Ummagumma and The Great Equalizer

Ummagumma (4)UMMAGUMMA

There are a few of you (my age, or a little older) who will get the reference. Perhaps a few others will be saying to themselves “Ummagumma, ummagumma, ummagumma…???”, reaching for a memory. Hopefully you are not doing this in an elevator with strangers in it. For all the others, I am not going to explain it to you. Not because it is a secret, but because you would find it boring to read, and I would find it boring to write.

But thinking of it does make me smile, so here it goes again: Ummagumma.


Unlike the original, though, I here include a list of the major items pictured. It is not necessary for you to read it all, but it’s here for those of you who find our lives more interesting than yours and can’t get enough of us.

2 backpacking packs   –   2 backpacking inflatable pads   –   3 water bottles   –   Seat cushion   –   Backpacking tent   –   4 duffels (clothes)   –   First aid kit   –   Backpacking pots and pans   –   Backpack (Daypack)   –   Folding bicycle    –   4 one gallon water jugs   –   Adaptor cables for charging opportunities, and case   –   Another daypack   –   Computer case, laptop, inverter/battery pack   –   Electric skillet   –   Folding table   –   Cook table   –   2.5 gallon water jug   –   Cooler chest   –   HEET (alcohol stove fuel)   –   Alcohol stove and implements   –   Cooking bundle (tools and spices)   –   4 duffels (food stores, misc food related. 3 are kinda’ behind Laura)   –   Another folding bicycle   –   2.5 inch foam mattress with cover   –   2 three season sleeping bags   –   Hiking boots   –   2 throw rugs   –   Folding chair   –   Towel   –   Spouse, hat, book   –   Ab-wheel (An evil implement of exercise)   –   15 ft 50 Amp extension cord, 30 foot 50 Amp extension cord, bag for these   –   2 regular extension cords, 1 long, 1 short   –   drumsticks, assorted   –   NO4NOIL front license plate   –   Whisk broom (tent cleaning )   –   Exercise straps (Throw over tree limb, do body rows, dips, etc)   –   2 jumpropes   –   6 kettlebells   –   2 zippable red blankets (Summer sleeping bags)   –   Saddle blanket bags for folding bikes   –   Another folding chair   –   Assorted small things behind 3rd throw rug   –   oh, and the big 12 x 12 foot tent in the back. Almost forgot that.

All this fits in the Tesla.

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof

ummagumma, loaded

The Great Equalizer

The first day of the third leg of our adventures saw us heading south out of Pocatello, trying to reach the newly opened supercharger in Nephi, UT 253 miles away, without stopping for a top-up at the Nissan dealer in Salt Lake City. We arrived with 44 miles left on the battery. Another couple who’d charged at the same place we did (We finally got around to installing the High Powered Wall Charger at home and had listed it on Plugshare) left after we did and arrived before us. They had one mile left on their battery. One. They seemed happy. They were even encouraging, suggesting that we’d ‘get better at it’. Our modus is to routinely carefully monitor our progress relative to our rated range, like good scientists, to ensure we always have a comfortable cushion. I got the impression they were artists.  I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable arriving on, dare I say it, fumes.

Speaking of fumes, we were stopped at a red light today surrounded by idling ICE’s, when a strong smell of gasoline penetrated the car. Laura and I both turned to the other and said, “It wasn’t me”.

This was in Denver. Denver traffic is the worst. It’s the only place we turned on the traffic indicator on the big screen NAV map. It showed mostly red and yellow most of the time. Denver’s air quality isn’t so good either, which is a pity since its vistas are outstanding. Widespread adoption of EV’s in Denver wouldn’t change the congestion, but at least you could enjoy the vistas while stuck in traffic.

After Nephi we headed southeast to pick up I-70 and on to the supercharger at Green River, UT, north of Moab. There’s a dinky desert town at the junction. In the short space between the town and the onramp there’s a sign – “Next Gas 106 Miles”. Here’s a pic of it’s big brother on US 6 in NV:

US6 NV Next Gas 163 Miles

I imagine there are a lot of U-turns made there.

There are pictures on Google of a sign in Australia saying Next Gas 357 Kilometers. For those of you not familiar with the metric system, that’s equal to 22 cubic hectares per second.

The biggest roadblock to consumers about EV’s is range anxiety. We’ve found there isn’t a problem with recharging conveniently, it just takes earlier planning. With gas, when the fuel gauge goes below 1/4 tank you start thinking about where you might fill up. With electricity, this step happens before you start driving in the morning. At the start of a long empty stretch of desert, EVERYONE asks themselves the question, “Can I make it?” The long empty stretches of southwestern desert are the great equalizer. If you’ve set out across one of these, you already know the mindset of EV driving.

It’s just that we ask ourselves the question every day. Unless we’re on the supercharger network, then we just hop in and go, knowing that we’ll make it handily, charge for 10-20 minutes and then on to the next one. The feel is just like driving on gas, but when we hit the last supercharger on our route, we stay a little longer and get a max charge, and plan to overnight when that charge runs out.

In practice, travel off the supercharger network is like this – max charged (265 miles) in the morning, stop at noon at a Nissan, Chevy, or Mitsubishi dealership and walk or bike someplace for lunch, often followed by some yoga under a shady tree (OK, I lie.  Usually followed by a nap). Then back to the car which has picked up an extra 40-60 miles (free) from the dealership, and continue on down the road to an RV park having gone a total of 240-300 miles that day, pitch the tent, and plug in.

Except in the southwest we’ve driven most of our miles supercharger style. If you look at the supercharger map (LINK) there are considerable empty spaces, but with lunch stops at dealerships we can jump across an empty stretch of 600 miles with just one overnight. We can routinely do 500 miles or more in a day since the jump-over starts and ends on the network.

The requirements for planning ahead are much the same as for gas cars in the early 1900’s. This was before the gasoline network was up and running, so adventurous people who wanted to road-trip had to do careful planning before they set out, such as wiring ahead to confirm that the pharmacy in town carried adequate quantities of 200 proof ethanol. Or that the hardware store had kerosene. Similarly, if there are only a few RV’s near where we want to overnight we will call and reserve a spot, and confirm that the outlets are the tasty 50 amp ones and not the slummy 30 amp-ers.   Early cross-country gas travelers would sometimes send cans of petrol ahead by train so they’d know they’d never be stranded. My understanding is that they did not send cans of 200 proof ethanol ahead, ‘cuz they’d be stranded.


Here’s a picture of some mountain sheep in Badlands National Park.  20140723_073958