Part 2: Staying Cool During Extreme Heat

Continuing the story of our 1300+ mile road trip in our electric car (Part 1 here).

Before we started the trip, we knew that we’d be traveling during an especially severe heatwave here in California. Normally we might adjust our travel dates because of this, but since we were going for my husband’s high school reunion, that wasn’t possible.

What we could adjust was the first portion of our route, which is why we ended up in Morro Bay. When we were planning our trip, we saw that the expected temperature of our usual mid-way stop was over 100 degrees. Morro Bay’s high was in the 70s. That made it an easy choice. The cool, coastal temperatures allowed us to park our car at the hotel and comfortably walk everywhere, including to the pride of Morro Bay: Morro Rock.

Our hotel was just up the street from the waterfront and Morro Rock.

Morro Rock was formed about 23 million years ago from a long-extinct volcano. At approximately 576 feet, it is the tallest of the nine “sister” volcanic plugs that form a chain between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. The state historic landmark is a sanctuary for the peregrine falcon and other bird species. It is also the site of the largest field of rock carins I’ve ever seen. Not everyone appreciates these balanced piles of rocks, and I can understand their objection, but seeing so many in one place was pretty impressive.

The next morning was cool and foggy, and we reluctantly loaded up the car for our drive north towards the heat. Almost immediately, we began to see these digital freeway signs:

The temps where we were headed looked brutal and we knew we’d be giving our car’s AC a workout. Fortunately, while very cold temperatures can lower an EV’s mileage, studies have shown that using the AC doesn’t impact it much more than it does in a gas car. Happily, our car’s impressive onboard computer considers AC use when figuring range, so we never had to sacrifice our comfort to eke out more mileage.  

We were also careful to avoid charging between the high-demand period of 4 pm and 9 pm. Only once did we have to plug in during that timeframe when a traffic backup due to an accident delayed our arrival at a supercharger until 4:09 pm (oops). We felt a bit guilty, but we were able to get a quick charge and be on our way in a few minutes.

That charge got us to my brother and sister-in-law’s home located east of San Francisco. We were planning to meet up with them later in the trip but we always enjoy staying for free in their guest room  drinking good wine from their extensive collection their generous hospitality.

The next day, after another quick charge, we drove to the hotel where the reunion was being held that evening. Since this was not my reunion, I got to be more of an observer. As I looked around the room, it was clear that the past 50 years had been gentler to some than others. Most appeared happy, healthy, and engaged but others seemed fragile. On one table the reunion committee had set out pictures and candles in memory of classmates who had passed away. Many of us commented on the number of pictures and how it was a sobering reminder to enjoy life while we can because there are no guarantees.   

Before I end Part 2 of our electrified journey, I would like to touch on luggage storage space. There is a common misconception that EVs are small and tight on trunk space, but, since the batteries are located under the chassis, our car has plenty of room. Not only is our trunk generous, but we also have a decent-sized “frunk” under the front hood where a gas car’s engine would be. Although we aspire to be light packers, this trip required both play clothes and dress-up clothes. One large and one small suitcase, a garment bag, and several additional bags fit with room to spare.

Copyright © 2022 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.

Part 1: Planning Our EV Road Trip

When my husband and I first talked about taking our electric car on our upcoming road trip, I was a bit hesitant. A gathering for a high school reunion prompted the trip, but we wanted to take advantage of the location to visit family and do some exploring. My concern was that driving our EV might make us adjust our route too much. I’m a big fan of electric vehicles, but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to go somewhere because we wouldn’t be able to charge our car.    

Normally, charging isn’t a problem. We plug our car in at home, charge overnight, and it’s ready to go in the morning. The car has plenty of range to last us at least a week with our usual daily driving needs. We had recently taken a couple of short trips that required some charging away from home, and they had gone well. Now that we were about to embark on a 1,300+ mile road trip, we knew that pre-planning would be important because of the multiple charging stops we’d need to make.  Even with California’s relatively robust infrastructure of charging stations – especially Tesla-branded superchargers – they aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations.

EVTripPlanner.com was a great help with planning our trip.

There seems to be (at least) two philosophies about road trip charging: A) Make fewer stops and charge to 100% each time, or B) Make more stops, but charge to lower levels (60 – 70%) each time. After some research, we like option B best for several reasons:

  1. Each charging stop takes less time. When charging past 60-70%, charging slows way down as it tries to “stuff” more juice into the battery (this is not a scientific explanation, but you get the point).
  2. More stops mean more opportunities to stretch our legs… something we’ve come to appreciate on longer road trips.
  3. Lower stress. By not waiting until the car’s charge level was low before we re-charged, we would have a comfortable range cushion each time we reached a station (sort of like not waiting until your gas level indicator turns red before re-fueling).

The route we planned had us driving about 2 hours between charges and charging to no more than 70% each time. Of course, we could adjust this along the way, but that felt like a comfortable pace.

We only had to wait for a charging station once our whole trip. Usually, we’d find plenty of stations available.

Between our home and our first night’s stay, we stopped at three supercharger stations. While our car charged – a process that took about 10-15 minutes – we entered our next destination into the car’s computer. After some calculations, it told us where the next supercharger was located, how much remaining charge we’d have when we got there, how many stations they had, and how many were available for use (updated real-time).

Morro Rock at sunset.

As we strolled along the waterfront in Morro Bay, California, we congratulated ourselves on completing the first leg of our journey without any issues. Our pre-planning had paid off. We were becoming more comfortable with the car’s systems and confident that we had made the right decision to drive our EV.     

Copyright © 2022 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.

Booking On Line vs. On Phone

I just wanted to make a single-night hotel reservation for our upcoming road trip. Even though it will be after Labor Day, the coastal town is small and touristy, so I didn’t want to take the chance of waiting until we got there.

We are looking forward to visiting the Rock again.

First, I went online to check out options and reviews on a few hotel booking sites. I wanted something not too pricey but close enough to the embarcadero, shops, and restaurant area to be walkable. Fortunately, there were several reasonable choices with vacancies for the night we’d be there. Easy enough so far.

Many people would simply choose a hotel and click over to the booking site’s reservation page, but I don’t like to do this. I prefer to make my reservations either by calling the hotel directly or by going on their website. I may be old school, but I’ve often found that doing this has a few advantages:

  • Better rates
  • Better discounts
  • Better cancelation policies
  • Better communication

I typed in the name of the hotel and found a website that appeared to be theirs; the landing page gave no indication that it was not. I looked to see if they offered any discounts (AAA and AARP are the most common) but couldn’t find any. That should have been my first clue, but I figured since it was a tourist town, maybe they didn’t need to offer incentives. I made our reservations and printed out the receipt. That’s when I noticed something in the small print that concerned me. The cancelation policy was very unclear. Despite the verbiage, “free cancelation,” there was enough gobbledygook to indicate that “free” might be a euphemism for “not free.”

So, to get clarification, I did what I should have done first, and called the hotel directly.

It turns out that I hadn’t, in fact, made reservations on the hotel’s website. I did have a reservation, but I had made it through a third-party, exactly what I didn’t want to do. I asked the woman—an actual, very nice, human at the actual hotel—about their rates, if they offered any discounts, and what their cancelation policy was. Although their beginning rate was similar, they did offer a AAA discount, and their cancelation policy was 100% refund up to a day before.

Following a brief conversation about our mutual dislike of these third-party booking sites, I asked if she could cancel my original reservation and book us direct. After trying unsuccessfully, she suggested that I contact the booking site directly. She would hold the room and wait to hear back from me. So much nicer than a computer.

I won’t go into all the details but suffice it to say, the booking site did not make it easy to cancel. But, after calling a few different numbers, getting in a few automated phone tree loops, and having my call cut off, I finally reached an agent in India. She canceled my reservation, and I called the hotel back to re-book. Done.  

Like so many “conveniences” afforded us by the interwebs, these booking sites come with a price. Not only can they end up costing more, but their cancelation policies are also often stricter, and communication is challenging or nonexistent. By calling the hotel directly, I saved money, have a generous, understandable cancelation policy, and learned a bit more about the area where we’ll be staying. 

This experience did nothing to lessen my discomfort about booking through these sites. They are fine for doing research but, while they offer expediency, they don’t offer the good communication and human touch I prefer.     

Constructive Musings

The theme for Terri’s Sunday Stills challenge this week is “Under Construction. It seems as good an excuse as any to dip my toes back into blogging after taking much of the summer off. Part of my absence was construction-related, but lazy summer days and lack of inspiration are mostly to blame. Although I have continued to enjoy reading other blogs, I couldn’t manage more than three posts of my own since mid-May.

Deck Construction

We actually did have a rather large construction project this summer, which took a lot of my time (full disclosure: it took much more of my husband’s time). Our 20-year-old deck was starting to show its age, so we decided—just when costs ramped up, and supply chains broke down—it was time to repair and re-surface it. The good news is that we found a nice young couple who wanted the old material, so we avoided sending it to the landfill. The bad news (besides cost and availability) is that the project was more work than expected (more full disclosure: it’s still not 100% done).

During and (almost) After deck construction

We are happy with the way it turned out, though, and hope it will last at least another 20 years (seeing as we’d be in our 80s then, I imagine that we will decide to ignore any flaws and grow old with it). In the meantime, we are enjoying our new deck and slowly forgetting the effort it took to build it.

Blog Construction

Even though I haven’t been writing many posts lately, I have made a few minor adjustments to my blog.

One that I should have done a while ago: after reading a head’s up on Hugh’s News and Views, I added some copyright verbiage at the end of my posts and made it a recurring block. I also plan to routinely watermark certain photos. I doubt if this will stop anyone determined to steal my words or images, but I hope it will stop some. I am not happy when I find what I’ve shared on my blog appearing elsewhere.

It was great to see Terri in June

Another change was suggested by Terri when we had a blogger meet-up a few months ago. I believe that I “may” have been whining about all the spam comments my blog was getting. WordPress does a good job filtering them out, but I still look at each one before deleting to assure that a diamond hasn’t gotten swept up with the dregs. Her suggestion of turning off comments after a post is over 120 days old has helped immensely (thank you, Terri).

Travel Plan Construction

My husband and I are planning a road trip later this year and we are looking forward to getting away for more than a few days. Although our itinerary won’t take us anywhere we haven’t been before, what will be different is that we are driving our electric car. We’ve driven the EV on some mini-trips that have required one mid-point stop for re-charging, but this will be the first trip where charging will be part of the planning process.

We love our electric car, and it is perfect for our day-to-day driving needs, but its 260-mile range won’t get us to our destination on a single charge. Driving an EV on an extended trip will take a bit of planning but there are a lot of online tools and fast charging stations available, so we see it as adding to our adventure. Since there is an increase interest in electric cars—including, unfortunately, a lot of misinformation—I plan to share our experience after we return.  

Thanks for the inspiration, Terri, it’s good to be posting again.  

Copyright © 2022 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.

Are You Paying Too Much for Prescription Drugs?

Thank you Pixaby for the image.

If you live in the United States, I’m sure you are aware of the high cost of medical care in this country. Although not all of us will need to see a doctor or go to the hospital this year, many – especially those of us who are older – regularly take one or more prescription drugs. For those with chronic illnesses, the cost of these medications can be quite high. Tragically, some people on limited incomes have found themselves having to choose between paying for their medications, paying rent, or buying food.

One of the major reasons for high prescription drug prices is the lack of price transparency. As consumers, we are at the end of a bloated, complicated, and opaque supply chain. Even when drug prices are reduced, the original price before the discount is often set artificially high.

Enter Mark Cuban and his new company CostPlus Drugs. Cuban, entrepreneur billionaire and owner of the Houston Mavericks, decided to approach the high cost of drugs as a business problem with a straightforward solution: total price transparency. His website, costplusdrugs.com, which debuted this January, has over 700 generic drugs listed, with more, including branded drugs, to come.

The pricing is as follows: cost of drug + 15% + $3 pharmacy fee + $5 shipping. It’s really that simple.  

I am lucky to have good health insurance with manageable deductibles. I take two generic medications daily and, although I have never struggled to pay for these prescriptions, I was curious to see if I’d save anything by ordering them through CostPlus Drug Co.   

I had recently ordered a 90-day supply of both medications from my usual online pharmacy and was billed $36.81, which included free shipping. If I had used CostPlus Drug Co., my cost would have been $25.90 (this includes $10 shipping, $5 for each drug).

Although these aren’t life-altering savings, if I didn’t have insurance or my insurance wasn’t as robust, the savings would have been greater. If you or a loved one take prescription medications – either regularly or for a temporary condition – you might want to check it out. The website is very user-friendly and full of information.

I realize that CostPlus Drugs isn’t the only company trying to bring down the high cost of drugs, but I like its ease of use and transparent pricing. And, because I support its mission, I will order my prescription drugs through them from now on.

Whatever you are paying, it makes sense to shop around first. And, if you like what you see, spread the word. If more people take control of the cost of their medications, Big Pharma might take notice.

Copyright © 2022 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.

Thursday Doors – James Hubbell’s Doors and More, Part 2

Last week, I shared some photos from a recent tour my husband and I took of the property owned by internationally renowned artist, James Hubbell.

When I booked the tour, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was confident there would be a lot to see and tons of photo opportunities. At the end of our 1 ½ hour tour, we were happily tired, and I had taken over 100 images.

Since I wrote a bit about the compound’s history in last week’s Thursday Doors post, I’ll skip right to sharing more of the marvelous doors, windows, and art that we saw.

I wish I could have gotten a better shot of these three doors together… they were incredible.
I love how the stained glass window on the side of the door flows into the glass art embedded in the door.
Whimsical door – with hand-forged metal art and hardware – and a stained glass window above.
One of the several art studios on the property.
Another art studio with a large stained glass window framing the view.
This fabulous door leads into…
… this mosaic-tiled shower.
And another whimsical art studio.
The Chapel.
This just-completed door was commissioned by a very lucky homeowner (sadly, not us).
James Hubbell and his wife Anne.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you’d like to learn more about the artist and his amazing property, visit ilanlaelfoundation.org.


Dan Antion hosts door lovers every Thursday on his blog, No Facilities. Check out this week’s Thursday Doors submissions from around the world.  

Thursday Doors – James Hubbell’s Doors and More

Several weeks ago, I saw an announcement about upcoming tours of a local artist’s compound. After closing the property to outsiders for two years due to Covid, they were once again opening it up to a limited number of visitors. In the past when I had read about these tours, I was interested but, for whatever reason, hadn’t gone. There was always an excuse, however, if I’m being completely honest, it boiled down to “Maybe I’ll go next year.”

If Covid has taught us anything, it is that “next year” isn’t guaranteed, and that things can change seemingly overnight. Even though this is true for everyone, at every age, it is especially true for those of us with more years behind us than in front of us. With this in mind – and not wanting to risk my inner procrastinator taking over – I went straight to my computer to reserve two tickets. I am so glad I did.

The compound, designed and built by James Hubbell, sits on a 40-acre ranch near the mountain town of Julian, California. An internationally renowned artist, poet, and architectural designer, Hubbell is widely known for his organic-style buildings which are works of art. His hand-crafted doors, stained glass windows, gates, and sculptures using wood, stone, metal, glass, and clay can be found throughout the property. Although most of the structures were built in the 1950s and 60s, several had to be rebuilt when a wildfire raced through the area in 2003. Now in his 90s, Hubbell no longer lives on the property, but his sons and the foundation he created, carry on his vision and his legacy.

Here are a few of the fabulous doors and windows I saw during the hour-long tour. I will share more next week.

Not only was the stained glass created on-site but the door hardware was also hand-forged on-site.
Mosaic and stained glass in one of the restrooms.

All windows and doors were unique works of art.
One of the several studios found on the property.
Close-up of the studio door. Note the beautiful hand-forged hinges and door pull (and cute kitty).
Even closer look at the door pull.

Meeting room door with hand-forged metal work.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at James Hubbell’s compound. Please come back next Thursday to see more of this incredible artist’s work. In the meantime, check out Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors post and see the doors that others have shared.

Thursday Doors Writing Challenge– Under the Rainbow

This short story was written for Dan Antion’s (No Facilities) Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. It was inspired by a painted door I saw at a local artists’ village. A little warning, this story is a bit darker than the other ones I’ve shared.  

Under the Rainbow                                                                                      

Dorothy shifted uncomfortably in her hard plastic chair. The air in the room was stale, smelling of early morning coffee breath. She looked down at her watch and was irritated to find that she still had 15 minutes left of this slow death.

Edmond, the insufferable little English prig was droning on and on about his brother and sisters, a closet (or, as he called it, a “wardrobe”), and some people who were turned into stone. We all have problems, Dorothy thought, why should I care about yours? She was about to fake a heart attack just to get out of there when Edmond said something about a lion and a witch. What the heck? Had he been there too?

When the group leader ended the session with his usual feel good, namaste BS, Dorothy made a beeline for the door. As soon as she stepped outside, she lit her fourth cigarette of the day and inhaled the fumes as if they gave her life. Scanning her surroundings, she felt as flat, dusty, and depressed as the landscape. “I flipping hate Kansas” she mumbled under her breath.

“What’s that?” Damn, it was that new girl. Pretty, blonde, and another English accent. “What did you think of the session?” Miss Priss asked smiling.

“I’ve been coming for three years and still haven’t gotten anything out of it,” Dorothy answered, hoping to cut the conversation short.

“Alice, my name is Alice,” Miss Priss said, extending her hand. “I feel like I’ve been chasing down rabbit holes my whole life and would really like to stop. I hope these meetings can fix me.”

“All of us are here for the same thing but I’m starting to wonder why we would want to leave those other worlds and exist permanently in this one,” Dorothy replied. “They might have contained dark magic and evil forces, but at least they were interesting.”

“You’re right,” Alice replied. “It wasn’t all Red Queens and madness. I had some opportunities for personal growth too.”

“Well, good luck,” Dorothy offered as she stubbed out her cigarette on the side of the building. “I hope you find what you need. I think this will be the last Rentering Reality support group I’ll attend.” Dorothy walked away without a backward glance.

As she headed home, she thought about her sad, miserable life and how everyone she loved was now gone. First, Auntie Em wasted away from cancer, then Uncle Henry drowned in bottles of cheap gin. Toto One—her only witness to her adventure—was dead. Even Toto Two had the good sense to run away and never come back. Why bother sticking around this god-forsaken place? she asked herself. Why exist in a black and white world when you can live in color?

Approaching her house, Dorothy fully grasped the property’s decay for the first time. The garden, once Auntie Em’s pride and joy, was covered in weeds. The barn and livestock pens—where the terrifying pigs had been kept—were almost as flattened as the Kansas topography. Her house was headed in that direction too; missing roof shingles, rotted siding, and dangerously uneven front steps. The sudden wash of guilt Dorothy felt nearly brought her to her knees.

Once inside, Dorothy knew exactly what she needed to do. Before she could change her mind, she headed for the cellar. As she descended the steps into darkness, she could see a faint red glow in the corner.

The ruby slippers were waiting for her, just as they had been for many years. Dorothy carefully put them on, not surprised at all that they fit perfectly, despite her shoe size changing over time. Looking down at her feet, Dorothy started to click her heels together: one… two… three…

“There’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz.”


Don’t forget to check out the other submissions for the Thursday Doors Writing Challenge and – who knows? – maybe you’ll be inspired to add one of your own.

When Life Hands You Lemons…

…you make Limoncello!

One of the first trees we planted in our yard when we purchased our house almost 30 years ago was a lemon tree. Although we’ve enjoyed its bounty since then, this was the first year I decided to try my hand at making the sweet, golden elixir called Limoncello.

Just about anything made with lemons gets a “yes, please” from me, but usually they are an ingredient of a savory dish or a dessert. In fact, one of my favorite dinners we’ve made included baked lemon chicken, a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette, and lemon pudding cakes baked in individual ramekins.

YUM!

So, where was I?

Oh, yes, Limoncello.

I have had commercially made Limoncello before, but I never thought to make it myself until a friend gave us a bottle of her home-made brew. Not only was it tasty, but I was excited to learn that it is easy to make. In fact, the hardest part is allowing the lemon peels and vodka enough time to mingle and do their magic before decanting. 

Just four ingredients: lemons, vodka, sugar, and water.
Peel just the yellow part of the lemons.
Soak the lemon peels in vodka… watch it turn a lovely yellow.

If you’ve never tried it, Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur with a refreshing lemon flavor. It is traditionally served after dinner as it is thought to aid digestion (and, who am I to argue with sound medical advice?). It is typically kept in the freezer and served cold so it’s perfect for summer. It can also be used in dessert recipes, including a delicious-sounding Limoncello and Ricotta Almond Cake (thanks, Widow Badass) I plan to try.    

You can find a lot of recipes for Limoncello online, but they are all pretty much the same: organic lemons, vodka, sugar, and water. Recommended vodka proofs vary (most recipes suggest higher proofs), as does the time to infuse the lemon peels in the vodka (as little as four days to as much as three weeks) before mixing with the syrup. The only recommendation I have after making my first batch is: don’t buy the Costco-sized bottle of vodka (1.75 liters vs. the more normal size of 1 liter). I now have so much limoncello that not only will we be enjoying it all summer, but we’ll giving a few bottles away to friends. Not a bad problem to have.  

Bottles ordered from Amazon… label designed by moi. Cheers!

So, What’s on Your Plate (or, in this case, your glass)? Join Donna and Deb for their monthly blog challenge. Link your own food-related post or just read what others have shared.