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Beyond Belief “Bubble Boy rides again”

Last winter we took a chance and left both our cars on the mainland before the last ferry stopped running in December. We made a commitment to use our electric golf cart as our sole means of transportation for the duration of the winter. We had gotten a zippered weather enclosure and some knobby tires to make our cart “winter friendly”. As it turned out it really worked great. The enclosure kept us “relatively” warm and by keeping the battery charged every night we never needed to beg for a ride home.

But what about those really cold nights and the snow and the ice you’re wondering? As a car guy, I was often asked about the battery’s performance and the winter handling of our cart in the snow. There was this one morning in particular when we had just had a big snowfall that required digging out the driveway to get the cart to the road. The golf cart, unlike its ATV cousins, cannot double as a snowplow. So after a bit of shoveling I finally was able to “blast” my way out of the drive, and through the drift by the road. I was worried I would get stuck but amazingly no problem!

Luckily, the road crew had already plowed the road smooth long before I got the shoveling completed so we were able to drive around the island with impunity. The knobby tires gave us ample traction and some common sense kept us from following the ATVS off road, though it was a tempting option. Since we can never really go faster than 12-14 mph even “panic” breaking on snow was not a problem. At 14mph if you simply take your foot off the accelerator in an electric golf cart you come to a stop in less 20 feet. Try getting a car to do that on snow!

One afternoon as we rode around in our enclosed golf cart towards the end of last winter, we drove past one of the island golf cart vendors walking along Catawba. He yelled out to us “Bubble Boy rides again”. For those of you who are Seinfeld fans you will probably remember the seriously funny “Bubble Boy” episode. According to Wikipedia “The Bubble Boy” is the 47th episode of the American sitcom Seinfeld, as well as the nickname of Donald Sanger, one of the characters in that episode. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bubble_Boy_(Seinfeld_episode).

For those who don’t remember, “Bubble Boy” was an angry rude man confined to a controlled environment “bubble” because of his suppressed immune system. So while the “bubble boy” comment was not exactly a direct compliment, I realized that the larger reference in his statement about traveling in our protected slow moving “bubble” enclosure was right on. Heck we liked it so much we left the “bubble” on all summer as well.

It is so easy to get attached to our comfortable cars, especially in winter. Heat, comfy seats, windows…it sounds so luxurious. However, we found that there was no place we were headed on the island that ever took more than five minutes to get to by cart. We could get home in about the same time it takes to get the average car warm anyway. And I see a lot of folks here that willingly drive their ATVS in the winter with no wind protection, which has to be much, much, much colder than our “bubble” cart.

After reviewing our bills, we used very little electricity, less than 5 dollars a month. The annual cost savings were really worth a few shivers when compared to the cost of gas we had used the winters before. In fact we still have gas credits at the gas station from 2008.

Perhaps you saw the article in the last gazette about how the new electric golf carts for sale actually qualify for a huge US energy tax credit. This could be a very motivating consideration if you have been on the fence about this subject. There is no doubt that electric golf carts are a great transportation option year round here on the island. I am not sure if this is “green”, or carbon neutral, or if we are saving the planet, but I can tell you for certain golf carting works year round and its doesn’t cost much. See you on the road.

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