This Tesla climbed Mount Washington

Never used the brakes!

In my forty years of visiting and living in New Hampshire, I’d never driven up the Auto Road to the top of Mount Washington – though the “This Car Climbed Mount Washington” bumper stickers are ubiquitous. Today was a beautiful day, though, and Pam indicated she’d never been to the top of Mount Washington… so we went. As we passed through the toll gate we noted the Tesla Model Y battery was at 50%. We wound our way up the mountain, on extremely narrow roads with no guardrails and steep drop-offs on one side or another. The views were stupendous, but allowable only to the passenger! We reached the summit parking area with battery at 35%; it thus takes 15% of the battery to climb the mountain. But we earned most of it back! read on.

Summit of Mount Washington, after a drive up the Autoroad.
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Tesla camping

A worthwhile experiment.

I realized some time ago that my Tesla Model Y might offer new opportunities (and challenges) for car camping. So I was determined to give it a go! I camped one night at the Lobster Buoy Campsites (described in the prior post) and, overall, it was a worthwhile experience – and I learned some lessons for the future. Read on.

A mattress inside the Model Y, made up with pillow, sheets, and blanket.
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Return of Tesla

Better than new!

After seven sad weeks without my new Tesla, which was severely damaged in a fender-bender collision back in February (caught on video!), I was delighted today when the body shop returned my Tesla Model Y. It was repaired in Malden MA – two hours away – because there is no Tesla-qualified body shop anywhere in Vermont or New Hampshire. I selected that specific shop because they seemed to have a good reputation and offered free pickup and delivery. When you live two hours from the body shop, during a pandemic, ‘free delivery’ is a great perk.

The results are stunning… the car looks like new. In fact, better than new. Take a look at these photos, and then back at the collision photos, or the dirty condition of the car as delivered.

Requiring seven weeks, this was the Most…Expensive…Car.Detailing…EVER. But it is beautiful and gleaming and I sure am glad to have it back in action!

(BTW, if you decide to buy a Tesla, please use my referral link.)

Tesla… not

A month of body work awaits!

Sadly, I lost my brand-new Tesla one week ago.

damage to my Model Y after another driver rear-ended me.

Well, to be more precise, my Tesla is now in the shop, after a distracted driver rear-ended me last Thursday at a remote intersection in Vermont. (Nobody was hurt.) I’ve spent the last week on the phone with Tesla, two insurance companies, and a couple of body shops trying to make arrangements. Not easy!

As it turns out, there are no Tesla-approved body shops in either Vermont or New Hampshire, so the closest realistic option was to tow my car about 20 miles from the accident to a garage, and then 160 miles from that garage to the body shop near Boston. Tesla cars require special training and equipment to repair, because of the high-voltage electronics and because of the aluminum body components.

On the other hand, a major advantage of Tesla cars is that they have cameras all around, always recording;* I was able to pull the USB memory stick after the accident, giving me a several dramatic views of the incident. Check out the gallery for two photos and two brief videos.

Now I’m in this Toyota RAV4 SUV rental car. Very odd blue!

* If you’re really into this stuff, check out the YouTube Channel Wham Bam TeslaCam for dramatic video captures by Tesla cars around the world. Ironically, I was watching video from that channel before I went out last Thursday.

Ethernet adventure

It seemed so simple at first.

This is not my usual sort of post – where I regale you with stories of adventures in the woods. This time it is right here at home, and explores the challenges of home networking. I know at least one reader who is eagerly waiting to hear the story. (Hi Steve!)

The arrival of a new Tesla led us to install a new electric circuit and new breaker box, so we could install a 50A circuit that could charge the car faster than a snail could walk from here to Hanover. In doing so, the original 1998 electric line to the garage was abandoned. All was well, and the Tesla was happily slurping power from the new feed.

But then the Tesla notified me it was time for a software update. Indeed, my car has seen three software updates in the 6 weeks since it arrived… each time adding more features, tweaking the performance, and adjusting the user interface. Great! Except it needs Wi-Fi to download those updates, and my garage only gets a weak signal from the Wi-Fi router inside the house.

So I had a bright idea… I would install a new Wi-Fi access point (AP) in the garage, and serve it by pulling an Ethernet cable from the house to the garage, through the underground conduit that carried the old (now dead) electric cable to the garage. Easy, right?

First, I had to find the ends of the conduit outside – one end on the house, the other end on the garage. That was easy; they are quite visible. Second, I had to find the cable inside the house; that was easy, the electricians left it dangling inside the mechanical room. However, it was unclear how the line ran from the mechanical room to the outside conduit, and it was even more unclear how I could get an Ethernet cable from the switchroom to that conduit.

To make a long story short, after a lot of poking around I discovered a blank wall plate on the ceiling of the basement bathroom – which happened to give access to that old electric line. From there I was able to reach the exterior conduit, and from there I was able to drill some holes to pass a cable to the switchroom.

The real adventure was outside. The electric cable would not budge when I pulled at either end, so I dug a trench to find out why. It turns out the conduit ended just a few inches below the surface; the electrician just laid the naked cable in the ground. 😦 And, because it runs under a brick walkway – one we built 15 years ago with great effort – I could not dig up the whole cable and install a new conduit. With my hand, I tunneled as far as I could reach under the walk and was able to loosen the soil just enough to pull out the electric cable and pull through a new Ethernet cable. This time I installed a conduit – as far as I could – to better protect the new cable.

Once the hard work of digging, pulling, and backfilling was done, I was quickly able to run the cable inside the garage to the point where I wanted it, install a new wall box and wall plate, and punch-down the cable to a new wall jack. Similarly, inside the house I was able to snake the cable through two walls and under some stairs to the switchroom – mostly neat and tidy, albeit with a bit of cable showing above the bathroom mirror.

I punched-down the cable on my switch panel – one of the few remaining ports on an extensive house-wide network. (At this point, some of you will wonder why I installed a 72-port switch panel and nearly as many CatV cable runs throughout the house. When we built the house, Wi-Fi did not exist yet; I was actually installing LocalTalk as well as Ethernet and telephone.)

Excited to have the cable finally in place, I plugged in an AP in the garage. Nothing; it could not see any Ethernet signal. Bummer! I was worried I’d torn the cable, or twisted it somehow, in the rough process of pulling it through soil and gravel. I borrowed an RJ45 continuity tester (thanks Rich!) and confirmed that all was well – but still could not get any Ethernet device (AP or laptop) to recognize a working Ethernet signal. So I re-punched both ends of the cable (thanks to Rich for lending me a proper punch-down tool!) – but still no luck.

Finally I replaced the wall jack, and it worked. Apparently, all my troubles boiled down to this $3 plastic part.

This CatV wall jack cost $3.27 at Home Depot; either the jack was faulty or my connections to it had damage the wires or the jack enough to make it unworkable for proper Ethernet devices.

Ok – not such an exciting adventure. But it’s always gratifying when a do-it-yourself project actually works out.

Tesla Model Y

An investment in a zero-emission future.

The day before I left for Switzerland I sold my car – a 12-year-old Toyota Prius hybrid – with the intent of returning a year later and buying into the all-electric future. I selected the Tesla Model Y. I’ve had it for ten days now; read on for my first impressions.

My Tesla Model Y was delivered on September 30.
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