Front wheels in Europe, back wheels in Asia

July 4: I’ve never been a flag-waving patriot, or a flag-waving anything for that matter, but this 4th, I can tell you after our travels through China and Kazakhstan, I really do appreciate our freedoms. Just as starters, China blocks Facebook and some blogs, and the traffic police in Kazakhstan can stop you on a whim. We expected more problems with police in Russia, but not so. Russia has its own history of repression, but right now this feels very European, in fact, I even have free guest service laundry in the hotel. No washing clothes in the bathtub tonight. Even in the US you have to pay washers and dryers in hotels.

We celebrated US Independence day Russia style. Our Russian guides brought us red, white and blue balloons and vodka! We toasted to the US and Russia and our trip in Russia up to this point.  We will tie these balloons to our cars when we leave in the morning. How great that they realized the significance of this day for us.

So we entered Europe today. We are, of course, still in Russia. In fact, we have 1800 km. just to get to Moscow. We traveled today on the Trans-Siberian highway, which is not one highway, but many highways across Russia that link the West with the Far  East. This part, the E22, is a two-lane, poorly surfaced, pot-holed road. It was exciting to say the least. I admit, over all the secondary roads we have driven on rallies in the US, we have never driven this many miles (or kilometers) on such a bad road. True, none of this compares to the worst roads we encountered in China, but also doesn’t come close to their best ones their either. Even John, our Russian guide, said, “How do the elected officials travel? Must be by air. They would never put up with these road conditions!” It feels a bit like one of those computer driving games where you have to dodge around pot-holes and bumps in the road, pass trucks and watch out for on-coming traffic. It does keep one awake  but makes my hands and shoulders sore from gripping the wheel.

OK, so here’s Stewball with the front wheels in Europe and the back wheels in Asia. This is the same spot where George Schuster stopped on July 6, 1908. Kind of cool.  Jeff took a photo of himself in the exact spot where his great-grandfather stood when he carved his initials in the monument. Jeff didn’t carve anything in the monument, the monument has been replaced since 1908 and the base is granite, but it was symbolic just the same.

This is also a spot where newlyweds come to celebrate their marriage.
As evidenced by the many champagne corks. We figured after 35 years we’re still newlyweds, so sat on the wedding bench and had our picture taken.

Our drive today took us through the Ural mountains, really “just bumps in the road”, as Kyle says in our novel. Really lovely rolling hills and pasture land. Now we are in a Hilton hotel for the night in Perm, home of Boris Pasternak when he wrote Dr. Zhivago.

Update on Clay and his Ford. Last word was they left Astana yesterday about 4:00 for the drive to Petropavlovsk and border crossing. They will take a bit of a shortcut and hope to catch up with us by Kazan where we have our next day off. All this depends on all the new parts working as they should and no additional car problems. We hope we see them there, that is much sooner than anyone anticipated.

Tomorrow on to Izhevsk, homeland to the Udmurt people.


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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3 Responses to Front wheels in Europe, back wheels in Asia

  1. TBC says:

    Love the front wheels, rear wheels photo, as well as the two love birds in the love-bird nest (er sculpture bench).

    The front wheels/rear wheels reminds me of many years ago when I was in the four-corners region, long before it became so touristy. I put my left heel in Arizona, the right one in New Mexico, the right pad and toes in Colorado, and the left in Utah. With my high arches, the states were completely separated.

    Then, I took my camera and aimed straight down!

    I hope the roads improve in Russia. We saw some really good ones back in the late 80s, but we also saw a lot of flat tires, particularly the big ones on road equipment. Those were the days of quantity over practicality, of quotas. It was easier to make quotas with small tires than large, industrial ones!

    Hugs to you two,

    TBC and Arnie

  2. crhowle says:

    Evans says he had a ’31 Ford Model A, similar, I guess, to Clay’s vehicle. Looks like he may have a rumble seat which Evans didn’t have. Ed, I’m sure you remember all this. Thanks for the interesting reads. Love from us.

    • ejhowle23 says:

      I do remember Evan’s Model A. It is actually much closer to Jack’s 29 than Clay’s. Clay has a V8 engine. No he does not have a rumble seat in his. We hope he is meeting us in Kazan. We do know that he has the engine repaired, the oil leak fixed and is on the road. Glad you are enjoying the blog. Ed

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