Car and Camera Expedition Timeline (1922 – 1928)
Day one. 8:00 a.m. Decked out in riding breeches and Dad’s slightly altered tunic, boarding the extraordinary #2 was less formidable. Quickly a village crowd gathered outside our house to gape at the well-publicized World Tour automobile. Mum hugged me and gave the Captain a parting admonition.
October 1922 – NICE
November 1922 – ITALY
Sunny Italy. Garish headlines: Flamboyant savior Mussolini’s Black Shirts appeared ready for the stupendous takeover. All terribly exciting!
Cannes. A coastal storm raged as we roared out of Nice near midnight. The correct term, because #2’s muffler quit us in Italy.
December 31, 1922 – TOULON AIR BASE
Rooms were like ice. The beamed attic ceiling barely gave clearance. Probably been here since the Crusades. We slept in our uniforms, fought blood-thirsty bedbugs all night in an unfair wrestling match.
January 1, 1923 – MARSEILLES TO GENEVA
January 28, 1923 – GENEVA
We swept into Geneva on bellows blast of snow at sunset with Lac Leman shimmering in mountain beauty. The wind was gale force and I was nearly blown to bits
Astonishment was evident when our strange sight rolled up: armored motorcar, flags, guns, begoggled occupants—incredible—a girl in flying helmet! Reporters besieged me in my d’Espagne stronghold. Each morning a uniformed page arrived with armload of dailies. The coverage was more than pleasing.
MARDI GRAS 1923 – BEZIERS, FRANCE
Mardi-Gras, 1923…. Carnival fun-seekers filled the streets…. We pressed through the merrymakers, my attire unnoticed in the crush of costumed celebrants.
Away Swiss snows, French mud! Away to the road south with sun and scent of orange blossoms!
SPAIN – BARCELONA
Barcelona—the glorious city—quadruple boulevards, palms, tall ships. The harbor crowded with four-mast foreigner, three-mast coasters.
At the wharves the endless Rif War tragedy; pitifully emotional embracing—shiploads of young soldiers destined for sacrifice in Spanish Morocco; peons and poor boys, without even meager knowledge of carnage in their African Rif campaign. My heart ached for the weeping women dockside.
March, 1923 – TORTOSA
The road surface was hellish. Wheels floundered to axle in potholes—rear axle surely will be chewed off at the spindle some day
March 13, 1923 – MADRID
Madrid in March was bitterly cold. In spite of publicity we had not been able to earn a penny. Funds were disappearing fast. No car, so no theater, so no hotel, no ads, no card sales…no cash. And it was Lent. We were reduced to fusty rental quarters with budgeted food allowance. Outlook dismal.
PORTUGAL: OPORTU – VALENCIA
Warned against brigands in these lonely mountains? Oh, yes. Hair-raising stories of bands sweeping down on city travelers, robbing or holding for ransom. Always there were people warning!
In the driving rain I looked into the muzzle of a gun! I dropped pistol down my breeches…
Arrived in pouring rain, halted in the main plaza for directions, shouting through the storm, “Señor, Señor! El Hotel Thweetho Por favor.” With the help of an urchin from the gathering crowd, we found the Swiss. The theater had circulated showbills. We were to perform that evening!
April, 1923 – LUGO
May 17, 1923 – BURGOS, SPAIN
May 20, 1923 – BULLFIGHT!
Blood-stirring music…Bull racing in… sword drawn he taunts…bull, head down, lunges. The moment! Matador plunges sword between shoulder blades. Instant death—the supreme feat. The bull is dead. Long live the bull!
The matador, hands high, bearing two ears and the tail, is hoisted over the barrier. He is deposited beside me. Pressmen surround us, I am presented…the matador shares one ear with me.
If we steered straight we were bound to hit the Atlantic.
Return to BARCELONA
We moved at night in bitter cold—by noon well above one hundred degrees. Such poverty! Donkey dung mud villages since days of the Moors. Women appeared dehydrated like old apples.
June, 1923 – PARIS
Our booking agent friend occasionally extended passes: Casino de Paris, Mistinguet and Chevalier, Folies Bergere. He introduced visiting Mr. Rudolph Valentino, the Idol of the world. We chatted of Italy as if we had known each other a long time. I tried to conceal the fact that his breathtaking presence completely overwhelmed me—my mind floated off. He was the Sheik.
We had a busy day photographing the bonneted girls strolling arm in arm along the sea dike in their Sunday best, the robust children, elder fishermen clenching their grille-covered tobacco pipes, the fleet of squat fishing smacks, their fish nets drying in the fall sun.
EMMERICH, INTO GERMANY
Verboten! Absolutely forbidden to enter…What now?
First we would have to bluff our way past the Belgian sentry post. Then through the Belgian army peace-keeping military of the Occupied Zone. Next, German guards on this side of the bridgehead; negotiate the bridge on the River Rhine and leapfrog the main German authorities on German soil…
At Hanover there were food riots; mob spirit was putting martial law to a bitter test. We skirted the long breadlines; the minute a car halted an instant crowd assembled. The Green Police appeared, I learned a new command, “Weitergehen! Farther go!”
Berlin. Like two tiny ants, our cars passed under arch of colossal Brandenburg Gate. With Germanic courtesy banners flying, siren trilling, we rode into the heart of das Kapitale.
November, 1923 – POLAND
Interviews with ambassadors, negotiations with customs officials. Heavens! Anybody would have thought we were trying to take two tank corps across war-disheveled Europe instead of two tin flivvers with a couple of rifles.
As we neared the capital about noon, we were met by a cavalcade of ancient automobiles bulging with people. High wheels, big brass lamps, tops up, the parade crept toward us in sleety rain like mechanical dinosaurs… There was the vague notion we had been mistaken for someone else…
December 10, 1923 – KRAKOW
Snowbound in the CARPATHIANS
#3’s radiator froze, #2 pulled up behind and stalled. Drifting white flakes settled as we five worked like demons. Nothing in the engines moved and the cars rapidly became white mounds in the vast white landscape. We were snowbound in the Carpathians!
December 1923 – Aloha leaves the expedition – goes home.
I just couldn’t brave the outfit any longer. I had to get home.
(Meanwhile, the Wanderwell Expedition continues on to Rumania, Constantinople, Palestine)
March, 1924 – Aloha travels steerage from MARSEILLES TO EGYPT to rejoin the expedition
At Marseilles shipping office of the Messajerie Maritime, the clerk stood dumbfounded—apoplectic then apologetic.
“C’est impossible Mademoiselle.”
I renewed the attack, “I tell you I must go. It cannot be impossible. Voila mon passport and my ticket.”
The Directeur confirmed that it was indeed ‘impossible’. Sweetness was not going to move him so I demanded to go. “My ticket is paid for. I’m going!”
His swift response, “No white woman may travel steerage on any ship—absolutely not a young woman… Truthfully, I had no conception of what I was in for. All that talk about responsibility and two hundred Foreign Legion, French Colonial troops! What did I care that the vessel was far from a first-class packet.
March, 1924 – ALEXANDRIA
VALLEY OF THE KINGS
We drove onto the desert sands, their encampment on the rump of the crouching Sphinx. Some of the crew slept, some still in town. Overhead trillions of stars; below, the Nile, oasis’ palms, distant hazy glow of Cairo—my feet on the colossal Sphinx, half-ridden in sand; above, the mighty Nemes headdress framed those sightless eyes. Setting up camp on the Sphinx at night was great sport.
April, 1924 – CAIRO
MIT RAHINA OASIS.
April 11, 1924 – booked passage from SUEZ to INDIA
JEDDAH (Aloha goes to MECCA)
PORT SUDAN to SUAKIN
Dropped anchor at Port Sudan, Nubian Desert. Never hope to look down into more crystal waters. The incredible brilliance magnified schools of iridescent red, gold, orange, cobalt blue fish gliding through jungles of colored anemones swirling; some like jewels in glycerine, languid in sunlit shafts.
My passport, which I had redeemed in Egypt, I lost or it was stolen at Port Sudan.
Devoured by mosquitoes, unable to sleep; about 4 a.m. camel riders stealthy approach! Bedouins? Wahabis? I was afraid to call out to Cap—might set off a attack.
At ADEN the entire crew, except Captain Wanderwell, turned back for passport problems– Cap soldiers on – Aloha and crew sail to MASSAWA
SS Nippon’s Capitano had to be persuaded my passport was at Aden. A solo White woman in these parts is not to be trifled with.
May, 1924 – KARACHI, BOMBAY
Sun-scorched seaport on Sind Desert. Fine reception, checked in the lovely Anglo-Indian Hotel. Real bed again. Airy dining room, electric fans; barefoot attendants, their cachet of scarlet sash, turbans, in long white coats gliding over polished floors anticipating every whim. So many new sights—so little time to enjoy.
TOWERS OF SILENCE
June 4, 1924 – set to leave BOMBAY, cross INDIA
Headlines in English and Indian: YOUNG LADY TO CROSS INDIA BY MOTORCAR!
I was off to maelstrom Bombay—my first time alone at the wheel ever! In and out between bullock carts; missing buffalo by the skin of my teeth. Alexandra was by then dotted with staggered pyramids of Hankow’s cargo—silver bullion! Crews of near-naked coolies loading the weighty ingots made steering hazardous. At Red-Gate dock exit, a dozen dark hands rose to halt me. Sapristi! What now?! I put a stern glare, saluted, and drove out.
Every day the heat was worse—indicating the approaching monsoon.
June 6, 1924 – NASIK VILLAGE, GODOVART RIVER
Fourth day, we were unable to cross a broad river. Without a word of English, news spread that we needed help. Eager to earn a few annas, peasants hitched three pairs of oxen to #3
June, 1924 – GWAILOR, CENTRAL INDIA
AGRA TO THE TAJ MAHAL
The edifice gateway to the Taj Mahal loomed before and above, mammoth Turbaned guards greeted with grave courtesy; the two of us minuscule beneath the monumental arch to the garden. Awestruck!
Allahabad remembered. Invitation to a lovely old mansion; mango gardens and flame trees. Our Eurasion hostess, a marvelous lady, she received us with warm laugh. “So pleased you arrived in your shorts. I pictured you this very way from the papers.”
BENARES, INDIA ON THE GANGES (Funeral Pyres)
Weaving our way through town, several people stopped us to warn about the bubonic plague. They recognized our cars, our probable ignorance.
“If you see a crew of Untouchables whitewashing a ring encircling a dead body on the street, that is bubonic. Good luck.”
Below us, the cremation terrace, greasy blue smoke rising from funeral pyres. Other shrouded corpses lashed to pole stretchers lying ready on ghats. The stench was foul.
Final forty-eight hours of driving, no sleep, no dry rags, I ached with wracking shivers; fingers were seized to the wood steering.
Bengal at last! Dense jungle, improbably green timber bamboo, its heavy foliage bridging the sky
Cap ahead, stopped in the timer bamboo, came back to parley “Calcutta tonight—can you hang on? Only about sixty miles, I figure.”
The shakes were so severe I couldn’t open my mouth. With teeth clenched I shook my head up-down. We pulled out.
CALCUTTA (Grand Hotel)
The Grand was the center of Calcutta. Simply great to be there; Cap crowing again, everybody in full swing.
Headlines: “THE YANKS ARE COMING”
Pioneers of Progress!
American World flyers, land—Globe Girdlers at halfway point in opposite directions… Triumph of Motorized Age!
A tall young hero in cocked topi and grease-sodden overalls greeted official dom. When I stepped up, the sight of a girl in khaki switched his haggard expression to a real grin.
“Guess you fellows are seeing something of the world down here all right. We don’t see much up there”
July, 1924 – Bruma (steamer to MALAY)
Off to Mr. Raffles’ Singapore escaping monsoon floods of Bengal, Burma, via steamer to Malaya.
Waiting was a fleet of rickshaw coolies—bless their leathery feet! I was whisked off toward the hotel at the semi-reclining angle seeing only the coolie’s sweating ribs, his Chinese straw hat and between the shafts the piston action of his muscle-bulged legs
SINGAPORE CROWN COLONY (Raffles Hotel)
Had the scare of my life the first night. Startled awake by flicking light, at the window a match flashed behind a hand flaring a face out of the darkness. I froze in horror. Did he have a dagger? The match died. Slamming my pillow at the iron grille I switched on the light, rang for houseboy. I ordered tea…3 a.m. Closed the window. Uppermost thought throughout was to AVOID Press scandal.
August, 1924 – TIENTSEN (AKA TIANJIN) (Astor Hotel)
At the Astor Hotel, Cap returned with guns, but a new crisis: police were barring our start for Peking. “Foolhardy, new floods, the famine, bandits, the civil war!” He spat it out. “Caramba! I wish just sometimes people’s sights could be less negative!” He settled down. A decision made. “We’ll get our work done, and shove off.”
PEKING (AKA BEIJING)
In the streets everything moved by human drayage, male and female. Incredible loads borne by shoulder yokes, propelled by human heart and recoiling legs; bales on heads or bent backs; coolies hitched in pairs or latticed together under multiple network of bamboo poles as beasts of burden, bearing palanquins or harnessed to anything on wheels.
The Temple of Heaven… breathtaking, aloof, sanctum sanctorum where before an altar, emperors alone humbly met their God. We chose not to enter.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
A pair of U.S. Army Guards from a section of Wall at Shan Hai Kwan told of the civil war flourishing up North between War Lords Wu péi-fu of Peking and Chan tso-lyn of Manchuria.
Small military units stationed at isolated villages were ignorant, sullen. There were maddening delays while they debated our fate; we laboriously filled out calligraphic forms.
SHAN HAI KWAN
We put in at Shan Hai Kwan to be bathed, deloused and fed. U.S. Marines were very kind. Our main anxiety was how to avoid that week’s bloody war zone. Corpses lay half covered, some bolt upright in ditches, hideous fly-blown limbs scattered by explosions. Sometimes we heard the boom of artillery…
September, 1924 – MUKDEN, CHINA
All I saw of the ancient Manchu capital Mugden were torturous byways followed by centuries of manpower trudging in filthy dust; clay houses, blank walls. In the handsome residential settlement on the outskirts, we played the Foreign Club…
CHINESE ARSENAL AND PROVING GROUND
A Russian with the cut of a czarist officer was instructing a squad of noncom Chinese with the field artillery piece. Chinaman trotted forward with a shell, steadied the mortar and gingerly slipped the projectile tip into the barrel, leaped backwards.
From camera, Cap called “Get into the picture!”
I stepped close to the gunner, watched him execute, then picked up a three-inch shell, pointed it in the barrel mouth, leaped aside, blocked ears.
9/20/24 – Supplies await at Szepinghai (Manchuria) (Aloha hiding in car while Cap and Olga “make arrangements”)
Harbin (Hotel Moderne)
Set for Siberia (Olga leaves expedition)
Vladivistok (Hotel Versailles)
10/11/24 – Vladivistok (Bubonic plague outbreak)
Aloha’s Birthday in Vladivostok
10/24 – Tsuruga Bay, Japan
Mt. Fuji – Fujiyama
Daibatsu at Kamakura
Tokyo (Imperial Hotel – designed by Frank Lloyd Wright)
12/18/24 – Honolulu (check Honolulu papers)
Monday, 1/5/25 – San Francisco (Hotel Whitcomb) (Check SF Examiner and Chronicle and others)
1/7/25 – San Francisco (Fairmont Hotel)
1/19/25 – Oakland
Santa Barbara (Check “Santa Barbara Morning Press”)
MONDAY 2/2/25 – Los Angeles (Ambassador Hotel) (Check papers)
CAP AND ALOHA ARRESTED FOR IMPERSONATING MILITARY OFFICERS – $200 FINES APIECE (Check papers)
Cap travels to Florida to divorce Nell (and buy beachfront property)
ALOHA takes a room as a boarder in Hollywood, works at CFI labs editing Wanderwell films Hollywood – Aloha meets Ernst Lubitsch and Monte Blue
ALOHA gives presentation at Pasadena Huntington Hotel, leading to her arrest by juvenile authorities for working “underage.” Aloha jailed, languishes in juvenile hall (authorities contend that she’s pregnant, which she denies)
Cap returns and proposes
4/5/25 – Riverside, CA – wedding at Mission Inn (check papers)
4/25 – United Artists lot in Hollywood with Cap – Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Spec O’ Donnell – official christening of Car #4
Hollywood Hotel (?) delayed honeymoon
Sacramento via Bakersfeld
Hot Springs (Carson City NV)
Shelbourne (Fort Shelbourne?)
Wendover to Utah
6/1/25 – Salt Lake City (check papers)
On to Wyoming…
Laramie (Lincoln Highway)
6/27/26 – Adding another car – #6
Denver (Brown Palace Hotel)
7/1/25 – Kansas plains
Kansas City, MO (Muehlebach Hotel)
St. Louis (Chase Hotel)
8/25 – DETROIT
(This is the official end of the “Wanderwell Endurance Race”)
Big Parade through downtown Detroit, all 8 WAWEC cars (Check Detroit Free Press & Detroit News)
Cap meets Henry Ford, who agrees to take #2 at conclusion of the journey
9/27 or 10/27/25 – Cap and Aloha travel to Miami
12/15/25 – Aloha breaks water
12/16-17/25 – Aloha very ill
12/19/25 – Emergency Hospital
12/20/25 – 18 hours of labor – VALRI born (premature)
1/15/26 – Home in Miami with baby.
Cap buys a schooner. Units 3-4-9 join them
1/31/26 – Aloha and Cap sail for Havana (leaving Valri behind)
6/1/26 – Jacksonville, FLA
Add Unit 11 (armored tank). Seeking transport for full WAWEC armada: 5 automobiles, 1 tank, 2 machine guns, and crew of 18 – WANDERWELL PEACE EXPEDITION – LAW, NOT WAR! VOTE FOR IT!
St. Lawrence River – Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec. Passage on Itororo
7/26/26 – Burlington, VT (check local papers for coverage)
7/30/26 – Rutland Daily – Boston Globe – Boston Christian Science Monitor
New England: Hartford – Birmingham, Ct – New Haven
(Aloha goes to Florida to see Valri)
9/13/26 – Spring Gardens, Miami, Fla
9/15/26 – Florida storms worsening…
9/17-9/18/26 – GREAT MIAMI HURRICANE OF 1926
New York – Valri in Children’s Hospital
10/22/26 – New York City – “Council of Units”
#2,4, and tank (11) to embark for Africa
10/30/26 – sailing to Cape Town (with Cap and Valri)
11/12/26 – Storm at sea, typhoid outbreak on ship (Cap as crew member, not allowed contact with Aloha & Valri)
12/2/26 – Cape Town, S.A.
Aloha and Valri travel to Mum in Johannesburg – Aloha is pregnant again. Sister Meg joins the expedition
12/26/26 – Back in Cape Town
East London, S.A.
3/8/27 – Johannesburg
4/29/27 – NILE born
(South Africa prohibits foreign parents from leaving children with guardian, so Aloha sends Nile and Valri off to Adelaide, Australia, with Mum. Nile is barely three weeks old)
Lydenburg, Northern Transvaal
Louis Trichardt, S.A.
Limpopo River Frontier
Rhodesian Border Crossing – WAWEC denied entrance to Rhodesia, must go around!!!
6/2/27 – Pafuri, S.A.
6/27 – On the trail to Matz’ambu
Massengena on the Sabi River (Rhodesia / Zimbabwe)
Aloha to Umtali, back to Mozambique at Machipanda
Cars crossing the Sabi River (we have this on film)
Umtali – Aloha stricken with malaria
Serengeti & Longido ahead (filming Maasai tribe)
10/10/27 – Nairobi (Norfolk Hotel)
10/13/27 – Aloha 21st birthday celebration (sets birthdate as 1906)
Nakuru Lake, Kenya
Ripon Falls – the source of the Nile
Kilindini Harbor, Mombasa
12/17/27 – Mombasa Port
12/18/27 – Sailing to Paris to meet Mum and the kids, and edit film…
“Just a work interim, before the Amazon!”