The 3rd chapter of FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES deals with inspiration - specifically indirect inspiration; how influence can move from one thing to another without people connecting the dots. One of the stories mentioned in this section of the film is about a man named Thomas Stevens, who, in 1884, was the first person to ever bicycle across the United States, he would continue traveling after reaching the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first person to bicycle around the entire world - ending his 13,500 mile trip in December of ‘86.
An interesting coincidence between Stevens and the main subject of our film, Larry McKurtis, is their relationship with a small town in the Sierra Nevadas, called Truckee; Truckee is mentioned quite a few times in the film, but I wasn’t aware until recently that Stevens spent time passing through the town, and mentioned himself many times as he followed the Truckee-River towards the dreaded Forty-mile desert.
Here is an excerpt from Volume 1 of Steven’s book:
My road now follows the course of the Truckee River down the eastern slope of the Sierras, and across the boundary line into Nevada. The Truckee is a rapid, rollicking stream from one end to the other, and affords dam-sites and mill-sites without limit. There is little ridable road down the Truckee canyon; but before reaching “Verdi, a station a few miles over the Nevada line, I find good road, and ride up and dismount at the door of the little hotel as coolly as if I had rode without a dismount all the way from ‘Frisco. […] Verdi is less than forty miles from the summit of the Sierras, and from the porch of the hotel I can see the snow-storm still fiercely raging up in the place where I stood a few hours ago; yet one can feel that he is already in a dryer and altogether different climate. The great masses of clouds, travelling inward from the coast with their burdens of moisture, like messengers of peace with presents to a far country, being unable to surmount the great mountain barrier that towers skyward across their path, unload their precious cargoes on the mountains; and the parched plains of Nevada open their thirsty mouths in vain.