We all had one last day off together before school starts so we decided to spend it at the Oakland Zoo. We went early this time so some of the animals were more active than normal. (Not the tigers and lions, though, who were sleeping the whole time we were there.) We probably saw turtles, otters, bears and elephants moving around more than we have ever seen. After the zoo, we went miniature golfing, tried a newly opened burger place and finished up by getting Dan a last-minute haircut. Some zoo pics…
Since I had to work in the afternoon, we celebrated Sandy’s birthday in the morning which started with french toast, then candles to be blown out, cards and presents to be opened, ice cream cake to be eaten, and lunch at Red Robin. This wasn’t her first choice but he favorite restaurant was closed on Saturday so we’ll have to make it up to her another time. She ended up getting a new iPhone case from Dan because her old one was too slickery. She got a beautiful stainless steel spice carousel from Elizabeth to go in her new kitchen. And she got an iPad mostly to read books on because it’s kind of hard to read them on the iPhone. It was a fun morning. Happy Birthday Wonderful Wife.
Our Saturn started behaving crazy. Lights would go off and on at random times. The ignition wouldn’t turn off when the key was turned. The door locks would open and close randomly. So I did some research and found out it was a computer in the car called the Body Control Module. Neither the car nor the part has been manufactured in years. Repair estimates came in from $1000-3000. Since the trade in blue book value of the car was zero, I didn’t see the point in repairing it, so I tried trading it in anyway, and got a surprising $2000 for it towards a new silver Nissan Leaf. I’ve wanted an electric car since I first drove one in 1989 when I was writing about them for the Honolulu newspaper I worked for. But until now they just weren’t that practical.
I did the math and counting the repair to the Saturn, the price of gas, the length of my commute, the incentives offered by the federal and state governments, it turns out that I could lease the new Leaf for next to nothing. The gas savings make up for more than half of the lease payments. The savings on the Saturn repair bill, oil change and maintenance costs make up for most of the remainder. And a hefty rebate from the state will make up all but a few dollars of the difference. The only bad thing about the lease is that in three years I will not have a car, but the way the Saturn was falling apart, that may have been the case anyway.
I’ve been driving my new car for almost a month and I love it. The kids do too, and they named it Zappy (because Silvery or Grayee just sounded wrong I guess). I got a free home charger (I just had to pay for the permits), and I love leaving the house everyday with a full “tank.” It’s quiet, zippy and fun to drive, and it talks to my iPhone. We’re looking to put solar panels on the roof pretty soon, and then I’ll actually be driving it for free. It’s range gets me to work and back comfortably and so far I’ve got no gripes.
I also like that it has no emissions, so at least I’m not adding to Bay Area smog. I know it still runs on fossil fuel, but with PG&E getting more than half it’s power from solar, wind, and hydroelectric, it works out to about 12% of what a gas car uses per mile.
But it can’t do everything. We still need Blackie, our Honda Pilot, to go on long trips, to take kids on field trips, and to go anywhere that might be messy since Zappy is a lease and I really cant get too much wear and tear on it.
I went up to our new control tower today and was impressed. Oakland currently has two towers because the airport is so big you can’t see all the runways. The new tower is much taller which allows us to see the whole field and will eliminate the need for the other two. Everything is modern, there is covered parking, and there will even be electric vehicle chargers powered by solar panels. I really was impressed by the views of the airport, the surrounding areas, and the San Francisco Bay.