Four Days Later


May 30: first-flower.png    A rest day in Nashville. Rest day for many means time to work on cars. We had just a couple of small things to do. One of our headlights needed to be replaced. What should have been a simple thing, since we had a spare, turned out a bit more complicated since our spare lamp wouldn’t fit. Fortunately for us, our support crew aka Andy Inskip had a bulb that fit our old headlight and all is well again. Second problem was redoing the ground on our terratrip rally computer. It had gone out several time on the rally and we thought it was a loose connection. We will see if we were right. Finally, and this was a problem for many of the cars, we had to bail the water out of the back floor of our car. We have been driving through heavy rain the last three days, and most everyone had standing water in their cars. Some a lot more than others.

So, to back up.

Day 1. Charleston, SC to Charlotte, NC. Our niece came to see us off Sunday morning. She 357took the role of navigator and took our time card to sign us out. She did a great job, but apparently was a bit of a distraction to Andy and he signed us out on the wrong page. Only at the second regularity did another marshals tell us we were on the wrong page. No harm done.

The harm was to Stewball’s left fender. One of the crew who was d354riving a RV as a support vehicle hit Stewball  on a sand road as we finished a regularity. We caught up with him at a gas station and he didn’t even know he hit us. He was more than apologetic and has already written us a check to cover repairs.

We have never had a participant who had a support vehicle along, but when he told us he was with team 12 because one of the participants in the car had metastatic breast cancer, tired easily and needed a place to rest we felt badly that we even told him about our very minor injury.

This day was our anniversary and we had hoped to find a really good restaurant in Charlotte-there are many-to celebrate. However, it was Sunday and a holiday weekend. We ended up eating rather lousy food at the hotel were we stayed but still celebrated a good day together doing what we love.

We felt good about our day of driving. We don’t time our regularities, but we never got lost and placed 17 overall. Not bad since this is the first time I have driven and Ed has navigated. Our standing will go down since we will not drive any of the race tracks and that penalizes us.

Saving days 2 and 3 for the next blog.

 

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And So It Starts Again


start in CharlestonMay 26: Charleston, SC. Stewball is in the secure parking lot at the Dewberry Hotel in Charleston after spending a week on Sullivan’s Island with other rally friends. We all debated just staying at the beach for three weeks then flying to the final destination in Seattle, Washington. But here we are. Today all the cars were scrutinized. Stewball passed with flying colors.

 

beach moringFor a week now we enjoyed quiet mornings and great company which included friends from the Netherlands and England and our niece who lives nearby. friends at the beach

Friday we celebrated Mick’s 65th birthday at the beach house. That was special for everyone. IMG_0077

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow at 8:13 am, we start out. The first car out is at 8:00. Cars begin at one minute intervals and even though we are car 16, not every number is represented and we will be the 13th car to leave.

Our destination is Charlotte, North Carolina via back roads which take us out of Charleston to Summerville and onward. We don’t know exactly how the day will go, it looks easy on paper, but we’ve learned a long time ago, that is not reality.

I will post as we go as often as I can. Sometimes it’s the internet connection, other times it is fatigue but I will do my best.

See you down the road,

J& E and Stewball

 

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Back on the Road


IMG_4003

April 22, 2018

It has been a long time, but I am determined to blog this next rally event. First, I want to welcome all the new followers of this blog. I’m not sure how this happens but it seems that Outlook.com has somehow spread the word. For those of you who have recently joined, let me know if your interests are the car rallies and travel adventures or novels and writing. We are still doing both but next on the agenda is the Trans-American Challenge which begins May 27 in Charleston, SC.

So, as a pre-start, Stewball, our famous 1967 VW Beetle which was featured in the Endurance Rally’s brochure,  is currently visiting Bob Hicks of Hicks VW Services in Ready to Rally 005 Durham, NC where he is undergoing a needed checkup. This will include work on the clutch, new seat padding (my request) a new headlight, engine service and oil change and any other things Bob sees as he goes over the car. Bob knows well now what we need to be “rally ready”. Once back we will put on new rally plates and car numbers. This time we will be number 16.

We rented a house on Sullivan’s Island for the week before the rally and will be joined 1111 Middle St. Sullivan's Island by European rally friends. It will be a relaxing way for our friends to get over their jet lag and enjoy South Carolina’s sand beaches and maybe an excursion out to Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War occurred. (It seems to me “civil” and “war” is an oxymoron. Maybe the southern name, “The war of Northern Aggression” is better, except I am a Yankee.)

From Charleston we head to Charlotte and on to Highlands, a really lovely NC mountain town we suggested. After the reconnaissance trip, Fred Gallagher concurred and changed the overnight stop from Asheville where we will now stop for lunch. Other highlights include Nashville, New Orleans,  Galveston, Santa Fe, Aspen, until we end in Seattle, Washington on June 17. The entire route can be viewed at IMG_4002http://www.endurorally.com. 

The rally will begin with 34 vintage cars from a 1927  Bentley to a 1979 Mercedes. We know from past experience, that not all will finish, so we will end with a few modern rental cars picked up somewhere along the way. More on that as we go.

This is not Stewball’s first time across the US, in fact he has made this trip 6 times which included Alaska and Canada. Never the same route, but also not new for us and not as exciting as the rallies in Africa and South America but it includes many friends and that always makes it special and we are looking forward to it.

See you on the road. DSCN4299

 

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African Birthday Celebration


IMG_3752[1]Oct. 26, 2017: Ed turned 83 today. I had arranged for a cake for the evening meal at Cathedral Peak but how the rest of the day went was not of my making.  We left our hotel in the morning for a coffee break at the Chocolat Coffee house in Poelanie. This is a lovely spot. I took this picture in the garden to mark this special day. IMG_3730[1]  We had a “passage control”, we had to stop to get our time cards stamped.

Without my knowledge, some of our best rally friends, Marco and Claudia found candles somewhere on the route and bought a tiny (wonderful) chocolate cake and surprised Ed. A spontaneous Happy Birthday sung by all the rally teams in attendance, accompanied their  presentation.  Ed was surprised as I was and I began to wonder if the evening cake had turned into a daytime one. IMG_3735[1]

We arrived at Cathedral Peak Hotel and I learned the cake was on order so I had to tell Ed, he had to stay to the end of the dinner. Often we leave before dessert.  As the dinner ended, Fred (our noble leader) stood behind Ed’s chair and announced his birthday. In truth, everyone already knew and many had congratulated him during the day. Then in only a style we had encountered in Africa, the kitchen staff present his cake along with African music and dance. IMG_3749[1]This was not the end. Our entire group stood and sang Happy Birthday to Ed and presented him with an original drawing which will hang in our house along with other memories of Africa. I will have to add a photo of the painting later as it is not in our room at Phinda Game Reserve where we are now.

More from the road,

J

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Okavanga Delta


Oct. 21. We are back from two days in the Okavango Delta. About the only way in to this  unique delta in a land-locked country is by small plane. So, that’s what we did. We stayed at three different camps, luxury tents with great food, wonderful atmosphere, friendly hosts and lots of animals. The only thing missing was air conditioning and with temperatures near 100 degrees F, that was missed.

We enjoyed the silence of the nights with only occasional hippo grunts and unusual bird songs to wake us in the mornings.

Our camp, Xakanaxa, had a resident Hippo named Oskar who visited every evening and early morning. He is a wild animal and not be approached so we had a guard who accompanied us to dinner and back.

We had options for three safari rides, and one boat safari. I chose to participate in two rides and the boat rids. We saw elephants, giraffes, kudo, buffalo, zebras, impala, a leopard (with its recent kill), hippos, rhinos, and even the very rare African wild dogs. I’m only missing a lion, but we have another opportunity to see one later at a game lodge in S. Africa. I won’t post all my photos, but a few to give you the flavor of this unique area.

We are back in Kasane for one night then on to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls. I am not looking forward to this border crossing. Patience is the word for the day.

J

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Our Last Smile for the Day


031Day 5: Sossusviel to Swakopmund.

You may not want to read this blog, but I have to write it. This day started out to be different, but ended up worse. You may have read that we are driving a rental car because our car was stolen the week before the rally began. So, we have a backseat and agreed to take along Gary and Debbie after their Ferrari broke down. It felt good to make this offer but Gary is an assertive backseat driver. Enough said about that because this was not the real problem.

Our first metal section began at the Tropic of Capricorn sign. In case you don’t know, a metal section involves trying to meet, or surpass the set speed for a given distance. It is usually on a public road and involves quite fast, precise driving. While we taking photos and  waiting to begin, the Ford that left two minutes ahead of us, came roaring back and our doctor, Delle, who was serving as a marshal jumped into the support vehicle. It was clear there had been an accident. Because I have some medical training, I offered to go along. The driver, Jan, in the 1965 Mercedes, 230SL had lost control and the car had flipped over. Strange things happen. There was a Safari van behind the Mercedes and there was a doctor with that group. By the time Delle and I arrived, they had already gotten Dana and Jan out of the car and were performing artificial respiration on Jan. Jan had a severe head injury and needed all our doctor’s attention. I attended Dana, his wife, who had been placed in the back of another vehicle and appeared to be in shock. Her pupils were pinpoint, her extremities cold. Not knowing the extent of her injuries, I did my best to keep her engaged and focused. I didn’t know what I else I could do, but I felt she should not be alone since she knew Jan had been seriously injured and did not know whether he would survive. I was there when Doctor Delle told Dana that Jan died. In my head, I could only imagine my own grief if this had been Ed and me but this was not our time, it was about Dana.

I don’t know how she held herself together but somehow she did. She wanted to see Jan before they took her to the hospital. He was already in a body bag and could not be moved until the police arrived.  Watching Dana impacted on my emotions is so many ways. I don’t know if I could have unzipped that bag and stroked the man I had shared so much of my life with and maintained any kind of composure. Dana is a strong, but heartbroken woman.

We are all in shock. The rally part of the day was cancelled and we all drove to our destination for the night. (We dropped off our passengers at the airport where they had a rental car waiting.) There was no group dinner planned for that night and that was probably a good thing. The mood was sober and I think each couple just needed to be alone that evening. Then there are the practicalities of continuing the rally. The metal sections will be cancelled for the next several days and alternate routes given. We will not drive another metal section. Even when we have driven these sections in the past, we don’t drive competitively; we just drive the route at a speed we are comfortable with. I don’t know what others will do.

A rally group becomes a family and for everyone, it feels like a family member has died. I won’t get over this quickly. It keeps coming back. I am sure everyone feels this too.

I will have happier things to post.

J

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And The Rally Hasn’t Even Begun


table mountainOct. 6, 2017. We are in Cape Town, a vibrant city set against the backdrop of Table Mountain.

The African Safari Challenge rally begins on Monday, Oct. 9, however our adventure began last week while we were (supposedly) relaxing in Paris following the Odyssey Italia rally.  I received an email which began, ” I come bearing some very upsetting news…” It was from the young man, D. who prepared the 1968 Audi 100 that we had purchased in S. Africa for the rally.

He had been carjacked at gun point and the car had been stolen! audi 100

(The car has now been recovered by the police but is impounded until some undisclosed date.) We learned all the scary details over lunch with D yesterday.

To backtrack, it is easy to say that our heads were not in Paris and  we spent the next few days after that email considering-and eliminating options, including the possibility of having our 67 Beetle, Stewball, air-shipped to Cape Town. That one was quickly eliminated when the we were presented with the cost.

After one generous offer to drive a rally friend’s 1957 Bentley, and another offer from D to drive his 1975 Beetle, we decided to rent a car for the rally. The compensation is we will ride in air-conditioned comfort.

IMG_3594I have decided if I ever have to go into witness protection, Cape Town would be right up there with my choice of places to hide out. Except now, I can’t do that since I’ve announced it on WordPress. The waterfront here is always full of music and FullSizeRender (22)entertainment. the only negative is the long overnight flights to get here.

Tomorrow we set off, destination, Clanwilliam.

 

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