July 10 – Canajoharie, Rome, Auburn Rochester

First, I have to apologize for not keeping this up in a timely manner.  I’m finding that if I do too much writing/blogging, it cuts into time where we are doing things, and if we do too much, then there is no time for blogging.  A lot of interesting things have been happening, and I’m anxious to jump ahead, but won’t.  You will just have to wait to read about the most recent happenings as I get them out.

July 10 was a “routine” day of driving a bit, charging/sightseeing.  We started off with a great breakfast at The Pineapple House B&B where Janine and Bill, retired middle school teachers, were our hosts.  We were just a day or two ahead of 500 bicyclists coming through town for an Erie Canal tour.  Here’s a picture of Bill as we finished packing and charging for the start of the day.

We headed for Rome, New York, which for unknown reasons, has a plethora of EV charging stations.  Rome is an old site where a number of battles took place during the French-Indian War and Revolutionary War.  This region was a strategic position as it was the portage from the Great Lakes to the Mohawk River (interior of New York).  Rome is also the site where the initial Erie Canal construction took place.

We selected a ChargePoint station near a nice city park and unfolded our bicycles and ourselves for a ride to a recreated Erie Canal village.  Luckily, the village was closed so that we could view the canal and sites without having a number of people from long ago following us around.

The Erie Canal significantly improved the efficiency of movement of goods between eastern locations and the expanding western boundaries of the US.  Similar to the telegraph increasing the speed of communication and decimating the Pony Express, the Erie Canal’s days were numbered almost as soon as it began with the rapid development of the rail system.  Our old friends Robert Fulton (on the Erie Canal board) and Peter Cooper (builder of the first American locomotive, named the Tom Thumb) were actively involved in these changes.

The ride to the canal in Rome was rather pleasant 4 mile ride, however it was mostly downhill, which means returning would be more of a chore…..and it was.  This was the first real workout for our folding Dahon bikes and us.  Based on passerby reactions, 9 out of 10 people thought the bikes are hilarious, and 10% thought they were cool.  But as you already know, seeking to look or be cool doesn’t really register with me.

From Rome, we had two possible paths for reaching Rochester.   Each path had only one potential EV charger, and the overall distance to Rochester, our end-of-the-day goal, made a charge stop essential.  One path went north of Lake Oneida to a town, aptly named “Fulton”, where a Nissan dealer was listed on the PlugShare site.  The second choice was to Auburn, just west of Syracuse, where another Nissan dealer was listed.

I called the dealer in Fulton, and based on his rudeness and hanging up on me when I asked about their EV charger availability, I decided to try LeBrun Nissan in Auburn.  Their response was much more pleasant, and so we headed to Auburn.  The LeBrun Nissan folks were great.  They helped us get the charge set up, and provided us with lots of information on Auburn.  We needed to return by 6:30pm for closing, which we did….barely.  Mike, the Service Advisor, gave us a map of downtown Auburn and some suggestions for eating.

Deb and I unfolded our bikes and ourselves again, and headed about 4 miles over some rolling hills into downtown Auburn.  Auburn is a pretty town with interesting architecture, a cascading river (the Owasco River), and nice bistros and cafes along its main street.  It was also the boyhood homes of William Seward (Secretary of State and of “Seward’s Folly” fame), and John Foster Dulles (another Secretary of State).  I’m beginning to think that anytime pundits of whatever era label something as a “folly”, that it is an indication of something successful.  After a nice meal, we headed back to LeBrun Nissan, and plotted our route to Rochester.  Thank you for the charge, LeBrun Nissan!Zeid Nasser, “TheCollegeDriver.com” website host, had contacted us about our trip, and as he lives near Rochester (he is an automotive engineer who works in the Rochester area), he told us of a free charging station at the Penfield Recreation Center and Library on the east side of Rochester.  We were hoping to meet with Zeid, but our delayed arrival unfortunately didn’t allow for it.  We charged for a bit at the library while making a hotel reservation at a nearby Hampton Inn, just to be sure the charging station was working, and figured we would return in the morning for a full charge.At the Hampton Inn in Webster, we found that many of the light posts in the parking lot had 120 volt receptacles.  That was a nice perk!  After unpacking, we connected the 120 volt charger for an additional energy boost.

And that was the end to a nice day with some fairly sore rear-ends from 16 miles of bike riding and site seeing.


July 9 Just Married, Sybil & Wedgies, No Charge, Blogging, Pineapple

Of course, as newly weds, we needed to announce it to the world.  Perhaps we are the first EVing honeymooners?

Our goal this day was to make two “fast charge” stops with one at Rhinebeck, NY and the other in Albany on the way to Canajoharie New York, a small town on the Erie Canal along the Mohawk River.  This is the pattern we hope to follow most of the way with two to three fast charges giving us 50 to 60 miles per charge, followed by an overnight with a “slow” 120 volt charge.

Our “MyFordMobile” cellular connection began to activate (it takes a couple of days for it to link your cell phone to the car, requiring you to “permit” the car to link in.  This connection provides different metrics related to your driving, charging, and various vehicle diagnostics.  For example, a map in the app shows EV charging stations and your likelihood of making it (“green” stations=easily make it; “yellow” stations=reasonable chance with good driving; “red”=ha..ha…ha!…don’t even think about it).

As we left camp, we stopped at a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) our friend Dave (Fred’s brother, who was unable to be at camp) has established for the camp and local residents.  We did get to meet Jeremy, Dave’s son, who is a better looking version of Dave (just kidding, Dave).  CSAs are catching on around the country, and provide many beneficial things to a community.  The opportunity for one to work on something where you reap the benefits directly.  Energy savings through reduction of food transportation.  Local employment within one’s community.  And great, wholesome food!

We stopped at a couple of historic site visits as we left Camp.  This was an area with a lot of Revolutionary War activity.  Colonel Ludington gathered his militia to fight against the British advance from Danbury.  His daughter, Sybil, was the “female” Paul Revere.  Or, should we say Paul was the “male” Sybil Ludington, as Sybil rode twice as far as Paul to gather her father’s troops.  In either case, being captured by unfriendly folks would not have ended well.

In an amazing coincidence of historical events, at the very same site of Sybil’s marker, almost 200 years later another occurrence happened that changed the course of our lives.  In the summer of 1971 when we met at Camp, the “staffers” headed to “Eddies” (now called “Gappys”), our favorite (ie, the only one for miles) tavern.  Unbeknownst to me, it was tradition to for the other staffers to “super wedgie” the new guy.  Fortunately for me, I had not updated my underwear for many years, resulting in a clean break (ok, maybe not so clean).  With a half dozen people lifting me off the ground by my garment waistband, the under apparel broke and was removed over my head, and then tied to the light fixture above the pool table where it remains today (just kidding, although it did stay there for the whole summer as I recall).  You can tell by my hands in the picture below as I sub-conscientiously hold my waist, how this traumatic event left an indelible stain on my memory and on Eddie’s pool table light.

From Gappy’s, we had a comfortable drive to the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie where we picked up Roy Chapin’s route along the old Albany Post Rd (Rt 9).  Our first stop was a brief one at Locust Grove, the home of Samuel Morse (dot-dash-dot fame).  The home site is beautifully placed above the Hudson River.  Equally interesting is the art gallery as Morse was very famous as a painter as well as an inventor.  Morse’ technological advancement was a breathtaking achievement, moving information near the speed of light rather than the speed of a horse or the wind.

We continued along the Hudson to our first intended charge stop.  Plugshare.com showed EV charging stations at the Zen Dog Cafe in Rhinebeck, which would provide the needed charge on the way to Albany.  Unfortunately, Plugshare did not show that Zen Dog Cafe has passed on to the metaphysical plane of defunct eating establishments.  Their chargers were still there, but in calling ChargePoint (they are ChargePoint units like the ones in White Plains), the ChargePoint people were unable to activate the units for us.  This was quite a bummer, because we now had to go to Plan B, which if that failed, would have been a big problem as there was no Plan C.

It was also a bummer because Rhinebeck is a cute little town with lots of interesting things to see and do while charging.  I was looking forward to seeing the house where Cornelius DeLamater grew up (who?….see blog on New York City and information on him and John Ericsson).  The Zen Dog folks had the right idea….providing EVers with an interesting location for charging….just a bit ahead of their time.

Plan B was to call the Nissan dealer in Kingston NY across the river, to see if they would allow us to charge.  Most Nissan dealers have EV chargers, and they are listed on the AAA and Plugshare EV charging maps.  But, would they welcome a Ford?  The answer is yes, and it appears that Nissan is making an organized effort to establish the EV market, regardless of the EV brand.  The Kingston Nissan dealer is relegated to the outskirts of town, as dealers typically are these days, so we waited for charging at a diner across a busy street at a NY State Thruway intersection.  We appreciate the Kingston Nissan’s help very much!

We stayed on the west side of the Hudson River on Rt 9W going north to Albany, which was a beautiful drive.  EV’s, as do other cars, get their best mileage performance in the 30 to 55mph range.  As speeds exceed 55mph, aerodynamic drag reduces mileage significantly.  The Focus EV’s GPS system computes routes based on “fastest”, “shortest” and “eco”, and so far we have kept to “eco” as it does stretch the mileage range quite a bit and seems to take very pleasant routes.  The hot weather had broken on Monday, so we kept the AC off, which further stretches the mileage range (and provided fresh country air into the car as we cruised on a fun and winding road through towns and villages along the river.

In Albany, the Downtown Holiday Inn Express has a public charging station.  We headed to it, and asked for permission at the desk to charge up, which they cheerily agreed to.  They told me they have about 1 request per month for a charge, so not too busy yet.  The station is a ChargePoint station, but the desk person brought out their magnetic card to activate the station directly.  From my discussions with the staff, it didn’t seem like an organized effort on the part of Holiday Inn to place charge stations at their sites, but rather an ambitious person with foresight to enable the future.

The downtown area of Albany is really nice.  Streetside cafes, interesting architecture and a nice river walk area along the Hudson.

In case you’re wondering after seeing me in the “same” tee shirt in many days of pictures, I have 5 of these teeshirts from the 1997 University of Illinois Sunrayce team’s Photon Torpedo.  At some point along the trip, I will start wearing the other 4 teeshirts.

After our Albany charge, we headed to The Pineapple House, a bed and breakfast in Canajoharie.  We made it there as the sun went down, and our hosts, Bill and Janine helped us get The Sun Catcher plugged into an outlet.  And that’s how our day ended.



July 8 “Camp” and She Said Yes

We walked back to the White Plains train station, and passed by another old haunt of mine, the White Plains Sears store.  I worked another couple of high school summers as a busboy and dishwasher there (I started out on the grill, but my perfuse persperation over the grill tended to create an unappetizing atmosphere….they tried me in the ice cream section, unfortunately, that did not stem the salty effluent, and so I was relegated to the hinterlands).  As one of the few cafeteria employees with a reasonable level of spelling skills, one of my assignments was posting the “daily special” on the menu board.  That activity was curtailed when I thought it would be amusing to post “Corned Beef and Garbage” on the board.  I was correct that cafeteria customers were highly amused, however, I did misjudge my boss’ potential enjoyment.

The car was fully charged as we returned from my memory stroll, and Deb’s tolerance at listening to these stories for the 300th time.

Our next destination was another one of historic importance to us, “Camp” (or, the Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center) where Deb and I met as camp staffers some 40 years ago.  Camp was another 50 miles north of White Plains, and the perfect distance to finish our first day of driving.  We always talked about being married at Camp, and even that morning as we were leaving our sister and brother-in-law’s house, Deb was telling Wendy how we would have liked to have been married there.

We arrived at Camp and drove into the office lot where some old friends were gathered.  Paul, my successor as the camp maintenance guy, Fred a fellow camp staffer from our time who lives in the area (Fred sang at our wedding with his two brothers, Dave and Peter), and some current camp friends.

Deb and I took a drive through Camp to the spot where we had our first date on Denton Lake.  The picture below shows Deb and me next to the lake.

Unbeknownst to Deb, I had a few things planned for this evening, and the casual gathering of our friends was not quite the “happenstance” that it seemed.  I proposed again to Deb at Denton, asking her, in spite of living with someone who think it would be great to drive a car that gets plugged in every 60 miles, to marry me again.  And wouldn’t it be great to be married at the place where we always imagined?  She didn’t quite get it yet, but as I began explaining that our friends appearance was more than a coincidence, and that the camp director, Peter, is a minister, that everything was arranged for a ceremony.

I was a little worried at Deb’s stunned look, but that subsided and she said, “Yes”.  We went back to the main building to announce that Deb had said yes for a second time….she had her chance….and that we would have the ceremony after dinner.

Those of you who know me, know that detailed planning is not a characteristic one associates with me, which is why EVing our way to Illinois should be something Las Vegas can make some money on.  But I did plan this event over the past two months, and our Camp friends make this a wonderful time for us.  I even had a ring.  Our fellow camp staffers David and Linda (also a camp romance) attended; along with Peter and Susan; Fred, Cathy and daughter Elizabeth; and Paul and Brenda (another camp romance).  Peter and David performed a wonderful ceremony, Deb and I cried like babies, and Fred, as he did nearly 40 years ago, brought his guitar and sang at our wedding.

Paul and David “broke in” to the summer home of another fellow camp staffer that is adjacent to the camp, and took a bottle of champagne from his refrigerator for us to celebrate.  Great friends, lots of memories and beautiful weather….nothing more needed for a perfect evening.

Now, before those of you on the female side of things start thinking how sweet and romantic I am…..and before those of you on the male side of things start thinking about what a jerk I am (and yes, that’s probably a fair assessment, but not necessarily for this); you should know that it was only two years ago when I completely forgot Deb’s birthday (which happens to fall on the birthday of one of our daughters, whose birthday I didn’t forget), and then a mere month later, I completely forgot our wedding anniversary.  I am still amazed that I am here and lived to tell about it.  But as you should have surmised from this story, Deb is a very forgiving person.

This has little relevance to EVing, so we’ll get back to that tomorrow.  We put the Sun Catcher to bed with a 120 volt plug-in provided by Paul and looked forward to the next leg of our journey.


July 8 Melville, White Plains, and Holmes NY

The first day’s journey starts with 130 to 140 miles ahead of us.  Not all that much mileage-wise, but a lot to see.

Our first stop as we drove from the eastern end of Long Island was Leviton Corp’s charging station in Melville, NY, that we had already used a couple times while on Long Island.  An engineer with Leviton’s charging station group stopped by to ask about the car, and as you know, Deb had to intervene to keep my discourse to less than an hour.

We plugged in, unfolded our bikes, and got a little exercise.

I have already been informed by one of my daughters that I look like a clod, so there is no need for additional comments to that effect.

After the Melville charge, it was on to White Plains New York, where I lived during my high school years.  We found a “ChargePoint” station near the White Plains train station.  Using “Plugshare.com” and Triple A’s EV station locators, charging stations such as this are listed around the country.  For the most part, it looks like there is a charging station almost every 60 miles, but a few places look a bit sparse…..and if a reported station doesn’t exist?…..I don’t want to think about that….think positive!

The ChargePoint station was easy to use.  If you sign up, they send a card for an account that can be charged directly at the EV charging station.  You swipe a card by the charging station and it releases the charge plug from a locked receptacle.  We don’t have a card, so the ChargePoint number is called, and they ask for the station number (on the display of the unit), and of course, your credit card number.  You specify either a 120volt or 240volt charge, and then the charging begins.  The Sun Catcher told us it would take 2 hours, which was just the amount of time we needed to have lunch, visit some old haunts, and return for the final leg of the trip.

The charge cost is $2.50 per hour at the ChargePoint station, so the overall cost $5 for 50 miles, or about 10 cents per mile.  This is similar to gasoline, which for a 30 to 40 mpg car with $3 to $4 per gallon gasoline, is also about 10 cents per mile.  But, if you need a reminder as to the real difference between renewable energy supplied electricity (which we already produced back home in Illinois for the trip) and gasoline, take a look at our July 5 New York City trip blog with our visits to the site where our Declaration of Independence was first read to General Washington and his troops in New York City (on July 8, 1776) and our visit to the World Trade Center.  I gladly pay for ChargePoint’s service!

I worked two high school summers as a church custodian in White Plains as a very old church. 

Having a father who was a preacher (read about “Jumping Jack Flash”) helps when it comes to learning about church jobs.  I spent about half the week outdoors working on the grounds that included a cemetery dating from the early 1700’s.  I wanted to introduce you to “Phoebe”, who was born in the 1600’s and lived in White Plains in the early 1700’s.  Unfortunately, her red sandstone marking appears to have finally given into the ravages of time.  Here is a picture of a gravestone for Margaret Horton who was almost 79 years old when she died in 1787.  I imagine she knew Phoebe.



July 8 On Our Way: Thank you Family and Long Island!

We’ve been tooling around Long Island since last Tuesday when we picked up the Sun Catcher, and today we leave for Detroit.  We want to thank our Long Island family for all their help, encouragement, and allowing us to freeload on them over the past week.  We love you very much and look forward to you visiting us…maybe in an EV?…..in the future.

You fed us way too much food, and now we’ll need to use our bikes extra on the trip!

July 6&7 Mooching

We spent two days visiting our Long Island relatives, eating way too much, and continued preparation for launching off.  Among our preparation was purchasing two “folding” bikes that tuck into our car and will allow us to site see while charging along the way.

So far, we have logged 300 miles on The Sun Catcher, and we discovered that we can make EVing incredibly inexpensive by mooching a charge off our relatives.  I estimate we have used 100kWh of electricity, which is about $10 for the 300 miles.  $7.50 from our relatives and $2.50 thanks to Leviton’s charger at their headquarters in Melville.  I’ll provide more information on the cost for EVing as we travel along and increase our mileage.

We will be doing this (see picture below) along the way…..passing a lot of gas stations.

July 5; Brooklyn, The Big Apple, and “Be Good or Be Gone”

EVing into the heart New York City from Long Island was a good test for The Sun Catcher.  We are about 50 miles outside of Manhattan, and a trip into the city meant we had to have a charge to make it back.  Launching off from Massapequa to the Big Apple was similar to Columbus reaching the point of no return as he headed across the Atlantic Ocean, but on a somewhat smaller scale.  Ok, the scale difference between these events is not even close to being compared together. But our trip was one that could have been frought with danger due to my Tigers ballcap.  We were headed into the heart of Yankee territory.

To officially start Roy Chapin’s journey, we wanted to drive into the heart of New York City.  Our trip into the city was spent visiting a number of sites with an emphasis on ones that relate to the development of our modern technology world and ones that reflect the importance of maintaining our liberty and independence.


Our first stop was “Cooper Park” near Newtown Creek in Brooklyn.  Today, the park is a tranquil oasis that is only a block from the never ending movement of trucks, cars and people on Metropolitan Ave.  In the 1800’s, this neighborhood was the heart of industrial growth.  Cooper Park is named after Peter Cooper.  Near this site was Peter Cooper’s Glue Factory, the pre-eminent glue of its time.  His factory employed hundreds of people, rendering the carcasses of deceased animals (at least I assume deceased…but remember, this was a time when horsepower really meant the number of horses) into glue.

Cooper was one of the wealthiest people in the country in the mid-1800s, and he had a near monopoly in glue due to his chemical processing breakthroughs in glue chemistry.  Two of his inventions from these efforts continue today: jello and the double boiler.  Cooper invented the double boiler as a method to safely control the temperature of his glue vats.  Jello is really a type of glue that he found tasted pretty good with the addition of a little sugar and fruit.  He located his factory on Newtown Creek for the same reason other companies located here.  Manhattan was getting more crowded and the creek offered a way to get rid of waste, or so it seemed.  As noted in the link above, the creek still suffers from its industrial history, and the cost to revive it is one that we and future generations must shoulder.

Many companies today find that they can turn their wastes into products that make money by reducing waste cost and possibly finding markets for their scrap material, but it takes time and a continued, never-ending conscientious effort to eliminate waste and pollution.  Many companies, such as Ford, have zero waste goals, and are reaching this goal in profitable manners.  We are going to come back to Peter Cooper because he was a good person who worked hard to benefit others throughout his long life.

Cooper Park in Brooklyn and a bridge over Newtown Creek (see link for more on its pollution.

In addition to Peter Cooper’s Glue Factory, the Newtown Creek area of Greenpoint was the site where the Monitor iron ships were built during the civil war.  How could the construction of a war ship relate to solar powered vehicles?  The Monitor ships were designed by DeLamater’s Iron Works engineering genius, John Ericsson.  A Swedish immigrant, Ericsson was a fountain of ideas that became reality.  He was one of the early inventors of the “screw propeller“, an important component of ship and airplane propulsion, as well as wind turbines and water turbines.  The partnership of Cornelius DeLamater and John Ericsson was that combination of the business acumen of Cornelius coupled with John’s problem solving talents.

While the Monitor was a ship of war, Ericsson was just as driven to create solar powered heat engines during the mid-1800’s.  It was clear to Ericsson that unsustainable resources would not last forever.  The “Ericsson cycle” is recognized by engineers as a heat engine capable of achieving Nature’s maximum allowable limit for converting heat into mechanical work.

John Ericsson was known to be quite intolerant and unfriendly toward most people, but somehow the relation with Cornelius was as strong as a friendship can be, with Ericsson dying one month after his business partner, Cornelius, died in 1889.

Our third reason for this stop in Brooklyn is a historic building at 1013 Grand St, just a short 2 block walk from Cooper Park.  The building below is the first air conditioned building in the world.  A young engineer, Willis Carrier, designed the system in 1902.  It was not for human comfort, but instead, to dry ink during the humid summers at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company’s.  Of course, it would not be long before humans discovered that they enjoyed the comfort of climate control spaces, with the New York Stock Exchange just across the East River being the first building air conditioned for human comfort.

After a nice pastrami hero from a deli a short distance from along Grand St ($4…who says New York is expensive?), we got back in the car and headed into Manhattan.

The BIG Apple

There’s no place in the world quite like downtown New York City.  We used our GPS in the Focus EV to locate parking places with EV charging stations.  We wanted something near City Hall Park, 1 World Trade Center, Wall St, and other lower Manhattan sites.

As we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge into the city, we could see the Empire State Building, which is the former site of the old Waldorf-Astoria where Roy Chapin’s journey ended. The Empire State Building was recently remodeled, with energy efficiency as a centerpiece of its redevelopment.  The project was part of the Clinton Climate Initiative with the Rocky Mountain Institute and Johnson Controls as partners in the project activities.  New windows, improved insulation, smarter building controls, increased efficiency of the comfort conditioning system all combined into turning the Empire State Building energy performance within the top 10% of large scale buildings in the world.  Only 2/3rds of the building had been air conditioned prior to the project.  With the improvements made to the building, the existing equipment now provides air conditioning to the whole building.  It was a great demonstration of how energy efficiency improvements make money and jobs.

Crossing the Willamsburg Bridge into Manhattan and a picture of the Empire State Building from the bridge.

We located an “Edison Parkfast” near Canal and Centre Streets in Chinatown.  The pace of Manhattan makes Brooklyn seem quite relaxing.  They advertised a “fast” 240 volt EV charger, which was located next to the parking office booth.  Of course a number of cars in the lot were blocking access to the EV charger.  The parking attendants were racing here and then, continuously shuffling their puzzle board of cars.  An attendant seemed initially dismayed when I told him we needed a charge, but told us he would move some cars to put ours in the charging spot.  We left the keys in exchange for a receipt, and watched from across the street under the beautifully decorated Chinatown building shown in the picture below to see that they would move our car…which they did.  We left to continue our trek, somewhat feeling that our car would be charged, but not fully expecting that to be the case.Edison Parkfast and decorated building in Chinatown near Canal and Centre Streets.

We walked toward City Hall Park, where the Declaration of Independence was publicly read to the American troops on July 8, 1776 in the presence of George Washington.  On the way, we passed through Thomas Paine Park, author of “Common Sense”, and considered to be an inspiration to the development of the Declaration of Independence.

We headed south along Centre Street toward City Hall Park and the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Brooklyn Bridge is pedestrian friendly with wonderful views of the city and East River.  The BB was built in 1874, with engineering breakthroughs paving the way for modern bridge building construction.  As we walked to the first bridge support where a viewing station was located, I could image Peter Cooper, John Ericsson, and Thomas Edison crossing the bridge in its early days.

Beautiful views from the Brooklyn Bridge looking up at the support, down the East River (note the “Tall Ship” near the water), and a great view of the new tower at the World Trade Center.

We continued to City Hall Park, on our quest to see the spot where the Declaration of Independence was read.  We found the spot, with some modern art added to the location near the Croton Fountain (the Westchester County reservoirs near Croton NY have fed NYC’s thirst for decades).  Freedom can be trying, but it is worth it.  Nathan Hale’s statue (“I regret I have but one life to give…”) was behind protective barriers so we were unable to see it.

I know the next stops on our walking tour will be as thrilling and exciting to you as they were to Deb.  How many times have you wondered where the first electric power plant was located?  And, who received the very first power bill?  The first power bill was for $50.44, dated January 18, 1883.  Ansonia Brass and Copper Company was the recipient of that bill (I suspect, but have no proof, that Edison purchased copper for his dynamos and wiring from Ansonia).  In today’s money, that bill would be about two billion dollars.  The picture below shows the address today is a parking lot.

We worked our way to Pearl Street, near the intersection with Fulton St (named for Robert Fulton of Fulton’s Folly fame….more about that later).  Thomas Edison built his plant at 255-257 Pearl St.  His investors included JP Morgan and the Vanderbilts.  No noticeable trace remains of the plant which burned down in 1890, but in our stumbling around the area, we saw this plaque commemorating the plant.  We also saw this huge Rapala fishing lure.

From Pearl St, we walked west along Fulton St to the World Trade Center site.  One World Trade Center, to be 1776 feet tall when crowned with its tower, is a beautiful site as one approaches the WTC site.  Tickets to visit the 9/11 memorial must be purchased ahead of time, so we were unable to visit, but the site was swirling with human activity which was great to see so many people wanting to remember that freedom is not free.



….stay tuned as we continue through the city and learn more about trains, liberty and whether our car was charged when we return to the parking lot…..





July 4 A Real Independence Day

Independence from oil and other fossil fuels is essential to our future.  And EVs such as the Ford Focus Electric are a key piece to that puzzle.  We spend 2 billion dollars per day on oil, and more than half flowing out of the country, making us poorer and less independent everyday.

We woke up and christened the Sun Catcher with magnetic door signs, and prepared to drive back to Massapequa for a 4th of July dinner with relatives.

Of course, brother-in-law, John, and I couldn’t resist looking under the hood. Not much there.  Clean and quiet.  No car exhaust or mufflers to replace.  No oil changes or drips on the floor.  No noise.

Removing a foam cover reveals the electric motor.  Just a few wires and a lot of torque.

On the way to Massapequa, we stopped in Melville at Leviton Corp, which manufactures EV charging stations.  We didn’t need a charge, but wanted to try out the stop as we will use it as one of our charge points as we head out on our trip on Sunday.  Free charging!  Thanks, Leviton!

If you look close in the picture above, you can see Deb and I charging the car.

Tomorrow is a big day as we explore some sites in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  This will be an important test as we are counting on finding a parking lot with an EV charger…otherwise, we won’t make it back to Massapequa.  Check in and see where we go!

July 3 – The First Drive

We had a smooth flight into LaGuardia airport in New York City, and were picked up by Deb’s sister Wendy.  After a great lunch on Freeport’s Nautical Mile (excellent seafood on the water), we headed to Hassett Ford in Wantagh (along the south shore of Long Island….next to Massapequa where Jerry Seinfeld grew up) to pick up the car.

Here we are on the jet to NY.  The guy behind us doesn’t see too amused.

The Sun Catcher was all set to go, and after some instructions from Tom Cinelli (along with a few dozen signatures and handing over a check), we were on our way to eastern Long Island for our first trip (55 miles).


We will give you more specific information on the car’s performance as we log more miles.  At this point, as seen on Deb’s face, we’re very pleased with the Sun  Catcher’s performance.  Great acceleration at any speed….essential for New York driving.

After arriving on eastern Long Island, we put the Sun Catcher to bed with the charging cord plugged in, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over Long Island Sound.




Countdown, Blaire and Bees

We’re in the final countdown for leaving for New York to pick up The Sun Catcher, our electric Ford Focus.  We picked up a check to pay for the car, the proof-of-insurance card, passports (headed through Canada as did Roy Chapin in 1901), and gas money…..oops, scratch the last item.

Blaire came to say goodbye to Nana and Nappy, and to check out the solar collectors at Equinox House to make sure they are pumping out plenty of high voltage electrons for our trip.

Whenever our bees at Newell Instruments laboratory have been ordered to go outside, you know it is hot. Solar energy adds absolutely no excess energy to the environment as does power from “conventional” energy sources.  Thermal pollution causes “heat island” effects in our cities, decreases oxygen levels in our waterways (and screws up the fishing), and overall impacts and pummels us and our environment.  Our daily oil consumption (20 million barrels of oil per day in the US…about a third of our energy use) is equivalent to the energy of 100 trillion fastballs released into our environment.  That’s 36,000 fastballs per person in the US every day!  With solar energy and other renewable energy sources, we are temporarily diverting a tiny fraction of the sun’s energy to power our cars, refrigerators, air conditioners, stereos, and whatever you like.  After it does our chores, the energy ends back in the environment as it should….not one bit more or less.