Tag Archives: MINI E fellowship

Day Trip To The English Countryside

Last Friday I was lucky to be invited out to Hartley Farms, near my company’s Morristown, NJ offices, to meet with owner Nic Platt and view one of his fields as a possible location for our company picnic.

Nic and I both work for the same company, though he works in the Manhattan office and while we’ve spoken a couple of times at company events, I didn’t know that much about his background. Knowing that our shop is located in his ‘backyard’ though, he very graciously offered his “field” for our annual office party, and on a sunny day I was only too happy to shoot out there and take a look.  I didn’t have any expectations, but my curiosity was piqued when his directions included phrases like “turn in at the stone fence…follow Hartley Drive all the way around, past the Polo Field…I’ll meet you by the museum building near the forest”.

Typical English scene...in New Jersey

It turns out that Nic is a descendent of Marcellus & Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (NPR & PBS fans will recognize Mrs. Dodge from the ‘Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’ sponsorship), and that Hartley Farms is on the National Register of Historic Places. Back in the day (1927-1957) the Dodge’s would host the Morris & Essex Dog Show, when almost 50,000 folks would encamp for the day on the Polo field and take in the dogs and the stunning countryside.

It was a gorgeous day, and just the prettiest place I’ve ever been at with #217 – and to top it all off, there was a solitary English phone booth perched on the edge of the field, like something out of Dr. Who.

I was enchanted by the scene, but also feeling a bit out of my league – old money, an English-style estate, houses with names and a polo field that can fit 50,000+, etc. I half expected Nic to pull up in a chaffeured Rolls with a liveried driver. Instead, he rolls up in a Prius, and couldn’t have been more welcoming. Turns out the entire estate is run on “Green” principles (LED lighting, homes that are built in harmony with nature, old-growth forests administered by the Audubon Society), and he enthusiastically asked about the MINI E program and my experiences with the car.

It was such an unexpected pleasure to find yet another kindred spirit – especially in such an impressive setting. More info on Hartley Farms can be found here – http://www.hartleyfarms.com/6ourhistory.html   (and, needless to say, we’ll be having the party there later this month).


Electric Fame

Fellow Pioneer Don Young was recently featured in a NY Times article that spoke about the MINI E program, and included a nice detail about his 1,020 mile trip last fall.  We were honored to be part of that epic run, as Don used our house to recharge en route to the catskills – kind of a 21st century version of the Pony Express system!

Here’s a link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/automobiles/28ELECTRIC.html

One of the unexpected pleasures of being part of the first large-scale, national test of an electric vehicle is meeting new people like Don. In today’s society – where we all have to work unreasonable hours, and then rush home (especially if you  have kids) to squeeze in our ‘quality time’, there just isn’t room for meeting and exchanging ideas with other people. And so the list of ‘strangers’ grows ever longer.

I’m forever grateful that this experience has reawakened me to the fact that the vast, vast majority of strangers are fantastic people who – if you have the opportunity to shake hands – will enrich your lives.

A Halloween Trick, and Treat

So there I was, on All Hallows Eve, driving back from the store to go set up for our annual Halloween Party, when all of a sudden – after nearly 7,500 miles of issue-free driving – my experimental MINI E pulled an electric muscle and I suddenly lost almost all of my power.

I was on Veteran’s Highway in Orangeburg, NY – very near my house – when the “Noticeably Reduced Motor Power” icon came on. This is a feature that is meant to kick in when you’re very low on battery, and is intended to give you enough juice so you can limp off a busy freeway or drive ahead to a safe location before all the power is exhausted.  The trouble was, I still had about 80% of my battery charge remaining, so there was no good reason for this…except, this being Halloween, maybe I was meant to be forced off the road so I could meet a nasty end at the hands of a frightening, bloodthirsty monster.


Me (left) and Jay on Halloween

Instead, I met Jay.

About a minute after pulling off the road, while I was looking under the hood for an unplugged wire or some other obvious reason for my situation, I heard a beep – and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

After months of driving a MINI E without seeing another one on the road, there was MINI E #365 pulling off to join me. I knew there was only one other E in all of Rockland County, NY, and that one was 15 minutes away in Suffern – while this meet-up occurred not even a mile from my house!

Out popped Jay – who lives in the next town to our south, Park Ridge, NJ. He and I spent a about 10 seconds looking at the engine (“Uh…I dunno”), and then a couple of minutes exchanging stories and admiration for the car. He hadn’t experienced any problems so far (though he hasn’t driven as many miles yet) and he too was enjoying the silence of the drive, the pep of the motor and beauty of no visits to the gas station.


#217 meet #365

I took another photo of #217 & #365 together on the side of the road before Jay took off again. Then, weighing my options to get home – either call the MINI Roadside Assistance crew or try and coax it up and over the last hill, then coast down to my house – I decided to give the engine one more try. I put the key in, pressed the start button and – like magic – the “Noticeably Reduced Motor Power” icon was gone.

I hightailed it home, laughing at my first MINI E trick and treat of the year.