|July 19, 2009
Dempster Highway km 100 - Km 300 - 128.3 miles
woke up to overcast and haze. claire was antsy as they hadn't moved the previous day. we did some cleaning of the solar car and while doing some maintenance, marcelo broke an important part. he managed to jerry rig something together. i got to sit in the solar car and even drive it (about 30 cm) i had a feeling something wasn't right when i tried to drive the car and it had more resistance than i thought it would... shortly after we discovered that the solar car had a flat tire. we changed it pretty quickly and finally got on the road mid afternoon. we stopped at an airstrip along the highway to set up the array to take advantage of some sun. we had an impromptu game of soccer... marcelo showed his fancy brazilian footwork. i am a much better soccer fan than player. umbambarauma! i read more of the book The Energy-Environment Connection. it was published in 1992 and many of the issues are the same. there is a chapter on acid rain so it's nice to know that humanity has made some progress on that front since then. however, like when i read the National Waste Reduction Handbook published in 1992, i felt so frustrated that we had solutions and answers so long ago but very little action has happened in the meantime. i wonder why.
we continued on and had a bit of van troubles.... the scenery was gorgeous despite the forest fire haze that muted the mountains in the distance and slowed the charging of the batteries.
we made it to the top of huge ogilvie ridge hill and played around in the low sun with the rock inukshuks. marcelo was like a giddy kid. everyone was in a good mood. we decided to continue on. at some point when we were stopped for some reason, likely to mount the camera on the car or something, i cranked some boards of canada and did a robot dance in the middle of the dempster highway. i put on let's dance by david bowie and claire and laura joined me in some freaky midnight sun dancing. the solar car raced the toyota and the back wheel of the solar car hit a rock, the car fishtailed a few times and came to a stop with a flat tire. the rim was pretty badly damaged so we changed to the spare.
i'll admit at this point that i still have my car... the irony of my participation is that i'm still driving my car and i like it, despite the fact it burns a fossil fuel! i am so fuelish! i'd sure love a solar car but it would need room for koodi and some gear. but it's really amazing how efficient my car is especially when driving 60 km/hr and slower. go toyota! hey toyota! sponsor the tour!
it's been nice to have claire as a photog passenger. we've had great conversations.
at midnight the sun was low on the horizon and bright PINK because of the forest fire smoke. everyone was excited to be driving under the midnight sun so close to the arctic circle. we pulled over at a gravel pit at about 1am. everyone was tired so we set up the array for when the sun would rise again in an hour or two, and went to bed. we ate peanut butter and banana sandwhiches in our sleeping bags in the trailer.
We woke up to a haze sky, the sun was out, shining just enough to let us know it still exists. Hey, what happened to the five days of clear sunny weather?
Took the morning to catch up on some work on the solar car, the front support arm need some tightening, one broken bolt later, it just sheered off, I didn't use much force on it, I would expect the aluminum block to strip before the bolt would brake. After scrambling with it for a while without having any luck I gave it a rest and went for a walk to exploring the surroundings. Long walk on the soft tundra, came a cross a creek with a gravel shore. A small paradise hidden in the low lands. So peaceful, felt energized. Back to our 5 star gravel pit camp site to resume fixing the support arm, cut a pipe to make a sleeve, found a bolt to temporarily tie things together, some duct tape and presto! the arm was functioning again. Anne and Claire helped with some other maintenance, checked state of charge of individual cells (all looking good), clean tie rods, a quick visual inspection, didn't find anything requiring attention. Anne set behind the controls on the solar car to get an inside perspective. She was thrilled and even drove it, adding one meter to the world distance record :)
Had a flat tire before leaving camp. Tire replaced we finally got on the road at about 16:00, the sun was hiding behind clouds most of the time. A clear spot in the sky, a stop to charge the batteries near a landing strip next to the highway, we made sure we were out of the way in case of an emergency landing. To pass time we played a bit of soccer, Claire gave me a good run. While we played soccer we heard thunder from a storm over the mountains near by, in the direction we were about to drive. The sun didn't linger for very long before hiding again behind clouds. A couple from Dawson city stopped by to check out the solar car and take photos. Laura was napping in the Van, Josh wearing a mosquito net jacket reading a book in the trailer, Claire napping in Anne's car, Anne was reading out loud the book "The Energy Environment Connection" I was enjoying listening to her. The book was published in 1992, it address the same environmental issues concern us today, pollution, increase of oil consumption, the number of vehicles growing faster than the human population (interesting analogy), Global Warming and its economic and social impact, acid rain, etc... Anne is troubled by the fact we knew about all those issues near two decades ago and didn't act to stop, I share her frustration. I take comfort in some of the people I met along the way, particularly from those who I had the privilege to have on the team. Some time ago I noticed Claire picking up garbage from ground in one of the stops we did, Jamie advocating for solar in Florida, Anne wonderful work with YCS, taking on major companies when others would feel intimidated; Jim White a champion advocate of solar in Washington State, John Schaefer work with solar in Central America, Earl Brown work for the community in Fort Nelson, etc... Yes, there is hope :)
The stop by the airport strip was a good call, the weather cleared over the mountains, we dodged the storm, yeah!. Back on the road, the drive was amazing, we are on a different world here. More stops to film and take photos, in one of the stops Claire (a.k.a. the mountain goat attempted to climb a hill to capture all the moment magic on camera but came down with the mini landslide she created, she managed to save the camera and scratch her hand as a souvenir. We now call the first aid kit "Claire kit". After Claire's stunt, Josh thought it was a good idea for him to climb up there too. As if it was plan, we all yelled for him not to do it, he didn't. About one hour of driving later, we made a stop to remove the camera from the solar car. We were on top of a hill, the radiator on the van was leaving profusely, a puddle of coolant growing underneath the van. We waited until it cool down a bit. I released the lid thinking it was cooled enough but it wasn't a gash of fluid sprang out from the radiator, it wasn't very smart. Anne and Claire took off to get drinking water from the river we had just passed. Engine off, radiator cool, back on the road again! - The video camera is back on the solar car in the anticipation of climbing the seven mile hill. The drive was spectacular, near the last portion, the most hilly part we stopped to capture the solar car climbing, just as we stop an airplane pass by on a low flight, we could almost see the logo on the pilot's hat, my guess is that the plane was following the Dempster highway, I heard of others doing that, Hey if I knew how to fly I would be doing it too. The plane does another pass over us, I guess they spotted the solar car (hey, if you are the pilot of that plane send us copy of photos if you took any). Just as the plane finish its second pass, a bear appeared on the road in front of us, I was hoping to capture the bear on the solar car camera but it went back to the bush but it came out later and luckily Clear got some great photos and Josh on video. Well done guys!
Climbing the Ogilvie last year was an adrenaline rush, it was muddy and consequently slippery, this time the road was dry but still a good challenge. The reward was at the top, an amazing view and full of inukshuks. So excited to be there, we move some rocks around to leave our mark "XOF1", hugs of celebration, group photos. The drive continued under the spell of the midnight sun. Absolutely gorgeous setting, Anne and Claire were tagging along behind the solar car, the van was struggling with the hills. Wanting to capture unique driving experience on film, we waited for Laura and Josh on the support vehicle to catch up, Anne cranked up the volume on her car, got out start dancing like robot/ballet/ dance and soon after Claire, Josh and Laura were doing the Dempster Funk with a tune by David Bowie "let's dance". It was entertaining to say the least.
Camera on hand, both vehicles side by side. Anne behind the wheels, Claire in the back seat with the camera we zoom zoom down the road, faster and faster, doing about 70km (the fastest I have ever driven on the Dempester) was a bit too much, the gravel screening changed to larger boulders, it didn't take long to hit a few large rocks and damage one of the rims, lost air on the hear tire, start to fish tail, engaged in rapid deceleration and brought the car to a complete stop. All the training on the race track paid off. A quick tire change, we were back on the road. Claire got it all on film, I would hate to have to do it all over again :)
Made a couple of stops to show the crew where the suspension tie-rod broke down one year ago and the location of my wolf encounter. They have been seeing photos and hearing those stories in my presentations, they were excited to see where it all happened. We made a stop at about 02:00 the spectacular view of midnight sun was now only an orange and pink glow in the horizon. We found another 5 start gravel pit with lots of space and a fabulous view to camp.The mosquitoes were out in numbers and calling reinforcement, we were all waving our hands to keep them away while setting up the array and getting ready to sleep.
Good night Wolf!
When Marcelo opened the trailer door this morning and I saw light rush in my heart alomst skipped a beat. After 24 hours of chilly gray haze, seeing the sun felt like the first day of spring after a long winter. It was nothing close to a gorgeous spring day, but a little warmth on my face was enough to make my spirits surge. I surprise myself with how much control the sun has over my emotional state after only a 5 week relationship. With a similar dependency issue of over 13 months now, Marcelo should be looking into marriage counseling any time now.
Eager to share the warmth on my face with the lithium ion batteries I set up array with Marcelo in my pajamas. Little did I know that Marcelo had the camera rolling about 15 yards away...so if you see a pale dreded girl, stumbling around the high wet grass in two jackets, a scarf and a hat with should-be-white socks over baggy leggings, and slippered boots in an oscar nominated documentary, it's your girl Claire. While Anne and Marcelo set up an oatmeal and tea breakfast, my optimstic energy made me fueled a painfully executed song and dance as I swept up the trailer (also caught on camera). Its too bad we can't liquify meals and take them via straw, one hand to defend your whole bodies against bitter blood lovers (mosquitoes) is simply not enough. I think I tolerate them pretty well, but sometimes I offer ball up and whimper in the face of their piercing, eternal hunger.
The sky was still screene out, but the surrounding hills and mountains showed green and more defined than yesterday. Marcelo, Anne and I then did some maintanence on the car, balancing the batteries and cleaning and oiling the suspension system. It wasn't until noon that I was finally reminded what the color blue looked like, pulling through the white glaze with every passing minute. Anne made us a wonderful lunch, a soup with leeks, lentils, kale, celery, and carrots with a side of long living wonder bread, THANKS ANNE!
Upon departure, I ran out to on way out the highway to ready for a shot of the car getting back on the road, but after a longer than usual delay, I made my way down to find that we got a flat tire 20 yards from teh spot it sat at for the past 30 hours. After a speedy tire change, we were back on the road and I assumed my position as passenger prairie dog, clicking photos throughout the fairy tale land. We shot some footage from a lookout full of campers and travelers. One woman faced her computer toward the car as it whizzed by and then turned it on me. There I was giving an interview on her video diary with Something About Mary bangs and kale in my teeth...PR roadie style.
We pulled over at gravel emergency airstrip to charge the car before we hit the mountains. I have to admit that all I really felt like doing going off and sitting on a rock somewhere, but Marcelo's joyful request for a game of soccer turned the tide. Before an appreciative audience could accumulate, I crossed the ball in and watched it float past my Brazilian opponent and clear the narrow corridor of the cones. VICTORY! At least for that singular moment, beyond that I was robustly beaten and ended up huffing and puffing lying down in the middle of our field. When the rest of the gang joined I promoted myself to solar crew sports photographer and documented the red cheeked, air strip stomp. I later joined in and was caught by the video camera jumping on my knees to unsucessfully block the ball, now a blueish green lump for a souvenir. My soccer glory days destined to remain in high school, I retired to Anne's car for a power nap.
On the way through the mountains, m mountain goat ego was severley bashed when I fell and then slid down the roadside incline...caught on tape, by two seperate camera I believe. Good thing Outdoor Outfitters sponsored us a first aid kit, I already cleaned out all the basic valuables from the other two kits. At a pull over stop, I stood at the van with Laura and Josh and looked up to see Anne blasting music from her car, performing the robot in front of the solar car. It was nothing less than hysterical. Can you imagine driving down the legendary Demptser Highway and seeing someone in the middle of the road, dancing in front of a parked ufo? That's my team.
To save this update from becoming a novel, if it hasnt already, here is the condensed version of the night: photographed car going up ginormous hill with plane overhead and bear crossing over after, stopped at gorgeous pull over and built a stone "xof1," stopped to adore the full midnight sun, stopped at 2am on plane coated with glowing fireweed under pink sky, peanut butter sandwich in bed, and my first very warm nights sleep! PEACE.
|Our five star gravel pit camp site in the morning|
|Goumet brunch a la chef Anne|
|Our dinning room|
|Brave Josh, wearing shorts. Having a meal and feeding the local mosquitoes at the same time.|
|Anne and Marcelo, ping pong dancing|
|Opsy! the front support arm is no longer supporting the array|
|Cut a piece of metal here, change a bolt there.... Claire multi tasking land her left foot as the vice|
|Nothing that a bit of duct tape can't fix!|
|Claire getting one on one lesson on the tools of the trade, multi meters, infrared thermometer and clamp meter|
|Anne getting an intro on the innerworks of XOF1 Lipo battery pack and helping check the voltage of individual cells. All looking good|
|Anne behind the controls of XOF1 for the first time|
|Handle with care! says the monkey|
|I am inside the UFO!
Anne ads 1 meter (3 feet) to XOF1's world distance record!
|On the road again!
Well, not quite, got a flat
|No jack necessary, we have super Anne.
Anne lift the solar car, Laura stabilize the solar array, Marcelo remove the flat tire
|Josh's turn to lift the car, new tire goes in|
|Thumbs up! all systems a go!|
|The Dempster Funk solar car crew|
|or the Gypsy JAM|
|Earth, air, water. What other element is missing?
The solar car!
|Complete picture, earth, air, water and solar car|
|The sky clears a bit|
|The sky darkens a bit|
|The UFO landed at the wet gravel land strip|
|rought wet road|
|Found gold in the Yukon|
|- How do you play soccer?
- you kick the ball
|Let's protect, just in case|
|Josh's soccer dance|
|Information is important, to act is imperative!
Educate yourself and share the knowledge, let's not wait another 20 years
|Forest fire particles clouds the air|
|Gentle hills are gigantic mountains|
|It is a previledge to witness greatness|
|Overheating van radiator|
|- little green man, your may proceed in PEACE!|
|Land of PEACE|
|Car of PEACE|
|Thoughts of PEACE|
|Low flying airplane and a parked UFO. What else can we expect to see?.|
|A bear, of course!|
|Congrats and hugs|
|Congrats and a pat on the back|
|Solar car at PEACE with a view|
|The long road ahead|
|Many inukshuks families and its babies|
|A dancing inukshuks|
|XOF1 sign. Concrete evedence that UFO's exist!|
|The solar explorers|
|Ogilvie Ridge conquered again|
|A midnight salute to our fuel maker|
|Flowers and fire|
|Earth, wind and fire...
and solar car
|Fire on one side, ice on the other|
|UFO landing, midnight sun shining|
|70kmh + rocks and bolders = damaged rim and flat tire|
|Back on the road!|
|Great ball of fire or mother ship?|
|Different shades of solar|
|Sky on fire|
|A new 5 star gravel pit camp site|