Saturday, November 04, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
More newspaper trivia, there are 2 million private automobiles in Beijing, and the number is exploding.
We are now in Guangzhou (Canton) which is more southern and tropical. very balmy this time of year, and they get no snow, population 11 million. The streets and blvds have a lot of trees, noticeably more than Beijing and Wuhan. Some of the streets are very pretty. The Pearl River which is the second largest river in China runs thru Guanzhou on its way to Hong Kong, and it is a freeway for freight. There is a constant stream of motorized barges up and down the river. The smallest are sampan class, about 20 ft long, the largest maybe 200 to 300 feet long. Coal, containers, lot of sand and gravel going up and down the river. At any given time, there are probably 8 to 10 in view from our hotel room.
Guangzhou has a very modern international airport and the expressways into the city worked remarkably well. In the city center, the expressways are elevated up about 3 or 4 stories and snake through the buildings. The upper level is like a freeway with no redlights and you exit to the side and down to the lower level which is the city streets with all the redlights and heavy traffic. Amazing.
We are staying at the White Swan Hotel on the Pearl River, very nice and plush, and definitely the hotel of choice for tourists. Just down the street is a restaurant called Lucy’s which specializes in western food. It is really funny to go down there and see all the Americans ordering hamburgers, french fries, pizza, fish and chips. We are back into a tourist section with all the souvenir stands, although they are not as aggressive as in Beijing.
Yesterday or the day before, we took the ferry across the Pearl River, cost us 7 cents each. We landed in the west part of Guangzhou and walked around. I think we were in an old upscale section, no high rises, just low rise 3 or 4 story apartments, wide tree lined streets, very nice area.
We just got back from a trip to the jewelry mart, an amazing concentration of jewelry shops in a 7 story open mall, must have been a thousand shops all in one place. Took a cab to get there for 7 yuan, walked back following our guide through: a really upscale shopping street, no traffic allowed, and then down a bunch of side streets. One street was devoted to tropical fish for aquariums (the whole darn street), one street devoted to pets (dogs, cats, mice, hermit crabs), one street devoted to medicinal herbs, I do not see how anybody can make a living when there are so many shops/stalls in one place.
Included is a bunch of pictures of the last couple days. (Well, maybe, not doing too well on pictures right now, check back later)
Just click on any picture for a larger version and maybe even a caption.....
Friday, October 27, 2006
UPDATE: We have figured out the pictures a little. Click here for a fun slideshow of our pictures from Wuhan.
Bob: Beijing was a tourist city, when you stepped out of the hotel or off the bus, vendors appeared out of nowhere selling everything under the sun. Wuhan is the total opposite, here we are in an incredibly modern city of 11 million people that we never heard of, there are no souvenir vendors, and we are basically ignored. And there are not too many big noses here (what the Chinese people call Caucasians). We are staying in a 5 star hotel, and we have never been so well attended to in our lives. There is a person assigned to everything. As near as I can tell, they are working at demolishing the old dingy four story buildings and putting up high rise apartments. The streets are crowded with autos, traffic flow is handled very nicely, lots of red lights, turn lanes, informative flashing signs (in Chinese). Very hazy, but I don’t think it is pollution, just haze like the great Smokey mountains in USA. Yangtze River runs through the middle of Wuhan and there are lakes everywhere, but no mosquitoes, I wonder how they do that.
We have been in a couple of modern department stores, Carrefour is the Chinese equivalent of Costco, very modern packaged foods just like USA and same brands in a lot of cases, bakery, prepared foods (although definitely Chinese), clothes, appliances, bar code checkout, everything in a modern atmosphere. By total contrast, Walking down a small blvd, we saw an iron gate leading into a side alley which was an open air food market, fruit and vegetables, live fish, crabs, frogs, turtles, eels, chickens and lord knows what else, total contrast to the Carrefour. There are obviously two strata of citizens here, the old generation which lives in the squalid apartment buildings which are maybe 4 stories high and shops in the sidewalk markets and the new generation which drives cars, shops in Carrefour and lives in a 30 story high rise.
Stopped in front of a real estate office (just like CA?) 1000 sq ft “used” apartment costs 30,000 yuan and has 4 rooms. Figure that one out. 8 yuan to the dollar. Our guide says that one of the brand new apartments in a new high rise with a river view costs 10,000 yuan per sq meter. Works out to about 1,000,000 yuan for 1000 sq ft. (125,000 USD).
We also stopped in a little bakery, typical with so many employees, one girl figures out the cost, another girl makes the change, I handed my money to the girl who figured out the cost and the change girl snatched it.
Today, Friday, we made an expedition to the River Beach Park on the shore of the Yangtze River, this is a beautiful park several kilometers long filled with statues and trees and grass (a rarity in these large cities). R and M were carrying the twins and you would think they were celebrities, so many curious people crowded around. We got some Yangtze River water and earth to take home, according to Chinese lore, this will bring luck and good fortune to always have a little piece of their homeland. And then we went to the biggest and fanciest Chinese restaurant that I have ever seen, the dining area must have been 100 yards long and 10 yards wide. Tai Zi (Prince) Restaurant. Four parking attendants in gold braided uniforms out front, parking the Buicks and Fords and Mercedes and Hondas. And our guide ordered us quite a feast, several things that I have never heard of. The final dish was a fish on a platter, somehow the flesh was braided into sticks to make the fish look like a porcupine, quite incredible. By the way, the local beer (Snow beer) is quite good. Total cost, 449 yuan (about $50) for 11 people and 4 kids. So we can eat in the 5 star dining room for $20 for the buffet, $5 at a fancy restaurant, and if we had the nerve, probably $1 at the street stalls. Something for everybody.
By the way, the French have a presence in China, especially in Wuhan which is where the French Consulate is located. All the taxis are Citroens, the airlines have a lot of airbuses, and apparently talks are going on about nuclear power. In fact, we are sharing the streets with Jacque Chirac for the last couple days. Yesterday, we saw this really big motorcade of black cars and vans full of policemen going down the street and today when we came back to our hotel, Chirac was in the dining room and the place was crawling with security. There was a half inch thick red carpet laid down from the curb, through the lobby and into the dining room.
Day 8 – We received the precious girls yesterday and they couldn’t sleep the first night, therefore M didn’t sleep either. It is tough to be a new parent with 22 pound twins. We had to leave the hotel at 8:45 to go to the interview for new parents. Well, we left at 9:30 and just barely. The grand parents look like pack horses for the new parents and their daughters, but that’s why we came to support them in all ways. Of course I was very emotional at the interview especially when they asked M questions regarding the girls’ future. R and M are doing a great job for new parents in a very different kind of situation. They are ordering room service because they can’t leave the room yet.
Day 9 – M and R and the girls leave the room to go to breakfast. Everyone loves seeing the twins. Grandparents went on a bus trip to a department store for clothes for the girls. Now this was a bit confusing. I had to pick out my articles get a bill from each little counter and then go to a cashier to pay and get a receipt. Then I had to remember where I picked out my items and give the clerk my receipt before I could get my purchased items. What an ordeal. Then we went to the basement for the grocery items. Bob found a jar of salsa for R, yea.
The girls are dressed in cute denim jumpers and off to lunch in the hotel. They take R and M and the girls to a special room in the back with a divider. I wonder why?
All the Chinese children walk by and say “Hello”. Many shops were cooking in front of their little shops. People were on their way home from work and eating from the shops or taking the food home. Found a neat street for shopping and looking. Passed a line of people paying money and receiving a different stub of a ticket. Then they went to the next line where there was a large cauldron about 4 feet in diameter with sections like pieces of pie and a center of boiling broth. In each section there was a different type of sauce and meat or fish. The clerk had a cone shaped basket with a long handle full of noodles. She would dip them in the broth and put them in a bag for the customer, very strange
Then we found an alley that was an open food market. Oh my! There were bins of live shrimp, fish, eels, turtles, frogs and crabs. It was quite a place, no I didn’t buy anything but we washed the soles of shoes when we returned and then wiped them with handi wipes.
Back to the hotel and dinner time. This time all 6 adults went since Ro knocked R’s dish on the floor at lunch, they needed help. I love it. What a difference in the girls, lots of smiles, teasing and facial expressions. They love to eat.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Click here for slide show..
Not sure what day it is, but on Saturday, caught a China Eastern flight to Beijing. Plane was packed with business men. Arrived at Beijing airport and no guide to meet us. Scratched our heads for awhile and found a friendly counter clerk who called the phone number we had. Murphy’s law, lapse in communications, our guide had our hotel keys and everything but had no idea where we were coming in from. Finally made contact and motored into Beijing on a high quality freeway. Incidentally, certain things are missing in China, like rental cars, no such thing. Nice hotel, and we met up with R and M, who were wondering what happened to us.
Sunday dawned with blue sky and cold clear air, and our guide told us an interesting story about that. When the government was in the competition for the Olympics, the Olympic committee was worried about the bad pollution in Beijing. As a result, all the steel mills and polluting industries were moved out of Beijing and the traditional coal fired furnaces and stoves were discouraged from use by providing subsidies for using electricity instead. As a result, last year there were 260 blue sky days in Beijing.
Beijing is a surprisingly modern city, high rises everywhere, cars, taxis and buses jamming the streets, good roads, we haven’t been on a potholed rough street yet. There are still lots of bicycles though. I suspect that the cost of living is probably going up fast, lots of stores selling western products such as clothing electronics, etc. They are in a crash renovation for the Olympics, everything is in the process of being painted and freshened, half the Forbidden city is done, the other half is under scaffolding and tarping.
Sunday we did some major touring with the adoption group in Beijing, 35 people so we had our own tour bus. Tienenmien Square, Forbidden City, a rickshaw ride through Hutong Village, and a Chinese acrobat show. The Hutong village is quite interesting, it is a section that is very old and represents the way life in Beijing used to be, alleys, tiny dwellings, but it is also a way of life that is vanishing, being replaced with the high rises and modern stores. The result is that the government has set aside several large sections to be preserved. And it is a big tourist attraction, to take a rickshaw ride through these areas.
We went by bus back to the city to see an Acrobatic Show. This was very colorful with feats that awed the audience. Bob is convinced that the one young man who did a running jump into a somersault through a hoop about 8 ft high could compete for the high jump at the Olympics. The show was an hour long. Then we were stuck in a traffic jam and felt we were back in the USA. Returned to the hotel about 7 and the “old” folks did better than most younger ones. We opted for KFC, choc and ice cream for dinner, definitely Americans.
pictures coming, check back later.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
TOURING IN XIAN - day 3
Spent the day touring the area.
This day we saw, Xian old city wall, Banpo village ruins, terracotta warriors, a silk factory, a jade factory, and our last stop of the day was at the emperor’s hot springs palace where he kept a bunch of his 3000 concubines. (Does that make for a long life or a short life?)
We were also supposed to go to a wonderful place for a dumpling dinner, a Chinese play and then stop at the
While Bob took a snooze, Pat decided to try to pack all of the new purchases into the overweight suitcases. I, Pat, have decided to buy a very large dress today and tie my Xian purchases onto my body. What do you think, will it work? Don’t tell Bob. Idea, we will just leave the girls clothing that we brought in our bags here in Xian. Oh lots of room now.
While in our hotel room, we could be in the
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Last night we caught a plane to Xian, in mainland
We met up with Rod’s parents at the Xian airport, they had been traveling for 30 hours. Also was a horde of screaming fans for someone named Koko who was on our plane, must have been a rocker celebrity or something, gotta look that one up
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Oh my gawd, we have done it now. The country mice have sure ventured out of the country and into the big wide world.
So far, we have taken a jet (that seemed like about a week), an express train, a mini shuttle and walked to get to our hotel in downtown Hong Kong.
We are in a really big city, very cosmopolitan, and very vertical, unbelievable number of high rise apartment buildings. Nothing like getting off a plane in a foreign country and being on your own as far as finding your hotel and how to get there. Right off the bat, we discovered that our ATM card does not work in Hong Kong, it needs to have a 6 digit pin number. One little gal said to add 2 zeroes either in front or in back or the regular 4 digit number, but she also said the machine will keep it after two mistakes. Having already tried the four digit number, we decided to forget that, and changed some cash.
The express train from the airport to Hong Kong Island and downtown is really modern and fast. We bought two round trip tickets. Nobody checked them on the train but in order to get out of the station, you have to insert them into a turnstile. A friendly attendant who saw us looking at the turnstile as if it were a space alien finally showed the two farmers the difference between one that does magnetic passes and one that reads round trip cards. This reminded me of the old Kingston Trio song, did he ever return, no he never returned and his fate is still unlearned. Moral, buy the ticket before you get on.
The shuttle from the train station to the hotel was definitely an E ticket, traffic with inches to spare, twisty turny little streets, hordes of taxis, braced with one foot to the side and holding onto the luggage rack bars.
We arrived at our hotel at 5:30am (CA time), October something or other, maybe 18 in CA, anyway, we went to bed at 8:30pm local and woke up the first time at 11:30, the second time at 1:00, the third time at 3:30 and finally got out of bed at 3:40. So far this morning, we have had tea, Ghirardelli chocolates, peanut butter crackers and we are waiting for daylight and breakfast.
Now it is 5:30 am October 19 (we think) in Hong Kong. We have a gorgeous view of the harbour outside our window. Patti thought she was on a cruise ship because of the water view out the window and the size of the bathroom. We will have breakfast and tour with our friend Masako today, (see, we do actually know someone in HK).
We have also discovered that the electric plug adapter that we bought for China does not work in Hong Kong, so we have to hurry and post this before our computer croaks.
A note to M and R from Wela, just wait I’m making my list of wants.
To Jane and Bobby, send money and give Harley a hug.
To all of our wonderful friends stay tuned and hold the search parties we are still alive.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
You may have asked what the Mansfield group has been doing after re-entering Earth’s atmosphere over a week ago. For a few days, we washed clothes…more clothes than we ever thought we owned. The Model A even got washed after a week or so, and we examined the old warhorse for new battle scars. Some of us went back to daily pursuits, and the more neurotic among us kept driving…at night…in our dreams. I claim another 1000 miles, nocturnally. I’m still driving that yellow pickup every night to an un-named destination…with weird obstacles along the way. In hopes of leaving the dreams behind, we went to the Jess Blaker estate auction in Turlock this last Friday. We previewed the entire collection of antique cars, clocks, player pianos, car parts and memorabilia on Friday, and stayed overnight at the local Motel 6…I drove another 400 miles in my “A” to nowhere in my dreams that night…
Early the next morning, I knocked on Bob & Patti’s door (#131), and # 133 (Ray & Linda) were already up and ready for another breakfast experience at the McDonald’s next door. This was very reminiscent of an ordeal we had just experienced! Early rising in a strange motel room and fine morning cuisine…brushing your teeth, if there’s time…is my underwear clean? Am I wearing underwear? What am I doing here?
We all trooped down to the auction early. Way early. Got good seats. Up front, so they could see our bid cards clearly when we won that neat yellow speedster. Maybe the little red Maxwell Roadster…2 cylinders! Or that C cab with the calliope in the back…
Bob & Shirley and Dave & Susan came in on Saturday morning…now, this was becoming real familiar! Like dejavue…
Apparently, we’ve been on the road much too long. People with real money to spend had come in from all over the country…in fact from other countries, as well as nosing in on the internet…and none of them gave us a break. I raised my bid card once or twice, but I think they laughed at me.
So, we didn’t come home with anything that Jess Blaker had collected over the years. No Regulator clocks, no Rolls Royces, no little yellow speedsters and no parts piled up on pallets with a numbered tag on a pile of rust. People with big checkbooks, people who flew in on private jets, people, who for the most part, never met the man, took his things away. But according to Judy, it was fun. An experience. And it was certainly cheap at the price. I have to get to bed…time to drive…
Ps: in the middle of the auction, 100 miles from home, among maybe 1000 or more people…guess who popped up? Yep…
Many have noted a lack of trip updates since we returned home. Perhaps you thought all was well. Well, as Paul Harvey would say, "And now, for the rest of the story. Saturday and Sunday were spend resting and trying to remember where the bathroom is in the middle of the night. On Monday, I drove the car to my traveling buddy Ted Kafer's for some engine diagnostic work. First was a compression check. Compression was 110 PSI when I left and now read 65. Decision was maybe it was only rings. My concern about engine noise was met with "its just valves". After all, I had driven well over 3,000 miles after hearing the "ugly" noise around the transmission and complaining of engine noise. Decision was to pull the engine because (1) I needed to determine source of increased oil usage and low compression and (2) I needed to work on transmission because rear seal had failed and caused me to lose LOTS of transmission oil from about Wisconsin on coming home.
Wednesday was the appointed day to pull the engine, etc. Bob Hazleton and John Guzzetta came over around 10 and Bob Meneely joined us after lunch. We had the engine and transmission out by lunch. Too bad, I had no desire for food at that point. Why you ask?
Well, first; the U-Joint came out in 2 large pieces, 20 or so small pieces and lots of bits. What a U-Joint is NOT supposed to look like! We drove this 4,000 miles after breaking? Seems the UGLY noise it made in MA was the U-joint breaking. Somewhere in WI, the pieces tore the transmission rear seal and thus the oil loss. Care to guess how Lucky I am to drive 4,000 miles home?
What a U-Joint is NOT supposed to look like!
Next we began engine tear-down. Removing the head disclosed that #2 piston could be slid sideways soooo much you can check ring gap. NOT GOOD. Next we removed pan. Lying in the pan is the following part. At this point, we can NOT figure out where it came from.
Unknown metal part found in pan. Any guesses?
Our once proud car now sits in the garage.
John G., Bob M., Bob H. and Dave disassembling the engine.
Next, serious engine disassembly began. Removing the pistons disclosed that #2 piston was cracked. Wear in #2 was at least .030!!!! #3 wasn't so good either. Next the crank. Bad, bad wear on #2 and #3 rod throws. The inserts had worn .011 deep groves in crank so they looked like the wagon tracks for the Oregon Trail (not kidding.) The Valves were basically OK (Finally something I could use again.) So now, we are just not Lucky, but Really Lucky to get home!
#2 Rod wear on crank
Wait, there is more. On Friday I went to Bob Hazleton's and tore my 4-speed transmission down to replace seal and change OD gears. We discovered evidence of excessive heat and wear on the main shaft and needle bearings such that they will be replaced/repaired. (Probably due to low oil because of seal failure because of U-joint failure.) So Monday (yesterday), I went to transmission builder and made arrangements for new or repaired parts. AT LAST, I am starting back together! Oh, and did I mention that we are just not Really Lucky to get home, but Really, Really Lucky to get home?
Any Good parts here?
Parts is Parts
So as I write this, the last two pictures are of my garage. You can tell that I will NOT be taking a long trip next week. Would we do it again? YES! Do I have some work ahead? YES. Also, I would also like to point out that I had over 35,700 miles on the engine since spring 2002. The transmission and U-joint probably had more than 40,000 miles as they were installed in early 2001. In no-way can I comment on the quality of the engine or transmission. It was a good run for an 76 year old girl. Just because we have made improvements, etc on the engine, many parts are still 76 year old designs and will not act like modern pats.
I am busying deciding on how to repair things and what I might change. If you want to hear the final decisions, let me know. One change for sure is to add full-flow oil filtering. It is clear that as the engine came apart, the metal parts got into the oil and destroyed everything it touched. Had I not been so far from home and had I been smart enough to tear things down, perhaps some of the damage could have been averted. However, things went South in MA and getting home became the goal. To say Susan and I were glad to drop down the final hill and see the Bay and home is a considerable understatement.
PS: I am NOT the only person tearing things apart. I know of one badly damaged rear end that came out Friday (comment was "Lucky to get Home". Why does that sound familiar?) Also, another car will not start and I know of another with a broken OD and leaking transmission. I am looking forward to reports from all.
Friday, August 04, 2006
We had over 11000 hits on our Blog.... We are wondering just how many people were tracking us so here is a request for all you folks that followed our progress. Click on the word "COMMENTS" at the bottom of this posting. When the comments page comes up, type your name and where you are in the box on the right side, and then click on "Anonymous", and then click on "Login and publish". This will put it on the blog in the comments section. We are just curious, I know lots of folks watched us and did not make comments or send us emails. thanks a bunch for all your support and good wishes, I think that's what helped all those A's make it all the way home.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
5:40am: 5 cars got off to a roaring start from Winnemucca, Nevada! (Bob & Patti, John & Judy, Bill, Bob & Shirley, Ray & Linda). Don & Jack needed a little breakfast fortification first and will be catching up with the group shortly.
7:48 am: They're on 80 now heading toward Fernley, which is about 35 miles away. After that they'll pick up route 95 toward Silver Springs, NV. They should get to Silver Springs about 9:30am. Care to place bets as to whether they'll have icecream for breakfast?
8:20 am: The "tailgunners" (Dave & Susan, Ted & Susan, Will & Karla & Chris) have checked in. They left Wells at 8am this morning, are currently having lunch at Elko (a fancy McD's lunch, of course), and will spend the night in Fallon. Tomorrow it's on to Carson City, then home Saturday. Have a few fries for me guys!
8:31 am: They made it to Fernley, NV. I asked mom if there was anything cool about Fernley and she paused and said "Well, no. There's nothing but gasoline... Oh wait! There's a sign saying fresh Krispy Kreme donuts, gotta go!"
10:25 am: They're in Carson City. Don and Jack have rejoined the group, and John & Judy apparently flew past them all (go go speed racers!). They all had a quick antiques store pit stop and are now heading to Silver Lake to meet up with Bob B. They expect to arrive there between 11:30 and 12 (gee, just in time to eat again, what a shocker...).
11:40 am: I think they're getting a little giddy, I just answered the phone to hear my dad singing "California here we come, right back where we started from..." They said they just crossed the border and are now back in the homeland. They're running a little late and still have 30 miles to go before they hook up with Bob B at Silver Lake. They're down to 4 cars now, Don & Jack took off at a faster clip, and they think John & Judy are probably halfway to San Jose by now. Heh.
2:55 pm: All 7 cars are now traveling together and homeward bound. Bob B & Paul brought a big icechest of icecream to greet everyone in style - alright! And they have caught up to Don & Jack and John & Judy.
4:52 pm: The 7 traveling As are getting so close to home they can smell it. They're on 580 approaching the Altamont pass heading toward Livermore (shoot I even know how to spell that one, they MUST be getting close). They say Bill R has been keeping them amused with a running agricultural commentary - it's better than tv.
6:36 pm: They're home!!!!!! Weary but still smiling. Rod and I surprised them in the driveway with beer, chocolate, strawberries, and burgers. We figured it had probably been at least an hour since they last ate. *wink*