Road Trip #14: Monterey Two Night

Monarch Butterfly

Unlike our previous road trip to Monterey, this one was going to be a three day, two night stay. That gave us extra time to do a little more around the area than just the aquarium, although we did manage to fit in a visit there as well.

We left relatively early in the morning, traveling with some friends, and met up at Sea Harvest in Moss Landing for lunch.

Pacific Grove

After lunch, it was a short drive down to Pacific Grove to visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary and see all the monarch butterflies stopping there for the winter season.

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The “Metaverse”

The Metaverse

Along with announcing a renaming of the company (to Meta), Facebook also showed off some of its thinking about their new virtual world concept, which they call the metaverse.

This is not a new concept. Indeed, Second Life has been offering most of what they describe for many years now, and, obviously, there is also the fictional Oasis from the Ready Player One novel and movie, which goes well beyond anything Facebook / Meta have talked about so far.

Just what are the challenges here though? Why has Second Life not been able to become a mainstream way of interacting, especially in the last 18 months while we have been trapped at home in the real world. Can Meta make this concept something billions use.

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Modified Quarantine

When the elementary schools went back to full day, in-person this autumn, they obviously had to have a plan for what would happen when a student tested positive for COVID-19. In our case, that first happened less than a week into the year. Other schools here in Alameda also saw cases in the first few weeks of school. Previous guidelines for those who may have been exposed were to quarantine at home for 10-14 days, and get tested at the end of that period (and, of course, should any symptoms appear during the quarantine). However, for this school year the state has created a new scheme called modified quarantine, which is not really quarantine at all in my opinion.

Modified quarantine allows the children exposed to somebody who tested positive to remain at school, and even to commute to and from school on public transit, if necessary. The only thing they cannot do is activities outside of school, as if, somehow, doing activities at school makes them safer.

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Road Trip #13: Rodeo Beach

Today’s road trip was not meant to be titled Rodeo Beach, but that is where we ended up, as we knew we would. The first stop on the trip was meant to be the nearby Marine Mammal Center, but it seems they are closed either due to COVID or for renovations (unclear from the website, and in fact it was unclear from the website that they were even closed when I looked from my phone).

Disappointing as it was to miss the Marine Mammal Center, Rodeo Beach is always a part of our trips there, and we had a good walk up on to the cliffs on the north side of the beach that we had not explored previously.

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Porsche Taycan: 6 Months

Taycan 4S

Six months into the Porsche Taycan, it is time to review what I love and what frustrates about the car that many have dubbed the best EV available (controversial, I know, especially among fans of a certain US brand). I’m going to avoid that completely because to be honest “best” overall is just too subjective. What is best for one person may not even come close for another, and at this end of the market it is not just about the numbers.

It has been a little over six months since we took delivery of the white Taycan 4S, and we have done 3,676 miles in the car. Much of that has been on longer than average road trips, including a trip to southern California and back (over 1,000 miles round trip). We have documented those trips here on this site, including stats for the efficiency we achieved. What we have not yet captured are some of the problems we’ve had with the car (outside of problems charging it on long trips).

TL;DR The Taycan is a fantastic car spoiled by unbelievably poor software. Mainly the infotainment system, but there are problems in other parts of the software too.

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Road Trip #12: Oakland Zoo

Grizzly Bear Pool Time

It might be a stretch to call this a road trip since it was not even 15 miles round trip, but the zoo is a place we have had limited access to over the last 18 months, and we were able to grab tickets (free, since we’re members, but required nonetheless as they control numbers) for Sunday afternoon. So, our road trip for the weekend was perhaps the shortest we’ll ever do, to the Oakland Zoo!

We did not really have any plan, and since it was after lunchtime, we had no reason to eat there, although both the cafe near the entrance at the new one at the top gondola station were open and serving food. Both had outdoor dining locations as well.

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Road Trip #11: Jack London SHP

Coming out of our daughter’s quarantine from being in “close contact” with somebody who tested positive for COVID (another student in her class), we thought we’d take advantage of the weekend and head out for a short road trip. This week we chose Jack London State Historic Park, near Glen Ellen, as our destination.

Not far from home, and mostly freeway driving, we made it to the park in around an hour and a half, starting the journey with around 85% state of charge (our home charger is offline at the moment as we are getting it rewired as part of upgrading the central heating and water heater in the house to be electric heap pump systems – more on that in a future post).

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Snow Foam

Chemical Guys Extreme Bodywash + Wax

I have been wondering about the effectiveness of touchless washing for a while, but I finally decided to take the plunge and get some kit to be able to wash the cars without the sponges.

First thing I discovered is that it is not 100% touchless. For a start, there is drying – I guess I could invest in a car size blow dryer, but that doesn’t seem quite as practical, and, if the wash has done its job, there shouldn’t be any contaminants on the paint to damage it anyway.

Secondly, there are times that touchless washing might need a gentle touch. For that, I added a microfiber mitt to the order.

Finally, there are so many options for snow foam soap out there that choosing this took as long as choosing the rest of the kit combined. in the end, I picked up two. A gallon of the Chemical Guys Extreme Bodywash + Wax, and a smaller bottle of Chemical Guys HydroSuds, their ceramic coating snow foam soap.

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Road Trip #10: La Quinta & Back

Swimming Pool at Night

This road trip was a little different to the first nine in that we were staying at our destination for a week of vacation. Given the situation with COVID-19 in California, we had decided that rather than stay in a hotel, where we would be exposed to many other people all week, we would instead rent a house somewhere in the state that had a private swimming pool for the kids to play in all week. We would drive there, spend a week basically in the house we rented, and then drive back.

The final trip was pretty close to that, with only a couple of day trips while we were there, both of which we stayed mainly in the car.

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Electrify America Thoughts

Palm Desert Electrify America Chargers

When making long trips in an EV, plentiful, reliable, fast charging locations are essential. Electrify America has done a good job of installing fast (150KW and 350KW units) in lots of locations, but the reliability is simply not there today.

Before getting to my thoughts on the state of Electrify America, I will recount our recent experiences. Also, I am restricting this to Electrify America for now for two reasons: firstly, they are the network that provides the Taycan’s included charging service, and secondly, they are the network with the most 350 KW charging units. We have used ChargePoint for a long time with our previous EV, and once with the Taycan too, and while I have never experienced serious problems with their network, the DC chargers they have deployed in most locations seem to be 50 KW units.

I should also note that Electrify America did reach out to me on Twitter and arrange to call me to talk about the experiences we had on this trip. In general, Electrify America support personnel are great, and will do everything they can to make it work, but, much like the Porsche Connect support team, they have very limited tools at their disposal to diagnose issues or resolve problems. Most of the time, the best they have been able to offer is to pass the message on to maintenance to get the charger looked at.

Our recent trip down to SoCal and back highlighted just how much the reliability matters, and how far from achieving it we are. The round trip was just over 1,000 miles, so we needed several charging stops (we also had no charging facilities at our destination, so we needed a charge while there to prep for the return journey). We left Alameda with 100% state of charge; enough to make it to the charger at Walmart in Tulare, about 220 miles away.

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