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They crossed Missouri, then Illinois and Indiana and started into Ohio. Once again they were celebrities, with their pictures and write-ups in the papers. Souvenir hunters became a problem, pulling hair from the horses' tails. In Cincinnati, the mayor exclaimed, "Why, they're hardly bigger than 17 cents!" They got a tour of the zoo that exhibited timber wolves advertised as having been caught by Jack Abernathy, though Temple doubted that. In Dayton they met the governor of Ohio, were given a tour of the Wright airplane factory and met Wilbur.
But once on the trail again the boys were soon in trouble. Outside Wheeling, W. Va. they came to a creek muddy and swollen by heavy rains. Louie went first on the sturdy Sam Bass to see if he could make it. The old horse carefully picked his way through the current, swimming strongly until he found footing on the other side, whereupon Louie turned him around and reforded the creek. He helped Temple onto Sam Bass, mounted Wylie Haynes himself and they set out. Temple and Sam Bass made the far shore, but Wylie Haynes wasn't strong enough to negotiate the current and was swept downstream. Horse and rider went under, then bobbed up in the swirling current. "Temple yelled at me," Louie says, " 'Hang on, Bud!' " Two hundred yards downstream, Wylie Haynes found his footing and was able to scramble ashore. By now the boys were entering well-settled territory with paved roads. They stopped in Washington, D.C. for 10 days and were given an official greeting and taken to see President Taft. Louie found him "big and jolly, but he didn't play with us like Teddy did."
They left Washington on June 6 and arrived in Baltimore the same day their father reached New York. Now impatient and tired, they pushed on, making it a one-day ride from Wilmington, Del. to Trenton, a distance of 75 miles. Their progress through New Jersey was slowed by the large crowds they were attracting, but by the time they reached the New York ferry in Jersey City, their father was there to meet them, along with some dignitaries who had brought collars of roses for the horses. They reached Manhattan at 6:30 that evening, riding their horses through the busy streets. A hundred policemen kept order in the crowds that turned out to welcome them.
The boys were part of the welcoming party that went out to meet Teddy Roosevelt in a cutter as his ship entered the harbor. Then they rode with the Rough Riders in the welcoming parade down Fifth Avenue.
But now it was over—or almost over. Their father asked them how they'd like to drive a car back to Oklahoma. He said that the Brush Motor Car Company would furnish the car and he was willing to let them go, provided they could become good enough drivers. Of course they wanted to try that. The fact that there were very few roads, much less paved ones, was no deterrent. The fact that the automobile was still in its infancy and was a very unreliable mode of transportation, especially on a 2,500-mile trip, was not worth considering. Gasoline stations and garages hardly existed, but no matter. If they could ride a horse cross-country they could drive a car. It was that simple. The Brush, manufactured from 1907 to 1913, was a one-cylinder, 10-horsepower automobile capable of speeds up to 30 miles an hour. In the interest of lightness, a great many of its parts, including the axles, were made of wood. Louie and Temple practiced driving up and down Broadway until their father was satisfied they could handle the machine. Sam Bass and Wylie Haynes were shipped home by rail and on July 6 the boys set out.
The boys took a somewhat circuitous route, which ran through Albany, Detroit and Chicago. After leaving that city, they drove over rutted trails but still averaged better than a hundred miles a day. Temple's main complaint about the car was its chain drive: "Nearly all the roads were muddy and that damn chain just slung mud all over us the whole way." Other than that and a goodly number of flats, the boys had a surprisingly easy time on the 16-day trip.
Which ought to have wound up their careers as traveling men. No boys of any age could match what they had done, and very few men could claim such experiences. But then the Brush Motor Car Company invited them to New York for an automobile show. At that time there was talk that Roosevelt might become a compromise presidential candidate for the Republican Party. A couple of enterprising promoters from Coney Island named Thompson and Dundee hired the boys to ride an elephant and a donkey from New York to Washington. Louie rode the elephant and Temple the donkey and again they drew huge crowds, but the elephant developed sore feet and the ASPCA made them dismount in Philadelphia.
Well, why not? After all, that would only be across the Appalachians, the Rockies, some deserts and whatever smaller mountain ranges there were beyond. Never mind the dearth of roads, of communications, of means of supply. This time they left from Coney Island, first riding belly-deep in the Atlantic surf and then turning and starting west. The indefatigable Sam Bass and Wylie Haynes had been shipped north again and here the boys were, setting out for their longest ride yet.
The rules were simple: get there in 60 days and eat and sleep completely out of doors. No staying in hotels, no having dinner with a ranch family. No support of any kind. Just the boys and their horses and whatever they could carry or buy along the way. Nor were their expenses paid, which is hard to believe today, when a huge caravan of trailers and side men surely would accompany such an expedition and when a man gets paid something close to the national debt for a parachute jump into a canyon. A good crowd was on hand to see them off, but there would be no crowds in the deserts and no newspaper photographers when they were crossing the Rockies. By then Temple was seven and Louie was 11. The trip would cover 3,619 miles.