|July 12, 2009
A record breaking day!
The solar car out do our GMC support vehicle in the most dramatic way. We drove all night arriving in Whitehorse in the morning, 275miles. So close to our one day distance record of 292miles, I decided to push the limits. Battery was seating at 92.4V, yeah! we could go for another 20miles. Made the call to continue driving pass Whitehorse until we reached 292miles. By mile 289, hills start quickly depleted the battery, we turned around. Shortly after, 291.7miles...291.8miles, 291.9miles, 292miles, 292.1 "yeahhh we did it!, Congratulations! Willy, Claire and Josh screaming on the radio in jubilation. We arrived at Trails North in the outskirts of Whitehorse with the battery seating at 91V and 296 miles. Naturally, I had to push it even further. I really want to drive 300miles, we drove in circles, my eyes glued to the meter carefully watching the voltage with each around, 1 mile long each. 297miles... 298miles, took a quick detour adding 0.3 miles...back to the circle, 299.3miles...300.3miles. We pulled into the parking space behind Trails North to celebrate with high fives and hugs and crawl into our sleeping bags to catch some z's.
XOF1 solar cells are only 15% efficient, this 485km (300.5) miles feat is small potato when compared to other solar cars using 26% efficient cells. Imagine what we could have driven with more efficient cells.
15:00 we come out from our comatose sleep. Got on the road towards Whitehorse, with all the excitement and being so tired we overlooked one thing...I got a call on the radio from Willy Wanka "Marcelo, something wrong with the van....oh, we are out of gas!" at that moment, by sheer luck we were passing by a gas station. Willy pulled into the gas station, the van stopped 10 meters from the gas pump. We were all laughing. The solar car out performed the van! WOW!
Great to be in Whitehorse. It feels like home, the mountains, the river, the people and friendly people, small town everyone knows everyone, French is nearly as predominant as English. We met people from all over the world here on the way to have a taste of northern adventure. While we had the solar car charging its batteries at the high Country Inn hotel parking lot, I had an opportunity to catch up with some of the wonderful people I met last year; Phelipe (Phelipe bicycle shop), Vince, Lacia, Yanic, Lew (past team member) and made some new instant friends and supporters like Anne.
The crew took turns baby seating the solar car while its batteries got charged. Thanks to the compliments of the High Country Inn we all had confide rooms to rest.
By Willy Wanka
This is a short update cause we arrived today in the morning after driving trough the night. We slept in until the late afternoon waking up around 03.00pm. Because the sun hardly sets, it is hard to estimate what time it is. We had the idea it was morning all along but reality was that we arrived at the best Western hotel in the early evening. The hotel was kind enough to sponsor us with three hotel rooms for the night. We charged the car a little bit, worked on updates and had some food. Marcelo did a couple interviews with the local media.
Everybody was still knocked out from the last nights drive and I went to bed as early as possible.
No matter how tired I am my body refuses to sleep in the morning. After a record breaking all night drive, the crew finally goes to bed in the trailer behind a closed motel near 7 or 8 in the morning. I go for a walk in Whitehorse, come upon a gas station and saunter on back to the van after washing my face and freshening up. Searching the van for reading material to keep my mind occupied while the others still catch up on rest, I happily find the familiar Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, one of my favorite sci-fi series and read cover to cover before we end up at the hotel. High Country Inn is putting us up for the night with three separate rooms. We set up the array in the parking lot and take turns babysitting and munching on sweet potato fries. The owner of the local bike shop, Phillipe rides over in a blue cargo bike that Willy pedals around the parking lot while Claire and I sit shakily on its front platform. A family with 7 kids comes over from the playground to learn about the car and Lou stops by and provides the crew with our daily ice cream rations. At 9pm with the cloudy skies and 0.0 incoming amp hours we decide to put the solar car inside the convention center and call it a night. The midnight sunset is a lullaby over the Yukon mountains, and the view of the moon from my bed sends me into slumber.
I woke up, walked to the local gas station to use their washroom, and got everyone some coffee. We drove through downtown Whitehorse, capitol of the Yukon Territory, stopping at Philippe's Bike Shop, to see if we might meet Marcelo's old friend from last year. Not seeing anyone there, we stopped by the Best Western hotel, to see if we could have a room sponsored there. They referred us to one of their sister hotels, the High Country Inn. We unpacked our bags in the rooms, and took turns looking after the solar car. Willy and Claire had some yam fries and asiago fries, while Laura and I had some veggie sandwiches. Marcelo stayed upstairs working on his computer. After we had filled up on a nice hot meal, I watched the car while Marcelo did an interview with CBC radio. After he was finished, we met Anne, who had seen the car a year ago. She checked out the car, along with a family who was interested in learning about it. We also met up with Lou, the videographer from last year. He contributed free ice cream to the team via his ice cream bicycle that he sometimes drives around town. It was cool to talk with him about shooting video in the arctic down the road. Around 9:00 PM the sun started going down, and we took down the array. Marcelo was able to get the solar car into the Yukon Convention Center right next to the hotel. We helped park the car, and took some photos with the car. Afterwards, I met Marcelo upstairs to troubleshoot issues with the website. Before going to bed, Laura and I caught a glimpse of the midnight sun rays from a mountainside right by the hotel. The weather and behavior of the sun up here is simply phenomenal, indescribable, and deeply moving with every glimpse of nature I am able to catch. It is days like these that not only remind me of why I followed Marcelo, an adventurous, ambitious, and tenacious dreamer and achiever. Finally seeing the landscape and people up here in the far north is showing me just a hint of why Marcelo was so excited to drive back to the Arctic for a second time. At last, his often quoted “You'll see, when we get to the arctic,” began to come truer than ever before. First Muncho Lake, now mountains in the Yukon. I can only imagine what will come next.
OH. MY. GOOD. NESS. I just got up. It's about 2:15 pm. I can't remember a time in my life that I had stayed up - actively doing something - for over 24 hours straight. We were all determined to prove Marcelo's 'miracle' trek from to Watson Laake to Whitehorse to be a viable reality. Last year, it took Marcelo two and a half days to arrive here. We did it in less than 24 hours, and that's just the start. The real meat on the bone is the fact that WE BROKE HIS PERSONAL DAYS DISTANCE RECORD. Smashed, actually. We stopped with just over 300 miles clocked on the odometer, a notable stretch from the standing record of 292 miles.
After something like 16 hours of driving, my mind now reaches down to pull out some semblance of a solid memory of the night before, but it's all a time-sapped blur. I was determined to stay awake. I knew if I fell asleep there would be no going back and that my peaceful state would infect Micheal and Josh as driver and navigator. We all took turns at being upbeat, starting conversations, and shaking eachother. By morning we were all drunk with sleep, slurring words, blurting senseless comments, and there were times I found myself laughing hysterically at the sight in general, knowing full well that I was acting just as ridiculous as they were.
As the miles stacked up to the critical numbers, we tried to pull ourselves together to film ourselves, trying desperately to portray an enthusiasm that would match the significance of the moment at hand. It was like being tipsy and convinced that you are much saner than your lid-lowered compatriots, only to find that the photographic evidence of that night just does not support your once assured state of mind. I hope we made Marcelo proud, we really did try!
Just peaking atop a hill on our way into Whitehouse city centre the van went quiet, the kind of quiet that you dread getting stranded by only because the only mechanical deficiency you can blame it on is yourself. Yes, we ran out of gas. As if it were a coordinated joke, we rolled down the hill just making it into a gas station, while the solar car had to pull over, scoffing as it turned around to meet its mortal companion. After a record breaking nights travel, solar spanked gas, and I'm a proud witness.
As the rain moved in on us, we were most grateful to be welcomed to Whtehorse with a sponsored night at High Country Inn. Willy and I were giddy at the idea of going to sleep that night and the fact that it would take place on a bed made it that much more intoxicating. Excluding Marcelo, we were all pretty useless as we were deafened by our screeching bellies. I answered its demand with an order of sweet potato fries and ginger ale, chomping happily under the shade of the tilted array in the hotel parking lot. I imposed a no work couple hours on myself, permitting myself some time, zombie-eyed at Family Guy.
It was really fun to meet some of Marcelo's friends, Phillipe, Lou, Dave, and Lacia. After meeting these people and a meager tour of the city I can see why Marcelo would consider this northern oasis a future home. The hotel staff was kind enough to offer the convention center as a safe storage for the car that night. Tucking it into bed, all alone in the warehouse sized room, the barrel lights shone down on it like a proud showcase. Each of us took pictures next to the spotlit gem and bid farewell. The sleep I so eagerly looked forward to did not come as intensely as I had hoped, but laughter filled the room until the wee hours, what I consider a great substitute.
|GMC run out of gas!|
|GMC coast down, stopped 10 meters from gas pump|
|A jerry can to fuel the van to the gas station|
|Rain, Marcelo placing a cover on the canopy|
|XOF1 guarged by the tall mounty at the entrance of the High Country Inn|
|Willy chow down tuscany fries, XOF1 chassis serves as a table. Don't let Marcelo see this photo!|
|Phelipe, Marcelo and Yanic,
|Lew, Ann, Josh, Lacia and Vince|
|A presentation to a aYukon|
|Lew, seating on this magic ice cream bike treated the crew for a round of ice-cream. Thanks Lew|
|A family from Mobile, AL had watched the solar car on the news back in Mobile and now seem the solar car in person in Whitehorse. Thanks for comming by.|
|The solar car inside entering the convention center|
|Our solar power plant hidding behind the clouds|