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June 30, 2009

Edmonton, Alberta - No driving

By Marcelo,
Willy Wanka and Laura got the array set up across the street from Ted's home. Sunny morning, the array was charging well. We were all getting ready to leave when Claire accidentally cut her hand in her back pack. Claire (A.K.A. Laura Croft) carries a knife with her. Our Ninja disguised as a solar team member took well. Willy and I were working on placing a bandage on it while she was all smiles. What a trooper!. Just as a precaution Josh drove Claire to a clinic, just in case it need stitches, 3 hours later, she had 8. She was trilled to have a souvenir from the journey! I was happy that she was okay.

I learned yesterday that one of my uncles passed away (he was a smoker, developed throat cancer, it eventually spread to the rest of his body). Growing up without a father I was fortunate to have family members filling up the roll, he was one of them, I'll sure miss him.

I wasn't much in the mood to socialize, drive or do anything, besides there was so much to catch up with updates, no driving today.

Laura, with the help of Willy Wanka, fixed the lock on the driver side of the van. Willy fixed the power connector for the rear view monitor, Josh selected a few more videos for 20/20 and Claire...well, we all tried to get Claire to relax, read a book or something, impossible, she wouldn't stop taking care of all of us, making everyone tea, toast, even doing laundry, helping me get contacts organized, etc.. Claire you are amazing! In fact, got to say that everyone has been treating each other with a lot of love and care, it feels like we are a family more than just friends who met randomly on a solar car journey.

The delay gave me a second chance to see Jessica and fulfill third and final promise I made in this tour, a long overdue beer together, I needed the break.

Hasta la pasta!
See you on the sunny side.

By Willy Wanka
Laura and me pushed the car into the sun to charge. There was a HUGE rabbit wondering around us. It was the size of a dog! Everybody started waking up and Claire was stumbling around in the trailer. Then she came running up to Marcelo and me, please please help me, I cut myself. I thought she was joking until I saw the blood going down her hand. We provided her with a little bandage and Claire was a tough girl, she was smiling all the time and telling how much she looked forward to finally have a scar. Josh drove her to the hospital and after three hours she came back with a big smile telling she had 9 stitches. After that we had delicious pasta with red tomato sauce.
In the afternoon the batteries were fully charged, everybody did some work on the computer. Laura and me also fixed the monitor of the van and the door lock.
It was starting to get late so we went to put gas in the van and bought two pizzas. Wow it was the best! With our bellies filled we prepared ourselves to go to bed. My sleeping bag felt like heaven. By the way thanks to Claire because she had washed them. Marcelo ended up going to bed much later.

My condolences to Marcelo and his family.

By Laura,
No natural light penetrates the underground fortress where we all slumber. Usually the first light gently kisses my eyelids in the morning, caressing me from dreams and into the world. Today Willy and I step into the tree lined avenue and place the solar car in the neighbor's yard across the street. To the west rumbles ominous clouds in stark opposition to the bright blue skies hugging the sun in the east. Claire cuts her hand inside the trailer and the blood drips down making fire red sun spots on the sidewalk. We break out the first aid kit and Willy Wanka asks if he should get some french fries for all the ketchup. Claire decides she needs more professional attention than the crew can offer and Josh takes her in the van to the clinic. While they are busy, Marcelo suggests I take the bicycle to the thrift store. My wardrobe for the arctic will have to be a colorful layering of bathing suits and skirts from the festival, and then even my sleeping bag on top to keep warm, unless I can get some arctic wear. After adjusting the bicycle seat and taking a look at the map, I happily pedal out, heading 3 miles north to stock up on hats and gloves for the crew. Crossing two bridges and looking down into the forest below I wish this bike could fly like in E.T. In blinks I see myself riding above the tree tops and over the moon! But I must pay attention, there is no sidewalk and construction on the road ahead. The broken road sends shocks up the frame and I bounce jaggedly upon the cracked pavement. Soon it is smooth again and I speed down the road, sun on my shoulders and my thighs buzzing. I carefully lock up the bike outside the Salvation Army and begin the search for extra layers for myself and the Florida crew. Pedaling back to the house I am strapped with a backpack stuffed with winter wear, even some attached to the outside. I feel like a real backpacker gypsy pedaling down the street looking like I carry everything I own in this bag. Rounding the last corner I see the garage door open and Josh greet me with the overwhelming smell of garlic from the kitchen. It’s Christmas in July as the sack empties with presents for everyone- gloves, hats, jackets and long johns. Another delicious pasta dish with garlic is created by Josh and me. Claire redresses her wound but not before showing us her stitches, 8 or 9 of them across her nuckels and we take a close up picture creating an eerie zombie like image- cool. It’s been a while since we stayed two days in one place and it’s nice to get organized and rest a bit. The website is updated, repairs are done on the van including the lock on the driver's door and the video monitor. I unscrew the entire door panel and reach my arms down into the nethers to retrieve the small metal locking mechanism. Marcelo and Willy take apart the video power connector to find two broken wires. Watching them solder it back together I realize how many people would probably just buy a new one, but just taking the time to fix things is so much easier and so interesting. When I was little you could find me taking apart radios and telephones, anything I could, to see inside how it all works and marvel at the tiny shapes and think how amazing it is that these strange pieces and wires allow me to talk to someone far away or listen to music or make toast! We go on a pizza run and gas up the van but when we return Marcelo is gone, enjoying a drink on the porch next door. Drooling, we wait as long as we can until the pizza gets cold and our hunger can no longer stand the temptation. Full of cheesy yumminess we turn in hoping to get an early start in the morning with our fully charged battery.

By Josh,
We stayed the night at Ted's house. Last year Marcelo was here for at least a couple weeks while looking for team members. It was here in Edmonton where he met Moe and Carrie, who ended up going with him all the way to the Arctic Circle. We've heard so many positive things about Moe and Carrie's journey with Marcelo, that it was awesome to finally see where they started their journey with Marcelo. Very early this morning, Claire accidentally cut the top of her hand with a knife that was poking out of a backpack. Marcelo and Willy helped her put a band aid on it, and I raced her off to a clinic as quickly as possible. The clinic recommended we visit Misericordia, which I thought to be a miserable name for a hospital. Claire was worried that she might have overreacted to the cut, but alas, she needed some stitches. I stood by her side to provide any potentially necessary moral support, but she was laughing all throughout. She wasn't too happy when they administered Lidocaine, a numbing agent, but she seemed as serene and patient as could be throughout the remainder of the procedure. She even thought me to be queasy because I chose not to stare at the wound with intrigue and excitement, but really I just imagined how such a cut might feel. As a musician, such a loss of motion on my right index finger would be personally devastating, and so I could certainly imagine how I might handle a similar energy. Having broken both my arms before, I know the pain of not being able to play my instrument. But Claire, on the other hand, was proud of her scar, knowing that she might tell people she fought a bear over a man, or saved a young child from peril in the face of some other wild danger. Imagination is not lacking in the life of Claire. I took some photos to satiate the curiosity of her sister, and to record for her memoir. Leaving the hospital, I promised Claire ice cream, which she refused, not wanting to cause the solar car team any further delay. Getting back to Ted's house, we see that Laura had gone off to the thrift store to get some Arctic supplies. I cooked some more pasta for lunch, and when Laura had biked back, she jumped in to make it Pasta a la Peruzzi with her Italian finishing touch. We all worked on the website, and our respective projects to make the best of our time here. Laura and Willy fixed the monitor in the van, while I helped Claire write business card labels because of her recent hand injury. Laura also fixed the lock on the van, and I helped Marcelo with the website. Hearing a familiar "Turkey in the Straw" ring in the distance, I knew I must fulfill my promise to Claire. I ran outside to find it was the ice cream truck. I unloaded the last of my Canadian money to get her and the team some ice cream. After a brief but sweet dairy interlude, I selected videos to send to 2020 from the hard drive. During dusk, Marcelo had a promise of his own to fulfill. So Marcelo went next door to have a beer with Jessica, which he had promised to do a year ago. Claire, never to back away from a challenge, helped me to put the solar car away in the driveway in spite of the condition of her hand. We all entertained the idea of watching a movie, but sleep is an essential process in the solar car tour.

By Claire
I am coming to terms with the fact that my left hand has successfully disguised itself with utility for 23 years. It has saved face with simple but practical gestures and maneuvers...grasping, pushing, pointing, clapping. I'll admit its been very reliable, but it pains me to say that it truly is a mere accessory, a product of anatomical symmetry. It must be considered cruel of me to write such things about my own appendage, especially when it is the one typing this for me. It just doesnt listen to me. It's the Pinky* or Lenny** of the dynamic duo. I find myself electing to feel pain on the right over waiting for the left to perform correctly. Patience, Claire.

A little background info for those of you who haven't yet review anyone else's updates: I was walking through the woods earlier today, looking for the cure for the common cold, when I came upon fallen bald eagle's egg. Turns out that a black bear was already eyeing the egg, not appreciating my good samaritan intention to see its return home, he decided to charge me. So, I balanced the egg on the top of my head and shimmied up the closest tree, pausing about 10 yards up to make sure he hadn't borrowed any of my toes. I looked around to review my predicament, but the only tangible conclusion I found was a panther making its way down to the section of tree trunk I was currently wrapped around. Without many options, I pulled some bark, fashioned a rope, and swung away, quite unpredictably landing in the very nest the egg had fallen from. I took the egg off my head and placed it down just as the baby pecked its way out of its shell. Long story short, it wasnt a baby eagle, but a baby raptor and in its excitement of being born, it jumped to me, cutting my hand with its razor sharp claw.

Now for those of you that can't wrap your head around the fact that bears, panthers, and raptors coexist near downtown Edmonton, here is a more digestible version of the story: My fixed blade knife had made its way out of its holster and protruded through the next pocket opening of my backpack. As I pulled my hand out from the bottom pocket it cut the back of my hand.

The resolution section is the same for either storyline you choose to accept: I looked at it long enough to see that damage was, in fact, done and figured it would be better if I didn't see my hand in an unnatural state. I went out, arm outstretched and head turned away, asking Laura, Willy, and/or Marcelo to come fix it. After the preliminary cleaning I took a look at it and openly noted its grossness. Though it had a true visual impact, I can't say it was very painful. Josh kindly took me to the clinic, which recommended I go to a hospital whose name was some variation of the word miserable (not a joke).

Unraveling the bandage made by my attentive crewmates, the doctor made a above-the-breath but distinct, "wow" as she took her first look, I was actually comforted by that comment, as I was worried that I was making a big deal out of nothing by seeking medical attention. It was just yesterday that I thought to myself that I had had so many opportunities to get hurt in the past, but my invincibility had kept me from sentimental scar tissue. Without much regard for Josh's comfort level, I had him take pictures of the whole event, start to finish. The doctor got into it, too, offering "this would be a good shot here." Happy about my new permanent souvenir we headed back to Ted and DK's house where the rest of the gang was still working.

Basically the entire day was spent doing stuff, especially with updates, record keeping, and the website. There was a lot of tweaking to be done. The kind of stuff that isn't too complicated but is tediously time consuming. Marcelo definitely wanted to be as organized as possible for the sake of a potential larger scale media attention and for the fact that Edmonton would be the last big city before the Arctic. Laura took the bike to the thrift store to pick up some jackets, gloves, and socks for the ill-prepared Floridians. I cleaned up the trailer, did laundry, and let everyone baby me a bit. Willy and Laura fixed the lock and the monitor in the van, while Josh and Marcelo were glued to the computer. The solar cells were doing their share of work as well, building up to a full charge by the end of the day.

It was really really nice to stay at a house, where we had a kitchen and bathroom...well, all the regular house stuff. To cook a meal together and work together at a big table was a real treat. Thank you again Ted and DK. AND THANK YOU, MY LOVELY SOLAR FAMILY, FOR TAKING CARE OF ME TODAY! PEACE.

*Pinky and The Brain
**Of Mice and Men

Claire is dealing with her cut with impressive bravery.
Laura enjoys an ice cream cone.
Willy Wanka with his chocolate cone.
Marcelo meets Jessica, after a year; and on the same tour!
Claire is recovering quite nicely.