Day One – Beaver KOA

Fox here…

We loaded up our trailer over the last three days to get ready for this epic cross country journey. Our plan was to depart from Las Vegas at 2:00 today, but then disaster broke…literally. I broke a window because I didn’t close it before turning the trailer to fill the water tank. Luckily I have a very understanding spouse and have dealt with trade show emergencies in my past. A few phone calls, a new window purchased, installed, and we were under way by 3:05.

Our arrival to the KOA was greeted with rain, but we were able to quickly connect power, water, and disconnect from the truck.

Not feeling like cooking, we hit the Timberline Inn Restaurant for dinner. The pot roast is amazing and the pork isn’t too shabby either.

3.2% Beer is … interesting.

Tomorrow we’re working from the park then off to our next stop. Somewhere between B and C on the map.

Plan B at Day One?!?

Welp, this is looking promising. We’ve got the trailer after an hour and a half delay to start, and the next plan B is… there is no plate. No temp plate either. Not too thrilled with Airstream right now – a combo of failure to plan, lost passwords, and an unwillingness to call the bank to get their crap together.

So plan B is to drive with no plates (not even a plate frame!) with a 15 day temp moving permit in the window. So… this can’t go wrong when you’re gone for a month and a half!

Not impressed for a company claiming to sell a premium product with premium prices.

Tales from the Hop Inn

Ah, the digital nomad. Going from city to city, laptop and iPhone with hotspot in hand. This will be a short post, but that’s what Andrew and I are going to attempt this fall, a coast to coast trip from Las Vegas NV to Boston MA. The last character in this tale, a 2019 Airstream Globetrotter 27FB. We’ll have photos from the road, best practices, and some “plan B” stories as well I’m sure. The trip starts August 28, the planning and packing is happening now!

Keep track of the tales by following us on the web at hopinncoffee.com and social media to come.

Adventures in a Ford Focus Electric

Back in July of 2017, I picked up a brand new Ford Focus Electric. This was the second brand new vehicle I ever bought – every other car had been used. There were some issues which reminded me why I don’t purchase brand new cars…but that’s a well-documented story and not what this post is about.

We’ve had the car for about a year and have been getting between 100 and 124 miles per charge just driving around town running errands. Armed with this data we thought it would be a fun idea to take the Focus EV out on a trip to Modesto, California and back (about 525 miles each way).

Our plan was simple, make our way out to Turlock, California over the weekend, do a customer site visit, and make our way back by Tuesday afternoon. It turns out that simple things, even well-planned, can lead to great adventures.

Our route was easy enough. We would start from the house with a full charge, hit the new EVGo Station in Baker, then the station at the Mall of Victorville, the free charger at the Honda dealership in Lancaster, then to the Walmart station in Bakersfield, overnight at the Holiday Inn in off the 99 with the fast charger, and finally to Turlock for our meeting the head home hitting different chargers along the route with an overnight to be determined along the way.

 

From Vegas to the World’s Tallest Thermometer was easy. We hit the Alien Fresh Jerky place and the Mad Greek while the car charged then made our way to Victorville.

   

Here is where our first issue came arose. We fought a massive headwind while going uphill the entire way, which depleted the battery around Barstow. This wasn’t a huge problem as there was a standard charger at the Mall of Barstow so we plugged in, had a picnic lunch then hit the Starbucks for coffee.

Next was the Mall of Victorville follow by the free charge at the Honda dealership where, while waiting for the car to charge, we ended up visiting the ‘Bark in the Park‘ going on and seeing lots of people and their dogs. After charging we headed up to Tehachapi for dinner (and a quick Level 2 Top Off) before making our way down the mountain to the Walmart in Bakersfield.

From there it was easy sailing to the Holiday Inn for our overnight. In the morning we discovered that the hotel had a lovely little train that did a 20 minute loop. Of course we took a ride.

Next day we made our way to Turlock and the Days Inn where they had a ChargePoint Level 2 charger for our second overnight.

Monday we did our session in Turlock then made our way south.

Instead of using the same route we took the 5 down to Tejon Pass and ended up having a picnic dinner in Santa Clarita while charging. We did an overnight in Lancaster, then made our way home the next day reversing the route we took the first day.

Overall some things we learned:

– Plan for elevation. Massive uphill climbs zap the battery range. This can be minimized by keeping the speed around 65 mph, but for every 1000 feet in increased elevation, we lost about 10% battery range. Of course, for every 1000 feet in elevation decrease we regained some of that range, I’d say about 7%.

– Plan to stop more often then you think. Due to the changes in elevation that we hadn’t considered we ended up stopping in both Barstow and Tehachapi for a couple of hours charging at the Level 2 stations. There are no Level 3 stations in these cities. We made the best of it by having our meals during these stops. Basically, the hills added these two unplanned for stops.

We changed our route home to avoid having to stop at any Level 2 chargers. It added 20 miles to the trip but saved three to four hours of charge time.

Stop to smell the roses. We saw some amazing things while charging.

I will do this again. Sacrament, San Francisco, Reno, all are possible… Even Seattle…

Plan B

It started back in the late 90s, my habit of reading Exhibitor Magazine. Two sections were always of interest to me, the annual salary survey, which I would leverage in performance reviews for salary justification, and the articles about event horror stories, which included a Plan A and a Plan B. It was the Plan B that always got my mind moving. What would I do if I needed a Plan B?

Over the last twenty years, I’ve been lucky enough to plan ahead and almost always run with Plan A. This weekend due to several uncontrollable circumstances Plan A didn’t work out as expected and Plan B was formulated and employed.

Plan A:
This should have been a simple one table sales event in Orlando, Florida. The week before the show I packed up the inventory, display items, signage, and table covers into four boxes and shipped them via common carrier to the destination. Easy as pie. Done this thousands of times over my career. I noted the tracking numbers and tracked the packages the first few days to make sure they were on their way.

The day before the I leave for the event I load up some additional inventory in my luggage and check on my packages. One of the four boxes didn’t leave California…The other three made it safely to Florida.

No reason to panic just yet, I called my logistics company and started a trace and claim – just in case.

Since I didn’t know which box was missing (the weights and dimensions were all similar) I didn’t know what extra to bring – and my flight was in three hours. If it were an inventory box, no big deal, I have lots of inventory. If it were the supplies box, I would be in trouble. No reason to worry until I get there and find out what was missing.

It was the supplies and display box.

Fork me!

Plan B (Watch the Good Place show to understand inside joke):
Step One – call the shipping company and modify the claim to include a details list of what is in the box.

Step Two – prepare a sign to be printed at the on-site print shop at the venue.

Step Three – alert the team back in the office and see if what items were in the box could be economically shipped to the event (they could not).

Step Four – Implement the plan.

– A blanket from my hotel room solved my table cover problem. I’ll return it after the show.
– The UPS Print Shop on site solved my signage problem by printing up some company logos on 11 x 17 paper (their largest size).
– I’ve got pockets to keep change in, so that solves the missing register drawer problem.

Problem solved.

Electric Vehicle? Why Not!

Last year I purchased a Ford Focus Electric and have been enjoying it for the last 4,500 miles. Some of the perks for having an electric vehicle include: NV Energy’s Electric Vehicle Time of Use rate, free charging around Las Vegas, DC Fast Charging between Las Vegas and almost all points California, Tax Incentive for first year, and it’s fun to drive!

NV Energy’s Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate:

NV Energy offers a special Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate for its northern and southern Nevada EV customers. It allows customer to pay a discounted rate if they charge the vehicle during the utility’s off-peak hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. As an added benefit, the discounted rate applies to all of the energy used at a home or apartment during that period of time, not just electricity used to charge an electric vehicle.

Time of use rates are higher during daytime and early evening hours (peak-usage) and lower during nighttime hours (off-peak). To help customers who are uncertain about the best rate for their lifestyle and electric vehicle charging needs, a comparison will be made between the Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate and the regular flat rate for the first 12-month period. If the Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate was more costly during that period, NV Energy will credit the difference back to the customer and give the customer the option to move back to the flat rate.

It’s no secret that we have a whole home automation system that is smart enough to no run the HVAC system during the On Peak hours. I’m smart enough not to plug the vehicle in until 10:00 PM. This has effectively cut our total electric bill by 15% in the winter months and over 30% during the summer months.

Free Charging Around Las Vegas:

I live on the west side of town. Within easy driving distance the following locations offer free electric vehicle charging stations:

– Downtown Summerlin: Shopping Mall, ChargePoint J-1722 in each garage
– Las Vegas Cyclery: Parking Lot, single J-1722 and wall outlet – Solar Powered
– Veterans Memorial Leisure Center: Parking Lot, two J-1722, non-networked
– Tivoli Village: Shopping Center, J-1722 and Tesla
– Evo Apartments: Parking Lots, twelve two port J-1722 ChargePoint stations
– U.S. Micro Corp: Parking Lot, J-1722 station

Almost every strip casino also has EV parking stations, but one typically has to pay for parking or pay the valet – but then the electricity is free.

By and large I make use of the free EV stations around town at least once a week, and then plug in at home during non-peak hours to pre-condition the cabin before taking to the road.

DC Fast Charging between Las Vegas and almost all points California

Thanks to the Baker, CA DC EVGo station opening this past June I can now take my Focus EV from Las Vegas to San Diego, LA, Bakersfield, and beyond all the way to Seattle if I wanted…

Going east is a different story. Once the Tonopah, NV station and Moapa and Mesquite stations open it’ll be more time efficient.

My Focus EV takes just under thirty minutes to charge from empty to about 85%, giving me 100 miles of range. So each stop is about the same as my old 1987 Cadillac Limo, but far less cost! (My limo had a 20 gallon tank and got about 10 miles to the gallon highway, about 180 miles per fuel up at over $3.00 per gallon – do the math. I put over 35,000 miles on that car over seven years).

A year ago I had range anxiety, but knowing where the fast charge stations are, and keeping a standard 120/240 volt charge cable in the car has me confident I can go to Canada with my Focus EV! I’m already planning a road trip to Los Angeles later this fall.

Federal and State Incentives:

The federal government and a number of states offer financial incentives, including tax credits, for lowering the up-front costs of plug-in electric vehicles (also known as electric cars or EVs). 

The federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax credit is for $2,500 to $7,500 per new EV purchased for use in the U.S. The size of the tax credit depends on the size of the vehicle and its battery capacity.  To find out specific tax credit amounts for individual vehicles, visit FuelEconomy.gov’s Tax Credits for Electric Vehicles and Tax Credits for Plug-in Hybridspages.  This tax credit will be available until 200,000 qualified EVs have been sold in the United States by each manufacturer, at which point the credit begins to phase out for that manufacturer. Currently, no manufacturers have been phased out yet. 

Of course I took advantage of this tax credit. I’d have been a fool had I not.

It’s fun to drive!

As much as I enjoyed throwing the weight of the nine seat limo around, this Focus is just fun to drive.

It’s been a busy year…

To say it’s been a busy year is an understatement…

…It all started in January with the Consumer Electronics Show followed by a trip to California for Knott’s Berry Farm and Downtown Disney. Then in February we went to LA to see WorkJuice Under Coverfollowed by Folf visiting for an epic photo shoot (brush brush brush); immediately followed by a trip to Boston for Anthro New England. We ended up back in Boston the following week for my grandfather’s funeral. Our Corgi friend visited in March and I had another California Trip to teach the California Department of Public Health how to test cannabis for aflatoxins. April started strong with Motor City Fur Con followed by a week long team summit in held in Nevada. Then it was off to Reno for Biggest Little Fur Con! After that I headed to Vancouver for the ICANN (Clap Clap Clap) GDD Industry Summit while Sean held an Aflatoxin Training session for Harris Ranch and P-R Farms in the California Central Valley. The next week we were at ChefConf in Chicago and now are in Minneapolis for another industry summit

June and July will be met with house guests, which is always fun. We really do enjoy cooking and sharing our home with friends and family.

August gears up for more travel with trips to Denver, Minneapolis, France, followed by San Jose, Phoenix, and Chicago.

What have you been up to the first half of the year?

Smart Luggage – Why do we accept bad engineering?

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/news/smart-luggage-takes-another-hit-1372250

I’m not surprised by the fear over bad batteries; it’s our own fault for poor engineering and consumer acceptance of a lack of UL certification. I actually picked the Away Travel bag specifically for the removable battery. http://fbuy.me/iVRGy

And for the “smart” part, I picked a simple Tile. http://ssqt.co/medN4d4

So far it’s worked pretty well; the Tile has let me know my bags are on board almost at the same time my Delta app has notified me they’re loaded