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January 14, 2008

Lacey, Wa - Longview, Wa
By Laurie White.

Wally makes me terrific blueberry pancakes served with diced papaya. I cannot eat them all, so we give the leftover pancakes to the birds. Too bad we didn’t save them for Marcelo, he doesn’t eat breakfast this morning!

It’s sunny this morning! Marcelo has already set up the solar car’s panels to charge. We leave the car charging and go to retrieve the trailer, which is at Duane’s son’s house. First, we meet a man named Joe McHugh who has donated 2 boxes of his new novel called, Kilowatt, to Marcelo. We pick up the books and then go to a grocery store to pick up a few things to eat (fruit, juice, bagels, cheese & yogurt) on the trip. Next, we drive to Gary’s house to retrieve the trailer. Duane’s son Mark is also there, so we get the chance to chat with him, too.

We go back to Graeme’s house to allow Marcelo to pack up his belongings and prepare the solar car, van and trailer for the trip. Wally and Bert Music join us outside to say goodbye, along with another neighbor, Mr. Middleton. Mr. Middleton is very knowledgeable about the topography of the roads that we will be traveling on. He gives us advice about the lowest elevation and easiest route for the solar car to take to get to Longview. He, Duane and I plot a course to Longview.

Unfortunately, the sun has long gone, so we get all packed up and ready to leave about 1230 hours. Marcelo has spent a lot of time staying with Graeme and really wants to say good-bye and thank you to him before he leaves town. We ring Graeme on his cell phone, no answer. His daughter tells us he is speaking at nearby St. Mary’s college and she expected him to be home by now. We call him again and his daughter hears his phone ringing inside the house, he has forgotten to take it with him! We decide to try to catch him at St. Mary’s and finally take off from Lacey at about 1340 hours. I am a bit worried that this is too late a start, but we are only trying to make it to Longview today.

We arrive at St. Mary’s to find we have missed Graeme. Marcelo is disappointed, but we must go on. We finally start our way south, we are chasing the sun now as we can see it shining just a little south of Lacey!

It is extremely exciting for me to be joining the support crew and really frightening at the same time! Even with flashing lights and a big “Caution” written on the van and trailer, it is amazing to me how unobservant so many motorists are of Marcelo when he is in the solar car. At the same time, the expressions on so many of the motorists and pedestrians are absolutely priceless! They often can’t believe what they are seeing and do double takes that are comical. Some people scream and yell, some laugh and smile broadly, many people give a “thumbs up” a few even jump up and down with joy, and a few more have very puzzled faces. I wish I could videotape all the different expressions I have seen just today!

We travel through many small towns on our way down to Longview, we have to stop twice to re-latch the top of the solar car. We call reporters in Centralia and get our picture snapped as we pass through town. When we finally reach the sun, just south of Centralia, we stop at a mall to charge the batteries. It is 1500 hours and Marcelo and I finally have lunch, yogurt and blueberries from Wally and Bert Music. I remember that I have brought some homemade Raspberry Truffle Brownies and Marcelo has one. Duane has smartly brought his own lunch. We are refueling ourselves with food and the solar car with sunlight, it feels good to be on the road! We stay for about 1 hours.

At 1625 hours, we resume our trip to Longview to the view of the rapidly darkening sky. We head through a construction zone and watch the funny expressions of the construction crew as we pass by. One female flagger jumps up and down with joy, very excitedly! She is on the left side of the highway, though and I can’t get the photo of it. I hope Marcelo got to see her, it fun to see her excitement!

About 1700 hours we get slightly off track and have to stop to get back on course. Marcelo is now in a hurry because when it is dark, it is harder for him to see to drive. We hurry to get back on the road and I forget to retrieve the chocks I put by the solar car wheels. I can’t believe I have done that on my first day! So many things to remember! Duane teases me that I am sleeping outside tonight and Marcelo teases me that he cannot possibly resume the trip without those “special” chocks (pieces of foam).

We finally arrive at Dale and Ursula Bassett’s house at about 1830 hours, much later than we had told them we were going to arrive. They are a wonderful couple and have been holding a fabulous dinner for our arrival. We have meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, salad, bread, green beans and a wonderful “Mile High Pie.” Very delicious! They are terrific people and we really enjoy getting to know them. They are special to me as they are my daughter’s best friend’s grandparents.

We decide to get up the next morning and take the solar car to a school or nearby park to charge the batteries if it is sunny. It is a clear, cold night and we are all optimistic that it will be a nice, sunny day tomorrow. It was a fabulous day!

Marcelo, Shanon, Duane, Bert, Wally and Laurie
Duane, ready for the mission!
A bright spot in the sky, an opportunity to charge the batteries.