– Ben Martens

First Tesla Road Trip

Welcome to anotherĀ Tesla Tuesday!

We recently took our first overnight road trip with our Model Y. We’ve gotten very used to daily driving/charging routines and never worry about running out of battery, but what would happen on a longer trip where we had at least one mandatory charging stop and a few nights away from home?

Our destination was about three hundred miles away, and while the Model Y has an estimated 330 miles of range, just like gas cars, you’re unlikely to hit that in real life. Plus, that would mean charging to 100% (not great for the battery) and discharging to almost 0% (not great for the battery and then how would we get back home?) So there would be at least one stop for charging along the way.

Another factor to consider was that our destination was far off the beaten path. The closest slow Level 2 charger (fairly slow, similar to what we have at home) was about 30 minutes away and the closest supercharger was more like 45 minutes away. Couple that with some mountain driving and I estimated that we needed to leave the last supercharger with about 50% battery to make sure we could get there and back.

The online Tesla road trip planner isn’t that useful if you’re not going to have destination charging because it doesn’t let you specify how much charge you want to have left when you arrive or get insight into all your options for planning the route. I prefer to use On that site, I could tell it my real-world watts per hour average (265), how much charge I’d leave home with (90%) and how much I wanted to arrive with (40%). Then there are even more options for whether you’d like fewer (but longer) stops or more (but faster) stops. The Tesla batteries charge the fastest from about 15-40% so if you’re really optimizing for ~5 minute charging stops, it’s best to stay in that range, but obviously that means more stops along the way, so you have to balance it all out.

My family needs to stop for a lot of bathroom breaks. I plan one every 60-90 minutes and sometimes we’ll get lucky and stretch it out to 2 hours. On this trip, I planned one required charging stop that was right next to a Panera around lunch time. Then I had a couple optional stops before and after that where we could get some electrons while using the bathroom.

On the way down, we ended up doing that lunch stop and then one more stop at the last supercharger before heading off into the mountains. The charging worked out fine, my estimates were good, and we arrived with more battery than planned because our bathroom/food stops were slower than the chargers. In fact, when we stopped for lunch, I had to go out and move the car because it was done charging before our food was done being made!

There ended up being a 110v plug that was right next to where we parked, and while that’s a slow way to charge, we were there for a few days so it didn’t matter. I plugged the car in on the day before we left, and we rolled out with 85% charge. On the way back, we made just a single stop for charging and food. Since I charged up pretty far and it gets slower as you go, that one took longer (29 minutes to go from 28% to 84%) But by the time we got our food and used the bathroom, we only waited about an extra 10 minutes and it saved us from making any more stops. We needed a bit of extra juice on that charge because after we got home, we had to head straight to school for a meeting and a trip to/from school is about 14% of the battery.

When planning the road trip, I had been thinking about how much money we would save versus driving the truck. I get about 20.5mpg on a road trip in the truck and with gas averaging around $4.80 that would have been $140 in gas. I estimated that the same trip in the Tesla would be about $15 in electricity. That was a mistake because I forgot that superchargers are more expensive than charging at home. So overall, it was more like $40 in electricity. That’s still a big savings and the savings are even greater if you factor in maintenance costs.

The truck has so much room that it’s super easy to pack and easy to move around to get comfortable. We were nervous about having enough room in the car since we’re used to packing in the truck, but when we hit the road, we had tons of extra space. The frunk and the under-trunk storage suck up so much stuff! Even with a big cooler in the trunk, we were at about two-thirds capacity.

Having autopilot on the long drive was nice. I could go for long stretches of road without constantly monitoring my speed or making minor corrections to stay in my lane. Traffic was heavy the whole way so it was annoying to come off the autopilot (lane-keeping) feature every time I wanted to change lanes, but in the back of my mind, I knew I could have paid money to avoid that so it wasn’t too bad.

I spent a lot more time planning our route than I would have with the truck, but now that we’ve got the first big road trip under our belts, I think future ones will be easier. It’s nice to know that the car is also watching our battery and if we ever did something dumb, it would scream at us and direct us to a charger. I think long road trips in the truck will be more annoying now without the benefit of Autopilot. It’s amazing how much less fatigued I felt after a long drive just from not having to spend the energy to stay in my lane. It doesn’t seem like much but it really adds up over the hours. And since the battery lasts a lot longer than our bladders, the charging stops weren’t much of a factor other than having to plan to stop at certain places.

I call this experiment a win and look forward to more road trips with our Model Y!

Living Wills

Earlier this year I was asked by a medical office if I had a living will. I knew my answer was yes, but it got me thinking more about it. I remember talking to our lawyer and just using the default form that he usually used. As a Christian I never felt great about it, but I hoped that Tyla and our Pastor would base their decisions on the Bible.

Fast forward a few months and I heard about free living wills from Christian Life Resources. They’re actually Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care documents (more comprehensive than living wills), but they explain the difference and why you would prefer one over the other. They have unique versions of the documents for each state along with a guide that explains what every choice means and how we view it in light of the Bible. It made it super easy for us to get some documents in place that more accurately reflected our wishes.

To get them officially signed, there are a few options in our state, but we chose to get them notarized. Our bank does that for free, so before too long, we were done!

We put the papers in with our will and then emailed them to our parents so that others have them readily accessible.

This is one of those things that’s easy to put off, but Christian Life Resources made it so easy to get it done. If you’re interested, you can get all the information for free at directives

I Lost It

[UPDATE] I have created a new woodworking Instagram account @martenswoodworks.

The other day my Pixel 4a got into a boot loop, and I couldn’t figure out any way to fix it. It would restart, show a few things on the screen for a couple seconds and then restart again. I found my way into the root menu but none of the easier choices did anything, so I was left with a factory reset. I knew it would be annoying, but it shouldn’t be that big of a deal because everything is backed up to the cloud.

Everything was NOT backed up to the cloud.

There were a few things that I lost forever:

  • Photos I had taken while we were away from the house (and Wi-Fi) weren’t backed up but that wasn’t a huge deal.
  • We use the ScorePal app to record every board game we play. I thought that was all backed up to the cloud, but the last backup I had was from August 2020. Oh well.
  • When I started up my Microsoft Authenticator app, it either hadn’t backed up or I went through the wrong flow and erased the backup. Either way, I was left with no way to do two factor authentication for many of my most critical accounts.

Uh oh.

Thankfully, most of them had ways that I could reset my two factor auth either through backup codes, email verification, or text message verification. But there was one that I couldn’t get back: my @martenswoodshop Instagram account. When you set up two factor auth, they give you backup codes and I’m always good about saving them, but I can’t find the codes for that account anywhere. Instagram has an automated flow which has you take a video of your face with the app and then it looks through your account photos to see if it recognizes you. But guess who didn’t post any pictures of his own face on his woodworking account. Oops.

I’ve tried every way I can think of but it’s just gone. The account will sit there forever, but it’s dead in the water. I’m frustrated but it is what it is. And I think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t blame Instagram for any of this. I set up my account to include a super-secret, no-exceptions password and I lost the key to it. Meta has 3.6 billion users and my valid attempt to reclaim my account is drown out in a sea of millions of attempts to hack other accounts. They use the same protocols as everyone else but I made a mistake with how I configured my account by not having a secondary auth two factor auth mechanism and by not saving the recovery codes.

So please consider this yet another reminder to think about what you would do if your laptop or phone were suddenly wiped. Would you be able to recover everything? I thought I was ready, and I mostly passed the test, but I clearly had some holes. I’ll learn from these lessons and hopefully have a better experience next time. Never let a crisis go to waste. (And in the big scheme of things, losing an Instagram account is hardly a “crisis.”)

As for the woodworking content, I’m going to focus more on posting pictures of my projects here and not worry about posting woodworking stuff to Instagram. There’s a lot to be said for putting my content into a system that I control, and I could do with a little less time staring at Instagram.

San Juan Campground

Last year Elijah said he wanted to go camping without anyone else around. We didn’t get to it last year, but this year we set out to make it happen! Tim knew just the place: San Juan Campground. It’s out the boonies north of Skykomish, and because of a washout on one end of the road, it involves about fifteen miles of dirt roads that are rough in some spots. While you don’t need a truck and four wheel drive, both did come in handy.

There are no reservations at the campground so we arrived around lunchtime on Friday and had our pick of the nine spots. We snagged sites 2 and 3 which had their own driveway and one of the pit toilets. By Thursday evening, all the sites were full. I suppose we didn’t meet Elijah’s wish because we could see some other campers through the woods, especially at night with the fires, but he didn’t call us out on the technicality.

The days were spent playing cornhole, eating food, having good conversations, and enjoying the river which was right next to the campsites. We built dams, threw rocks, and enjoyed the beauty. It was a fantastic spot! We had to pack in all our own water, but we were able to use the river water for our dishes.

On the way out of the campsites, we checked out a nice swimming spot on the river but we didn’t venture in. Then we did a quick hike around Troublesome Creek. It was such a short/easy hike at the end of a very long drive that we would never have done it on its own, so I wanted to get it done and cross it off the list. It was short but beautiful.

The drive home took an exceptionally long time due to the ever-present backup into Sultan. It was effectively about a 7 mile stop and go backup from the Sultan stoplight. That’s a hard way to finish the weekend, but the camping was so fun that there wasn’t much complaining.

It will be different next year since they are planning to reopen the washed-out portion of the road. That will make the campground much easier to access and it won’t require any dirt roads. It might be harder to find a site so I’m glad we got this trip in!

I posted a photo sphere to Google Maps and some additional photos are included below.

The water in this photo is 8-10 feet deep, but it’s so clear that it’s hard to tell.

Savings and Debt

I think about retirement more than is normal for someone of my age, but saving for retirement is a long-term game. My basic plan has been to save some money, pay off debt, and then save more money. We’ll see how well that works out for me, but it aligns well with Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps“.

Those basic guidelines are great, but there are so many small choices along the way. What’s a good order to do them in? Then I found a flow chart on reddit and I was in awe! I’m sure there are people with different opinions, but if I have a tough time believing that anyone would go too far off course if they followed this verbatim. You should be able to click into it to see all the details, but if not, check out the linked post above for the original content.

Rimetrix Laminar Black Wheels

Welcome to anotherĀ Tesla Tuesday!

When we were originally pricing out our car, we had planned to go for the upgraded 20″ black wheels because we liked the way they looked better. But when the price increased right before we ordered, we backed off that and went for the default 19″ regular wheels. In the end, I’m glad we did that because those 20″ wheels reduce the total vehicle range and give a slightly rougher ride, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

The Model Y 19″ wheels have a cover that snaps onto the actual rims and that cover improves range by about 7%, but since they are a cover, they’re replaceable. Rimetrix makes some aftermarket wheel covers for the Model Y (and the Model 3). They give the same aerodynamic performance and aesthetically pleasing black look while being significantly cheaper than the 20″ black rims.

The actual installation itself was very quick and I’m super happy with how it came out. Along the way, I also removed the two chrome Tesla badges and replaced the “dual motor” badge on the back with a blacked out version. There’s no chrome left on the car and now we have a car that is slightly different than the ocean of other Model Y’s driving around our area.

Energy Sources

When power plants churn out electricity, it gets integrated by a “balancing authority”. There are a few dozen groups that handle this in the west.

I recently found a site that shows live stats from the Bonneville Power Authority Balancing Authority. On the map, this is represented by the medium blue that covers much of Washington, Oregon, northern Idaho, and western Montana. Every five minutes, the site is updated to show where the power came from those previous five minutes along with the demand level. (Note that VER stands for Variable Energy Resource which means wind, solar, etc. In this case it’s mostly wind.)

So the last five minutes of power were 75% hydro, 9% fossil fuel, 9% nuclear and 6% wind, but for the last couple days, wind was actually producing more of the power than nuclear.

The power at my house comes through PSE so this isn’t exactly applicable to me, but I still find this fascinating. If anyone knows how to find similar data for PSE I’d love to see it! Thanks to Cliff Mass’s excellent weather blog for setting me off on this side track with his post about why energy production declines during heat waves.

End of an Era

I started the Studio711 fantasy football league back in 2007, but I’m closing the league. We won’t be playing this year. It sucks up a lot of my time to write these posts, make sure the league and rosters are full, handle my own team, etc, and while I could probably get by with less effort, I don’t want to do it halfway. It has been a lot of fun over the years, but lately it has felt like more of a drag, and honestly, I didn’t even watch every Seahawks game last year, much less keep up with all the NFL news.

Here’s one last post full of stats summarizing the years from 2007-2021 (minus 2020 when we took a COVID break.)

  • A total of 15 different people participated in the league over the 14 years of the league. Luke, Tim and I were the only people to play in it for all of those years, but Andy and Dad were in 13 of them.
  • I had the most playoff appearances (12 time, 85% of the seasons) but Tyler had a 100% appearance rate over his three seasons.
  • Micah dominated our league for one year with an 85% win percentage but he ended up losing the championship. Of teams that played at least 3 seasons, the top three win percentages are Tyler (62.8%), Logan (62.6%), and me (59.7%.)
  • Logan made the most moves per season (32.5) and Chelsea made the least (6).
  • Logan averaged the most points per season (1745 over 11 seasons) and Ed averaged the least (1436 over 3 seasons).

Thank you to everyone who participated over the years!

Seaquest State Park Camping

In the summer of 2020, we had planned to camp with Tyla’s family at Seaquest State Park. Don had gotten stuck out of state during COVID and was still quarantining, but we did make the trip with Logan and Megan. This year we decided to try again and thankfully we were all able to make it.

We could not have asked for better weather! It was in the mid 70s during the day and mid 50s at night. There were scattered clouds both days, and on the first day, there were just enough clouds obscuring the mountain that we didn’t make the drive up to the visitor center. (We were watching the webcam.) Instead, we went to Harry Gardner Park and sat along the river for a while. I took my drone and managed to photo some kind of big hawk in flight! (It’s on the left side if the river in the center of the photo.) At the time I thought it was a bald eagle but the tail isn’t white so I guess it was something else.

On Saturday, the web cam looked great when we woke up so we ate breakfast and made the 1 hour drive up to the observatory. Getting there early was really nice as we didn’t follow a line of campers up the mountain. There were more clouds by then but we still had a great view. I’ve been there twice in 2007 and once each in 2011, 2012 (when we climbed it!), and 2020. It’s fun to see how much it has changed over the years. The dome was rebuilding for a while and the area around the mountain is slowly coming back to life. Check out these pictures comparing my view from 2007 with the view from 2022. There’s a lot more green and the dome inside the crater has grown.

Mt. St. Helens 2007
Mt. St. Helens 2022

All in all, it was a fun trip. I pitched in a couple meals but thanks to Don for taking the bulk of the work! It also makes tent camping a lot easier when your camping buddies have a camper!

Identifying Tesla Models

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the current prices for the various models, but how do you tell them apart when you see one in the wild? It takes a little practice, but here are some identifying characteristics:

Tesla Model 3

If you don’t know, guess Model 3. Today, this is the most common Tesla on the road (but going forward the Y is expected to overtake it.) The 3 is the smallest of the four models. It’s a four door sedan and, like the Y, it has no main grill openings on the front aside from the opening on the very bottom of the bumper.

Tesla Model Y

The looks like a bigger version of the 3. In fact, they share ~70% of their parts. The Y doesn’t have any grill openings either. The Y is a bit taller (~7 inches) and is a “crossover” style. It has a full liftgate instead of a trunk. It’s easy to get these confused with the Model 3.

Tesla Model S

Like the 3, the S is a sedan, but this one looks a lot fancier. You can differentiate the S and X from the 3 and Y by the grill “opening” with the Tesla logo. The rear end of the newer S and the X models also have a chrome accent that runs between both tail lights. These models usually have an emblem in the lower left of the rear that says “Model S”.

Tesla Model X

The X is BIG. It’s a full size SUV, but like the S, it has a grill “opening” and the chrome accent between the tail lights. If you see it in a parking lot, you’ll notice the gull wing doors. The door handles for the front and rear doors are also centered along the line between the doors.