A Matter of Degrees

Large flock of birds in Iowa.

It’s been exciting learning how the Tesla handles cold temperatures. I have driven several (6) long trips of about 1000 miles each with the Tesla and only on the first trip did I freak out about getting to a charging station. Yesterday (Saturday) we woke to temps in the 20’s (f) and it got colder during the day. I charged the car in the evening and when we went to leave the next morning the car had lost about 30 miles of charge.

The trip in cold temps was interesting. On a normal day the car uses energy at a rate of about 275 watt hours (WH) per mile. (I won’t explain what a watt hour is but the number values will be pertinent.) All day, in the 20 degree temps, the car was using over 400 WH per mile. Almost twice as much. We had to stop and charge more often than normal and extended the day quite a bit.

In thinking about this I could only guess as to why this happened. First, the car is heated and cooled with a heat pump, similar to the ones in homes. Just like at home, when it’s THAT cold the heat pump just doesn’t work. It has to use a resistant heater (like a hair drier) and that uses a lot of energy. Second, I was driving as the lead car and getting a lot of wind resistance, using more energy. Later in the day, I had Linda lead and that helped. Third, just like any battery, the car battery did not like the cold.

The next day (today), I monitored and recorded some statistics. The day started off with temps at the low 40’s (f). I toyed with the idea of wearing shorts. I spent the first 30 miles glued to the energy monitoring apps (full self-driving has advantages). With just a 20 degree rise in temperature the car was using about 310 WH per mile. Much closer to normal, plus the temps rose to the low 70’s later in the day. I continued to have Linda as the lead car as it did make for an improvement for the Tesla. The miles per gallon in the Jeep dropped by driving at 75 mph (the speed limit).

Take aways from this are 1. Plan on more charging stops in cold temperatures. The car doesn’t know the weather. 2. Look ahead on your route for charging stops and plan your speed. The speed limit in Nebraska is 75. If Linda was not in front, I would have had to limit my speed to 65 so as to get to the next stop. The charging stations were far apart.

All in all, not bad, just did not think about cold weather behavior.

By Linda

We saw a murmuration of black birds yesterday that was amazing to see. Today, we came upon a large number of birds and managed to get a video. It’s not great since I was driving on an interstate at the speed limit, but I had the phone in navigation mode and was able to flip it over to video quick enough to give it a try. I do not know what kind of birds they were. I would have stopped if I could.

A large number of birds flocking on the left side of the highway.

On the way through Nebraska, we saw flocks of sandhill cranes. Audubon says, “Between February and April, more than half a million sandhill cranes gather on the Platte River in central Nebraska, staging for a journey that ends as far north as eastern Siberia.” Way, way cool to see. I wish we were in a better position to have hung out in the area to observe more closely.

We are halfway through our journey to Bremerton. We should beat our initial travel plans but weather is always an issue. We can’t drive in the snow and an atmospheric river in the Pacific Northwest could cause problems. Tomorrow looks good and traffic is much better in this area, so we hope to make good time for another day.

Yesterday the temperature was 20 degrees F in the morning. This morning, it was 40 degrees F in the morning and rose to 70 as we made our way through Nebraska. It was likely around 80 degrees F the days before we left in Florida. 80 to 20 to 70 in a few days. I hope it does not plummet again.

Walkie Talkies and Ice Scrapers

Tesla getting charged. Note the snow.

Light snow and ice came through Kuttawa, Kentucky last night. Dart got up at 3:30 a.m. I nearly froze while waiting for him. When I got back to the room, I jumped under the covers to warm up and Regis suggested we get started for the day. I said, “heck no!” A half hour later it was clear I was not going to be able to sleep and relented. We loaded up our two cars, both encased in snow and ice. We had no ice scrapers, so we had to wait until the car melted the ice from the windows. Regis had fully charged the Tesla the night before, but the frigid temperatures (it was 20 degrees Farenheit in the morning) drained some of the battery and while he recharged, I bought gas, gloves, and ice scrapers.

As we got to the entrance to the interstate, Regis went the wrong way. No coffee kills him. I failed to follow and went the correct way but pulled over to call him and tell him to turn around at the next exit. I drove slowly hoping he would catch up and finally got off at a rest stop and waited for him.

The Tesla lost charge faster as a result of the cold temperatures and had to be charged more often. Regis has started collecting data on cold weather energy usage for a further post. First impression is that at highway speeds the car consumes MUCH more energy. The low got to 16 degrees F after sunrise and hovered around 20 all day. Poor Dart. Neither Regis nor I could bear the cold long enough to let him stay out long. He was not as bothered as we were.

After the second charge, Regis went to Lowes and bought walkie talkies. I thought we could do without them but found having them made things much easier. It was a wise move.

We saw at least 7 vehicles crashed and abandoned in the median strip and a couple large trucks wrecked on the side of the road. Bad weather went through the area yesterday and was likely the reason. I am glad we missed that.

Dry Ice

Dart thinking of trying out for a Tesla commercial

In Regis’ infinite wisdom, he decided to get dry ice for our cooler. Since we have primarily traveled with a motorhome over the last many years, we only needed a cooler for day trips. Regis did not want the water from the melted ice cubes in the cooler. The cooler traveled in the Tesla with Regis. Yesterday, Regis had to put his sweater on because the cooler was so cold it chilled the air in the car. Today, when I pulled out sour cream to dip my Triscuits in, I thought the sour cream looked off. I checked the expiration date and it was good. Regis noticed my puzzled look and said the sour cream looked odd because he was dipping jalapeno chips into it. Okay. I dipped my Triscuit and found the sour cream was frozen solid. It entered the cooler yesterday morning at refrigerator temperature and was frozen solid this morning.

Yesterday, it rained off and on most of the day. Sometimes it was a light sprinkle and sometimes substantive. Regis does not remember it raining. Might I point out that the Tesla is smart enough to run the windshield wipers at the correct pace based on the precipitation. I had to modify the wiper speed constantly.

There is a difference in how the two cars handle cruise control. Regis is using full self-driving in the Tesla for this trip. If he sets the cruise control for the speed limit and the car in front of him slows down, the Tesla slows down. The Jeep does not. I have worn the plus and minus markings off the cruise control buttons from constantly adjusting the speed based on traffic conditions. I generally stay behind Regis and when the traffic flow is okay, we maintain a fixed distance. If I start to gain on him, I know he is asleep at the wheel (not literally) and is not paying attention that the car in front of him slowed down. When I pass him off, he sees those colorful kayaks go by and wakes out of his reverie.

Regis decided to wait on charging until north of Atlanta and planned on the next charge near Nashville, but after leaving a rest stop about 90 miles south of Nashville, Regis called me to tell me the “car changed its mind” and wanted to charge sooner. If Regis is not paying attention, it’s nice to know the car is on top of things.

Charging with all the other Teslas between Atlanta and Chatanooga.

The potholes on the road in Tennessee were almost the size of small ponds. It was like slaloming on the highway. At one point, the right lane was closed off because the potholes were so large.

We stopped several more times today than yesterday and I think Dart is getting more comfortable. He is a much-traveled dog, so he should get used to things soon. I made sure to let him get a lot of sniffing time in during charging sessions.

Dart enjoying the smells while the car is charging.

During the last 20 miles into our destination in Kentucky, it started to snow. The Tesla tires cannot handle snow or ice. Depending on how things look tomorrow, we may have to stay another day. It may pass through tonight, but we are prepared to hunker down if needed. We saw many blooming plants as we made our way up to Tennessee, but once we got north of Chatanooga, only the daffodils were in bloom.

Blooming flowers in Georgia.

Lastly, the traffic was terrible almost all day yesterday and again today. We have traveled this route several times and I do not remember this much traffic. It is difficult to cover too many miles when stuck in so much congestion. Since we usually had our Super C motorhome when traveling through the many lanes of interstate through cities, I often felt I would have preferred to be in a nimbler car. Yesterday, I changed my perspective. While traveling with 18 wheelers on both sides cruising at sometimes decent speeds, I felt rather small and would have welcomed being in our motorhome. It was nice to ascend the Appalachian Mountains at the speed limit. The motorhome would slow down to 40 mph depending on the ascent.

Why do cities treat cars like a deck of cards? They bring many lanes of traffic together, shuffle them up, split them out again, and repeat. It reminds me of what happens when you shuffle a deck of cards.

Cross Country in a Jeep and a Tesla

The Telsla at the charging station in Georgia. The back of the convenience store is in the background.

We recently purchased a home in Washington State and sold our beautiful home in St. Augustine. We signed the papers yesterday, the movers picked up our stuff, our outstanding realtor team of Maureen Nightingale and Nancy Daniels gave us a bunch of goodies for the trip, and we headed west this morning. We tentatively have the trip scheduled for 10 days but will likely reduce that if weather, traffic, the cars, and the dog allow. I am driving the Jeep with Dart in the back and two kayaks on top. Regis is driving the Tesla.

We have had numerous people share a concern about long distance traveling in an electric vehicle, so we will talk about that in the posts on this trip. We left from St. Augustine, Florida and our first stop to charge the Tesla was near Valdosta, Georgia. It also had a gas station and a convenience store. I topped off the tank in the Jeep and Regis picked up a much-needed frosted cherry pop tart. We hung out by the swamp while waiting for the Tesla to finish charging which took about 20 minutes.

The Jeep with the kayaks on top.

Regis indicated we would stop in Macon, Georgia for the next charge. I did not pay enough attention to how far away that was and bypassed a rest stop around 11:30 thinking we could eat while the car was charging. Eons later and much hungrier, we arrived at the Macon Tesla charging facility. This time there was no gas station, but there was a Panera Bread nearby. We had food in our cooler and I sat on the curb between charging stations with Dart and we ate our lunch. Well, I did. Dart was too unhappy to eat. Without a picnic table, I should have saved the food in the cooler for another day and bought food at Panera Break. Although we could have gone to Panera Bread to use the facilities, we chose to wait since we only had 87 miles to go. We both regretted that.

Eating lunch at a Tesla charging station.

We made good time until we were 40 miles away from our hotel in Atlanta. The traffic was terrible and we slowly made our way. By the time we got to the pet friendly Westin hotel, Regis and I were having a hard time holding it. I do not know what I was thinking when I made the reservation in a downtown hotel. There is a charging station nearby, but it is downtown and we have a dog with us. The hotel has an underground garage with a low ceiling. With the two kayaks on top of the car, I could not fit. The nearest outdoor parking lot has signs indicating you can’t park there unless you are using that shopping center. There is a roving security guard making sure you understand. He was unable to give us advice, so Regis parked the Tesla in the garage to go to the hotel while I called BringFido through whom I made the reservations. Regis and BringFido both determined that I could park in valet. The roof was higher.

Dart was unhappy yesterday while the movers took everything from the house. Since we slept on a blow-up mattress last night, there was no room for him and he had to sleep in his own bed. He got up multiple times at night. I thought he was sleeping during the entire drive today, but that may not have been the case. He was clearly unhappy as we went in the elevator to the 9th floor of the hotel. But, he was hungry enough now that he ate something. Regis put him up on the bed and he fell sound asleep. He barely moved. We thought he was dead. When he woke up, he was a cheered up fellow and is taking it all in much better. I get cranky when I’m tired and hungry too.

Phone

This is a story with no pictures. I recently departed from the Orlando airport to visit Seattle for about a week. I will return to Florida next week in time for the movers to arrive and Regis, Dart, and I will take our two cars to Washington State in hopes of beating the movers.

I spent the night in a hotel near the Orlando airport since I live over two hours away. I left out of Orlando instead of Jacksonville because I was able to get on a direct flight. My last couple flights to Seattle from Jacksonville with a stopover left me in no mood to do that again.

The navigation system in our Jeep is almost useless. If the Jeep accurately knows our location, which is not always the case, the maps are too old to give us a good route to our destination. It is not worth paying the gazillion dollars to upgrade since the Jeep often doesn’t know where we are. What use is upgraded maps if the Jeep doesn’t have its bearings? I use my phone instead. When I left the hotel for the airport, I entered the destination in the phone and placed it in the console. Shortly, I realized I never pressed “start” for the directions but was able to get to the airport myself. There are several terminals at the Orlando airport and you must park in the appropriate lot for your terminal. That was my first problem. I eventually got to the correct lot and made my way to the airport. Check-in wasn’t too bad, but security took a while. After security, you have to take a train to your terminal. After I got to the terminal, I went to Starbucks to get a much-needed cappuccino and pick up something to eat for the long flight. The line was excruciatingly long, but I had enough time at this point to deal with it. After getting my beverage and lunch and arriving at the gate, I proceeded to make a promised phone call. At that point, I realized I did not have my phone. Ouch!

I tried to think of every place I had been and proceeded back to security, which required a train ride back. Before stepping on the train, it hit me that I probably left the phone in the car. Hopefully, it was that and I didn’t lose it. I checked my watch and there was not enough time to go back to the car, retrieve it, and get to the gate in time.

I pulled out my laptop to send emails to people, like my ride at the other end, to let them know the situation. Despite all my efforts, I was unable to get my laptop to successfully access the airports WiFi. I flew on Alaska airlines and bought WiFi access when I got on the plane. After much trouble, I finally got an email message sent but it didn’t appear that it went. I could not see it in my sent folder or outbox. I rebooted the laptop, went back into Outlook and saw a message from my son responding to my email. I still did not have evidence that the message was sent, but good news since he was my ride at the other end. He knew to monitor my flight and figure out when to pick me up without me communicating with him. There are no pay phones anymore.

In the meantime, I tried to access certain things on my laptop and since I had not used it in a while, some locations wanted to send a text verification. To a phone I do not have. So, I could not log in.

It gets worse over the next few days. I went to a local T-mobile and used one of my son’s older phones and got a new sim card and a pre-paid plan, so I had a phone for a week. But, this is not my normal number. I have continued to bump into problems where locations want to send messages to my phone and I don’t have it.

For example, after I checked out my new house that I have never seen, I went to the local Costco to get a membership and they convinced me to get a Costco credit card. It sounded okay to me and I was approved. Before they would give me a temporary card to use that day, the credit card company wanted to send me a text message with a code. I gave my real phone number, not my “burn” phone number. So, I tried to change the number. No dice. It probably took 20 minutes to work through this problem so I could proceed to buy some stuff to get the house set up at the Washington end.

Then, I tried to do a mail hold at the new address because I am flying back to Florida to drive out here and no one will be at the house for most of March. I have an account with USPS and proceeded to do the hold. The phone number problem halted me in my tracks. I couldn’t do it. I was successful after calling the 800 number and spending time working through the phone tree and talking to the robot to eventually get a mail hold set up.

With me using my laptop which I do not often use, many sites want to verify me with a code to my phone. If that happens, I can’t get into the site. Some sites give me the option of email, but not all. I never had a full appreciation for what happens when you don’t have your phone with you.

After I successfully contacted Regis about my phone, he was able to go online and locate it in a parking lot at the airport and lock it. It appears that I am correct that the phone is in my car. I certainly hope so. Which means, I do not need to procure another phone and only need a temporary solution. Therein the problem lies. This is not a situation that many companies accommodate. I would have recovered better if I got a new phone with my number and moved forward. Since I only need to get through a little over a week, I did not want to purchase a new phone.

Two factor authentication, without secondary options sucks!

Robins and Cedar Waxwings

Robins.

Around this time of year, the robins and cedar waxwings arrive together to eat any berries they can find on the local vegetation. I have taken my best cedar waxwing photos around this time of year. Regis managed to take some nice pictures of the recent robin and cedar waxwing invasion.

Cedar waxwing and robin.
Robin.
Cedar waxwing.

Raccoons and an opossum have been regularly visiting under our bird feeder to see what is available. I fill the feeder in the morning and the blackbirds, etc. push all the seed onto the ground within an hour or two. I do not know why. This leaves lots of stuff on the ground for the mammals. It makes me wonder if the raccoons have a deal with the blackbirds that causes this behavior.

Raccoon.

Dart spends most of his day lying on the patio and watching for the mammals. He does not want them in the yard. The mammals do their best to work around him. They try to defy him and sometimes he is too tired to chase them off. Because they are sometimes successful, they never stop trying. Dart is going to love the weather in Washington state when we move, but he is going to miss the activity with the wildlife.

Opossum

We will soon be leaving our current home in St. Augustine, Florida to go to the Pacific Northwest. We have a lot of wildlife here, including an opossum who visits regularly. We have not been able to get a good picture of this little creature until today. Regis is convinced it is a female with young. If so, I desperately hope I get to see the little ones before we leave mid-March.

Black Skimmers

Black skimmers, Forster’s terns, and royal terns

During a recent stay at the beach, Regis found a shorebird hangout including lots of black skimmers and Forster’s terns. He was able to get a few shots of a black skimmer “skimming” the water and successfully catching a small fish. The lower bill on the black skimmer is longer than the upper bill. The birds fly with their lower bill in the water and snap their bills shut when they sense a fish.

Black skimmer.
Black skimmer fishing.
Black skimmer with a small fish.

Peregrine Falcon and Magnificent Frigatebird

While staying in a rental on the beach recently, we saw a Magnicificent Frigatebird which was a life bird for me and a perergrine falcon. The falcon was actively pursuing the local birds. We did not witness a successful catch.

Peregrine falcon.
Peregrine falcon.
Magnificent frigatebird.

While watching the frigatebird over the ocean, we realized it was not something we were used to seeing. Having a good lens on the camera allowed us to zoom in on the photo on our computer and realize it was a magnificent frigatebird. Unbelievably cool to me.

Forster’s Terns

We recently stayed in a beach house in Summerhaven, Florida. We were smack dab on the beach. We noticed a lot of activity with Forster’s terns fishing during certain times of the tide. The tide couldn’t be too high or too low for them to grab fish in a particular area. We were fascinated to watch the activity and Regis got the best pictures. The terns are beautiful fliers and a joy to watch them regularly dive into the water. We looked forward to it every day. They are beautiful and graceful.