The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015

7th - 28th June 2015

Day 6 - Old Forge to Buffalo

The net closes in

We woke this morning to the news that the authorities think that they've got the two fugitives surrounded in a 30 acre section of woodland just up the road from our hotel. The local news channels were buzzing with talk of road closures and local lockdown so immediately we started looking at the possibility of re-routes etc but luckily all of the action was in the wrong direction.

After the Old Forge Fire Department BBQ last night spirits were high but the clouds were low and rain looked likely at some point in the day; but we had better things to worry about than the weather. Two regularities were planned, in quick succession, to focus the minds and sharpen the eye.

Sweeney Road was the first of them and, following the instructions in our super accurate route book we duly turned down into Moose River Road at precisely 17.39km to follow a well metalled road lined with cabins and trailers. Banners reading welcome friends and God Bless America hung from some of the dwellings many of which looked a bit "off Grid".

The Regularity itself was fantastic, wide turns on good gravel and the sun shone.

We met up with Frank Beyer by the side of the road, a local man and a very well informed 'Rally Master' who's been watching our progress on the web. Along with one of his 'buddies' he decided to make a day of it and parked up to watch the sport whilst waxing lyrically about the cars he'd already seen.

As we waited we had the pleasure of nibbling tiny wild strawberries and swatting mosquitos seemingly big enough to carry off a child.

Hard on the heels of this first section though and with little time for the crews to gather their thoughts they were straight into the second Regularity at Goodhines Road. Where the wild turkeys seen by the side of the road reminded us that there are only 195 days left till Christmas.

Results from this morning show that as well as those who have done a lot of 'this sort of thing' the newcomers are quickly learning the craft and doing well. Indeed on today's first regularity there were five people who achieved a perfect score including Tom van Den Berg and Femke Schepers who are shaking things down for next years Peking to Paris. The Malaysian Rolls Royce only dropped one second which is not a bad result for such a big old bus. As for the second regularity it was a collection of usual suspects who all claimed a clean sheet but included the @touring' category Land Rover Discovery of Paul and Chris Hartfield.

These two sections had certainly whetted the appetite so it was lucky that today lunch was provided in a lovely lakeside restaurant on the shore of Lake Ontario. Vineyards and  groves of soft fruit led us to a selection of superb refreshments at Dockers Restaurant. Post lunch apples were generously provided by the good folk at Thomas Farms and they certainly hit the spot as the heat built throughout the rest of the day.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from lunch but we all managed it and took to highway 104. The American legion highway and then across a fantastic set of county roads with lefts and rights every few km. Over bridges and though fields swamps forests and villages. Signposts warning us to look out for slow moving Amish horse drawn traffic sat incongruously next to automotive forecourts bursting with the newest sleek and highly waxed vehicles.

When we began this missive, we did mention that rain was threatening and as we neared our night halt in Buffalo the heavens opened. Through a curtain of water, possibly the heaviest rain that an ERA event has seen in ten years of driving around the world, we pulled into the hotel car park. Niagara falls are just up the road and it felt as if we'd actually driven through them to get here.

Finally we welcome Gavin and Diana Henderson back to the Rally after their breakdown yesterday and forced overnight stay in Montreal. Emile came up trumps with a new drive shaft and they rejoined at us lunchtime. Their Porsche is now running as well as ever.

Overall then we have a shift in the top three. Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown still lead from the Lovetts but Alan and Tina Beardshaw have now slipped into third place whilst Clint and Dawn Smith have dropped to fourth.

Tomorrow is a rest day. Time to look at the Falls, do some fettling and sort the laundry but at least the cars won't need washing. A light wax should suffice, anything to keep the water off.

Syd Stelvio.



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