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The Long Road to Paris: And Now from Russia

July 1, 2011 Picture this: A London pub, Czech Budweiser beer in Kurgan, Russia. Now is that cosmopolitan or what? Our hotel seems very Russian, but not in a bad way. We actually have a suite with overstuffed furniture covered in dark brown velvet. We had to plug in the water heater to get hot water and it was only after my lukewarm shower that we noticed. Our babushka sits at her desk by the elevator and doesn’t smile, although she was very helpful when Ed gave me the car key instead of the room key when I went up to get my camera! Of course I didn’t notice until I climbed the four flights of stairs. Do you think we’re tired at the end of the day? I do remember that our 'Welcome to Russia' dinner included red caviar and champagne. We crossed the border from Kazakhstan into Russia today. Nothing like crossing from China into Kazakhstan. That was a nightmare of waiting. That crossing took seven hours and with only 15 minutes until the border closed, did our cars come through. Today we arrived at the Kazakhstan border about 10:00 a.m. and we were through both borders by 11:35 a.m. The wood houses with their blue and white trim and neat fences are everywhere and as much a part of Eastern Russia as the groves of birch trees. Other than long lines of trucks, it had nothing in common with the last crossing. Lots of picture-taking smiling guards, but still the ever-present sniffing German shepherds. We really felt we experienced the setting described in The Long Road to Paris on pages 230-237. We didn’t have Vald to help us, but we did have Egor, our Kazan guide. We were met by John and Tatiana our Russian guides. Tatiana will go all the way to Paris with us. It’s a small world. In western China we met Chuck Brown from Kernersville, N.C. Today the driver of our support van was wearing a UNC Tar Heel shirt! Through John I learned he had been the driver for a group of scientists from UNC (and elsewhere). He was eager to have a photo taken with us when he learned that both Ed and I had taught there. So Russia. We were here in 2009 on the train from Vladivostok to Moscow, but driving this country is different. Roads so far are much like Kazakhstan, mostly two-lane highways with lots of bumps and dips but drivers are much more aggressive. If I can remember my skills from China I’ll do alright. Car update: Stewball has a black eye. Yup, somewhere in Kazakhstan, something (bird or rock) broke the glass in the left front headlight. The official story will be bird since that is what happened to Schuster in 1908. The first day it burned alright but now no light at all. Both in Kazakhstan and Russia you have to run with headlights on in the daytime as well as night. The traffic police in Kazakhstan didn’t seem to care, we saw many cars with only one headlight. The only thing we get pulled over for is to satisfy the curiosity of the highway police and give them a chance to see the cars close up. However, we have learned this is not the case in Russia. Tatiana will see if she can locate one in Ekaterinburg but Ed is doubtful. We have been in touch with Klaus, our rally friend from Germany who will meet us in Vilnius, Lithuania and hopefully he will have tracked down a new headlight. If not, Ed is sure we can find one in Berlin. Tomorrow is the run to Ekaterinburg, then a day off to visit this interesting city with the Church of Blood that stands at the site where Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed in 1918. Jan

The Long Road to Paris: Entering Kazakhstan

Duct Tape — Don't Leave Home Without It June 14, 2011 So as not to distress any more toll booth attendants, Ed duct-taped our license plate to the underside of the right side visor. So now when we approach a toll booth, we just flip it down! Very clever man. Who knows what additional uses we will have for it before we are done. We traveled more secondary roads today, which produced much shaking and bumping of the cars. Jerry’s Corvette didn’t like the potholes at all, and he has an unidentified rattle that most likely will require pulling the right rear wheel off. We will loan him our jack stands for his diagnostic look in the morning. Today was my birthday, and at dinner I was surprised with a cake with candles. It all got sort of mixed up since Ed and I opted to have dinner alone in the hotel restaurant that had Western food. We had lamb chops, French fries and a Caesar salad. We have had some very good Chinese food, but it is nice to have a change. As a gift, I have a bottle of Chinese "wine," 42 percent alcohol! I haven’t opened it yet. Thank you, Doug and Mir Corporation for my birthday celebration.  Already Tuesday, and everyone spent the morning off working on their cars. We canceled the tour of the city and a visit to a museum. We will do a boat tour of the Yellow River in the afternoon. More from the road tomorrow. Jan If I Were a Chinese Parent ... June 16, 2011 I would encourage my child to become a civil engineer. Forget the computer software or even hardware, the construction of highways, dams, elevated rail beds (for the high-speed trains China is developing, streets and roads for new apartment buildings are proceeding at a mind-boggling rate). This country is trying to put together an infrastructure for the future. There is a lot they don’t yet have, clean air and drinkable water and sanitation standards. If your child isn’t material for engineering, then send them to school to become a trunk mechanic. The number of trucks on the roads here must outdo the cars and most of them are in bad repair with diesel fumes emitting from the back. They are all so overloaded they breakdown on a regular basis, clogging the already overcrowded roads. So much has happened since I was last able to get online, that I hardly know where to begin. But the most important thing is Stewball. We may have a very serious problem. Yesterday it was cutting out in low r.p.m. Ed changed the spark plugs and leaned out the fuel since we were at high altitudes — nearly 8,000 ft. Today by the afternoon it was running even worse. Now he has determined that the compression is seriously low on number three valve. The best news would be that it is out of adjustment. He is out now with Stewball trying to determine that. The worst news would be a burned valve which of course he is not prepared to deal with. One choice may be to truck the car to Almaty, Kazakhstan. We know there is a garage there that can do this work. Right now we just don’t know. It may be that we can’t move with the group tomorrow. I will let you know the outcome as soon as I am back online. Hopefully still on the road to Paris, Jan Catch Up June 17, 2011 Already in the Silk Road Resort hotel in Dunhuang. A town founded during the Han Dynasty in 111 B.C. This place makes up for last night — that one was “best available” and  that included a rock-hard bed, cold shower and Motel 6 food. The good part was meeting up with a group of Global Motorcycle riders, Americans and Canadians, traveling from Istanbul to Xi’an. 8,000 miles. They are also booked with Mir Corp. so Doug asked if we wanted to meet them one night — and we thought we were hardy! We have two nights here in Dunhuang. Since I have some time, and internet, I’ll catch you up on some of our activities and sites since some have asked for more. Let me back up to the Great Wall. I never did get to share that experience. Yesterday we had a photo op at the most Western end. I must say, this was not nearly as impressive as the Juyyongguan section near Beijing. We climbed a section near Beijing. I even have a plaque to prove I did it! It is overwhelming to think that this section dates to the Ming Dynasty — 1366-1644 and stretches over 3,800 miles. The western section is much older and dates back nearly 2,000 years. I really found this much more impressive than the terra cotta warriors. The story of the warriors is fascinating. but I really got tired of all those statues!   Ed is out searching for an engine repair shop, and once he returns, I’ll post an update on Stewball. Just to say, we did drive today. The engine is still cutting out, but no worse than yesterday. When the time is right (not the middle of the night in the U.S., he will call Mid America Motor Works to see if he can get cylinder heads shipped in, and how fast? Enjoying this stop on the road to Paris, Jan Beetle for Sale or Rent June 18, 2011 In 1908, when the remaining French team (out of the original three that started in N.Y.) arrived in Vladivostok, they sold their car to a Chinese businessman because their financial support was withdrawn. They continued to Paris by train. Today, I stayed behind because of “personal travel problems” and did not go on the camel ride in the Gobi. (More from Jan on that later. Just let me say from the pictures, she looks good on a camel.) But this is my blog. I was in front of our elegant hotel, (it is laid out to replicate the architecture of the Tang Dynasty — mud walls enclose a courtyard and our room has a view of the Gobi Desert) checking the oil in Stewball when a Chinese man approach me who said this was his hotel. He said he wanted to ask a personal question. “How much would you sell the Beetle for? It must be very valuable and I want it for a museum. You can fly on to Paris.” I told him that it really wasn’t valuable, that there were many of them still in the U.S. He paused, then added,”you must be very wealthy, perhaps a billionaire.” I assured him I was not, but that I really wanted to drive this car around the world, not fly to Paris. If he had approached me yesterday, history might have repeated itself! I have learned Jack Crabtree driving his Model A, doesn’t take “Out” seriously. So, after checking in, Jack, Peter, our Chinese guide and I went searching for an engine repair shop in this tourist city, one cylinder misfiring as we went. Almost at the same time, Peter and I spotted a hole in the wall VW service place! Peter explained our problem. They were fascinated by Stewball, most likely having never seen an air-cooled one, and went to work immediately. Peter told me afterward he had explained to them that if they didn’t think they could work on this engine, to not even touch it! There was no inside work space, this was done outdoors. It wasn’t compression after all. The new distributor that the San Francisco shop put on (without consulting me) was bad. I had a spare along - so much for not having the one part that you will surely need. They put it on. Stewball is healthy again. Total bill for two hours labor, and Castrol 20W-50 oil for an oil change, $50.00 U.S.  So, no sale or rent for Stewball, we continue to Paris, Ed The Ghost of George Schuster June 19, 2011 If part of this adventure was to feel the presence of George Schuster and his crew, today did it. We drove from Dunhaung, a photographer’s delight with the ever-changing light on the Gobi desert sand to Hami, a distance of 267 miles. Piece of cake — NOT. There are a lot of things I don’t understand about China and here is one more. There is only one road to Hami, that I get, there are no towns between these two cities and no needs for multiple roads, but tearing up a distance of 138 miles before resurfacing any of it, that I don’t get. So, all the traffic still continues — or not — on rock-strewn, rutted, gutted, potholed, sometimes muddy, flooded road. This photo was the best section. Once the road got really bad, I couldn’t take photos. It is really hard to describe this drive. People have made their own detours, sometimes going up onto what will be the new road, then back down onto our not-road. The trunks mostly stood still. Engines off, drivers sleeping or hunkering in groups, smoking and talking until our cars came by then they all waved and smiled and helped us snake our way, creating lanes, among the trucks to continue our very slow journey. I do believe these trunk drivers have more patience and courtesy than those in the U.S. We saw no indication of irritation or impatience — just resignation. They moved to the right and left, leaving space for cars to make a third or even fourth lane to make what progress we could. It took seven hours to cover this 138 miles. Like Schuster, we even had to build a ramp of rocks and straw to get up and over a not yet finished bridge on one of our many man-made detours. It was a challenge in driving that we have never experienced. There were no police to move things along, just drivers helping drivers. What a life this is. Tomorrow, Ed will check the oil bath air cleaner because of all the sand. Jan and Ed Bits and Pieces from China June 21, 2011 Ever wonder who writes the instructions for your electronic devices? Check out these fire safety instructions on the door of a recent hotel. “Please don’t worry if a fire is occurring. Our hotel have owned superior facilities to ensure your transmitted to safety. Please follow the direction route to the information corridor and the safeguards will take you out to the safe belts. Point profess your location.” We have really been welcomed by people everywhere. I don’t know what I expected, but I did expect the Chinese to be more reserved, maybe even suspicious of us and our activity. I am coming away with a different opinion. They are very curious about our cars and us as Americans driving through their country. Ed was told by one young woman, traveling with her parents, that he is a good example for the older people in China. That life can still be an adventure. We don’t see old cars in China. We were told by an American, Chuck Brown from Kernersville, N.C., who has lived in Beijing for the last nine years, that cars have an “end of life” when you buy one. I forgot to ask him how long is the life of a car, but he did say buses have 10 years. From the trucks we’ve seen, I don’t think that law affects them but maybe it is just the overloading and long hauls. Everywhere we stop, including for gas, we have new friends wanting photos with us. It is never-ending, without common language, we smile, shake hands and use lots of gesturing. The message is clear, they are glad to have us here. The language is so different that it is even difficult to read the body language or voice inflection, but being pulled to the car for a photo is clear! Today we elected not to tour Urumqi, and stayed behind to take off the oil bath air cleaner and check it. I washed off the Gobi dust and dirt from the past two days while Ed managed the engine. Even in the depths of the hotel garage, we managed to collect various (hotel employees?) people watching and even holding the flashlight for Ed. Then it got more interesting. While having lunch — again in the hotel, we were approached by one of the young men who had been in the parking garage who asked in English if his girlfriend, a reporter for the Urumqi newspaper, could interview us. His English was not good enough, so the hotel manager served as translator. We have no idea what the article really will say since there was a lot of conversation that did not get translated. So if anyone following the blog, reads Chinese, we’d be happy to have a translation of the article. The lovely young reporter gave us her card, and respecting the Chinese tradition of exchanging business cards (with two hands) we gave her one with the photo of Stewball. Since hers is in Chinese, we don’t even know if she really is a reporter! Picture taking followed, but I didn’t have my camera this time. Tomorrow is a short run only 171 miles so we will not depart until 10:00 a.m. Tonight is a dinner with Uighur folk dancing. I am sure that will produce photos. Jan Enough of China! June 23, 2011 Three thousand miles is at least one thousand too many. I retract my comments that I made about Chinese food, hotels and rapture. That was Beijing. People who think they know China after a visit to Beijing are like those who think they know the U.S. after a visit to New York City. As we have driven west, the food and hotels, with very few exceptions, have become worse and worse. China has a long way to go to bring this entire county up to any Western standard. From reading the IHT, I know they hope the high-speed train will connect East and West (of China), but not yet. Health and sanitation does not seem to be on the agenda yet, just energy, roads and infrastructure that impresses. Tomorrow is the border crossing, really two borders, first China, then 2 km of neutral zone and then the Kazakhstan border. Of course each border requires different documentation. Cross your fingers that our paper work is in order, or we will get to experience Doug’s promised “opportunities for adventure." We have learned only the driver of the car can cross with the car, Jan along with the other navigators will cross in a bus (make that bribe a driver with an already full bus to let them stand in the isle with our extra luggage for the 2 km trip). No one is allowed to walk this distance and no photographs. Our support vehicles cannot cross (they are Chinese) and new vehicles and drivers will meet us on the Kazakhstan side. All I can say, is, if you plan to drive China, be prepared for friendly people, a travel adventure and the lack of creature comfort as we know it. I am really ready for a different country and I am not alone. Ed Lost But Not Lonely in Kazakhstan June 27, 2011 NOTE: This is being posted by daughter, Lilla, since for some reason we cannot access our blog here. Today finds us in Karaganda, somewhere between Almaty and Astana. Actually this is the second largest city in Kazakhstan. But the story is how we got here. The day started out easy enough and we only had a run of 251 miles. There are not a lot of roads in Kazakhstan. The only thing I would trade in Kazakhstan with China are the roads — that is most of them. We did have our share of road horrors in China. The Kazakhstan Highway is a two-lane, often bumpy surfaced road. The washout of the undersurface produces potholes and broken surface near the shoulders. The good thing is traffic is much lighter, especially truck traffic, but we still have to make our way around many broken down trucks. It’s quite straight from Almaty to Astana but somehow we managed to lose our lead vehicle and Jerry’s corvette. It’s really not hard if you get stuck behind a couple of trucks and out of range of the walkie-talkies we are using for communications. We really expected they would be waiting for us at the city border but they apparently thought we had stopped to let Jack in his Model A and the back support vehicle catch up. Point is, we entered the city (remember, second largest in Kazakhstan) with no one to guide us to the hotel. Not without our own resources, we stopped by the side of the road to wait on Jack. We knew we were ahead of him. Minutes after we stopped a car stopped behind us and out popped three young people. With no common language — there is a lot of English here — they gestured, could they photograph themselves with our car? We of course said yes, then with a bit more sign language, they wanted to know where we were heading. I pulled out our World Race itinerary and showed them the name of the hotel. The young man indicated he could lead us there.  Now this is something you have to understand, in Kazakhstan and Russia, there are lots of informal “taxis”. People pick up money by taking on passengers. This is well described on pages 218 and 219 in The Long Road to Paris T. That was Moscow, but it could have been any city in Kazakhstan as well. We followed them easily and with only a slight degree of anxiety. They lead us directly to our hotel, which was quite close to the side of the city where we entered. There in the parking lot was Jerry’s Corvette and our lead vehicle wondering how we had found the hotel since we were not with Jack or the other support vehicle. This guidance was not for money, just friendship and interest. We introduced our guide to our new friends, pictures all around and a wave goodbye! I don’t think we need a lead vehicle again on this road to Paris! You may not read another post until Russia, but all is well. Stewball is over his bad fuel problem, no more dieseling and Jan and Ed are well too. Jan We Love Kazakhstan! June 29, 2011 We are now slightly more than half way between Beijing and Paris and have a day off in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan only since 1997. Almaty was the capital before that. According to our guide, Alexander, the president made this decision based on natural threats — Almaty has twice been destroyed by earthquakes and once by flooding — and man-made threats since Almaty is very close to the border with China. Anyway, like Almaty, this is a beautiful, clean, modern city. We walked through the city center yesterday afternoon. I have been surprised at how much English is spoken here. I had assumed a second language would be Russian since they were part of the Soviet Union for so long. Those we speak to ask us if we like the city and like Kazakhstan. They are proud of their country’s progress and are curious if we see it the same way. I am happy to say we do. I don’t know what I expected, but this county is certainly a place to watch. They have their act together. So, today for some was a tour of the city, for us, a tour of the parking lot. Ed had to adjust valves and lubricate the car. We were in early enough to do this yesterday, but this job must be done when the engine is cold, so, it was a job for this morning. Ed borrowed Jack’s grease gun and his blue blanket to make things more comfortable. I helped, well, sort of. I played gopher and washed the exterior and straighten up the interior. Seems car maintenance is the way all the drivers spend any day off. Tomorrow we are back on the road to Paris a run of 368 miles to the border town of Petropavlovsk. It will be an early start to be sure. We have enjoyed our time in Kazakhstan. This country I would happily return to. Jan

The Long Road to Paris: Adventures in China

June 5, 2011 Rapture It’s official. Rapture did occur. We are in Beijing at the beautiful, modern, Regent Hotel. Five star by any U.S. standard. We just went down to the breakfast buffet. The most magnificent food spread I have ever seen. Can you gain weight in heaven? Beijing food easily matches Parisian food! And this is prepaid. You can see we are really roughing it on this part of our trip. Is this glorious start so that we have good memories while crossing the Gobi or parts of Kazakhstan? I can only say, sign up with a tour with MIR corporation and Doug Grimes. You won’t go wrong. How we got to heaven: Nope, we weren't transported on a cloud, we were in barely-business class on American airlines. Raleigh-Durham to Chicago then an additional 13 and a half hours more from Chicago to Beijing. The international part was fine, but the domestic leg, which they labeled as first-class, had a choice of chicken or pasta — what I remember as standard fare in cabin class just a few years ago. Beijing feels very foreign, which I like. Our hotel has a Bentley dealership downstairs, and Ferrari, Mercedes and Rolls, just steps away. Not a typical U.S. intercity! Our hotel is luxurious. The wall between the bedroom and bathroom one great big pane of glass, floor to ceiling, and head to toe. With full view of the free-standing bathtub . Another wall is a gigantic mirror. Is this a typical businessman’s hotel? You won’t surprise a maid here! The city streets are clean but this morning there is a huge haze over everything and somehow I don’t think this is fog. I won’t need my hat to prevent sunburn. The hotel room has an opening window, but the inside air is transparent, so I’m not opening it. We did notice on our cab ride from the airport that most road signs are in Chinese and English. That is a relief. I only need to convince Doug that leaving Beijing on Wednesday should be at 12:20 a.m. Traffic was moderate and polite. I’m not quite so scared of driving here now, but let’s see what today brings. I’m trying to learn enough local customs so as not to offend. I’ve learned to give and receive credit cards and business cards with two hands and a slight bow of the head accompanies this. I am very excited about today’s plan to visit The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven — all within walking distance from our hotel. Photos later. Monday well be the Great Wall. And in between, more wonderful food! Stewball is not yet out of quarantine. Are they worried about the dreaded Beetle virus? Happy in Bejing, Ed June 7, 2011 Stewball's Not In China Well, not officially. Today was a day of patience with the Chinese bureaucracy. Hurry up and wait. Many of you had asked, where would our cars be when we got to China, Beijing, a port city? We actually didn’t know, but now we do. Those of us who had to get Chinese driver’s licenses and pick up our cars, left the hotel in Beijing at 7:30 for the 2 and a half hour drive to Tianjin to the police station there to “take the test” to get our license and then on to the port to get the cars. Piece of cake. Well, no. We did arrive at the police station fairly on time. The traffic is always a problem and timing is an approximate thing we now know. We were ushered into a conference room where we sat, waiting. Police station in Tianjin. We were finally greeted with great friendliness and a lovely young policewoman went over information about driving in China. Mainly, be careful and have a good journey — complete with smiles. As far as we know, that was our test. I guess we paid enough attention and smiled back. Now we actually don't know, because the next step is taking the cars back for inspection and tags and that didn't happen yesterday. Since we were going to have to wait for the paper work to be completed, we are headed to the port to get the cars. They were there. It was a real joy to see them open the containers and find out all were in good shape and running. Ed drove Stewball out of shipping container. Then we waited, this time for the customs inspector. He did come, but finally at 4:30 p.m. we learned that the paper work would not be completed yet and we were told to put the cars in their warehouse for the night. So, tomorrow we have  do this all over again. We will leave the hotel at 7:30 a.m., this time drive directly to the port, hopefully receive the paperwork for our cars and then drive them to the police station to receive our licenses and tags for the cars. We will see. We are now already a day behind schedule. We’re not sure where we will spend this next night as it will be well after 3:00 before we are done today. Once we do get the cars out, we will have to wait until 1:30 when the police are back from lunch to proceed. It is a 1 and a half hour drive from the port to Tianjin and of course none of this is in the direction of Datong, our supposed night stop. Stay tuned for the next part of this exciting adventure. When time permits, I’ll tell you about climbing on the Great Wall, what an experience that was. We seem to be the only ones that can post on a blog directly. Others, including the World Race blog are blocked and must email their blogs to the US and get someone to post them. No one knows why. But if you don’t hear from us, don’t worry. Waiting and more waiting, Jan and Ed June 9, 2011 Rollin' All the I's have been dotted, T's crossed. The proper stamps are in place and we were able to leave the port on June 8. Here we are lined up to leave, Stewball’s last, I wonder why? Something special about his engine? We have our driver’s licenses, but I must add, there was a glitch in Ed getting his. More on that later. Stewball has his car tag displayed in the front window and I even have my first flower in my bud vase! All this did take until 4:30 on June 8 and you will see why I am behind in these blogs. Doug had to modify our route and distance since there was no way we could make Datong. Jack needs to drive 50 miles per hour to break in his engine and adding the miles from the port to Beijing on the already 261 miles from Beijing to Datong, we couldn’t make it. So, Plan B went into effect. Only problem, well, one of the problems is many of the highways are used at night by all the truck traffic. Now this is another one of those contrasts in China. We see mostly new cars and mostly old trucks, overloaded and straining. They break down regularly, blocking lanes. So as the evening wore on, it was us and more trucks than I have even seen on highways in the US. Bumper to bumper and going somewhere very slowly. I have never encountered such traffic jams. I don’t have photos  but this is a must see, so sometime soon I will get some and post them. I didn’t get any for two reasons, it was clear that we were not getting into any hotel until well after dark, so I was driving. Long story short, we finally reached our modified destination at 1:30 a.m. Now those who know us this is not a good thing. We don’t do night. I can’t begin to explain the exhaustion. But the other side was that we needed to be up and on the road at 9:00 since we now had a second long day to drive to get us back on schedule. Here we are at Hotel Xuan Hua pretending we are rested, ready to start the day. Don’t be fooled. Now let me say, we are really enjoying the Chinese. They are most friendly, and curious about our cars. Every stop they appear from nowhere, gather around and start talking. It doesn’t seem to matter that we have no common language, they are great at gesturing, signing and nodding. They laugh when Ed shows them the engine in the rear. Air cooled Beetles seem to be most unusual here. But here are some more contrasts we have noticed. We drove on a new highway. China seems to have construction everywhere. Housing, buildings and roads. As we traveled along on this nearly deserted highway (it wasn’t even in our GPS) we were quickly passed by a 700 series BMW, then looked to the right to see a farmer walking behind his mule plowing his field with a hand plow. These rural antiquated scenes are everywhere. China seems to have one foot firmly planted in their 2000-year-old past and the other scrambling to catch up and pass the present. There is so much more to tell, like city driving. This would take an entire blog, but picture dodging the bicycles, electric scooters and pedestrians who haven’t heard of rules of the road. They come at you from all directions. As a driver it is a challenge to avoid them all, especially at night, entering a city. We will see what today's drive to Xi'an brings. Jan June 11, 2011 Cars and Warriors or Warrior Cars We have been in China a week now. We don’t travel today so my “flower photo” is from the Tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, the site some of us visited today. What really is famous is the 7,000 terra cotta warriors that were uncovered in 1974 by some farmers digging a well. There are probably several thousands more warriors and horses, but these are the numbers that have been restored. Quite an impressive sight, all lined up facing East, the direction Huang expected the enemy to attack from. Our trip here included our first car breakdown in China. Clay’s 32 Ford developed a noise inside the break drum (after a rather intense ride on very rough roads through a small town). He also lost power and finally stopped along the road. He didn’t make the sightseeing trip and instead has been working on his car all day today. He discovered a screw loose inside the break drum and had that fixed. Additionally, he has been working on carburation and may need to replace the distributor cap but that will have to wait until later when the engine is cool. We all sat by the side of the road while Clay was able to do a roadside repair to get into the hotel. While sitting, I was able to capture another one of China’s contrasts. This farmer herding his buffalo while pulling a wagon with his wife. Is the Buffalo too important to pull the wagon? This occurred while we were sitting on the side of a six-lane divided highway.  Then after Clay got going, Stewball didn’t want to start. We had just refueled. Bad fuel? Vapor lock? It was very hot and we didn’t think to open the engine compartment while sitting. Something we will now always do. Our tour manager Anvar, who is from Uzbekistan, offered a solution based on his experience. He placed a cloth with cool water on the fuel pump. We won’t know what worked, but we were running in about 5 minutes. Ed didn’t go to Huang’s tomb, but spend quality time with Stewball. From Ed:  I had several items to deal with today, some of long-standing. This has been our first full day off since leaving N.Y. city. The horn is badly needed here. It’s true, to deal with bikes, other vehicles and pedestrians, the Chinese drive with their horns and I must too. Ours was only working on the right side of the steering wheel, and if I have the wheels turned, it is hard to find the right spot when needed quickly. The right door armrest had come detached, making it necessary to wind down the window to close the door firmly, and I brought along new windshield wiper blades to change out. The automatic choke is not working, but with the heat, that’s not important. The secondary roads — we experienced yesterday — are rough enough to shake anything loose, and the Beetle and the 32 Ford don’t seem happy with the fuel. What percentage ethanol? Nobody knows. Some of the group are having personal health breakdowns as well. Tom has gone to the hospital with some serious swelling in one leg, Anvar has a swollen hand from what appears to be a bite, Ed Gavin has a cut on his arm that won’t quit bleeding and has gone to the hospital as well and Ed Howle now has stomach cramps! More from the road to Paris. June 12, 2011 Breakdowns: Cars and People Departing today for Pingliang, near Kongtong Mountian, 330 km. Only part of this will be on highways, the last 100 km will be secondary roads. If these are anything like our earlier experience it will be a challenge. We can expect to compete with trucks, bicycles, mule-drawn carts and electric scooters. Then throw in a few sheep herds and shepherds. Cars are ready to run today but who knows what we can expect. After working nearly all day cleaning or replacing most everything, Clay says he still has two valves that are sticking. Jack ran into problems at the end of the day yesterday when he started up just to make sure all was well. He heard a valve tapping noise and discovered somehow a screw had worked loose from the carburetor and had injested the engine. Will this cause a problem on this next run? Stewball seems ready, just this morning, Ed has changed the air intake flapper valves to draw in only outside air and not the heated engine air. Maybe this will keep the engine running cooler. The bad news today really isn’t these annoying car problems. Tom will go home. His leg is infected from a broken blister on his foot. At a minimum this would require IV antibiotics and a prolonged stay in Xi’an. The other option is to fly home. He has opted to have one more treatment at the hospital and fly home. Just so you know, Tom is not driving a car. He drove the support vehicle for the Studebaker in the U.S. and is continuing the trip riding in one of the support vans through Asia and Europe. We are all really sorry he must go, he had so looked forward to this part of the trip. We will make sure we take photos for him and send lots of postcards. From the road to Paris, Jan June 12, 2011 Road Problems Jeff rode in Stewball from Xi’an to Pingliang. He plans to ride in each car on this trip and write the World Race blog that day with the focus on that team. Go to world-race.net and read Jeff’s impression of us. I haven’t done that yet.  We tried to be really good yesterday! Jeff was hoping we would provide a “bicycle on the hood” story similar to the one Schuster encountered in 1908 when a Frenchman hosted his bicycle onto the Flyer to provide the necessary two headlights for the car when they approached Paris. We have been kidding that someone is going to end up with a bicycle on the hood in China when one of the many bikes encounters one of  our cars. We didn’t do that, so far, we have avoided them all, but we did give him something to write about. China has many toll roads. After leaving lunch, we approached yet another one as we left town and took to the highway again. The lead van took a ticket — this was an automatic ticket dispenser, then Clay in his Ford. I was driving, and after I took mine, two toll booth clerks, suddenly appeared (from where?) one on each side of the car, waving their arms and shouting in Chinese. Of course I had no idea what to do, but the young lady took my ticket from my hand and the man gestured for me to back up. He wouldn’t let me go through the booth and turn around. I had to back up. Now, there were three other cars behind me, so backing wasn’t so quick and easy. Jack ran into a drum set up to help you avoid the toll booth. This produced more shouting and arm waving. fortunately at this point our local Chinese guide came up and learned that they wanted our car tag and my driver’s license. We are supposed to display the tag on the dash in the front window. Since Stewball has no dashboard, we just keep it in our “necessary box” in the foot of the car. After much discussion — I think they were quite confused with our cars, all was deemed well, the ticket taker gave me a new ticket and we were on our way again. It did cause some moments of anxiety. There is no way a Westerner can understand the sounds of Chinese, but the body language was clear!  Cars? Everyone made the run but Clay’s Ford is still backfiring and once lost power. Both Jack in his Model A and Clay had a hard time getting up a very steep ramp into the parking lot. We will see what adventure comes next. At least our night was at a luxurious resort in Pingliang. A wonderful stop. Next to Lanzhou, Jan and Ed

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