Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 1 On the road again!

Hobson after being assaulted by a Kia spent October  to December in the body shop only to be released to an assault by road salt  and sand on the New England roads.  Hobson wanted to put all that behind him and go South where frost heaves are not a danger to his undercarriage or maybe his owner did.  In any case we are off for a three week couch surfing trip that was planned so that I could see some old friends while I had the some time off.  So after throwing about half of the stuff I forgot to pack into the car this morning I set out to retrace at least the beginning of the trip this summer, namely hitting DC first.

Traffic was light for the most part reinforcing my good sense to travel this leg on Sunday.  Until I hit the Beltway the drivers seemed slow too.  I even passed a BMW going 55 in the right lane with the seemingly incongruous license plate “GO4IT”.  I guess you can go for it at any speed but I would have expected more alacrity from someone who paid extra to have that plate and a 5 series BImmer.   However the Beltway was a very different story as the crazy lane changes and excessive speeds on a crowded road were terrifying after 9 hours of pretty sedate driving.

One of the reasons the driving was so sedate is that Hobson took care of most of it.  He drove, Slacker did the tunes, and the driver danced and sang along.  It is a good thing I was alone.  Many people ask about the self-driving capabilities and so here is my take on it.  The car is a competent driver in most highway situations but I would compare it to watching a young child.  Most of the time they are doing what they are supposed to but in certain situations you cannot trust them to  make the right decision however you can often anticipate when they will go off in the wrong direction and so redirect them before they get into trouble.  Lane changes to the right lane near an exit you do not want to take are one of those situations to avoid.  The Beltway was full of anticipatory defensive driving that the car does not excel at so I had to drive that madhouse section.  All in all though the car drove through MA, RI, most of CT, most of NJ, DE and some of MD but none of VA.  It is not as easy as being a passenger but does make a long drive much more relaxing.

Having arrived at my Amherst roommate’s house in Virginia, the Holdcroft’s provided my favorite IPA, some excellent snacks, and then took me out to dinner.   No couch surfing here as I have a great bedroom with my own bathroom.  I may want to live with him another semester or two at this rate.   It felt like college again in some ways as we had a long wide ranging discussion until well after a sane bedtime for the older folks we had become although we did fall short of the time we used to stay up to in college.

A note at this point about this new part of the blog is in order.  Last time I had Michelle for a companion and as she drove I took pictures and wrote and when I drove she took pictures so it was possible to get pictures of the cool cars and churches we passed.  That trip was also more of a sightseeing trip with amazing stuff we were often seeing for the first time.  This trip is mainly on the I-95 corridor that is familiar territory and although I will be going to new places there will not be the majestic views one gets out West so there will also be fewer pictures of scenery.   This trip is mainly seeing people I like and spending time with them so will have a very different tone though I hope it will be enjoyable to read.  

One other thing about this trip is that unlike the last one I have done no advance planning for charging stops.  Some of this is cockiness on my part having a lot of experience now and partly is due to the increased density of charging stations on the East Coast compared with the flyover states.  Apparently Tesla owners are also expected to flyover also.  Looking at the map of stations prior to embarking things to make sure I was right about my travel plans I noticed that the number of chargers has improved a lot since last summer especially along routes I-70 and I-80.  I think this is where Tesla will win the electric car battle.  While it takes longer to fill up with electrons that petrol Tesla's can fill up in less than an hour which is not possible with any of the other pure electrics on the market.  By already having this in place when the Model 3 hits the market they have a huge advantage.

Charging stops
Darien CT – These chargers were not here last summer but allowed me to stay on I-95 rather than use the Greenwich chargers on the Merritt Parkway.  It also gave me a shot at reaching the Newark DE chargers without stopping in Jersey.

Newark DE – This is a big place with 12 chargers but 6 were taken and the Tesla owners there were wise to using only one of the paired chargers.  It turns out that each two chargers are attached to a single source of electricity which they have to share.  This then lowers the charge rate on both cars that are hooked up to the same bank.  With the six cars all on separate power sources I had to be a bad guy to someone by hooking up next to them.  I picked the car with the hatch open figuring they were getting ready to leave.  I was wrong and was stuck with slow charging until someone else left and I moved the car.

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