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June 05, 2009

Silver Springs, MD - Baltmore, MD - Ashburn, VA
By Josh

We woke up bright and early to make a press stop and van tune up in Baltimore, MD. Andy Frankiln, our contact at Norris Auto Group, said that he would go through his marketing department to contact the press.  We waited at the Norris Auto Group for the press to arrive. Around 10 AM or so, we came in contact with a reporter from a weekly newspaper, and also a local television reporter from Baltimore‘s Channel 2. We took the van in to get fixed, and then proceeded to get some shots of the XOF1 on some straight-aways in the rain. I had a garbage bag to shield my camera from moisture, and also some good angles on the car. Just as Marcelo was coming back for a return shot, the rear tire blew out! He needed a screwdriver, and so I sprinted into the shop, and I asked a mechanic named Walt, if I might borrow his flathead screwdriver. He was happy to help, and I quickly brought the screwdriver to Marcelo. Next, he said he needed the spare tire from Nugen. I ran to the van, which was about seven feet off the ground, and tried to reach inside for the spare tire. Luckily, the van was open, but I couldn’t reach inside. I grabbed a lightweight aluminum workbench, and looked in the van. The wheel was under a couple suitcases though! I threw them from the trunk over the backseat into the van, and grabbed the wheel as fast as possible.  I ran back to the car, and lifted the rear of the XOF1 while Marcelo changed the tires in the blink of an eye. I asked, “Have you done this a few times before, Marcelo?” To which he replied, “Oh yes, many times.” I really felt like a mechanic this time around. Earlier in Georgia, we had to remove the fairings due to a renegade curb that jumped in front of the XOF1, but now I felt like I was actually assisting with a repair. I’m no mechanic, but I sure felt like one for the 10 min wheel replacement procedure. We all went for some Burger King veggie burgers, and Laura had a veggie sandwich named after her at the weenie hut. The dealership gave us a 20% discount on the van, and was unable to repair it in one day. We couldn’t find housing in Baltimore, and we still had to go back to Ashburn to pick up our belongings which were unloaded this morning in order to pack the solar car in the trailer. Jeff from Nugen offered us the shop for housing, which we happily accepted. Nothing like a solar car motor shop slumber party. Jeff gave us coupons for Chik-fil-a fruit salad, and we all went to get some free and healthy food. We then went to a Wegman’s to pick up some food for the road. Driving back to the shop, we talked about solar technology, and thanked Jeff for driving us around. Marcelo and Jamie slept in the trailer, while Laura slept on a former sci-fi movie prop with a mylar coated foam pad for insulation. It was nice to know the tomorrow we would be back on the road again!

By Laura Peruzzi;
Sipping hot chocolate in the used car dealership waiting to see where to put the car and wishing I had fluorescent markers to write like they do on the windows of the cars for sale- “Less power than a toaster” “carbon fiber seat” “50,000 man hours”
Baltimore is gloomy and wet. We spend most of the day working on updates at an empty desk inside the dealership. The press stops by but no one is shopping for cars and less are willing to come to a dealership on a rainy day to see the solar car. Luckily the manager of the dealership has offered repairs on the van, which is in desperate need of a tune up. Unloading the solar car from the trailer is scary because for the first time the car runs off the ramp. The left front wheel slips off the side and Josh and I quickly lift it back onto the ramp, our hearts racing and thoughts wild with worry.
The day is cold and gray and we walk down the street to pick up some lunch. Weenie World sparks my interest and I stray from the group heading to Burger King to check it out. Hot dogs...anyway you like them and even ways you don’t. Wrapped in bologna, topped with scrambled eggs and cheese...the list goes on and on. I ask for just a veggie sandwich and they look at me strange telling me “We don’t do that.” I smile and say please and suggest the 4 or 5 vegetables they use to top their various weenies, just without the meat...eventually they agree and they make me a delicious sandwich- onions, peppers, tomato, jalepeno all sauteed and covered in cheese on a potato bun....mmmm! It’s cheaper than anything I could have got at BK and I’m supporting local business. They confess to me it is the first bun to go dogless and ask me my name to put the new item on the menu, named after it’s creator: Laura’s veggie non-dog. I now have a legacy at
Weenie World in Baltimore, MD.

Reading a magazine back at the dealership with the background noise of daytime tv, I come across a quote in response to the question: What is art? “Art is something created that makes you feel less alone.” I like this and immediately think of the solar car and understand how people can see cars like some see paintings or sculptures. This is more than a vehicle, it is art. It is a vehicle for knowledge, inspiration and change; the power of one: connecting the world and changing the way we think about energy consumption and our personal environmental responsibility. We are not alone. I think back to stretching the red tape from stantion to stantion, creating a border around the solar car, just like the barriers between museum goers and priceless creations. It is beautiful in its mission to connect people and ideas, to inspire dreams and encourage the fruition of them as well.

We return to NuGen in Ashburn, VA where the contents of the trailer are stacked in the warehouse. Loading and unloading the car in it’s tiny mobile home is so much easier of a task
without the boxes and tires and luggage to deal with. The guys at NuGen were awesome enough to let us keep our stuff there and sleep in the office that night too! Jeff was there to welcome us back when we arrived and he took us to Chick-fil-A for free salads! He had a coupon for a free chicken fruit salad for everyone and I traded him my chicken for his fruit. We load up on groceries at the market and Marcelo got excited over a can of guava paste...a brazilian dessert called Romeo and Juliet is in our future as he runs to find the right kind of cheese to pair with the guava. In the car ride back to the office we talk about maximum efficiency, I learn that the solar panels are only 15% efficient! I am stunned at the potential available and liken it to humans using only 10% of total brainpower. Marcelo mentions how reflectors have been utilized to increase light available to the solar cells and I imagine the chase van decked out in mylar following close
behind the solar car or those reflector panels used to shine maximum light on models during a photo shoot. I come up with a solar car efficiency combination of distilled water sprayed onto the cells, cold temperatures, reflectors and direct sunlight, but it is so much more than that- human efficiency in the solar car support team can make or break the journey just as much as the weather.

Charlie Garlow wearing a coal fired power plant stack.
A solar assisted electric prius parked at Charlie's house.
Jamie trying to direct Marcelo out of the trailor. This was the first time the solar car has fallen off the ramp.
xof1 backing out of the trailer at the Ford dealership in Baltimore.
Josh walking with xof1 at the dealership.
the crew working diligently while waiting for the van to get some work done at the dealership.
Marcelo getting interviewed by a local news station in Maryland.
more interview
more work.
The car got a flat tire in the rear wheel today.
fixing the rear wheel.
Some strange house with Noah's arc protruding from it's front side.
The Captain Solar team showing off our awesome o-rings that Jeff gave us.
Dinner at Chik-fil-a. Thanks Jeff for the free salad coupons!
Grocery shopping in Ashburn, VA. Who said that grocery shopping can't be fun?
Jump team!