Bad Roads, Good People Presentation

Thank you to everyone who took time to attend my presentation at the Everett Public Library on Saturday! Given the fantastic weather we had in the Seattle area on Saturday, I was surprised at how many people turned out to hear about driving in China and Russia.

Everett Library Sign

If anyone reading this has a group that would like to hear my presentation, please let me know. I spend most of my time in Ohio now, but I’m available to travel on weekends. The presentation on Saturday was 90 minutes, including questions, but I can tailor my talk to any length needed — shorter or longer. I’m also happy to focus on specific themes if that would better suit your group; e.g.,

– Hidden Japan

– Driving in China: Just Try Not to Kill Anyone

– Bad Roads and Good People in Russia

– Russian History on the Trail of the 1908 Great Race

– Car Repairs in Russia

– Compare/Contrast the 2014 Trip with the 1908 Race

The presentation on Saturday included all these elements, but I can easily take one or two themes and expand on them as necessary.

You can contact me by either leaving a comment on this website or sending me an email via my author website at

Keep moving, keep moving!

Luke Rizzuto and John Quam: Re-enacting the Great Race

When we pulled into Paris last Sunday, Luke and John became the only two people in the world that we know of who have re-created the exact route of the 1908 New York to Paris race. It took them six years to do it! Luke led the re-enactment of the U.S. portion in the fall of 2008, where he met John. The two of them then worked together for more than five years to put together the Japan to Paris part of the trip. The dinner we had our last night in Paris was for our entire team, but Luke and John are the two who really deserve all the congratulations, because without their vision and persistence, the trip would have never happened!

Farewell Dinner: L-R Eileen Bjorkman, Susan Wills-Quam (John's wife), John Quam, Leo Jannsens, Karen Bradbury, Luke Rizzuto

Farewell Dinner: L-R Eileen Bjorkman, Susan Wills-Quam (John’s wife), John Quam, Leo Jannsens, Karen Bradbury, Luke Rizzuto (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Of course, we had plenty of help along the way, from Mir Corporation to do the detailed planning, from our guides who kept us out of trouble and smoothed over customs issues, and from many strangers who jumped in with everything from repairing a flat tire to helping John work visa issue with the Russian immigration folks. It would be impossible to thank everyone who helped us, especially since we don’t even know many of their names.

For our last day in Paris, Karen, Leo and I took a short cruise on the Seine River. Because it was Bastille Day, in addition to the usual tourist sights, we were treated to fly-overs by three different military helicopters, with the last one turning right in front of our boat.

Helicopter flyover on the Seine River

Helicopter flyover on the Seine River (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Our farewell dinner was at the Verjus restaurant, where we indulged in a tasting menu of eight different dishes of French cuisine.

The Verjus restaurant

The Verjus restaurant (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel to take in the breathtaking fireworks display over the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River. The picture below is of fireworks over the Seine; I’ve got some video of the fireworks set off from the tower, and I’ll get that posted later.

Fireworks over the Seine River

Fireworks over the Seine River (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

I arrived back in Seattle last night about 8:30 local time. Due to jet lag, I woke up at 4 a.m. today and was treated to a nice sunrise and 55 degree temperatures for a perfect morning run. I’ll miss the travels, but it’s good to be home!

Sunrise over the North Cascades this morning

Sunrise over the North Cascades this morning (Eileen Bjorkman photo)




Day 66: Reims to Paris

Number of tie wraps: 50 (final count)

Countdown: 8585 miles down, 0 to go. We’re in Paris!

Proof that we are really in Paris!

Proof that we are really in Paris! (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

We arrived at our hotel in Paris this afternoon at 2:10, officially ending Leg 1 of the World Auto Tour. Congratulations to Jennifer Quam (who guessed 35 tie wraps) for winning the tie wrap award! I’ll let you sort the prize out with John.

In 1908, the German Protos was the first car to arrive in Paris, but the Thomas was declared the official winner when it came into town four days later on July 30 due to the 30 day penalty assessed to the Protos (15 days for using the train in the U.S. and 15 days for the Thomas to drive to and from Alaska). When the Thomas first entered Paris, George Schuster was almost arrested for not having a headlight, but a bicyclist offered his headlamp. When they couldn’t remove the light from the bicycle, bystanders simply lifted the bicycle into the Thomas between the two front seats and the problem was solved. The Thomas then proceeded to the Grand Hotel for a dinner reception. Click here for the original New York Times article about the Protos arrival in Paris, and click here for the original New York Times article about the Thomas arrival in Paris.

Our arrival into Paris was much less dramatic. We had a short, but wet, drive over from Reims, as you can see from the photo below of a bystander in Paris taking a picture of the Roadster as we passed by. No one was shouting, “Vive le car Americain!” as we passed by as they did for the Thomas in 1908!

Wet arrival into Paris

Wet arrival into Paris (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Our hotel is very close to the Eiffel Tower, and I even have “une petite” view, as described by the hotel receptionist when I checked into my room.

View of the Eiffel Tower from my hotel room

View of the Eiffel Tower from my hotel room (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

The rainy weather limited our sightseeing this afternoon to a few views of the tower and the Seine River, but we still have tomorrow! We’re also hoping to get a photo op with the cars and the tower before John, Luke and Leo depart for Leg 2 of the tour and tomorrow evening we have a celebratory dinner at a traditional French restaurant. So stayed tuned for more pictures!

I fly back to Seattle on Tuesday, but I plan to continue blogging about the trip as Luke sends me updates.