July 8: I think this was the best day so far. At least since Beijing. We started out today for Nizhny Novgorod with a stop at an antique car and motorcycle restoration shop. Our hope was to get a new headlight for Stewball. They were ready for us and in 20 minutes had a new headlight install for which they would take no pay. Now, our headlights are halogens and Ed planned to replace their installation with a halogen once we were home. But this will NEVER happen. This is a souvenir from Russia. We have no idea what vehicle this was intended for, but it is a perfect fit and along the bottom says: MADE IN THE USSR! How can we ever give that up. Who cares if the two don’t match. We will proudly run with this one remembering our good friends in Russia.
Ed’s favorite was a Willis Jeep of the 1940s era. It looked exactly like the one General Eisenhower drove, complete with US Army insignia. he said it was identical to the ones that were used when he was in Germany in the army in the late 1950s. He was really ready to trade Stewball for this jeep and finish the trip in it. I was not as certain of the comfort of the seats and without side-curtains…well, lets just say I’m glad it wasn’t for sale.
Now if that wasn’t enough to make our day. Tatiana had a surprise in store for our lunch stop. An antique car club from a local town came out to meet us with their cars and then led us in a parade through town and an additional 10 miles or so.
These were Russian cars from the 40s and 50s, so I don’t have a clue what they were, but I can tell you this, car guys don’t need a common language. Just open the hood and pointingand back-slapping works. I don’t know who was more excited, them seeing our cars, or us seeing theirs. I can tell you that everyone from our group that I talked to said the beat any tour we’d been on. This is what we came for to exchange with other antique car buffs. We were given banners from their town as souvenirs which will be part of our collection to be sure.
Now there is one last story for this day. We arrived in Nizhny Novgorod at a Russian hotel that was hosting a wedding party. For us that meant no rooms with double beds, so Ed put the two mattresses on the floor in our “honeymoon” suite. Some of our group did attend the wedding party and lets just say that one of our “J”guys did remember dancing and shots of vodka, but wasn’t sure if he got married again last night. He did awake alone in bed this morning with his wallet intact. He added that he had enough vodka in his system to prevent him from driving the next three days and doesn’t plan to attend another Russian wedding anytime soon! He slept through our morning with Roy driving.
All in all, a day none of us will forget.
Tomorrow, Moscow, a landmark achievement.