Today is Jack Crabtree’s birthday. It is the big six-O. Jack is young at heart and the biggest tease in our group. He is never without his smile-OK, once when he was throwing up and, well, you don’t want the details. This is his typical smile.
So, this morning, here is what met him when he went out to his car. Yup, that’s a flat tire. I told you we had really rough sections on the trans-Siberian highway yesterday and apparently he picked something up. He carries two side-mounted spares, so in a matter of minutes he had it changed and was ready to roll.
Then his second birthday gift. He was stopped by the Russian traffic police. This was the first time any of the group had been stopped in Russia, but Tatiana knows her way around these guys and nothing came of it. Jack gave him a picture of the car and he left smiling. This is very different than we were led to believe would happen. All of us were prepared to pay “fines”.
Today was the day for the police stops. Next it was our turn. We were stopped about 2 hours after Jack and saw Tatiana at work first hand. The policeman told her he stopped us because of our “unusual” license plate, but that was his story. Since he waved us over with the ever present baton before he could even see the plate we, of course, were afraid he had spotted our broken headlight. You are required to burn headlights both day and night in Russia. But Tatiana went to work distracting him by asking the road conditions up ahead. We had been told to expect a rough patch about 20km long. She got out her Russian road atlas and began asking him for his help. (Doesn’t hurt that she is a young, attractive, blond, Russian woman). Before long we were on our way, he didn’t even ask to see my license or car registration. I was driving. He did caution us about the road repairs, and he was right. It was a rugged 20km. Ask Jerry.
Jerry took a rock to his very expensive Corvette windshield. 😦 Jerry runs a bit close for our comfort so we often ask him to run ahead of us- we’re never sure when we will have to brake suddenly to avoid a pot-hole and would hate to have his heavy car in our rear end! He took his hit from the lead van today. He was not a happy camper when we arrived at the hotel. He has already replaced two tires and had his car hauled on a trailer for a day in China when the road were impassable for his low-slung car. Next to Clay, he has so far spent the most on his car and we still have three weeks to go. I don’t know his plans to get the windshield repaired but Moscow comes up in a few days and I am sure he is hoping it won’t “spider” too much before that. We will have plenty of work for Moscow, that is where we are meeting Moscow’s antique Beetle club to get a new headlight.
Stewball ran his usually great self, other than the headlight and the earlier snag with the distributor, we really have done well. We did realize, when Jack was changing his tire, that we had not seen our (second) spare that was in the van crossing China and Kazakhastan. Well, it apparently did not cross the border with us. It is not to be found. Fortunately the spare we strill have is brand new. Cross your fingers that we won’t need the second one. We aren’t willing to pay for shipping and customs to get it to us. We have the advantage of being a very light weight car and we just bump over the rough spots.
the car is bouncing so.
These roads take it out of the cars and drivers. We are enjoying Russia, the food and hotels as much as we disliked the same in China. Russia is clean- the air, the food and the hotels. A really wonderful experience.
Tomorrow we head to Kazan to meet up with Clay and Blake we are now told and to meet with an antique car club as well.
P.S. With Tatiana’s help, Jerry found a place here in Izhevsk that fixed his windshield for 300 rubles. About $12.00. This should be a thriving business here, given the condition of the roads.