Day 16 Pokhara to Kathmandu

This morning one of the other crews took a fixed-wing excursion around Mt. Everest
and snapped this photo

Today was strictly a transit day with no competitive stages, but with lots of driving in difficult situations.

The morning portion of the drive was very pleasant and beautiful; winding mountain roads, green hillsides and picturesque rivers running fast through the valleys.

Aerial view of The Three Sisters near Annapurna. Not my photograph.

Our lunch stop was most interesting. It was at the base station of a cable car that took us up 4000 ft. to the ridge of another mountain range. It was about a 15 minute ride high above a terraced valley that was growing rice. The trip on the cable car was mandatory as it was only at the top that you could obtain your lunch coupon. An enjoyable ride and an opportunity to take pictures.

Terraced rice fields seen from a cable car high above the fields.
Notice the small pedestrian suspension bridge in the middle
 of the picture.

The drive after lunch was not as pleasant. One needed an abundance of patience this afternoon. There is a long narrow highway that climbs upwards toward Kathmandu. The road is clogged with trucks and buses struggling to make this upward passage called "The Staircase" to Kathmandu. Every few kilometers one of these trucks or buses breaks down (usually from overheating or a burnt-out clutch) and the honking starts; utter chaos. When you finally reach the summit, you think you've got it made......wrong. From the summit there is a 10 kilometer drive (which takes about an hour to traverse) to get to the entrance of the ring road. Now don't be thinking ring road like around Paris; no, the Kathmandu Ring Road is just an ordinary street clogged with motorbikes and even horse drawn carts. All this activity on dirt roads kicks up a lot of dust. In fact, it seems like everything in Kathmandu is covered with an inch or two of dust.

Two young Nepalese girls came out to wish us good luck on an
 early morning start.

Local residents came out to sing
and dance for us and with us.
We finally arrived at our home for the next two nights, the Hyatt Hotel, a quiet oasis in this land of chaos. Tomorrow is a rest day. Brant will look over the car and make minor adjustments. I'll catch up on writing these blogs. Our second day here begins with a 5:30 am ride to the airport and then a helicopter ride to Lukla (for more fuel) and then on to Everest Base Camp at 18,000+ ft. Thirty years ago, my daughter and I took this same helicopter ride to Lukla where we began our trek toward Base Camp. We did not get there as we ran into snow and ice above 16,000 ft., but we did get to the Tengbouche Monastery, where all the Everest Climbers stop to receive a blessing from the resident monk. Maybe thirty years later, I'll get to see Base Camp.