Thursday, 29 August 2013

After driving pretty well every day for four weeks we finally arrived at our shipping agent at North Bergen just outside New York.  Sad that the journey has come to an end, but glad that we were going home to meet up with our family and friends. 

The fourth and final stage of our journey started when I met Glyn Maher and Roger Winkworth when they arrived at Vancouver July 22nd.  We left for Anchorage, a journey of 2200 miles and when we got there, we then turned around and travelled south along the Alaska highway to Calgary and the US border. We then went east to New York.  A total journey distance of 7,705 miles. 

The exacting and demanding pace of the driving continuously day after day has a draining effect on your body, so when we arrived at North Bergen we were pretty shattered and in need of some R&R. I have grown very attached to the Suzukis and was sad to see them being strapped down in the container for the last time.  

I just hope the container arrives at Southampton as scheduled this time.  Les

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Idle hands in New York

I just couldn't stand it any more.  Five 5 weeks looking at Glyn's eyebrows They're like two blackberry bushes, one over each eye.   I told him it made him look like an old man and talked him into letting me trim them. 

I borrowed Roger's hair trimmer and it ended up rather like the chair leg syndrom.  A bit off here, a bit off there until when I thought I was finished there was hardly anything left.  So I decided that he didn't need them and removed them completely!!

When he still had them, they only stopped his hat falling over his eyes anyway. It's probably a good idea that I'm catching plane home tonight, it'll stop me getting into any more trouble.


Monday, 26 August 2013

An email from one of the crew to Les on the completion of Stage 4 ...

Vancouver to New York. 7705 miles in a Suzuki Jimny by
Roger Winkworth accompanied by Glyn Maher.

If one asks how was it and why, the answer is simple, chance of a lifetime.  Was it worth it, every mile and to contribute towards a very special cause.

The Jimny,100 percent all the way not a single problem.  Was it cramped?, not at all.  As a 6 footer I had ample leg room whilst a passenger and very comfortable when driving, the seats were comfortable and the driving position fine, the handling excellent.

The places we passed through and stayed, read Les Carvall's book, but some fantastic sights.  Highlights, Alaska, Jasper, Banff, YellowStone, too many to mention.

The boring bits, the I 90  Interstate hundreds of miles of  crops. The Rodeo in Cody akin to watching paint dry.

The rest stop lodges varied and fun, good quality except Anchorage.

The food,  great choice of burgers, but also some great steaks.
Best stop, Rochester with my brother in law Steve and Dianne.
The natives, all were interested in what we were doing all helpful
and lovely people.

Bad bits, falling out of my bed at the camp site, getting bitten by numerous flying things.
Crazy time, Les Stopping to check his wheels at a garage and walking out after buying a Triumph Bonneville Motor cycle.
Best laugh, listening to Les explaining it to his wife.

Things to forget, Glyn Maher snoring. Thomas our cameraman always late for everything except meals.

Things I may do, take my wife to see some of the fantastic things I have seen.

Regrets none.

Les thanks for the opportunity.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

NEW YORK, NEW YORK ..... they made it!!!

Across sixteen countries and through three continents they've completed the land journey in New York.
They began their journey back in March from Southampton. They've travelled through Belgium, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan. Mongolia and back into Russia to Vladivostok. Leaving Vladivostock the Jimnys undertook the first of their major sea voyages across the North Pacific Ocean, arriving in Vancouver. They travelled up to Anchorage Alaska then down through Canada and the centre of North America arriving in New York last night our time.  

The little Suzuki Jimnys and their crews will have covered in the region of 17,000 road miles. What an amazing feat for the old guys!! 

Just before they arrived in New York Les thought they should have another go at camping.  This time they were talking to one another, so the tent went up without any paddies from anyone.  

Although Les had his man (Glyn) stand out in the sun with the brolly to keep the sun of him. Glyn sweats a lot when he stands in the sun so Les told him to stand back a bit so he didn't drip on him! Funny thing about that Glyn, Les says, he seems to be 6 inches shorter now than when he arrived at Vancouver!!!!!!

Now they get the Jimnys ready for their second major sea voyage back to Southampton. 

Monday, 19 August 2013

What has Les done now???

Wednesday 14th, driving through Yellowstone National park, it's difficult to describe how wonderful it is. Wild animals in their natural habitat, Buffalo grazing on the prairie, it's breathtaking.

That evening we arrived in Cody, a real mid west cowboy town, a Mecca for horse lovers and where steaks are the size of tennis rackets. After eating modestly over the past few days I decided to treat myself to a decent 1 inch thick, 18 ounce monster of a rib-eye. When it come it was over hanging the plate! I looked at it for a minute and thought .....there is only going to be one winner here. Luckily it was me, what a steak.

We stayed an extra day and visited the Buffalo Bill historic centre to soak up the cowboy feeling, and guess what? We are going to the rodeo tonight! I think we'll stick to observing rather than trying our hand in bronco riding.

The next day we will visited the Little Bighorn and Custer's last stand. As a kid I used to go to the pictures and watch Errol Flynn being the last one to die at the Little Big Horn. 

This is the nearest I would get to where it actually happened, another of my life long ambitions has been achieved. I stood where 200 solders met their end. It is a sad and solemn place.  Just to stand there and think what actually happened that day, wondering were they mad men or martyrs, who knows. General Armstrong Custer was a hero to all Americans.

After that we were on our way to Murdo when we decided to stop for some lunch. I asked the guys to go ahead and order, I was going next door to the motorcycle shop to ask where I could get the tyres on the Jimny changed around. I came out a short time later owning a 1979 Triumph Bonneville!!!

It's sure to end in divorce but this is how it happened …... as I was leaving the shop I noticed a Triumph looking sorry for its self standing in the middle of a row of new plastic bikes. I looked at it for a while admiring a fantastic piece of history, then I decided to sit on it. This I should not have done.

It is about 55 years since I last sat on a bike like this one and the old memories came flooding back. The bike is a piece of British engineering and history and I felt it needed to be a home in England.

I knew that I would have a problem getting Vi to agree to the purchase so I thought that it would be better to ask for forgiveness afterwards rather than trying to get permission before!! Les

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Do the crew still love each other????

We crossed the Canadian, US, border today and are working our way south eastwards to New York.

All has not been sweetness and light among the crew though, tension has been building and we were all getting on one another's nerves. Due probably from being in close quarters for too long.

We were due to stop for the night at Jasper Alberta but when we arrived it was packed with tourists so we decided we would push on a bit further. As we left Jasper, we ended up on the wrong road but didn't realise until we'd been going an hour. The day hadn't gone well and we were all irritable so we needed to find somewhere pretty soon and get something to eat to calm the situation.

We were directed to a lodge out in the middle of nowhere called Tate Juane. When we saw it we couldn't believe our eyes. The lodge and setting was picture perfect, situated on the banks of the Frazer River. The owner, Ted, was a wonderful guy and made us really welcome. As we arrived I noticed a White Water Rafting outfit next door so I thought that to defuse the situation I would take the guys White Water Rafting and to have a break from the day to day routine of driving.

Well the morning rafting session was brilliant and helped, but did not solve the problem. Later that day we were looking to get some food before we continued on to Calgary. I missed the turn off and did a rapid U turn on the main road. Unfortunately our car to car communication was not working so I could not pre-warn them of my intention. I made it, but they didn't. When we got back to them again you should have heard the language! I admitted it was my fault but said do you want to eat here or not? You can just imagine this can't you, everyone getting at each other like children. Just to be awkward they said no, so we ended up driving for another 70 kilometres with tummies rumbling and not talking to one another!

I knew there was more to come as that night we were due to camp. 

We arrived at the camp site late, everyone was tired and fed up but we had to camp and that was that. We started getting the equipment out from the vehicles in deadly silence. We eventually got the tent up and pumped up the air beds. We were all having a dig at one another and Roger was really on the boil, he decided to go to bed, moaning that he was not going to camp another night, he is going to get a plane home at Calgary. Just as he was cussing us and I was returning the compliment he fell out of bed!! Well that was the last straw. We all fell about laughing and the tension broke. We ended up around the camp fire till late talking the problems though and we were all keen to get on the road and get the job done as a team.

We're all ok now and rearing to go. Les

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Les and the lads go to the wild west frontier

In 1896, prospectors found gold in a creek near Dawson City.  

It triggering a stampede to the Klondike, bolstered by dreams and heartened by stories of riches.  Thousands of miners struggled across Chilkoot Pass and floated the Yukon River to Dawson City. 

It soon became a rollicking frontier town and Dawson filled up with desperate prospectors, shrewd entrepreneurs, Mounties and dance-hall girls. 

Glyn wonders if the dance hall girls are still to be found

Today, Dawson City is a lively place bursting with heritage sites, attractions and according to Les many crazy people. Most of the buildings are in need of repair and paint. 

However, the experience he had with Duncan Spriggs in the Westminster Bar of this authentic frontier town, where the beer flowed and left him seriously worse for wear lived up to the reputation Dawson City has. They went panning for gold and with the luck of the novice they actually found some! When Les explained why they were there they were given some gold nuggets to auction off for the Charity when they get back.

You can watch the video they took of Dawson City here