June 13. The seventh day of our rally, I celebrated my birthday in Buffalo. I won’t say which one, those who know, know and those who don’t know, don’t need to know. This was a day off from driving. Stewball had a rest and I had the whole day.
Celebrating actually started when we arrived June 12th to be met by three friends who were on our NY to Paris rally in 2011, Jeff Mahl, and Jack and Mary Crabtree. More later on why we all ended up in Buffalo.
My birthday morning started with a breakfast visit from more friends, Chuck and Janice Tomlinson, Canadian friends who live just a short distance from Buffalo. We’ve been friends for 30 years. It has probably been 10 years since we’ve met face to face so this was a wonderful start to the day. We promised it would not be so long before we meet again.
The afternoon included a trip to Niagara Falls. Ed had never been there and my only visit was when I was a child. Most of the ralliest loaded into buses for the trip. Only those who had to work on their cars didn’t come. While the falls are beautiful, it was disappointing to see how commercial the whole thing is. We compared it to our trip to Victoria Falls last year and I admit, Niagara didn’t match up. Still I’m glad we went.
Then the evening. Jeff Mahl presented his great-grandfather’s story of the 1908 NY to Paris race. It is still the longest race around the world and the American team, headed by George Schuster in his 1907 Thomas Flyer won. At least technically, the German team arrived in Paris first, but was penalized, giving the win to the American team. Everyone I talked to from our Trans-American rally agreed that even our worse day didn’t compare to the personal hardships, physical and emotional challenges and car problems the men in 1908 faced. What ever inspired them and motivated them? They were truly explorers and adventurers.
What is our connection? Ed and I participated in a rally celebrating this 1908 event in 2011 along with three other teams. We have not all been together since 2011 and everyone was in Buffalo for Jeff’s presentation and a reunion. The dinner for our rally was held at the Pierce Arrow museum. I spent another birthday with this group in China in 2011.
It was a day full of special people and events. I went to bed more worn out than after a day of rallying.
Enough about me. The next two days take us from Buffalo to Bay City, Michigan and then across the Mackinaw Bridge to St. Ignace then on to Duluth Minnesota where I will meet my sister. Wait, didn’t I say enough about me?