It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we drove out of Yokohama to start following the tire tracks of George Schuster and the other 1908 Great Racers. Here’s a revisit of our send-off from Yokohama Tower:
Send-Off from Yokohama, Saturday, May 10, 2014 (Eileen Bjorkman photo)
I wonder how different our trip would be if we were doing it today? When we started in 2014, the situation in Ukraine was still relatively new, and it had little impact on our travels. A year later, nearly 70 world leaders just snubbed the V-E Day celebration in Moscow and sanctions are straining relations between Russia and the U.S. and our allies. I hate to think that politics could have ruined our trip, but I’m glad we went a year ago!
I also wanted to let everyone know that I am beginning work on my book proposal again very soon. I started a new job and moved in January, so that put me a bit behind, but I also wanted to get some distance from the trip to help me put our experiences into the proper perspective.
In the meantime, best wishes to half of the 2014 team, John and Leo, as they embark on a new adventure around the Great Lakes!
After a great send-off by Sotheby’s this morning at the Marine Tower in Yokohama, we hit the road about 10:15 and traveled 450km to Kyoto.
During the first third of our six-hour drive, Mount Fuji was the star. Here’s a picture of the 1928 Plymouth being driven by John and Luke with the mountain in the background:
View of Mount Fuji from the road (Eileen Bjorkman photo)
Mount Fuji reminds me of Mount Rainier in my home state of Washington — both mountains seem to hold court over the surrounding countryside.
Around 12:30 we stopped for lunch and more views of Mount Fuji and John refueled the Plymouth — it can only travel unrefueled about 150 miles. That’s fine with me — I can’t stand being in a car for more than about two hours for a single stretch anyway.
In Kyoto this evening our guide, Hiro, suggested we have Japanese “pizza” for dinner. We followed him down an alley to a restaurant where the quality of the food far outstripped the size of the restaurant. Here’s what that delicious meal looked like:
Trying out “Japanese Pizza” (Eileen Bjorkman photo)
Tomorrow morning we rest for a bit and then have a very short drive to Kobe.
We arrived yesterday in Tokyo and had drivers bring us to the Breezbay Hotel in Yokohama. After a nice tour of Yokohama this morning and then lunch in Chinatown, the next step was to retrieve the cars from Customs.
But there was a small snag. The cars themselves were able to clear customs with no problems, but some items that Leo and John had shipped in the cars (such as a case of bottled water) hadn’t been declared, and the customs process came to a screeching halt.
At 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, we were beginning to worry that our cars would be stuck in customs through the weekend. Even worse, Hollis, the auto import/export in Japan helping us facilitate the customs release had both Leo’s and John’s passports, and he seemed to have vanished.
Although we concluded that Yokohama wouldn’t be a bad place to be stuck for the weekend, we really wanted to get moving out on our trip, especially since we didn’t want to miss the ferry to Vladivostok — it only runs once a week.
At ten minutes to four, Hollis arrived, and after a few more phone calls and a trip to the warehouse at Yamashita Pier, we had both cars in hand. We made it back to the hotel at 5:20, just in time to meet friends for a wonderful dinner of sushi (not like anything you would get in the US). Here’s a picture of the cars right before we departed the warehouse:
The customs warehouse in Yokohama (Eileen Bjorkman photo)
Saturday we have a press conference in the morning and then we drive to Kyoto.