Hybrid Road Rally, Day 4 - Winona, MN
The roads to this rally location were narrow, twisty, steep, and went on for
miles & miles. It was great! I regenerated 2.5 "E" symbols
(that's 125Wh of electricity) and it bumped my MPG to 52.6 on the
Multi-Display. I was very, very happy... until I saw all the cameras and
people waiting for us.
Wow! Another wild presentation!! And yup, they too wanted to
squash a large professional video-camera into the Prius along with a reporter
and a very excited Sierra Club member while I went for a stealth drive around
the block. That pleased them all, but made us late yet again! So much
for having got back on schedule.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 4 - Rochester, MN
Making up time meant really pushing the driving speed. Fortunately, that
area has soft rolling hills, a lot of them. Hybrids enjoy that. My
MPG actually improved, despite having to fly along the road so fast.
We arrived at the park just 1 minute late. But there was no where to
setup. We quickly discovered why. So many people attended,
including a few Insight & Prius owners, that all the parking spots were taken.
So we had to "create" a few. The crowd was so big it was almost
overwhelming. But our presentations had become rather well refined at that
point. And they loved it! They kept asking questions right up to
the very end. Everyone went away very happy, but that made us close to
being late again.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 4 - Mankato, MN
I was so excited, I almost got sick. We had arrived at the place I had
once called home. I spent 4 grueling (but extremely rewarding) years
there earning a bachelors degree in Computer Science. Who could have predicted
that knowledge would be applied in this particular way? Maybe the
students that built and competed a solar-powered car there knew that one of
their own someday would assist with the evolution of vehicles. (Thanks for
inspiring me out!!)
A lot of people got really excited about a former student participating in the
rally right there on campus. Then it got even better. A local
hybrid owner stopped by. She had a Silver Prius with an aftermarket
sunroof and she was going to drive along with us to Rochester. The news
reporter loved all that. So they shot a bunch of video, including some
from the back of my Prius while I (silently) drove around the campus.
The rest of the people attending were fun too. In fact, we got kind of
carried away. That made us leave late. Oops! But that bad timing
enabled one more opportunity. I
spotted an Aqua Prius driving by. So I honked and waved wildly to get
her attention. It certainly worked well. That made one heck of an
impression on her. The astonishment on her face when she noticed I was
in a Prius too was incredible!
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 3 - Willmar, MN
We made the ultimate sacrifice. The Aqua Prius, now with 32,000 miles on
it, had been in 4 separate accidents before the rally. Many parts were
no longer original. A damage result was triggering the warning
triangle along with an occasional loss of power. Simply restarting the car was
an effective on-the-road remedy, but not a permanent fix. The rally had
come at a bad time, preventing her Toyota dealer from getting an opportunity to
finish the repairs. She drove it anyway. But when we crossed a
major highway that provided a short route home, we said goodbye. She got
home without any trouble at all. We just couldn't take the chance of a
breakdown. The time schedule was way too tight for a delay of any kind
and we had already missed out at the Fargo location due to unforeseen
complications. We counted our blessing and moved on without. My
Prius was still there, but the MPG wasn't as good due to the Non-LRR tires.
Finally at that location, we setup. The cars were at a popular
location. A beautiful beach was right in front of us. Swimming was a great way to
cool off from the now searing heat. Unfortunately, hanging out in the
sunny parking lot was not. So many people just walked by. Some
devoted Sierra Club members stopped by though. They asked lots of
questions, then poked around in the vehicles. One even found my small
stash of snacks in the glove-compartment.
It ended up being a very productive stop overall, but very hot. Time
for swimming would have been wonderful. (All the bikinis helped provide
some relief though!) It was getting late, we had get to the campsite
before darkness set in.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 3 - Alexandria, MN
We rolled in (quietly) to a panicked videographer. She wasn't setup yet.
So we all drove down the street, waited, then drove back with her camera now
rolling. My Prius (complete with bugs, which I later discovered could be
easily concealed by just leaving the hood open) pulled up for a close-up.
This time, instead of the Sierra Club leader, I got to do the interview.
But when they hand you a microphone, point a huge camera right at you, then
say "tell us whatever you want", there is a bit of intimidation. I usually
don't get to indulge like that. It turned out to be really fun!
Then I got to take the reporter for a stealth run around the block.
She really, really like that! Too bad I won't get to see the resulting
story on TV.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 3 - Fergus Falls, MN
We got there a little early. I really wanted to wash the 3 days of
squished bugs off the hood & bumper, but it was a good thing that we drove
straight to the park. People were already waiting there for us. So
we quickly jumped into presentation-mode.
I got to show off my Prius to a reporter. Stealth is always a pleaser.
The CVT smoothness and seamless switching of propulsion-modes really
All went very well. Then it got even better. As we drove out,
we noticed a Silver Prius parked nearby. So on this trip, despite being
so far away from the metro area, we still spotted one of each hybrid.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 3 - Fargo, ND
We couldn't pull it off. Bummer. There was even a camera crew waiting
for us. But our hectic schedule didn't work well on this occasion.
Too much happening too quickly led to complications. At times, we've
barely had time to eat. Drive. Present. Drive again.
Present again. Considering that, it's amazing how successful we had been so far.
Seeing curiosity build is amazing. We provide the first in-person
glimpse of a hybrid for many people. It must be like a look into the
future! We see it as a chapter in our past and are pushing to move on to
the next. That's very invigorating.
We had one disappointment. Hopefully, that would be the only one. Heading to our next destination wasn't encouraging. Driving
+70 MPH with a minor head-wind brought my MPG down. I don't like
seeing only 43 MPG.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 2 - Crookston, MN
It was a smaller town. We weren't sure what to expect. It became
apparent quickly. As I was just beginning to take photos after having
completed setup, I noticed a brown Honda Civic in the corner of my eye.
Turning and looking closer, I realized it was another hybrid! It was a
Civic-Hybrid whose owner was coming to visit us. Cool! So I
included it in out photos, the did reporter too.
That was a good conclusion to an exhausting, but very productive day... or
so we thought. The campground we stayed at was right next to a swamp.
The mosquitoes were overwhelming. Dealing with the mess on the fronts of
all the hybrids was no longer our only bug problem.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 2 - Bemidji, MN
The venue was very nice. We got to park the cars right in front of
their main attraction, a statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. So
it was rather difficult for everyone to not notice us.
Consequently, quite a number of people stopped by. A television station
came too. The reporter filmed quite a bit and asked lots of questions.
Three people really stood out in this experience:
One stopped me cold when she found out Prius didn't offer a manual
transmission. She said, "If a stick isn't available, I don't care."
So I quickly pointed out the Civic-Hybrid and asked what she liked most about
having a stick. She replied, "Cause it gets better MPG."
awkward response was the CVT actually gets a little better MPG in the city.
That complicated the reasoning she had established oh so many years ago.
Time for a paradigm-shift!
Another person stopped by to vent. She had purchased a FFV (Flexible
Fuel Vehicle) 5 years ago and found it very, very disappointing that E85 still
wasn't available that far north. Pointing out that most areas of the US
don't have E85 even in the heavily populated areas didn't help. She
expected that simple, yet very beneficial technology to have been adopted a
very long time ago.
Lastly, there was a guy there that just wanted to show off. He attempted
to talk us down (to no avail), then went over and revved the engine loudly &
wastefully on his very powerful convertible. No one seemed to care
though. That made him mad. It made us feel good. We all
knew we had just finished answering a lot of helpful questions which delighted
quite a number of people.
Hybrid Road Rally, Day 2 -
Grand Rapids, MN
It was simple & fun. We had a group show up to welcome us. Then a
reporter stopped by for information & photos.
Being so far away from the Twin Cities does have problems though; here it
was apparent. The people were both awestruck & pleased with what they saw, but
disappointed knowing that technology would be far less common there for quite
a number of years still. The lower population means the local auto dealers,
whose sales volume is low, simply won't be interested in selling hybrids at first.
Seeing their excitement was great confirmation that there is definitely