DAILY REPORTS

Day 10 – Galveston to Austin Texas   520 km

Songs:
Glen Campbell – Galveston
Blake Shelton - Austin

Hot, hot, hot.

The average temperature for June in this part of the world is supposed to be around 27 degrees Celsius.

This afternoon we saw 37 degrees!
We are leaving Galveston for the long trek to Austin Texas, the home of the one and only US Grand Prix.

First we follow the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico to then move more inland through what is called the Texas flatlands.

Its clear that Texas is one of the more prosperous states of the USA. 
Big ranches with often oil pumps working way ( ja- knikkers) 
The roads are good and very empty and the only cars you see are these huge pick-up trucks. 
Initially you wonder why they need these enormous trucks, but then you realise that the average size of an American citizen is about double of that of their European counter part. 
The American car industry just build trucks to fit their sizes. So when they keep eating , they will build bigger cars.

Another question is why a pick up truck when you never use the load space of the ‘pick-up. Unless you are a farmer or a builder you never use this load space because you keep your shopping  and kids in the car and not in the load space…
Just one of these things you ponder when you cruise the country lanes of Texas, with your small Dutch registered 1966 Mercedes.

Today there were three regularity sections. 
All three tough but despite the heat we managed to keep the damage in terms of penalty seconds to a reasonable level.

Then two laps on a local ‘dirt oval’.  Hard sand and fun to do. 

Target time for the two laps was one minute and we did it in exactly one minute. Only five other managed to do the target time so we were in good company.

The final run into Austin was tiring as in the afternoon the heat had build up to 37 + degrees and car and crew were struggling.  On the road into Austin we passed the US Grand Prix circuit. We had to stop to take a picture.

Austin in rush hour was pretty hectic. 
It’s a very modern and obviously wealthy town. Our hotel was in the outskirts and Grace did a great job to find it in this traffic.
The hotel is very nice with very nice rooms and attentive staff and a good parking garage.  

After we handed in our time card I spend some time with the ERA mechanics to trace a noise in the front suspension. We found nothing and concluded it might just be from the dry dirt crunching in the springs. Maybe a good rainstorm might clear that. Also we checked if the malfunctioning fuel pump no 2 might have a bad electrical connection. The conclusion was that we need to replace it. The Altena team have send one to  Santa Fe where we will arrive on Friday evening.

At dinner ERA rally director Fred Gallagher announced that they would adjust the schedule for the next few days to accommodate for the exceptional temperatures.

Very good news because we have quite some distance to cover over the next few days.


Day 11 – Austin to Wichita Falls  - 620 km 
(Glen Campbell- Wichita Lineman)

Very much as the previous day, a long driving day in extreme hot temperatures. Through Texas ranch land. 

Enormous ranches and then sometimes small villages with many abanded houses and shops. 
Some villages completely empty…

Two regularity sections. The first one we did very well, the second one we did almost very well until we misread a turn, then got back on the gravel road and by trying to make up time I nearly slid off the gravel road into a ditch at seventy km an hour. My rally training day in Wales earlier this year saved me  and I managed to keep it on the road but we lost a bit of time ( 28 seconds) at the finish.

Then another 200 km on deserted country lanes in extreme hot circumstances on the way to Wichita Falls.

The last few days we have been lucky to have our – bimini cover - which we asked a  boat sail maker in Holland to make for us. 
It ‘s a small beige sail cover attached between the roll cage of the car with velcro strips. 
It means we can drive with the top down and not be in the burning hot sunshine. Very pleasant. 
I will send a few pictures to show you how it works. There is already a lot of interest from other ‘ open top’ teams/ cars, so this might be a new line of business….

Tonight in Witchita Falls we are in a very basic Holiday Inn express hotel. 
Nice clean, with a small swimming pool where both Grace and I took a plunge after out 620 km ordeal..

Tomorrow to Amarillo where there will be  another family reunion for Grace, but more of that tomorrow.

Good night

Mick & Grace