I drove my Tesla to Boise for Thanksgiving week. It’s been quite a few years since I spent a Thanksgiving with the Holsingers. I’ve been up to Eagle for Christmas and New Year’s many times, but they were making travel plans for this December holiday, so I thought turkey day would be a nice change of pace. Besides, it would be another opportunity to take my Tesla on a road trip, and test out a colder climate and the impact on an electric vehicle. I experienced the reduced battery range that cold temps cause, and also the importance of tire pressure. By the time I drove as far as Flagstaff, I started getting continuous “low tire pressure” warnings.

Snow on the Supercharger

Frosty car

Chilly morning in Richfield, UT

Since my Yuma trips in October, Tesla has added “Navigate on AutoPilot” to the firmware. This feature incorporates lane guidance, on and off ramp navigation, and blind spot awareness when driving on the highway. I’ve found the autopilot works great out on the open road, but in crowded cities, especially with lots of semi trucks on the road, I get a little nervous that my car doesn’t give an inch when someone encroaches on my lane. So I typically turn off the auto steer as I come into heavier traffic, and drive with just the traffic aware cruise control engaged.

At 1025 miles from my house to Robin’s, I like to stop at a hotel about halfway between us. I price-checked on Orbitz, and selected economical hotels that were near Superchargers. Hotels with destination chargers tended to be about twice as expensive as I like to spend, so I didn’t book those, but it may be worth it to folks who don’t want to spend extra time charging at the end of a long driving day and who have money to spare.

I admit I was surprised that charging stops took more time than I anticipated, but I really didn’t mind the waits. I always got out and walked around a bit to stretch my legs and to use the restroom. Sometimes I wandered through a store nearby or got a snack, but many times I just got back in the car and perused my phone. I spend a lot of time at home on my phone or iPad reading news, blogs and social media, so I didn’t feel like doing it in the car while I charged to be much different.

When I arrived at the Holsingers, they all ooh-ed and aah-ed over my car, but since it was dark, no one took rides. I made it clear anyone was welcome to do a test drive anytime, but sadly no one took me up on my offer. Instead, we stayed home all week watching TV, doing jigsaw puzzles, chatting and — most of all — EATING!

Steven and I worked on a fun puzzle together while Ken made scrumptious food.

Robin put together a 1000 piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Lucy is a good girl.

Friends of Robin and Ken joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Casey smoked the turkey in a bacon wrap, and we provided the sides.

Who doesn’t love bacon?!

We had a delicious meal and a lovely day, topped off with silky chocolate pie (the Holsingers fully embrace that Lafferty tradition!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m planning a three day trip to Disneyland next week. My friend Glenda is going with me. It will be fun to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations and holiday spirit with her in the Happiest Place on Earth. Merry Christmas everyone!

It was time to make my annual visit to the dentist, especially since a) I hadn’t been in 18 months, and b) I had a toothache. Anticipating a possible root canal and/or new crown, I decided a trip to Los Algodones was in order.

Daryl had driven to Los Algodones several weeks earlier in his Tesla Model 3 so I knew where the Superchargers were and whether there were any amenities nearby. The Gila Bend charger is at a Carl’s Jr, but the Yuma charger is adjacent to a small hotel and city meeting center with no food options at all. My Tesla Model 3 has enough range to make it from Mesa to Yuma without charging, but since I didn’t relish spending 30-40 minutes sitting in my car or a hotel lobby, I decided to take advantage of the Gila Bend charger and top off on my way through. I have also read on the forums that stopping more often for shorter charge times will result in more range, since charging slows the closer to full the battery gets. So I stopped in Gila Bend and charged while I used the restroom and bought a breakfast sandwich, then got back on the road.

I arrived in Los Algodones just about 10 minutes before my appointment. I turned my phone off since I don’t have free roaming, and walked across the Mexican border. One has to have resolve and determination to push past the dozens of street hawkers asking if you need dental, optical, pharmaceutical or trinket recommendations. I have been to Dr. Sonia’s office once (with Richard & Dianna), and thought I knew just where it was. But after walking down 2 different streets and not finding it, I turned my phone on just long enough to check Google maps, and turned it back off. (Of course, in that two minutes, three What’s App messages came in. My siblings and I are a chatty bunch! :) )

Dr. Sonia quickly determined the ache under my crown was not new tooth decay, but inflammation in the gums. The crown has a bit of a gap between it and the next one, creating a lovely spot for food to get trapped. Although I am a dedicated flosser, Dr. Sonia says food has made its way up into the gum line where floss cannot reach, and I needed a deep cleaning in that location, plus a new crown that seated better and filled the gap. I asked how much this would all cost, expecting between $300-600, and she totally surprised me by saying $180 for the crown and $70 for the deep cleaning. Sign me up! She did the workup and impression for the new crown, and I made an appointment for the following week to have the new porcelain beauty installed.

I stopped at the Yuma Supercharger before heading back up I-8. Daryl was right; there was not much nearby to hold one’s attention. I walked over to the hotel to see if there was anything interesting, but not even a gift shop or vending machine was to be found. (Since I was still numb, a vending machine wouldn’t have done me any good anyway.) By the time I returned to my car, I had plenty of charge to make it to Gila Bend. I made another quick stop at the Carl’s Jr and “gassed up”. This time I charged about 10 minutes to get me home with plenty of range left on my car.

Charging at 483 miles of range per hour!! (My home charger gives 22 mph.)

I’ve used the Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) and Enhanced Auto-Pilot (EAP) around town, but this was my first chance getting out on the highway and really putting it to use. Interstate 8 is a perfect test track because there is much less traffic than I-10. By hanging my hand on the steering wheel, I get enough resistance to satisfy the safety reminder, and also allow the car to handle all the steering. I was listening to a good audiobook, or I might have found myself getting sleepy. I think that’s a possible danger of auto-pilot or self-driving; you fall into a daze and lose focus. I can’t wait for more EAP and self driving features to be unveiled and delivered in future weeks and months that will make this little car even better and safer than it already is.

The following week, I made my way back to Dr. Sonia’s to get my new crown put on. Second verse, same as the first. The drive was a dream. I’m looking forward to driving to Boise for the Thanksgiving holidays, and now I feel like I’ve got some experience under my belt that relieves range anxiety. I love my car, and I love my shiny new tooth!

I picked up my Tesla on Friday, the 20th. It came much faster than I expected, so I had to scramble a bit to get enough funds liquidated and into my bank account, but everything went smoothly. Daryl took me to the Tesla Delivery and Service Center for my 2:00 appointment. It was a nerve wracking drive home because I was in rush hour traffic and I was afraid someone would hit me. I had had a dream two nights earlier that I got into an accident a mile from the delivery center. I’m happy to say, everyone stayed in their own lanes and I made it without mishap.

Daryl followed me home and went over a lot of features that are accessed through the touch screen. He helped me set up the automatic garage door opener, and a temporary 110v outlet for charging. Over the next few days, he has been a go-to answer guru, and assures me “it’s fun!” and that I’m not bothering him with my barrage of questions. We are having a good time exploring the ins and outs of Tesla ownership together.

I contacted an electrician about installing a 240v outlet in my garage, and he came out and gathered information, taking several pictures. He sent me an estimate later in the day that gave me sticker shock. He wanted $850! Both Daryl and Richard thought that was too high, and Richard said if I can wait until the weather is a little cooler (using the 110v outlet temporarily, or plugging into my dryer outlet for occasional quicker charge), he would be willing to install the outlet for me. He has done a lot of electrical work and knows what is required. That should save me $400-600. I think I’ll have to bake a lot of cookies and brownies to pay him and Daryl for their work! The temporary 110v charging is working for me. I just keep it plugged in whenever I’m home, and I’ve had a full battery every morning.

Maybe I’ll clean up my garage while Richard and Daryl are installing the outlet. ;-)

I still need to get the windows tinted, and Tesla is going to fix three microscopic paint imperfections in a couple of weeks. I’m amazed they are willing to fix something so small. If I don’t have a dozen road dings of my own by then, I’ll be lucky.

    

All in all, I’m thrilled with the car. It was a lot of money, but you can’t put a price on happiness, and it sure makes me happy to zip around in this! And it’s a nice feeling to know I’m helping save the planet. Rides, anyone?

Over two years ago, Tesla announced they would begin building a more affordable model to add to its existing line of premium high-priced all electric cars. In late March of 2016, they posted a website where you could put down a (refundable) $1000 deposit to secure your place in line on the waiting list, with expectation it would be approximately two years before the first Model 3′s would roll off the assembly line and into dealerships. My brother Daryl put his name on the reservation list the last day of March 2016, and got his new Tesla Model 3 on April 28 this year. The next day, he and Gisele took a road trip up to Blue Ridge Ranger Station to show it off to us siblings and give us “test drives” if we wanted them.  I drove it up the road about 5 miles and back, and knew instantly that I wanted one of my own.

I came home from the mountains the next day and put my $1000 down on the reservation wait list. At that time, they estimated a 6-9 month wait for my car. I figured if my interest waned over the months, I could just cancel my reservation and get my money back, but if my interest increased, I would be glad to be in line on the waiting list. I told Daryl what I had done, and after his exclamations of surprise and excitement for me, he and I have been sharing text messages with links, updates and information on the Model 3, Tesla Motors, Elon Musk and electric cars in general. I have had several more rides in his car and more opportunity to drive it and experience the EAP (enhanced auto-pilot) on city streets and the freeway. Each time, I’ve been more convinced this is the car of the future and is exactly what I want in my garage.

I understand not everyone is onboard with electric cars, self driving mode, or the Tesla company, but both of my kids were very excited for me. They all have been pushing me to splurge a little more and not worry so much about saving my nest-egg to leave to them as an inheritance.

Over the past month, deliveries have slowed nearly to a halt in the U.S. and folks have noticed new Model 3′s stockpiling on Tesla factory parking lots. Speculation has been strong that Tesla was nearing 200,000 cars sold, which will trigger the federal government tapering off and ending the $7500 tax credit program. If Tesla could hold off selling its 200,000th EV until July 1, the full tax credit will be in effect until the end of Q4, and cut in half on January 1, 2019. I have been crossing my fingers that would be the case, and I would get my car in time to take advantage of the full amount.

Yesterday, Tesla suddenly, and without any announcement, opened the configuration website to everyone on the waiting list. Daryl saw it on the Forum and notified me. Since I wasn’t expecting that quite so soon, I gulped … then jumped off the diving board! Yes, I configured my car and put down my (NON-refundable) $2500! My estimated delivery window is Sept-Nov 2018.

My car will be almost exactly like Daryl’s configuration except I chose white (to his silver) and I pre-paid for the FSD (full self driving). FSD is not implemented yet, and not yet legal, but the car is physically built for it and it can be enabled through software updates in the future. It is $3000 if you pay for it when ordering, but the price jumps to $5000 to add it in the future. That’s an increase from the contract Daryl is under, as he will only pay $4000 for after-purchase add-on.

Now, I wait. My excitement and anticipation is coupled with anxiety that I may not get it in time for the full tax benefit. But I’m nearly assured I will get at least the $3750 credit. Meanwhile, I’ve become obsessed with following Elon Musk on Twitter (he’s an “interesting” fellow) and the Forums with owner chatter about personal experiences. No one (that I’ve seen) who has gotten their car has been sorry; the overwhelming majority are even more impressed afterwards. Daryl states that’s his experience as well. Can’t wait!!

My four siblings and I took Mom’s ashes back to New York last week to bury them in Obi Cemetery beside Dad. It was a bittersweet trip, rekindling the grief of her death, but also bringing much joy as we spent special time together remembering her life, as well as our early years in western New York. We were joined on the journey by two spouses (Dianna and Gisele), and Heather. One of the best parts of the trip was getting to spend time with Dale’s three kids and their families. Karen and Damon, Jen and Louie and their three kids, and Dave and Lisa with their three daughters came to the rental house for the weekend to share food, fun, conversation, and lots of love.

Dianna, Karen & Carmen

Lily, Lucy & Harper

Jen & Louie

Dale with Olivia

Damon & Dave

We rented a beautiful house on Cuba Lake, and it was the perfect spot for our large crew. Ten of us slept there, and at one time following the burial, we even accommodated 25 adults and children eating pizza, laughing, crying, chatting and playing. If the weather had been better (it rained or snowed every day), we might have enjoyed being right on the lake even more. Here are pictures of the burial and gathering afterwards. (Some of these are Heather’s.)

Five siblings placing Mom’s ashes into the grave. (pc: Heather)

Mom’s beloved cousin Barb (on the couch on the left) and her family, who drove up from Pennsylvania

Sharing eulogies

We spent three additional days driving around exploring and rediscovering the area where all five of us were born and lived until 1958, and also to take in some local sights. Thankfully, we had Richard with us, as he remembers EVERYTHING, and was an excellent tour guide. He took us all over Cuba and Rushford, pointing out all the different places Mom, Dad and we had lived, gone to school, played, worked, worshiped, and bought our cheese (a very important part of our childhood history).

We were all born here

The house Dad built

The house where Mom grew up

An old abandoned lock on Oil Creek near Cuba

Cuba Lake

On Tuesday, we went to Olean and visited the Cutco Knife Factory and the Zippo Lighter Museum. Both were interesting and we enjoyed the day. On Wednesday, we drove to Corning to tour the Corning Glass Works and Museum. Part of the museum is filled with beautiful glass artwork, and we participated in a guided tour of that. There are also demonstration areas where we could watch glass blowing, glass scultpure and a very interesting presentation on optical fiber. We wandered around an “exploratorium” that had hands-on attractions, all related to glass and it’s amazing impact on, not only our daily lives, but the scientific world as well.

Flag made of Zippo lighters

One of the awesome lighters in the flag (Go Cards!)

Zippo lighters have had a myriad of design choices

The very first Zippo lighter

Beautiful glass

Stained glass window

Carved glass (I could not get rid of the glare from the glass case)

Guided tour

Our last evening, we stopped back at the cemetery to lay flowers on Mom’s grave and take a few pictures. Then we went on to Sprague’s Maple Farm restaurant for a delicious dinner of meatloaf with maple glaze (yes, we ALL got the evening’s special!)

One last look

At the cemetery on Sunday, I looked around at the hills to see a beautiful splendor of fall colors, and knew Mom would have been so pleased that we laid her to rest during her favorite season in her favorite place — autumn in New York. For all that she gave us over the years, I’m glad we could give her that one last gift. Rest in peace, Mom. We love and miss you so much.

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