It's the wee hours of the morning and we are still driving and towing and driving and towing and driving. The decision to cross into Russia in the middle of the night was made by someone and we trucked on. To this day no one is really sure why we insist on always entering Russia at 4 am.
We arrive at the border crossing at 1:30am. By 2:30am we're finally all through the customs check in Mongolia, but not without some hassle from locals and officials. Now we have to convince Russia that they really do want to let us in while towing a completely dead car whose engine is suspended in it's lifeless frame with zip ties and ratchet straps.
One by one we check into the tiny office where the Russian officials confirm that we are in fact allowed into Russia...again. Because we've all quite recently visited their country if you recall! And then suddenly...we have left Mongolia and we're in the Russian countryside once more.
We are all quite sad about leaving Mongolia to be honest. Despite the chaos and stress we loved that country with all our hearts. Additional note: it's 4 am and FREEZING COLD. It's September in Siberia.
This is where you would think we would drive a ways into Russia and set up camp to get some sleep. You would be wrong. Although, again, no one can answer why this decision was made or who made it, but we decide to just push on through the dawn to the finish line in Ulan-Ude. In retrospect this was slightly foolish because there were a few people nodding off behind the wheel. That morning is a mental fog because of our exhaustion, but the moment we realized we were entering Ulan-Ude is crystal clear!
WHAT? HOW COULD THIS BE?! How can we be at the finish line?? The stress leading us there had felt so endless that the arrival felt almost anti-climatic! And OF COURSE we couldn't just all drive up to the finish line together. NOPE! That would not be in keeping with our convoy's track record! We got split up RIGHT BEFORE the finish line in the city!! So while we waited for our stragglers to catch up, we had a DANCE PARTY!!
HOLY RALLY WE MADE IT!!
We all finally roll up to the finish line banner at the hotel and spill out of our cars (both dead and alive vehicles) and the celebration begins! Champagne is popping! Music is blaring! Ralliers who have been luxuriating at the finish line hotel come out to greet us! We are relieved, exhausted, and so grateful to be at a place where food and warm beds can be an option! The celebratory photo shoots begin, and Megan is beyond frustrated because by this time we've all had MUCH champagne and it's like herding kittens. Thank you, Megan.
All these photos are by Megan (Blackstone Photography) and not all of us remember taking all of them, but they are glorious and truly capture the joy of our arrival. Thank you Team Keystone, Team So Good It Yurts, and Team 101 Damn-Nations.
The arrival party that night was awesome! Beer, good food, our team, and so many others were enjoyed that night! And just because the restaurant closed doesn't mean we were done! We headed out to a bar for late night partying because WE JUST SUCCESSFULLY DROVE THE MONGOL RALLY!!!
Here are the major stops we made in Mongolia. Please note the conspicuous lack of roads.
Team #WeLive Fun Facts:
0 flat tires
115 packages of instant noodles
57 days of collective team menstruation (approximately)
3 broken hearts
6 minor injuries
There's so much to say - starting with how strange it is to conclude something that has taken the majority of our attentions for the past 18 months. There's so much to say, but no words with which to say it. We all feel immense gratitude to everyone who helped get us to and through this endeavor. We are all grateful for the obvious provision and protection given to us along every step of the way. We are thankful for safety.
Thank you for going on this adventure with us. We felt your support, love, and prayers through every mile.
Much love, Team #WeLive
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