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July 13, 2009

Whitehorse, YT

By Marcelo
Whitehorse, oh right!
It has been the hot spot in Canada for weeks now. Who would know? I certainly didn't. Everyone I talked to tells me how great this summer has been compared to last year, the wettest summer of the past 30 years. Well, glad to be here and see the sun shining :)
Rise and shine, we all had a good night of sleep thanks to the High Country Inn, they sponsored us with 3 rooms. Thank you High Country Inn!
The solar car was housed overnight at the convention centre (Canadian spelling for center) adjacent to the hotel. Great to have a secure place for the car, I don't have to sleep with one eye open worrying about it.
This morning, I delayed everyone while still catching up on errands, sorry. Yet we still made it on time, arriving just before 09:00 at the Whitehorse Performance Center to meet the local media. At Whitehorse Performance I had to say hi to Curtis and Phil and thank for their support to the project last year, Whitehorse Performance donated a new transmission and all the labor. Their generous support inspired me give back to the community by doing presentations at schools. Glad life unfolded itself the way it did because since then I have made so many presentations at schools and communities nearly everywhere I've been, it has been a very rewarding life changing experience to share the project and inspire people to follow their dreams, particularly children.
The Whitehorse Daily Star reporter and Vince Fedoroff (photographer) was there to take some great photos; CBC crew came by for an interview and hang out with us while we were shopping for new tires for the van and bearings for the solar car. Thanks for the opportunity to get the word out about the project!
All tires on the van are only 1 year old, both front tires of the van had broken belts they won't last the drive on the Dempster. By the time we got the tires replaced it was already the end of the day, 5 stores later, we got the new front tires. The first two tire stores were extremely busy, they could fit us in at the end of the day or only the next day, the 3rd place was too expensive, Wal-Mart Whitehorse offered to donate the tires and labor but they didn't have the right tire. Thank you Kevin and John for the support much appreciated. We got the tires at Canadian Tire, at a discount, thanks Canadian tire Whitehorse.

While new tires were being installed, the CBC crew followed the solar car filmed the solar car around town for the 6 o'clock news. I passed the TV crew on the highway, got the radio call they got all the footage they needed, "great !". Found an exit by a gas station to turn around, it was busy so I stopped behind a parking car waiting for another car to move, the driver of the parking vehicle entered hid car, put on reverse and hit the solar car on the side. It wasn't a question of not seeing the solar car but rather paying attention, 2/3 of the solar car was on the driver's side. I saw him entering his car, I was angry that he didn't even looked before reversing, what if there was a child there or even another car. He clearly wasn't thinking, bad driving. Fortunate be biggest damage was to my ego, it cracked the side to the solar car, no visible damage to the solar cells. Unfortunately, it is a hard to reach area, fixing will require a good chunk of patience.

Anne Middler, who we just met yesterday while charging the batteries at the parking lot of High Country Inn became an instant supporter of the project. Helping us out with anything we needed and even driving me around to find bearings for the solar car (the front right bearing is about to go). Unfortunate, I couldn't find the right bearings but it's on the way, expected to arrive some time next week, by then we'll be on the way to Inuvik, the bearing will be shipped to Dawson City. Hope wheel bearing bearing will last the abuse of the Dempster Highway until the new bearing arrive.

It was nearly 17:00 by the time we were done with the tires. Anne kindly offered us to stay at her place, we enjoyed a great meal prepared by Anne and Josh and had the opportunity to watch the solar car on the news. Usually, by the time the news about the solar car hit the air waves we have already left town. Staying at Anne gave me an opportunity to catch up with another wonderful supporter of the project, John Striker, he is very active in the community, John was the running candidate for the Green party last year, he took time off from his campaign to help me do presentations at the local schools.

Hey, Whitehorse people if you don't see Anne for the next two weeks is because she ran away with the solar car circus. I am trying to convince her to join us on the tour. Anne is an avid supporter of the environment working for YCS (Yukon Conversation Society - founded in 1968, one of the oldest environmental organizations in the world). I like their intro "Pursuing ecosystem well-being throughout the Yukon and beyond, recognizing that human well-being is ultimately dependant upon fully functioning, healthy ecosystems".

Thanks Anne for introducing me to YCS and all your support!

Its great to be back in Whitehorse, thank you all who came by to see the car and say hello, thank you for making me feel welcome!

By Willy Wanka
WOOOHAAAAA YAWN!! That bed felt incredibly comfortable, with all my power I step out and gathered my stuff to go in the direction Solar car. I can hear the bed screaming for me as I walk downstairs. It is hilarious to be sleep drunk! When everybody was ready we went to the Whitehorse performance center where we met some media. Claire and me went to buy grocery in the mean time, we got $25 discount on our groceries! Thanks a lot Superstore! When we came back CBC was still there, they wanted to get some shots of the solar car moving. We drove to several tire stores because the van needed new tires to be ready for the Dempster Highway. The offered prices were way to high for our budget but we finally got lucky at Wall-Mart they offered us free services and products. Unfortunate they didn't had the proper tires in supply so we had to buy them at Canadian tire. During the tire installation I had a nice nap. When I woke up we were already leaving. We met Anne on the way and she offered us a place to stay and even cooler was that she is going to join the team all the way to Inuvik! One thing is for sure don't give her a skateboard. We made some pasta at her house, worked on updates and went to bed.

By Laura
Woke up to the Yukon mountain view through the hotel window and enjoyed a cup of tea watching the sunrise. Josh and I make our way down to the lobby to meet with the rest of the crew and unlock the solar car from its spacious night spot inside the convention center. Today we race around to different tire and automotive places looking for sponsorship to replace the two front tires on the van. We also need a new bearing. While at Whitehorse Performance Center, where Marcelo received a brand new transmission for the van for free last year, we do an interview with CBC and meet a new friend, Anne. She hangs with us all day and after the repairs are done on the van she invites us back to her place to watch the TV interview and have supper. We feast on delicious pasta and salad while we excitedly watch the news program that features the solar car. A previous Green Party candidate for the Yukon owns the house and meets us all when he gets home. We chat for a bit and he brings us some fruit before getting to work upstairs. Charlotte, a friend of Anne’s stops by and tells us all about the highways ahead. She’s been working on the road construction crews for 20 years and knows all the curves, views and hills. It’s her birthday on Wednesday and hopefully we’ll make it to Dawson City by then to Celebrate with her at The Pit! After working on updates we take to sleep, I get the tent in the yard and feel the cool Yukon night air for just a few hours before it gets light again for the new day.

By Josh
I arose today around 9:00 AM so that we could get some supplies for the rest of the tour. We set off early for several tire stores, seeing if one of them would sponsor us with tires for the van. Al Foster and a videographer from CBC radio followed the crew around for the day. They did an interview at Whitehorse Performance Center, a business that donated a transmission for the project a year ago. We got some free tires offered to us by Walmart, but none of the tires fit, and so we ended up just going to Canadian tire. Anne, whom we met last night, has been bicycling around town all morning, and skateboarded up to Walmart with her dog Coody. Unfortunately, she fell on her skateboard, bruising her leg. Marcelo's solar car, Sunny, also got some damage. Someone backed into the solar car while Marcelo was driving it. Luckily, the damage appeared to be superficial, with no damage to the solar cells. While I was waiting for Marcelo to return from the tire shop, I relaxed a bit, and called my Mom thanks to Anne for letting me use her phone. Laura and I made some guacamole, and everyone enjoyed while we waited on the tire. CBC returned after a break, and asked me to get an AV cable so that they could prepare a broadcast. I ran to the van, which was already getting it's tires changed. I climbed on the lift, rummaged through the back of the van, and I found the box for the videocamera. I jumped in the car with the CBC videographer, and he dropped Laura, Claire and I at the thrift store to get more supplies. I got some shoes and a pillow and promptly jumped back in the car. In a flash, I was plugging in Marcelo's camera, which had been mounted atop the solar car and getting footage earlier, and Al did the audio for the interview. After getting back to Walmart, Anne invites us to her place for the night. Anne has lived in Whitehorse for nine years, and is doing policy work for energy conservation and climate change in the Yukon. She also introduced us to her friend Charlotte, who works on the northern highways; a difficult task to be sure. She was really cool and recommended I read a book called “The Four Agreements.” Anne and I prepared some pasta and salad for everyone. After all were fed, we watched CBC, and were all impressed with the footage, and the mention of the solar car's 24 hour voyage to Whitehorse. Everyone got a nice sleeping arrangement at Anne's, and fell asleep knowing that we could leave tomorrow with some decent press behind us.

By Claire
Im writing this in the cozy home of Anne, a Whitehorse native, all round wonderful person, and possibly the newest member of the solar squad. It's the morning after another whirlwind day and everyone is plotting away at their computers, filling the room with raindrop pitter patter, occasionally poking through the silence to ask, 'What was his name?' 'How was the battery at 292 miles?' 'What happened next?'. Every once in a while I hear a grin or giggle as the antics of days past are recalled and jotted down for the world to see...or at least a couple friends. It's funny to think that total strangers read these often aimless moments I describe. After I write an entry and upload it, I consider it as stuffed away in a bottom drawer, so the fact that it's "out there" floating around with the rest of the web world is just funny to me.

We met in the lobby around 8am to start our day of seek and retrieve, a mission to scout much needed attention for our enduring van. We needed new front tires, a patch on a rear tire, and a realignment. We went went from place to place...looking for some servicing hopefully backed by a bit of sponsoring. I was running around with the video camera, documenting each entry and exit and the discussions about the van's status. At the same time, CBC was collecting footage for a spot they were doing on the solar car for the 6 o'clock news. It was a busy morning, always jumping in and out, going here and there, taking pictures, talking to people. Walmart was kind enough to offer completely sponsored work, but it turned out that they did not have the correct tires we needed. Canadian Tire really helped us out with a generous discount and by the time the van was taken in to their garage, all I wanted to do is sit down and be still for a bit.

Later that afternoon I rode with the CBC reporters while they got some passing shots of the solar car. After one pass, I radioed Marcelo to see if he was turning around to meet us, but there was no response. Mommy gear about to kick in, we carried on down the road for a sign of Sunny and Marcelo. Drawing closer, Marcelo radioed that he was at the gas station and that someone had backed into him. With a stiff knot in my stomach, I saw a slideshow of the damage my eyes were soon to behold, and foresaw totally unwanted repair work. Luckily, none of the cells were damaged, but there was a crack in the fiberglass, a downer but doable.

Anne had spent the day with us, getting a taste of our normalized chaos and could not drop her itch to join. Without a decision finalized yet, she invited us to stay over at her place and share a feast. We filled our bellies, worked on updates, teased and laughed. As usual, a laughfilled session of pillow talk slowly dwindled down to a night of dreamful sleep. PEACE. Anne.

By Anne;
Seduced by the solar car and abducted by aliens.
my dog koodi and i met up with the solar car at Whitehorse performance centre in the morning to watch Marcelo be interviewed by Al foster of CBC north television. Josh and I got into a conversation about politics and policy and how governments are beholden to oil companies and as a result society is slow to innovate and adopt more clean sustainable energy.
I offered to help the project and Marcelo said he would like me to write a media release for their previous record breaking day and the solar car outrunning the support van which ran out of gas just shy of the pumps. I took koodi home and got my bike. The crew put my bike in the trailer and I was officially abducted by the aliens. I cruised around with the team in the van while Marcelo searched for a place that could install new tires for the van for a decent price and soon. All the tire places were busy so we convoyed around to a few. The last stop was Wal-Mart. We hung out there for a while... it was a hot day so i biked home to check on koodi. We skateboarded along the Yukon river to Wal-Mart. I had a near crash off my skateboard right in front of Wal-Mart, then I jumped back on the skateboard only to send it and myself flying and crashing hard to the ground. gravity!
It became too late for the crew to leave Whitehorse so they came to my place downtown. We made a big supper and streamed CBC Northbeat on the internet to watch the piece about the solar car while we ate. My small underground downtown pad became solar car headquarters and there were five team members sitting with their laptops strategizing, writing updates, downloading photos and video and updating the website. We put the solar car to bed at the convention centre. My tagish friend Charlotte stopped in for a visit... people showered and slept.

Out comes the solar car for another day of adventure!
Motorcyclists admire the solar car and ask questions
Thanks High Country Inn for sponsoring the solar car crew!
CBC interviews Marcelo at Performance Auto Center
We couldn't have continued last year without help from Performance
Curtis, Marcelo and Phillip
Solar Car Cam, ready for action
Whitehorse murals
We've already struck gold- the sun!
Tire place #1- too expensive
Tire place #2 still too expensive
Tire place #3 even more expensive
But they had crayons to amuse the crew
Tire place #4 wrong size tires
Yukon mountain view form downtown
CBC cameraman getting some action shots for tonight's story
Oops, a small accident scratches the paint and cracks the fiberglass
Rear ender offender with solar car yellow paint on the bumper
How do they all sleep in here at night?
Anne, Marcelo and Cooty waiting on the tires at Canadian Tire
On the road again, to Anne's house for supper
Anne saved us a spot: "Solar Car Support Crew Parking"
Thanks Anne!
Parking back in the convention center tonight
"How do I get you out?"
Cooty our new road dog getting cozy in the van!
Anne and her baby on a walk by the water
Art is everywhere!
Backyard camping, goodnight!