Monday, September 23, 2013

Raising Funds

Lutheran Mission Society has raised several hundred more dollars toward Arnie's Adventure goal of $1000.

Pictured in the photo from left to right - LMS secretary Karen Ropka, advocate Anita Abel, vice president Suzanne Giguere, activities director Karen McConville, treasurer Norma Graves and advocate director Roger Sauter. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Slideshow: Memories from the Road

Waiting to seize the car at the Tesla Motors office south of Portland, Oregon.

Entertaining curious tourists in Seaside, Oregon.


Our first cabin, in Cascade Locks, Oregon.

The hired gun, our writer at The Dalles, Oregon on the Columbia River Gorge.

A family of wild turkeys in Pomeroy, Washington.

Watching our campground neighbor tend to his buck in Pomeroy.

Charging up in Orofino, Idaho along the Clearwater River.
The old automobiles meet the new, on scenic Route 12, also along Idaho's Clearwater River.

Virginia City, Montana's 
Outlaw Cafe.

Welcome to Yellowstone!

Entertaining one of the many Tesla fans in Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful loses steam.

Dusk at the geyser park.

A bison asks, "Is that a Tesla?"


Yellowstone Lake

Goodbye Yellowstone!

Mount Arniemore

Dropping in on old friends Al and Diane in Gregory, South Dakota.

Fun at the Thrivent office in Yankton, South Dakota.

Closer to home, crossing the Mississippi River from Iowa into Illinois.

Buckeye Lake, Ohio with Larry and colleagues Jeff and Bill.

Hooked up at University Mitsubishi in Morgantown, West Virginia. Thanks to

Showing nephew Niko the Navigation System in Middletown, Delaware.

Mission accomplished, coast-to-coast 
at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware...without a drop of gasoline.


Two days after returning to their homes from a 14-day excursion across the United States, Reggie met Arnie at his Owings Mills office--the same office he interviewed for the job just four weeks earlier--to wrap their heads around the concluded adventure.Arnie's writer had a few questions for him as they sat comfortably at a conference room table.

Would you do it again?

Yes.  Arnie spoke without the slightest hesitation. Would you? 
His writer replied in the affirmative.

What were your impressions of the Tesla?

I liked the ease of driving, very smooth, a very good touring car…What I didn’t like were the knobs for the cruise control and the turn signals. They were positioned too closely together and with similar styles are easy for me to mix up.

The nav system I hope is improved, but I keep learning new things about the car. For instance, when the nav system turns off, the radio appeared. But I still don’t know how to turn the radio off—I just mute it.

How much did you raise for Lutheran Mission Society (LMS)?

A couple hundred dollars.  We’re short of our goal of $1000, but we're hopeful some more donations will trickle in now that we’ve made it home safely. (Click here to make a donation.)

Who was your favorite character or characters on the trip?

The military veterans who took the stage at the Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony—particularly the Vietnam vets. Other memorable characters were the Tesla post-salesman, Joe the motor head from Pasco, Henry the English bicyclist, Peter and Tom in Virginia City, pastor Al, Thrivent’s W.D. and Jeff and my nephew Niko.

Any regrets or things you would do differently?

I would do a ‘Where’s Arnie?’ Send a postcard to the person who guessed correctly or post their photo on the website... Maybe take more time on the road. Just do 260-or-so-miles a day, 16 or 17 days—but I would need the time to do it.

Did Al find his mini-Tesla?

Don’t know. Arnie picked up his phone and dialed Al.

"Al? How ya doin’? This is Arnie."

"Arnie…did you make it home yet?"

“Yeah, on Monday. Thanks again for the hospitality.”


“If we were to re-locate somewhere—we agree—it’d be west of the Missouri (river)…Was just recapping the trip. Did you ever find the mini-Tesla?”

“Nope. Not yet.”

What was your favorite day, time or experience?

The times at Yellowstone: waiting for the geyser to erupt at night and seeing the other ones go off around me, going down that loose gravel, 6-mile road before the petrified tree--I was very nervous about the car, Old Faithful, the buffalo, the grand canyon of Yellowstone.

The Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony—I thought it’d be boring and it was nothing like I expected, with the lights slowly illuminating the mountain…so many stories, I could tell one about every day.

The single best day was Virginia City. On the brink of disaster we met three great people, ate and re-charged. I also liked the ‘hanging room’ in one of the buildings in town.

My least favorite experience was staying in the cabin alongside the highway (Interstate 80 in Newton, Iowa).

How did your family and office greet you?

Happily…excited to see the car, but not me (laughs). Arnie showed co-workers Elena and Kim the route he took across the country. 

Do you have another road trip you plan on taking in the Tesla?

I think I may drive the Tesla to a financial planning conference in Orlando, Florida this October. I can stop to visit some clients in North Carolina and my daughter in South Carolina. There’s a supercharger in Port Orange (FL) where an appointment is. I might just do it. By golly, I think I have a plan.

Who would you like to thank for making this trip possible?

Terry for handling my appointments at the office.

The Thrivent local chapter for matching the charity funds—several hundred dollars—but we’re still working to get that higher.

Special thanks to Reggie—without him the trip wouldn’t have as much meaning…and I’d probably still be somewhere in Virginia City looking for an outlet.

The Kampgrounds of America: Cascade Locks, the Last Resort in Pomeroy, Joe and the Pasco community, Onawa Blue Lake, Will and the Buckeye Lake kampground and our final campground charges at Hagerstown-Antietam.

Peter and Debbie at the Virginia City RV Park, and especially neighbor Tom for his 50-amp outlet. 

Marge at Clearwater Crossing RV Park in Orofino.

Colleagues W.D. Metheny at the Thrivent’s Yankton office and Jeff Ritter for his hospitality at Buckeye Lake.

Morgantown’s University Mitsubishi for the free overnight charge when we desperately needed it. And Morgantown’s Comfort Inn for being open after midnight.

My cousins, the Vacula family of Middletown, Delaware for the strong coffee and brownies. 

And the Atlantis Inn at Rehoboth Beach—our final destination on the coast-to-coast adventure.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dash Cam Interlude: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Coast to Coast in a Tesla

It was a Saturday afternoon and the recommended KOA and AAA RV parks around Pittsburgh, PA and Morgantown, WV were occupied that night. Since he and his writer were in a more densely populated part of the country, Arnie decided to call up, a website recommended by the Tesla post-sales guy in Portland.  Arnie was skeptical after his experience in Richland, Washington.

Arnie targeted Morgantown, West Virginia given the range available in the Model S Battery. PlugShare listed the Morgantown Farmer’s Market, a Mitsubishi dealer and two Nissan dealers. They pulled into Morgantown at 11 pm with a ten-mile range. The Tesla drove up and down the roller coaster streets of the drunken collegiate mountain town and across a river. Ignoring Miss Navigation System he found the “single free charger” under the newly constructed Farmer’s Market pavilion.

With a seven-mile charge remaining Arnie plugged in, and high-fived his writer. They found a charger with less than ten miles to go yet again. It was immediately after Reggie sighed that he noticed a sign on a column which supported the pavilion: “Permit Parking Only. All Other Vehicles Will Be Towed at the Owners Expense.” No wonder the lot was empty.

As they searched the car for warm clothes, Arnie allowed his Tesla to charge to a 15-mile range. They decided to first locate another charger, and then find a hotel. University Mitsubishi was a two or three mile drive through town. They avoided the college lushes mingling in the intersections and took a road that paralleled the river. The dealership was at the foot of a steep incline. They circled the large lot that also included Toyota and BMW dealers and discovered the charging station outside the showroom. It functioned.

With an eleven-mile range Arnie saw a sign for the Morgantown Hotel near the car dealer. The dingy joint’s parking lot was full—likely with folks attending West Virginia University’s football game that afternoon. Reggie rang the bell to no answer, so Arnie backtracked a mile and a half to a hotel they passed on the drive from the Farmer’s Market—but that hotel was booked—no rooms with two beds. The fellow at the desk recommended they travel back towards University Motors and up the steep hill to the Ramada. 

The Tesla was tiring again. Like the 395 miles they drove from Greenfield, Indiana that morning, midnight was in the rear view mirror. Why do they torture me so? The steep hill was dark…seven miles…and windy…six miles…and elusive…five miles…Arnie turned into the dark Ramada driveway, noticed a hill and pulled a U-turn…four miles. Through the traffic light was a Comfort Inn. Arnie parked.

The woman at the desk relieved the boys with a room with two full beds—but there was a second problem to solve.

“Here’s a question you probably don’t get too often,” Arnie said. “Do you have a place I could charge my car?”

The woman hesitated. “Hmmm…we don’t have any outdoor plugs. We should have a charger, I suppose. Guess we haven’t caught up yet.”

Turns out, the woman’s husband was a cab driver. She gave Arnie his number so he could meet him at the University Motors hook-up. “He’s over in Cheat Lake now, but he can be there in about twenty minutes.”

They checked in. Reggie went to the room. Arnie pressed his luck with his four-mile range car Battery.

Reggie was brushing his teeth in his boxers when the phone rang in the hotel room. This can’t be good. Frantically, he rinsed his brush and ran to the phone—but his mouth was full of pasty water. He ran back to the bathroom, spit, and returned to the phone.


No answer.

Did Arnie make it? The battery must have died. Damn, I missed a story.

He crawled under the sheets and read his cowgirl novel. A half hour later Arnie keyed into the room waking his writer from a sleep.

“Arnie…you okay?”

“Yeah, why?”


From Morgantown Arnie and Reggie were within a day’s drive from their goal: to drive the all-electric Tesla coast-to-coast. Before flying to Portland to acquire the vehicle, Arnie had a Tesla 100-amp charger installed in his garage. The day was Sunday. Arnie’s favorite football club, the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, was to play their home opener that afternoon. What better place to layover as the Tesla charged but Arnie's home? 

They didn’t quite have the range to make it directly to his home in Owing Mills, Maryland, so they visited one final campground for some quick voltage—the Hagerstown Antietam Battlefield KOA. When they arrived in Owing Mills, Arnie’s daughter Alaine greeted them with a smile and two large pizzas. The Ravens flipped a 6-0 third quarter deficit to the Cleveland Browns into a 13-6 victory.

Tesla Motors installed another supercharger in Wilmington, Delaware. Instead of charging overnight, Arnie decided to juice the battery there on the way to the coast.

On the phone during the supercharge, Arnie arranged a visit with his cousin Carla in Middletown--a town along the route to Rehoboth Beach. Over coffee and brownies Arnie and Reggie told stories of their adventure. Arnie drove Carla and her wide-eyed son Niko around the block in his new toy. Niko, this is an example of an interjection. Reggie helped the sixth-grader with his English homework.

At 11:45 pm Arnie and Reggie checked into the Atlantis Inn at Rehoboth Beach with a 158-mile range on the Tesla. They drove 383.6 miles that final day, for a total of 3862.4 miles coast-to-coast. They used 1,251.3 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy, with an average energy of 324 Wh/mi (watts per mile).

The next morning—after twelve consecutive days on the road in the Tesla—Arnie watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Congratulations, Arnie! Here's to a job well done.”

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dash Cam Interlude: Sideling Down in Maryland

More Surprising...Safety Features

Arnie's Model S, P-85 moved silently across the plains states of America. The only audible noise—even at 80 miles per hour—was the friction of its tires on the paved highway road. When exiting the highway on a smooth surface, a spooky silence existed—as if he and his writer were gliding above the surface. Pedestrians, bicyclists and deer, beware; a Tesla may be on your tail.

The silence might well have been the only feature of the Tesla, Model S that was unsafe. Though crash test ratings were not performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on most luxury cars, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Tesla Model S scored the highest of any car in NHTSA history.

Tesla Motors attributed the accolades to its electric drive train and low center of gravity. They had this to say in an August 9, 2013 press release:

The Model S has the advantage in the front of not having a large gasoline engine block, thus creating a much longer crumple zone to absorb a high speed impact. This is fundamentally a force over distance problem – the longer the crumple zone, the more time there is to slow down occupants at g loads that do not cause injuries. Just like jumping into a pool of water from a tall height, it is better to have the pool be deep and not contain rocks. The Model S motor is only about a foot in diameter and is mounted close to the rear axle.

Other notable safety items from Tesla’s website:

Tesla…nested multiple deep aluminum extrusions in the side rail of the car that absorb the impact energy (a similar approach was used by the Apollo Lunar Lander) and transfer load to the rest of the vehicle. This causes the pole to be either sheared off or to stop the car before the pole hits an occupant...

Of note, during validation of Model S roof crush protection at an independent commercial facility, the testing machine failed at just above 4 g's. While the exact number is uncertain due to Model S breaking the testing machine, what this means is that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner's car without the roof caving in. (Arnie’s Adventure editor’s bold.)

As Arnie’s Model S floated safely through the plains, the bodacious scenery disappeared. National Parks were few and far between South Dakota and Pennsylvania. Arnie disrupted Reggie’s daydream of flying the Tesla to the moon and asked him to search his company’s website on Tesla’s navigation system.

“Type in ‘Jeff Ritter’ and see what comes up.”

Arnie left a message at Jeff’s office, but could not find a mobile phone number—but his home address was listed. It was about noon on Saturday, so Arnie decided to surprise Jeff at his home in Ohio, on Buckeye Lake, and ask him out to lunch while he charged his new toy.

The Tesla glided into a fashionable neighborhood and into Jeff’s driveway. A car was parked and one of the garage doors was open. Although Arnie’s car was silent, a little dog--a corki--sensed an intruding presence and barked his way outside to sniff around. Jeff followed shortly behind; his eyes nearly popped the glasses off his face.

“Well, you never know who’s going to pop in,” Jeff said with a grin.

He accepted Arnie’s lunch offer, but before they left the neighborhood they had another stop to make.

“You know Bill Gibson?” Jeff said. “Not long ago he bought a house across the way.” He pointed over a small body of water that was recently extended from Buckeye Lake to provide boat access. 

The trio drove around the block, parked and walked to Bill’s back patio where he was entertaining company. He was similarly shocked at Arnie’s visit—and further shocked at the new Tesla parked in front of his house.

“Let’s go have a look,” he said.

The group inspected Arnie’s new toy: the navigation system, under the hood, the pop-out door handles.

Arnie then gave the Tesla key fob to Jeff. He took the wheel with Reggie as his guide and as Arnie followed in Jeff’s car to the KOA campground. They charged up and took Jeff’s wheels to the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club.

“So what’d you think of the drive?” Arnie asked.

“Boy, that was awesome,” Jeff said. “Very smooth drive. Impressive.”

Buckeye Lake was an ancient glacial lake that, over centuries, dried into shallow marshes and bogs. In the 1800s Ohio constructed a canal system which evolved into a reservoir and eventually a state park. A yacht club was established in 1906. Arnie’s colleague Jeff joined the club two years ago.

A wedding ceremony was held on the outdoor patio overlooking the water that day, so the guys dined next to a birthday party before a large window in the sunshine.

“So what was the most memorable part of your trip?” Jeff was no stranger to cross-country excursions. He rode a bicycle cross-country during the country’s bicentennial when he was 18.

Arnie told the story of nearly running out of juice in Virginia City, Montana. The Thrivent colleagues met ten years ago at a business meeting in Minneapolis after a merger. They were on the same operation team. Arnie explained how he planned to incorporate the Tesla into his work at Thrivent.

“Arnie doesn’t do anything unless there’s a business reason,” Jeff said with a laugh.

During lunch Arnie noticed fish jumping from the lake—walleye or catfish. After lunch Reggie spied a bald eagle swooping above the water.

“Wow, you’re right,” Jeff said. “Look at the white tail! That’s the first one I’ve seen all year.”