Fire and Smoke

Lots of wildfires in California lately and over 100 in the Santa Cruz area this year so they’ve closed many of the county parks to try to reduce the risk.  This one a couple of weeks ago (the Rincon fire) was quite visible from my place but happily they were able to get it under control in a couple of days:

 

After seeing someone test the air filtration of Tesla’s Model X and its “biodefense mode” against the heavy smoke we’re getting from our wildfires this month, I decided to pick up an inexpensive air quality sensor to test my home’s air as well as my Model 3’s more mundane filtration system.  (The Model 3 doesn’t have the Model X’s fancy “biodefense mode” or huge HEPA filters.)

With the PM2.5 sensor reading 150 μg/m3 (unhealthy) in the San Jose area (due to smoke from the Camp Fire that burned through Paradise, CA), I found that the Tesla Model 3’s air filter would bring things down to the 20’s in the cabin in just a few minutes when recycle air was turned on.  Later, I stopped and made a video to record it falling from 135 to 5 μg/m3 in less than 10 minutes. It climbed back up to the 80’s pretty quickly though when I turned off recycle air and let it bring in fresh air:


This video was even picked up by Teslarati (“Model 3 protects owner…“) and re-tweeted by Elon.  Hi, Elon!  But they didn’t pick up on my follow-up test to compare the Tesla to a Toyota:
I decided to repeat the test with my 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV.  This time the starting air quality wasn’t nearly as bad as my initial test but both the Tesla and the Toyota were able to filter the cabin down to a reading of zero from a start of 50 μg/m3 with recycle air turned on. At full fan speed, the RAV4 took about 10 minutes and the Model 3 was able to do it in about 3-4 minutes.

With recycle air turned off (fresh air intake on), the PM2.5 reading in both cars climbed up again. The Tesla was able to hold it around the low to mid 30’s but the RAV4 went up to essentially the outside reading of 50 μg/m3 again.  So the Model 3’s system does work better.

One other thing of note is that the RAV4 ended up with a much higher concentration of TVOC (total volatile organic compounds), even though the vehicle is five years old. Presumably this is off-gassing of some of the materials in the cabin.

Oh, and I forgot to turn off A/C in the RAV4 for the test – hence the temperature drop.

Here’s more detail in screenshots – RAV4 start and finish with recycle on:

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Model 3 start and finish with recycle on:

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On a subsequent four-hour drive to Tahoe in the Model 3, I encountered much worse air along the way (San Jose, Central Valley, Sacramento, etc). I’d guess the PM2.5 count was easily at least 150 μg/m3 and probably much higher in places, but I avoided opening the windows to test it. I kept the air on recycle and saw that the particle count held down around 20 but sometimes climb to the 30’s. Not bad, given how bad it was outside.

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Keeping Darlene Safe

 

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Vancouver and SHUX 2018

Darlene joined me for a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, last week to enjoy three days of board gaming at Shut Up and Sit Down’s very own, second annual board gaming convention (SHUX ’18).  I only discovered Shut Up and Sit Down and their most excellent and entertaining board gaming content last year.  I’ve since been hooked on their written and video reviews as well as their podcast. They’re also responsible for me being driven to buy a trunk load of additional games over the past year.  (As if my game collection wasn’t large enough already.)

We got to try out a bunch of games I’ve been meaning to check out, meet some new people, get to see Quinns, Paul, Matt and Pip live and even see a little bit more of Vancouver – including tooling around on some electric bikes for a few hours. It was a great trip and great convention, though I wish we had used our time a little more wisely and squeezed in a few more games as well as been prepared for the early closing of the game-lending library.  Also, would’ve been great to participate in one of the day-long megagames (if the convention were longer) or in a more involved version of Two Rooms and A Boom.  We only got to try the basic version with just a couple of people with roles.  We did get to try and got hooked on several great ones: Bunny Kingdom, Mystery of the Temples, Bårenpark, Great Western Trail, Sagrada, and Azul.  Not so great: Crows, Koi and Kodama: The Tree Spirits.  Terrible: Cat Lady, Nefarious.

I also wish I had thought to take pictures of all of the games we tried (and the folks we played with), but click through for the full gallery:

      

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Camping at Fremont Peak

A gallery of pictures here from a camping weekend (October 5-7th) with Erin, Greg, Merritt, Resi, Troy and Aiden at Fremont Peak State Park.  (Darlene had to skip it as she had just gotten sick.)  No campfires allowed but we got in a bit of hiking in this tiny little park and everyone enjoyed peeking through the telescopes on Saturday night.  Thanks for organizing, Erin!

Click through for the full gallery:

    

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Finally Got Our Teslas!

I’ve been waiting for a mid-size, long range, all wheel drive electric car ever since I got my first taste of EV’s at Nissan’s LEAF test drive event in 2010.  I was so taken by how it felt to drive electric that I ended up putting a reservation down for Tesla’s still-under-development Model S soon after since Nissan was no longer taking reservations for the LEAF.  As it turns out, I ended up snagging a LEAF in 2011 before even getting to test drive the first Model S in 2012.  I decided to pass on the Model S (too big for my tastes) but eventually brought home “half a Tesla” in the form of Toyota and Tesla’s joint RAV4 EV effort in 2013 – as did Darlene when I sold my old LEAF out from under her.

When Tesla finally revealed the prototype of the smaller Model 3 in early 2016 and opened up reservations, Darlene and I and Dave and 450,000 other “friends” all jumped on it – and began the long wait as Tesla started development.

Well, here they are – we both finally got ours this past weekend (and Dave got his a few weeks ago):

  

And, oh boy, are these amazing and fun to drive – over 300 miles range on a charge, access to Tesla Superchargers all across the country, over-the-air software updates, incredible “spaceship-like” interior design with lots of customization controls, among the safest vehicles on the road and blah blah blah… okay, yeah, yeah….

Anyway, here’s the obligatory “Tesla launch” video:

Custom “Stealth” Look

I decided to get some detailing work done to give mine a more custom look.  I had XPEL Stealth self-healing paint protection film applied over all the painted surfaces to give it a satin matte appearance, a speckled dark gray 3M vinyl wrap applied to cover all of the chrome exterior trim pieces as well as the gloss black interior console, a Ceramic Pro hydrophobic ceramic coating applied over the body, windows and wheel covers for easy cleaning, a mild tinting (Huper Optik) applied to the side windows to give a nice contrast between the body and the glass portion and the front and rear chrome badges painted black.  Elite Auto Films in San Jose did the work and while it did take a couple of weeks and several follow-up visits to finish everything up, it came out looking great.  The satin effect is fairly subtle, particularly in photographs, but it looks quite sharp in person!  Darlene also had Elite Auto Films do some paint correction work and had a Ceramic Pro coating on hers.

Click through for more pictures in the full gallery:

      

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Frie Family Visit in Tahoe

Darlene’s brother John, his wife Sandy, and daughters Joslyn and Carlyn came out to visit in Tahoe for a week.  We were able to finish up our road trip to join them for some activities including hiking, kayaking and climbing in the trees at the treetop adventure park in Tahoe Vista.

Click through for the full gallery:

      

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Colorado National Monument

Continuing on our way home from Wisconsin, Darlene and I came across Colorado National Monument just outside of Grand Junction and decided to have a look.  I’d never heard of this place but the scenery was gorgeous and there were fantastic views and rock formations in every direction throughout the park.  We ended up spending a couple of days to check it out and do a little hiking – click through for the full gallery:

      

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Passing through Colorado

On our return trip from Wisconsin, Darlene and I made our way down through Iowa and Missouri and across Kansas with one overnight stop and then into Colorado stopping off in Denver but failing to find anywhere nearby to grab a campsite.  (Ended up in a motel parking lot north of Boulder.)  We stayed a couple of nights in Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking.  The long views weren’t all that great because the smoke from the huge California wildfires were filling the skies even in Colorado.

  

Heading south, we found a spot to camp for a couple of nights in national forest land outside of Winter Park and got in some high altitude (10,000′) mountain biking.  We visited Dave and Martha at their new home in Evergreen before continuing west on I-70.  We camped out a couple of nights and did some trail riding in the hills above Eagle and had to wait out the mud in the morning in order to get the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle™ safely down the mountain again.

We also took some time to ride along Glenwood Canyon and tried to hike up to Hanging Lake late in the evening but ran out of time.  We came across a mama bear and her two cubs climbing in the trees near the trail though:

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Minnesota/Wisconsin State Parks

Continuing our road trip out to Darlene’s mom, we hit up a bunch of different parks in Minnesota and Wisconsin – some on my own (with Pan and Hera) while Darlene helped her mom during her hip surgery recovery and some together both before and after.  We got in some mountain biking, kayaking and sightseeing all around as well as a two-day photo shoot for Carlyn’s high school graduation.  However, I forgot to take any pictures while camped out with the cats in her mom’s driveway for a couple of weeks!

      

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Badlands of South Dakota

Continuing our trek out to Wisconsin along I-90 and across South Dakota, we visited and hiked around a bit in the Badlands National Park and encountered some bighorn sheep.  The park campgrounds were full but we found dispersed camping (with lots of other folks) just outside the northwest entrance.

We weren’t able to visit some of the other interesting sites in the nearby Black Hills area (like Jewel Cave or Wind Cave National Park) because a severe thunderstorm and hail warning drove us north out of the way.  The next day I dropped Darlene off at the Rapid City airport so she could fly home to make her doctor’s appointment (she’s currently on medical leave due to a hip injury).

I continued on with Pan and Hera and visited the Minuteman Historic National Monument, which was well worth the stop.

Click through for the full gallery:

      

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A Close Encounter with Devils Tower

After stopping over in Portland to visit Glenn and Michele and make a couple of repairs (as well as visit Outside Van), we finally turned east to truly head for Wisconsin.  Two of the few tourist stops we made along the way was the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana and the Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  The Museum of the Rockies has a few rotating exhibits but its showcase is its dinosaur collection which includes “some thirty-five thousand specimens, including the world’s largest collection of Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, along with America’s largest collection of dinosaur eggs, embryos, and babies”.

Continuing on but before we came upon Devils Tower, I had to sit Darlene down the night before our arrival to watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.  We arrived early the next morning (before 7 am) to beat the crowds.  (Apparently it gets crazy busy there everyday from 10 am to late in the afternoon.)  Darlene slept in on the early morning drive and awoke to this view out the campervan window:

Click through for the full gallery:

      

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Visiting Crater Lake

We made a bit of detour starting our road trip out to Wisconsin by swinging up through Oregon, but I finally got to visit Crater Lake after having passed nearby so many times over the years.  We stayed a couple of nights, did a little bit of hiking (Darlene’s still recovering from an injury) while circumnavigating the lake and we took one of the ranger-led boat tours around the lake.  Very nice!

Click through for the full gallery:

      

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Hoan’s Family Visit to Tahoe

Hoan’s extended family came up to the Tahoe house for 4th of July weekend and Darlene and I were able to join them.  Six adults and six kids at the house!  Over the course of four days, we caught the fireworks at Donner Lake, checked out the nearby North Tahoe Regional Park, hiked up to the vista point on the Tahoe Rim Trail above the house (and Brockway Summit) for a sunset view, kayaked from Homewood to Sugar Point State Park (and back), hiked from Donner Summit through the old train tunnels and hung out a bit at Kings Beach.  Hoan, Samantha, Justine and Phong also gave one of the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks a try.  (One of them is just a mile or so from the house.)

Click through for the full gallery – my pics plus some from everybody else:

      

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Preston and Courtney’s Wedding

Just a handful of pictures from Preston (Darlene’s nephew)’s wedding with Courtney – click through for the full gallery:

    

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Maker Faire 2018

Darlene and I made it out to Maker Faire again this year:

Click through for the full gallery:

    

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Mud and Snow in Tahoe

Troy, Resi and Aiden came up to the Tahoe house in mid-April to get a couple of last days in before Homewood and several other Tahoe resorts had their closing weekend.  Definitely spring skiing conditions with slush (and mud) at the bottom and, up top, overnight frozen snow turning too soft mid-way through the day.  But then, as they headed back to the Bay Area, the temperatures dropped and we got another snow storm Sunday night.  Jon joined me at Alpine Meadows and then Squaw Valley to enjoy a last couple of powder days for the season!

Troy got a friendly visit from a bear overnight.  He woke to find all four doors on his truck open and the evidence of a bit of ransacking from a dirty bear – so lucky it was unlocked or the bear might have broken in:

  

A cute little video of Pan falling asleep at the wheel:

Click through for the full gallery.

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