The first rally did not go well, and we were super frustrated until we heard several cars announcing that they were quitting it, as they'd botched it so badly. As rookies, we don't understand that when the instructions say "Bear left" it can actually mean "hard left up a road". It's also teaching us what our roles need to be as navigator and driver. Nevertheless, we were bound and determined to find the end of this course and eventually figured it out. As this point, I was booking it down an icy road, came around a bend and saw Gary Webb in the other MINI rapidly approaching me! I jerked the wheel, almost ate the snowbank, pulled it back, almost swung in front of them, and finally corrected it at the last second. Later on I apologized, as I was afraid I had done something that would have caused them to mess up their time. They had a good laugh and said everyone does it at some point and were not bothered in the least. For those of you who don't know the name, Gary is a well-respected rallyist and instructor, one of the best out there. I certainly don't want to do anything to make him upset with us. So far, he has been super gracious and friendly. There's a lot to be learned from talking to people like him.
After screwing up the first TSD, we were not going to let the same happen on the second one. We were going to finish our first stage without messing up! Bob gave good instructions, I knew what questions I needed to ask and when, and once I found the spot that accounted for the speedometer error, we ran a pretty tight leg. We felt pretty good, until Car 16 pulled up right behind us at the end. I started to panic, thinking we'd somehow screwed up again. But tonight when the results were posted, I am proud to say Bob and I manged two zero's at control points! That means our time was exactly on! Overall we did super (for us) on the second TSD. It felt really good, and I know Bob was pleased.
In between the first and second legs of the second TSD, we were stopped at a lake, so we stretched our legs a bit. There was an igloo there, so I checked it out.
Cars 12-16 agreed to transit on to Dawson together after the rally, so we met up and started on our way. Not far outside of Whitehorse, we found the Braeburn Lodge. I had read about this before the trip and I wasn't going to miss my chance for their famous massive cinnamon buns. How massive?
|Totally got photo-bombed by Steve!|
They can easily feed several people, and the owner warmed them for us. Absolutely delicious! There was a sweet old dog there who enjoyed a good pet and followed us outside. He then promptly peed on the South African team's car.
It didn't take long for the road conditions to change. The surface is what we're used to, but there was a layer of snow on top that created a massive dust cloud as the cars drove by. This made it impossible to spot the car in front of you. Extra spacing was required, but we moved along at a good clip. Still, Car 2 managed to pass us, making it all the more evident the difference between us and the real drivers. Paul later claimed he had his cruise control on the whole time, which I couldn't imagine at the speeds we were going on the ice. These guys are good.
|Werd. It's sad when you have to tag snow because there's nothing else around.|
Kid: "(unintelligible mumble)"
Me: "Um, can I help you?"
K: "I bet you want me to get out, eh?"
M: "Uh, yeah, that'd be good."
K: (staggering to his feet and crashing against the wall) "I'm drunk, eh?"
M: "That you are!"
K: "Welcome to Dawson!"
M: "Uh, thanks."
K: "Don't let me ruin Dawson for you, eh!" (extends hand for a handshake)
M: (humors the kid and shakes his hand) "Yeah, thanks."
K: "I'm 14. Kind of small, eh?"
M: "I suppose so."
K: "It's ok, my parents are small. Don't let me ruin Dawson for you, eh! Gimme a hug!" (collapses onto me and hugs me)
M: "Are you ok? Do you need help?"
And then he was gone. It ranks very high as one of the most bizarre encounters I've had in my life. Apparently, he went and chatted with nearly everyone. The organ donor guys said he told them they'd freeze to death because they didn't have blankets in the car and it gets to 50 below. Then he offered to show them his M3 Ski-doo (they drive an M3). Someone else saw him fall over a fence. Could be a highlight of the trip.
The next two days are going to be long and treacherous, but if it all goes well, I will cross the Arctic Circle and make my way to the Dempster. Gary would like a picture of the MINI's at the Arctic Circle sign, so we're leaving with him at 6:15 tomorrow. We'll drive to Inuvik, following a Subaru that will be clearing the snow drifts for us. I thought they were joking, but the road is in fact paved with arrowheads. We were advised to check our tires any time we stopped to see if any had gotten embedded. Fun. There's no guarantee the Dempster will be open on Tuesday. There's a light in town and if it's red, the ice highway is closed. Travel is forbidden until they say so. I don't even want to think about coming this far and having to turn around there. So pray/cross fingers/sacrifice a goat/whatever you can, and make sure the road is clear for us!