Road Problems

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 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

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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2 Responses to Road Problems

  1. TBC says:

    I can see that Ed is enjoying a good cigar after the toll-booth incident.

    Interesting about the caves. So many warmer-clime countries have that. Spain, France, and I suppose parts of Italy. China, too!

    I thought your readers might like the link to the Jeff’s blog:, as the one you noted did not work. Also, Jeff’s website is at for those who want more history of the race, not that you two haven’t given some already.

    Meanwhile, we are enjoying the Luberon and its wonderful food and wine. Lots of good photographs, too, for the workshop.


    TBC and Arnie

  2. Jonpaul Stoneherner says:

    A good cigar and a glass of wine a pefict end to a long day…keep on tuck`n.

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