news update links
June 28, 2009

Calgary, AB - 20km North of Red Deer, AB

By Marcelo
Last night soon after we arrived, Bianca a beautiful dog was in a playfull mood, chasing me down the drive way. This morning, I was the only one running, she wouldn't move other than on her own will as if she was saying "you run, I watch".
Willy wanka and Laura set up the array this morning. As a reward they got a ride with Harry on a turn of the century classic in immaculate condition.
I was a bit concerned the crew would want to stay behind. Harry spoiled everyone with amazing omlettes made to order, naturally our carnivore Willy Wanka got his loaded with bacon.
Rosalie and Tyler both driving Porsches escorted us to meet the press at Calgary Science Centre, there we met with The Calgary Sun and the Calgary Herald, looking forward to seeing the photos and reading their articles. We ended up staying a bit longer then expected waiting for CBC and Global but they never showed up. At 12:24 we got on the way to Edmonton. - "on the road again" Willy Wanka yells on the radio!. He does it with so much enthusiasm that I started to ask him for a bit of warning so I don't loose my hearing at the end of the tour :)
Looking forward to seeing the great people I met in Edmonton last year, I was excited to be on the road again.
I chose to drive on highway 2 under the assumption it would be light traffic, it is Sunday, as it turned out today is the busiest day. Near Calgary, traffic was intense. I kept driving between 75-80kmh, not super fast but enough to keep up with some of the slow traffic on the left lane. Further away from Calgary it reduced from 3 to 2 lanes, traffic was starting to ease but it was still busy. At the top of Antlers Hill (20km south of Red Deer) we got pulled over by the RCMP. Someone called to complain about the solar car. The officer's initial contact was aggressive and loud, he was very adamant about getting the solar car out of his highway. By the time I got out of the car, Josh had already talked to him about the solar license and showed him the documentation. Some University solar car teams registered their solar car as motorcycles, 3 wheel vehicles. XOF1 is licensed in the country of Barbados as a regular car. The officer demanded a document from the Canadian government stating it passed Canadian automotive standards in order to be on the road. I explained XOF1 is not licensed in Canada, it is a foreign vehicle passing by, and as such, it does not have to be licensed nor comply with Canadian regulations the same way a Canadian vehicle travelling in a foreign country doesn't have to comply with local licensing regulations, thanks to the 1949 Geneva Convention Road Traffic Treaty that over rule local laws. Canada signed the Treaty in 1949. I provided the officer with a copy of the treaty, mentioned I had already driven the solar car on highway #2 last year. His comment was that he wasn't on duty that day, otherwise the solar car would not have been allowed on the road. He asked me to trailer the solar car, I said no, and then I was told it was going to get towed. At that moment I lost it, to make matters worse I raised my voice too. In my head it was all coming to an end. A million thoughts going through my mind. He was going to call a tow, I walked away. Well, if this is going to be the end of the tour, I may as well let the rest of the world know and started calling the media. The Herald jumped on the story right away, calling the RCMP to hear their side of the story. Great! I thought! that's good journalism. The officer was making calls to his superiors, I was making calls to the media. I had a pep talk with my alterego to calm down. -"at least the batteries were being charged" I said, Claire looked at me and started laughing. Oh well, got to look at the positive side of things. CBC was on the way. Near two hours later the officer came to let me know that he was waiting for a phone call from his superior. -"If they tell me you are good to go, you are good to go!
By now the officer and I were much calmer, I apologized for how I reacted. The call came, the solar car was free to proceed.

The officer asked for a compromise, he asked me to only drive until Red Deer, stop for the night and proceed in the morning after rush hour traffic or choose a less traveled road. I agreed. The officer and I ended our dealings in a very amicable way. He wished us a safe journey. I prefer to travel on secondary roads, and was happy to comply. We drove to Red Deer, met with CBC, did an interview. Got on the way towards Edmonton on secondary roads. The scenery was breath taking with almost no traffic. I am glad we changed route, it was a much more enjoyable drive.

I look at situations like this from a spiritual angle. It help me cope with life. Perhaps, if I didn't get pulled over, I could had been in an accident further down on the road. Thus, the delay was a blessing. So many wonderful and unusual things happened in this tour, in many occasions I wonder if there was a touch of divine intervention. I would like to think so. Someone is watching over us.
A little thank you note for my guardian angel, today in the shape of an RCMP officer, THANK YOU for being there!
Perhaps it was my uncle Francisco's way to get my attention, he was always joking around or had something funny to say, life is precious and fragile. My uncle Francisco passed away today, I'll sure miss him.

By Willy Wanka
What a morning, Laura and me had to wake up early to catch some sunlight. Just after we had set up the array Harry arrived. He wanted to show another car of his. He opened up his trailer and there was a beautiful Ford Depot Hack 1922. We helped him unload the car and there it came… Harry said: Hop in and let's go for a ride. Happy as kids with candy we hopped in and enjoyed a beautiful bumpy and noisy ride in the oldie.
That morning there was some media set up at the science museum in Calgary. Before we left we had an amazing omelet that Harry had made for us. And then the opportunity came… Rosalie wanted to escort the solar with her Porsche and I was able to go along with her. Wowww my first time in a Porsche!! Rosalie was like a young girl showing of her car, racing to high speeds. It was fantastic! We arrived at the museum and Marcelo did his interviews. I even got a quick drive in another Porsche with Tyler the son of Rosalie and Harry.
In the beginning of the afternoon we left for Edmonton and it was back on the road again. Of course it was all to good to be true. We got pulled over by the RCMP and the police officer wanted us of the road. Marcelo did everything he could to prevent it but with no results. Marcelo started calling the media about what happened and the officer contacted his office. After 3 hours it became clear to the officer that we were legal on the road and he finally let us go. Shortly after that CBC TV arrived and did a story on what happened. Because of all the delay we were not able to make it to Edmonton and we had to camp out. We met a nice married couple that offered us their yard. After a busy day full of adventure we finally went to bed

By Laura
This morning we go back in time to the 1920’s. Harry takes the two of us for a ride in his 1922 Ford Depot Hack. It is a taxi type car in mint condition with room for five plus the driver. Acceleration is by handle on the steering wheel and in addition to the brake pedal and clutch is a separate pedal just for reverse. Open wooden frame, no windows, and tiny quarter doors that remind me of the kind on kiddie train rides. Willy Wonka stretches out in the tiny backseats while my skirt billows in the wind surging in from the open front seat. It is a smooth sunrise cruise at 15 miles an hour down the country backroads. We park next to the solar car still charging in the mroning sun. Before our eyes lays the past and the future of transportation. I think of how this solar car tour is making history. Years from now this trip and every mile we go is part of something larger, part of the evolution of technology and how a thought or a dream can come to fruition and manifest itself in the material world. All that we see around us started as a seed in someone’s mind. We are one big cosmic tree, branching out into new realms and spreading seeds for our future to grow.

The chill of the morning air grows warmer as the sun rises and small yellow flowers bloom over the span of a couple hours. As I lay in the grass catching a few winks more of sleep before we head out, ants begin to crawl on me. At first I shoo their tickelish steps away then eventually I give in and at one point I feel over a dozen of them lightly stepping on my body. The sensation is calming and I embrace this feeling. Is this what the earth feels? Millions of creatures moving about, giving the earth a tickle by buzzing around on the surface. I wonder if I tried hard enough could I feel all the tiny microorganisms on my the earth so big she doesn’t feel all of us on her...I’m sure she does.

Inside the house Harry is cooking up omlettets and toast. I have a big glass of milk and savor the warm cheesy omlette with peppers and cilanto, then crunch into some buttery toast..mmm- a hearty meal to start a beautiful day. Today we are meeting with press at the Telus Science Center in downtown Calgary. Yesterday was my last day of contacting and organizing press and I really enjoyed talking with the producers and sharing Marcelo’s story. They ask me my name and I am so grateful to be a part of all of this. At one point I feel like I am channeling Marcelo, the words flowing out just how he would say them. We park in the back of the museum and Mike, a photographer from the Calgary Sun is already there. He uses a reflector and asks me to hold his flash while he takes some amazing photos of Marcelo with one hand on the top of the car, the other up to the sun. The Herald shows up a bit later and before we head off we say goodbye to Rosalie, Harry and their son Tyler. With their two Porches they gave us the most expensive escort we’ve had so far. Rosalie draws a map on her hand of where we can find her mother-in-law’s house farther north on our route and away we go, on the road again!

With the cell phone still in my back pocket I answer a call from Dave. He is from Winnipeg working on the 130mpg car challenge and is asking me about where to fly in to join the team since he missed us a few days ago. Marcelo says he is not interested in having more volunteers, even with Willy Wonka leaving in two weeks. It is now that I ask both Josh and Claire what their plans are and begin to evalutate my own committment. Four people work well, especially with the rotation we have established and I am surprised when Marcelo says it is too stressful, that he only wants three, actually just two. I am excited about the people we meet briefly passing through but even more so about new crew members...loosing them is saddening.
Since the beginning Josh and I have been gung-ho about going all the way to the arctic. Claire will be most likely jumping off in Alaska to do some traveling and sightseeing of her own. Myself, I would like to be a part of the South America tour pending sponsorship. Currently I am at liberty with a break from school and my business managable from a distance, it is my love I worry will not be so understanding in a spontaneous solar car summer tour becoming a year long project. An hour later while driving up highway 2 the tour seems to come to a standstill and this is the first time since the accident with the ferrings that I fear the breaks have been put on, for good. A RCMP officer pulls us over and he is angry and hostile, demanding we go no farther. The tour means nothing, the distance record, the Barbados license plate and even the Geneva Treaty mean nothing to him. Marcelo slams down the folder of documents at the cop’s feet. “Do whatever you want with the car then!” The tension is high and as I stand holding the solar car from the oncoming gusts of 80+kmph freeway traffic, I think about how much he had to go through already with the Ontario government and others to get the car on the road. I remember Marcelo telling me how the United Arab Emirates was offering him money, lots of money to register the vehicle there, but Barbados was geographically closer, so hence the current standing. Marcelo has put everything he has ever made into this car, blood, sweat and tears as well and my heart beats faster and my belly twists when I see him yelling at this cop. This is our fight, this is our right. How rediculous is it that there is such strong opposition to the solar car? But that is how it is at first: civil rights, women’s rights, everyone has their struggle...but this is about energy, does the government have the right to deny us to travel on clean energy from the sun? The officer asks me about crash tests, “Has this vehicle gone through the crash test all cars must pass to drive within Canada?” I tell him this is a prototype and it is legally registerd and fully able to drive on roads in any country complying with the Geneva Treaty, despite the crash test. This is not good enough. Another cop pulls up on a motorcycle, curious about the car, and the two policemen chat, discussing the car, smoking a cigar. I see another set of red and blue lights just up ahead on the shoulder as well. Three hours passes on the side of the highway. We talk, we eat, we play games all while sitting on the side of the road keeping the top of the solar car from lifting up. Eventually, while leaning back to back against each other and the car, Willy and I fall asleep, big trucks and vehicles whizzing by and the future of the tour in limbo. We wake up from our roadway slumber and the cop is gone. Apparently the chief and the up-tops said let them go, and off we go, headed towards Edmonton. However, the day’s delay brings us only as far as Clive. It is 9 o’clock and we are still able to charge a bit. Willy finds a patch of grass and lays out with a book while Josh and I go running through the tall grass, hoping to build a small fire next to the lake. We succeed, despite the wet marsh beneath us and watch the flames consume the sticks and kindling, smoke swirlig aound our feet. I say a mantra and offer this fire as thanks to the sun and the powers that be making this whole journey a possibility. Walking back to the van we come across a famous wild Alberta rose bush, its blush pink buds and blooms are crazy fragrant, like if the sunset had a smell. Farther on is a field of young broccoli growing and I pick a small bunch, munch, and offer some to Josh and Willy up on the grassy slope. It tastes so fresh and its tiny yellow flowers remind me of the broccoli growing at home. Claire is doing yoga by the van and Marcelo asleep within. I find a soft patch of grass next to the solar car and shut my eyes to the world. Some time later I awake to the sunset. Within my view is the moon on the left and the sun on the right, and my wild rose like a toothpick still in my mouth, seen in between the celestial bodies above.
I join the others across the street doing balancing poses. Claire is teaching us how to do the impossible balancing peacock pose. The night draws to a close and we park in the yard of the house down the gravel road just off the highway. I sit in the gravel watching the sunset while honey drips from my sandwich and my body shivers in the cold. Before bed I put on my running shoes and warm up with a run into the night. Returning to the van I find Willy Wonka standing in the shadows. He tries to scare me but what really alarms me is that it is close to one in the morning and still the magenta and lavender light from the sunset hangs in the sky. The night is shrinking as we continue north...soon the night will be no more.

By Claire

I used to be afraid of being on the side of the road, with the vortex gusts and random squeals, honks, and clattering, but it's beginning to feel a little homey. Whether I have a camera in my hand or I'm lying on my back under the car, I feel quite at ease. Maybe when I get back home and start having solar car project withdrawals I can just pull over on I-95 to get a quick, consoling fix. (I'm being sarcastic, don't do that). This is the random thought kicking off this update because I have been on the side of the road for over three hours, waiting for a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, po-po) to decide the fate of our journey. We were pulled over about 90 miles outside of Calgary and were told, quite intensely, that we would be towed.

I stood amid the confrontation with a video camera in hand and allowed the officer's waving hands and shaking head to ignite an internal questioning, 'Where should I go if this whole thing is off? What's Marcelo going to do? Can this whole thing really be shut down? Can Lucy come up here? Maybe I'll just buy a ticket or maybe go to the station...' Several negotiatory talks ensued...'I talked to such and such from the department of such and such and he said such and such,' etc. In that time I finished a couple updates and Josh scanned the entire 1949 Geneva Treaty to defend the legality of the solar car, while Laura and Willy napped peacefully, sitting back to back next to the car on side the of the highway and in full view of the officer that was detaining us. By the end of the mandated waiting period, Marcelo and the officer looked as though they were mates on a champion bowling team sans the high-fives.

The agreement of the stand off was that we could either continue up 20k to Red Deer where we would have to stay the night or we could take an alternative route north. Minutes within the RCMP leaving, CBC (Canada's national broadcasting agent) called saying they were nearby to report on our dilemma. Marcelo talked to them saying that they should still stop since they were so close and they did. We pulled off at a gas station where they interviewed Marcelo and took some passing shots. This is good, VERY VERY GOOD! From there we headed in some direction to take a different route and it was meant to be because there were some breathtaking views of acreages and a section of road that crossed water with a steep gorge to one side.

We stopped on the side of the road around 8:30pm, I'm guessing, and as if it was prearranged, everyone scattered for some independent r&r. Willy grabbed his book and laid out on the thistle trodden grass, Laura and Josh explored the pond and made a small fire, Marcelo napped in the van, and I did some much needed body bending. At 10pm, with the sun still on its descent, we gathered to determine where would sleep deeming the edge of a small highway a not so homey arrangement. We went down a nearby driveway, but no one was home. We sat in the van a few minutes talking about what we should do, but then the residents pulled in and were more than accommodating for our needs...a power outlet, room to turn the trailer around, and a straight shot to sunrise. The lot was something else, facing north one had a complete 180 degree view of the sky with the colors of the sunset reaching over to the eastern quadrant. GORGEOUS.

Thank you Shirley and Marvin for the space, the watermelon (and tupperware), and your generous disposition.

By Josh
Laura and Willy set up the array this morning, and got to ride a model T while I was sleeping. Harry prepared some excellent omlettes for the crew, and I got ready quickly so that we could get to a photo opportunity at the Calgary Science Center. We drove through downtown Calgary with two porsches as escorts, and met with the Calgary Sun and the Calgary Herald. Marcelo got interviewed, by both of them, and told us that he had stopped at this same place last year on the tour. I talked a bit with Tyler, Harry's son, about potential sponsorship opportunities that we might pursue. Harry has been working with Exxon, and we entertained the idea of getting them to support renewable energy. It was great to meet Harry and Rosalie, and maybe we'll see them again if the tour goes down to Tierra Del Fuego, seeing as they just built a house in Panama. We drove for a little while with our sights set on Edmonton. Just as we were getting ready to be on the road for a good amount of time, we were stopped by the police. An officer pulled over the solar car and pointed at us forcefully. He scolded the solar crew for about three hours. I quickly had to learn all about the United Nations 1949 Geneva treaty Convention on Road Traffic. Section IV covers the provisions applicable to motor vehicles and trailers, which ended up being our legal backbone. The Alberta province did not wish to hold back the tour as much as the officer, and so he let us go. Learning that Marcelo, like he, was also from Ontario, possibly persuaded him to be a little more friendly and lenient. We called the media, who had already started coming after the officer left. They proceeded to get some footage of the solar car, and I showed them the section of the treaty that made us officially street legal. After some great passing shots, the team drove on to change highways, since the busy-ness of the highway prompted the police officer's paranoia that we would crash and sue him. We stopped by a field of broccoli, and Laura and I made an impromptu fire by a marshy lakeside. After humming and checking out the setting sun, Claire and I did some yoga. Michael, and then Laura later joined us as Marcelo rested. After realizing that it was 10 PM, despite the sunny sky, we looked for a place to park the car. Marvin and Shirley said they would allow us to keep our vehicles on their land overnight. This was a pretty exciting Sunday for the solar car, but I must go, because the sun rises in about 4 hours, and we must charge with solar power!

Laura sets up the array in the early morning.
Harry's Model T
Laura takes it for a ride first thing in the morning.
Terriffic toast.
Harry, the chef, auto enthusiast, and all around great guy.
The past and future of automobile technology.
Downtown Calgary.
The solar car crew takes it to the streets in Alberta.
Some great Calgary style architecture.
Willy reflecting sunlight for Marcelo's photo for the paper.
Our Calgary friends at the Telus Science Center
The porsche sandwich, with the Xof1 as the jam.
Rosalie is so happy to be driving a porsche.
We almost traded vans with these road trippers.
A close encounter with RCMP
Willy and Laura sleep while the cop scrambles to find the laws to keep us off the road.
He called for backup.
Taping down again
An interview after our intense police experience.
Josh showing the reporters the United Nations Geneva Treaty that keeps the Xof1 legal on the roads.
On the road again!!
We had to get off the busy highway.
Here comes Marcelo!
Charging by the side of the road.
Claire hops in the cockpit; a perfect fit!
A moonlight night freezes the solar car crew.