Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Falling leaves...

I promised to post updates on how we're liking our new electric Leaf so here's the latest in my educational series.
We still like the car.
We enjoy being the owners of a Zero Emissions vehicle and we spar over whose turn it is to take it.
However, some of the realities are coming to light and I've made so much noise about the benefits of going all-electric that I need to share these things too.
First of all, our Nissan dealer who promised we could come by and get a Quick Charge any time we liked has a broken Quick Charger.
We stopped by the other day for a 15-minute boost and were dismayed to find only the Level 2 chargers working.
That meant we either could drive it back home on faith after our party in Provo OR come back and plug in for an hour or so.
That's not what the salesman promised us.
And we got an updated power bill which was about $40 more a month than it had been.
We'd been told to expect a higher bill "between $5-$20 higher" according to the salesman.
Rocky Mountain Power doesn't offer any cost breaks or perks for going electric. They seem to think we're funny to be asking.
It's OK because our gas bill has been cut almost in half.
And our car payment is half of what it was.
So we're motoring about quite contentedly and enjoying our purchase.
It feels groovy!
We are still getting used to the absolute quiet when we start it and we still find it funny to go out at night to "plug the car" in.
We have to honk to let people know we're coming up behind them.
And we haven't decided if we'll upgrade our outlet to a 220-volt or install our own Quick Charge unit.
The jury is still out on whether we made an overall good decision here or not.
But in the meantime, we're good, thanks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Giddy up!

Ellie and Adell, Spartacus and Captain
We were surprised and happy to unexpectedly have two of our granddaughters stay the last couple of days of our Bear Lake vacation with us.
They're both 9 and they get along great even though they seldom get the chance to hang out together as one lives in Lehi and the other in Smithfield.
So we asked them what they would like to do on the one day we had to do something spectacular.
"Do you guys want us to rent the Jet-ski again or would you like to go horseback riding?" we asked them.
"Yeah! We want to do that!" they shouted.
"Which one?"
"Jet-ski! Ride horses!" they said together.
Marc and I looked at each other.
OK, we could break the bank this one time. How often would this opportunity come around and it's only money, right?
We called to make reservations for the horse ride for early afternoon.
The girls were thrilled.
We changed into swimsuits and went down to the beach to Jet-ski.
The fearless foursome
I took one ride at a moderate speed on a very calm lake reminding myself that my doctor had told me NOT to go on bumpy rides unless I wanted to jar the discs in my back and cause myself great pain.
We had lunch and headed to the Beaver Creek horse ride arena. We were the only ones there so we actually got a private ride up into the forest and over the creek and up and down small, shaded hills.
Adell and Ellie had horses that were supposed to behave. (Ellie's kept hanging back to chomp at the weeds and then he would trot rather briskly to catch up. To her credit, Ellie hung on just fine.
Adell's did what he was told most of the ride until he smelled water. At that point, he ignored the ride boss and stepped right off into the stream for a nice drink, taking us all with him!)
Marc and I were on horses that seemed to realize they had old folks on their backs and they better not scare us.
Mine kept stealing flowers from the trailside but mostly, I kept him under control and he didn't run away with me or buck me off.
I was all proud of myself for a while until the horse started down the hill at a fair clip.
Then I bounced around rather vigorously while trying to look like I was a competent horsewoman. (I didn't succeed at it.)
The next day I was wondering why my back hurt? I hadn't ridden the Jet-ski hard. I had done what my doctor told me except for maybe the horse ride...
Don't eat the flowers!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Shaking my booty...

Let's see, for my 64th birthday I only got a few things from my loving husband: a trip to Maui with two visits to the best restaurant in the world, a new electric car, and a pair of paniers for my bike.
I believe I made out like a bandit.
The new car, the old bike, new paniers, old me
The paniers were a total surprise even after I started getting notices that part of a shipment was at Wal-mart and another part coming.
I couldn't figure out what he had in mind since I hadn't been hinting for anything in particular.
In fact, I thought we had a deal.
We would each pick a place we wanted to travel to and go there this summer.
I wanted to go to Maui since my daughter highly recommended it and I like sun and sand and water.
He wants to go to the east coast to Washington D.C. and to the Smithsonian and stuff. (We're working on it.)
I knew my Mazda needed changing out since I had somehow run up 120,000 miles on my little roadster.
We looked a little before we left the mainland and after we saw "Leafs" everywhere we went in Maui, we came back considerably more interested.
So we decided THIS was my birthday present.
I couldn't see what else I needed.
My grandchildren had made me this hand-printed, colorful T-shirt.
I was happy.
Then came this box with a cage-like apparatus.
Marc explained that it goes on my bike to hold packages and burdens when I go cruising.
Next came this kind of purse that lays over the cage and straps down.
I slowly realized these were paniers, bags designed to help one bring home the groceries from the market.
I have frequently mentioned and thought that my bike riding could be more beneficial if I could haul home a loaf of bread from Great Harvest or a quart of milk from Fresh Market.
They're really quite handy.
So here's my's Marc's birthday today (July 6) and I'm not at all sure how to match him.
We haven't figured out his trip yet. We're still regrouping from Maui and a visit to Bear Lake.
I bought him a set of expensive knives that I gave him for Father's Day and a tomato knife that completes his kitchen set.
I "let" him go buy a new outdoor grill with his own hard-earned money and this morning I gave him a jar of Bear Lake Raspberry Rhubard jam and a hug.
Why do I feel I need to do something more?
Shall I get the travel agency lady on the phone?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The monkey and the drowsy chaperone

Pickleville Playhouse shows are always crazy fun but this summer's offerings are so silly your face hurts afterward from all the smiling.
And when you're not smiling, you're laughing out loud.
Jordan Todd Brown is completely out of control in both shows — "The Drowsy Chaperone" and  alongside T.J. Davis as Juanito Bandito in "The One With the Monkey" is his usual Spanglish-speaking, hilarious outlaw now announcing his retirement.
The actual monkey
If you attend both shows on consecutive nights, be prepared for nonstop nonsense.
In "The Drowsy Chaperone" Brown plays the Man in the Chair but with more heart, more dorkiness and more fearlessness than usual.
He jumps on the sofa, plays on the counter and improvises so much he cracks everybody up.
He says he hates the theater which immediately bonds him to those in the audience who aren't sure they wanted to be in the audience.
But he loves his records, especially this one about true love and sacrifice as the actress, Janet Van De Graff, (played by Whitley O. Davis) tries to give up the stage to marry Robert Martin (played by Derek Davis).
The story proves to be a grand mix of goofiness and story with "Trix the Aviatrix" somehow saving the day while "The Drowsy Chaperone" drunkenly and weakly performs her part in making sure the bride and groom can marry.
See a clip on YouTube:
One of the standouts in this show is Aldopho (played by Tony Carter). He's suave and smooth. He almost upstages the Bandito in the Saturday monkey business show.
Speaking of which, the monkey show seems to have been written to feature Chester, the monkey, played by Thomas Belliston.
After the initial foray into the public forum where the Bandito tries to explain that he's giving up the outlaw business to be a rapper who used to be a criminal, the show becomes pretty much all about the monkey.
It's silly and at some points, contrived, but for a Bear Lake crowd coming in off the lake for a fun evening, it's perfect.
It makes one laugh. It's engaging, a little over the top, but side-splittingly entertaining.
The game of "Happy Sultan" is a unique piece of fun that obviously has come from the mind of Brown who is completely out of his mind.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Now you see it, now you wonder

I promised the publicist for "The Illusionists" I would write a review on their show when we talked about my doing an advance for The Deseret News.
I would have written one anyway because I liked their show, a lot!
And that's considering I hadn't heard about this group of magical people before I was asked to do a piece about their stop in Salt Lake.
I had to look them up and read press releases and talk to John Tellum and to Kevin James (who plays "The Inventor" in the show).
I found out about their appearances on "America's Got Talent" and the many, MANY, awards and prizes they've won across the globe competing in various magic contests.
Yu Ho-Jin, known in the group as "The Manipulator" is just a teenager from South Korea...who must have the ability to hide multiple decks of cards in his open hands because he keeps bringing another one out.
Jeff Hobson, "The Trickster," is a kind of Liberace clone who is funny, warm and good with magic as well. (Just ask the people from whom he lifted watches while everyone was looking on!)
He and "The Futurist" make the show fun with a variety of mind-blowing tricks that are one thing on television, quite another in real life.
I enjoyed Dan Sperry, "The Anti-Conjourist," when I didn't expect to. He's painted and shaved and has long greasy-looking hair and basically resembles a movie zombie but he's funny and sweet.
I grew to look forward to his appearances on stage even though some of his tricks were gross...pulling a string from his mouth and then a vein in his forehead and eating razor blades that he later retrieved in a line.
"The Weaponist" had an interesting attitude also as he brought a couple up to help him perform dangerous tricks with an arrow and an apple.
 "The Inventor" somehow helped a young girl from the audience make the clump of paper in her hand wiggle and squirm. Then it turned into a real rose.
He made snow fall up.
The only one I had trouble watching was "The Escapologist." I hate those kinds of tricks because there's too much of a chance that something could go wrong and I would have watched someone die. (Spoiler alert: Andrew Basso doesn't die. He gets out of the water, the handcuffs, and the foot locks just in time!)
The show is over in Salt Lake but they have a tour starting up again in September with shows that are fairly close.
If you get the chance, take it and go see these guys:
They can make a whole train appear with them on stage.
They can cut people in half and staple the pieces back together. They can build a little person out of spare parts.
They are professional, creative, funny and totally engaging.
It's magic that entrances.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moving in Maui

And suddenly, you realize you can't look at the sun

I was actually fairly alarmed when my husband told me about the bike ride down the volcano in Maui.
He was so excited that he didn't even consider I wouldn't want to go with him.
He practically had his biking gear all packed before I could even go on the website to check it out.
A 26-mile downhill run from the summit of the Haleakala volcano to the center of the island at Paia, what could go wrong?
I signed on before I  really thought it through.
But for weeks afterward I'd go to bed reminding myself that I didn't have to worry about it yet. It was a long way off.
Then in late March it dawned on me: if I was going to ride a bicycle for that long of a ways I would have to prepare.
I realized I needed to get on my bike at least every other day and work out enough that it didn't kill me to go for a 26-mile stretch.
We got me some biking pants that didn't tangle with my spokes. I started wearing my helmet and I began to plan my wardrobe.
Since the ride started before sunrise it would be cold, then warm, then really warm.
A pair of kids in Maui, right?
I would need to layer and wear clothes that didn't necessarily co-ordinate color-wise.
I needed to get used to wearing closed-toed shoes instead of sandals or thongs.
(I know, these are basics for serious riding, huh?)
We watched a movie on the plane over to Maui where the coach was telling the kids on his running team., "Get to where when you see a hill (to run over), you smile!)"
I reached that point, I'm happy to say.
After the van picked us up (at 2 a.m.) and the staff handed out our bikes, our helmets and our outergear, I marshaled my courage and my wits and took off, smiling.
It turned out that we weren't riding in a straight, fast line to the bottom of a crater.
We headed out in kind of a single file herd down paved roads with a lot of curves.
Basically our guide wanted us to lean in and keep our wits about us.
Our bikes were heavy and came with wide saddles (thankfully) and drum brakes.
I was pretty proud of myself for a while there, riding along without trouble and mostly trying not to run into the lady in front of me. (She'd been put there with others who looked like they might need the guide's help and guidance.)
I figured I looked like I knew what I was doing. I wasn't crashing or veering or tensing up.
Or so I thought.
Partway through we stopped for a water break and the guide said, "Good! You are all doing well. Sharon, let's move you up to the front, ok?"
Oh well. OK.
It was still a beautiful, refreshing, remarkable ride.
I recommend it.
It's cold in the morning at the top of a volcano

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Leaf 2, the sequel

I've promised a bunch of people I would keep them posted on our Leaf and how it's going.
Since we bought this beautiful little electric car, we been asked a lot of questions.
"What happens when it rains?" from a concerned granddaughter.
"How far can you go before it dies?"
"What if it stops on you out in the country?"
"How much is your power bill going to be?
All good questions and I don't have all the answers yet.
We do know that it's working just fine so far to simply plug it into the regular house outlet in the garage. And it didn't explode in the last thunderstorm.
Every morning we start out with about 100 miles to go on a charge.
Then as I drive around doing my chores, I come home with about 100 miles left. (The kinetic energy generated from braking builds up the battery.)
If we go on the freeway or if we haul a load of kids up and down hills, we use more miles, not a lot but more.
The closest I've come to running out of battery power was coming home from shopping in Salt Lake. The light on the dashboard starting blinking and telling me I had 14 miles to go but when I stopped at my daughter's house, her neighbor came over to share Leaf stories and told me he has a dedicated 240 plug that I could use when I'm running low.
We've checked out the charging stations nearby. The Nissan dealership even told us to drive right up on the sidewalk to plug in (for free).
The Walgreen's store in Springville acknowledged our SemaConnect card and charged us up for $1.18.
We haven't been overly worried but we have been doing an unusual amount of adding and subtracting. We're also having a great time earning trees! (The car keeps track of economical driving habits and rewards us with trees when we do a good job!)
We are also making new friends. There's kind of a subculture of people who own and drive electric cars. If we wanted we could even join PlugShare where people offer their home chargers to strangers in need of a little power.
We are a teeny bit concerned about the tow hinge and the tow rope and assorted towing equipment that comes free with the car.
And when we asked about the spare tire, the service manager showed us the complimentary patch kit that comes packed in the side panel.
He reassured me — after I must have blanched — that our free roadside assistance and 3-year warranty would take care of anything like that.
So on we go.
We haven't had a power bill yet but we've been told not to worry. Our insurance went up a little bit but our gasoline bill is way down.
It'll all work out.
It'll be fine.
We'll see and I'll let you know!