As I make my way to Blaine, WA for the start of BC2BC 2013, I am pausing for a moment (while the Roadster is charging, and an excellent Burgerville lunch is settling) to reflect on how I find myself here. I first started driving an electric car in March of this year, so I’m still pretty new at this. If I turned around right now and drove home, then I would match the longest previous electric trip that I’ve made. Instead, I am now about 100 miles into what I estimate will be 3500 electric miles over the next few weeks.
I’ve been following Tesla (primarily) and electric vehicles in general from afar for a few years. I think it was the video of the launch of Model S where the first few owners got their keys that really hooked me – that was about a year ago. Those people had enough faith in the company and the willingness to put down a deposit on an idea; and then wait 2+ years for the car. Wow. And it worked.
In August / September of last year I realized two things. The first was a financial one – yes I could drive one of these cars. The second realization was that there are all sorts of problems I would like to be able to fix in the world, but mostly they’re too big for me to fix or even do much about. But here was something I see going awry, and even if I couldn’t fix it myself, I could stop contributing to the problem. I could drive electric, and I could put up enough solar panels to offset the energy I consume in personal transportation. It’s the lowest rung of energy independence as I see it, but I could do that much.
It’s not like I was a major contributor before – the car we replaced with the Roadster gets about 35 MPG, and as much as I drive, it only sees a gas station every 3 weeks or so. Still, I could stop doing even that.
In February of this year, our solar panels got switched on (who puts up a solar panel system in the winter in Oregon anyway?). In March, a 6 month hunt for a Roadster ended when #969 showed up in the mail.
Why did it become so important that I drive electric? It seems to me that people drive electric for a mix of reasons, but the ones I see most often subdivide into 1) national security, 2) health of the national economy, 3) environment, and 4) fun (or drive an excellent car). I never really cared about #4 for myself – cars have always been necessary tools that I use to get myself from A to B. Turns out though, now that I’m driving the Roadster, that I like driving excellent cars too.
As with others, I’ve wanted to drive electric for a variety of reasons. I like the idea of being free of the oil and gas industry, at least for my personal transportation, because I want to stop transferring my wealth out of the country. I believe that in this small way, I will contribute to the security of our country. I also believe that our national economy is better off relying on local energy sources.
These contribute to my thinking, but my primary reason is that I want to stop contributing to pollution and CO2 emissions. People have commented that electric cars and solar panels go together well, and I agree. Ask me which is most important, and I would say the environment is. But attempting to separate them into “important” and “doesn’t matter” isn’t possible, at least for me.
Someday I’ll be looking to extend my personal energy independence. I would love to have a home that generates and stores its own energy – enough for the modern conveniences, and enough to keep the car charged. That’ll be for another day. I can’t do everything, all at once, but I can do something.
Why drive border to border, and back? Why participate in BC2BC – especially with so little experience at EV road tripping? Many reasons – I anticipate having an excellent vacation. I expect I’ll be meeting all sorts of new people. My family took annual road trips when I was growing up, and that has largely disappeared from my life. I don’t know that this will be an excellent trip, but I have high hopes. I would like to make the road trip part of my life again.
In addition, I don’t really experience range anxiety in the Roadster (181 miles of range when I leave the garage each morning), but after this trip, I’ll know that my world isn’t constrained by driving an EV. It might take me a bit longer to get there though, but that’s just a good excuse to slow down, and blog from the road.
On this trip, besides the events and experiences surrounding BC2BC itself, I am looking forward to cruising the ocean front highway for as much of the California and Oregon coast as is practical. That will be most of it. I’m looking forward to driving the Avenue of the Giants (and if I can get it working, make a video of that part of the trip – I’m told that driving that road in a car with little or no engine noise is magic). I’ll get to meet other Tesla and EV enthusiasts throughout the next few weeks, and that’ll be another good reason to be doing this.
The real reason is simple though – when you’re looking for an excuse to do something (drive the Roadster in my case), then most anything will do.
More to come as I wander up and down the coast!