|May 28, 2009
Laurel, MD - Washington, DC
By Josh Holton;
We finally made it in to Washington D.C! Don Patterson was nice enough to wake up early and take us in. We had to unload the car and charge it immediately, as we had a huge day ahead of us. After a quick brownie breakfast, courtesy of Laurie, following very little sleep the night before, we set up the array and let the car charge for a few hours. We had to get the car down as quickly as possible to the Sidwell and friends school for the presentation we had scheduled; the sole reason for our packing up the car in the trailer. We presented the car for several classes of students of all age groups. Even Malia Obama came to check out the XOF1! It started pouring rain, and so we had to leave the XOF1 and it’s depleted batteries at the school overnight. We fought some heavy traffic going back to the house, and we finally made it back after a long day of presenting and driving. I was so thrilled to play Don’s piano! I grew up playing an upright Kawai piano, but his baby grand really takes the cake. He plays trombone in the President’s Marine band. He had a phonograph from 1919 in near perfect condition! It was great to spend time with their lovely and talented family, while singing, Beatles, Billy Joel, and more..
By Laurie Flarity-White
Marcelo, Josh, Valerio and Laura drove the van and trailer, full of the XOF1 all night from North Carolina, more than 400 miles! They arrived at the Patterson’s house about 7:50 AM. They are all so tired, I feel sorry for them!
Jim, I and photographer Mark DuMond go outside and help unload the trailer ASAP, we know they all want to get some food, showers and sleep before the Sidwell Friends presentation later today. The host, Don Patterson, makes room in his garage and we pile up assorted solar car tour paraphernalia; spare tires, solar car blown tires (keeping those to sell on eBay!), tools (put them back in the van, we made need them!), sleeping bags and mats, coolers, food, backpacks, etc. We help unload the solar car and get it set up on the Patterson’s lawn to charge the solar array. We need to take advantage of all the solar gain we can! Who knows how much sun we will get today? Jim is sure it will eventually cloud up and rain, he says it always does in Washington, DC! (He was right!)
Some of the crew opts for food (I have brought both mint brownies and raspberry ones), some take showers, and others catch 40 winks. All of them eventually try to lay down for a power nap before we head off to the school.
Marcelo asks to be woken up at 10:30 AM, he wants to depart the Patterson’s house at 11:00 AM to allow time to make the 1:00 PM appointment, we have no idea how long it will take us to get there in Washington, DC traffic. This was a smart idea, we leave about 11:30 PM and it takes us the full 1 ½ hours to get there!
We decide to dress up a bit, all who have them wear the XOF1 crew shirts and black pants, and I have a black skirt and a maroon shirt that I hope matches close enough. Laura joined at a music festival and is worried she doesn’t have the right clothes. She dons the XOF1 crew shirt and some jeans and looks beautiful! Valerio has a gorgeous suit, nice designer shoes and a lavender dress shirt, finally a male model for the XOF1! I approve of that! J
Rob was supposed to join us today, we find out he can’t make it until tomorrow, I am sad! Another crew member, Jamie is joining us tonight; I am really looking forward to meeting her as I have been corresponding with her via email and telephone.
Jim wears his nice suit, he and Mark DuMond, the EnergyRush.TV photographer that came with us, are trying to get videos of a senate sub-committee meeting with Senator John Kerry and others right before the Sidwell Friends presentation, then they will meet us there. Mark looks great in dress clothes and an artistic tie. They leave about 11 AM to make their earlier meeting.
We leave the Patterson’s about 11:30 AM and I am pretty confident that we have plenty of time as we are only going about 25 miles! We have printed out assorted maps to get us where we are going and somehow still go the wrong way at least 4 times, good thing we left the trailer at the Patterson’s as it would have been hard to turn it around in some of those dead ends! We finally set up the GPS and abandon the printed maps, we find out later that Jim and Mark had the same problems with their directions.
It is a hot and humid day, with no A/C, Marcelo opts to wear his customary shorts and t-shirt, we are sure he will have enough time to change his clothes when he gets there to the Sidwell Friends School! J
It takes us the full 1 ½ hours to get to Sidwell Friends, Yikes! We can’t find the right entrance & have to drive around the school. I call Badia and she & David Mog help direct us into the right place near Badia’s classroom. Of course we are now a little late and Marcelo doesn’t get a chance to change his clothes! Luckily for him as Jim, Mark and I end up sweltering in our long sleeves and pants; we are used to cooler, drier weather in the Pacific NW!
It is just after 1 PM and two 6th grade classes come out to see the solar car, they are so excited! It is infectious! We can’t help but be boosted by their sunny & positive attitudes. They ask many wonderful and intelligent questions, Badia explains to me that they have just studied a whole unit on solar cells and solar power, they learned a lot, I can tell! Marcelo demonstrates the solar car after about 30 minutes and the excited 6th graders run after him, screaming and yelling with joy! Josh gets it all on videotape, too. When Marcelo comes back, they are all running right behind the XOF1, with gigantic smiles and excitement! I know Marcelo will like seeing this on videotape and I can’t wait to see it myself.
After the demo of the XOF1, the kids all race back to their classroom to show Marcelo their own mini solar cars they built. He takes advantage of this time to talk with diplomats from the Barbados Embassy who are attending the presentation.
Jim and Mark join us about 2:00 PM; they are hot and tired from walking all over Congress, they had parked too far away from the meeting they attended and were late to it, they have missed lunch and so have all the rest of us, too.
About the same time, Badia and David Mog take the solar car team on a tour of the Middle School Building we are parked right next to; I offer to stay with the car to keep it safe and Josh stays with me most of the time and to keep me company. Jim & Mark go along and get some good pictures, along with Valerio and Laura. The building is rated as a “Gold” green building; it is innovative and energy conserving. It is equipped with a huge array of solar panels, and also has beautiful gardens (vegetable, flower, herb and xeriscape) on the roof. The building is super insulated and recycles water; it uses “gray” water in the toilets, too. Very cool!
While I am outside alone, I find out that the van parked near the solar car and an SUV not far away, are actually Secret Service Agents that are waiting for Malia Obama to get out of school, they have been there the whole time! We didn’t realize she attended school at this campus, we thought she was at the Lower School, so we are surprised and hope she gets to see the solar car and goes home and tells her Dad about it! The Secret Service inform Josh that we are not allowed to take pictures of Malia, they will take or break our cameras if we disobey this order, so of course we comply.
About 2:30 PM, everyone returns from the building tour and a whole new group of children come out to see the presentation, they are older. Some of them had been outside before Marcelo and had peppered me with so many questions about the solar car that I had trouble keeping up! I asked them to repeat some of the questions when the rest of the class and Marcelo arrived, they were so excited and impatient!
Lydia Adelfio, the Assistant Head of the Sidwell Friends School comes to see the solar car and introduces herself to me and thanks me specially for sending the original emails to her, I feel happy! The Middle School Principal, Sally Selby, also attends the presentation and introduces herself to me; she tells me that her son is employed in the solar energy business and she is a huge proponent of alternative energy, she feels all the students in her school are progressive in this way, good to know!
Steve Sawyer, the Head of Facilities at Sidwell Friends, is present throughout most of the afternoon. He is a wonderful, intelligent, interesting man and he tells us his wife is Brazilian. I take the initiative to ask him to be one of the solar team crew members, and he asks me a few questions about life as a support team member, and I happily tell him some stories. Marcelo could really use someone as knowledgeable, mature, and interested as Steve!
Overall, the presentation was a success! We get to see Malia Obama about 3 PM or so, she comes out with her own secret service agent, meets the secret service waiting for her outside and views the solar car briefly. She makes a comment about being worried that it would be claustrophobic inside the solar car if she were in it! We don’t take any pictures of her, as requested.
School is out now and many students, parents, teachers and other school employees visit Marcelo and the solar car. Badia takes me on a tour of the green Middle School Building. It starts to rain (Jim was right!) so we begin to pack up to go. At this point, Marcelo notices that he forgot to charge the solar car array the whole time he was presenting at Sidwell Friends school, oh no!
It is only charged to 94 volts, not very much energy in the batteries! We may not have enough to make it back to Laurel, Maryland and where the Patterson’s live. He is disappointed about his carelessness. He and his original crew are all so very tired from driving all night and want both food and rest (we had skipped lunch this day.) We decide to ask if we can park the car at Sidwell Friends and retrieve it in the morning.
Steve agrees to let us leave the XOF1 overnight and I help them move some lawn equipment over in the garage to make room so Marcelo can drive the solar car into it and store it there overnight, hopefully safe and sound. We are asked to come and get the car early the next morning.
Laura drives us all in the van and Marcelo gets in the convertible with Mark and Jim. It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to the Patterson’s house through all that rush hour traffic! Not fun, but Laura drives like a professional and it doesn’t seem to ruffle her feathers at all!
Don and Iris are ready with spicy black bean burgers for the majority of the vegetarian/piscetarian crew members; even carnivore Valerio caves to peer pressure and has one (he has a beef one later), Jim has 2 of them, guess he’s really hungry!
The solar car crew members are exceptionally tire, some are falling asleep during the meal. We still have Jamie to pick up at the airport and Jim and I twist Marcelo’s arm into letting us pick her up in the Barbie blue convertible. She arrives about 11 PM, when we get back to the house, the crew members are all still up, are they crazy? I would be fast asleep if I were them!
We shuffle around sleeping areas to find places for everyone. The Patterson family is 6 members and Marcelo and his crew are now 8 in number, Wow! The Patterson’s have a cute beagle, Molly that everyone adores, she ends up sleeping by Valerio for the evening, so cute! Erin gives up her room to 2 people, thanks Erin! There is a spare bedroom we give to Mark, the other 5 of us sleep in the very generous family room in the basement, it reminds me of a college dorm, it’s really fun! There is sleep at last for the weary travelers! It was a beautiful day!
By Laura Peruzzi;
It is 4 in the morning and I wake up in the back of the van to a impenetrable field of fog in front of us. We are driving all night to make it to Washington D.C in time for our appointments. Unfortunately we had to pack up the solar car in the trailer and haul it north, leaving us with the inevitable return journey to start back where we left off. Driving on the sun has it’s limits and it is here we have reached one- convenience. I fall asleep again in the van on the way as the boys take turns driving until the early morning light. We arrive at 7am in Laurel, Maryland to a warm and welcoming reception by Laurie and Jim and our host Don Patterson too. Groggy and delirious we unload the solar car from the trailer to set up the array. With aching backs, greasy black hands and heavy eyelids we feast on Laurie’s famous brownies! Yum! Chocolate raspberry and chocolate mint...mmmm! After some much needed sleep and showers we head to Stilwell Friends
School in D.C. for our 1 o’clock presentation. The school is amazing! The physics teacher gives us a tour of the Green Features the schools is implementing: Solar panels generate 5% of the electricity, reclaimed and repurposed wine barrel wood for shutters on windows and benches, a rooftop garden as well as a wetland habitat to treat the waste water for reuse. These kids are excited about the solar car and have even made the mini models too! They come running out of the building with the palm sized solar cars in their hands. The bottle cap sized wheels begin spinning crazily as the sun hits the small solar cells they’ve attached to the motor. Tiny solar cars whiz and zoom on the pavement next to the Xof1 and when it’s time to demo the car, they all go chasing after Marcelo as he zips up the hill towards the tennis courts. The ambassador from barbados attends the solar car presentation at the school as well and Josh is right there with the
video camera documenting the whole thing, not a moment goes by that he is not capturing on video. We snack on chocolate covered cherries, super strong ice coffee and I teach Valerio and Josh how to drink the nectar from honeysuckles! Delicious! Riding back to Laurel takes way too long but we have good conversation about politics and I learn about everyone’s background. Back at the Patterson’s we spend the evening enjoying black bean veggie burgers (I am happy to be influencing the team towards a more vegetarian diet) and Josh plays the grand piano in the living room while we all sing along until it’s time to pick up Jamie from the airport. Our team is growing and taking over the basement- we will be 8 tonight and tomorrow is another adventure!
|Are we in London?|
|An all night drive to make it to D.C. in time|
|Zzzzzzzz....Josh sleeping like a baby|
|The Washington monument and morning traffic|
|Raaaaarrrrr! Roag rage|
|Valerio and Jim helping to unload the solar car from the trailer once we arrive in Laurel, Maryland.|
|Back it up, nice and slow|
|Succesful spaceship landing|
|Yum! Laura enjoying Laurie's famous brownies|
|Hey, don't park on the grass!|
|How many crew members does it take to set up the solar car for charging?|
|What is the weather like Laura?
|A very happy Marcelo with a mouth full of brownie and an armful of Laurie.|
|Josh and Valerio eat a yummy brownie breakfast|
|On the road again!|
|Driving by the Discovery Chanel building in D.C.|
|"Can I touch the car?" she asks|
|Will we make it in time with all this traffic?|
|Solar Car Security Agent Kenny V: "Stand Clear, please."|
|Men in Black|
|Gather 'round kids for the greatest show on Earth!|
|Solar car smiles!|
|Is there an alien in there?!|
|Move out of the way, I can't see the solar car|
|Marcelo talks about a solar car tour of Barbados with their Embassador|
|Check out the mylar coated ceiling!|
|Watch out for the solar car!|
|Remember to remove the blocks Laura|
|Marcelo answers questions about the student's solar car models.|
|Marcelo explains how to improve the mini Xof1|
|Marcelo with the Embassador of Barbados|
|The physics teacher shows us the LEED certified waste water recovery tank in the school's basement|
|Rooftop garden with edible plants, herbs and flowers.|
|Badia, Kenny V, and Laura smelling the rooftop flowers.|
|Jim poses next to the solar panels that generate 5% of the school's electricity|
|Wetland habitat installed as part of the waste water recovery and purification system at the school.|
|Thank you Badia!|
|Hey nice mustang, want to race?|
|More brownies! Next time we will make them in a solar oven|