Tour de Overcast, Day One
NOTE TO SELF: Do NOT test new navigation products* during a long and important trip.
*The nav piece in question shall remain nameless until I make sure it’s mediocre equipment and not a mediocre operator.
Does it sound bleak already?
In many ways it is/was. But this Friday is another day!
I made 54.0 (dead even) MPG which, for my Prius, carrying me and the equivalent mass of three other adults, is pretty good. During the drive it was windy and while the rain held off, it was dark all day.
A shot from the trip to Saratoga Springs. This is Dingman’s Falls in the Poconos.
The drive through the Poconos, while circuitous, was beautiful. And please do not take pictures like this when you drive.
A stop along the Delaware River (not shown) just on the PA side of the New York/PA state line.
I arrived at 4:00 p.m. after chasing my will’o the nav, wasting about an hour. Saratoga Springs Spa Park is an enormous, rambling affair. The winding roads remind somewhat of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The road up to the TdS area is beautiful road called “Avenue of the Pines”.
Saratoga Springs itself is a nice community. The legendary racetrack is beautiful as are many of the huge, Victorian mansions that line the road leading past the track and into the park.
I checked in with my drive-in rally paperwork and caught the last hour or so of the Team to Team Presentations.
The “big tent”.
I kept searching for a word to describe the gathering and chaos kept coming up. Of course, it’s a very sedate chaos. It was really more of an exceptionally well-behaved anarchy. And I can’t emphasize the laid back vive to the TdS events. There’s no sense of urgency. Sure, there’s fervor and passion (I’ll comment more on that when I discuss Friday’s school presentations) but it was expressed with an almost sleepyness that surprised me.
And the presentations…they were great. It was, and I say this self-consciously, inspiring hearing these college and high school people tell the stories of their vehicles and take questions from the crowd. Maybe I’m using myself too much as a comparison but these kids (hey, I’m 45, I mean no disrespect) are well-spoken, technically articulate and their excitement and passion is palapable.
But there was more inside of me than inspiration, there was anger. I couldn’t believe that there was no national press there. One doesn’t need to be an obsessed news-watcher to know that energy issues are as important to every person in this country as ever before. And here was a group of people earnestly trying to solve some of those problems, doing so, in most cases, on shoe-string (or no budgets) budgets and accomplishing a great deal. What’s more, a lot of the vehicles have excellent practical applications. It’s frustrating to see such laudable successes as I saw this afternoon and know that for the most part, these vehicles are “niche products” when nothing could be further from the truth. I think I see the seeds of car we’ll see on the streets throughout the TdS offerings.
Of course the real irony behind this all is pondering GM and Ford’s whining to Congress about being so far behind in even developing something as tame a hybrid technology. Here is a group of people on the cutting edge, doing for credit, or fun. And there is GM spending millions in lobbying and marketing when they could really be actually building this technology of tomorrow. Instead, they’ve decided to legislate their future. Shame on them.
One of the other things that struck me during the presentations was the specific application of technology that was heavily influenced by the region it was developed. Bio-methane, for instance, from a rural school with a ready supply of methane producing animal “by-product”. What’s more, the young man giving the presentation pointed out that the raw material for making bio-methane is present everywhere humans are too.
Something to think about.
One of the many Prii I saw on Thursday.
While I only had a few hours of time to spend at TdS on Thursday, it was a moving, important day. I’m looking forward to Friday.
The NESEA Director doing a presentation on the Prius Pi-UPS back up system. Or, how you can use your Prius to power your home. Richard Factor, from the Prius Technical mailing list provided the basis for the presentation.