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August 26: Got the call yesterday. Stewball was ready for a pick up in Garden City, Georgia, just outside of Savannah. We had pushed for this, since we had gone to Daytona Beach to check our sailboat. For you non-East coasters, Hurricane Irene was on the way but finally made landfall in North Carolina, not Florida. But this was before she made up her mind and turned her attention to N.C. We hadn’t been down to see Silver Girl, our sailboat, since the World Rally. Turns out this was a good thing. One of the batteries had gone dry, something called Thermal Runaway. Great name, even though I haven’t a clue what it is. Ed ended up replacing both batteries. Not cheap. Hard to say what could have happened if we hadn’t gone down, but certainly it would have drained the second one and probably ruined our battery charger as well. The battery was so hot that I had to ask: “Could it have caught the boat on fire?” Answer: "Hum, maybe.” OK, enough boat stories, but it could become part of Night Watch, our sailing novel. Guess Irene did us a favor.

So, since we were in Florida, it made sense to be able to stop in Savannah to get Stewball on our way home, so a couple of calls to Raymond at Martin Button/Cosdel put us on the fast track. We had already received an e-mail saying the car was back and we sent a wire transfer to pay the shipping. Now here’s the thing, it costs nearly twice as much to ship into the U.S. as it does to ship out. What does this say about balance of trade? Obviously no one wants empty containers going out.

It felt really good to see Stewball coming out of warehouse number 40. Now Stewball knows four warehouses, Oakland, California, Tianjin, China, Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands and Garden City, Georgia. We don’t plan any more trips that require shipping but we look forward to taking him on more events.

Now the drive home was eventful. We were outrunning “feeder bands," (another new term for me) the effects of Irene, it was hot, very windy with occasional heavy downpours of rain. Ed and I took turns driving. One of us had to drive the Yukon, the other Stewball. Just holding the Beetle on the road was an effort. Shades of the U.S. portion of our world rally. Guess ol' Stewball felt right at home.

It was a relief to finally get home and we were both a bit choked up when Ed finally drove him into the garage. He’s a bit battle scarred, complete with dirt, dead bugs and mud from the last of his world trip but a thorough washing, polishing and internal clean up will get him ready for our presentation at the Jefferson theater in Charlottesville in September. We will be presenting our travel adventure to the 190SL Mercedes Club and Stewball will be center of attention among all the antique Mercedes on the pedestrian mall in Charlottesville! We still are figuring out how to get our 190 and Stewball to Charlottesville and back but we will work this out. I can’t imagine presenting all our trials and travels without our trusty Stewball!

Thanks Stewball, for the long road to Paris and the adventures along the way,

Jan and Ed

Ed and Janet Howle

Ed and Janet Howle are avid adventurers and authors embarking on a 14,000 mile journey.

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