by Axel Kaliske (Seattle,
A colorful bunch of Citroën
owners with their cars gathered Friday, 26th July at Peter and
Barbara's weekend ranch just east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains.
Some only came to have a party, but quite a few of the brave were not
heading home to their garages the next day. Instead they started
heading east for a journey to go to the ICCR in Massachusetts. Wait a
second - a coast-to-coast trip in these old Citroëns? Most people
wouldn't dare to do this in their new Toyotas or SUV's! But knowing
our Citroëns like an old friend, this daring trek took off to
experience many adventures. We were all due to meet new friends, see
the country from sea to shining sea and fight all obstacles on the
First briefing by Henry and Pete
The first day started very
unspectacularly. We left our nice hosts Peter and Barbara traveling
east. When we came out of the Cascade Mountains, we crossed the
Columbia River. You have a spectacular view coming down the mountains
into the canyon. As we learned the night before, the Columbia River
carries more water than any other river in the world. Still impressed
from this fact we started the climb out of the canyon on the far side.
This was especially hard for the 2CVs in the group, heavily laden with
people, camping gear, food and drinks, tools and the essential spare
parts. Temperatures in the 90's just gave us a slight idea of what was
Crossing Eastern Washington was not really exciting, mostly flat and
almost desert. This changed dramatically when we crossed the border
into Idaho. I90 leads through a rugged mountain range with long climbs
and steep descents. Somewhere in a narrow valley we stopped in an old
mining town. The town of Wallace, ID has a very educational mining
museum and an old historic downtown.
Henry Reed, our fearless leader, invited all Raiders every night to a
meeting. This was the platform to talk about the day's highlights, do
the briefing for the next day and of course - socialize. Since many of
the Raiders never met before, the first meeting was needed to learn
about our fellow Raiders. Everybody introduced himself to the group.
This was the first step to change a bunch of strangers into friends.
In order to save money from the Raid funds we stayed on State
Campgrounds where available. The resulting lack of facilities was
compensated in the Fairmount Hot Springs. Almost all Raiders stopped
there for a refreshing bath and a nice swim.
Now it really got hot. I think in Montana we had at least 100 F. The
heat caused some condensation water we had in our LHM brake system to
boil (Our 2CV was sitting in our friends back yard for 12 years,
hardly driven). The steam (air) in the brake system made it necessary
to hit the brake pedal with at least two strokes before we got
pressure. Uschi didn't find it funny. Also Lincoln discovered some
heat related problems, the car refused to start when it was really hot
or just died in idle.
This night at the meeting, Henry asked if the water-cooled Citroëns
discovered some overheating. I asked him to extend this question also
onto the air-cooled cars!
I will remember the campground we stayed in at the West Entrance of
Yellowstone Park for its wildlife. Everywhere the warning signs for
bears. We didn't see a single one. But right at sunset there was a
humming noise in the trees. To satisfy my curiosity I walked out of
the forest into a clearing to see what caused this humming. Alone and
unarmed I suddenly found myself attacked by the real bloody predators
of this forest - thick clouds of man-eating mosquitos attacked me.
Easy to believe - I ran for my life back into the dark forest where
the little suckers for some strange reason didn't follow me. Maybe
they also read the warning signs about bears.
The program for the next day simply was to enjoy Yellowstone. Due to
our limited time schedule we could only see a view highlights on our
way through the park. Old Faithful was of course on our agenda. Every
elk in the park caused a total traffic jam. People even stopped for
squirrels. Only the grizzly bear we saw on our way out wasn't seen by
many people. So I had the rare chance to take many photos of a wild
grizzly bear just a few yards away.
In Cody, WY we had an encounter that turned out to be very helpful
for our group On the parking lot of the local WAL-mart the Hunter
brothers in their DS met a local Citroën owner. He owns a SM and
a DS. The fun part was that this guy used to live in WA before he
moved to Cody. In WA he was an almost next-door neighbor for the
Hunter brothers. To celebrate this meeting they invited him to our
next campground. He came with his wife who was also bitten by the
The day temperatures in WY were well above 100 F, so we still had
this funny problem with our brakes and Mark from Australia experienced
some problems with his ignition system. To get our car back on the
road I took the master brake cylinder out and cleaned it inside from
all dirt and water. Mark's SM was worked on in the morning with
daylight. Everybody who can operate a spanner threw in his two cents.
Like always when you have six mechanics, you get at least seven
different theories of what is wrong. After a while the car didn't
start anymore. Before it had started - only didn't run well.
SM still refusing to start
When many hours later the
engine started, almost all remaining Raiders left to drive the next
section. So did Mark - at least for 2 miles where the SM died again.
He returned to the campground and tried to fix the car all alone.
In the mean time the other SM had a breakdown caused by a burst main
hydraulic line. Uschi and I did a little detour to see "Devils
Tower", the location of the movie "Close Encounters".
When we came back from this breathtaking monument, a truck driver told
us at a gas station that he saw one of our group on the freeway
filling up radiator water - it turned out it was the SM getting some
LHM! So this day we lost both SMs. A rescue team was recruited to go
back and fix the SM with the hydraulic problem. They modified a spare
line from a CX to match the SM.
In the mean time a miracle happened to Mark. Stranded on the
campground he called the SM owner in Cody. This guy came hurdled to
the rescue. They discovered that the brand new distributor cap was
defective. Believe it or not, the guy from Cody had just this type of
distributor cap at home. He had bought it for his SM quite some time
ago just to learn that his car needed a different cap. So he waited
ever since for the right type of SM to have a breakdown in Cody, WY
caused by a bad distributor cap ;-) !?!
When Mark and Sue arrived at our next campground they really made
From our campground in Custer we could see the Crazy Horse Mountain
Memorial. This project is huge - only the head is as big as the whole
Mt. Rushmore Memorial. When you know about this size it is no wonder
that the work started 75 years ago and still only the head and the
face are finished.
Everybody had to see Mt. Rushmore - the main attraction in the Black
Hills. At this time of the year this place is a big tourist zoo. So we
skipped this part since we were there less than 4 month ago. Instead
we visited the Badlands, a huge rock formation of pinnacles. The
scenery reminded me of Bryce Canyon - only in yellow.
The next night started innocent. Everybody came back to the
campground, including our troubled SMs and their rescue expedition.
The night started as always - meeting, dinner, Cit chat and go to
seep. But then around 1:30 in the morning a windstorm broke loose.
Most Raiders had only their inner tents put up, all nights before it
was just hot and wind calm, so almost nobody had pegs in the ground.
The only thing that kept the tents from flying away was the people
inside. So we had the problem - if one gets out of the tent to do
something - the tent would be in MA before the Raid. By about 2:00 AM
everybody was up to secure or take down his or her own tent - or
helping others. Finally we had 3 people who were left homeless. They
found shelter in the laundry room. After having a spontaneous party in
the always open and brightly lighted laundry room they finally spent
the last hours of the night in the safety of their cars.
The next day made it absolutely clear - there was a motorbike event.
Already over the last few days we saw more Harley Davidson's than
cars. The suspicion was: When is the Harley Meeting in Sturgis? Right
- it was only three days ahead. I've never seen as many Harleys before
in my life. About a week later we heard on the news that half way
through the meeting they already had over 500,000 people there - WOW!
Understand that we were heading for the biggest Citroën event in
the US ever - about 800 cars were expected.
The next driving day was very unspectacular. The only point of
interest was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Nailed on corncobs
covered the whole building. Artists created pictures by using
different color corn. During a guided tour we learned about the
history of the building. The only fact that I remember is that the
building once burnt down, what created the biggest popcorn machine in
the world. Some people with a lack of respect call this building the
world's biggest bird feeder. Inside is a big convention hall, or as
Lincoln called it: "The Cornatorium".
The famous Mitchell Corn Palace
On the parking lot of the
Corn Palace we met the Hunter brothers again. They had some oil leak
on their DS - out came the tool kits and the reason was soon
discovered. They had lost a bolt from the timing chain cover. I went
trough my midnight supply of nuts and bolts and found them an
identical 7mm bolt - mission accomplished.
There is nothing exciting to report from Iowa, except that Lincoln's
accelerator cable broke which cost us a 15 minute delay - and oh yes,
our 2CV completed it's first 100,000 km. This event asked for an
appropriate celebration. We stopped and opened a brand new bottle of
Tequila, just to pour a little sip over the engine. We had to drive,
so only the car got its share. Thank god there was no sheriff in
Our next campground was located on a lakeshore just a few miles out
of Iowa in Minnesota. When Henry booked for the group he asked the
owner about points of interest in the area - a long silence on the
other side, then the answer: "There is another lake some miles
away"! When we had our meeting, Henry reported that he was just
notified by the owner of the campground that our friend had arrived at
the local airport. Nobody expected somebody - mysterious; who was at
the airport? About half an hour later the mystery was solved. A Citroën
owner from Minneapolis/St. Paul read about our Raid on the ICCCR
website and decided to stop by. He is a pilot, so he flew in with his
single engine plane to meet us. After spending less than 2 hours with
a lot of Citroën talk he had to fly back home.
The next day we went back trough Iowa heading for Illinois. Watching
the scenery you learn that farmers in Iowa grow only two things: Corn
and that other green stuff. Corn was easy to identify, however nobody
could identify the other crop. A suggestion was soybeans. Being a city
slicker, I know soybean products only when they were processed. So it
is still unknown to me what the other crop is. Leaving Iowa we saw the
sign:"Iowa - fields of opportunity", so the crop must be
Our next stop was Galina, IL. The campground had screwed up our
reservation. They had only one site reserved for 15 cars! But this
problem was solved quickly, even long before our fearless leader
arrived. The next morning we did the tourist program in Galina. Points
of interest were the Grant house (Former general and president) and
the farmers market. We decided to stock up on groceries on the market.
So we went downtown with a group of about 6 Citroëns. The
instructions were: "
. Turn left at the log cabin
After a while we were lost in very narrow streets. The whole group had
to turn around and then we saw why we missed the turnoff. The "log
cabin" was a big solid red brick building. Only a sign for the
business inside said "Log Cabin"!?!
Well the farmers market consisted only of 3 booths selling honey,
paintings and some homegrown veggies. At least we had the opportunity
to see the very nice and historic old town of Galina.
East of Galina the landscape changed dramatically. It looked so much
more like Central Europe. Unlike Iowa there were hills, fields,
forests and villages. Again this day was sizzling hot. So the traffic
jam around Chicago was a pain for cars and passengers. We lost almost
3 hours in mostly standing traffic. Our 2CV experienced some heat
related fuel problems. So to make things really interesting the engine
died right after the toll station where about 8 lanes squeeze back
into 3 lanes. The fact that everybody was tense because of the traffic
jam and fought for every inch of movement didn't help either. We were
in the center lane and had to be towed off the freeway crossing many
lanes. Later it turned out that the fuel pump was faulty, so we
When we finally arrived at the campground, Henry and Michel had just
brought pizza for the whole group. We were in Amish country.
Everywhere we saw the black carriages pulled by one or two horses on
the road. In the dark the black and slow carriage is quite an
encounter for a motorist. The Amish Visitor Center would have been
interesting to learn about their life, but it was closed for Saturday
and didn't open on Sunday. So we only saw them in their carriages
dressed up on the way to the church.
On the way through Ohio we ran into some participants of Raid Mad
Dash. It was quite an experience to go down I90 and all of a sudden
pass a truckette. When we pulled over at the next gas station to fill
up and have some lunch they also stopped. Before we knew, we had 8
Citroëns from both Raids on this parking lot. We learned that
they had just moved to another motel. The place they were supposed to
stay was just west of Cleveland. They didn't like the idea to go
through the city in Monday morning rush hour. So they simply changed
their reservation to a motel east of Cleveland. This motel was only 30
miles before our campground. So we stopped there to meet more people
of Raid Mad Dash.
Meeting Raid Mad Dash
This evening was the last
night with the group for us. We had to go to New York to import one of
our 2CVs and help our friends to import their cars.
The next day our friends from Raid Northern Trail should have met
with Raid Mad Dash to go the last few miles into Amherst together in a
big Citroën convoy. As we learned later this ended in a chaos.
They didn't find their way through the campus since the Citroën
signs were not installed at that time. So the Raiders were all over
the place until they finally found their way.
I think I can speak for all participants of Raid Northern Trail to
say this was a great event and a very pleasant experience. Our thanks
go to Henry and Leena Red and Pete and Linda deBoldt for organizing
this event and making it a big success. Thank you and all your helpers
- See all of you at the next Citroën event.