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July 10, 2009

Border of Yukon Territory - Watson Lake, YT - 10.2miles

By Marcelo

My thoughts, Life is what you make out of it, if someone gives you a lemon you make a lemonade.

Here I am, back again at the Downtown RV, Archie still running the show, good to see him. He heard about the adventures of the solar car through the "grape vine". Naturally, he had to ask me the most common question I have been hearing from everyone who already met me in this journey last year "why are you going back". The honest answer is; my goal was to arrive in Inuvik by June 21st, the longest day of the year. Unfortunately, I missed the first time around, and, again this year. So, if why I don't just turn around? Well, you got to travel to this necks of the wood to understand. People here are kind and friendly, they make you feel right at home, there is a strong sense of community that I don't find in a big city. As Mark Prins would always say "I am an Yukoner, what do you expect, we help people". The tough winter embed a tribal sense of survival, people here to help each other, it permeate into the culture. That combined with the pristine landscape, majestic mountains, open space, the silence, wild animals. Now, ad the challenge of driving a vehicle that use light as fuel, never plugged in, gravel roads, low sun in the horizon, etc... It is such an incredible and unique experience worth living for. Have said that, if the stars aligned in my favor in the future. I would take on the challenge again to return to the land of the midnight sun one more time in order to get to Inuvik by June 21st. Nothing written in stone for now, just a thought for now :)

The days event: We had a long and late night from Liard Hot Springs to where we stopped last night. The battery was getting low, I was tired and very sleepy. I was physically pushing myself to try to make to Watson Lake, finally came to a stop right at the boarder between BC and Yukon. Well, it wasn't until this morning that we realized how closed we were to Watson Lake, only 12km away. We could have driven that last night. Oh well, next time we'll get the GPS, we thought we were much further away.

Chose not to drive to get some adm work done. Besides today was our debut on ABC News 20/20. It was a great compliment to the project to be feature on the one hour special on the automobile industry. The producer told me they want to end the segment with positive news. Great! our spot on the show was only a few seconds! Hope we inspire a few people. We watched the show in the laundry room, it was funny there was a small audience composed of RVers from Oregon.

Through the day there were a number of people stopping by to see the solar car, some heard of the solar car while travelling in other places, some had seem the solar car last year. All happy to see it again.

Thanks to Willy Wanka great marketing skills a local gas station sponsored us with free gas and local supermarket sponsor us with some free groceries. Willy could probably sell ice to esquimos. He also treated everyone for ice cream. Who would say no to that.

Batteries are full, looking forward to the drive to White Horse.

Stay tuned, here comes the solar car!

By Willy Wanka
This morning we slept in until… well the nine was in the hour, let’s say later than planned. It was a good sleep but those mosquitoes were bugging us all the time!! Those ladies were on top of it last night! (only females bite)
We set up the array for a little hour and left after that. Starting to drive we discovered that Watson Lake was only around the corner. We could have had make it last night. We arrived at the campsite and gave some more sunshine to the car. Everybody was working on updates and I went to get some gas, the gas station was very kind and sponsored us with a full tank. Thank you very much!! I also went to local supermarket named Super A Food, they gave us over 50 dollars worth of groceries. Thank you very much as well! The dr pepper was more than welcome! When we came back we talked with the people around us, worked on more updates, we took turns taking showers and more of that usual stuff. Marcelo had also bought some good food and when I say good I’m talking about meat and garlic! OOWYEAH!!
The evening was approaching and finally it was time for the tv-show Twenty-Twenty!!! I tried to gather some people around and together we watched the program in the laundry room of the camping. Believe it or not but the xof1 had a spectacular 15-second role in the one hour during show. We received some sweet cakes of the people that were watching with us. After the show I met a couple from Quebec and the lady knew my grandmother. Isn’t the world a small place?
We ended the day working on the updates while fighting the mosquitoes of. Ow and I met a cool German lady, I practiced my German and she practiced her English. The END.

By Laura
Awake on the border and after charging for a bit we enter Yukon Territory. We realize soon that we were only a few kilometers from Watson Lake and could have made it last night to the campground, oh well. We pass the sign post forest famous for having signs people have brought from all over the world. There are hundreds, maybe thousands. Josh sees one from Tallahassee, FL! We quickly set up the array in the Downtown RV Park where Marcelo stopped last year. Archie comes out to say Hi and to ask us to move the van, we are taking up 6 spaces. We have internet here and upload all the new and revised pages we worked on last night. Today is Friday and 20/20 airs here at 7pm. A group of motorists all in a caravan to Alaska have gathered for a dessert potluck and we crash their party to tell them we will be on 20/20 and are welcome to join us for the showing in the laundry room. They invite us to finish the cake and goodies left and soon we are sitting on plastic chairs and washing machines enjoying fudge and cookies and pie watching the decline of GM, waiting for our however many minutes of fame. Within the last 10 minutes of the show the solar car is on TV! We scream and high five, it’s about 30 seconds, Marcelo’s voice saying something like they thought I was crazy, but I was following my dream. The narrator says Marcelo Da Luz designed and built his own solar car and has driven it over 28,000 miles. They show Josh bringing down the top closing Marcelo in the car and a few clips of it driving. Then they move on to the Tesla and another electric car, but the xof1 solar car was the first car they showed in talking about the future and solution to the gas guzzlers GM was known for.

By Josh
Last night we stopped only 10km out from Watson Lake. We drove into town first thing in the morning. The Northern Lights Center already had a flashing sign announcing the arrival of the Xof1. So many of the people in the RV park came to check out the solar car. Driving past the sign post forest, we stopped at Downtown RV. They let us plug in, take showers, and use their power for doing updates. For most of the day, we got caught up on the website, and made plans for the day. Willy was able to get free gas and groceries. Great job Willy! Laura, Marcelo, Claire and I caught up on rest and updates. The RV park is located right on Wye Lake, and had lovely natural scenery for us to enjoy. I worked on putting the updates, and finally got a good shower. Willy and Marcelo made some sandwiches for everyone, also bringing some ice cream for dessert. After we ate, we all did work for a while. Willy must have spoken at least four different languages while promoting the solar car. Claire helped with laundry, which was greatly appreciated. She says it's her chore of choice, and she was done with it in a snap. Around 7:00PM We were given cake and cookies by some of the current RV residents. I watched the episode of 2020, interspersed with catching up on updates. I was really concerned that the Xof1 might not have made it on with all the talk about larger auto industries. Sure enough, the solar car made its 30 second debut on 2020. It was great to see the solar car on national news, getting the coverage it deserves. We had been preparing for this for a couple months now, and it was nice to see the solar car as one of the suggested solutions to the failure of innovation at GM. It was also nice to finally see some of Marcelo's work get acknowledged, even if it was for about 20 seconds. I even saw myself on the show, and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw myself opening the solar car in one of the scenes. Being on 2020, even for a moment, is more than I could have hoped for in being a promoter of renewable energy. Marcelo definitely deserved more time, and I am going to try to insist upon a follow up. Some residents from the RV place liked it, and gave us some cake for the road. After a brief celebration, Marcelo and I worked really late, and went to bed around 2:00 AM. It was great to take a day to get things together for the road ahead. Goodnight Watson Lake!

By Claire
We slept in much much too late today. Walking outside this morning was my first glance at where we had slept. It was next to a huge Welcome to British Columbia signpost. The trail of the Alaskan Highway crosses back and forth from BC to Yukon and we managed to camp right on the line, sleeping in Yukon and going over to BC to use th bush. Only a few kilometers away lay Watson Lake, a pretty city known for its overwhelming signpost collection, a collage of street signs and address plaques from all over. We stopped at Downtown RV owned by Archie, who Marcelo met last year. He gave us a space to set up shop, somewhere to charge the car and use the electricity for our computers. We showered, talked to people (nice to have met you Red Ron!), and worked on updates. There is love for Xof1 here at Watson Lake, the Northern Lights Centre welcomed the solar car to town on their sign, the local bank had a poster about us, and the tourist center was telling people about our driving through today. Our soar pitchmen, Willy, went on a walk and came back with a free tank of gas from Esso and $50 grocery voucher from Watson Lake Grocery Meat & Produce. THANK YOU BOTH! There was some kind of meeting going on at the RV park, but that was just a cover up because from what I could tell it was a bonified sugar bash. They had an entire table laid out with all kinds of desserts. Willy made a hearty announcement to the group about Xof1, I know because I heard it clearly from the parking lot, and we were thereafter granted access to the diabetic debauchery. The highlight of the day was hands down the fact that XOF1 WAS ON 20/20!!! It was so exciting. We all sat on top of the washing machines in the park's laundromat and waited anxiously for Marcelo's debut. Arms went flailing when the shot of the solar car cruising down the road came up on the screen. The modest Marcelo doesn't encourage my freak out congratulations, but I know he appreciated it. Im so proud of you Marcelo!

Charging the array at the border of BC and Yukon
Watson Lake was only 4km away from where we stopped last night!
I'm lost!
Sign forest! Is there a solar car crossing sign?
Entering the trailer stop Marcelo was at last year
Setting up the array
Lunch time!
Yummy sprouts!
Boys securing the spent solar tires under the trailer
Charging up!
Josh in the tires and flowers
Our new past time, feeding or keeping mosquitos away
Good night XOF1