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Thursday, April 29, 2010

What A Bike Trail

Arrived at Sister Bonnie's home at 7:45 pm after 7.50 hours and 25.50 miles trek from Kirkland. SAM performed with 5 gold stars, but lost her GREEN 8 amphour battery pack. Probably a wire came loose when I took SAM apart yesterday to repair her 90 watt solar panel. Without Dale's help, I doubt I could have put the panel back onto SAM. Retrofitting is not such a good idea.

Solar Panel technology: Telephoned the engineer I purchased the 90 watt panel from (near Denver). He informed me that our panel has 32 individual cells (it does), each wired in series one to the next. Actually, it has eight rows of four cells = 32...yep, thats right. So, Raphael (engineer) says if any single ROW of cells is obstructed from sunlight, the ENTIRE solar panel becomes inoperative, incapable of producing any electricity. And whaddyaknow...I been storing jackets, water bottles, half eaten apples, and sundry other things in easy reach, covering the top TWO rows of cells. No wonder I got zero output. Today, all cells were fully exposed to nearly all-day bright sunlight & received constant 16 - 17 volts all day.

Did not charge the batteries from Dale's AC power source, & had only 12.20 volts per battery starting todays 25.5 mile walk. Kept the solar panels plugged in all day to the RED battery pack, which I simultaneously used to power SAMs motor. Was very surprised to find that we could draw power at 36 volts for SAMs motor and at the same time, pump 12 volts into each of the 3 batteries in RED pack. The two solar panels kept up with motor consumption. Only at the top of the very last hill rounding the corner behind the Valley General Hospital, did the RED pack die. At the moment SAM is safely garaged in Bonnie's home, sucking greedily on her 120 volt AC charging unit.

Tomorrow she must climb the steep hills out of the Kent Valley onto old 99 and on to Federal Way, where we plan to invade Son, Ron's home for the night. While at Ron's, will check GREEN battery pack & fix what ails her...believe it is a wire came loose while working on the 9o watt solar panel....we shall see. Gotta work out all the kinks before we arrive at the serious hills around Mt. Hood and the Rockies in a few weeks.

And, true to form, local Bellevue (what a beautiful city) City Police pulled SAM & ME over. We expected the worse. Surprise Surprise.. he was one of the most pleasant folks we have met so far. He chatted about & closely inspected SAM...marvelling at her construction & performance. His plea...and it was a plea...Please, Mr. Maynard, do NOT get injured in my city...that would just not do.

Now, that is my kinda guy. He sent us on our way down the street (without a bicycle lane), cautioning about the mid-town construction. In downtown Bellevue - actually, at the construction site, Dale met us & we sat for a while in Wendys...I bought a chocolate shake to go with the lunch Dale thoughtfully brought for me...Love, ya, Nephew.

Bicycle Path: Just South of Bellevue is a park. In the parking lot begins a bicycle/jogging path. It is about 10 feet wide, macadam paved and mostly fenced. It takes a route through the Lake Washington Slough leading to I-90. That was of real interest to me because my Grandfather (Mother's dad) worked for President FDR's WPA during the big depression in the '30s building that raised roadway above the slough which today is part of I-90. Good job, Pop (we called him Pop). Did not see one blemish in the concrete structure as the path led beneath and beyond I-90. After a short distance on 118th Avenue, the path continued for many miles paralleling I-405 into Renton, terminating at the new training facility of the SEAHAWKS football team.

If anyone wants to see how a bicycle path should be, take a ride to Bellevue or Renton and do that path...it is incredible.

Leaving Renton on Lind Street, we walked on a nearly deserted street lined both sides with hugh industrial buildings. As we passed one, an older fellow (turned out to be much younger than me) rushed out...Hey Hey, STOP. We stopped. Roger, marveling at SAM, confessed he was a solar panel nut, having, together with his son in Poland, designed and built numerous solar panel powered inventions....You have a web site...OH, a blog...Thankyou for the blog address...OK if I send it to my Son in Poland...He's crazy about solar panels and will Love to follow SAM (no mention of following me...oh, well).

The Sun slid behind the Olympic Mountains in the West & was extinguished (you suppose the Pacific Waters did that???) as we drove into Bonnie's driveway. All in All, a very satisfactory day.

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