Richard arrived to whisk me back to civilization in Ohio.

While in jail, I never felt threatened or in danger.  I was just so scared of the unknown.  I had less faith and was less trusting than I am now.

I never hitchhiked again.

Was it worth it?

Please, it was Hannah!


Dan Has Some Explaining to Do about Being Jailed in Knoxville (Part 5 of 6)

As the dinner hour approached in the Knoxville City Jail this September of 1971, I soon learned that no dinner was coming.  I wasn’t hungry, but eating would at least have helped pass the time.  Always hoping my name would be called with news that my bail money had arrived, I wondered about my night in jail ahead.

Knox jail bars

With no windows and the ceiling lights always on, the cell block in the South scared the beejeezus out of this sheltered Yankee boy this Saturday evening.  I was soon to learn what Saturday nights were like in city jails in the South; the drunks were picked up and deposited in our cell block.  Loudly protesting their innocence, they filtered in all night long.

Trying to fall asleep to pass the time in my 8’x14’ cell, I crumpled up my jacket to use as a pillow on my metal lower bunk.  Fortunately, since I had not slept the night before while hitchhiking in the dark of Georgia and hanging out at the diner in Cartersville, I finally fell asleep exhausted.  I slept soundly til what I guessed was 8A the next morning.  A blessing indeed.

knox pb sandwich

Awakened, I immediately thought of the $100 of bail money that the Yellins said that they would send.  I tried to get the attention of the skewed eye, toothless jailer to no avail.  At 10A, the jailer did bring us all “breakfast.”  As he approached with the same greasy can of oily peanut butter, my appetite disappeared.   Though I had eaten but two pieces of white bread in the last 30 hours, I again just peeled apart the two peanut butter sandwiches that he made right in front of me and ate the plain white bread.  The black coffee went down the combination sink/toilet.

At what must have been near noon this Sunday, with 40 others I was moved to a drunk tank.  This 30’x 30’ barred enclosure offered no privacy, though no one was paying attention to me anyway.  There I met Saint John and Creeping Jesus, two 17 year olds who had come from Florida to set up a church in Knoxville.  When the police found them, they were sleeping on the steps of a downtown church.  Get this!  The police awakened them and charged them with prowling.  The kids were hardly bothered as they renewed old acquaintances and sang with the drunks.

knox bail monopoly

Throughout the afternoon other inmates had their names called and were being bailed out.  I never heard the sweet words “Rothermel” from the jailer all afternoon.  My trial was set for Monday morning and I figured I’d be spending another night on the concrete floor of the drunk tank or be returned to the metal bunk in my cell.

And then I heard “Rothermel.”

The final mini-blog will be posted Saturday as I go to court for my version of Southern justice.