• Sophia Fang

Day 46 + 47: Car Wash vs DQ Ice Cream

Updated: Aug 2

Saturday, July 16th

Learning Festival at Lamar Public Library!

Hello fellow ice-cream lovers! Sophia here with some more Spokes adventures for you. Today we taught our 8th learning festival! This was by far our smallest learning festival, but probably one of my favorite ones! I think it's a lot easier to connect with the kids (in this case, 4 of the most excited and attentive people we have met on our trip!)

It was also pretty fun to participate in each other's workshops since we only did one workshop at a time. I saw parts of Robert’s workshop, which talks about the physics of sound and how it applies to principles of music. The kids get to experiment with Spectrogram (try it out!) - a spectrum analyzer based on Fourier transforms which visualizes component frequencies in a sound (similar to how our cochlea translates sound information to our brain). We could try clapping, singing and hand-whistling (which demonstrates how you can convert wind energy as noise into a sound that resonates with a periodic tone) and observe the different distributions of energy that gives an instrument its distinctive sound.

I also made a paper speaker in the circuits workshop taught by Mariela and Franklin! So cool that you can use a magnet and coil of wire (which basically works like a tune-able magnet where you can change the polarity to either attract or repel the other magnet in order to move the air around aka sound waves!).

After lunch (where we learned that kids here often swim in stock tanks, own 20 cats, and go to car washes to eat ice cream), I taught my 8th iteration of the berry juice solar cell workshop. I've gotten into the habit of always changing something in my slides the night before we teach, so this workshop has been a little different every time (hopefully for the better!)

If you've read some of my previous posts, you might know that the process of making these little solar cells can be quite finicky, so it was really nice to have a smaller group to work with. We usually test the solar cells with a bright white flashlight, but since it was a hot sunny day, I was struck with a completely novel idea (yes, this is sarcasm): why not test the solar cells in the sun? I actually took out one of the solar cells that Simone and I had made back in the lab at MIT nano, and it was still working with a laudable 0.45 volts under direct sunlight! (though later we realized that some of the multimeters were inconsistent so not actually sure if this measurement was accurate but it was still cool that a bit of current was generated after almost 2 months).

Also, look at one of our favorite students holding his freshly fabricated solar cell!!

We also attempted a crossover with the circuits workshop where we hooked up a few of the solar cells in series with hopes to power a red LED (which requires about 2 volts and each solar cell was ranging between 0.2-0.6 volts), but sadly it didn't work. Maybe the solar cells weren't in direct sunlight or the multimeter was making inaccurate measurements or the alligator clips weren't fully connected. So many what ifs.

Debugging in the hot sun was not ideal, so we lay aside our valiant efforts for another time and turned our energies towards finding ice cream to consume.

Per the recommendation of the locals, we went to Wash Spott, a car wash that also has an ice cream + soda shop!

Simone and I split cookies & cream as well as a giant cup of lime ice (i.e. a ton of crushed crunchy ice, freshly squeezed lime juice, and get this, salt.) At first, I was a bit disturbed by the salty sour coldness, but the more I ate it, the more I wanted to eat it. We did end up adding sugar water which made it taste even better.

With our ice-cream-eating tradition fulfilled, we went to tend our poor dust-battered Ford at a car wash. The water-spraying wand set at a high pressure is a lot of fun to use. Especially for other non-car purposes.

We concluded the day with some excellent throw-whatever-you-want-inside apple chicken salad in pitas for dinner as well as the first episode of Owl House (Franklin's enthusiastic rec) and random episodes of Love, Death + Robots (When the Yogurt Took Over was pretty fun to watch, but I would strongly not recommend Mason's Rats).

Sunday, July 17th

Lamar, CO —> Fowler, CO

81.5 miles. +883 ft. -157 ft.

We’ve started to go to bed at 9:30pm and wake up 5:30am (ish) Temperature was a breezy 70 degrees when we started our ride on one of the only roads between Lamar and Fowler. As you can se below, we are closely following the green amidst lots of brown and yellow on the map (aka the eastern Colorado plains).

So we decided to ride 66mi before our lunch break!! Normally we do 30-40 miles, but we've really been trying to beat the heat that sets in around the late afternoon. The nice part was that we were on one straight road for 30 miles so I could easily switch/sample different things to listen to. Today's menu included the following:

  • our shared Spokes playlist where we’ve started to add our favorite songs (interestingly a lot of music I listen to references the stars⭐ and/or rain ☔ - can you identify those songs on the list below? hint there are at least 4)

  • part 1/34 of Don Quixote (audiobook that I attempted to start after seeing it referenced in a previous blog post - all I got through so far was that this guy sells his arable land to buy books on chivalry, fashions a helmet from pasteboard and iron strips, and then heads out on an honor-winning quest with his horse leading the way)

  • two thought-provoking episodes of Dolly Parton’s America as recommended by Simone <3

  • a message on abiding in John 15 from one of the Christian apps I listen to

  • one episode of Rough Translation (great podcast made by NPR - I'd recommend the Slackers@Work one)

Our first rest stop after 36mi was intended to be a quick water refill but since the gas station was closed, I guess we had no choice but to go to Dairy Queen. Yes, we got ice cream. In fact two of us got blizzards (cookies&cream and thin mint) and then two of us also got a free mini blizzard (there’s a survey you can fill out on the receipt to get one free! actually one of us switched out the free blizzard for some of the best onion rings I have ever eaten)

I was a bit worried about eating all that ice cream before exercise (as does google) but honestly, the rest of the ride to lunch was very smooth. Some of us sharp-eyed ones spotted prairie dogs popping out from the ground (so adorable and they run super fast!), while I busied myself with picking tiny sunflowers as we whizzed by.

These are just some examples of the little landscape details you simply wouldn't notice in a car. I am once again deeply grateful that I get to see so many new places by bike. My first time experiencing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado will be on these two faithful wheels that have seen landscapes ranging from the winding forests of Virginia to the flint hills of Kansas. That's pretty awesome.

If you've gotten this far, thanks so much for reading and following our journey! New adventures await every day, so stay with us :)

I'll officially end with a photo of us storm-watching outside of our number one go-to for groceries and such: the Walmart superstore.

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