Symbiosis

wheel 1218Our friend Carol may or may not be shy, but she is retiring — seven days from now.

We, and Carol, are part of a Sunday breakfast group that at its fullest numbers 10, with the potential for a stray guest or two. Lynn and I are the youngest members of this group, some of whom came to it already retired. At least one person has retired along the way, and now it’s Carol’s turn. (Which, if you’re counting, leaves only three of us as working stiffs, although two of our retirees worked part-time this past year.)

For the last several years, Carol has been dealing, long-distance, with aging parents. Her brother and son have been on-site to help out, but Carol has been traveling a lot to lend a hand. Now both her parents are gone, and Carol’s first plan as a retiree is to go home once again — but this time to do things she would like to do that she hasn’t been able to do for the last several years.

So as Gunnison is deep in the throes of winter, Carol will be winging her way to a warmer clime. (Does that narrow it down for you?) She is planning to be gone for awhile, and this will be the first time she has left her home for any great length of time.

So yesterday she made me a proposal that will benefit both of us: she offered garage space for my cold-blooded electric car.

So I will be coming and going from her house, and my car will be inside out of the elements it isn’t a fan of.  A solution that helps everyone — isn’t that great? Okay, maybe not everyone, but it helps Carol and it helps me, and that’s what matters, right?

I’m sure there will be logistical issues, since this will put my car about five blocks away, but I am very excited by Carol’s generous offer. My car will be excited too, as soon as it realizes it gets to live once again in a garage.

[I realize this blog has been heavy on the garages lately; I’m sure I can branch out if you give me a chance.]

My car was first owned by a woman I don’t know somewhere here in Gunnison. I’m not sure how she got it here, or even if she drove it at all. It’s a 2015 Leaf, and when I bought it in October 2017, it had 504 miles on it. I bought it from John Roberts Motorworks, and when I was asking if it would be okay without a garage, they told me it had been a “garage baby.”

And so far it has been okay without a garage, but I know it would be happier inside. And, at this point, I would be happier too, because the wheel wells are absolutely packed with snow and ice. It’s not just the front of the well, where everyone gets snow build-up, but front, top, behind the wheel . . . and because I have no engine making noise, you can hear every painful growl and squeal as the tires fight the ice for supremacy as we drive along. I figure there’s got to be a grinding action as well, wearing my tread down to its nubs.

I did do research before I bought this car — and not my five-minute blog-entry searches. The leading proponent of electric cars in the Gunnison Valley is the Gunnison County Electric Association, so that was the first place I called. I was put in touch with Mike McBride, the president of GCEA and an electric car owner himself. He talked about his personal experiences, and he mentioned one of their linemen owned a Leaf without a garage, and hadn’t had any problem.

GCEA now has this cool program — which I would not have been eligible for, but now that I don’t need it, I am eligible, as a customer — where members can “check out” one of their two electric vehicles for a week. I ran into the Nelsons at the city’s charging station — I got the impression they thought it was “interesting” in Mr. Spock fashion, but they seemed to despair at how long it took to charge their borrowed vehicle. In fact, Jeanene had driven the electric loaner to the charger while Kevin drove their own vehicle, so that they had some means of getting around while waiting for the electric vehicle to refuel.

I really haven’t found it to be a problem, charging the car, even on a 110 circuit, where it can take 10-12 hours to get fully recharged. But I don’t use it a whole lot, although there are six times the miles on it than when I acquired it, and I haven’t tried to go any place exotic, other than Crested Butte.

I did start for Lake City one day, not really expecting to get there, and we turned around at the top of Nine (or is it Eleven?) -Mile Hill because I couldn’t remember the road well enough to know if there were enough downhills to recharge me for the uphills. There is a charging station in Lake City, and I could always beg some electricity off Tia’s sister-in-law who lives there, but I’m still not confident I can make it all the way there. And you’re not supposed to tow an electric car with the front wheels on the ground, which means a friend with a car trailer or a professional tow service.

Well, today’s five-minute research failed to turn up what I wanted, but it did surprise me: I went looking for a Youtube video I’ve seen of British actor Robert Llewellyn purposely running his electric car completely out of charge to see how long he could go. And while I blithely type “British actor,” it’s because that’s how he was described in his electric car videos — but just today, just now, I discover that he was Kryten on one of my favorite PBS offerings, Red Dwarf. In my defense, he was under a lot of unrecognizable make-up.

At any rate, I haven’t checked in with Robert Llewellyn in probably a year, and now he has so dang many videos about electric cars (including one, I learned just now, where he takes Patrick Stewart for a 30-mintue ride — I will have to save the viewing for another day) that I can’t find the one I want. But he’s a passionate electric car enthusiast, and as most actors he knows how to entertain, so if you find yourself with some idle time, I recommend checking him out on Youtube.

Well, this entry has certainly wandered around, hasn’t it? But at least it always all comes back to Star Trek — that’s what’s important.

As long as I’m rambling here and there, I’ve been waiting to slide this into the conversation, so why not here? The Guardian has a very interesting — maybe even “fascinating” in Spock-speak — article on the all-electric city bus fleet in Shenzhen, China. While they do note the heavy subsidies required for this, and further note that it seems impractical in the cold cities up north (ahem), the focus is on the unexpected benefits. In addition to better air quality, you get sound quality as well. In fact, it’s so quiet they may have to put some noise on the buses so pedestrians don’t get run over.

(You may get hit with a pitch to support The Guardian financially, but good journalism is always a worthwhile cause — and now I am really wandering all over the map.)

So, to recap: Carol retiring; TL’s car gets a garage one winter early; GCEA = cool lending library for electric cars; Robert Llewellyn, electric car enthusiast and sci-fi actor; electric bus fleet in Chinese city; Star Trek rules!

And I think that just about covers it.

 

 

 

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