news update links
June 17, 2009

Diamond Bluff, WI - Lake Elmo, MN -51 Miles

By Marcelo;
06:20am got up to check if the crew were up setting up the array, they were on the way. Trying to sleep in does not come easy anymore, the bed was so comfortable, a soothing sound of birds greeting the new day wasn't enticing enough to hide under the covers. Had to get up and get some work done. Heavy overcast skies, a delay departure.
Got some computer work done but no internet acess.
Ice cream again, can't get enough. I think everyone should have ice-cream more often :)
Special thanks to Lee, Leah and all the folks working at Nebstitt Nursery, you amazing!

If you are travelling in the area you may want to stop by Nesbitt and try their great ice-cream!

It was interesting to read Claire's update (below). Driving the van hauling a trailer is an everyday common thing for me, everytime I drive the van to run errands or haul the solar car somewhere but it wasn't always like that, my first time I left my finger prints in the steering wheel. As for driving with the solar car, is like driving with other vehicles too but I guess after doing it for so long become second nature and we loose the perspective. So, reading Claire update brings some interesting memories back from my firsts :)

By Claire;

Imagine a time when you endured a prolonged tract of stress, when oxygen doesn't reach below the collarbone, you blink only to prevent pruning, and your stomach is turning coal to diamonds faster than road runner’s coyote recovers from a head injury…now wrap solar car dream of mechanics around a life-loving man and place it in front of a few tons of metal carrying precious cargo and three more life-loving individuals and ponder the fact that you are the one driving this parade. THAT WAS ME! Ok, I may be embellishing a bit, but it really was pretty heavy.

It’s not like the driver just has to drive, don’t think me a wuss. The driver has is the communication link with Marcelo while he is driving the solar car, giving him directions, warning when cars are passing, and telling him when it’s clear to turn or merge. The other part of the job is the safety role. The van has to stay close enough to the car so that no cars come between, but far enough that it has enough space to stop in an emergency. It also has to act as a block to traffic to allow the solar car to change lanes safely. I was just horrified by the thought of hitting the back of the car or forget that a have a huge trailer attached to me. But I got to talk on a walkie talkie and that is a definite cool factor that soothed my nerves.

Everyone was so good to me. Laura gave me a crash course and talked me through a practice spin. Josh was encouraging throughout and was not offended by my constant inquiry, “how many miles away?” “what street did you say again?” And Willy was angelically calm and managed to not go psychotic without music on. Marcelo was super supportive too, willing to drop some positive reinforcements and give me necessary criticism otherwise.

Now I am coming down to the sweet, weary peace that follows such anxiety triggered adrenaline, very happy that I did not run into the spruce plotted land after I pulled out a piece of paper reading “Driver” from Willy’s hat (yes, that’s how we professionals are knighted with our duties). This 50 mile escapade ended here, at Randy’s home where with the help of Tom (that’s right, MORE help from Tom) the condition of the van and trailer would be addressed.

Up there in importance of the brakes being fixed is the fact that I am pretty sure I gained some mechanical smarts. It turns out that at least one of the brakes on the trailer was boycotting its purpose (add that to the equation described earlier). I learned what a brake drum, bearing, spindle, leaf spring and some magnet thing was and I might even be able to describe them to someone who is a degree or two less knowledgeable than me about this stuff with genuine assuredness.

By Laura:
The perk of waking up at 5am is usually the sunrise, but the continuous cloud cover gives me the joy of closing my eyes again and falling into a second sleep. For breakfast we savor the very first scoops of the very first batch of Izzy gourmet cherry ice cream, made yesterday just outside the twin cities, by a local using brandy to macerate the fresh cherries....mmm! Still at Nesbitt\'92s getting only 2.4 AH from the bashful sun, we enjoy lunch prepared fresh from the garden thanks to Leah. Wisconsin cheesy pasta salad, fresh strawberry spicy salsa with chips and just picked baby greens and radishes...for the vegetarians. Believe it or not, abstaining from meat or even slightly reducing our intake can have huge positive impacts on the environment; A vegan driving a hummer has a lower carbon footprint than a carnivore in a solar car. I\'92m glad to see Marcelo embracing vegetarianism. He talks with us about the last few days and our roles, offering us a rotation in responsibilities that will cycle every three days. Randomness insists on stability when we all end up drawing, out of the hat, tiny slips of paper with the very same jobs we currently hold. Do over! Claire draws \'91driver\'92 and shortly after, the lesson begins: Welcome to Laura\'92s big wheeler truck drivin\'92 school! We back it up, turn it round, and get this girl a taste of the road hauling a big caboose! She is understandably nervous and I can hear the flapping wings of the butterflies consuming her belly right now. I think back to the first time driving my big bad 40 ft purple veggie bus and experience that same shaky hotness, that body buzzing and inability to swallow sitting in the driver seat, trying to avoid danger while flooding the streets with french fry exhaust fumes. \ After minimal property damage and only one hospitalization (heheheee) she parks it back at Nesbitt\'92s and prepares to take the wheel for the next three days. It\'92s time to say goodbye to Nesbitt\'92s bees and trees, yummy food, Lee, Leah and Mowzer the cat. Onward to Randy\'92s place in Lake Elmo for repairs on the trailer! Randy has a mechanic\'92s paradise on his property set back in the woods on a small lake. Within the garage, home to every tool for every job, we get greasy and goofy, replacing the breaks, cleaning the bearing and greasing it up proper with what looks like red candy frosting before replacing the hub and tire on that one temperamental trailer wheel. Willy Wonka returns from grocery shopping, I was sure he'd come back smiling with only beef jerky, soda and cigarettes, but there are avocados and carrots and lots of rabbit food for us crazy vegetarians. Thanks Willy! Claire makes her famous sandwiches and we all sit under the storm and enjoy, watching the great show in the sky.

By Willie Wanka:
05.00 in the morning Josh comes and wakes me and Laura up. It is heavily overcastted and foggy so we sleep in for another 45 minutes. Finally we decide to go to Nesbitt were the solar car was still perfectly asleep in the garage. Unfortunate the garage was closed so we had to wait for Lee to arrive and help us out. Around 07.00am we were able to move the solar car outside and….. WOOHOOO 0.0 amps! It was still too cloudy for any charge. We went into the van and worked on some updates and we learned more about the Kazakhstan culture. (Thanks Borat)
Around noon the sun was finally breaking through a bit and we had an awesome cherry flavored ice cream. While eating dessert Marcelo and Claire arrived and we had lunch. We had a team meeting and gave some feedback on the work we’ve had done the last few days. Around 04.00pm we left for still water. The ride was good (we only missed 6 turns) and we arrived around 06.00pm at Randies place. Josh, Laura and Claire started working on their updates while Marcelo started working on the trailer and I went to buy some groceries. When I came back I helped fixing the trailer and started working on my updates. Before going to sleep we watched a spectacular light show, there was huge thundercloud and the lights didn’t stop flashing for several hours. It was beautiful! Around 12.30pm it was time to hit the sack.

By Josh;
I woke up with a deer staring me down at the sound of my alarm, and I didn't have the slightest desire to leave bed. Laura, Willy, and I sped down to Nesbitt's Nursery to set up the array, but alas, it was locked! We got stuck trying to convince the padlock to cooperate, but we had to call Marcelo eventually. He had Lee come to let us in, and in the blink of an eye he came speeding over on his motorbike. We quickly set up the array, only to find out...0.0 Amp Hours!!! It was a cloudy day, but we were hoping that blue skies might eventually find us. Lee told us we could go back to his house and do some work, but we decided to wait for Marcelo and Claire to arrive. After finishing updates and laughing at some Mr. Bean, we went in for some food. Just as Marcelo arrived, our trio reached a group consensus that ice cream for breakfast was a brilliant idea. We had scoops of cherry jubilee icecream that was made only yesterday from Izzy's. We ordered some veggie pasta salad, and worked a bit on updates while we waited. After a lovely fresh lunch prepared with organic vegetables right out of the nursery's garden, we had a meeting. We drew names out of a hat to decide who would take which roles in the days to come. Laura took Claire's former position as videowoman, Claire took Willy's position as driver, I took Laura's position as navigator, and Willy took my position with PR and solar car support. With our new roles assigned, lunch eaten, and teeth brushed, we were ready to be ON THE ROAD AGAIN!!! We had a full 99 Volts on a cloudy day. As usual, our expectations our consistently exceeded by our luck. I plotted the route, and we set off to fix the van. The crew made it across to Minnesota once more. With a decently charged battery, we made it fairly close to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. In Lake Elmo, we found out that the trailer brake needed some serious repairs. Willy went off for groceries, while the rest of the team stayed behind to update our travels. Thoughts of the Arctic Circle drift around my mind, along with the journey beyond. Randy offered us his place to shower and stay, and since we needed to stay for parts in the morning, Claire and I prepared a scrumptious sandwich spread with the groceries Michael got from the store. After having eaten meat my whole life, I am continually amazed by nourishing, fulfilling and delectable sustenance that can After a lengthy ukulele jam session, Laura and I marveled at an electrifying and energizing lighting storm. I thought about sleeping in the van, but promptly after I tried to go to bed, a huge bolt of lightning struck the nearby transformer. Laura and I both felt a surge of energy from the strike, and I resonated with a strong feeling through the night. I slept on an inclined metal platform that was supporting two chairs. I positioned a folding chair for foot support and slept under the lighting storm. I hummed some such great heights and reflected on the electricity that came from so high up in the sky.
Good morning gray skies!
Hey Lee, vroom vroom
Where's the sun?
"What is Josh doing?"
"I can move things with my mind"
Willy tries to hitchhike away from the VEGETARIANS
Green light, all charged
Ice Cream!?!
"Fresh picked lettuce and radish,
wisconsin cheese...strawberry salsa too."
Thanks Leah, yummm
Nice kitty
Meeting ajourned!
King of the Road
Thanks Nesbitt's Nursery!
Thanks Valley Bar & Grill!
Marcelo in the monkey seat
We're not lost, we promise
Wranglin' in the updates!
65!? We travel at the speed of light!
Automatic door opener
Claire behind the wheel!
A snowman? Are we in the arctic?
Tom getting greasy with the trailer
It's that trailer bearing again!
Tom hard at work, helping out with the trailer's break