Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Michigan: Greetings from Melbourne!

Well, it's Monday night here in Melbourne (Monday morning for most of you folks) and the six of us have just arrived back at the hostel from dinner. Evan, Richard, and myself arrived Saturday morning, and we've joined Brian, Brooke, and Roxanna in their preparation for the team's trip to Adelaide. In addition to continuing to work with the customs agents and freight forwarders to insure that the semi trailer and car crate clear customs and quarantine, we've done a bit of company calling and networking as well. Our days haven't entirely been filled with work, though; we've walked around a market, gone to the pier, and listened to some live bands downstairs in the hostel. We've also encountered flight attendants who have questioned the actions of our football team, airport customs agents who have asked if we checked the solar car in our luggage, and random passersby who shout that Penn State or Minnesota is better. (We've also heard "Go Mitchinigan!" as we've walked by.) Oh, and I couldn't tell you the number of times we've been asked if we are the entire team.

Upon arriving at the hostel and discovering that there wasn't any internet access, we've had to scope out the surrounding areas for "free" wireless. Yesterday we came across this little pizza place down the street that advertised free wireless in their window. Since we are college students on a nonexistent budget, we were too cheap to actually go inside to access their network; instead, we sat outside at one of their picnic tables and set up our laptops. (Okay, I lie - I did give in to guilt and purchase an iced chocolate. Don't ask me what it was, though, because I paid more attention to my emails than to the drink.) Although to our credit, the place was too small to have actually hosted our group in the first place.

As we sat outside, we were surprised to find that six people in matching jackets huddled around four computers at a single picnic table drew quite a bit of attention. A woman named Georgina was among the many that stopped to comment and showed interest in our project. Her interests include car racing, sustainability, and innovation, and she has kindly offered us assistance while here in Melbourne. She has a surprising number of contacts that may be able to help us out with some last-minute production, and she joined us at dinner tonight to further discuss such connections. With a background in industrial design and Formula 1 racing, we're hoping that something will pan out.

Tomorrow will be a pretty big day and I'm not sure if I'm ready for it. Granted, it won't be as long and tiring as the day of travel that awaits my Engineering teammates (who are the final group to leave the U.S.), but it will still be rather hectic. The plan is to check out of the hostel by 6:45 am and head straight to Nippon after breakfast for the quarantine inspection of the car crate. Once that's done, we'll transport the crate to a Ford storage facility nearby where a few of us will remain to roll out Continuum and unpack the crate. While we do that, Roxanna and Brooke will go with Trevor--the team's semi driver--to the ocean port to clear the semi trailer through quarantine. They'll then meet back up with us to load everything into the semi, and we'll be on our way to Adelaide.

That said, I better get some sleep. Good night!

P.S. Is it pure coincidence that we've heard "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen twice today?

--Deanna O'Clair