Saturday, January 31, 2015

Last picture I take with my tri-pod as it got
left behind in my hurry to get on the road.
I awake to a darkened sky. Light usually dances in from various slits around my cardboard cocoon, but not this morning. Thinking it is pre-dawn, I unlock Kitt and step outside.  Serious?
It's snowing and an inch or more has already accumulated on the ground.
Not far enough west, I sigh.

Since this is the beginning of the storm, and I want no knowledge of it's full demeanor, I decide to high tail it outta there, skipping all of my morning routines.

Back in September, I switched out my 21" wheels for 19's, and I now get to experience for myself how Kitt will react.  I've heard many times how well the Model S performs in the snow, but my experience with 21" wheels have not synced up with that.  I pull out of the KOA with a heightened sense of alertness but not fear, for I feel that whatever happens today, I somehow will get through it.

Although the roads are slushy in heavily traveled sections, it is still freezing outside with plenty of ice.  Kitt is doing well, a lot better with the 19's.  I sashay onto I10 along side the big rigs (not my favorite partner for this white dance party).  I'm cruising at 17 mph, until up ahead one pirouettes, causing all traffic to stop.  

A space is open to the left however, and a 4WD pickup slips by.  I decide to do the same, but when I attempt to go, Kitt's back end slides to the right.  As there are cars directly behind me, I'm unable to back up, so I get out to survey.  I see I've stopped on a thick layer of ice and with no other option, I pull the cables from the back hold.
I'm now hoping I remember enough to get these on correctly.  The driver from the car directly behind sees what I'm doing, gets out of his car and offers his assistance, which I accept.  I position the cables, red towards the back, split opening to the front.  I give a brief tutorial; he installs one side and I the other.  I ask if I can give him some money for his assistance, but he refuses.  We exchange pleasantries and he wishes me safe travels, and I the same for him. 
Security Chain Company Z-563 Z-Chain

No one is on the road behind me and as I learn later, they've closed the road. 

Kind of peaceful, kind of eerie, I travel for miles alone in this white landscape.  

The cables are making noise as if they are hitting the wheel well and are too loose.  I stop multiple times to check, but they are tight with no evidence of contact. 

I finally break free from the storm's grasp and pull over to remove the cables. The hook on the inside proves to be a formidable opponent who I battle until my fingers are numb.  Cold, wet and tired, I drive the remainder of my 195 miles to Willcox, AZ.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

It looks to be a gorgeous day and I'm one of a handful, that's on the road at sunrise.  Today's going to be a long day as I have 2 legs and 400 miles to Las Cruces, New Mexico, far enough west I figure, to miss the storm's reach.

I set out with 252 miles in the cells and have 227 to travel.  That gives me a 10% buffer. Deja vu.  There aren't a lot of charging options out here but more than that, I don't want to spend extra time 'slow' charging, increasing the risk of being caught in the storm.  So...yep, I make like a grandma, put on my babushka and watch everybody pass me.  

No elevation gain, no head wind, no problem.  I arrive in Van Horn, TX, pay the $15 to charge then begin my 7 hour lay over.

Seven hours sounds like a long time, I know, but it really does go by fast.  Laundry, shower, free popcorn, yaking, computer work, phone calls, then it's time to leave.  I check the weather one last time and it calls for Van Horn to get hit hard.  I see a motorcycle camper setting up his tent and believe he's going to have a cold night.

It's dark now, but I still get on the road as I need to head another 170 miles west into New Mexico.

I arrive at the KOA "parking lot" around 10.  Everything is shut down, but my late packet greets me with open arms.  

I plug in, bunk down and have the most gorgeous view of a starry sky from Kitt's sunroof.  I'm feeling pretty darn good, happy to be out of the storm's reach.  I go to sleep, almost euphoric on how good life is and what this trip has brought to me.  A short time later, I hear the pitter patter of rain drops on the roof.  It doesn't get any better than this I think, as I drift off to sleep. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's 83 degrees when I leave for the San Marcos, Texas supercharger.  There are no signs even slightly hinting at the eminent snowstorm.  Although I did a dry run at putting cables on a few weeks back,  I'm content letting those coils snooze right where they are, in the lower back hold of the trunk.  I figure it will take me 3 nights to make it to Tucson, AZ, but I am highly motivated to get out of Texas in 2 as that's how long I have before the storm hits.

Kitt's GPS has been acting up since being unexpectedly unplugged from her power source, so I give her an attitude adjustment with a reset and make additional route notes in my book while filling up with an extended range.  Kitt wants to take me on a route that's 243 miles, but I've found one that's 226.  I have no idea what the conditions of these back roads are like, but I need the extra range so I decide to go my way, leaving a buffer of 26 miles.  The route is beautiful, peaceful and certainly my preferred blend of asphalt.

I'm making good progress but as it starts to turn to dusk, I notice mountains up ahead..."Oh *&%$" I say to myself, as I know that means just one thing for me, a decrease in range.  Sure enough I watch my 26 mile buffer dwindle to 8.

I typically lose 7 miles of range for every 1,000 feet elevation gain and unbeknownst to me at the time, I'm climbing apx. 2,000 feet to my next charging location in Ozona, TX.  (Since that time, Tesla has released firmware version 6.1 which projects trip usage based on known elevation gain.)

This is the first time I've thought "I'm not going to make it", as I'm loosing range fast.  Thinking I might have a head wind as well, I decide to draft.  

For those who follow Mythbusters, you might remember they did an episode testing if drafting behind a big rig would improve mileage.  Sure enough it did. They found a 11% increase at 100' and a 39% at 10', so I find me the nearest big rig and make like Velcro.   My efficiency improves, the buffer increases and confidence is restored.   I'll make it after all, yippy!... and then I see these flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror.  Ugh.

I pull over and wait for the Highway Patrol officer to approach, silently rehearsing my defense.  He motions for me to roll down the window, and I greet him with "Good Evening Officer".  After pleasantries are exchanged, he informs me that he pulled me over because I was "following too close".  Huh, me?  I now launch into my monologue complete with all electric, range differential, elevation gain, projections, boonies, head wind, limited options and even show him my notebook.  He has a look of befuddlement on his face, asks for my license and says he'll be back.  He returns with "backup", a fellow officer that shares big rig operator narked on me, then proceeds to educate me on stopping distances.  I resist mentioning that I can stop faster than that truck and it comes down to my reaction time, and instead  reply with, "I guess I got a lil over zealous, sorry".  He hands me back my license, says he'll let me off with a warning and seems to genuinely wish me safe travels. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I make it to my first stop, a back lot "RV park" in Ozona, TX. It's late when I arrive and Kitt's turning heads with a group of beer drinking partyers.  I find myself a spot away from the festivities and immediately plug in as I've arrived with 15 miles.  I don't bother making up my bed as I plan to be out as soon as Kitt's full.  I put my cardboard cocoon up, get comfy in the back seat and am up and out by 5 am.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Awhile back when I was on the phone with my eldest son, he asked me, "what do you eat (when you're on the road)?"  As you've probably already surmised, I'm the type who "Eats to Live" and when by myself, I expend very little effort on food.  This does not mean however that I will grab just anything to satisfy my hunger.  Whether at home, or on the road, I try to live by 3 precepts.

1)  Eat close to the source 
2)  Eat a plant based diet   
                      3)  Eat from a wide variety of food sources

There is a long history of how I've arrived at where I am today, (and I'm still fine tuning it) but I will tell you that the overwhelming bulk of the reason behind my diet is health related.  Each year for the past 20+ years I get a CBC & lipid panel of blood work done.  About 15 years ago (due to no change in my diet) some of the markers started to go beyond their limits and my doctor wanted to put me on meds.  That wasn't an option for me and so I started my quest to use food as my medication.  It worked!  I take no vitamins or drugs of any kind, instead deriving all my nutrients and health from my food (and exercise).  

Here's my "road" regiment:

Breakfast is simple.  I heat up water in my car kettle and pour it over a mixture of oatmeal, flax and chia seeds.  Cover to "cook" for 5 or so, then top with whatever fruit I have on hand.

Green tea.  I usually have 2 cups in the morning and drink it all day long.

A typical snack

Juicing is a big part of my regiment and it's typically what I have for lunch.  As selective as I was about what to bring on this trip, two items were a must have; the Electromate 400 power station and the Omega 8006 juicer.
I use the power station to run my juicer, charge my phone, computer, and other devices when I have no electrical hook-ups. The built in light comes in handy when I'm working outside at night and even the air compressor has been put to use twice so far.

Electromate 400 and Omega 8006 juicer 

Couple "goof-ups" in the video.  The juicer is an Omega 8006 NOT an 8600
and yeah, I know my head's cut off.

To your health.

Super easy clean-up.

Dinner is usually a salad or a tortilla filled with a bean, lentil, hummus, veggie mixture.

This is how I eat 99+% of the time when I'm preparing the food.  However there are times when I don't have control, such as when the pizza arrived with cheese on the vegan quarter.  I do not make a big stink over such situations.  I just do my best with it.  Also, there are times, like that giant fortune cookie in Las Vegas that I break the eating close to the source precept .  Do I beat myself up? HECK NO!  These are rare circumstances that I allow myself. 

Lastly, B12 is a hemi (meat based) essential vitamin needed in small amounts by the body.  Veggie people usually obtain it through fortification.  Within this past year however,  I get it from an occasional serving of fresh fish as my research has yielded significant health benefits from inclusion of "fatty fish" in the diet.

I'm a big believer in being kind to myself.  In large part, I do this through my food; making selections that will be beneficial to me.  Let's face it... there are lots of people out there who are more than willing to beat you up in the course of a day.  I owe it to myself to make sure I'm not one of them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's our last day together in San Antonio and there's one remaining item on our list; the SAS Shoe Factory. 

We head to the parking garage where I find some heel unplugged Kitt from her power source last night.  An odd sense of humor I think, but it matters not, as we have plenty of charge to keep instep with our plans.

Mom did the research, made the reservations  and booked us a factory tour to learn how shoes are made at the family owned San Antonio Shoemakers (SAS) Factory. 

The tour begins in their store which is a museum in itself, filled with cool, vintage memorabilia from yesteryear.  The owners are avid collectors and the antiques range from this 1939 Buick Eight Special to a vintage coke machine.
We meet our guide in the back by the shoe fitting area and are instructed that no photography is allowed inside the factory.  No problem as SAS has released this video on U-tube showing how their shoes are made.  An extraordinary process, and one which I was glad to have witnessed. 

The worker's in this factory, mostly women, have low turn over rates, are lightening fast, and impressively precise.  A true testament that the US can compete in the manufacturing sector utilizing a philosophy grounded in pride and respect.  

I wish I was wearing stars and stripes after the tour as I'm swelling with American pride for the factory worker's I've seen here.  

I drop the guys off at the airport and now it's time for me to get to work myself. The most challenging leg of the trip thus far is ahead,  the 900+ mile trek to Arizona along the sparely populated I10 corridor.  

Mom watches the news and tells me a snowstorm is to hit Texas on Thursday.  I spend the evening with my computer, a notebook and a large bowl of anticipation.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Downtown San Antonio is anchored by it's 2.5 mile riverwalk also known as the Paseo del Rio.  It's a network of walkways and bridges easily accessible via the back doors of the hotel, and resides one story beneath the streets of the city.

The riverwalk is a pedestrian street whose beginnings can be traced back to 1921 when an area flood claimed the lives of 50 people.  Considered to be a "dangerous area" at one point, declared off limits to military personnel, the area underwent an evolution to control the area's flooding which resulted in the construction of a flood gate, a dam, a trainer gate and the riverwalk.

Today, shops, restaurants, and bars line both sides. 

We stroll most of the way down the walk and come upon the (1859) Guenther House, the private residence of master millwright and Pioneer Flour founder Carl Guenther.   Now a restaurant, museum and store, we walk the gardens and partake in the complimentary offered coffee.
Original grindstone used
for grinding wheat

Rio San Antonio CruisesOn the way back we've just gotta get on the river and so we pay the $8pp for a riverboat ride, a deal compared to the $500 fine for jumping in.

Then it's back to the hotel for 5:30 "kickback", a complementary happy hour complete with dinner items such as mac & cheese, chili dogs, soup & salad, build ur own stuffed baked potato, meat balls & pasta, etc.  Way more than I've ever seen any hotel offer and a perfect way to end the day.

5:30 Kickback - Free Hot Food & Cold Beverages5:30 Kickback - Free Hot Food & Cold Beverages
Now Serving! Drury will let no guest go hungry... at least every evening from 5:30 to 7:00. All Drury hotels now offer free hot food & cold beverages for guests.*
Our rotating menu features a variety of hot food including macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, baked potatoes, soup and more! Plus, beer, wine, mixed drinks and soft drinks are served every day. There’s something for everyone at Drury’s 5:30 Kickback. It's a snack for some, meal for others and free for all. Please note, the menu varies by location and dates.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Just ask any of my family members how many times I've talked about ordering and "giving it a go" at consuming, what's got to be the largest pizza in the world.  "How cool would that be?"  I've said over and over and over.  They all know, this is pretty close to the top of my list for this trip, so we all pile into Kitt and head to:
Ok, let me just get all the disclaimers out the way.  You don't come here on a Saturday night if you're not willing to wait... and certainly don't come here if your'e not willing to wait even longer for a 42" or 60" (not on the menu) pizza.  They let you know this right up front and YES it does take 2 hours. 

G-whizz, sixty inches... just a few more pepperoni slices and you've got my height!

Everybody weighed in ahead of time on their favorite toppings, so by the time we get to the front of the line we know exactly what we want.  One half Hawaiian, one quarter pepperoni, one quarter vegan.

37" Silver, 42" Black
pizza pans
They won't start making your pizza however until you are seated.  Since seating is limited and assigned, you are given a pager and the multi-hourglass gets turned over.  Even though there are only 5 of us, the wait is even longer because a larger table is needed to accommodate the 42" pie we've ordered. 

18" elongated "plates"
It's close to 9pm by now and I should mention 2 out of the 3 guys get grumpy when they're hungry and don't get fed.  I know the thermometer is reaching that temperature and I expect grumbles, but there are none!  Fast forward a few frames and we're seated with our pizza in the oven.  

And then it arrives

Okay, so there's cheese on the vegan quarter.  So what!  I make the best of it as I'm not a gestapo vegan (more on this later).

Enough photos already... it's time to dig in!  

Picture a human chipper-shredder... Yep that's how long he had to wait for this meal! 
By the time all is said and done, we consume about half the pizza, with everybody pulling their fair share.  

None of it will go to waste as there is a frig and microwave in the hotel room.  Midnight "snacks" are not uncommon with the boys and left over pizza fits that bill just right.