Only a week after the nation’s newspapers were filled with headlines of the first cross-country trip in an electric car, two Louisianans slip quietly across the Rio Grande in south Texas in an attempt to do the unthinkable—drive a factory electric car across seven Third World countries to the “end of the road,” Panama City, Panama.
Without support and armed only with a toolbox, a bag of electrical adapters, and their wits, author Randy Denmon and his friend Dean trudge on through jungles, deserts, volcanoes, rivers, and crater-sized potholes, all the while trying to avoid the drug cartels and corrupt border guards that could mean a quick end to their adventure . . . and their lives. Through it all, the same enormous problem loomed daily: how to charge the car in such a primitive and desolate setting?
Despite the numerous setbacks, Randy never lost his sense of humor. Off the Grid is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one about two guys who dropped everything for one grand twenty-first-century adventure—traveling back in time in a car that seemed to come from the future.
SubtitleMy Ride from Louisiana to the Panama Canal in an Electric Car
AuthorRandy Denmon, Jim Motavalli
Published4 April 2017
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
Illustrations35 B&W photos.
About the author
Randy Denmon is a writer and engineer. His novels have been reviewed in numerous papers and magazines and have won the Western Writers of America Spur Award and the Faulkner-Wisdom Award. A lifelong Louisiana resident, he currently resides in Monroe, Louisiana.
Jim Motavalli is the author of two books on electric cars, Forward Drive and High Voltage; cofounder of FuelCellCars.com; and blogger for Car Talk at National Public Radio.
“This good old-fashioned story of a road trip through stunning landscapes reminded me not only of Mark Twain, but also of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and Neither Here Nor There. This was a most enjoyable book; one I’ll remember a very long time.”
—Bret Lott, author of Jewel (an Oprah Book Club selection)
“Randy Denmon isn’t your average Tesla Model S owner. While many Model S owners spend their time zipping around town, or cruising from supercharger to supercharger, Denmon had grander plans for his Tesla. Wanting to prove that electricity is a viable alternative to gas-powered transit, Denmon and his buddy Dean Lewis pointed their Model S south and kept going until they had almost hit the Panama Canal.”
“Off the Grid is the needed road trip story of the future! It’s a great read and an on-the-edge of-your-seat ride to remember! Entertaining, funny, and a definite page turner!”
—Tom Berenger, Academy Award-nominated actor and Emmy and Golden Globe winner
“Produce an electric car with enough range, and the journeys it can realistically achieve become almost limitless. The most impressive trip undertaken might be that of Randy Denmon and Dean Lewis, who have driven a Model S from Texas to the Panama Canal.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“This tale of two guys in a futuristic car traveling across a low-tech landscape will appeal to fans of humorous travel ¬writers, such as Bill Bryson and Tim Cahill.”
“Here is a roadtrip adventure of the best kind, full of crazy escapades with improbable outcomes. It’s a story told with wit and warmth, honesty and heart. Denmon bet big and he won.”
—Dina Bennett, author of Peking to Paris: Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the World
“Off the Grid grips the road and reader with fears of dusk-time searches for elusive electricity in inhospitable, socket-less towns. Author Randy Denmon is refreshingly unassuming and abundantly informed, and his writing has more energy than a rechargeable battery.”
—Rick Antonson, author of Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street
“[Denmon] strikes a nice balance here between adventure and misadventure (the road to Panama was not always a smooth one), with some moments of comedy and danger thrown into the mix. It’s an entertaining tour of Latin America.”
“Randy Denmon and his friend, Dean Lewis, take us on a raucous road trip from Texas to Panama in an all-electric Tesla sedan. Their adventures include hand-sweating drives through drug cartel territory, slow going on bad roads infamous as sites of kidnapping, white-knuckle navigation on perilous mountain roads, frustrating face-offs with sullen bureaucrats and the never-ending, nail-biting search for 240-volt outlets to charge the car. This is a lively read complete with clear exposition of the technical details, well-informed commentary on each country’s political history, and moving descriptions of the almost supernatural beauty of the volcanic terrain.”
—Dennis James, author of Songs of the Baka and Other Discoveries: Travels after Sixty-Five
“In the spirit of the great adventurers of the past, this is a travel quest for the modern age, where the constant search for a reliable 240-volt power supply takes over from exploring undiscovered corners of the planet! This book shows that the human spirit will always seek harder, more difficult ways of doing things simply for the challenge and for the satisfaction of being ‘the first’!”
—Steve Davey, author of Around the World in 500 Festivals
“What possesses a couple of single guys to decide to set out, on their own, without any support, especially from Tesla, to drive in an electric car over some of the worst roads in the Western Hemisphere?”
“[Randy Denmon and Dean Lewis] packed up in McAllen, Texas, and headed south towards Panama City, Panama, with nothing but each other and a handful of charging adapters…. Hazards included jungles, waterways and volcanoes, as well as finding places to charge in the Mexican back country.”
“Any normal adventure seeker would have chosen a high-riding, four-wheel-drive vehicle, and this all-electric safari was about as sketchy as long solo journeys of early 20th century drivers who’d set out in primitive gas cars without certainty or support.”
“This book is wonderful book and the author describes in detail the history of the regions he is traveling through with the beauty of the people that helped him with the issues of charging an electric car. Also, descriptive with the problems. I just wanted to keep on reading and not put the book down until fully read.” —Deborah Hughes, NetGalley Reviewer “An entertaining book about the travels of two friends in their new Tesla car and how they drove it from Texas to Panama. There was interesting history about south America and humor.” —Cathie Salvo, NetGalley Reviewer