Reims, France to beyond Trier, Germany

Monday, September 3, 1928

Thought this was Sunday till just now. Saturday I took leave of Jack and Paris and rode to Château-Thierry by 2PM, 58 miles, for breakfast-lunch. First 25 miles were terrible cobblestones and I was nearly jolted to pieces. Would have enjoyed a pillow too. Had 3 eggs, a loaf of bread and 7 glasses of water, all for 3F. Got to Reims after seven and saw the cathedral inside and out. It is a fine building, but is being repaired in the back (?). Reims is an entirely new city and an attractive one. Everything is new in this war section. It is hard to believe that 10 years ago a great struggle was taking place here.

I followed the beautiful valley of the Marne. It is peaceful and cultivated and dotted with small villages every mile or so. Finding soldier cemeteries is easy and in each there are from a few to many thousands of little white crosses. It was dark after dinner and I left town to find a haystack. A full moon rose above the hills and the 10 miles passed quickly. Finally I found a haystack, pulled out some hay and crawled in it. Had come 110 miles over all hills and against a strong wind. The nights are very cold and I awoke at two frozen. Putting more hay on me I tried to sleep until 5:30 and then started out.

Got cleaned up at a town pump and had breakfast a little later. Rode to Sedan and then down the Longuyon. The roads were poor and the hills bad, but the wind wore me out. After 103 miles I stopped and got a good room and dinner. The town band was parading, but the music was punk. They only knew one piece and it was like a bugle call.

Went in three countries today [Monday]. Leaving at nine I got through the French customs after much difficulty and lots of arguing. They didn’t want to give me the 172F duty back on my bike but I finally got it. Entering Luxembourg I rode some miles through a dirty manufacturing district. The roads in this country are mostly bad. I had to detour 8 miles to Luxembourg, the city. It is not an imposing nor very large city. Its narrow streets go in all directions [i.e., I got good and lost there].

Had a good lunch and got 130 Belgian francs—130 equal 100 French. Leaving town, I wound up a narrow deep gorge and then through miles of beautiful hilly country. The roadsides are lined with apple trees and the hills with grapevines. Neither are yet ripe though. At the Belgian customs I found I had gone by their customs at the entrance without stopping and did not have papers for my bike. Then I remembered hearing a shout as I entered Luxembourg. Must have been the customs officer. These spoke English.

Going across a bridge I presented my passport to the German who also spoke English. I was admitted with no search or duties on my bike. The road lay in the Moselle River valley and I followed it to Trier. High hills on each side of the river with steep bluffs now and then. Large hills loomed in the distance. The country is all green and cultivated. Grapes are growing on the steepest of hills and the roads are lined with apple trees.

21 miles from the border I got a puncture and had to walk a mile to the next 2×4 town I am now in. After much going around I was unable to get my puncture fixed, but got a good room and dinner. Sat in the kitchen with the boys and pointed to things like eggs, milk, and had them write them in German for me, as Ei and Milch. Have to drink soda water and it is bum tasting. Am 80 miles from Koblenz. Roads not so good. Much is cobblestone. Many German words [are] like English and though I can’t speak it at all, feel more at home than with French.

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