June 12: 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.com 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 sset up to help you avoid the tool 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