A Lingering Death

July 23: It’s over. It was a lingering death. The cars are lined up in front of the Pullman hotel. The last time they will all be together and last night was the last time we will all be together. Lots of emotions. No one was ready to let go. No matter what has taken place over the past 14,000 miles; bad roads, lousy food, car problems, fatigue, personal conflicts etc. we all feel empty that this is the end. We have been tested and has learned new things about ourselves. This event has actually been nearly 5 years in the making, ever since the Great Race first posted in 2006 that they were planning the 1908 Centennial Rally.  We toasted to the success of all of us and our cars, made promises to send around photos each of us have taken, gave out gag gifts and Jerry and Jeff presented the final Globe award which will be

Jeff and Jerry with Award Globe

engraved with all our names. There were plenty of tears from guys that usually covered their feelings with jokes and teasing. This was time for real feelings to show and the reminiscing went on so long at the end of the banquet that I finally left. We have shared a very special time with this group and will remember them for their roles in this adventure. But that wasn’t the end of it.

The end came this morning after Jack and Mary and Jan and I had scheduled a 10:00am meeting with Doug Grimes (who had organized the Eurasian part of this event) about leaving our cars here and reversing the around-the-world route in early Discussing a "do-over" at the banquetSeptember.  Just this week as we realized Stewball and us were up to it,  we sought financial sponsorship from VW for this possibility. However, their initial interest (they said that they would get back to us ASAP) in sponsoring our return has been complicated by their vacation schedule. It begins on July 25, (Monday) and lasts until mid-August. Unfortunately, we have to commit to a shipping schedule before the “decision-makers” will be back from vacation. Now, after a night of sleeping on it, our  interest in a “turn-around” had been doused by the complicated reality of getting new visas, car preparations, getting through Siberia before the snow, and money. Jack had reached the same conclusion; a reverse trip just might be pushing the envelope for us and our cars too far. We don’t know people here who we can trust to go over the cars before we subject them to the brutality of the road conditions again or ourselves of the long days of driving. We have to get through 7,000 miles of Russia in 30 days as specified by the Russian visa. After a 1/2 hour meeting, we decided against it. It took about 15 minutes for the depression to hit. But the decision was right and I need to let go of it.

So we move on. This morning we met our friend, Frans, for coffee at our usual cafe. Frans is a fictional character in The Long Road to Paris, but is a very real person, an artist who really does live on his boat “Julia” on the

The real Frans

Seine. And yes, his car really was pushed into the Seine, but no, he is not part of any environmental action group, at least as far as we know. Frans has been part of  our Paris life for a long time and it was good to see him again.

Sunday we will join friends for dinner-while we avoid the Tour de France end in Paris- then Monday we will be on the road again. This time to the Netherlands to deliver the car to the port to ship back to the US. But today is a cold, rainy Paris day that feels more like early November then late July and my mood fits the weather. What to do next? Another book? Any ideas?

About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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4 Responses to A Lingering Death

  1. Leslie says:

    What to do you ask. What are the things still on your to do list in this lifetime? Is it possible to pick on of those to start your next adventure?

  2. Laurie Horn says:

    Whatever it is, I do hope you’ll take us all with you. Thanks for sharing. Stewball should be used in a VW ad campaign. It’s made me want to look into buying a VW. Keep in touch!

  3. ejhowle23 says:

    Thanks Laurie, we did approach VW to provide corporate sponsorship for our return trip. We got a prompt and thoughtful response, but the bottom line was no. Mr. Johnsson from marketing has even read our blog and commented on our trip. this was not a brush-off and it makes us feel very good about VW.

  4. jackie salitan says:

    Fitting to end in Paris — there is a sweetness about the familiarity of a well-loved place. Thanks for taking me on this journey with you. Time to relax and reflect now.

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