Day 72 – August 16, 2001 – This is our last day of the tour, assuming we make it home without something stopping us. We are concerned about the bearing on Ross’s wheel which is the most serious problem. Each of the other cars has something not quite right. The Fordor is running very rough, missing and misfiring frequently. The pick-up is misfiring, although not as frequently as the Fordor. The coupe hasn’t had a generator for days and the mag isn’t working either. We have been worried that the battery will go down. But we are all running and on our own wheels. We only have 180 miles to go to be back at our home in Bryan. We all want to get there but are reluctant for the tour to end. It has been a challenge, more than we ever anticipated, and we have become very dependent on each other during this time.
The drive turned out to be uneventful. Hot, dry, through some tiny towns suffering from economic depression, to the green belt that is Bryan, Texas. We kept rolling, eating lunch at the same place we stopped for gas. We didn’t stop to check anything. If it was rolling, it was holding together. If we took it apart to check it, it might not go back together again. When we turned off onto the highway that would lead us to our home in Bryan, Ben radioed Ross that we only had 7-1/2 more miles. Ross replied that he could drag it that far! We passed the factory that Ben used to own and several of our friends came out to wave. It was exciting and I was surprised to find tears in my eyes.
When we pulled into our street, we backed the cars into place for pictures, just as we had done when we left ten weeks and two days earlier. Some of the people and cars who left with us then aren’t with us today. One person and one car that didn’t leave from Bryan are with us now. We all look a little scruffy. The cars are pretty dirty. We were all happy that we made it all the way home, just as we had set out to do. We smiled for the photos and hugged each other and expressed our amazement that we had made it. I walked through my house, touching and exclaiming over everything: my couch, my bed, my bathroom, my air conditioning!
We hadn’t been home long when Ross drove his car into the shop and started disassembling it. The bearing had disintegrated and the axle was badly damaged. It is a wonder he wasn’t sitting on the ground somewhere. We have new axles and new bearings so it will be fixed. We have an air conditioned shop to fix it in. And we have time to fix it. We plan to be here for a few days (we are still on schedule).
It is hard to know how to end this journal so, if you will bear with me, I will probably add another day or two with thoughts and memories of the trip. This has been the most challenging thing any of us has ever done, a test of both us and the cars. We met, and were befriended by, some unbelievable people, total strangers to us who cared for us and helped us and watched over us. We saw country unlike any we have ever seen, some beautiful and some harsh, some open and some overwhelming. We have seen America at 30 miles per hour, in cars that attract attention everywhere we went. We have talked with children and bikers and store clerks and vacationers, all of whom are amazed at what we were doing. We have held up traffic in 14 states and 3 provinces and only had four people actually be ugly to us. With all the breakdowns and trouble that we had, we still had people emailing us saying, “I wish I could be with you. We want to go with you next time.”
Would we do it again? Probably not to Alaska again. Probably not 72 days again. But some place else? Maybe.