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June 27, 2009

Walsh, AB - Calgary, AB - 212.6 miles

By Marcelo
My thoughts: Since I began the tour last year I made only three promises. One was to Jo-Lene, soon after I left the beautiful hamlet of Walsh, I said I would come back. The second was to Jessica, I would join her for a beer in Edmonton and the third was to Jim and Laurie-Flarity White of Wenatchee. I fulfilled my promisse to Jim and Laurie last year when I took the solar car to Wenatchee, glad I did. They have become more than incredible supporters of the project, we adopted each other as family. As I leave Wash, I take with me more wonderfull memories of another short but flavorfull moment, wishing time would stand still so I could enjoy more of their company.

Todays event: Claire and Josh set up the array this morning.
Clouds blanked the sky, hidding the sun for the early part of the morning, it evenctually cleared up.
Breakfast with Nellie and Geroge, with Nellie's amazing home made bread, worth going to Walsh just for the bread :)
George showed us photos of my visit last year, I remember him taking those photos.

Last year, a few days after my stop in Wash I got an email from Jo-Lene
I had a grin from ear to ear when I read it. Today, I was delighted with the opportunity to meet Flora (the UFO lady). I told Flora the Alaska story (in Palmer someone called 911 about a UFO on the road, the police dispached two cruisers to intercept the UFO, they blocked the solar car, after checking the documents on the solar car we were free to take over planet earth). We all had a good laugh.
10:12 departure under clear skyies.

"I must tell you a funny, but cute story about friends who saw the car around Brooks, AB. Mickey & Flora who are in their late 70's/early 80's were driving home to Medicine Hat when Flora spotted the car around Brooks, AB. Well she was completely beside herself. When she got home, she drew a picture of it and showed it to my sister, who lives in an apartment across the street. She asked my sister, "What does that look like?" My sister said,"It looks like a UFO." Flora said, "Well, that's what I saw on the way home and it was keeping up with the traffic." I started laughing when my sister finished telling me about it, so I explained everything about the car and your visit to Walsh to her. Then she told me that I had better call Flora right away to let her know that it was not a UFO that she had seen. So I called Flora and told her what she had seen. She was very glad to know that we were not being invaded by aliens from another planet. I wish my 6-year-old grandson could have seen it. He is so in to cars/trucks and he would have been so excited. He will be returning home to start school in August so I can show him the car on your website. If you should ever come through Walsh again, please stop to visit. You will always have a place to stay for as long as you like and will be most welcome. Take care and I wish you the best as you continue on your incredible journey. Keep in touch." -written by Jo-Lene

By 14:24, we had driven 207km (129.1 miles), clouds ahead, we pulled over to charge the batteries. It didn't take long, clouds were blocking the sun, we resumed the drive. Near Calgary, the batteries were depleted, the sky opened up just enough to drive on sunshine. We made it to Calgary, hurray!, 16km (10 miles) from downtown we set up the array on a small gravel road to capture the last bit of sunshine. As if mother nature was kidding with us, the moment the array was up the sun disappeared behind the clouds, near one hour later we took it down for a demo ride for CTV, ta da! the sun was out, too low in the horizon to provide any power but at last perfect lighting for filming. We met Harry and Rosalie Lilo, two wonderfull car enthusiasts who kindly offered a place to park the solar car and trailer for the night. Harry gave us a tour of his car collection, WOW! a beautiful 1909 Ford, in perfect working condition in the main garage, and a number of other older vehicles too. At their home we saw an incredible collection of antique vehicles. Antique car memorabilia everywhere, the coolest thing was to see the cars running.

By Willy Wonka,
Walsh is a cool place to wake up! A little town on the prairie with great people living in it! Nelly had made an incredible breakfast for us. Her homemade bread is priceless! We all sat together had a couple of good laughs and Josh played the piano later on, he sure has talent! We said goodbye to everybody and left for Calgary! Thanks everybody for a great stay! On the way to Calgary we made some good footage and had a little stop at a gas station to charge up the car. With the sun on our shoulders we left and actually made it into the boundaries of Calgary where the media was waiting for us. Marcelo did an interview while the car was charging. Unfortunately there was just a little sunshine so we had to search for a place to stay overnight nearby. A man and wife drove by and they immediately invited us to stay at their place where the solar car could also be stored overnight. Harry and Rosalie are great people and they took us in with open arms! Not to mention they have a collection of beautiful old timers! We had a quick team meeting, talked about our experiences over the last three days and went to bed. Another good day, tomorrow its going to be EDMONTON!

By Laura
I dream of two creatures playing on the edge of their respective worlds. One lives in the sky, the other the sea. For a moment they meet at the horizon, trespassing in temptation but remembering that discovery lays not in new realms but in new eyes. Mine open to a new day.. wake up, it is time for breakfast. Nelly has baked fresh bread, made coffee and porridge too. Cantaloupe, strawberries and cherries glitter the table and homemade jam..mmm. Josh jams on the piano just outside the kitchen. DC was the last time he played and now Claire gets to delight in the auditory ecstasy that is Josh Holton, pianist extraordinaire. I take in a quick stroll through Nelly’s garden of wild and colorful flowers before hugs and thanks and a panoramic shot of the solar car leaving the small hamlet of Walsh. "One street, 65 people and a tree." as one of the locals put it.
While making lunch and putting air in the tires we meet some generous and interesting people at the gas station. A few guys on the crew from the local jazz fest, some families with kids fascinated by the solar car and one man taller than Willy Wonka! A trucker tells us some stories about the road. He hauls mostly cattle and broke his hip getting run down by a buffalo. Willy falls asleep in the grass, but nothing is sacred with this silly crew. Marcelo an I sneak over and tickle his nose with a feathery flower. Just outside of Calgary we stop to charge the batteries on the solar car and Ron from CTV meets us for an interview. Willy Wonka continues to be the victim of Marcelo’s pranks today as duct tapes surrounds his forehead and Marcelo secures it around the front seat in the van. Soon his mouth is taped and small strips cover his eyebrows and chin. This is how we prepare for TV interviews. While the camera is rolling a white truck pulls up and the driver offers us his garage for the night just up the road. Even though the distance is only a few klicks, the solar car enters the danger zone at a depleted 89.9 volts. The lithium ion batteries have thresholds that once crossed to low or too high will destruct and possibly start a fire. We push through and park safely in the driveway. Harry’s garage is one of many on his property containing classic cars, a number of them early Ford model T’s. He gives us the tour of his ‘car museum’ where I fall in love with his wife’s 1936 Cord. A smooth and curvaceous black gangster car with suicide doors and what looks like leftovers from just married decorations. After chatting with him, his wife and playing with Bianca their majestic fluffy white dog, we have a short meeting and lay our tired heads to rest.

By Claire
Nasal strips do work! I'd like to thank the manufacturer for facilitating my couple hours of sleep last night. And Josh, too, because he is a good sport about people avoiding his nasal intonations like the plague. He and I woke up at 5:30 to set up the array. It was cold...and the fact that I was wearing sandals, spandex and a zip up had nothing to do with that fact. We debated for a bit how to position the car, where the sun actually was since the clouds had it smothered and where shadows would not fall on it once it did break free. We ended up placing it on Nellie & George's front lawn, next to their rock display that proclaimed "Nellie and George Spencer." Just as soon as I had the array held up ready to set down of the lower prop, it started to rain. We did a military style breakdown which was so good the sun came out to see us finish. Even nature knows practice makes perfect.

Josh guarded the solar car's progress while I took a shower. Nellie made me coffee and porridge as we talked. By 8am the kitchen was a small town cafeteria. Our gang, Nellie & George, Jolene, and Flora & Mickey. Jolene was unsurprisingly kind, bringing us tons of cantaloupe and cherries coming straight from work, knowing she had to go all the way back for a noon appointment. Flora is a character for sure. I shoke her hand upon meeting, but instead of the traditional scripted response, she patted my arm and said, "are you real??!!" I told that I thought just so and left it at that. I only caught on a moment later when I found out she was one of the people that considered the solar car to be from a different world, literally. Alien jokes are really funny by the way, especially when you can pretend you are one among a bunch of earth beings that laugh every time you tell them "the truth."

We left around 9:15 and headed for Calgary, which was just able to be seen on the horizon when we had to pull over to charge. It worked out well though because a reporter from CTV came out and took some footage. As we were leaving a gentleman named Harry joined us in the van, I had no idea why but I certainly didn't mind the company. Through a series of educated guesses and light eavesdropping, I found out that Harry saw us as he drove to the airport to pick up his wife. He wondered if we had a place to store the car, but didn't have time to stop. On his way back he saw us again and decided he had to stop this time. His wife took their car back home to get some rest and he stayed back with us to guide us to his place, where we would store the car in his garage and provide us a space to camp out for the night. He showed us one of his mechanical prides of joy, a 1913 Model T, but that was just the start of his collection. I didn't go on the rest of the tour, though since I had a fair share of work to get to on the computer. We had a midnight meeting in the van, assigned new roles and discussed progress and then everyone hit the sack. Thank you Harry and Rosalie for you hospitality!

By Josh
I woke up in Walsh with Claire, and to my surprise my snoring never came to pass through my airways; much to Claire's relief, I'm sure. We promptly set up the array, and I went in for breakfast first thing in the morning. Nelly and George gave us some oatmeal and fruit, and their neighbors dropped by for a conversation, one of whom thought the Xof1 was a UFO, and was excited to meet us aliens. I played another Maple Leaf Rag, knowing that it might be appropriate with the Candian colors, and a Bohemian Rhapsody. After saying our goodbyes, I said my goodbyes to everyone, and hopped in the driver's seat for the last time in a while. It was hard to leave Walsh, where evryone was so incredibly nice, friendly, and welcoming to us, but we had to make it to Calgary in order to keep up with Marcelo's progress last year. We drove through some very windy parts of Alberta, and went uphill nearly all the way to Calgary. In spite of slightly overcast weather, and an uphill battle, the solar car made almost all the way to Calgary. On the outskirts of the city, we met with another reporter from CTV who wanted to do an interview with Marcelo. He even took some extra footage that we could send to 20/20. While we were charging and getting motion shots of the XOF1, a man named Harry offered his garage to us for storing the car. The Xof1 reached the danger zone in driving to Harry and Rosalie's house, but it was all good. We were able to use their facilities, and check out his veritable museum of antique and collectible cars. We had a quick meeting about our assigned roles for the next three days, and I was out like a light. Goodnight Calgary!

Chris checking out the car.
A beautiful sun rising over Walsh.
Going to George and Nellie's
This bell almost resonates like a Tibetan singing bowl.
Charging up.
Breakfast with George and Nellie.
Photo of Marcelo taken by George, one year ago!
Claire writting a book
Marcelo and Flora (the UFO lady)
Fresh baked bread, courtesy of Nellie.
The whole solar crew eats some breakfast while Willy downs some milk.
Nellie slicing her homemade loaf.
A beautiful breakfast potluck from George, Nellie, Joleen and Flora.
Josh playing some piano...finally!
Our friends
Our most gracious hosts in the town of Walsh
Goodbye Walsh!
"Now I've seen everytihng"
Curving around Canada.
Irrigating the farmland.
Hills ahead.
Going uphill.
The UFO on high.
The Xof1 keeping up with traffic.
Coming out of the shadows.
A First Native Wigwam.
Shooting through the streets.
The solar car looks massive here.
Willy talking about the car to locals.
A team effort makes a tasty salad
Claire is shining with joy and elation.
Blue skies, and clouds for reflectivity.
Chasing down that train.
A nice farm.
Claire gives her elusive glance to the camera.
Josh watching the road.
Picking up some momentum.
Crossing bridges, burning through new pathways.
Almost to Calgary
Rolling down some hills.
A biker keeps up with the solar car.
While the sun fuels the car, Claire fuels the crew with some good jams.
This man's shirt woke the whole van up, it was so bright.
Prairie cows and solar power.
The solar car is bigger than it looks.
Marcelo working hard. "step into my office!".
The bucket of cherries that we thought would last forever didn't make it.
Willy sleeping on Earth.
Josh wishes he had this dog's awesome facial hair.
A moustasche worthy of envy.
Josh puts some air in the van like it's his job.
The solar car stopping up traffic.
Looking back
Laura demonstrates alien crossing procedures.
Snagging that snapshot.
The Canadian flag flying high and proud.
The light reflects from the Xof1 and the water.
Setting up the array to catch some dropping sunlight.
Willy secures the prop,
Marcelo lifts the array to place it on the prop,
With Claire's moral and physical support, Laura fastens the array.
Willy coming to help with charging the Xof1.
Washing the cells.
Plugging into the sun, as usual.
Cleaning the car. Reaching for that solar shine.
Warning, the solar car doesn't use the gas pipeline.
An interview with Calgary CTV
The last glimmer of light in Calgary
The shadow of a reporter.
Solar energy never looked better.
Some crosslegged crew members.
Laura takes down the array with finesse and speed.
Josh's last day driving for now.
Harry's house and their cool dog Bianca.
1909 Ford
1909 Ford, a Porshe, XOF1
1914 Ford
Another restoration project on the way