Horatio's Drive

In the spring of 1903, on a whim and a fifty-dollar bet, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson set off from San Francisco in a 20-horsepower Winton touring car, bent on becoming the first person to cross the United States in the new-fangled "horseless carriage." He traveled with a co-driver (Sewall K. Crocker) and his bulldog Bud -- who wore goggles, like his master, to keep dust out of his eyes.

At the time, there were just 150 miles of paved roads in the entire country (all of them within city limits) and no gas stations. Moreover, because few maps existed, the men frequently had to stop for directions.

One day Jackson and Crocker encountered a woman at a crossroads and asked her how to get to the next town on their itinerary. "Just go straight down this road," she told them. Many hours and 50 miles later, they arrived at a farm at the end of the road. They asked for directions once again and were told to return the way they had come. On the way back, they encountered the woman who had sent them astray. Jackson stopped and demanded an explanation. He got one: Ma and Pa, the woman declared, had never seen a horseless carriage before!

[Jackson and Crocker also encountered pioneers in wagon trains, cowboys who used their lariats to tow them out of sand drifts, and ranch wives who traded homecooked meals for a brief ride on the "Go-Like-Hell Machine."]

[In October 2003, a American tourist (a Vietnam war veteran from Toledo, Washington celebrating his 68th birthday) relied entirely on his car's automatic navigation system to drive through a Bavarian town. His trip ended with an unexpected visit to a supermarket when his car plowed through the store's doors and crashed into a row of shelves.]

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