Part 4: Mapping Our Journey Home

The final installment of our 1300+ mile road trip in our electric car (Part 1 & Part 2 & Part 3 here).

When we first planned our road trip, we weren’t quite sure which route we’d take back home. Because of the possibility of excessive heat and unpredictable wildfires, we left that decision open until it was time to head south. The coastal route is interesting and cooler, but we drove up that way. There are a couple of north/south freeways that offer the shortest and quickest drive, but they are mind-numbingly boring. If we drove further east before heading south, we could visit Mono Lake, something that I’ve always wanted to see.    

When it was time to start home, the temperatures had dropped a bit and there weren’t any active fires, so we decided to head east, then south. This route required some additional planning because, unlike the state’s western corridor, the eastern areas aren’t as populated, and superchargers aren’t as available.

Fortunately, at this point in our trip, we had become comfortable with the apps that located the chargers and with our car’s ability to predict the level of charge we’d need at each one. As we headed east, we drove through mountain passes and pine forests – away from any population centers – but our car told us that we’d reach the next charging station with plenty of juice to spare. Although it can be anxiety-producing to watch the car’s range shrink when climbing hills, regenerative breaking adds most of that range back when driving downhill.

Mono Lake

When we came around a bend in the road and first caught a glimpse of the lake from a view turnout, I was in awe. I had seen pictures of Mono Lake but was thrilled to now see it for myself.  

Our first view of Mono Lake.

Mono Lake, an ancient saline lake located at the eastern edge of the California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, is home to trillions of brine shrimp, millions of birds, and the world-famous tufa towers. The lake was nearly destroyed when, in 1941, water was diverted from the lake’s tributary streams and sent 350 miles south to meet the growing water demands of Los Angeles. Fortunately, because of the work of dedicated activists, this practice was stopped, and the lake’s water level is slowly being restored.

The clouds in the background mimicked the shape of the Tufas.
The sun setting behind me lit up the clouds.

The Final Stretch Home

When we got on the road the next morning, our plan was to recharge twice along the way before stopping for the night about halfway home. During the drive, we continued to find charging stations available with no wait, as well as places to eat and “refresh” close by. As we approached the half-way point, we were feeling pretty good, so we decided to continue driving after charging.  

This decision is not unusual for us; we often choose to power through the last stretch because we are anxious to get home and sleep in our own bed again. What was different was how good we felt after driving for over 7 hours. Stopping every couple of hours for a quick charge (charge time averaged 10 – 15 minutes each) made us get out of the car and stretch our legs. When we arrived home after 8 pm that night, we both felt good.

So, not to get too wonky on you, here’s our final thoughts about our 1300+ mile EV trip:

What we liked:

Charging more often but to lower levels not only makes the trip more enjoyable but the total charging time is actually less.

EV owners are nice and full of information so good conversations happen while charging.

Our car had plenty of power, the cabin comfort was outstanding, and we had more than enough storage space for our luggage.

Although it wasn’t our intention, we saved money. Gas prices are high but so are electricity rates at superchargers. Even so, we spent about half as much as we would have at the gas pump (and no stinky hands). 

What could be improved:  

Because charging stations aren’t as prevalent as gas stations, the trip took extra planning, and we had a bit of a learning curve on how to use the tools available. Next time, we’ll be better at it.

California has good charging infrastructure, so we had no trouble finding stations. Although more public chargers are being added all the time, for now, we might need to stick to the main freeways when traveling in certain states.   

The biggest negative for us is the car’s single large screen located in the middle of the dashboard. Although this is a trend for a lot of cars – even gas-powered ones – we don’t like it. We prefer not to have to take our eyes off the road to perform some of the car’s functions or to see how fast we are driving vs. the speed limit. Without a co-pilot, I’m not sure either of us could comfortably drive unfamiliar roads and read the tiny print on the screen, especially with our older eyes.   

Safely home and ready for a good wash.

Now that we’ve been home for a while, we are already thinking about our next EV adventure.

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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.

Sunday Stills: Looking Back at 2021

One of my favorite times to scroll through the photos on my phone is at the end of each year. I find that it’s a great way to remind myself of things that I’ve done, the fun I’ve had, and what I’ve accomplished (and, if taking a lot of pictures is an accomplishment, I’m a rockstar) over the past year.

For this week’s Sunday Stills theme, Rear-View Mirror, I chose one picture from each month in 2021 to remember what brought me joy – and there was a lot – during this very strange year.

January

Our first vaccinations! It felt monumental… like we were really, really going to beat this thing.  

February

Despite some activities being curtailed, we still enjoyed getting out to explore our beautiful city.

March

Less actual grocery shopping and more experimentation with kit meals shipped to our home.

April

Good times and interesting conversations when friends Kathy (SMART Living 365) and her husband Thom came for a visit.

May

Our blueberries begin to ripen.

June

More good times and interesting conversations when we visited Kathy and Thom at their mountain get-a-way.

July

Sunflowers and bees with pollen booties… is there anything better?

August

We crossed the Canadian border the first day it opened. A month of blogger buddy meet-ups, hiking, and experiencing the beauty of Vancouver Island commenced.  

September

After our stay on the Island, we ferried over to the city of Vancouver for more exploration and fun.

October

Our local Dia de los Muertos celebration. Maybe not as elaborate as in Oaxaca, but very colorful and no plane trip required.

November

Fall sunsets are glorious.

December

A trip to the Zoo to see my favorite birds.

Metallic Bonbons

‘Tis the season for festive blog link ups. Two of my favorites are Terri’s Sunday Stills photography color challenge, Metallic, and Festive Bonbons holiday question challenge hosted by Donna, Deb, Sue, and Jo. I am going to do my best to combine them both into a single post.

  • Christmas Tree? We haven’t had a Christmas tree for years, mostly because there isn’t a good place in our house to put one. At first, I missed the tradition, but now I’m relieved not to have the mess and bother. Even without a tree, we decorate to make the house look Christmassy. I don’t particularly like the traditional red and green combo, favoring instead blues and silvers.
I love how the late afternoon sun adds a golden glow to the silver ornaments and copper deer.
Bronze deer with a metallic bow.
  • Christmas Carols?  My all-time favorite is O Holy Night. Even though I’m not religious, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes when the singer hits those lovely high notes.
  • Christmas Books?  I love A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch StoIe Christmas, although I admit not having read either of them for many years. 
  • Christmas MoviesLove Actually, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Bad Santa come to mind but I’m sure there are more.
  • Fruit Cake?  A friend and I passed one – yes, the same one – back and forth as a gag gift for many years. Do people actually eat them?
  • Chocolate, Nuts or Fruit?  Yes.
  • Christmas Traditions?  So many throughout the years (do they count as traditions if they change?). Boat Parade of Lights, my father’s springerle cookies, Grandpa’s Eggnog (not my grandpa, but a much-loved holiday contribution from a friend), nighttime strolls to enjoy the lights and decorations, to name just a few.
A family of silver deer decorate this front yard.
  • What’s on your Table?  Tamales on Christmas morning. Most likely a roast of some sort, potatoes, and roasted veggies for dinner. Our tree is bursting with oranges, so maybe a citrus dessert or cocktail… or both?
Golden (that’s metallic, right?) oranges ready to be picked.
  • Christmas Memories?  I have so many great memories, many from when I was young. My parents always made a big deal about Christmas for my two brothers and me.   
Lots of silver tinsel carefully placed in individual strands by my mother.
Visiting Santa and his reindeer with my brothers.
  • All I want for Christmas Is?  For everyone – across the globe – to get vaccinated. Let’s get this done!   

Welcoming the Spirits Home

At this time in 2019, my husband and I traveled to Oaxaca City, Mexico to experience the celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

We’ve never been very good at taking selfies.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday where the souls of deceased relatives join their families for a brief reunion. From October 31 through November 2, the border between the spirit world and the living world opens, allowing the spirits to cross over. The holiday is filled with beautiful symbols, traditions, and imagery. It is a joyful time: the spirits are treated as honored guests as they feast, drink, dance, and play music with their families. Many believe that if you remember them, they never cease to exist.

One of the most recognizable symbols are the alters or “ofrendas” (offerings) that can be found in public places and private homes. Although each colorful alter is unique, they all are decorated with specific components that honor loved ones and provide what they need on the journey to rejoin their families.

Every ofrenda includes the four elements: water, air, earth, and fire. Water is provided so the spirits can quench their thirst after their journey. Air is represented by colorful paper banners.  Earth is represented by food, especially bread. The light from candles helps the spirits find their way. In addition, alters are decorated with pictures of the departed, their favorite foods and drinks, sugar skulls, and marigolds (whose scent and bright orange color help attract souls to the alter).

All of these pictures were taken of ofrendas in public places. The alters created in private homes tend to be much less elaborate, but equally beautiful.

I’m sharing these images from our trip as part of Terri’s Sunday Stills photo challenge, whose theme this week is Indoor/Outdoor Decorations.

Sunday Stills: The Pink Side of Muertos  

Two years ago this month, my husband and I were in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was our second visit to this vibrant and colorful city, but this time we were there to experience the celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Although the official holiday spans just three days (October 31 – November 2), Oaxaca starts to prepare for the big event early. By arriving in mid-October and staying until the end of November we had plenty of time to not only enjoy the celebration but to experience Oaxaca before and after the crowds descended.

Templo de Santo Domingo under a sky blue pink sunset.

Images of skeletons could be found all over the city, many of them adorned in pink.

Some were whimsically pink.

Some were a worrisome pink.

Some were cute-as-a-button pink.

Speaking of pink, the City Centro Hotel located in the barrio of Jalatlaco, is all about pink. Because we weren’t paying guests, I was only able to access the ground floor, but I had so much fun poking around and taking pictures. The next time we visit Oaxaca, I would be tickled pink to book a room for at least a night so we can explore more of the hotel, including its colorful rooftop pool.   

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge is The Pink Side of Life. Click here to enjoy Terri’s photos and see how others responded to the theme.

Sunday Stills: Summer Bugs

We’re lucky to live in an area that doesn’t have too many bugs… at least the type of bugs that bug us.

We have insects:

… and we have arachnids:

But buggy bugs? Not so much.

I was at a loss when I saw that this week’s Sunday Still photo prompt was Summer Bugs, until I thought of my first car: a 1972, chartreuse, Volkswagen Super Beetle. I loved that car, not only because it was as cute as a bug, but because of the sense of freedom it gave me.

Cool car, unfortunate perm

Although that car is long gone, I still love VW Bugs, as my photo archives will attest. Here are just a few pictures of VDubs that I have taken over the years while traveling.  

Bugs found along Route 66

The Bug Farm in Conway, Texas has a permanent crop of five Volkswagen beetles planted nose-down in the ground. It is a parody of the more famous Cadillac Ranch in nearby Amarillo.

In Holbrook, Arizona, just down the street from the Wigwam Motel (yes, each “room” is shaped like a teepee, and, yes, we stayed there), is Kester’s Bug Shop. where they have bugs of unique shapes and sizes.

Bugs of Mexico

Vintage VW Bugs are everywhere on the streets of Mexico… some are in better shape than others.

Hometown Bugs

These bugs were discovered in our neighborhood.

A shy bug hiding behind a plumeria bush
A neighbor is restoring a 1971 Super Beetle

This week’s theme for Terri Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills photo prompt is Summer Bugs. See Terri’s photographs on her blog, Second Wind Leisure. If you have some favorite bug images, please join in!