Saturday morning, I woke up super early (5am?) to get my time lapse set up. I had a rig involving an ironing board, and Molly reinforced it with some tape.
Here’s the result. Its actually two timelapses, and I stitched them together. What happened is my alarm starting going off on the phone, and that killed the first one, so we had to restart:
While that was going, I went up the hill to get another coffee. While up there, I chatted with an interesting local named Gabriel. 71 years old.. lived around Phoenix most his life, possibly sleeping in a tent on a hillside by choice. He said something about starting to walk down the mountain at about 3am .. I saw him at 6am. I asked him if he had stories he would like to share. He invited me to sit with him. He asked me my opinions on the Bill of Rights. We had a brief discussion about many things video editing, and I gave him some of my opinions on economic polarization. He took my email. He may send me one of his stories. It is a story about a search and rescue he was involved in, and it spotlights the resilience of some of the younger generations.
Then it was time to go. We checked out of the resort early, and headed up Canyon Rd SR89A to Flagstaff, where I needed to charge up to 90% or more. As our guide the day before warned us: It was super beautiful. There was a scenic viewplace towards the end of the drive:
But don’t ask about the sanitation smell at the bathrooms there. We did what we had to.
Now, let me load up the ABRP Trip Profile I was working with for reference:
In Flagstaff, I needed to get the car all the way up to 95%, 100%, in order to make the trip east to Winslow and then south to Payson. It was going to take an hour.
We walked over to the Walmart while the car was charging, and then walked over to “Over Easy”, a breakfast place. There was a 40 minute wait. No problem, we hung out there, I went back to get the car at the right time..
The car was only at 90%! Food was ready. I stopped charging and took the car back to the restaurant. Delicious food. But inconvenient charging.
Then across the desert on I40, which is part of Route 66 there. At a nice slow 60mph to conserve charge. I easily made it at like 85% charge. Meteor Crater!
And then it was time to go.
Winslow AZ. We chatted with several couples there – one set from Bakersfield CA (who turned out owned a Model Y), and another couple from Altoona IA (where I used to live!)
We stopped at small café to get some coffee, and turns out they had the same Safe that my wife has at her office! There was some safe geeking out there.
(resume ornamentation here)
Then down Hwy ___ back towards Phoenix. Our next stop to charge was Payson AZ. We drove through desert, and then there was a forest, and then there were hills and then (after Payson) mountain descent and rolling hills. We had no service for a while. There was a beautiful sunset. We drove through some really cute towns that we would like to go back to .. Strawberry and ___. We stopped at a small gas station with broken potties, they had portapotties instead. The gas station’s business: A sanitation company. Hmm. Molly remarked: 10 years avoiding a PortaPotty, and today we had two of them. But that place did have the good tea: ____. We got two cans.
We ended up back in Phoenix at the In-n-Out, where I tried Animal Style for the first time. I’ll do that again. And then drop Molly at the Aloft, and then time for a small Sunny adventure.<
I went to visit my long time friend Steve Ekholm whom I hadn’t hung out with in.. something like 20 years? We did a facetime with his kid, who is responsible for introducing me to Harry Potter when they were 7. They are 30 now.
And then the other yawny long charging session. I needed to get the car, turns out I should have aimed for 100% so that I could return it over 85%, but I only had the patience to get it up to 85%. I had 45 minutes at that charger. I tried to nap, but that didn’t happen. It was weird.. there were at least 5 chargers there that lit up but didn’t work. Lots of disgusted Tesla owners who didn’t look for the blue tape X in the corner, and thew the chargers to the ground in disgust.. then the next person would pick up the charger, try it, and get disgusted.. nobody talked to anybody. I tried to tell people, but they were too absorbed in their world to hear me. I guess it’s a polite “I will ignore you” protocol at a charger. Very different from what my friend Dan says that he experiences.
I guess I could have gone in to Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers, and I eventually did, to get my wife a Tea and use the restroom. I tried to pay for the drink, the lady said “no need!” and bid me on my way. Bless her heart.
And then back to the room, final night of vacation.
Timelapse: I tried to set up a timelapse of the mountain sunrise. It didn’t work right – It focused on the railing instead of the mountain, for starters. It was held up by a shoe on a chair. But it got a plan started for tomorrow.
I love doing timelapses.. something about archiving a moment, capturing a pattern.
Coffee: We walked across the street to the View Café, which serves Starbucks things. I had a delicious Breve Latte. Breve means “steamed half and half”. Which is delicious. At home I drink half and half rather than whole milk. I tried drinking straight Heavy Whipping Cream (I made a song about that) but that did not work ok.
Side Adventure to Safeway: We needed .. stuff. We went and found a safeway. A lady with a big smile helped us. Bless her
Ravens by the window: Molly fell in love with the Ravens that were swooping by our window. We thought they were crows. You could almost quote us on that. But no, they were Ravens.
Pink Jeep Tour: It was a thing. It was interesting. We were glad we only did a moderate one.. guide said the bumpy roads we were on were a 2.5 on the scale from 1 to 10 of how crazy the driving can get.
Learned about Sedona Red Sand (Its not Rock!), and Geologic things, and a lot of interplay between tourists vs locals. We learned that Jerome would be a fun place to visit, as well as Prescott, though we did not end up there.
Molly has a story about a horse drawn coach and a Guide not believing her.
Organic Plan Change: Initially our plans were to hang out around Sedona and head back to Phoenix, but then I discovered that Meteor Crater was nearby.
From This Movie, Starman, 1984:
I’ve wanted to visit there ever since I saw it in the movie. At the time, 14 years old? On my second trip to the United States? Nothing represented freedom and travel like that crater. It might also be my first ever “road trip” movie.
And here it was, so close.
So, My loving Spouse and I switched plans – more on that on Saturday’s post. The act of changing plans, negotiating and arriving on something we both want to do .. it was awesome. This also meant I had to figure out a charging plan. EV Trips: Plan! (at least for now) (Think of it like 1915, Gasoline infrastructure hasn’t quite made it yet, but by 1925, it was done)
There was a good lunch at Miley’s Cafe while we charged the car up for tomorrow’s journey up to Flagstaff. I had the Miley Burrito. Folks at the table next to us asked us our review. I ate every bit of it.
Both on the way down to the SuperCharger and on the way back up, we tried to stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. There was nowhere to park the first time.. we did the loop of shame and continued down. On the way back, I dropped Molly off at the top, and drove back down, and way at the bottom, like 3 spaces from the exit, I found a spot. Molly walked back down to the car. Her story about that place. I liked standing in the heat observing the tourists.
There was a visit to (unspellable) (pronounced: T’ Lakka Packy) shopping center – which I was reluctant to go to first, but once I was there, I fell in love with the decoration and ambiance.
I had big hopes for the Chai place, but reality was not as delicious, my Mom makes better Chai. 😊
There was a bunch more wandering of shops .. being total tourists. There was Honey, Tea, Sugar, Boba, and … I don’t even remember. I had to ask Molly for this list. Maybe we were a bit crazy.
We ended up and WildFlower again, but they were out of the chowder, so I had a Tomato Florentine in a Breadbowl and it was delicious.
And then it was wind down time, setting up for tomorrow’s early morning Timelapse adventure, and playing with some long exposures:
The day started off with attempt to eat at one place: Sunrise, but actually ending up at another place that was mediocre at best, and shall remain un-named.
There was a round of packing, and then a bunch of waiting, because our car rental pickup wasn’t until 11 or 12.
Chaotic Turo Car Pickup: “We’re here!” which lead to a mad dash with our stuff down to .. a ½ block ride in a BMW to .. our rental Model S! We were blocking traffic, so we did a very fast transaction to start the rental (I have only done Turo once before) and then we were off! Driving a Model S P85D in Chill mode towards ..
Nowadays, whole foods at home has such an Olive Buffet.
Nostalgia: Where Molly used to work. Vacant now. Molly has the story. People say it was becoming a bad neighborhood, but .. it didn’t look too bad to us.
Nostalgia: Molly’s commute back home from the office.
Nostalgia: Where Molly used to live. Populated now.
First Charging Stop on the way to Sedona: Take pictures of Cactii for Mom. Got some really horrible tasting candy or drink or something (honeydew?). The fun memory is our adventuring to discover and our horror at the taste. Thumbs up for adventure!
On the way up I got to test out the previous version of Autopilot in a Model S from 2015. More about the Tesla in a separate post.
Montezuma and Fry Bread: On the way up we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle And on the way there, we got some Fry Bread. I want more Fry Bread in my life. Plain even.
I loved the white trees at Montezuma – they are Arizona Sycamore. They cannot grow in KY.
The Drive To Sedona: Rounding a corner and seeing the buttes.. took my breath away. I need to tell you about the jigsaw puzzle I had when I was a kid.
Arrival at Cedars Resort: It was straddling the roundabout! I didn’t see the sign and had to double back. Heck of a time parking with no lines .. turns out the lines were denoted by different pavers used on the ground.
Wildflower Bread Co: For Dinner we walked across the street and found a little restaurant. It was fricking amazing, I had a Salmon Chowder. It was so good that we went back a second time, which is unheard of with our adventuring souls.
This is continuing my practice of gratitude, all the good things in a day. This happens to be while we’re on vacation.
My intention when I wrote these posts (in Word, local, on the airplane in airplane mode) was to add all the links later. I may not get that time, now that I’m back at busy life, but what I’ll try to do is post these first, and then go back and edit them if I can, one cool picture at a time.
Coffee: No special coffee today. Instead, Molly and I went to Breakfast Bitch and had some delicious foods. I chose to skip coffee due to my overdose the night before. Their location is in the Cambria hotel. This hotel seemed to be a very cool artsy place. Reference an artist whose work was shown: Antoinette Cauley.
Bless a driver: Trip to next location, Justin, he wants to buy an acre out east and build a house there. Bless him, may his dream come true.
Taliesin: Then we were off to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, architecture house tour. Molly loved it. Best thing there for me might have been the room with all the sitting chairs, but also just a feel of how those folks lived, their feeling of hard work and community.
Water Side adventure: we didn’t bring any water. They don’t sell water, but they sold a collapsible water bottle. Bought it, used it, loved it.
Lyft side adventure: We had a driver with specific opinions that we possibly disagreed with, so we stopped talking, and he kept on talking. Bless him.
Adventure to a Thrift Store: The adventure was fun, the store was bleah. Thai restaurant nearby, yum. Moving on.
Sugarbowl & Shopping: The we headed south a bit to Sugar Bowl, famous from Family Circus comics. where we met Tom and Jami S .. they were stuck around their waiting for their AirBNB to open.
Followed by some shoppy-ing.. found a really nice little day bag that won’t pull my pants down .. and then we found dinner:
Barrio Queen: Fricking amazing. I remember the Elote and the Table-Side Guacamole. There was a Mexican Chocolate Mousse in there somewhere too.
Then back to the hotel, driving through looming hulks of hills in twilight. It got pretty dark. Driver was very quiet. We went back roads to avoid the traffic on the interstate, it was neat. Van Buren almost all the way back to the hotel.
Coffee: Cartel Roasting Co, probably the most coffee-passionate coffee shop of this trip. Drip coffee, “Raw process”. Learned that there’s another method called “Honey Process”, but they haven’t had one of those for 3 months, very rare. This was also a day of a lot of caffeine.
On the way back, I got Molly’s Tea at Press, but: turns out they change flavors every day. Today was Hibiscus-Black. Did not go well. I believe I also tried a Cortado there (coffee #2).
Then, there was a trip out to the grocery store to get gallons of good-tasting water and some Think! bars. Mission accomplished. Btw, Fry’s is part of Kroger so our phone number worked there.
Scooter: I wanted to at least try it. After Molly left for her conference, I got a $10 pass for Lime Scooters (also available: Bird, Spin. Specific parking zones which are the only places you can start and end rides) for 60 minutes (I used 55 of them to go 5.3 miles over 28(!) trips), and I used it to travel north to the Roosevelt Arts district, wanting to get her some stuff for her birthday. Scootering was fun! but, I got there way too soon, so I killed some time hunting down.. a coffee #3 at another coffee shop, Kahvi. It was located in a co-business space where a bunch of businesses all shared the same building, building possibly made from shipping containers. Wandered around, found a hat shop, and then found a treasure trove at MADE arts center. Scootered back, prepped her gift for her return, and then checked in with my guys…
… and they were scootering too! Scooted up to visit them near The Churchill (which is another container place). Today, Matt H joined us as well (yesterday he was helping his daughter who is local). They had just gotten done eating wings at ATL and then possibly a beverage at (something else). We went on an adventure up to a Safeway (just outside the scooter zone!), to see if they had fancy Bourbon at MSRP. (They didn’t).
On the way back, had some unplanned adventure: Matt H stopped to ask Hey where are we going. I slowed Way Down. Matt LP didn’t slow down. Boom. Timber. Nobody was disabled. Matt LP got a scrape.
We then ended up at Churchill at a Bar there. I was still recovering from the Spicy Margarita drinks from last night, so I went for a pitaya/something bowl from Foxy Fruit. A bit later, I felt the nap calling my name, so back to the room I went.
Coffee #4: I woke up from my nap at about 3:30pm, and knowing that coffee shops shut down by 4 or 4:30, I scooted to the edge of the scooter zone to visit Xanadu. recommended by the Cartel folks. Good coffee.
Tempe Trip – When Molly got back, we took off via Lyft to Tempe to visit the Blick Arts Materials store – one of Molly’s favorite things to do, is visit art supply stores. Then we visited a Taco shop splat in the midst of student town (where it felt we were the oldest people there for a while) and then Lyft back to the room.
Lyft side adventure: While driving, our ride got a rock smashing into the front windshield. Sounded horrible. Circular crack. While we were all looking at that, slam on the brakes due to stopped traffic. Most eventful Lyft I’ve been in so far.
This night, btw, I couldn’t sleep (I wonder why!) and I ended up looking at some code that I wrote a while back for a Space Mud game, and I thought about what I wanted the game to be like now if I were to resume working on it. I think i got 2-3 hours of sleep. Its okay, i was already charged up on sleep from the nights previous.
Coffee. I always start a vacation day with some kind of coffee adventure. This day, I got to Press EVB (East Van Buren) right as they opened at 6:30am (the other places opened at 7am .. Macki went to Cartel, which is where I went on Tuesday). I got Molly a Peach Tea and an Empanada.. found out later they switch their flavors around daily. I myself had an Americano, and it was okay, but kinda .. i don’t know, bright? Not my favorite. 2 blocks from the Hotel.
I bid farewell to my beauty as she went on her conference thing, and then an adventure started with the other spouses of conference go-ers. It started with a quick walk with Matt (LP), where we marveled at an outdoor sculpture which looks like a jelly fish but is called something way different, and then we picked up Tom (S), and we .. started walking.
Japanese Friendship Garden. We didn’t go. But we walked up to it, intending on going. And then there was construction. And walking through an underpass. And then .. we saw the Garden, it was underwhelming. So we got a Lyft up to Squaw Peak (also named Piestewa, but that’s what the locals called it), so that we could go for a moderate hike.
A: Surely we will find the turnoff here soon. Followed by: Come on guys we can do this!
B: Realization that we were probably not going to make it to this summit, so plan B: Go around, it seemed downhill.
C: This is fun! … but we’re running low on water. Maybe we should deviate down this other trail marked on Tom’s hiking map.
D: We were talking so much, we missed the turn off and had to backtrack. Goal: Not to hurt the rest of the trip.
E: Descent on an almost unmarked trail, which turns out had been made private. We crossed _____ 50 feet to get to a cul-de-sac. We didn’t get arrested, we got back to pavement, and then hiked our way out the subdivision.
It was an adventure. We cooled down with some beer and some Cornish Pasty‘s which are like giant Empanada’s.
Nap. Personally, I love a Nap. I was on vacation. I had a Nap. And it was Good. There was Room on the Agenda for a Nap Like That.
Group Dinner. Then all the conference attenders got back, and we chilled, and then we went out for a Group Dinner.
Molly, Macki and I rode in a Tesla Model X up to the location (Culinary Misfits)
The Venue was Great. Food was amazing. I had some Meatloaf and some Ribs and … a gazillion other tasty things.
I didn’t like the Margarita (too strong), but the spicy margarita that Molly was drinking was perfect
Sat with some of the agents from the Central office, and it was good talkings.
I’m supposed to give a talk on Gratitude sometime in November.
I’ve fallen out of the habit of doing a gratitude list daily (well, twice daily).
I found myself on vacation, yet grumping about. True, there were some emotions to process.. but for my sense of positive-ness (some people seem to think I’m never sad, always upbeat .. this is not true) .. I decided to backtrack and make a list of good things for each day of vacation.
As a single post, that would be overwhelming, so I’m breaking it up by day. No promise on when I’ll post them, this is from current me to honor past me and represent for future me. Here is Good things from Sunday, in no particular order.
Easy Flight. We forgot to check in early, we got C-something in line, so we were lucky to get aisle seats across from each other. 4 hours in the air. Cute family with little ones nearby, little ones slept almost the entire time with no crying.
Train Ride. Rather than get an Uber, 9 of us went on an adventure to ride the light metro rail. (Later, 2 of them got chewed out by local relatives who are in law enforcement). I looked around and there were at least 4 or 5 conversations between us as a group and some locals going on. I love taking public transit, if its safe.
Our Room was awesome. Corner view, 3 windows, downtown.
In-N-Out. We took a Lyft to the nearest one (and back). Macki & Matt joined us .. I think it was their first time. Macki liked it. I re-discovered their french fries. I found out much to my surprise that Waymo is a thing in Phoenix (I had forgotten / not associated), but I found out that it was nowhere near where we were going to be, and you have to be a local resident to participate in the downtown testing.
So there we go, that’s Sunday .. first day of vacation. Molly was going to Gen Blue, and I tagged along for the fun. I’m glad Molly’s is a family owned company and spouses are included in things like this.
First RoadTrip! Got vaccinated, visited mom. Used ABRP (A Better Route Planner). Learned some.
This is from my leg leaving Lexington heading towards Huntington. The Blue line is what it was expecting me to do – this is based on a 100% modifier to the speed limit (70mph). The Green dot and projection is where I was actually at and the estimated battery level at the next charger.
But, i had a bit o’ fun.. i went a wee bit faster.
I ended up driving a bit more aggressively. A couple of things to note: The green tracking only was enabled once I got to this screen, and I think only while I stayed on it. (This is on my phone). How you drive has a huge impact on battery drain and range.
So, now I’m planning my return trip. I know more.
A) I can be comfortable bringing the bottom charge all the way down to 5%. I was afraid before of going below 20%. Now that I know i can very easily see where I’m going to end up at, i can lower that to 5%.
B) Faster speed = more drain = longer charging, thus there’s a point at which more speed does not equal more time gained. I’m going to play with that in a moment for the return trip.
C) Most of the Superchargers were at Sheetz Gas Stations, which were awesome. Fresh Decaf coffee, grapes, cheese, good bathrooms. Loved it. I have marked one (Lexington, VA) to avoid due to lack of amenities.
Planning the way back
My final version: This is going at 75 mph on 70 which is 107% –
The actual cost to me is $0, because at the moment, I have 633 free supercharger miles left from someone using my referral code to buy a Tesla. All because I was nice to them on reddit. yay!
The actual driving is amazing. I use Autopilot with assisted lane changes, so most of my interaction is choosing to speed up / slow down to get around people or let people in. The car does most of the driving. I mostly … sit in silence, listen to a podcast, sing, sing more, or talk on the phone, with hands on the wheel. And then the monotony is interrupted with a cute drive to find a supercharger, and some snack acquisition, and walking around a bit. Its nearly perfect.
I finally did it! We were in Las Vegas, and my wife said yes, so I rented this Tesla Model 3 for a day to make a quick trip to the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade.
I’ve been dreaming about this car for a while. I had done my research. So without trying to classify / rate it overall, here’s the individual things I found:
I started out the day in Chill Mode, graduated about halfway through the day to normal acceleration. I only let it loose once going up an interstate ramp. About 2x or better the G’s than my Nissan Leaf gives me, and way past 45. Wow. Pedal about halfway down = what I’m used to as “strong” acceleration. Probably not something I’d use a lot.
Autopilot was amazing
Turn it on, and its like the lane I’m in suddenly developed invisible steel rails and the car started gliding on those tracks.
Turns out I drive more to the right than I thought. I kept trying to correct it. Wife thought the car was doing a better job than me.
Trying to force the car out of where it wants to go is about the same as.. guiding a car up onto a curb at a very slight angle? Didn’t measure it, maybe a pound of force? Easily done, but more than just a touch of the steering wheel. When it gives, its almost a .. snap? But the car doesn’t veer.
The amount of agitation to give the steering wheel so that it knows you’re still there is more than what I normally apply to a steering wheel when I’m driving long distance – I have a very light touch. It got pissy with me. So yes, it ensures you are paying attention.
It tended to drift a bit when lanes merge in to your lane.
it tended to be confused and then snap to a lane when exiting and going down ramps.
Telling it to change lanes is awesome. Its very sure of itself.
It tended to be very conservative when people pulled out in front of me in the city.
I had way more situational awareness about surrounding cars. Its like: see them in side mirror, see them in the display, see them pass me out the driver window, and the whole time: The car knows they are there.
I kept it at a follow distance of 5, which is 2.5 seconds. And pretty much the speed limit.
Even in the city, when not on autopilot, I’d have it in “smart cruise control” where it followed the car in front. Very relaxing. It could track the forward car even on windy roads.
There were some confusing times – after stopping exiting a ramp – not realizing it still wanted to drive, perhaps? Or, the car is being a little paranoid, applying braking of its own, and I’m surprised so I apply more brakes as well.
Its already good enough to be a game-changer, and its going to get better. I want in on this action. Everybody else, please catch up soon.
Brake, and Hold
Car slows down, press brake to come to a stop. Remove feet from pedals. Car stays there. Like “Hold” mode in a Prius going up a Hill. Very nice. Very much a fan.
Single Pedal Driving
I was worried that there wouldn’t be a lot of “Neutral” coast.. but .. I didn’t miss it. I spent more time in auto-cruise-control adjusting speed with the thumbwheel.. and even when controlling my own speed, there’s a very solid feel of “keep this speed going on.”
I did find that I’d lift my foot a second or two before I intended to slow down – starting to move my foot to the brake – and the car would slow down, startling me. Probably a few days would get rid of that habit. Its a different brain circuit.
I’d say first 5-10 minutes are “WTF”, and then its “oh this is nice” + “Whoa why did I do that”, and maybe in 2-3 days it would be second nature.
It felt like I was holding a heavy steering wheel, which was attached with super-strong titanium links to the wheels. It felt like I could “feel” the wheels through the steering wheel. Any little input I gave, immediate response. Is this called “tight”? And it wasn’t even in Sport mode. It was amazing.
Drive, Park, and Walk Away. There is no Off
This was very freaky. Yeah, stop the car, put it in Park, get OUT of the car, and lock it. The car is now “Off”. Unlock the car. The car is now “On”. There is a way to turn the car off while you’re in the car, but its not a common use case.
What range anxiety? Yeah, I don’t even know how far we drove, I’d have to look it up. No worries about the A/C being on, either. We got it with 228 miles available, drove it down to .. 168? charged it up to 260.
Easily found. Easily plugged in. And then … it starts to ramp up the amps.. and .. OMG, 300 miles in an hour! (initially). I think we stuck an additional 90 miles on in about 40 minutes. 20 of those minutes were wandering around a convenience store. It is much more relaxed than when you are getting gas, because you know you’re going to be there a bit. Which is how I’d prefer to roll – relaxed. Definitely getting the right snack. I look forward to taking a long distance trip in a Tesla with Autopilot.
Voice Navigation and Navigation in General
Better than any other car I’ve been in, on par with what I expect Google Maps and Apple Maps to be. Probably closer to Apple Maps in terms of accuracy – it did miss the start of one offramp entirely, and chose the less optimal way into a parking lot, and the long way around involving a roundabout when a simple left was available.
The Car Itself
I think I’d rather get a Model Y. The Model 3 was too close to the ground. And almost too cute. Probably go with gray or black, red is just not me. Wife says Blue.
I think I’d recommend trying it out. Granted, this host was maybe better than most? He had an assistant who took care of all the details and made everything super simple. Its about the same as how it felt going from Taxi’s to Lyft/Uber .. as it is going from Avis to Turo. The same corollary applies – its a one to one, pre-meditated thing, with more details to figure out – vs a “go to one place and just get a car” (equivalent to go to one place – at a hotel taxi line – and get a taxi). While renting, I had insurance cards provided by Liberty Mutual on my phone. There’s a checkout and check-in process that involves documenting the state of the vehicle.
At the end of the day, I was sad we didn’t have more errands to run.