Amanda and I are headed off to the Mount St. Helens area to do some camping next weekend in honor of our second anniversary. We’ll be staying at the Iron Creek Campground Friday through Sunday.

I’m thinking about, at minimum, taking her to the Ape Cave, and, of course, taking the opportunity to explore the area more. It’s been a long time since I’ve been down there, so I’m thinking about the Johnson Ridge Visitor Center and Meta Lake, just to get into the area. I’d think about hiking, but I don’t want to do too much since we’re only down there for a couple days.

We’ll see.

Not So Scratched!

After removing all the paint transfer last weekend and cleaning the car this afternoon, the damage isn’t really all that bad – nothing some good buffing and Toyota paint can’t fix.

On the plus side, I now have 1,000 miles on the car. She started at 16,972 miles and reached 17,977 miles this afternoon. So far, my driving average is 59.12 miles per day, which is much higher than it actually is on a week-by-week basis. I’m driving about 20 miles per day in Olympia – everything else is long-distance trips to Bellingham and Snohomish.

Either way, this car is working out quite well.


When I pulled in last night, I pulled in such that my rearview mirror was between two support beams on the right-hand side of the car, so that if I had backed out without correcting the problem, I would’ve lost the rearview mirror on that side of the car. After adjusting for this and starting to back out properly, I started turning the wheel a little too soon and heard a nice, sickening pop. I swiped one of the poles pulling out. Needless to say, I immediately stopped, pulled forward, hit park, and checked to see how bad the damage was. There’s quite a bit of paint transfer and a couple nice scratches on the bumper which looks worse than it probably is in terms of the bumper itself.

On a Prius, you can’t see the front of the car, so judging distance from an object is nearly impossible (the same is true, I’m told, of Volkswagen New Beetles). Thus, the scratches.

After coming back from work, Amanda and I took a closer look — it looks like the bumper on the right side of the car might’ve actually shifted down a tiny fraction from its original position, since comparing the left side of the car with the right side of the car shows a slightly larger gap on the right side between the headlight and the bumper.

(Note: when I say “right” here, I mean the right-hand side as if I were sitting in the driver’s seat.)

I’ve been pissed at myself all day for hurting my precious baby. Grr. And this after about a week and a half of ownership…

First Week Prius Summary

After driving my new 2004 Millenium Silver Prius for a week, I do have some impressions and notes. I do want to note before I begin, however, that I’ve decided to name her “Cassie”, after Cassandra in Greek mythology. Wikipedia has a very complete entry on Cassandra here.

I had the opportunity to take Cassie on a round trip between Bellingham and here last Thursday and Friday, for a total of 342 miles round-trip. This gave me a chance to test her on long-distance driving, along with her cruise control and some other minor creature comforts. She handles very well on the highway and can compete with pretty much any other car on the road in terms of acceleration and keeping pace. I was, however, being a bit of a slowpoke most of the way up by sticking between 60 and 70 miles an hour (and almost never topping 70). The first leg of my trip took me between the apartment and my parent’s house in Snohomish, which entailed going up I-5, then connecting to 405, then 522. I was doing a very large amount of right-hand lane driving, which essentially meant that I had to slow down or stop depending on how close to a major exit I was getting. This was alright, since it meant that I was getting pretty good MPG out of it. The trip went quite well getting out there, though I had music on the whole time to keep my nerves from getting too worked up.

After stopping at home and picking up some things, I continued on to Bellingham by taking highway 9 to highway 2, then rejoining Interstate 5 at Everett. Once again, I was doing a lot of right-hand lane driving, though this time I did occasionally go as fast as the 70 mile an hour speed limit in some stretches. Basically, the trip up let me confirm several things:

  1. Driving over 60MPH is a definite damper on the overall MPG for a particular trip. The closer you get to 70, the more your efficiency drops off, though I found that going 63-65MPH didn’t cause that big of a hit.
  2. The cruise control doesn’t manage MPG as well as my foot can. Being able to “feather” the gas pedal at certain points can greatly improve an MPG rating within a specified time frame and puts less wear on the system overall. The cruise control isn’t capable of simply allowing the car to coast and take a slight speed hit for increased efficiency; it’s aim is to keep you at one exact speed. Sometimes, being able to coast so that you lose speed from 65 to 58MPH within a particular area can not only increase MPG, but increase the life of other mechanical parts (as well as my own safety as a driver).

    Others have tossed around numbers for how much of an efficiency hit you take by using the cruise control, but for me, it seems to be in the 3-5MPG range. This is a wild guess based on what I saw the consumption graphing doing over time.

  3. This car has a lot more cargo room than it looks. This was especially confirmed on my return trip.

Getting there took me about four and a half hours total due to the detour to my parent’s house, but when I got there, I was immediately able to show off the car to several people, including Amanda’s dad, who’s an auto parts person and was very interested in seeing a hybrid.

The next morning, with the assistance of Amanda’s dad, I increased the tire pressure to the owner recommended 42/40 front/back PSI measurements. I haven’t really noticed a difference since making this change, but it will definitely improve the life of the tires. As a side note, the car still has their original manufacturer-installed tires: Goodyear Integrity. These are not the greatest tires on the market, but they get you from place to place.

I also took the chance to refill for the first time on Friday morning, though I didn’t really need to – the tank was still only half full. I didn’t want to let it fall below half full immediately, so I pulled off at the local Chevron and filled it with about 4 gallons worth of gas. I probably should have let it go a little longer, since by the time we got back to Olympia, the gas meter was only one bar below full. That tank of gas had a displayed tank MPG of 53.9, but I calculated it out to a total MPG of 59.79. Those two numbers likely would have been closer together had I waited longer to refill.

Going back down, we had the cargo area filled to the top of the pull-out cover, which was a fairly good demonstration of how much cargo the car can actually hold. People who think it won’t carry much cargo at all would be very pleasantly surprised at how much it actually does carry.

There’s not really all that much more to report at this point. I’ll add more notes and thoughts as they come up.