Saturday, August 19, 2006

Team Ramrod 1, Mongol Rally 0

Ulan Bataar. Team Ramrod just drove 8739 miles in a 75 pound sterling Nissan Micra from London's Hyde Park to Dave's Place in Ulan Bataar.

Unfortunately, it is a difficult victory. Friday night Speed Limit was involved in a crash with a Mongolian driver who had been driving down the road in our lane. Ramrod managed to avoid him, but in the avoidance Speed Limit couldn't see the car and sideswiped it. Thus began a preposterous, confusing sojourn on the side of the road and later at a police station. American embassy was phenomenal! Very helpful, got my passport back, and brought us food on the side of the road. Special thanks to Cory, his wife and their compatriots. It really made our day that they came to see us out on the road. We struggled long and hard with the police, but it appears to be part of a legitimate process now, but unfortunately Ian and Yvonne are having to stay around to resolve the matter and we don't know what exactly will happen.

Morale is a bit low, despite the success, due to the uncertain outcome for Speed Limit. Things are picking up a bit as we realize what we've achieved, but it has been a difficult couple of days. We're trying to find flights out now, but hopefullly a second Mongol Rally party will convene tonight at Dave's Place since we nearly made the official one. Tom seems to think so, and he has been helpful in getting us support.

We're pressed for time since we have to go check in the cars soon, but it's so great to be on internet. I'll throw out a few tidbits from the last couple days, sure there will be more to add as our brains come back to life...

112 hours from Barnaul on Tuesday until we arrived in UB. Continuous push no stops except for the 32.5 hours associated with the accident. I apparently slept through a Speed Limit flat and the final departure of the Fiesta's exhaust one night. The two cars driving into UB were most excellently NASCAR.

The other driver from the accident infuriatingly helped the police measure skid marks - I was ready to bust out a slide rule and tell everyone what really happened. This was one of the times when tempers were harder to control due to the absolute farce concerning the 'crime' scene. But everyone did a great job getting our case across and getting what we needed.

On a related note-being forced to sleep on the side of a highway. Not being allowed to take Yvonne to a hospital even though the entire other family except the driver left the scene. (She is fine) Yes, we are filing complaints and hopefully there will be more embassy action on Monday.

We may have suffered a bad crash, but while waiting on the road that night, we saw what was unanimously determined to be the most amazing rainbow anyone had ever seen. Completely full in a pink sky in the east stretching above the pointy hills (Mongolian countryside is beautiful), while across the road to the west the sky was lit up in an amazing red-pink glow from the setting sun. Stunning. Everyone stopped what they were doing to see it.

Putting the damaged Micra (it doesn't roll anymore) on the back of a tow truck barely bigger than the car itself. A few planks, some brute strength and a pile of stupidity did the job quite nicely.

Super helpful bystanders at scene who took over the unofficial translation from the other local who wasn't particularly compelled to actually translate. Tim and I tried to fix their father's car but wasn't much we could do. Americans were great from the embassy. Cyrus's sat phone really paid off (and so we'll be paying him off).

Seeing the light of truth in people's eyes who believed the other driver's story and then finally listened to what we had to say. Then watching it be pushed away as a million people gave explanations as to why that couldn't be the truth.

Dumping worldly possessions on the side of the road in order to fit all the people in the cars. I maintained a spare radiator was worth three or four of our companions, but was outvoted, so everyone is in UB.

Mongolian ambassador in London called up Tom on his own accord to notify him of our situation when we were trying to figure out how to get hold of Tom. Another big morale booster to hear from Tom while waiting at the police station for hours and the translator he sent was incredible (and her driver really puts pedal to metal)

Justin discusses a feeling: We split off from the Fiesta containing the Speed Limit occupants at the police station last night. They were going to finish off their statements while we got out of town to avoid being dragged back into the affair before counsel with the embassy. It felt awful.

Tom and James getting their passports back at 4 in the morning and then the whole group being forced to have cigarettes with the cops when their ordeal was over. Hopefully, a sign of improvement in the situation.

Ran into Mission Mongolia in Ulan Bataar. Apparently, Anton made out like a bandit in his abandonment in Astana. PS: Bribing your way onto a plane is one experience we've so far avoided.

Strange feelings all around, but we did it. We drove to Mongolia. It'll take the cake if the other Micra gets towed to UB and all three cars go to rest with charity here.

Thanks to everyone who called on our behalf to get us some help on the Mongolian roadside.

NB: Probably not the end of the blog, as we'll update with pictures and more details to fill in some of the gaps, so keep checking if you're interested.

The metals kissed and the fuel turned lively and we are exactly where we want to be, as Patrick might say.


Blogger Father Kansas said...


8:10 PM  
Blogger Father Kansas said...

Hurrah-Mom said Whoopee, Thank God, and we are so proud of the drivers and the car. Kiss the fender for me before she goes to the auction!!!!Love, Mother Kansas

8:12 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! We know you have had an incredible time, and we are looking forward to seeing you back here in the land of due process and reliable utilities.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Father Kansas said...

“What is the feeling when you're driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -it's the too huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” - Jack Kerouac

9:01 PM  
Blogger ICMT said...

We are relieved to hear that you are finally in UB. (Wait - why exactly am I happy that my kid and his friend are in the capital of MONGOLIA?) We are also very proud and impressed with the way you have managed the whole adventure from start to finish. Please record (in writing)as much as you can asap, because otherwise there will come a time when you will wish you had. You think you will remember everything, but alas, that doesn't seem to be the case.

10:31 PM  
Blogger auntflo said...

I am so envious of you. Remember, Cinderella endings aren't real so it sounds like you've had a real trip. From my experience it's true, If you don't get some of the details down (maybe you'll have time on the plane home) you may forget them.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Please do keep us updated as to Ian and Yvonne, too.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

We are so proud of you guys!! The cub scout camp cheered when we got the call last night! You've done it with honor, and no one can take that away from you. We just want a photo of the car at the very end!

12:00 PM  
Blogger JOHN said...

have just found your blog today. we are planning a drive across aisa in 2009, and would appreciate any of the older blogs maps comments that you may have that you could make available to us. We are intending to use a camper vehicle ( self contained accommodation on wheels) and probably diesel. Have in mind a VW 4wd or similar. Do you have any comments.


John Matthews

Brisbane Australia

3:46 AM  

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