I am posting this from inside the cockpit of my flying car, somewhere near L.A….
When we lived in the Los Angeles area in 2009-2010 we made some great friends here. Last night I was invited to dinner at the house of our Marina del Rey friends, David and Briana. A lot has changed in their lives since we left the west coast, including the birth of their first child, who is now two.
One thing I was certain would never change was David’s love affair with Audi. When we first moved into Archstone apartments in the marina, we met them because we shared the same garage. I had my wonderfully dependable Hyundai Elantra, “Larry.” (You might remember my mini eulogy to Larry after he left me for a deer.) David and Briana, meanwhile, had matching Audi’s.
As we got to know each other better, we found we had very compatible personalities and a mutual obsession with hockey (they with the L.A. Kings, we with the Pittsburgh Penguins). We even went to a Kings vs. Pens game at the Staples Center together (Pens lost 🙁 ).
When David bought the Audi S4, he let me drive it down Venice Blvd. We were all four coming back from either dinner or a game.
My foot turned to lead and I got a little too close to the lane next to me, which happened to contain a very nice Mercedes Benz. It was all good. I corrected easily enough. I was just learning to harness the power of that V8 engine. What a dream to drive!
When we returned to visit our friends after the birth of their daughter, we saw they had exchanged one of their cars for an SUV (still Audi). Every time Kurt and I discuss the brand, we always bring up our friend David as the authority on all things Audi, and Kurt tells the story of my driving down Venice Blvd a little too enthusiastically and suddenly in his version I become a street-racing Mario Andretti, nearly side-swiping that Mercedes (my drag-racing arch nemesis).
So when I texted my friends yesterday, asking what time to arrive for dinner, I was confused to get a reply with something about needing to run David’s car to a charging station before dinner, and would I like to go?
Huh? “David” and “electric car” in the same sentence? Maybe it was a joke?
I didn’t see the car when I first arrived at their house and thought maybe they had been pulling my leg. But then they pointed out I had walked right past it. It was parked in front of their house.
I had expected nothing larger than a Prius, maybe even something like the dorky golf-cart looking cars I saw tootling around Santa Monica when we lived out here.
I did not expect a roomy Toyota RAV-4 EV. I rode with David to drop it off, and he explained with his lengthy commute between the westside and his job in Burbank (he works on the Tonight Show) the cost of gas and commute time were wearing him down, especially wanting to spend more time with his family. But he needed something reliable that could handle L.A. freeway traffic. He found it in the RAV4. And electric cars get the same perks as two-passenger vehicles: access to the underused carpool lanes.
He will only need to use the charging stations near his house for a few days, because he had one installed at his house. It’s clean and simple, looking no more out of place than a wrapped up garden hose next to the driveway. As one of the first thousand electricity customers in his area to install a charger on his house, he got a great discount, and the added convenience of knowing he can just come home, plug it in and be with his wife and daughter instead of taking it out for a charge, or waiting in lines at gas stations, with their ever-climbing prices.
And when they want to take it on longer trips, southern California is equipped with a wide network of charging stations. Not unlike gas stations, there are different companies who set up charging stations and compete with each other for electric vehicle business. But they have surpassed gasoline filling stations in working with modern technology. David has apps on his phone for each of the main electric charging station suppliers. It not only tells him locations of electric vehicle charging stations, but how many spaces are available.
I was daydreaming how wonderful it would be if my phone could tell me which gas station was crowded at a given exit when I’m taking cross country trips, so I could know whether to waste thirty minutes stopping and waiting for an open pump, then waiting in long lines in the convenience store, or just go on to the next exit where I might find an empty pump and a less busy convenience store.
Generous as always, he offered to let me drive his brand new, hot off the line, electric RAV4. As you might have guessed, it started and ran in complete silence, with the exception of when the brakes are applied, because the battery charges a little each time the brakes are hit.
The dashboard looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, and I couldn’t help but imagine I was driving around in the future and that at any moment, the car might fly.
Suddenly, I am in the cockpit of my own flying car, years ahead of where I was (just moments ago) and I imagine sending a little blog back to all of you still grounded in the present.
And voila, here it is! (Isn’t time travel grand?)
Okay, so I went a bit hippie dippy there. I’d blame it on the California sunshine, but it’s overcast, so I can only blame it on electric car euphoria.
It rode light and quick, and the strangest part (aside from silence) was that there was no feel or sound from shifting gears. It is designed with Tesla parts and technology, and I was impressed with how quickly it just picks up and goes.
I was planning on all short posts from L.A. this week, but since today is rainy and I won’t be hitting the beach, I decided to stay inside, work on my revisions and give you this fun post from the future of electric vehicles.
The original title for this post was “Electricity!: Friends, Cars and Shocking Surprises” but after having driven the car, there is no other way to describe it, except that I felt like I was driving one or two generations ahead of most of the country.
P.S. For my friends following me on MyFitnessPal as well as my general training, food intake has been marvelous. I think I have reset the types of things I crave, because I find myself really hankering for the veggies, protein and fruit. I eat very few processed items now, and when I eat them, or when I have crap carbs, my gut feels miserable.
The fitness center at the Radisson LAX is lame for weight training, but they do have one leg and one arm machine, so I’m just making the best of those. I’m flying home Saturday and can’t wait to get back to my regular gym and regular trainer again next week. My upper body is begging for a good bench press, especially when I finally was getting that 75 pounds lifted consistently.