Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014: Let Us Be Thankful

It’s the children worldwide. Whether ravished by war, separated by diseases such as Ebola, or bullied, children by the thousands are being displaced from their families, homes, and even countries. They cannot go to school because there is no school left to go to or it is too dangerous to do so. Without education and protection, what chance do these children have in the years to come?
I was recently introduced to the organization Save the Children. Their mission is just that: protection and education for children around the world. You can look them up at  I hope you will consider joining me in support of this very worthwhile organization. Let us be thankful. David

Thursday, November 20, 2014

                                                          An All-Electric Affair

                                                                      By David Luck

      Okay, I admit it. For the last fifteen months I have been driving an all-electric plug-in automobile. And you know what? For the most part it has been great. When I got ready to trade in my older car, I really thought I would end up in a hybrid type vehicle. I knew several people that drove them and all were very satisfied. But what about an all-electric car? I began some research and analyzed my driving habits as I was concerned with the limited range of plug-in electric cars. I knew hybrids had unlimited range but they still needed fossil fuel to achieve that added range.
      I have a business that requires me to travel around the city to a different destination every day of the week. I rarely travel more than 65 miles in a day, well within the range of an all-electric car, and on weekends, my car usually sits at home. I am fortunate that my wife has a car that I could always use for any longer trips that might come up.
     As I started looking more seriously at all-electrics, the lack of required maintenance intrigued me: no oil changes, no transmission checks. Just tire rotation. Down the line, there would be coolant requirements for the heater and air conditioner, but I would avoid these with a 2 year lease. What about charging? The salesman told me I could charge it on any ordinary 110 volt outlet. This I found to be semi-true as my car didn’t like sharing a circuit with anything, so I did have to invest in a dedicated line for charging. Cost, $290.00. I could have invested in a charging line with 240 volts for double the cost and reducing my charging time by half, but the extra cost, in my case, didn’t seem necessary as overnight charging works well. The all-electric that I did lease is also equipped with 440 volt charging port which allows very short charging times, but is only available through commercial charging stations which I have never had the occasion to use. I do have a membership in ChargePoint, a commercial charging company, in case I would need that service. (There are several commercial charging companies around the United States).
     Let’s talk about the general driving capabilities of my all-electric. I leased the car for economy, so I drive my car in the Econo Mode most of the time. There is no transmission, only forward or reverse. Even in Econo Mode, I find the car peppy, and merging into fast lane traffic is no problem. It is quiet and smooth driving. It is extremely efficient in stop and go traffic. Whenever I take my foot off the accelerator or apply the brake, the car regenerates or makes electricity, recharging the lithium battery on the go. When I drive into the foothills or mountains, it uses more electricity, just like a fossil fuel vehicle uses more fuel. Of course, on the return trip, I regenerate electricity, so it balances out. An extreme example: I occasionally take the car up to a mountain property I own. It is 35 miles one way. Since it is up hill going, I have to make sure I am fully charged (in the 90-100 mile range) before I leave and I will arrive with somewhere between 9-13 miles in reserve upon arrival. Not much, and if I had to use the heater or air conditioner, I might not make it as these use electric power. Now I have two choices: plug the car in and re-charge before I start for home or now, with more experience and confidence in regenerative power, I can turn around and go for home covering the same 35 miles and end up with somewhere between 45 and 50 miles in reserve depending on my return speed.
      So what about overall economy? My car has a rating of 102 mpg equivalent compared to 32 mpg for the car I had replaced which also required premium fuel. So, on the surface, my all- electric looks very good. But according to a recent exhaustive study of electric car usage worldwide, ( Shrink that Footprint: it’s all about the juice (meaning how our electricity is generated) and in the Rocky Mountain Area where I live, my green efficiency is just a little better than a comparable fossil fueled car. This report took into consideration the manufacture and shipping of the car in addition to the electric resources needed to power the car.
      So let’s summarize: negative thoughts to driving an electric car would include the initial higher price of an electric vs a comparable fossil fuel car, the limited miles that can be driven without charging, the long charging times especially with 110 volt charging, the reduced efficiency in cold weather (it can be 1/3 less efficient in my experience), the inefficiency of the air conditioner and heater which can substantially reduce overall range if not used prudently.
     On the other hand, here are my positive thoughts: most of us, if we carefully analyze our driving habits drive less than 65 miles in a day, thus an electric car would fit our needs. It is especially designed for the commuter that drives a set number of miles per day, and many businesses are supplying charging stations for their employees which will enhance the number of miles one can commute. I have no way of qualitatively charting my actual energy costs on a day to day basis as my charging station does not have a separate meter. My electric bill has averaged an approximate $10.00 a month increase since leasing the car. The difference between this and my previous monthly gasoline bill pays for over ½ of my lease payment. Not bad.
     No scheduled maintenance. I have taken the car in once for a required battery check. That’s it. I like how quiet it is, and I like the power it has and is capable of having if I kick it out of Econo Mode. I like its economy. I also like the challenge of seeing how far I can push the mileage in different terrain situations, but I know that would not be for everyone. So far I’ve only run out of electricity once, and I had to be towed to the nearest charging station.
     After driving my all-electric car over 10,000 miles, I know, as I have already reported, I am not as green as the car manufacturer would like me to believe, but the fact that I have no tail pipe spewing out fumes and particulates makes me feel good that I am not contributing to my city’s smog problem on a day to day basis. Really good.

A Road Trip: Denver to Upper Idaho and Return

This road trip occurred in September: I've been a little slow in getting the photographs out for you to enjoy. Well, here they are:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Skinny Fish Lake Backpacking Trip with Gregory and Conner, 2014

Here is some fun and scenery for you. I recently went backpacking with my son, Gregory, and grandson, Conner. Need I say we had a wonderful time. The wildflowers were superb. We didn't catch any skinny fish (or fat ones either), but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New York City Through a Westerner's Eye

My daughter, Lisa, and I spent 10 wonderful, eye-struck days wandering all over Manhattan, New York City. We had a wonderful time gawking at EVERYTHING.

Sunday, March 23, 2014