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Senior Correspondent

April 22, 2011
Cowboys and Autos

Day 8. Head winds and fast trucks were kicking Stewball around, but we were still making good time until "Road Work Ahead. Prepare To Stop." Well, we stopped for 20 minutes! I timed it. Now this was feeling like a race. We did have to scoot (fast) to get in on time, which we did. I think Ed’s hands may be stiff in the morning from holding the wheel. I think a wheel cover to increase the diameter is needed before China. This old steering wheel has a small diameter and means really clenching your hands.

We were met in Dodge City by horses and riders. The youngest rider was three years old. They escorted us through town, down Wyatt Earp Blvd., the main drag. Met us at the east end of town and our hotel was on the west end. Really colorful and fun, but a long slow parade at 3 mph and Ed’s (yes, he was still driving) foot on the clutch.

Tomorrow Denver, higher altitudes. Hope Stewball likes this run.


April 23, 2011
Where the Cows and the Antelope Play

Day 9. First, I need to thank everyone for the feedback you are leaving on the novel. We are getting as many comments on the book as our blog! That feels really good. Maybe we do have a winner.

OK, the rally. We left the horses in Dodge City. OK, not all of them, we did see lots of them in Colorado, too. But the big sightings were antelope. We don’t have them in North Carolina so seeing them is special.

The wind continues and the engine was cutting out, so I didn’t drive today. Hard to keep the car on the road and anxiety in check. Ed thinks now the cutting out we experienced today and earlier was not due to the distributor rotor or fuel mix, but due to a 12-volt wire to the distributor coming in contact with the manifold and partially shorting out. We had this problem and similar cause with the 190 SL. Gary (see next paragraph) rerouted the wire and we will see tomorrow.

Tonight in the "Mile High City," well, "Golden" actually. Just on the west side of Denver. Once again we made our time. We have every day so far. Still no scores.

Before we started, I had an email from Gary Bergman from Frisco, Colo. saying he would do anything and make any repair we needed to keep Stewball going.

He adjusted the valves, rotated the tires and a few other things too, wouldn’t accept any payment, brought me a rose for my bud vase and then took us out to dinner! We did give him an autographed book to keep as part of his involvement in this adventure. These VW guys are the best. We’ve met a lot of them along the way and they really are available to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What a group.

Tomorrow, Gateway Canyon, Colo. We’ll reach 11,000 feet, so we (make that Gary) advanced the spark timing and leaned the fuel mixture. Ed will have to reverse this once we get back to 5,000 feet. Meantime, Stewball needs all those 53 horsepower to stay on time with all this climbing.


April 24, 2011
Snow and Go…Slow

Day 10. Scores finally. We are in second place in the Schuster division and third overall. We feel pretty good with this standing considering our underpowered Stewball. Thank you, Gary, our mechanic extraordinaire, Stewball is running better than ever.

We woke up to light snow in Denver.  The challenge was already set by a tight time allowance and mountain roads. We crossed 11,000 feet today as the snow really picked up. The road was snow-covered and slippery, traffic was heavy and slow. The scenery was beautiful, but Ed couldn’t watch anything other than the road and the other cars. Speeds were down to 30 mph. Finally a dead stop. A multi-car accident and a 25-minute complete stop. Fortunately, none of our rally cars were involved in accidents although, from reports at dinner, there were some close calls. No one made their time. Johnathan in the big Chrysler probably did the best. Even the modern cars didn’t get in on time. It was a relief to finally get into Grand Junction.

Tomorrow Utah,

Jan and Ed

April 25, 2011
Dramatic Scenery, Dramatic Breakdowns

Day 11. Left Gateway, Colo., this morning driving back along the canyon that we entered yesterday. Dramatic scenery, waterfalls and sheer cliffs. Tight time today, we all thought, until we discovered all the GPSs were reading wrong and the distance shown was much greater than the actual distance we had to travel.  Seems the cliffs screwed with the settings. So, while we hurried along as usual, we really didn’t have any problem with our time in. However, this was not to be for others.

The Model A had trouble with the altitude. We did hit Summit, Utah at 7,477 ft., with “wintery mix." Again! Don’t know the whole story, but they missed their time in. Then, we learned while we waited for other cars to get in, that the 32 Ford broke the rear axle, which now must be replaced. The first problem will be where to find one on Easter Sunday in Salt Lake City, Utah! The 2004 Jetta Turbo Natural Gas/gasoline overheated and Lee had to bang on the thermostat to get it to open. That’s not all. In order for the trailer to be available for the 32 Ford, the 29 Hudson had to return to Gateway to make their trailer free for the Ford. Once the Ford is off-loaded, the trailer must return to Gateway. That is 278 miles one-way to pick up the Hudson and have it here for the start tomorrow.

Met more VW folks at the end stop at yet another car museum today. We sure appreciate all the support and help they have given us along the way.

Tomorrow we have a 6 a.m. start and 541 miles to cover to Reno. Lots of activities there. This will be our last day of rallying on the U.S. leg. Seems strange that it is almost over.

See you in Reno,


April 26, 20ll
Thrills and Spills

Day 12. Our longest, hardest day. Salt Lake City to Reno. 541 miles. Snow, rain and sleet. Lots of climbing. Crossed Sonoma Peak at 9,395 ft. Then, it gradually dawned on us, even in ideal weather, no one could make the six hours and 11 minutes alloted for the new cars or the seven hours and 11 minutes for the antiques. I calculated the average speed for the new cars at 88 mph. I didn’t bother to work out the speed requirements for us, but immediately tried to call the race committee. We had only spotty cell-phone coverage, but I finally managed to get through to Jeff. They had neglected account for the time zone change. They added an hour for everyone but then a high wind alert was issued on the highway with winds up to 50 mph. Jan and I traded off driving several times, as the difficulty of keeping Stewball on the road cramped our hands and shoulders. We did make our time with 20 minutes to spare. But it was a long tense drive.

We had another surprise waiting in the plaza of the Harrah Hotel. Four of our friends from the 2008 Centennial Tour were here to meet us; two from Canada and two from California. We had no idea they were coming. It was like a class reunion with Luke, Ray, Patrick and John. Then a quick change of clothes and off to the National Auto Museum with Harrah’s car collection and the 1907 Thomas Flyer center stage in our banquet room.

We were all awarded beautiful glass etched globes as awards for finishing the U.S. leg of this world race. It was made from sand that was collected from the route the Flyer took across the U.S. in 1908. A very meaningful and personal award.

Tomorrow morning many of us will be in tears. The Thomas Flyer, winner of the 1908 race will be started (hopefully) and will lead us out of Reno under the old Reno Arch. Jeff Mahl, great-grandson of George Schuster, winner and driver of that same car, will sit in the passenger seat, dressed as his great-grandfather did. The Flyer has been restored to the condition it was in when it finished the race, complete with dents, chipped paint and mud. Once the Flyer pulls aside, the torch will pass to the cars who hope to go the whole distance to Paris and we continue to San Francisco to complete leg one.  We part with many of our friends who will go the distance only vicariously by following our adventures on our blogs. We will miss them, but I know these friendships are forever.

Finishing the first leg of the "Long Road to Paris,"


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