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June 29, 2009

Lacombe, AB- Edmonton, AB - 144.3 miiles

By Marcelo,
Early in the morning it was raining in solar car land. It was about 05:30, the sound of the rain on the trailer roof was soothing music to put me to sleep, between naps I waited until it was bright enough to be worth while getting up to set up the array. Josh was up first, I was second, Claire soon after joined us for the morning ritual of setting up the array. A beautiful view was our reward for getting up so early. A myriad of colors in the horizon, a deep green from a wheat field, pockets of blue sky, white gray clouds with powerful rays in between as the sun slowly dissipated the clouds. It was 4 degrees Celsius (38 Fahrenheit), Josh was shivering, Claire bundled as much as she could. It was probably the coldest those two Floridians ever experienced. Yet, they were in good spirits and handling it well.
Josh went back to sleep, Claire and I got to work on updates out in the sun to keep warm.
Shirley and Marvin came by to say hi.
Hot chocolate and tea to keep us going, cereal for breakfast, we are camping! Everyone is getting a preview of what it will be in the Arctic.
I made a bad judgment of going to the washroom after Willy Wanka. Oh, what terrible mistake. I wonder if there was any oxygen left in the room. A few minutes later, I was happy to be back in the confines of the solar car. Willy is definitely is a meat eater, no question about that.
The front right tire had to be replaced, treads were showing, thanks to Marvin for pointing it out! Since we started to head west in Canada we have encountered strong south west winds (head / left winds), as a result it accelerated wear and tear on the right tire. Just in case, tomorrow I'll take a look on the tire again so see if the wear is being caused by misalignment.

Tire replaced, short day ahead, no rush, our departure took place at 11:18 estimating 130km (80 miles) to Edmonton. The drive takes place between patches of blue in the sky. At times, I was literally racing against clouds, really! In one particular road I kept driving faster and faster to stay out of the shadow. Occasionally, I got ahead. A City TV crew was waiting for us as we entered the city, armed with their camera they followed us around, capturing people's reaction as they saw the solar car drive by. We made a stop at City Hall for an interview, Josh and Willy Wanka were also interviewed.

On the road again! We made our way to Ted's place. As we arrived we were greeted by Rosa, coincidentally she just arrived in Edmonton yesterday. Its great to be back in Edmonton, beautiful city, friendly people, Sadly I won't be seeing Tippy Agogo or Ted, both out of town but I had a chance to see DK, Rosa, Pam and Jessica.

Josh and Laura spoiled us with their great culinary skills, they made some awesome pasta.
Hasta la pasta! and buenos nachos!

By Laura,
With only the skirts and bathing suits from the Florida folk festival, I am forced to keep warm this Canada morning by embarking on another run. Dehydrated but toasty, I saunter back to find delicious sliced watermelon...mmm, thanks to Shirley. After filling the tires on the van we say our goodbyes and head north to fufil our press agrements by 3pm. It is a scenic drive on the side roads parallel to the freeway where we were stopped yesterday. We drive by Indian Reservations, a horse ranch, and a petrochemical plant, all unique photo opportunities before entering Edmonton, the last big city we will find on the route. CityTV is doing a story on us this morning and after meeting them at the baseball stadium, they lead our caravan to City Hall. I love driving through the cities in the passenger seat snapping photos of all the reactions of people on the street. An expensive silver car with two young guys pulls up next to us and asks how much the solar car is worth. I tell him half a million and he then asks if he can drive it, sure buddy but there’s no cruise control. A grey haired man on a bike catches up to us and asks where we are headed, “Back to the Arctic Circle” but we pull away before he can react. Young girls with punky haircuts almost lose the cigarettes from their mouths when their jaws drop as the car passes. People at bus stops give us the thumbs up and start conversations about UFO’s. A little boy chases after the car down the sidewalk and a guy with dreads yells at me not to take his picture. Our tour around Edmonton ends at City Hall where the reporter and his camera man film the interview, even putting Josh and Willy Wonka on the tape too. Behind city hall there is an art festival going on. Edmonton has a different festival every week during the summer and the big one for Canada Day is coming up soon. A little girl plays in the grand and shallow pool extending the length of the city building. Two rows of fountains spray water in an arch over the pool and I just want to run through underneath and splash around like the kids...not having showered in a few days has less to do with it than creating my own water park in the middle of downtown Edmonton. The area is busy and many people approach the car. One guy with a ponytail and pieces to a drum set comes up and mentions how the Xof1 is popular with many Canadaian musician ever since Yanni and Bob Sinclair signed on to the project by letting Marcelo use their songs in the documentry. While we are pulling out, headed to the suburbs where the crew stayed last year, the same grey haired biker rides up and this time we have a moment to talk. Bill Sellars is his name and he is on the board of directors for the Solar Association of Alberta. He’s heard of us and we have just enough time to get his contact info before we end up having to drive on again. Across the river and into the suburbs we go to meet Rosa and her Gran. Our host Todd is out of twn and his roommate DK has left a key for us. Rosa makes nachos and we all gather to watch the 6 o’clock CityTV interview. Claire gets a lesson in sewing patches on her freshly ripped pants and we enjoy tea and cookies before Josh and I take a walk to the grocery store.
Back at the house we cook up Pasta Peruzzi with peppers and olives and fresh garlic..mmm. I snuggle up on the big green comfy couch, work on some updates and drift off to sleep listening to Boards of Canada, hoping to remember my dreams in the morning.

By Willy Wonca,
GOOD MORNING PRAIRIE!! I woke up this morning and it was freezing! So the hot chocolate that Marcelo was making was VERY welcome. On top of that Shirley our host brought us some watermelon slice, Very welcome too! We charged the batteries reasonably and wrote some updates like this one you are reading right now. In the early afternoon we left for Edmonton. This time we arrived in time without any delays (RCMP-trouble) and the media was waiting for us when we arrived. They escorted us to city hall while making some shots. Marcelo did and interview and even Josh and me had some airtime. After the media had left we went to our overnight place. It was the house of Ted, somebody Marcelo had met when he was in Edmonton last year. We met the neighbors ate some nachos and settled in. Laura and Josh bought groceries and made some delicious pasta for us. After the meal I tried to play the didgeridoo of the house (which I normally can) but this time only a farting sound came out. We ended the evening working on our updates and I went to bed around 01.00 in the morning.

By Josh
Today we woke up at Marvin and Shirley's beautiful acre of land. It had a gorgeous 180 degree view of landscape for us to wake up to. I helped Claire and Marcelo set up the array, and promptly tried to catch up on some sleep. Marvin and Shirley were very nice and friendly to the whole solar car crew, and were able to stick around and chat while we changed the tire on the solar car. They gave us some slices of watermelon for breakfast, and even allowed us to use their washroom. It's so amazing that when the solar car gets caught on the side of the road, we're able to run into nice people like them, without any prior planning necessary. They talked with us a bit about the potential of supplementing their diesel motors with a form of clean and renewable energy like solar panels. We got some photos of them with the car, and headed off for Edmonton after a short while. Crossing into downtown Edmonton, I called City TV to notify them of the solar car's arrival. The team took interviews at City Hall, where there were many passersby and festivities. Marcelo, Willy and I took interviews with City TV, and spread the word about Xof1. Afte we finished, Marcelo and the crew drove to the place in Edmonton he had stayed last year. We met Pam and Rosa, whom Marcelo had met last year. They made us nachos and acquainted us with CJ, their miniature pinscher, who took a bit to warm up, but was eventually very friendly. Pam told us all about her life in South Africa, and Rosa described her experience as a cultural studies major. She shared with us her positive experiences and difficulty in organizing. In no time, the Xof1 was on City TV. I did a sprint to get the video camera, and got some footage of Marcelo watching his news coverage. We hung out for a little while with Pam and her family, and got the chance to meet Jessica, whom Marcelo also met last year during his stay in Edmonton. Laura and I walked to the IGA down the road for some groceries, and we picked out some great snacks for the road. Walking back to the house, we reminisced about some good times we've had on the trip, and talked about the future of the tour. Back at Ted's house, Laura and I whipped up some pasta for everyone, and everyone got to enjoy an authentico Pasta a la Peruzzi. Marcelo, Claire and I sat upstairs and worked on updates while the others worked downstairs. We finished the night by sipping on some cinnamon tea and chocolate chip cookies, and discussing plans for tomorrow. Hopefully we can make the best of our stay in Edmonton, the last major city before our final trek to the Arctic!. ,

By Claire
I got up at sunrise with Josh and Marcelo to set the array. I remembered waking up a few times to ball up or fully reenvelope myself in my bag, but it was a good nights rest besides. The sun was out and clouds were hanging out in the west for the meantime. Josh went back to bed while Marcelo and I worked on the computers on the fold out chairs in the sun, me burritoed up in a movers blanket. We heated up some water for tea and hot chocolate and the rest of the gang slowly migrated to that morning's office space. Shirley and Marvin joined us for some laughs and donated slices of watermelon (and its encasing tupperware) to us.Thank you Shirley and Marvin for the space, the watermelon (and tupperware), and your generous disposition.

We delayed ourselves a bit because we did not know if we would be stopping in Edmonton for the night or just pass through. It depended on our contacts for a place to stay and if we would be meeting up with press. Plus, we had to change a tire on the car and one of the van's tires had a slow leak. On the way to Edmonton, City TV filmed Marcelo as he drove around the city. In speaking to the reporter, we found out that the article written the day before in the Calgary Herald had also been published in the Edmonton newspaper. Moreover, the incident yesterday with the RCP put xof1 all over google, with rumors whirling like the car getting impounded indefinitely or that Marcelo and the officer almost came to blows. To top it all off, Josh ran into a musician that said he knew of other musicians coming out to support the xof1 cause. And there we were, an ungroomed crew of five, seated in the eye of the storm and unaware of anything going on around us.

The ride around the city was fun. It was my day to be in charge of filming so I spent a good portion of the city trek hoisted up through the sunroof. There were some steep hills and winding curves that made way for sweeping views of the skyline. It still makes me laugh to see the reactions people have to the car. Some stop dead in their tracks, some laugh or yell, and every once in a while there is a person who is so caught up in their own thoughts that they walk right along side it without noticing it or the crowd pointing at it. It was made better by the fact that the reporters who were also filming got to experience what we go through all the time.

While Marcelo was getting interiewed, I chatted with an off-duty fire captain who gave me the Edmonton "pitch." He said that Edmonton has the more preserved parks than any other city in Canada...North America...or the world - I don't remember. Either way, its alot of green. He also told me that Roosevelt, in anticipation of creating national parks in America, came through Edmonton on a tour to see how Canada preserved its parks. He commented on the fact that the nature in Edmonton was so beautiful that it should be preserved as well, and so it was. Though it was coming from a Canadian, it seems like Canada gave us the Cliffs Notes on making Yellowstone what it is today. Thanks guys!

From there we headed to Ted's house, a gentleman Marcelo met on his tour through here last year. He was out of town, but he and his roommate, DK, still offered their place for our short stay. We met his neighbors, Pam, Rosa, and Jessica who invited us over for nachos, cookies and tea while we watched the news to see if the interview we just did made it in time to air (It did, it was awesome). Just like the average guest, I brought over my jeans to close up the holes solar life had put in them.
Pam was so gracious as to offer to sew it up for me. I can't say I'm too polite to deny a minutes-before-stranger to fix my stinky pants...on top of the fact that her family was already feeding me. As long as I have a genuine appreciation I consider it an equitable exchange. Thank you, Pam and family!!

Josh and Claire setting up the array.
Slight cloud cover
Working on updates.
Our hosts Shirley and Marvin.
Watermelon breakfast
The farm near Edmonton
Going through the country.
Claire grabbing the sweet shots.
Headin' down the highway.
Taking the hills in stride.
A broken building or two.
This place is history.
'Hey' is for horses
Horses say hey to the solar car
Josh setting up cones.
Claire making lunch.
Sheriff hoodie + donut= comic relief after yesterday's run in with RCMP
Laura working on updates.
Road blocks!
A cool building.
Checking out the Xof1.
They are completely clueless to what's standing right by their side.
Crossing over to Edmonton.
Walter Dale Bridge.
Going into the city
Downtown Edmonton.
City TV meeting with the Solar Crew.
Having fun in the backseat.
Solar car!
It's amazing!
Josh getting interviewed by CityTV
Willy doing an interview.
Marcelo doing an interview with CTV.
Marcelo tells the Edmonton press about our travels from Calgary.
Rosa tries the Xof1 on for size.
Pam, Marcelo and Rosa meeting again one year later.
Claire getting some quality sewing done by Pam.
Rosa makes THE best nachos and tea.
Thanks for your hospitality Ted and DK!!!
Pretty sweet ride, eh?
Tilting the array.
Pine cone in Ted's lawn.