Eco-Road-Trip begins

by Ben N on September 14, 2012


So, today began our roadtrip from west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, out to the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Pennsylvania…. with a few stops on the way.

My first hurdle was trying to leave in time to NOT HIT Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic in Chicago. Hope as I may, it seems impossible. The upside is that the Prius is just about the best car there is if you are stuck in a traffic jam! It automatically turns off the engine when you aren’t using it, has a great “automatic transmission creep” and air-conditioning.

Not only that, but I also planned ahead with the Hymotion system. The Hymotion kit is designed for up to 30 miles of driving with “blessed” fuel-economy because of the spare battery pack. However, after we started the trip, I turned it OFF, so that I wouldn’t be burning up all our spare battery power on the freeway just to get to Chicago. Sure enough, once we hit Chicago traffic, we were in bumper-to-bumper creep along traffic for a good hour. I turned the Hymotion kit back on, and with it running, it just stayed in all-electric mode the whole time.

Oddly enough, just before traffic really got moving again, the engine came on at one point, not to propel the car, but just to keep the engine up to it’s proper temperature!

You can also read on the Prius display that although I was getting CRAZY GOOD fuel economy in a traffic jam, that the tank average (reset that morning before leaving) is about 60 MPG. Still not bad for cruising the freeway at 75mph for two hours, and then barely creeping along for a third! (and with all the extra weight of three people, suitcases, and all the other junk we had along for the ride!)

The rest of the day was just trying to eat up the miles, while keeping a two-year-old happy, and finding a radio station that would stay tuned in.

We pulled over for the night at a Holiday Inn. When I checked in, I just happened to mention that I had one of those new-fangled plug-in Prius’s, and wondered if there was a place I could charge it. The desk clerk and night manager, Ms. Sunshine (yes that’s her real name) told me that her Prius couldn’t do that! And yes, if I could find an outlet, I could plug into it.

I pulled around to the back of the building and found an outlet past any guest entrances, where nobody could possibly trip on it, and plugged the car in. Right now, it’s purring away, being tracked by my trusty Kill-a-watt.

Of course the down-side is that 5KW of battery power barely makes a dent when you are traveling hundreds of miles in a day, but any mile I can get running on electric instead of gas, I’ll take.

Good night all, it’s bed-time for me. I’ll try to keep up with blogging my adventures, but on the road, you are more likely to hear about it by a short Tweet than by a blog-posting requiring me to boot up a computer and find hard-wired internet access. You can keep up on my tweets at:

The plan for tomorrow is to drive through Toledo and Cleveland on up to Buffalo, where we are going to try to hunt down a cousin at a music festival. If you are anywhere on the route, let me know, and I’ll try to say hello!

After Buffalo, we will be in Scotia, NY (near Albany) for a few days. After that, it’s on to Seven Springs Pennsylvania for the Mother Earth Fair!

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