Prius Personal Log  #32

July 12, 2002  -  July 14, 2002

Last Updated: Sat. 9/14/2002

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7-14-2002

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.

7-14-2002

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.  Sweet!

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.

7-14-2002

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!

7-13-2002

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.

7-13-2002

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.

7-13-2002

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 impresses.

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.  Sweet!

7-13-2002

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.

7-12-2002

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.

7-12-2002

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."  My 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.

7-12-2002

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 interest though.

 

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