Right after we decided to use John’s Cherokee for the Vladivostok trip, he found a French group that was putting together a trip around Romania. He invited me to join him but I couldn’t work out the schedule. Still the Romanian trip would be a good tryout of the car and would get the car into Europe well in advance of the start of the Vladi trip. John sent an email, signed up and then waited. And waited. And waited.
He never heard back from the French group but while waiting, he made arrangements to ship the car from Baltimore to Bremerhaven so that the car would be in Bremerhaven on May 21st. That would be way in advance of when we would need the car for the Vladi trip but just a couple of days before the now mysterious Romanian trip would start. I flew out to California to meet up with John and drive the Cherokee to Baltimore where we would leave it with the shippers. (See previous post.) While we were driving east, John got an email from the mysterious French group apologizing for not responding to him. The reason turned out to be a lack of interest in the trip and because of the lack of interest the Romanian trip had been cancelled. Cancelled AFTER the car shipment had been scheduled.
The only real problem (other than J’s disappointment about the cancellation and irritation about the lack of communication) was that someone had to be in Bremerhaven on May 21st to take the car from the shippers. Since John was planning on being in Romania anyway, off he went to get the car and put together a solo drive around France.
The bad news: the shippers managed to nearly rip the roof rack of the Cherokee while they were loading it on the ship. It seems that they mis-measured the height of the car including the roof rack and managed to hit the ceiling of the deck with the roof rack. The damage isn’t bad and we’ll come up with some kind of patch for the trip.
The good news: the car did well and, with the exception of the roof problem, is in good shape. It (the car) is currently parked at a friend of John’s outside of Paris. We go over to France on August 3rd to retrieve it and leave for Bormio, Italy and the Stelvio Pass. We then meet up in Bratislava with a group of Brit ne’er-do-wells whom we traveled with last spring to Bulgaria. We’ll go with them to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan where they’ll donate their cars to an orphanage and we’ll carry on to Mongolia.
Their trip is called the London Tashkent Challenge. Here’s a link to their website http://www.londontashkent.co.uk with route info. Decoded: the LTC starts in London (kind of), ends in Tashkent (not really – actually Bishkek) and the Challenge is getting through the roads of the Ukraine, Russia, K’stan, U’stan and a different K’stan while searching for the best (or at least serviceable) beer. I did mention they’re Brits, didn’t I?
What could possibly go wrong?