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June 19, 2009

Lake Elmo, MN - Staples, MN - 157.1 miles

By Willie Wanka;
Yeehaa I slept until 09.15am this morning. I had a shower and CAKE for breakfast! And when I say cake I mean chocolate cake covering me up from head till bottom. The whole crew ended up as a chocolate pie. After breakfast I wired the brakes with John and made sure they where working well.
Before hitting the road I also contacted several media stations for the city Fargo where we hope to arrive tomorrow. Josh helped me out and thanks to Laurie for emailing the contact information!
03.40pm we finally left and said goodbye to Julie with pain in our hearts. Randy already left early in the morning to bring Rosie their dog to a clinic for surgery, we had said goodbye the night before. But after a very nice stop in Lake Elmo it was ON THE ROAD AGAIN! Josh and me were sitting in the back. He showed me how to update the website. Very easy it only took me four HOURS!
We stopped driving in a little town called Staples. Marcelo was very tired and took a little nap while Laura, Claire, Josh and me went to by a couple of beers. We sat outside, told some good jokes and ended up going to bed fairly early.

By Laura;
“We’re leaving, now!” Marcelo bursts into my dream, I awake, the urgency pushing me out from eyelids closed like heavy drapes and into reality. The car is fully charged from spending all day yesterday basking in the summer sun. We replaced the breaks on the trailer and diligently scraped off the many decals too. The trailer, now a clean slate with which to offer new sponsors; a blank canvas to paint their endorsement all the way to Tierra del Fuego! I indulge in a sinful slice of chocolate cake for breakfast while justifying it with Willy Wonka’s advice in my head: “Eat what you can when you can, it’s the life of a gypsy.” Between chocolaty bites I search out the kitchen window to spot the hawks on the power tower. The momma is teaching her baby to fly...soon Randy will begin training her to hunt. He is a Falconer, one of the awesome few who build rich and lasting relationships with birds of prey, nurturing them and encouraging them to hunt from the heart. Back in the day, Harpy Eagles, ospreys and hawks became endangered by the prevalence of DDT. The horrendous nobel prize wining pesticide weakened the strength of the eggshells and resulted in a drastic drop in population. Randy was instrumental in bringing the aviary population back up to today’s numbers. He is a man of extraordinary character. When he’s not keeping angels in the sky, he teaches scuba, opening up the magnificent realm of the sea to dry eyes. His juxtaposed passions illustrate the flexibility and uniqueness of man, the terrestrial and cognizant link, sewing the sky and the sea into the fabric of human existence. I strive to assemble myself into a stature of similar poise and integrity...but here I stand chocolate all over my face. But I’m not the only one, the whole crew joins in and we paint rich chocolaty mustaches on each other and delight in sugary madness. After some minor adjustments and testing of the breaks we head out near 4pm. The new magnets on the breaks create strong attractions with each slight application of the break pedal, causing powerful and abrupt stops, jerking the jelly right out of our sandwiches. Approaching the horizon on the last bit of battery charge I am silenced and awed by the heather billows set flat upon the golden fantastic steak of lightning spans the sky as we pass through a short bit of rain. Arriving for the night in Staples, MN the neon lights of a blinking target symbol beacon us and we park the solar car right under the arrow of The Spot Cafe. A dark and hoppy liquid dinner satiates us and flows through back into the earth within the hour. Josh and I sing such great heights before drifting to equally great depths of blissful subconscious realities...ah sleep, maybe the last night’s worth in this country!

By Marcelo;
What a great way to start the day, chocolate cake!
We all gobbled mouths full of some amazing heavenly cake! our breakfast, delicious veggie lasagna and salad for lunch, got to eat some health food too! Yesterday, I succumbed to my urge to eat meat and endowged myself with a burger but soon after, remorse, it felt heavy and hard to digest, yet it was delicious.

Some time ago, I made the decision of becoming a vegetarian. I grew up eating meat, lots of it, I love the taste. In fact, in the past I have been game for trying any kind of meat, from crocodile, frog legs, kangaroo, rabbit, caribou, moose, beef, chicken, etc.... However, the more I educate myself about the environmental, social and health impact of farmed meat, less I want to eat meat. Gave myself five years to became 95% vegetarian maybe one day I'll graduate to 100%. The challenge is to have a balanced meal, my recent excuse for not becoming a vegetarian was the solar car tour, always on the move. Well, no more excuses, if there is a will there is a way and I know better. So, instead of looking for excuses I am now working on the reasons. Last night, Randy shared with us an amazing documentary his friend Neil made about a South American eagle. It was incredible to watch an eagle chick grow and have its first flight. Neil spent three months living in a tree house to capture those great images, compiled in most artistic and educational documentary I've seem. Wow!!! great photography! The documentary, filmed in Guyana, showed the eagle's nest from close up shots, at the end, the camera zooms out revealing a lonely majestic tree, isolated amidst cattle pasture from what it used to be rain forest. It broke my heart. I want to make the world a better place, one way I can help is by cutting my meat consumption. I am riding on the veggie wave, both Laura and Claire are vegetarians and health eaters. Having them around is great support. Even the young meat eater Willy Wanka is occasionally riding the veggie wave. Watching the documentary last night was a good incentive for him to ease on eating meat.

In the meantime in solar car land. Life was good. Battery was full, didn't drive the car yesterday. Its batteries got charged while it sat outside while we were working on the trailer. Since we didn't have to charge the array this morning, there was no need to get up too early. About 07:30 I was up, made my way to the house, Julie had just brewed some fresh coffee. Drinking coffee is a luxury I can't have when driving the solar car, got to minimize breaks. Got everyone up by 09:00. Tataratata!!!! time to go! so I thought!
Everyone slowly made their way to their assigned posts. Today; Claire is the driver; Josh the navigator; Laura backseat #1, Willy Wanka backseat #2. Just to be on the safe side, I asked John to do a break check on the trailer. Good call, the electric breaks on the trailer weren't working. John saved the day, it would have taken me much longer to diagnose and fix the problem. New wiring, early afternoon departure.

We said our final goodbyes to our wonderful host Julie (Randy was away, at the vet with Rosie). took lots of photos.
It was sunny in the morning but by the time we got on the road overcast sky's prevailed. It wasn't until the end of the day we saw the sun again, between clouds, a bit of rain showered the array and the road. It was a tormenting drive, the road was full of uneven seems and cracks, the constant pounding was deafening and hard, not a pleasant drive. Other drivers also complaint about the road. Ended the day with empty batteries arriving in Staples, WI at a coffee shop parking lot, it had just closed for the night. Took a power nap while the rest of the team explored the surroundings. The final stop for the night was across the street at Napa autoparts parking lot.

Always comparing with last years drive, daily distance covered, performance, etc... In spite of a lot of wear and tear, more broken cells, all the abuse the battery, motor, suspensions, etc... the solar car endured. So far, it is all good. Hope it will stay that way.

Arctic Circle, see you soon!

By Claire;
I find it very difficult to sleep on a declining surface. I wouldn't think that it would be such an obstacle, supposing rather that once the body is turned off it wouldn't care so much about its equilibrium. I tried to negotiate with my internal balance meter by laying with my head at the bottom of the slope and then with my feet at the bottom, but the best compromise I could make was an occasional squirm, quite literally, up to the top of the bedded hill before the next inevitable descent.

The day looked like it was stacking up well, the car was charged and ready, the sky was blue and bright, and there were plenty of good left overs. The only thing between us and a few miles closer to the Arctic was the wiring on the new brakes, but with Johns help and a good deal of time belly-up under the trailer we were on the road later that afternoon.

Even after almost two days of being stationary, I nearly forgot what it was like to be back on the road, doing what the mission of this project is. Driving has to be one of the don't think Im able locate a worthy adjective. The closest I can get is 'so comprehensively awesome.' The weather was perfection, warm with a cool breeze, and since it was my second day driving and I was considerably more relaxed. There were a couple moments that was pleased to feel a budding root of confidence, with my radio commands a bit more composed and my and my driving a bit smoother, I had come to that initially inconcevible 'I can do this' realization.

The feeling of going somewhere is a high in itself, but to be a part of a crew, a supporter of a stranger's dream, and, essentially, a member of a larger movement is a fleeting but intense high of inexplicable proportions. I never could have anticipated having so many new functions at a single time. I joined Xof1 with my arms outstretched, eager for something to grab at and only a week later I am on the frontlines of several, simultaneous stages, happy that I am finding more than just one new purpose.

By josh;June 19
I slept like a log in the comfy twin bed from last night. I was woken by a knock at the door and an urgent Marcelo saying, “we're leaving.” I got my things together, and prepared to take off. I put all my belongings in the van, and went inside to say goodbye to Julie and her family. She offered us almost an entire chocolate cake. The cake was sloppily consumed with much ado. Willy took about a quarter of it as his portion. His swift devouring of the slice was pretty funny. Laura took some chocolate to the face with the assistance of our favorite chocolate delivery facilitator Willy Wonca. Claire took the opportunity to show off the cake chomping capacity of the wide aperture of her mouth. After hinging her jaw back into place, we got to work on the trailer. Despite our early estimated time of departure, We spent a good portion of the day prepping the trailer. After digesting our dessert, we decided we needed a bit of health food before hitting the road. Julie said that Claire and I could prepare some vegetable lasagna for lunch. We positioned some fruits and veggies with our cheesy spinach laden entree, and enjoyed a somewhat relaxing completion of updates and maintenance. I took the time to get organized, rested, and refamiliarized with the route. Laura gathered a bouquet of flowers for Julie, and I reflected on the kindness and humor that Randy and Julie shared with us for the past couple of days. We left in the late afternoon, and drove for about 150 miles. While we rode, I worked on the website with Willy, and tried to show him some ukulele chords when our work was done. We landed in Staples, MN for the night. We parked across from a NAPA store, the same company that donated a hub in New Concord, OH. Marcelo passed out in the van, and so the rest of us indulged in some copious low brow(n) humor for the remainder of the evening. We moved the car and van for a better charging position in the morning,

Watch out! Breakfast!
Keep on coming!
Step into my office
Laura giving away a nice pose!
Thanks for all the help John!
Group picture
hmm... Flowerpower?
Lovely Julie!
Solar car attracts all the girls!
John is working hard!
Randies and Julies house with sunny!
What a life!
Marcelo takes it serious!
More snowmen ahead, to the arctic!
We stop for nobody!
Keep on zooming!
"I want to drive under that!" says Marcelo
Human power chasing solar power
Coockie sandwich XOF1 style
Make me one too please!
Feet up and relax!
Wowie that's what we want to see!
Here come the clouds, but no worry...
Bring on the rain!
Just the right Spot
Goodnight solar team!