December 16, 2014

Joshua Tree Elementary School and National Park Visit

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We were lucky enough to be able to visit Joshua Tree Elementary before the school closed for Christmas.

With over 300 students it was a great way to end our school visits of the year, which have put us in front of thousands of students in Alaska, California and Nevada.

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We are now based in Joshua Tree National Park for the festive season and will continue to cycle towards San Diego at the end of the year. Please note that we have no internet and cell coverage over Xmas in the park. Your are welcome anytime to visit us in Joshua Tree National Park, Hidden Valley Campground, site 45 and participate on our ";end of the year clean-up activity" on the 29th of December 11 a.m.. Let's see how much plastic we can collect.

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Thank you so much to all the schools, teachers and students we have met. We have been so inspired by your enthusiasm, open minds and solutions - we look forward to visiting many more schools in 2015.

We are planning on being in cities between San Diego/LA and San Francisco till February - if you are based in any of these towns and would like us to come and give a talk and presentation at your school, workplace or organisation, please get in touch! - jenny(at)toptotop.org, or dario(at)toptotop.org.

In spring we will sail back to Alaska to enter the NW Passage....depending on conditions either over Mexico and Hawaii or Canada.

Posted by dario at 12:33 AM

December 13, 2014

Grand Canyon and one very long day cycling

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We've had a couple of busy days here (apologies for the lack of exped report this week), and have again been reminded about the kindness of people we are surrounded by everywhere we go.

After making it to Laughlin we then took a short trip to the Grand Canyon, which was just spectacular.... Well worth the chilly camping conditions for the stunning vistas. Here we learn't about the history of the Grand Canyon as well as what the the future potentially holds for the area... with climate change playing an important part.

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Dario and Sabine were even able to make it down into the canyon to the edge of the collorado river which was super.

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Whilst at Grand Canyon we met and were helped by so many amazingly kind and generous people. Huge thanks particularly to John and Ron, you were fantastic and we do hope you stay in touch and we see in you in the new year.

From the Grand Canyon we headed back to Laughlin where we stayed with elementary school teacher Kathy and her husband 'Mack'. Swiss readers will know that on the 6th December Salina, Andri, Noe and Alegra should have been expecting a visit from Swiss Santa Claus 'Samischlaus'. Unfortunately he was unable to find us on the 6th (the Grand Canyon is a easy place to get lost... even for someone as knowledgeable as Santa), and so he instead visited us on the 10th at Kathy's house.

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Thank you so much to Kathy, Mack and Santa Claus himself for making the day so special for us, Christmas away from home is hard enough but you really did make it feel like a home away from home.

From Laughlin we headed south, making 90km before dark, camping just off highway 95, where we were treated to a beautiful sunrise on what became a very long day of cycling!

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With news of storms hitting the west coast we were keen to try and make as much distance as possible, with Joshua Tree our target, we had an early start with the intention of getting as far as we could.... Hoping we could make the whole distance.

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220kms, 11 hours and very sore bums later, we made it to Joshua Tree last night and are staying with our good friend from Alaska, Shelly.

Shelly's daughter lives in Joshua Tree and with Shelly visiting for the Holidays it was great to be greeted by a friendly face after such a long day. Shelly is an author and Whale researcher who we met whilst in Alaska. Thank you so much to Kye, Andy and Shelly for letting us stay and shelter from the storm!

We will now be in the area until after Christmas, and will be visiting schools to give our last presentations of the year - if you're in the area and would like us to visit you - please do get in touch - jenny@toptotop.org or Dario@toptotop.org.

Posted by dario at 1:48 AM

December 5, 2014

Laughlin School Visit

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This morning we left a very grim and gloomy searchlight, with visibility through the fog a mere 5 metres... it was not the desert we had grown to know and love! We were lucky enough to be welcomed into the El Ray Motel for a total of 3 nights in the end, which was a real blessing given the bad turn in the weather. Thank you so much again to Teresa for having us.

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We headed further south down highway 95 before heading west towards the town of Laughlin. Where in the afternoon we were invited to give a presentation at the Bennet elementary school in the town.

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Thank you so much for having us - it was great to speak with you all - and thank you for all the questions!

After the presentation we were invited to join the after school club, which today were making solar powered fans! Salina and Andri were lucky enough to be able to make fans of their own also - thank you for letting us join your after school club - it was great to see solar power being integrated into such a main stream platform.

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Posted by dario at 3:46 AM

December 3, 2014

Hoover Dam, Solar One Plant and Searchlight

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Just outside of Las Vegas is the world famous Hoover Dam. On our way out of the city we were able to visit the dam and learn a little more about the renewable energy plant. The dam runs along the border between Arizona and Nevada. Built between 1931 and 1936 the Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume, with a volume of 2,480,000 m3.

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The dam's generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California, generating an amazing 4.2billion kWh per year! The water intakes provide a maximum water pressure of 590 ft with the water reaching a speed of about 85 mph. The entire flow of the Colorado River passes through the turbines.

Water released from the Hoover Dam eventually reaches the All-American Canal for the irrigation of over 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) of land. Water from the lake also serves 8 million people in Arizona, Nevada and California!

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It was great to visit the dam, both to enjoy the engineering feat but also to see such a huge renewable energy resource in motion. The dam attracts over a million visitors each year, which is also good to hear.

Heading further south down highway 95 we cycled past another great climate solution.

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The copper mountain photovoltaic solar plant sits just outside boulder city. It was It is one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in the U.S, cementing the area as a sustainable energy leader. Construction started in 2010 and when completed in the coming year will be the largest plant in the US, with an expected output of 100 GW·h/year.

The plant will have 3 sections, with 2 already completed. The stats for the power they produce are really amazing to see and breakdown as follows;

• Solar 1 is the original 58 MW plant, powering around 17,000 homes
• Solar 2 is the 150 MW plant. Powering around 45,000 homes
• Solar 3 is the under construction and will be a 220 MW phase 3

Having cycled 150km in one day we rested our weary heads and legs in a small old mining town called Searchlight. With poor weather predicted and a very tired bunch of cyclists we were so so grateful to Teresa at El Ray Motel for letting us stay in a couple of rooms free of charge - thank you so much for letting us stay and for the cookies, it really was a god send!!

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This morning we visited the school on searchlight, again a very small community school with just 15 pupils.

We discovered that grades 3-5 teacher Avis Johnson's grandparents originally hailed from Ennenda, a town in Switzerland very close to where the climate award expedition was held earlier this year. She had brought with her letters and documents dating back to the late 1800's which Dario was able to translate, it was a great experience to share with her.

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We then gave a talk to the school and performed a clean up in the school playground and community park near by, the children were able to collect 70 pieces of plastic which was fantastic. The kids were so inspired they are now to work a clean-up into their weekly routine. Thank you so much for having us, it was super to meet you all.

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Posted by dario at 10:00 PM

Red Rocks and Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving at red rocks was brilliant. Thank you so much to all the guys from Bishop for having us, we had a wonderful time with you all, singing around the campfire, climbing and sharing stories.

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The climbing at red rocks was also truly spectacular; the rock formations were stunning and most definitely lived up to their world-renowned reputation.

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From Redrocks/ Las Vegas we are heading south towards San Diego, visiting as many schools as possible before they break up for Christmas - if there are any teachers along our route please do get in touch, we'd love to visit - jenny@toptotop.org or Dario@toptotop.org.

Posted by dario at 4:54 AM

November 27, 2014

Las Vegas

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From Death Valley we headed east towards Nevada and Las Vegas, stopping for a night just outside Vegas before we tackled the city to all explore the sights and sounds it offers!

Cycling between California and Nevada we were treated to the characteristic long, flat roads we know from films and posters which was a great way to spend a long day cycling!

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Unfortunately with it being Thanksgiving we were unable to visit schools and although we were all glad to hit a little bit of civilisation (and a food shop!) and to see what Vegas was all about, it's safe to say we are were also all glad to make it back to the comfort and peace and quiet of the campsite also!

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Along the journey we have been very fortunate to not have been involved in any accidents or breaks and bumps. Unfortunately our lucky streak was going to come to end whilst cycling our of Las Vegas earlier in the week. With Jenny's bike being run into by a car. Luckily the small bike attached via the followme took the actual hit and thank goodness there was no body on the small bike. So thankfully we were all ok but unfortunately the bikes needed a little TLC. We were so very fortunate enough to run into the guys from Broken Spoke bikes who fixed us up and got us back on our way. Thank you so much for Daryn and the rest of the team at broken spokes - your kindness in our time of need is very much appreciated.

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We are now spending Thanksgiving weekend at Redrocks, just outside Las Vegas and a world renowned spot for climbing. We are joining Julie Faber (head of the camber of Commerce, Bishop), her family and friends as well as Greg, our good friend we made and stayed with whilst in Bishop.

Happy Thanksgiving all! From Redrocks we head towards the Grand Canyon and then down to Joshua Tree. If you know anyone in the area please do get in touch!

Posted by dario at 9:01 PM
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