June 19, 2013 We all arrived safely today to a balmy 81 degrees and have checked into the hotel. The Ramada and Marriott are next to each other with only a driveway between the 2 parking lots, and it is so exciting to see all the beautiful cars that are starting to fill both of these parking lots.
Our team took some time to get caught up on our travels here, and to figure out the "game plan" for tomorrow.
Matt and Vicki were the last to arrive and didn't take time to change into our shirts before going to dinner, we just went down to the hotel lounge to grab a bite to eat before heading to bed.
Tomorrow we start with the Official Registration and Vehicle Inspection. We got a call from Diane and Ken Graff from Hemet...they are here and experiencing the Mall of America!!!! which is just across the street from our hotel. They will come to see us tomorrow , and are going to follow us for a few days. What a nice surprise! We are keeping so busy we might not get to do any shopping, but...I think there will be a few hours tomorrow that we can sneak a peak at the largest mall in the US!!! It is so hard to believe we are really here, after all the hard work to get ready, we are ready to enjoy this amazing ride!!!!Thursday,
June 20, 2013 We met in the cafe for breakfast at 7:00am and then Bob and Vicki joined in at 7:30am...OK I got lost in the hotel...Bob found me and we went to the cafe.
Then we went to Registration and received our name badges, goody bags and stickers for the car!!!! Ouch!,
Then we took the car,getting in line for the Vehicle Inspection...well we had a little fix it problem. The lights won't come on and then the blinkers won't blink....after taking everything apart, we found that Ken was pulling the knob out to far...which fixed the lights problem, just pull them out 1 click for running lights and 2 clicks for head lights...three clicks they don't work! But then the ground for the blinkers needed to be re-grounded. While waiting in line,
we met some really nice people and heard some great stories.
Talking to another Rookie we were discussing how last years winners came in with a 0.06 seconds off after 9 days....He said 6 seconds in 9 days!!! My heart doesn't even beat that steady!!, and then I met a gentlemen from central Illinois that drove here and met a group along the way and had dinner with them, and as they were checking out the next morning, he said" either I ate something that was bad last night or I am having an appendicitis attack, he went to the hospital and had his appendix removed and is coming in a day late, but still going on the Great Race...that is fortitude for you.
The parking lots are full of the most amazing cars, one stands out more that the rest..
.It is a Leslie Special that actually went from New York across America to Alaska, then by barge across the Behring Straights, through Russia across Europe to Paris. Natalie Woods and Tony Curtis signed this car...
So beautiful! We came back to the hotel for a cold drink and chips to go over the paperwork and the instructions for tomorrow's Rookie School.
This evening we went to the Welcome Reception, This is Fun!!! We got a call from Chuck and Elaine Johnson...they too are here in St. Paul and are going to follow us for a few days, another nice surprise. We got together with the Graff's and the Johnson's for drinks and appetizers while Matt, Bob and Kenny Graff looked after the car and got the blinkers fixed. Yes, now we are really ready, but time for bed after a long day in the sun and getting ready for another very busy day tomorrow...."Rookie School" and Trophy Run. Here we come!Friday,
June 21, 2013, the day stared out with a quick breakfast and then off to Rally School at 7:45am,
at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul.
We discovered the blinkers still didn't work! Beep Beep! We were told that there was a big vintage car show there,
but we weren't ready to find the 90,000 people there to look at 12,000 cars. It was a bit crowded, but we had a special place just for the Great Race Cars at the Grandstands. We walked to the Birth Center Building for Rally School, and were given the instructions for the days Trophy Run which really is a practice run.
After a quick lunch of fair food, we went back to the cars to find Diane and Ken Graff with their daughter, son-in-law, and 3 children looking at the cars, Chuck and Elaine Johnson came to.
While in line waiting for our time to leave, David McAlester the Great Race Tech Inspector, fixed the blinkers with new fuse.
It was good to have friends to wave us off for our very first try at a car rally with the instructions like the ones used starting tomorrow. This was a special day, so Jim and I got to sit in the back seat while Matt and Ken figured out how to get into a routine of Matt reading the instructions, telling Ken when to do what and at what speed....and Ken Driving and watching the speedometer, after a few miss steps, they got into a great rhythm. We left at 1:06pm and returned at 3:20pm. I am so proud of them,
We were a little to fast on the make up seconds, but came in with a 1:03s early for 4 legs. YEAY!!! WE ALSO ALMOST HAD AN ACE ON THE VERY FIRST TRY! We had one leg of: 0.02s!!!!! GO TEAM!!
! After we returned and got checked in, we went to a dinner and then a mandatory meeting, which put us out in the car at 8:30pm....just as we all got into our cars, the lightening, thunder and wind started. We where in the center of a Severe Thunderstorm. Winds up to 70 mph and sheets of rain, raining sideways, we could not see where we were going, so Kenny with Matt's help found a few large semi trucks that where parked together, to hid behind as a buffer to the wind. We found one of the other GR teams hiding there also. We waited it out for about 30 minutes and then it calmed down to a mere rain storm with lightening and thunder. We definitely felt all the prayers for safe travel this evening. It was an E Ticket Ride back to the hotel. This was a great day, it was my Birthday too. Thank you for all the well wishes and Happy Birthdays! This is one birthday I will not forget! Tomorrow we leave early for the Official Start of the Race! READY SET GO!!!