TUESDAY: Repair and Recovery from the Ralliest day of them all.
Every single car in our convoy needed attention...except for Babs! Babs the Wonder Yaris is an inspiration to us all. We've decided she's a strong-minded old lady with very large breasts who cannot be rushed, but once she's moving she goes and goes and goes.
Babs the Wonder Yaris. Daisy wheels courtesy of Frankly Lost. Photo by Tabitha Bigbee
The mechanic was very conveniently located directly beneath a karaoke bar where many of our fellow convoyers got roguishly drunk waiting for updates from the mechanics downstairs. I have a feeling that the sheer amount of alcohol consumed convinced said mechanics that we had more money than we actually did.
We had time to explore the market made entirely of shipping containers turned into stalls for wares. There was EVERYTHING you could think of! All the way from the makings of a proper ger (remember, yurts in Mongolia) to knock off Adidas and oddly flavored snacks.
Creepy hotel with only 1 functioning shower on the second floor in room 13. Photo by Blackstone Photography
In the wake of the creepy hotel we found a nicer place to stay that promised a real cafe which never materialized - we're still deeply disappointed about this. But we did get a nice dinner and some much needed time NOT DRIVING. Oh yeah! It's important to note that at this point there was a stomach flu going around the group and Alice got the worst case of us all! Poor Alice!! It's ALSO important to note that there was a raucous night out at what may or may not have been a gay club but no one can be certain because nothing in Mongolia looks the way you expect it to.
Thus concluded another day in Mongolia that ended vastly differently from how it began.
WEDNESDAY: The day where no one made decisions.
We woke up and pulled ourselves together for a long haul to Ulan-Bataar. We said adios to Bayankhangor with Fordnando towing the completely deceased Judith (RIP). It's important to note that the engine was suspended inside the vehicle with ratchet straps and zip ties because ALL of the engine mountings had disintegrated. The thought was that if we could get to Ulan-Bataar we might be able to get some sort of towing solution like a flat bed truck. Or maybe we could get her death certificate there? Anyway, we started the drive.
And THAT'S how you hang an engine inside a car. Photo by Blackstone Photography
And we drove and drove. Niiice and slow because the tow rope kept snapping and had to be re-tied. Which happened approximately 3,752 times. It was a very long, slow day that was draining both mentally and physically for everyone involved. By sunset we were still no where near the city.
Got this tow rope made specifically for towing. JOKES ON US - it sucks. Photo by Tabitha Bigbee
If it hasn't been mentioned before, then this would be a great time to tell you about the road-side culinary genius that is Brianna. She can make DELICIOUS food out of seemingly nothing! Those of us in Babs realized that Team Towing was getting no food or rest so the Yaris stopped and made a road-side meal as quickly as one can boil a pot of water over a tiny camp stove and then caught up to feed the weary tow-warriors.
Somewhere along the line the decision was made, or the decision wasn't made and we all just trucked on, but we pushed on to Ulan-Bataar into the wee hours of the morning. Par for the course, right? Once we arrived in the city it was 2:30 am and no hotels were open or available. Since we couldn't camp in a city, we stashed Judith in an alley (and kind of hoped she would get stolen) and trucked our sorry bums to a hotel that we had FINALLY found. 4:30 am bedtime? Sure.
THURSDAY: Almost there.
We got a few hours of sleep before gathering the necessaries. Such as collecting dead Judith from the alley where (alas) she did NOT get stolen, but she HAD gotten completely boxed in by other vehicles. We employed our best Austen Powers 22-point turn skills combined with all the push power we had collectively. We have excellent planning skills. So rally.
Getting familiar fast food in foreign countries is a freaking TRIP. Photo by Blackstone Photography
While we stopped for a bathroom and supplies a local man spotted our very conspicuous cars and communicated to us that a car that looked like one of our cars had been hit by a truck! WHAT!? He pointed at The Opus of Team Keystone and we hadn't heard from The Pony so we assumed the worst. Frank drove back into the city to make sure his team was safe. He said go ahead and they would catch up.
Which would not be hard because Fordnando was still towing the dead car quite slowly. No other towing options had been found. So let's take stock: Keystone (both The Pony and The Opus) is behind us back in the city and we haven't heard from them. 101 Damn-Nations (with our Megan!) is totally MIA. Fordnando is towing Judith of The Yurts with Babs spotting the road ahead for them. So the mighty Fordnando pressed on and on and on. Before long we heard The Damn-Nations over the radio! Yay! We pulled over and got scary news...
The Damn-Nations AND OUR MEGAN were the ones who had been hit by a truck back in Ulan-Bataar!! What!? YES! It was not ok. Megan had a concussion, and the car had some serious crunching. Thank goodness the people and the cars were mostly ok. Paula used a crowbar to reshape a wheel well. Shortly thereafter all of Keystone caught up, too, and once again we were trekking onwards all together.
It suddenly struck us all that we were pressing on towards something we hadn't really thought about...the finish line. As soon as we crossed into Russia the rally would be essentially over. We'd been so focused on getting through each day that we'd not truly realized how close we were to the entire adventure being over.
And then somehow, without anyone making a decision about it, it was decided that we would drive all night and cross into Russia in the early hours. Again.
But we're ALMOST THERE!! Next blog: The Finish Line!
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