One Year Anniversary of Our Trek

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)

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!

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)