Day Seven of the American Solar Challenge!
We woke up bright and early again today and went back to the convention center parking lot in York, NE to continue charging our car. We charged it for the two hours allowed before packing up and driving off at 9:00 AM this morning.
Fresh off of our charge this morning, today started fast. In order to make the stage stop on time, we had to be going 40 mph on average, so we were traveling nearly the speed limit at most times.
Unfortunately, today marked yet another day of clouds. As we drove towards Scotts Bluff, we got nothing but cloud cover, at many points so thick that our car was barely charging, yet we barreled on. It felt as though our race had been nothing but clouds, which is frustrating when we are trying to travel on solely sun power.
Ultimately, without the sun providing a significant source of energy to our car, we had to stop. We realized that pushing the car to make the drive to Scotts Bluff was sapping more energy than it was worth, so we pulled to the side of NE-2 amid long stretches of empty highway. There, we charged for as long as we could before loading our car into our trailer and driving off. Even this happened under heavy clouds, with no relief in sight.
After we had charged for as long as possible, we impounded our battery with our observer and loaded our car into our trailer. From there, we drove the last 100 miles to Scotts Bluff to join the rest of the teams, all of whom were already there, either driving in or trailering before us.
When we got to Scotts Bluff, though, spirits were lifted. Barbecue was waiting for us, and the Park Ranger told us we could hike up the bluff, even though it was already closed to the public, as long as we were back by dark. Several of us ran up, since dark was rapidly approaching, and watched the sunset from halfway up the bluff. In our haste, nobody brought a camera for sunset pictures, but that allowed everybody to appreciate the sunset as it was happening, so that may not have been so bad. On our way back down, several of us danced to Katy Perry's Wide Awake, a song that has been played so many times on this trip, many of us have learned all the words by heart.