Road trip to Norway with the Tesla

Our last road trip was a while back. After we returned from South America, we planned that our next big trip with the Büssli would be to Scandinavia. But we figured that family holidays with small kids are better stationary at one camp ground. Now that the kids are old enough, we didn’t trust the Büssli enough for such a big trip. Reliability of the vehicle becomes more important the more people are traveling. Since we have now a very new (for our terms) vehicle, we figured it was time for our next road trip. Let’s drive to Norway with the Tesla!
Many people still think electric cars are not suited for long trips. That might be true for some, but a Tesla is up to everything.
First the important facts:
Duration: 15 days
Distance covered: 5’000 km
Electricity charged: 1’088 kWh
Waiting time for charges: ZERO
Cost for charges: approx CHF 40
Our route on a map

Transit

We knew that it would be a long trip from Switzerland to Norway and back. The kids need to be able to run around every day. So driving it in one go was out of the question. Also my wive is not comfortable enough to drive the new car in a foreign country yet, hence I had to drive it all by myself. She also didn’t want to drive during the night. So we had to expect some traffic jams, and split the distance roughly in half. Both ways we slept in the Hanover area. We chose not do drive all the way around trough Sweden, but take the fairy from Denmark to Norway. To make the route in Norway more like a one way, we took the fairy back from Bergen to Denmark. Spending the night on the boat, we were ready to drive trough Denmark in the early morning.

Charging

While on the road, we mostly charged at the Tesla Superchargers. The navigation system does a great job, planning the required charges. The Superchargers once again proved to be just great. If possible we also charged over the night. But we didn’t stay in the fancy hotels, that have destination chargers. Instead all we got on the camp grounds were Schuko outlets. Not only is the charging slow, but often the charge stopped in the middle of the night because a fuse blew. Iit was always enough to reach the next Supercharger. In Bergen the main parking provided 54 free type2 chargers with 30A one phase. The only two other charges were in the Stavanger area. We stayed at the Lysse Fjord for a few days, and the next supercharger would have been more than half an hour away. Stavanger is Norway’s offshore oil industry center. So it is not such a big surprise that there were less EV’s in that area. I ordered a free RFID tag from Fortum before the trip. They have a decent charging network in Norway. So I charged twice with Chademo.
We tried to charge while having our meals, when shopping, and when somebody needed to go to the toilet. When we came back, the car had always enough energy to continue the trip. We NEVER had to wait for it to charge. I think this is a big takeaway from our trip.

Environment

Obviously an E.V. has no emissions. But this is only fully true, if the electricity doesn’t come from a coal plant. We have a reasonably clean electricity mix in Switzerland. Mostly hydro power, some nuclear and a tiny rest. Tesla promised that on the Swiss Superchargers, they only use energy from renewable sources. I recently confirmed that the electricity we use and charge at home comes exclusively from hydro, mostly local.
Norway has a massive amount of hydro power plants, and considerable wind power. I would be surprised if they had any electricity at all from non renewable sources.
But Germany has a dirty energy mix in general. They burn lots of coal. In the past decades they made huge progress in efficiency and reducing pollution. But that can’t do away the CO2. I read an article from 2015 that Tesla Germany was in the process of migrating all the sources of the electricity for their Superchargers to renewable. So I assume that they should be complete by now. In fact I saw massive solar arrays adjacent to many Superchargers and wondered if they were related. I assume the same holds true for Denmark.
That leaves me with the 10kWh that I charged over night from a regular German power outlet, which probably contained some coal energy. This equates to 1% of the electricity of the entire holiday trip. Plus the fairy boats burned some form of oil. Their use per passenger is difficult for me to quantify.

climate neutral

A few days later by coincidence I found MyClimate where you can compensate the CO2 pollution of a variety of activities. That brought me to the idea, that I could make our holiday climate neutral. They have calculators for different types of emissions. Although not exactly the ones I was looking for. For the fairies I used the cruise ship calculator, and for the brown electricity the house heating calculator, that allowed me to specify German electricity and how much. The calculated sum was 0.966 metric tons of CO2. To compensate, I donated CHF 27 for climate protection projects. What really surprised me was how much pollution a cruise ship emits, even compared to a gasoline car.

Kragero

The first destination in Norway was Kragero. It has some nice islands in front that are part of a nature protection area. The flat that we booked over AirBnb had a nice view over the sea. We visited a small island that was connected with a bridge and hosted the remains of an old fortress.

Dalen

There is not a lot of Bitcoin activity in Norway. But on coinmap.org I found a camp ground. It is run by Dutch people. My wive was pleased by the clean toilets. As chance would have it, Dalen also has the most beautiful hotel in Norway. We didn’t stay there, but we had a drink in comfortable leather seats while listening to the piano in the big hall.

Farsund

After the shower facility of the cabin we booked didn’t meet my wives expectations, we drove on to Kristiansand. All the way we tried to find a place to spend the night. In the rural areas there were many signs for cabins. But we saw none of them when we got closer to the sea. We ended up in a camp site with a beautiful beach. The sanitary installations were far worse than what we dissed before. But it was too late to search something else. When we arrived a 9pm, I set up our tent. The night was too cold for my wife even though she was the only one with a sleeping bag for sub zero temperatures. So this was to be our only night in the tent. The next morning we went to the beach, but the sea was just too cold for us to swim.

LandaLand

The famous Lyssefjord is a very touristic area. Thousands of people walk up to the Preikestolen every day. We had a small room at the LandaLand for three nights. The first day we drove around the fjord trough the mountains and down the 27 steep curves. From there we took the fairy trough the fjord.
On the second day we hiked to the Preikestolen. We started early through the well prepared trail in light rain. There were lots of people, but not nearly as much as in the stories of other people.
The third day there was a nice event in LandaLand. The kids could shoot with bow and arrow, and cast some tin. Later we drove to Stavanger and visited the oil museum. It was very interesting. They seemed to be open to all the questions about the environment. But of course their angle is slightly different than ours, driving an E.V. I was mainly interested in the technical aspects of the drilling platforms and submarines and stuff. These parts were very informative. Finally we had a delicious dinner at the food festival.

Voss

Norwegians love outdoor sports, and Voss is most known for it. On the way there we saw some more beautiful fjords and waterfalls. Every camp ground and every hotel and every holiday flat in the vicinity of Voss seemed to be fully booked. After a long search, we found a family room in the youth hostel. I could finally make the first flight with my paraglider in Norway. Since all the cable cars were closed, I had to walk up. This marked the 20th country for me to paraglide. Numer 19 was Korea in 2009. Initially we planned to stay some days in Voss, but the weather was getting worse and the city center was not that great. Since we saw lots of fjords already we thought the Sognefjord couldn’t be that much different. So we decided to spend the last few days in Bergen.

Bergen

We were very lucky with the accommodation that we found on AirBnb. We spent two nights in a nicely prepared basement apartment hosted by a lovely retired lady.  Also the city was nice. In Bergen we saw way more electric cars than in the regions visited so far.

Payments

One strange thing was that the restaurant where we had lunch in Bergen didn’t have a toilet. So we went the the shopping mall. But the toilet had a card reader attached. It wouldn’t work with a regular Maestro card. And I had to try multiple times to figure out how to open the door with my Xapo Visa debit card. Even the toy cars where the kids can ride in the shopping mall are card operated. In Norway almost everything is payed by card. Some might call it progress, to me this is completely derailed.

 

Game modding with pen and paper

I have lots of good memories from youth camps. Some involve playing Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers while sitting on trees. Another classic video game was Asteroids. When I recently read an article in a German magazine about building an Asteroids clone with an Arduino and an OLED, lots of old memories resurfaced. The source code was provided, and the build was simple. As the control was used as digital, I didn’t use an analog joystick. When I gave it to the kids to play, they didn’t share the same enthusiasm that I had back then. But that’s probably because they grow up with lots more tiny computers than we had. So I wanted to involve them some more, and give them a sense of how this thing works. I don’t know how well they understood, when I explained them the concept of a pixel.
So I grabbed pen and paper, read the source code and drew the pixel art. Next, I told them they could modify the images to their liking, but still preserve the mechanics of the game. It was essentially the spaceship with one frame, the asteroid with three frames and the explosion with four frames. Seven year old Levin understood immediately, and painted his versions. For five year old Noah it might be a bit early, but he also participated enthusiastically.
All I had to do was transform their paintings back into source code and load it onto the AtMega chip. Now they were hooked a lot more to the game than before.

drive in cinema

The last time I was in a drive in cinema was about ten years ago. At the place I was in Volketswil, they no longer organize these events. So I was looking from time to time for another place. The ones I found were too far away. Then I saw an advertisement for Hinwil. It is close enough and on a TCS training area. The slope towards the screen seems to be perfect. We chose a movie that we could watch with the kids: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
Because we expected a ton of people, we made sure to be there early. But to our surprise only about 20 cars were lined up. So we got a really good spot in the center of the front row. They didn’t use a projector, but a huge LED wall. That was really valuable for the afternoon kids movie. We tuned the car audio to the provided frequency, and enjoyed the movie.
They had food and drinks and VIP pickups with cushions. The whole event was really well organized. I hope they had more people at the evenings so that they will also organize the event for many years to come.

A holiday that didn't start so well

Büssli

Our camper van suffered three ripped cooling water hoses in the last two months. Together with my brother who is the engineer in charge of maintaining our vehicles, we looked for the source of the troubles. Although not entirely sure, after a test ride I was confident that we found and fixed it. We even exchanged some hoses that looked worn as a precautionary measure.
So my wive and myself stuffed everything for our holiday on the Italian island of Elba into the van. Rather than at 11pm as initially planned, we left already at 4pm. That should give us some comfortable reserve to reach the ferry the next morning. Unfortunately, the cooling water warning light forced me to drive to a service area after only 30km. It was a ripped cooling water hose again. The guy from the breakdown service replaced it and performed a series of tests to make sure the cooling system worked properly. He told us we could move on, but we didn’t trust our Hippie Bus enough to drive all the way, after what happened.

XJS

So we returned home in order to perform another episode of How much luggage fits into a vintage grand tourer. With the Jaguar I drove trough the night. I did a few stops for drinks and toilet. After one stop in the early morning, not too far away from the port, the engine wouldn’t start. Oh shit, I had this a few years ago, and remember just too well, that the highly compressed V12 engine wouldn’t start with an ordinary bridging cable. Back then, the TCS guy had a super thick cable and I don’t know how many batteries in the trunk in order to kick start my car. So this time as a first measure, I bought a 500 Amp bridging cable at the gas station. We tried it with a couple of other cars. But through the narrow contact area of the clamps, there would just not come enough power to start the engine. So I called the breakdown service again. He came with an ordinary booster pack, and wouldn’t believe that an engine could require more energy to start than his booster pack could provide. So he brought us to his plumber shop. I asked them to install a charged battery. But they insisted that the problem must be somewhere else. So he carried us 20km to the next Jaguar repair shop. After a while they fitted a new battery, and all was well again. We could continue our journey with a six hours delay. We missed the ferry we booked, but it was no problem to take another one.

Elba

The time on Elba was great and without trouble. Water and air temperatures were very nice. It was the first time at the sea for Noah. He insisted on bringing his best shirt: “Mom told me it is only for special occasion. I’m going to see the sea for the first time. That is very special to me”. With Levin we were at the Dune du Pyla when he was 19 months old. He only remembered what we told him, and the photos we showed him. The water was super clear and flat for the most part. Only the last two days we got some small waves. To see all the beaches and caves, we went on a full day boat tour all around the island. A couple of times the boat stopped, and we could go for a swim. Another day we visited the oldest city on the island that we still remembered from the last time 8 years ago. But for the most part, we enjoyed the beach. The guys that were next to us at the camp side told us that every time we were away, people would take pictures of our hippie bus tent. Also when I was driving the Jaguar around in Italy or parking it, I often heard remarks containing words such as “belleza”. Somebody liked it so much that he wanted a souvenir, and stole all four tire valve caps.

Trip back home

The drive home was mostly smooth. Only once we had some worrying moments. That was when I climbed a small hill on the highway, and right in front of me there was a plastic gas canister on the road. It would have been too risky to perform an avoidance maneuver. So I centered on it, and hoped it would slip under the car. Instead we dragged it along. I was releaved that only one hundred meters ahead was an exit. By driving the right wheels on the sidewalk for a moment I could get rid of it.

Ultra short throw projector

Watching TV can be really expensive if you turn on the TV only for a couple of hours every year. We still have to pay the full CHF 460 annual fee even if we use it only 4 to 5 hours a year. That’s an insanely high CHF 100 per hour. What we do more often is watching videos on the beamer. I enjoy the big screen experience even if the picture is not as sharp as the fancy new 4k TV’s that you see in every store now. But lately our old beamer started accumulating pixel errors. The LED lamp of the five year old Acer K10 was still perfectly fine, but the DLP chip wore out apparently. As it also only supported analog signals, it was about time for a replacement. I wanted something bigger, brighter with at least FullHD resolution. But then it would no longer fit into the small wooden box under the ceiling. So a bit further back, it should be possible to get the cabling from the fridge. This turned out to be not as easy as I first imagined. That’s when I found out about ultra short throw projectors. They make all the cabling much much easier. Instead of transmitting the signals across the room, everything is conveniently in one place just like with a regular TV.

Because my wive wanted to be able to watch TV (just in case) and our old TV was not working any more with everything switching to digital, I decided for an LG PF1000U. Most ultra short throw projectors have only WXGA resolution. This was one of the few FullHD ones. As it later turned out, the built in TV tuner was of no use, being for terrestrial signals only. I had to buy a cable tuner separately.

As with most bigger acquisitions, I checked where I could buy it with BitCoin. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a merchant in Switzerland. And the offers from Germany seemed like too much hassle with customs. So I ordered from a regular Swiss retailer, and paid using bitwa.la.

Watching movies with it is really a pleasant experience. The picture is a lot better than before, and it does 3D very well, even with $12 shutter glasses from China.

Compared to my very first beamer that I built myself from an overhead projector and a flatpanel monitor, it’s worlds apart…

the infinity mirror

Lately while browsing through thinkgeek, I stumbled upon the infinite dungeon corridor. It looks cool, but they still have no affordable shipping options. That got me thinking that it should be possible to make an infinite mirror with the kids. It didn’t take long to find a recipe for how to go about it. Finding a mirror was easy, but regular window glass is a bit harder these days. The first try was with plexiglass that I had laying around. The effect was really bad, because it had a matt finish. When I asked for real glass, I got security glass. Trying to cut it to the right size, it disintegrated into a thousand tiny parts. So it was plexiglass again, this time with clear finish. I also was not sure about the window film. I bought the film that is used to taint the car windows. An LED stripe was readily available and waiting for a new purpose.

The kids were involved in all construction steps. Cutting the wood for the case, drilling, screwing, sawing, cutting the mirror, tacking the LED stripe … But one thing was entirely up to them: Usually those infinite mirrors have the two windows relatively close. But to be in the style of the dungeon corridor, I created the case with some room where the kids could paint what should look like the walls of a castle.

The effect is not as good as we would have liked it to be. I’m not sure if it is because of the plexiglass, the increased distance or the wrong type of window film. But it works, and was fun to construct. Most importantly the kids learned not just how to construct such a thing, but also about optical illusions, and how light behaves.

IMG_2639 IMG_2647

How much luggage fits into a vintage grand tourer?

Our camper has an engine problem, so we had to look for alternatives for this years summer holiday. We looked at last minute offers, but bringing all our own food to Greece didn’t seem like such a good plan. The kids wanted to sleep in a tent anyway, so we went to Tenero in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. We were too hesitant to look for a camp in Italy after spending a night on a horribly disgusting camping in Porlezza a few years ago. With the camper, the space for luggage was never really a problem, but this time everything had to fit inside the Jag. I told my wive to pack only the most necessary things. Men and wimen have different standards as to what is important to bring on a holiday and so I ended up squeezing all this into the small car:

  • two adults and two children
  • a four person tent
  • a foldable camping table with seats
  • a foldable camping grill
  • sleeping bags and camping mattresses for all of us
  • a giant and a regular suitcase
  • four small backpacks and a regular sports bag
  • a small body surf board
  • a box with dishes and cutlery
  • ten liters of water and a bag with food

This was actually the first holiday in 13 years where I didn’t bring my paraglider. But  after the impressive list above, there was just no more room left in the car.

The camping in Tenero was great. It was clean by my wive’s standard which is quite an accomplishment. The camping has a sandy beach to the lake which was also clean and had perfect temperature.

Being so close to the famous hydroelectric dam where James Bond jumped from, we had to visit the Verzasca valley. The water and the stones were marvellous. But it was very hot for hiking.

missing or lost -> stolen

When we went to our ski holiday last week, we had a lot of luggage. So we had to hurry when leaving or switching the train. It always worked out well, even when we had to run, or walk a stairway twice. When we left the train on the way back in our home town, I grabbed the heavy stuff as usual, but somehow missed my messenger bag with the notebook. Just outside the train I realized that it was missing, and asked my wife if she had it. She usually checks the seats before leaving. But she didn’t have my bag. We assumed we just overlooked it on the seat. Immediately we called the train company, and had to pay CHF 50 for somebody in the train to go search my bag. Nothing was found, but they told me that sometimes lost items are brought to a train station the days after. I was full of hope to see my stuff again. A couple of days later, my optimism fades. Ever more so, after I read articles about how much stuff is stolen in Swiss trains. We both noticed two black guys walking suspiciously back and forth in the train. At first I couldn’t imagine that they could grab the bag without us realizing. But after reading those stories, and especially since we really habitually check the seats before we leave, I start to think they might have taken it.

It’s just material, but still the loss hurts. We like to believe that these things happen somewhere else, but not here. We like to tell the stories of our parents who didn’t lock the door, and left the keys in the car. That just makes it more bitter when reality hits us. There are a couple of things that are difficult or even impossible to replace. The bag itself was from the Paragliding World Cup in Korea. I worked hard in the competitions for almost five years to make it into the World Cup. And this bag was one of the souvenirs. The notebook was by far the best computer I ever had. It’s a Dell XPS13 developer edition with Ubuntu pre-loaded. I didn’t allow it to get a single scratch in the 15 months I had it. If I have to order a new one, given I manage to allocate the funds for such a great device, I have to wait at least a month for delivery. The Trezor was a “first edition” given out only to the backers of the crowd funding campaign. The Prada sunglasses were from the outlet store. Just to get there would cost more than I saved on the regular price.
So, If you see somebody by chance with a brand new looking Dell XPS13 ultrabook
that doesn’t seem to belong to him, or a FlyGin messenger bag that has a Paragliding World Cup print, or with a red-black Mammut GoreTex Paclite jacket, then please report.

A strange kind of holiday

It all started about two weeks ago when my wife discovered water on the kitchen floor that kept coming. The plumber who came immediately, found out that two parts of the waste pipe shifted out of each other, leaving a gap open. He told us that this must have happened two or three weeks earlier. During this time, the waste  water filled up the base of the kitchen, which turned out to be water tight. He sucked out all the water, and left one part of the base open, so that some air could ventilate. He also told us that probably we would get a giant hair drier installed to get the rest of the moisture out. Nothing happened for more than a week. The smell was disgusting, and we apologized to the guest at Levin’s birthday party. Our neighbour told us that the same thing happened to them last summer, and that they had 40° for some weeks in their kitchen as a result.

When the craftsmen came to inspect the kitchen, they discovered one giant mold fungus. Immediately, they sealed the kitchen from the rest of the flat and all the cupboards. They started to disassemble the kitchen and removed the appliances. Most of it would be replaced. They sprayed some poison to contain it. After they told us the whole flat would have to be sprayed, the house management together with the insurance decided that it would be best for us to move to a hotel for two weeks. The insurance organized it for us. It appears they asked some other hotels first which were fully booked. So we ended up in the best hotel in town, the Waldstätterhof. The breakfast is included, and it is a very nice and delicious buffet. The funniest part for us was the Prosecco bottle next to the fruit juices. We usually don’t make holidays in such exclusive places, but we know it from special events such as the Musical we go to almost every year.

The insurance even pays for the additional costs we have because we can’t cook at home. But he asked us not to eat at the noble restaurants downstairs all the time. Of course we don’t want to exploit the situation, but because Levin had a surgery the day before we had to leave home, we cannot go outside all the time. The first day we ordered some food from lieferservice.ch at seewendays.ch that I could pay with BitCoin. The second day, I bought a warm chicken in the local grocery store. For the rest of the week, Mirella organized to have the meals delivered from the hospital. I must confess, it feels awkward to walk into the lobby of a four star hotel with a hot chicken in the backpack to eat at the room. But yesterday we went to the restaurant downstairs for once. It wasn’t cheap, but delicious.

The kids enjoy the adventure, especially because we rarely have so much time to play with them. Levin got a dinosaur skeleton to excavate from Santa Claus the day we left. So we went to the big hotel terrace to carve out the artificial bones from the enclosing gypsum. He was totally excited as the bones started to get released. Yesterday, we assembled a KAKU robot. Putting the parts together was easy. I had to do most steps, but the boys could help here and there. Noah walks around full of pride with the enclosed emblem. As all the manuals and information I found are in Chinese, its not always easy to find the required information. But the programming system ArduBlocks is exactly what I have been waiting for since I learned about the Scratch programming language.

 

Visiting the doctor after 20 years

My wive usually rolls her eyes, when I tell her: “No, I don’t need that medicine. My immune system can cope with that, and needs to be trained.” or “No, I don’t need that painkiller as long as the headache is not overwhelming. My body reminds me that I should not shake my head too much at the moment”. But last week I had a flue that didn’t improve even after three days in bed. Usually flues weaken me for a week, the strong ones put me in bed for a day. But this was different. For the first time in twenty years (not counting vaccination for travel, and the dentist), I felt it necessary to visit a doctor. He gave me antibiotics, and indeed I started to recover. Would be nice if it took another 20 years until I need a doctor again…