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January 26, 2009

Brookings / Harbor, Or - Arcata, Ca
By Marcelo;

Looking at the weather forecast a few days ago I scheduled to take the solar car to the local high school at 11:00am. I didn't anticipate the batteries to be full by yesterday afternoon. Otherwise, I would have scheduled a presentation for early in the morning. In any case it all worked well. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining by 08:30am. We didn't get to the shop until 10:00, had computer issues. I developed a love hate relationship with computers. Near two hours later finally managed to get it running, not in its full glory but enough to allow me to do what I needed. At the West Coast shop, Marty, Gail, Missy and a few other people were already waiting to the big moment. Marty kindly moved the solar car outside for us along with cars and trucks for a good photos op, thanks Marty. Naturally, I had to drag Steve and Sheri to the shop to have their photo taken next to the solar car. They have been very hospitable with Allen and I. We got a few photos taken, I hugged everyone (I like hugs), said our farewell and headed to the high school where Bo was waiting for us to guide where the car was going to be on display. Only a few miles away, it didn't take long for us to get there.
So many questions as soon as we arrived that I had to ask to wait for everyone to arrive So I could talk about the project and answer all questions once. Bo arrived with the students and his teacher. I talked about the car, project and tour. I like to end the presentation by saying "the only thing between you and your dream is yourself". A quick awkward moment of silence, and, questions started flowing again. By 12:00 we were "on the road again" zooming on highway 101. Ah, what a beautiful sight. The sun shining above, the weather was great no too hot not too cold, the drive to Crescent City was fast. While crossing the boarder with California there were a produce inspection (first I ever encountered), sorry no photos of our encounter with the "produce police"

We had a brief stop in Crescent City, while the batteries were charging we went grocery shopping and got our bellies charged. There was a constant flow of people checking out the solar car. It feels like we were there for less than one hour. The batteries got full we got on the road again.

The drive by the Redwood State park was spectacular, the tall trees were shading the array, driving the solar car completely with is batteries. It was a perfect solar car day. The machine worked flawlessly, everything went well.

At one point I thought I was seeing things. I saw Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox, had to make a stop. The first time I came across the dual was back on June 21, 2008 in Bemijit. Oh well, glad I wasn't seeing things :)

We make to Arcata in good time, it was still day light. However, we left without knowing our contact's address. We made a stop downtown Arcata to find an internet cafe. As we parked on the street a few people came out to take a close look at the solar car. Among them, it was Kelly who happen to live almost in front of where we stopped the solar car. All the commotion got her attention. We talked to her about the project, asked about an internet cafe, she offered us to use her computer. Allen immediately got acquaintance with Kelly and started searching for his contact information. I took the opportunity for a washroom break. Kelly have been doing some renovation to her place have taking a few things apart, to paint and or replace. The washroom knob was one of them. As a result I ended up lock in the washroom with the door handle in my hands. A few knocks at the door and "excuse me I am locked inside the washroom" got her attention and I was rescued :)

Well, them it became a mission. I had to fix the door knob. All it needed was a set screw. Unfortunately Kelly could not find it but it happen to be the same tread and diameter of the spare cables adjusters I had to the solar car latching system. Presto! that door know ain't coming out.

We got the address of where we would be staying and make our way. Naturally, we got lost. Murphys law. Fearing that we would get lost trying to follow the directions Allen wrote in a piece of paper I insisted that we used the GPS. Well, it didn't work. Sometimes on a fork on the road you can't quite tell which direction to go until is too late, and, that's what happened. By now it was dark but we made it.

We are staying with Lonny and Tressie, a contact from Allen's kinetic sculptures group list. We parked the UFO on their lawn, it didn't take long there was frost on it. So much for "warm" California. That's okay, a little frost is a lot easier to handle than snow. Tressie cooked us an incredible meal, we got ail settle and cozy.

Allen will be ending his participation on the tour in Arcata but will be around for a few more days helping me find volunteers to drive the support vehicle.

The battery was seating at 49% charge when we arrived. Quite remarkable, considering we drove 177km (110 miles) driving under tree shades, driving in hilly terrain, one of the climbs was 442 meters (1450 feet) from sea level. It was a great solar car day!

Gail, Marty, Sheri and Steve
Bo and Marcelo (center) at Brookings High School
Charging the batteries in Crescent City
The beautiful drive by highway 101
XOF1 by the lumberjack legend of Paul Bonyan and Babe the blue ox.
XOF1 cruising down 101
Kelly in Arcata