Days 42-43: Perm to Izhevsk to Kazan

Number of tie wraps: 29 (5 since last blog post)

Countdown: 5726 miles down, 2859 to go

Quote of the day: “Welcome to Russia!” (Izhevsk policeman to Luke and John yesterday)

In 1908, George Schuster and the Thomas Flyer had a much tougher time getting from Perm to Kazan than we did. The Flyer had stripped two gears just outside Omsk, quite a ways back, but a field repair kept them going until just outside of Perm, where the transmission gave up altogether as Schuster tried to extricate the Thomas from a gigantic pothole.

Schuster had ordered a spare transmission be shipped to Russia from the U.S. while he was in Harbin, China, because he was worried about the transmission even then. The transmission had arrived in Russia within two weeks, but no one seemed to know at which train station it had been off-loaded. Fortunately, just when the Thomas really needed the new transmission, it was located in Kazan, several hundred miles from the breakdown point, so Schuster took a wagon to retrieve it.

After repairing the Flyer, the U.S. team took a wrong turn and wound up in Viatka (modern day Kirov) several hundred kilometers out of their way before finally arriving in Kazan. Between the repair and getting lost, they were once again well behind the German Protos. The New York Times reported much confusion on the whereabouts and intentions of the U.S. team during their side trip to Viatka — click here for one article written during this period.

We had a little time in Perm yesterday morning while John and Natalia went to immigration one more time to try unsuccessfully to resolve John’s visa. Luke and I walked down a path that paralleled the Kama River and the Siberian Railway and we found a scary-looking but perfectly safe underpass that we took underneath the railway to a footpath right by the river.


Steps leading to tunnel under the Siberian Railway

Steps leading to tunnel under the Siberian Railway (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Later that day, we crossed the Kama River on the bridge below as we drove out of Perm. Schuster and the Flyer crossed the Kama by ferry, since there was no bridge available in 1908.


Bridge across the Kama River in Perm

Bridge across the Kama River in Perm (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Before we left Perm, Luke washed the headlights on the Roadster and removed a rather large deceased insect from the headlight grills (those of you who are Air Force fighter pilots will know why I used the term “deceased insect” — I don’t want any of you getting hurt from hurling your body to the floor).


Hitchhiker found on Roadster headlight

Hitchhiker found on Roadster headlight (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Roadster headlights before cleaning

Roadster headlights before cleaning (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Roadster headlights after cleaning

Roadster headlights after cleaning (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

On the drive to Izhevsk yesterday and to Kazan today, we saw many brightly painted roadside shelters for picnic tables, such as the one below. They seemed to come in all shapes and colors, and were located along the road every kilometer or so.


Colorful roadside shelter

Colorful roadside shelter (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

As we were heading to the hotel in Izhevsk, the police waved the Roadster over for a look. They were mostly just curious about the car and the paperwork, and one of them came over to the hotel later and signed the car.


Message from police in Izhevsk wishing us luck on our journey

Message from police in Izhevsk wishing us luck on our journey (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Today, we had great roads most of the way from Izhevsk to Kazan, so we made good time. During our final gas stop, the young man in the picture below admired the car and I couldn’t get the Bluetooth on my iPhone to send the picture to his phone, so I told him I’d post the picture on the website instead.


An admirer about 100km outside Kazan

An admirer about 100km outside Kazan (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

John also added another tie wrap to the turn signal flasher unit at the gas stop.


Yes, another tie wrap!

Yes, another tie wrap! (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

As we neared Kazan, many of the road signs became tri-lingual — Tatar, the native language here, as well as Russian and English.


Tri-lingual road sign -- Tatar, Russian and English

Tri-lingual road sign — Tatar, Russian and English (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Kazan is a beautiful city with a blend of modern structures and traditional architecture. We’ll be taking a tour of the city tomorrow morning, so I’ll post some pictures then.

After we arrived at the hotel, John decided to double-up the tie wraps on the radiator grill, so that added four more tie wraps to the total.


And even more tie wraps!

And even more tie wraps! (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Tomorrow, after our city tour, we head to Nizhny Novgorod, 395 km. We’ll be arriving in Moscow on Sunday now so we have an extra day to sort out John’s visa.

Day 41: Yekaterinburg to Perm

Number of tie wraps: 24 (holding steady)

Countdown: 5284 miles down, 3301 to go

It’s midnight in Perm, where we’re at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska, and although it’s dark enough for lights to be on, the sun hasn’t fully set.

It was nearly 9 p.m. when we rolled up to the hotel after the drive from Yekaterinburg. John wasn’t able to complete his visa paperwork yesterday in Yekaterinburg, so he had to go back to the immigration office this morning. It looked like he would have the replacement visa in about an hour, but then the paperwork hit a snag, so we headed out about 2:30 without the visa.

The drive up was on excellent roads, save for a few construction delays, and we saw lots of farmers fields and forests as we passed through the Urals.

Farm field on the drive from Yekaterinburg to Perm

Farm field on the drive from Yekaterinburg to Perm (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

John and Natalia, our new guide, will walk to the immigration office in Perm first thing tomorrow morning. If all goes well, we’ll be on the road by around noon to drive 278 km to Izhevsk. If things don’t work out for John, well, stay tuned!