Monday, April 17, 2017

Epilogue - Some impressions on a second road trip

Unlike the last trip this one was not without detailed planning of how charging would be accomplished ahead of time.  Decisions on where to charge and how long to remain hooked up were mostly made one charge at a time rather than all before the trip. This approach worked fine except in the two instances heading north where I had to use the slower Charge Point network.  In both cases I probably could have, with some better planning, avoided this fate.  The first time I got lucky, the second was not so fortunate.  All in all though given the number of superchargers especially along the interstates you can with a little practice master travelling without undue planning at least on the coasts.

Some random reflections follow.

Of all the electric cars out there none can charge quickly in as many places.   Chevy is discounting the Bolt already while Tesla still has 400,000 orders for the Model 3.  I think this is a a large part a reflection of the charging network which we Model S owners paid for but we will reap the benefit of Tesla not going the way of Bricklin, Tucker and Delorean.   I think the superchargers are a great selling point.

While looking at the map of charging stations our trip out west last year would be a lot different this year thanks to a raft of new chargers in the Midwest.  We might even be able to take it to Iowa for RAGBRAI this year although as we will be time pressured it might not be the wisest choice.

If you are reading this and considering a Tesla which you plan to travel with get the biggest battery available.  I certainly wish I had.  They pick up charge faster and once charged you can skip stations that I have to stop at.  I could have also made the Myrtle Beach to Kitty Hawk run straight up the coast had I had 40 more miles of capacity and that would have saved 5 hours of driving and charging.

The Tesla is still a great car for travelling despite being a bit slower to go long distances due to the long charging times  The fact that it drives for long periods allows the driver to rest and allowed me, driving alone, to do 12 hour days without undue fatigue.  The stops to recharge the car can also recharge the driver a bit too.

I did not like the looks of the new Model S but am growing to like it.  I still think the Model X is a bit ungainly looking but those falcon doors sure are cool.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 20 - Home again but not without a lot of driving

My confidence in making the right decisions to travel swiftly being broken by my experiences on this trip I set out early to be sure I made it to my lunch date with Tony and Gale a couple who figured in my cross-country blog last summer.   Between when we saw them in Utah and now we did spend a couple of days with them in Barcelona besides and found them exceptional company.  They were at the Maryland shore and they agreed that a lunch together would be fun so it was arranged but now I had to show up on time.  And I did!  Well I almost did, being two minutes late, mostly because my car mislead me as to where to park and I had to walk a couple of minutes down the street.

Tony and Gale are early retiree travelers who do it right.  They do not just visit places for a day or two.  They stay for at least a week at each stop and really explore an area.  They have great insights into places and I should have talked to them about Kitty Hawk before I went there.  They will be gone on their current East Coast trip for 3 months.  The next stop will be Washington DC which they have never visited so will be there almost a month.  We will be down there next weekend and will get to spend another day with them.  In any case to prove how compatible we are we all had the same lunch right down to the unsweetened iced tea.  It was certainly worth the side trip and the two hours out of my day to chat with them.

Having left the Maryland shore I got to drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel for the first time in 40 years.   The least time involved the most unlikely coincidence in my life where I had met my family in New Jersey for breakfast and was following my father down to my grandfather's place in Virginia.  I split Christmas that year between my family in the morning and my girlfriend that night I had gotten very little sleep.  Taking my brother with me, not to help with driving, as he could not drive a standard, we left the restaurant in the pouring rain.  We did not even make it 100 feet down the road when the wipers quit on my car.  As my father disappeared in the driving rain we limped to a gas station where the guy was too busy to help us but did allow me to borrow some tools.  I got them working again but you did have to occasionally kick the motor up under the dashboard.  We then proceeded towards Virginia figuring we would call for directions when we hit town.  However when just starting over the first bridge I saw in my rear view mirror my father pulling out of a scenic overlook.  Merry Christmas.
It is a little spooky to look ahead and see the bridge end abruptly.  Sorry for the quality but the windshield was bug splattered after 3000 miles of spring travel.  One of the disadvantages of not getting gas is not getting to use the windshield cleaning stuff the gas stops provide.

Although the bridge looks the same all those years later, some things have changed. First cars are actually more dependable now.  While three of my first four cars had a windshield wiper failure, the fourth being just a summer car that I barely drove, none of my subsequent cars have lost wiper function.  Now before leaving for a destination we plug the address into a GPS either in the car, or on our phones, so there would have been no problem finding our way once having lost the lead car.    Standard transmissions are dwindling in numbers in the US but my brother now owns one so he could have driven that day.  In addition, this time my car drove itself over the bridge sections. I drove into and through the tunnels as they are one lane and there is a merge going into them that I did not trust the car with. The Tesla is a rocket ship compared to the Volvo 144 I drove over the bridge the last time.  Actually in fact the Tesla has more computing power than the space vehicles of that era.

In any case this travelogue ends here as I got home about 10:30pm safe and sound with 15 miles on the battery.  Tomorrow we remove the bugs from Hobson's snout and windshield, pay bills and get back to life in the slow lane again.
I was there, shortly, just like I promised


Norfolk VA - This was in a ginormous (just so you know the spellchecker did not flinch at that word) parking lot between two long strip malls of stores.  This is the epitome of the new trend for placing lots of stores in one big area.  Alas there was no place to get breakfast but Walmart and I would rather starve then give them money.
Stores as far as one can see on both sides.  It is similar in front of the car too.

Salisbury, MD. - This was at a mall which like most malls in the US has seen better days.  One anchor store was empty and one of the surviving anchors is Sears which I do not expect to be around much longer.  The mall fad seems to be ending leaving these monstrous empty buildings.  I wish I could figure out a good use for them.

Hamilton Township, NJ  - Yet another one of these large shopping plazas carved out between major thoroughfares that are taking the place of malls.  This one had more character as it was not just a single parking lot lined with stores like Norfolk.  The chargers were also next to the Barnes and Noble where I could get something to eat and hang out.  This was one of the nicest places for a supercharger I have been to. 

Darien, CT - Last one for the trip.  This one was baffling as the map told me there were four chargers but I only saw two.  I hooked up to one and looked up to see a Tesla drove right past.  It turns out there were two more on the other side of the building where I did see his car.  Not the best set-up fior either of them as they are too close to the rest stop building so at a couple of points the other spot was ICE'd in both places.  Tesla usually places them far from the buildings so nobody but us will park there.  It also gives us some exercise.  They did have a soccer game on in the rest stop so I watched some of that while picking up the charge I needed to get home.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day 19 - No flying out of Kitty Hawk for me

having had a bad electric car day I had to interrupt my journey home in a really cool place.  Damn!  The was so much I wanted to do at the Outer Banks that i decided the beast way to begin was to work on Hobson's depleted batteries first.  The nearest charger was at a Tanger outlet mall fourteen miles away.   I charged the battery at 21mph so if we do the math it took almost an hour and a half to get back just what I used to get there.  But there was close to the beach, just like everywhere in the Outer Banks is so i took a nice walk down the beach.  I actually had my bike and helmet in the car but once i stepped out into the brisk breeze I decided walking on the beach would be saner.

It was below 60 degrees so there were many more bird tracks in the sand than people ones and plenty of those birds were still around.  i cannot identify many but i did see a group of albatross and a type of gull I had never seen before along with plenty of flying animals that I could not properly put any sort of label on.  I did try the water and it was June/July new England temperature so if the air temperature had been higher it would have been decent to swim.

I did eventually get bored.and hungry so trudged back to the car which had gained enough for me to at least limp towards Norfolk and the Tesla chargers there.  I figured to plug into Gretchen's outdoor plug on the house overnight to add a little insurance.  As i had running shorts with no pockets and it had still not gotten very arm I went back to the house to change into jeans and figure out what to do next.

Of all the places on the highway going back Frank's Dog House looked like the right place for lunch and the Wright Brothers National Memorial the right place to spend the afternoon as the wind had not diminished enough to make for a happy bicycle ride.  I got my hot dog and root beer at Frank's which was very busy, so much so that there were no tables inside.  My thickened Northern blood though was not bothered by sitting outside while I ate.

Then it was off to the Wright Brothers.  The first sign in the place makes clear that the Wright Brothers came there for the wind so they could test gliders before trying the powered flight.  the place is under construction so there were no flying machines to be seen but they had a field which marked where the flights started and ended.  Doing the math they did not go far nor did they fly faster than someone could run but not even a generation later we had the Red Baron doing acrobatics and shooting Snoopy down daily.  If you do go you should get a ranger guided tour.but the next one was too late in the afternoon for me to stick around for.
Monument to the Wright Brothers atop the hil they used to launch the gliders.  They did the powered flight from level ground below.

I then returned and met Gretchen for the promised good seafood dinner that one must get if you go to the outer banks.  It was a good dinner and for the first time in awhile I actually left some of the desert on the plate because I was full to the brim.  This is a rare event in my life so even being uncomfortably full I savored the moment as a rarity.  We then went to catch the sunset over the bay which was great.

Two views of the sunset.  The top one was taken with the cameras sunset mode and the other taken with the normal exposure mode.  The camera made for a dramatic but as you can see, completely unrealistic photo

Tanger Outlets, Nags Head, NC - ChargePoint - This is a nice service that it seems all Tanger Outlet Malls have.  The place had a rest room and a deck overlooking the water where I read of a while.  It was a slow charge but a welcoming place to spend the time.  I was hooked up for 5 hours.

Gretchen's House - I plugged in for the night.  Pulgging into a 110 plug does not get you much but over a few hours it does provide a cushion.  The rate was 4 miles of charge per hour and the car never wavered from telling me that the charge time was 24+ hours but I it did ease my mind about making it to the next stop.  I just hope Gretchen does not hate me when she gets her electric bill.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Day 18 - Why is there no charger in Wilmington?

Most days driving a Tesla is a real treat.  Today was not one of those days.  Dennis had told me that it was 4-5 hours to Kitty Hawk.  It looked like a nice run up the coast with just Wilmington NC as the lone city on the route.  I was sloppy in not really checking the route however and paid dearly for it but not until I had a good breakfast and lunch at my host’s house.  On top of that Kathy packed me a bag of food and a water bottle to keep me going on the ride.  Little did we know how they would help as the ride turned out to be a long one. 

My first inkling of trouble was when I pulled into the Myrtle Beach charger at about 1:00 and put in the Kitty Hawk address I was heading for, something I should have done the night before.  I turns out that the run was 259 miles which is 19 miles further than the car can be stretched to even if the battery is full.  What this meant then was not a nice run along the coast but rather a 200 mile detour inland to have a sufficient charge to get there.  I kicked myself for any number of mistakes even that of not spending the extra 10K to get the bigger battery in the car which would have given me a 280 mile range.  This meant yet another long driving day and a late arrival at the next place.  Compounding the problem was construction which created a long backup on I-40. 

In any case my host for the night was like everyone else very accommodating and not only stayed up even though she had to be at work at 6am but she and I had sandwiches together when I finally arrived.  Had I checked earlier the ride would have been just as long but at least I would have felt less guilty had I left South Carolina after breakfast.  Having had Gretchen as an employee for years I knew she was too nice for her own good and she proved me right but just like when she went out of her way at work I do appreciate it.

Not much to report about the ride during which I had plenty of time to be really pissed off at myself.  In addition I created myself a new problem as once again I have insufficient charge to make it to the next charging station.  You would think I would learn.  As there is no quick way to charge here I am going to not do the rest of the trip tomorrow but rather get the charge straightened out and spend a day exploring the Outer Banks.

I did find Waldo though


Myrtle Beach SC –This is located at a very, very  large mall which I was able to walk around a bit while I charged the car.

Warsaw NC – This was in back of a Quality Inn.  The men’s room was out of order and it looked death defying to cross the street to places that had both food and bathrooms.  Luckily I am a male and the huge fenced enclosure for the supercharger transformers faced the woods.

Rocky Mount NC – This was a very short stop as I was going to have to stop at the next supercharger in order to have a reasonable amount of charge when I arrived even though the car which is usually quite conservative was saying, “Just go for it!”

Plymouth, NC – This charger was also very fast.  The big problem I had was balancing my arrival time and the amount of charge I would need to get to the superchargers in Norfolk.  I erred on the side of the arrival time and as noted above did not judge correctly.   About 15 more minutes of charging would have done it I think but then again I got it wrong the first time too.

Day 17 - The Acadian Expulsion reverses

This was another long day pretending to drive the car while the car actually did the driving for the most part.  I am getting very lazy.   Knowing it was going to be a long one I left Geoff’s extra early even beating my starting goal of 7:00am by fifteen minutes.   I decided to actually listen to the car this time and charge for the time the car says to rather than overcharging mostly because the charge stations are pretty far apart along this stretch so it was not possible to spend more time at one station and skip the next.  This actually allowed me to reach my destination in the time the car predicted I would reach it.  For the first time on the trip I actually arrived in a reasonable time for dinner.

The most striking part of this ride was the number of Canadian RV's and big trailers heading home.  At one point they must have made up 90% of the non-car traffic.  Considering our current politic state I thought of putting an adopt me so I can be Canadian sign in my back window.

Kathy and Dennis were ready with salad on the table and steaks ready to grill plus plenty of stories.  We had an enjoyable dinner and then talked until we could talk no more.  They moved into a house in Conway rather than the condo they had in Myrtle Beach and they like it although it is an over 55 community and apparently over-medicated old folks have numerous mishaps on the roadways in the development including somewhat regular launches into the retention pond on the property.  After the story about the neighbor who took down a number of mailboxes I almost went out and moved the car closer to their house.

After a long day of driving it was great to hit yet another nice bed.  I am very much looking forward to being home as I now have moved a couple of states closer to home.  Only 6 more before the Massachusetts border.

Beautiful sunset!


Ocala FL – Been there, done tha,t although this time I couldn’t go to the bathroom because the stores were not open by the time I left

Kingsland GA – The first charger I hooked up to only charged the car at 80mph which gave me an estimated charge time of 7 hours.  AAARGH!  However the second one gave a solid performance and I was able to leave without finishing any of the blog stuff I expected to get done.  I did get a good look at what the state police used for their unmarked cars as this was behind a government building.

Savannah GA – Between this trip and the last one I probably have visited over 100 superchargers but this one is the weirdest in some ways.  It is located in the economy parking lot for the airport.  The airport itself is exceptionally nice which is odd for an airport in the first place and then as I am on a car trip so it feels weird to be walking around an airport.  I had to get my parking ticket validated so I could have free parking during what was a much longer charge than it should have been.  We northerners are always upset with the pace down south.  I did not expect that to include the superchargers.

A fountain at the airport.  Behind me is a bamboo garden.  An exceptionally beautiful airport.

Santee, SC – This charger is trying to prove me wrong by blasting electrons at a prodigious rate into the car.  I should complain more often.

Day 16 - Problem solved, new ones appear

I was expecting to take a bike ride with Geoff for old time’s sake but given the fact that Geoff is not feeling well we decided to hang out at his house until it was warm enough outside for his Florida blood to hang out by the pool.  So that is what we did. 

Before that I had to solve the car charging problem, which turned out to be quite easy to do.  PlugShare came to the rescue.  The app told me that not even 2 miles from his house, just outside the gates of the community, at the local town hall complex was a free ChargePoint charger.  I drove Hobson over and with a little difficulty got him connected then walked back to Geoff’s house.  While the charge started at 30 amps, during much of the day it was only running at 16 amps.  I suspect that is because someone was hooked to the other port on the machine.  It took virtually all day to charge on account of that so we actually picked the car up after dinner still charging but virtually full of excited electrons.

I got some swimming in at the pool but as my sunblock was in the car and it was cloudy I neglected to put it on.  This resulted in the expected skin color which I only discovered later in the day when I went to change my shirt for dinner.  Another oops.  However it was a nice relaxing day and the sunburn is not severe enough to affect the trip.

This trip while somewhat planned but was not as carefully planned as the previous one and it all caught up to me at Geoff’s.  First I showed up late and with inadequate charge to continue to the next Supercharger.  Second the next leg of the trip was expected to be a very long one up to Kitty Hawk.   The first problem was easily remedied but the second one loomed large in my mind.  Geoff however had anticipated this and had a solution in hand.  He had mentioned my trip in passing while talking to his ex-wife and her husband in the Myrtle Beach area and they agreed to take me. 

However adding this stop would mean another day and I felt that it was time I could not afford as I needed to get home to tie up loose ends and see my wife before I forget, in my dotage, what she looks like.  So I reluctantly decided to leave Geoff’s tomorrow rather than stay another night and use Kathy and Dennis’ as an extra stopover.  Both of them were patients of mine and they are good people who are always interesting.  Dennis, especially, as a car guy, always has good stories.

Northport FL town hall – This was an all-day charge at the Chargepoint unit in the parking lot.  You have to love municipalities that provide these.  The car is now virtually full at 237 miles.

Day 15 - Turning around

I am always reluctant to leave my friends behind but other friends beckon plus that expression about fish and company stink after three days always is stuck in my head when I stay with people.  This keeps me moving probably to the great relief of my hosts.  Therefore I left Miami and started back north towards home but not without planning to stop at least a couple more times.  

The next overnight stop was one of my great biking buddies Geoff Yeagley but first I figured since I was in the area, meaning somewhere in Florida, I determined that I could drop in on my nephew Spencer on the way up to Geoff’s.  Spencer is moving to Virginia Beach tomorrow so I helped him load the truck with the stuff that was ready to go and then we went out for a leisurely lunch.  Spencer certainly has my sister’s daring as he picked Virginia Beach for no really good reason other than location.  He has no friends and no job there although in the interest of staying he has a number of employment applications already filed.  He is always an interesting conversationalist and we talked until Geoff called wondering where the heck I was since I had already past the time I told him I would be there.
Off Hobson and I went to cross the Florida Peninsula.   This day is one of the shorter driving days of the trip but in the end I showed up at Geoff’s verey late and with inadequate charge to hit the next supercharger.  Oops.  I will deal with it tomorrow as I am too busy catching up with Geoff to worry about it.  There are always options besides the Tesla chargers, or so we hope.

Plantation – This charger is at an enormous strip mall without a great deal of character

Port St. Lucie – I am getting used to these large strip malls.  This time I bought some $1 super glue at the dollar store to fix my $3 reading glasses.

Day 14 - EPLO Automotive goes back in business

I knew from an earlier visit that Peter has a great woodworking shop and so I decided to take advantage of his being a nice guy and the fact that he is better at woodworking than I am.  I had redone the floor in a house we inherited from my father-in-law and some of the molding fell apart when I removed it.  It turned out to be not available anywhere but I thought if I brought a board with me I could get him to rip.plane and cut the top edge into the proper shape.  I was almost right.  We could not find the right shape at his house so we went to his father’s house and did the work there.  We also got to visit with his father whom I had not seen for 36 years and his father’s wife whom I had never met at all.  She was very nice and said I looked just like my pictures.  They served us cookies after we were finished.

Having accomplished that Peter, his housemate and I went off to lunch and a tour of Miami including Wynwood, a section where seemingly all the buildings are painted with giant murals, and the requisite tourist cruise along South Beach.  Traffic was bad everywhere being a nice Saturday afternoon.  I enjoyed seeing the sites but the other two were flustered by the number of tourists cluttering up their city.

Back at Peter’s house I talked him into finding and fixing the rattle coming from the left side of his car.  He suspected it was his running board and he was right.  For those of you not in the know Peter and I put in t car stereos on the side during dental school under the name EPLO Automotive.  We even had business cards, one of which his father still has.  In any case it was great fun playing mechanic again with my old partner.  We fixed the bolts that had just come out of the track and as that was so easy we decided to correct a broken piece on the other running board. That was quickly accomplished but by now we were getting close to dinner time. 

We cleaned ourselves up and put on better clothes for a sojourn out to a Thai-Sushi restaurant.  Apparently in Miami, unlike up north, there are not separate Thai  and Sushi ones but rather they are always combined.  This lead to a confusing menu that had Thai appetizers followed by Japanese ones followed by Thai soups then Japanese ones and so on for a large number of pages.  We ordered from both cuisines having sushi as an appetizer and a Thai main course. 

Going out to Peter’s newly quiet ride we found it even more quiet as the battery was dead and the car would not start.  Luckily Peter had a boat that he gotten rid of recently but he never got rid of the jump starter that he carried for it.  It was in the storage area below his pickup bed where he had some trouble retrieving it as he uses the electric release and the key slot was a bit rusty having never been used for the past 8 years.  ONce retrieved and hooked up the jumper worked well and we got home.  We know what the next repair will be.


Hobson sat while Peter did his best tour guide impression

Monday, April 10, 2017

Day 12A - A swim and then back to dentistry

My host had the misfortune of having to work today so I was left to hang out for a while before going to his office to help out with questions about his dental software and some about how to make sure they can assure accuracy in posting procedures.  Hanging out for a while I spent some time catching up on this blog and the rest taking a dip in what Peter thought was frigid water but I found the perfect temperature.

I wish I could have stayed longer in the pool but I had to get to his office by lunch time to chat with his staff.  As he was buying me lunch I did not want to be late.  I left with about 45 minutes leeway and used just about all of that time trying to find a parking spot, a truly daunting task given the construction going on and the volume of cars trying to find spots.  I missed out on a couple when the car ahead of me took it including one right in front of his building.

Peter has a great staff that was fun and responsive to talk to.  We did come up with some ways to get better clinical notes written more quickly.  We also found ways to double check to make sure posting mistakes are not carried forward but corrected that day.  That was fun and satisfying.  Now I have an excuse to come back again to recheck whether they are actually following through on my recommendations. .
Peter also had his yearbook out.  This time it was a picture of my dental school mustache.  You can understand why it took six years after this to find someone who would marry me.

I stayed to help setup the computer software to accomplish our lunchtime goals and we came back to the house at the same time in separate cars.  Peter has a group of friends he generally travels all over the world with.  Two of them work for a travel agency and one for a cruise line which explains the extent of their travels.  A couple of them show up on Facebook in pictures with Peter all the time.  Although they are a married couple they look a lot alike in pictures and I have dubbed them the Cruise Brothers on that account.  It turns out that in real life they do not look that much alike but I think my moniker is a good one anyway.

We sat outside after dinner and the Floridians were freezing in the sixty degree air.  I found it delightful.and was not shivering like they were.  However they stuck it out and they told funny stories between complaints about how cold it was and how ad they would be when the cool air disappeared for good in short order.  I do not understand that dichotomy but the feeling was unanimous.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Day 12 - Leaving the Lawyers Behind

Today the pattern changes a little bit as I am doing a lunch date with one person and staying somewhere else.  My Aunt Connie, the last living relative in that generation on my father’s side,  lives in Ocala which is a perfect distance to stop on the way from Tallahassee to Miami.  So it worked out beautifully that I was able to on short notice get her to go out to lunch with me in Ocala on my way down.  We had a nice lunch. I heard about my Aunt's friends who I have almost grown to know over my annual trips to Ocala.  Of course I also got all the news about my cousins Ralph and Suzanne and her grandkids.  We spent too much time together to get me to Miami at a reasonble time but it was worth it.

Floridians must not mind eating late as although I pulled in at my now usual 9:30 Peter had waited to go out for dinner and there were restaurants that were still open.  I chose Cuban food thinking that was the right choice for the area and in fact we had a good dinner with the expected fun observations about life that Peter is so adept at.

Driving in South Florida are at least as scary as Washington was and maybe more so.  The interstate has a wide range of drivers who drive at a wide range of speeds.  There are people in any lane going 40 and then there are some who do not want to drop below 90 so weave in and out of very tight openings to accomplish their goals.  It was pretty insane and I felt that Hobson could not really handle the unpredictable maneuvers I was seeing.  I may rename the car Spock as it drives always in a logical manner which makes the car actually unpredictable to the humans driving around us.  We humans can better predict the stupid things our fellow humans will do much better than computers and until we can make the computers understand that there will always be a gap in our understanding of each other.

Look at the back window of the Prius and tell me where this traffic jam is

Charging stops
Ocala FL - This was at a very nice outdoor mall with some eating establishments but as I was going to lunch with my Aunt I did not try any of them.  It is still not completely occupied yet.

Turkey Lake FL - This is in a rest area on Florida's turnpike.  Like Newark DE the rest stop is in the middle of the north and south lanes so picks up Teslas from both directions.  It also picked up an interested bystander who came over to ask about the car while he was taking a smoking break.  We talked about the Tesla and VW diesels and got along fine until he noticed the MA plates at which point he asked how I could stand living with all those liberals.  He explained that he left CA because they would not let him buy the guns he wanted.  At that point I decided to cut the charging session short and for the first time I remember the car refused to unhook.  I had to go and stop the charging with the touchscreen in the car.  Having to keep the conversation going as I had to walk past him I did point out that you cannot hunt with those kinds of guns and he responded that protection is important in this crazy world.  My thoughts ran in that direction too as I pulled away.

West Palm Beach FL  - Despite my hasty exit from Turkey Lake I did make it to West Palm Beach.  there were actually two other chargers I could have baled to but the West Palm charger was interesting.  It was attached to the service center so had a gazillion Teslas including two roadsters and one with a really odd paint job.  There was also a group chatting and one of them was asking a lot of questions as she had bought the car just two days before and was already doing an Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale road trip with here mother and 3 kids.  One brave women by my estimation.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Day 11- Finally get to use the largest piece of luggage

I have been carting around my bicycle all trip and finally got to use it today.  Bob and I took a nice twelve mile ride down to a lighthouse on the gulf.  There were plenty of interesting birds that we could not name but did enjoy watching and a few we could name and still enjoyed watching.  The wind was in our faces on the way out and slowed us down considerably in that direction.  We agreed that the wind must have died on the way back as we could riding as fast as we did back was our usual pace :).

The lighthouse

View along the Bike path with a bird I can identify

From there we went to a great waterside seafood restaurant and bar to make sure we replaced the calories we burned so our waistlines would continue to make us look prosperous.  The food was delicious and sitting by the water watching the plants move in the wind and the birds looking for handouts was the perfect setting for eating it. 

Then it was off to Tallahassee center where most of the buildings are state government ones  Bob had been a lawyer for the state and was a great tour guide.  The old state capital building is now a museum having been replaced by a boring white skyscraper some years ago.  Preservationists had to fight to keep them from tearing it down.  I don not know about now but the legislators who were around then had no aesthetic sense at all.  There we saw a display about the election in 2000 and I learned that there was more than the hanging chad problem.   The ballot was set up in a confusing manner besides and it turns out many people punched the ticket for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore by mistake, a fact that I did not know.   We then went to the top of the skyscraper which afforded views in all directions for a great distance, Florida being so flat.  Bob was able to point out his college dorms from up there.

By the time we got back to the house Cheryl had returned from her haircut appointment and was trying to get a dinner group together.  Using her best texting she did manage to convince her brother-in-law Richard to accompany us.  Bob has been reading this blog mostly I think to see if he should bar the door rather than let me in but he did take to heart my early observation that with the great hospitality I have received so far all that any host would have to have their A-game.  Bob and Cheryl certainly did, picking an excellent restaurant near the Tesla chargers in Tallahassee, so that I could drop the car there and have a head start in the morning for Miami.

Richard was great company and told good travel stories to compliment all the information that the well-travelled Bob and Cheryl had been giving me.  It was a fun, we then got to go back and pick up a fully charged Hobson ready to go further south than he had ever ventured before.
All in all this was another great day.  We had wide ranging interesting discussions that went from the cave cities dug by the Turkish Christians to the aborted attempt to make a trans-Florida canal.  We had a nice, scenic bike ride and great food besides.  What more could a traveler want?  Every place and every day I stop are top notch even if three of the stops have been with lawyers, the sworn enemies of the medical field.

Charging stops

Tallahassee FL This is one of the best stations with a big Publix in the parking lot and lots of restaurants close by.  There were also no other Teslas there.   We did not pick up the car within the time limit set by Tesla to unhook and move your car after the charge was complete.  This is being done in response to congestion at the chargers which this charger did not have so I am curious as to whether I will be charged for my overtime stay even though there was no problem leaving it there.

Day 10 - Twelve hours of bonding with Hobson

Today started very late compared to my planned 7am departure thanks to the basketball game ending so late last night.  It certainly is a good thing they did not have to go into overtime.  I left about 9:30 and the car gave me an arrival estimate of 9:05.  I figured I could beat that by cutting out a couple of charging stops but alas the car seemed to have a leak in the electricity tank today running very high in the kW/mile category and thus I had to make every stop the car wanted.  

I learned something new today about one of our upgrades that ws downloaded after the trip this summer.  Tesla has instituted tougher sanctions in the software for people who are not following the instructions to keep your hands on the wheel when in the auto driving mode.  After three warnings are ignored it will shut off the auto-driving for the remainder of your trip.  I knew that when you pass 90mph the car shuts off the suto-driving as this had happened to me in Montana this summer.   What I did not know as I accelerated past 90 to pass some guy who was on his phone and not driving very well as quickly as possible is that now when it turns off past 90 you are turned off for the rest of the trip.  Luckily it was only 15 miles from the next charge so I did not have to drive long.
It was a long day of driving and I did not get to Bob and Cheryl’s  until almost exactly 12 hours after the start of the day.  They were very patient and not only were welcoming but actually held up dinner to wait for me.  We ended up having a great dinner of chicken marsala at 10pm.  All is well that ends well. 

As I entered Bob and Cheryl's house I was greeted with my signature in Bob's yearbook.  Bob had to explain what I wrote as I had forgotten I was the Tough Guy Award winner in Cross Country.  This was a great touch and a tribute to Bob's incredible memory.
Charging stops

Columbia SC- This one was in the parking lot of a motel and no sooner did I pull in and 4 other people pulled in.  The first couple that showed up was from New Jersey and were very nice.  They were snowbirds on their way back north but visiting grandchildren at their respective colleges along the way.  I spent too long here talking and justified it by thinking I could skip the Augusta charger by getting some extra juice but….

Augusta GA – Second one in a motel parking lot with virtually nothing around it for food.  I gave up on getting food completely until dinner.  Luckily as the Masters is this week the charger was in the exact opposite direction of the golf course.  How did I know that?  There was a sign that had an arrow that pointed left and said golf traffic.  Stopped at the corner with my right blinker on I found the sign was right.

Macon GA – The most interesting of the stops for the day it was in the heart of the city which looks like it is about 40 years behind the rest of the country.  They had just celebrated the cherry blossom festival despite the cherry trees not having blossoms.  The stores were all decked out though and even the sheriff’s office had painted cherry blossoms in the window.  There were a couple of large museums one named Tubman and dedicated to African-American art and culture and the other being the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. 

On the streets of Macon. I commented on the dog's color and he responded "Cheery Blossoms"

There were plenty of bars in Macon.  At least this one has a sense of humor.

Tifton GA – This is the one I should have found at lunch time with plenty of food options but alas I was planning a short stop just to get enough juice to get to Tallahassee on what has been a very poor day for electricity use.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Day 9- Lunch dominates early, UNC late

Today got off to a scary start as my cell phone went missing early which would have complicated the trip significantly had Rene not found it late in the afternoon.  It did keep me from taking the bike ride I wanted to take between rainstorms as I was hesitant to wander off in an unfamiliar city with neither a map or a phone to call for rescuing me from wherever I ended up.  That was sad as Tom had showed me a nice network of bike paths only a few blocks from his house the night before.  Oh well.

However to make up for it Rene and I went out to a cool burger place called of all things The Burger Place.  There we had a very big lunch with an Elk burger with Duck bacon as the main course for me.  Interesting burger!  We also had poutine which I have avoided most of my life in deference to my arterial health.  However I am in the land of fatback and Rene said it was good and it was much better than the only other time I had it.  Oddly enough the other time was with Tom's roommate from Amherst who lives in Boston now.

After that huge, delicious lunch we went down into town to visit the International Civil Rights Museum which is located at the location of the Woolworth store where the whole lunch counter sit-in movement started.  They still have the original lunch counter intact.  The original four students were freshman from the local A&T college who came up with a creative, brave and ultimately effective method to chip away at the Jim Crow laws.  The counter itself was surprising large as the one I was accustomed to in Smithtown where I grew up was just a single row of about a dozen stools and this was L-shaped and had at least 20 stools in each direction.  The one in Smithtown is long gone but this one being historically more important has survived to teach about the courageous folks who sought to change the status quo.  The battle still continues so many young people have the feeling that those pioneers in civil rights were not really successful so it is important to see that there has been significant change in just my lifetime.

We came home after that and then Tom and I met his son and daughter-in-law for pizza.  The Pizza place was in a mill complex that is being converted to a multi-use property.  Tom's family owned the mill and Tom's father was the mill superintendent at that site.  Tom said he had only been there a couple of times but the second time was as a young teenager after a flood in the mill.  He told the story like this: Cone Mills was the supplier of denim which in the 60's was a very hot commodity.  This being the old days before just in time manufacturing there was a lot of denim stored at the plant and it was wet and covered with mud after the flood.  Even having cleaned it they would have to sell it as seconds for pennies on the dollar.  A salesman in New York upon hearing about this catastrophe suggested that they should just bleach it a little as all the hippies around Greenwich Village had bleach spots and dirt on theirs.  So they dropped some bleach on it and ended up selling it for a premium price starting the distressed jeans business that is the standard look today.

We returned home in time to catch UNC beat Gonzaga in the NCAA finals.  Right until the end I was worried that driving out of the state I would have to dodge UNC fans throwing themselves off highway bridges.  So looking at it purely from a selfish perspective it is probably a good thing that they won although as Gonzaga has never won it before and UNC has a long history of winning I could have lived with the alternative even if the Carolinians could not.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Day 8 - Only perfect practice makes perfect

Today was a day that proved what I have always told the wrestlers I coached and the students I teach.  Practice make perfect but only if you practice perfectly.  Since I have no idea what a perfect golf swing is my practice does not lead to a perfect game of golf.  In fact today it did not even lead to a good round of golf, maybe not even a fair round.  However in the great scheme of things despite the fact I had a much higher total score than yesterday, I lost the same number of golf balls, so depending on the scoring system you use I could be even with the day before.  Actually the fact that I only lost one ball each round means that I wasted money at Dick's Sporting Goods buying balls I did not need to play the three rounds I have played.

After the disastrous round all but Gary had we decided to go for a beer before the New Yorkers set out for  their plane, Gary went home and I set out for my next stop on the Couch Surfing tour.  Gary in the lead car drove right through a downtown section where there were no doubt some places to imbibe but instead and drove out into the country turning at last into a rundown converted Pizza Hut labeled Bruce's Tavern although I think they forgot the apostrophe at the sign place.  It did not look like the kind of place we normally get beer but we went in anyway after doing a quick survey revealed that only a third of the vehicles in the parking lot were pickups.  Once opening the door we were in a smoky bar were about ten men and one women were drinking at 1:30 in the afternoon,   It turns out not all rednecks drive pickups.  They had their money on the bar in front of them and all were smoking cigarettes.  While I have frequented local dives in the past notably the long gone Hammond in Boston, it is in the long past.

The folks were friendly enough.  The women who was seated at the corner of bar immediately asked us, "How y'all golfer doin' today?"  We said fine and made a little small talk then Roger went up to order beers.  I wanted iced tea as I had a couple of hours to drive yet.  They did not have iced tea for me, and they did not take credit cards so it turned out that I had the most cash, so had to pay for their beers, not that it set me back much.  One big advantage of a dive is the price of drinks is low.

Once have finished the beers and with the NASCAR race under yellow we left to say our goodbyes to each other in the parking lot.  Roger and Vin left for the airport, Gary back to his house and I set out for Tom Cone's house in Greensboro.  This is the first time Hobson was getting plugged into some other Tesla's charger and Tom's red Tesla was magnanimously sitting outside with the garage door to let Hobson in.  Teslas are very wide cars and I have always been a little nervous about pulling into my garage as I thought it was tight.  Tom's is much tighter and I admire him for going in with his mirrors out and never getting any house paint on them.  I folded mine in.  I plugged in and had a very nice time talking to Tom and Rene.

Of course this is the cushiest couch surfing trip in the history of them as I once again have my own room, with my own bath and for the third straight time one of those racks that you put you suitcase on in motels.  I am so spoiled by all this but now I am learning how to equip our guest room.  I also got to meet Tom and Rene's grandson for just a short period.  Tom lives on Country Club Lane so we were able to just walk over to his club for a great dinner.  He unfortunately still works so we turned in early although I could have talked all night with them.

Hobson got plugged into Tom's garage plug which unlike mine delivers a consistent 40 amps.  It was great being able to show up without having to stop and charge first and it will be great to leave with a full charge right from the house.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Day 7 - We see if the golf practice helped

Golf looks like a dying sport in America today.  There are nothing but old men down here playing golf in the Pinehurst area.  Once this group of players dies off I can see lots of courses folding.  The one we played today, Legends, was not very crowded at all and this should be a popular time for people to play before it gets really hot down here.  I am not a big fan of golf anyway as it takes a long time to play and if you do not play a lot you cannot play well and if you play a lot you cannot get anything done because you do not have the time to do it.  However as I am on vacation spending the time is fine and I have enjoyed the round I played with Jim and the round today with Gary, Roger and Vinny.  Hopefully it will find a group to appeal to in the future and survive in some form as it has been a fun way to spend time with friends and family over the years.  Some people become quite addicted to it though I cannot get that excited about it.

The practice did seem to work as I did break 100 by a couple of strokes and certainly could have improved that a bit with some better decisions along the way.  Just like life one bad decision can set one trying to scramble to recover.  At least in golf the scramble ends eventually as the hole does not continue forever.  Some folks have to work to overcome bad decisions for years.  My trying to sneak through the trees only added a couple of strokes to one hole.   Trying to sneak money out of a bank can screw up your life forever.

Only golfers enjoy talking about their rounds so I will not bore you with a shot by shot accounting of the round.  The hearts game also had less drama than last night as Gary won the game going away so I will sign off now.

We drove around in a big SUV rented by the guys from NY as Hobson has barely enough juice to sneak to my next stop and those electrons cannot be wasted.

Day 6 - Back to the Past

Today is the day the Big Five reunion begins.  This meeting was on the calendar already and actually is the event the entire trip was built around.  To explain for the uninitiated the Big Five are five friends that have been hanging together since elementary school.  Unfortunately after 50+ years of friendship we have not beat the actuarial tables and Bill Belair is no longer with us so we are currently the Big Four.  We have been getting together for a golf outing for a number of years now and tonight is the night we all get together.  As I am staying with one of the Big Five just a couple of hours away and we cannot check in until 3:00 we lazed through the morning.

Very little of the ride down was on main roads so it was nice to get a sense of the area.  There were a couple of cool looking junkyards with some really old cars right at the fence line.  There was also a yard along the way that would have driven the "American Pickers" insane with desire to go in.  There were all manner of old signs, vehicles and various other machinery strewn about the property and hanging from the buildings.

More carefully kept than the junkyards were the numerous churches, mostly Baptist by denomination, that dotted the landscape sometimes in solitude and sometimes in town.  Unadorned, unlike the churches especially in Spain or Italy, they create a feeling that is different and in some ways more powerful than the glided, intricate Catholic churches. The flat facades with the single steeple reaching to the sky as a pointer towards heaven gives the observer the same sense of reaching towards God that one gets entering a Gothic cathedral and having your gaze immediately drawn skyward.

Once we decided to leave Gary's house we did a couple of errands and then hooked up to the Tesla charger while Gary and I got sandwiches.  Once lunch was finished we wandered back to the cars and set off for Southern Pines and a meeting with Roger and Vinny who arrived in due course.  Dinner eventually was completed so we gathered around the table and competed in the annual Hearts game.  It was a close one going into the last hand with one person at 83 and three of us at 90.  Roger won on the last hand after being far behind most of the game.

Afterwards we watched the last portion of the NCAA women's game between Mississippi State and UConn.  The last second shot that Mississippi State made to end UConn's winning streak of 111 games.  As this is my wife's alma mater I was sad to see that but you have to love an underdog pulling off such a win.

Charging Stops:
Charlotte - It is always fun to go back to a charger you have been to already especially when there are good places to go while you wait.