As I mentioned last month, we took a short vacation break to relax in Silverthorne, Colorado. What I did not tell you then, is that we did the trip on a zero-emissions way. We drove our Tesla, stopping at superchargers along the way. We got the Tesla last May and were anxious to see how it would behave on a long trip. One word: awesome! But, before I share the details of this trip, let me say that we put a lot of thought in the acquisition of this car, and getting it was part of another “green move”, the installation of solar panels to power our home. For a couple of months now, the energy of the sun is what fuels most of our appliances and our car. At the moment, with the air-conditioning on most of the time, the solar panels cannot keep up with all our use, but that shall change later in the year, even considering days of less intense sunlight ahead.
A few interesting bits about the Tesla…
There is no engine. The car is basically a huge battery located underneath (shielded by a strong titanium plate), and computers to control everything. When you open the trunk, either the front or the back, what you see is a huge empty space. Storage galore… ;-)
At home, you charge the car in a drier type outlet, and a full charge will take you 8 to 10 hours. Once the car is fully charged, it displays the potential number of miles you can drive. Ours usually says 262 miles. That is a number you will never reach, calculated while driving on a flat terrain at a low-speed. In general, one can count with 170 to 180 miles on a full charge.
Can you drive anywhere in the US? Not quite yet. Supercharger stations are popping up everywhere, but some routes do not have enough of them to cover the distance. For our trip to Silverthorne, we planned on four stops to recharge: Hays & Goodland in Kansas, and Limon & Lone Tree in Colorado. Silverthorne has a supercharger station in town, so we did not have to worry about finding an outlet in the hotel and charging the car overnight. For a map of available superchargers and predicted new stations within the next year, click here. By the way, charging the car is free, doesn’t cost a penny. You park, plug, and drive away. Tesla is also building a battery swap station in California, where you will be able to drive in, get a new battery, and drive out, but it won’t be ready until 2015. Once it’s functional, we intend to drive all the way there, should be a cool trip.
Charging stations were always empty. During our trip, only once we had another Tesla charging on the same station. Of course, any long trip with a full-electric car cannot be rushed. It takes at least 30 minutes to charge the battery, up to 45 minutes to fully charge it. But, you don’t need to stick around waiting. A Tesla app on the cell phone shows exactly where the charging stands. You can have a coffee, lunch, go for a walk, read a book, or even think about those great experiments waiting for you once vacation time is over… Another thing to keep in mind is that you won’t always need to fully charge the battery, and that reduces the time to charge quite a bit: the resistance of the battery increases so the final 50 miles take proportionally longer to charge than the first 170 or so. By charging for 20 minutes you will likely have enough juice to reach the next supercharging station, if you are traveling through well-covered regions of the country. Not the case for us in Kansas, at least not yet.
We were worried about how the car would perform on the mountains. It did amazingly well. We knew that the Tesla has a feature called “regenerative braking“. When you drive with that mode on, every time you take the foot off the accelerator, the battery gets some charge back, as the car converts kinetic energy into chemical energy and sends it back to the battery. If you like to know more about it, click here. So, to give you an example, when we drove from Silverthorne to Vail, we covered 30 miles each way, and the battery use was of exactly 60 miles (in other words, 100% efficiency), even though we went way up the hills for part of the drive. The recovery of charge driving downhill fully compensated the energy used for going up. The control panel shows the energy efficiency in real-time. Here is a shot of the screen at the end of our day trip to Vail and back. In other words, the car is a geek’s dream!
But, enough technicality. Colorado is such a wonderful place! Packed with people who love the outdoors, most with that gorgeous reddish tan of the mountains. If the temperature did not drop to obscene 40 F at night, I’d say I was a happy camper. We stayed at a hotel by Lake Dillon, it was perfect for us. Well, almost perfect. On the first morning we planned to go for a run around the lake, but that idea was bagged after a few steps. The altitude got us real bad. Plan B was set in place, and we walked instead, every day at least one hour, often a lot more. Still panting quite a bit on uphill paths, but who cares?
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The first thing we do on our trips is find a local coffee shop. Just a mile from our hotel, we stumbled on the perfect spot. Blue Moon Bakery: great cappuccinos, a huge collection of cakes, tarts, and muffins baked in place. They have four bakers working full-time. Take a look at some of the stuff available. It’s a good thing I don’t have a sweet tooth, otherwise I wouldn’t fit in my jeans on the trip back…
Our favorite dinner was at a small sushi spot called Kemosabi Sushi in Frisco, on the other side of Lake Dillon. Great name, fusion sushi by definition, I suppose. I went crazy for one of their rolls, the Curtis C: Tempura Anaheim Peppers, Avocado, Cream Cheese, topped with Yellowtail and Cilantro Oil (shown on the right of the photo below). The place was full, so we sat outside on a slightly chilly evening, but as an unexpected bonus a band was playing at the restaurant next door, and we got to profit from it. Don’t you love simple pleasures?
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In one of the days we drove to Vail, a place I’d heard a lot about, but had never visited. It’s beautiful, but I must say I much prefer the atmosphere and energy of Silverthorne. Vail is a little too upscale, with endless arrays of expensive shops instead of a more laid-back environment, which I prefer. Good to visit, and probably great to ski during winter, if you are into that sort of thing. Brazilians do not particularly look forward to sliding their butts on snow, until they come to a full stop, cold and with no pride left (that summarizes the skiing attempts of my past).
Lunch at Vail on a beautiful sunny day…
After having lunch, we sat on a bench and did some people-watching, one of my favorite activities. I can sit, watch and dream for hours. Nearby, a big dog was tied to a pole, evidently waiting for his family having lunch somewhere. The dog was super friendly, and we got along great. Can you stand the sweetness of that paw?
But, of course, no trip is perfect without some golf. We played two beautiful golf courses (Raven Club at Three Peaks, and Keystone Ranch), and I had two totally different experiences. The first day, we were paired with another couple. They were members of that golf course and helped us a lot with tips and advice on how to handle the course. But, I played poorly, and was quite upset about it, feeling like the ugly duckling in the middle of three beautiful swans. Next day I played so much better, but we were paired with two gentlemen, and I must say they were horrible to play with. Putting it mildly, they very unfriendly. I guess I learned a big lesson – it’s not how well you play, but the overall experience. If I had to repeat one of those outings, I would definitely go for the first, but would not let my pathetic performance bother me. Hopefully, the lesson will stick.
I leave you with two short videos of golf swings. Even if you are not a golfer, I bet you will be able to appreciate them, each in its own unique way. Phil is a great golfer, having learned the game at a very young age. If you look at his swing, it’s smooth, his head doesn’t move forward, he keeps it down, and once the swing is over, he looks at the path ahead with that calm confidence of knowing the ball went exactly where he aimed. Check it out here.
Now, take a look at yours truly, with a click here. Let’s say there’s room for improvement. Not much smoothness, not much transfer of weight from the back to the front foot. But the “best” part is my reaction after I hit, clearly trying to “help the ball” go where I wanted it to go. By the way, both Phil and I did not know we were being taped. We do that sometimes to each other so that we can check our swing and make adjustments. I’ve been making adjustments for 17 years. If you are a golfer, please keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you so much.
All in all, it was a great trip, and we enjoyed each minute of it. However, Phil is trying to convince me to go back this winter. I thought he loved me. Evidently, I was wrong.
ONE YEAR AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad
TWO YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry
THREE YEARS AGO: Post-workout Breakfast
FOUR YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns
FIVE YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers