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July 1, 2009

Edmonton, AB- Whitecourt, AB - 129.9 miles

By Marcelo;
Hey Canada! Happy Canada day!!!

My thoughts; I still get stuck on the little things. Hope one day I'll learn to let i go, in the mean time, where the heck is my tooth brush?

We had just finished having breakfast when Pam knocked at the door to invite us for "petit dejeuner". How can I say no to her :)
A few minutes later we were at their home. Rosa and Pam got busy preparing breakfast, the crew joined in helping a little here and there. Willy Wanka was having fun cutting watermelon and making happy faces on everyone's plate. It was nice to see Pam, Jessica and Rosa one more time before leaving Edmonton. Thank you all for your wonderful hospitality and love. I'll miss you all.

Willy Wanka, Laura and I were outside writing updates while baby-sitting the solar car, listening to Jonny Cash (walk the line), Eddie Vedder (society), Jonny Nash (I can see clearly now the rain is gone), a few Michael Jackson songs (Dirty Diana, man in the mirror, give in to me, earth sound, ). The Sun was getting lower and lower in the horizon, seagulls flying above us, they almost sound like children playing, the sky cleared up, just a few clouds scathed far away. What a difference from when we first arrived in Whitecourt. The sky was dark, curtains of water coming down towards us. Luckily, we dodged the storm, it slowly disappeared with the fast moving winds.

We had a late departure, 13:50. The bigger the crew the longer it takes to get organized and moving. I had high hopes of getting Grand Prairie today like I did last year. Unfortunately, the 285miles journey took a toll with the late departure and overcast weather. At about 17:30 I spotted a Super 8 sign and just follow my instincts. I pulled into the back of the parking lot, Dan who was following us for a while taking photos on the side of the road followed us here, he took a few more photos, chat with us for a bit. Concerned for us with the storm offered to talk to some of his friends for a place to park the solar car for the night. A few minutes later, Lee arrived to take us to his garage. Well, that was no garage, its a huge industrial place servicing the Oil and gas industry. I thought it was ironic but at the same time why not.

Sun down, Lee came over again to escort the solar car to the garage, just a couple of blocks away. Willy Wanka, Josh and Claire came for the ride, Laura stayed behind to unwind at the hotel.

End of day, state of charge 101.7V hopefully we'll get it full before heading to Grand Prairie tomorrow morning.

Like other places, Whitecourt will be celebrating Canada day with fire works. We'll be staying inside. So I thought until Josh unveiled a little surprise, Fire works to celebrate Canada Day. Willy Wanka was jumping up and down of excitement. Off we went to a field one block and half away from the hotel. It was fun!

Oh yeah, this afternoon, I got the best compliment yet; at a stop 20 miles from Edmonton a men walks up to me and says "my son said you were in Whiltehose last year, is that true?", I said "your son is right, I was there", he said "I won't call my son a liar anymore". As it turned out his son attend one of the schools I did a presentation in Whitehorse.
Driving the solar car to the Arctic was the greatest challenge on the planet for a solar car. Going there a second time, will take the edge of it. Hope one day people won't think of if as a challenge anymore.
Everybody are a sleep while Josh and I catch up on previous unfinished update.

By Willy Wanka
With the batteries full from yesterday nobody had to wake up in the early hours. Around 08.00am I stood up and had cold pizza as breakfast. We all worked on our updates until the neighbors Pam, Rose and Jessica invited us for a second breakfast. Off course we could not refuse and within no time we where eating delicious English pancakes, fruit and much more goodies. The time flew by and it was time to say goodbye. We packed our stuff and left for Grand Prairie. It was a beautiful drive but there was bad weather a head and we left too late. So we were ending up in White Court, we arranged a room in a super 8 hotel. They were willing to sponsor us for the night. Thank you very much SUPER 8, I recommend everybody to go there when you pass through White Court. Wednesday evening is free pizzas and drinks!
Owyhee today was also CANADA day, Josh had a surprise for everybody and bought some fireworks. We went outside to a nice field and torched all of it. We had a lot of fun and went back to the hotel. Soon after arriving I went to bed to try and get caught up with some sleep.

By Laura
I wake up to Claire's soft voice... it’s 8:30 and we need to be on the road by 9. We don't end up leaving until 1:15. Other than having breakfast twice, I honestly don't know why we didn't leave earlier, it seemed like everyone was ready. Rosa and Pam sweetly offered us a proper breakfast in opposition to the cold pizza we individually devoured earlier. Crumpets and fruit, jam and yogurt, coffee and juice all on the back porch in the sun and breeze. Marcelo makes a joke that we are treated with such hospitality that one day the crew is gonna stay behind. Thinking about the title ‘the power of one’ I realize that this project is greater than that, it takes the power of all of us to make this journey possible, it’s the power of one initiating the idea and almost everyone else in the world helping out. On the road again headed to Grand Prairie but we are not going to make it today. It would be a miracle and even though the clouds overhead look like an inspirational painting, we stop in Whitecourt, still 180 miles from GP. After Willy lays on the charm, we get Super 8 to sponsor us with a free room and lucky today is Wednesday, guest appreciation night! Free pizza and drinks. yum! Outside watching the car we meet John. He works on an oil rig and despite his excitement about seeing a solar car close up, still told me how we are putting him out of business. Up in the room I take a steaming hot bath, a luxury not often found on the solar car tour. We’re lucky if we get a shower within a week. Since yesterday my back has begun to turn on me, stiffening up and aching with the most gentle of movements. After boiling alive I rest on the bed and as soon as it gets dark Josh reveals a secret he let out to everyone but Marelo- he bought fireworks for Canada Day. With some encouragement I rise from my comfortable coma and we walk across the street bundled up in jackets to the school’s grassy field to light up the night. We each take turns sending booming spirals of light at the moon to mirror the professional fireworks at the Rotary Park a few miles away. Happy Canada Day and goodnight! Tomorrow-Waffles!

By Claire
Last night was a series of half sleeping events. I vaguely remember telling Josh to relieve me of my leaking bag of ice, giving him a tap to stop him from snoring, maneuvering over Laura to find my phone (yes, there is a time change, Lucy), escaping from my 30 degree bag in the 75 degree room, propping my arm up vertically to avoid throbbing, and searching for Marcelo around 5:30am to see if the array needed to be set up. All interferences involved, though, it was a pretty restful night.

The array didn't have to be set up because it was fully charged from the night before. I was the first one up and took advantage of this time in the sleeping house to take a hot shower. Around 8:15 I disturbed Willy and Laura's slumber in anticipation of an early departure, but there was still a lot to be done. We had a preliminary breakfast at Ted's, cereal and cold pizza. I say preliminary because we were then invited to Pam, Rosa, and Jess's place for a more traditional kind of breakfast. And a delicious one at that. Tea, coffee, OJ, watermelon, strawberries, banana, and homemade crumpets with jam and butter. THANK YOU!! I truly truly enjoyed meeting them, they are the kind of company I would like to keep outside of a just passing through situation. Thank you for everything!

We packed everything up and cleaned up the house, trying to erase any sign of our small army taking over for two days, and hit the road around 2pm. Marcelo was understandably disappointed because he had been able to make it all the way to Grand Prairie from Edmonton last year, a 250 mile trek. Leaving at this time almost guaranteed our falling short of this expectation. But we didn't name the car Sunny Serendipity for nothing. As usual, everything worked out perfectly. We stopped at a Super 8 in Whitecourt, Alberta to plan the next step, maybe pickup on the wireless internet at the same time.

I don't know how it happened, but someone in our crew met a mechanic named Lee within those few minutes after arriving who offered the huge, immaculate garage he worked at as an overnight spot for the car, and it was only a block away from the hotel. Minutes later, I saw Willy running out from the hotel gesturing "1" with his hand. We either got one room or he needs one dollar for a Dr. Pepper, I said. Not only did the Super 8 decide to sponsor a room for us for the night, meaning internet galore, but it was Guest Appreciation night...FREE FOOD! I sat with Marcelo and Laura with pizza in one hand and ginger ale in the other, and we shook our heads at the ease of our unplanned landing.

Collecting as much light as possible with the array, we dropped it off at Lee's garage and headed back to the room. Time is so hard to tell here. I want to say we dropped it off around 8:30, but I remember it being 10:30 and still looking like it was late afternoon. Anyways, back at the room, we were all winding down at our respective computer screens, with Laura and I sinking faster than the rest. When Josh introduced the surprise that he had bought fireworks to celebrate Canada Day, I scanned my body for a flicker of energy and came up empty handed. The thought of self-lit explosives didn't even arouse me, that's how tired I was. Laura and I made a mutual exchange of 'all riiight' eyes and put on our newly purchased arctic wear, mine being a "Luscious blend of wool and cashmere."

We set out to a nearby playing field and set them off under the eyes of our night vision camera. I'm really happy they pulled my lazy butt out of bed, explosions are a great way to end the day. HAPPY CANADA DAY!

By Josh Holton
I woke up in Edmonton today with hopes that Claire was doing better with her hand. Having had surgery myself, I know that the day after can often be the worst. We had some cold pizza, and cleaned Ted's house, and were invited over to Pam and Rosa's house for breakfast. They made the solar car crew some pancakes with fruit, and we all shared stories, good times, and experiences with one another while we enjoyed our last morning in Edmonton. We got somewhat of a late start on the road, but we were nevertheless, ON THE ROAD AGAIN!!! I spent my time in the car working on updates the entire day. We got some donations at the first bathroom break. Willy and Laura brought out some ice cream, and I went inside to get some fireworks. I normally don't just go spending money on any old pyrotechnics, but it's Canada day today! We traveled all the way to Whitecourt, where we stopped at a Super 8 Hotel. We had one arranged in Grand Prairie, but seeing as we might not make it there with our late start, we settled for another Super 8. Little did we know, it was guest appreciation night. Every one got free soda and pizza for dinner. I ate outside to watch the solar car, and threw my crust into the distance to disperse an angry, fat, circumnavigating flock of seagulls by the solar car. After eating, Laura took a bath, and the rest of us went with our new friend Lee to put away the solar car. Although the doctor had told Claire not to use a hammer, she happily posed with a wrench and a hard hat in front of Lee's big truck. Just when everyone was about to go to bed, I confessed my pyrotechnic purchase from earlier, and everyone gathered on an empty high school football field to shoot off fireworks. Everyone got a turn at lighting off fireworks, and we all had a blast. Unwrapping the “Mighty Canadian” and proceeding to systematically light them all into the sky was pretty fun, and Certainly gave me my first and most fun Canada Day ever. Goodnight all, and I will see you tomorrow for another thrilling day of fiery explosions and sunny absorption!

Pam makes THE sweetest pancakes with jam and butter.
Claire and Willy pose with breakfast.
A grateful solar car crew made short work of this lovely, but temporary, work of art.
Rosa and Pam were some of the nicest people we've met on tour. And to think they saw the XOF1 here only a year ago.
Marcelo getting ready to hit the road.
A bed of pinecones at Ted's
Josh helps Marcelo back out the solar car.
Traversing Alberta
Caramel ice cream bliss.
Who doesn't go for ice cream?
Some fans of the XOF1 stop by for a shot.
Bicycle races!
Close to Whitecourt.
Sun peeking through ahead.
Cops grab some photos of the car.
Parked for a break.
Don't get hit by the rain!
Sunshine again!
A cracker got lost on its way to Josh's GPS I guess.
Oil drills provide an interesting backdrop.
These guys helped us to store the car overnight.
Setting up to charge.
Some storm clouds looming ahead.
Our destination this evening.
Some curious Whitecourtians examine the XOF1.
Thanks Super 8
Water would be nice for the ride.
Lee's current repair project.
Claire's rosie the riveter pose.
Thanks for helping out Lee!!
Finishing some updates.
Josh updating the web page.
Local fireworks.
Our fireworks.
A fiery shower of sparks.
Laura lights the way like a statue of liberty.
"Yes my towel is quite handy, thank you!"