Part 2: Staying Cool During Extreme Heat

Continuing the story of our 1300+ mile road trip in our electric car (Part 1 here).

Before we started the trip, we knew that we’d be traveling during an especially severe heatwave here in California. Normally we might adjust our travel dates because of this, but since we were going for my husband’s high school reunion, that wasn’t possible.

What we could adjust was the first portion of our route, which is why we ended up in Morro Bay. When we were planning our trip, we saw that the expected temperature of our usual mid-way stop was over 100 degrees. Morro Bay’s high was in the 70s. That made it an easy choice. The cool, coastal temperatures allowed us to park our car at the hotel and comfortably walk everywhere, including to the pride of Morro Bay: Morro Rock.

Our hotel was just up the street from the waterfront and Morro Rock.

Morro Rock was formed about 23 million years ago from a long-extinct volcano. At approximately 576 feet, it is the tallest of the nine “sister” volcanic plugs that form a chain between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. The state historic landmark is a sanctuary for the peregrine falcon and other bird species. It is also the site of the largest field of rock carins I’ve ever seen. Not everyone appreciates these balanced piles of rocks, and I can understand their objection, but seeing so many in one place was pretty impressive.

The next morning was cool and foggy, and we reluctantly loaded up the car for our drive north towards the heat. Almost immediately, we began to see these digital freeway signs:

The temps where we were headed looked brutal and we knew we’d be giving our car’s AC a workout. Fortunately, while very cold temperatures can lower an EV’s mileage, studies have shown that using the AC doesn’t impact it much more than it does in a gas car. Happily, our car’s impressive onboard computer considers AC use when figuring range, so we never had to sacrifice our comfort to eke out more mileage.  

We were also careful to avoid charging between the high-demand period of 4 pm and 9 pm. Only once did we have to plug in during that timeframe when a traffic backup due to an accident delayed our arrival at a supercharger until 4:09 pm (oops). We felt a bit guilty, but we were able to get a quick charge and be on our way in a few minutes.

That charge got us to my brother and sister-in-law’s home located east of San Francisco. We were planning to meet up with them later in the trip but we always enjoy staying for free in their guest room  drinking good wine from their extensive collection their generous hospitality.

The next day, after another quick charge, we drove to the hotel where the reunion was being held that evening. Since this was not my reunion, I got to be more of an observer. As I looked around the room, it was clear that the past 50 years had been gentler to some than others. Most appeared happy, healthy, and engaged but others seemed fragile. On one table the reunion committee had set out pictures and candles in memory of classmates who had passed away. Many of us commented on the number of pictures and how it was a sobering reminder to enjoy life while we can because there are no guarantees.   

Before I end Part 2 of our electrified journey, I would like to touch on luggage storage space. There is a common misconception that EVs are small and tight on trunk space, but, since the batteries are located under the chassis, our car has plenty of room. Not only is our trunk generous, but we also have a decent-sized “frunk” under the front hood where a gas car’s engine would be. Although we aspire to be light packers, this trip required both play clothes and dress-up clothes. One large and one small suitcase, a garment bag, and several additional bags fit with room to spare.

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Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

102 thoughts on “Part 2: Staying Cool During Extreme Heat”

    1. Hi Liesbet. We were gone for about a week and a half. It was on the short side, but the perfect length to try out the EV on a road trip. Next time, we’ll be more comfortable to go further.

      We attended an EV show yesterday and saw a few large electric trucks. They are very $$$ but at least some manufacturers are thinking beyond sedans and SUVs.

  1. As one of the folks who suffered through this horribad heat wave, I can empathize with the Morro Rock that looks like we felt: melted … 😛 We do appreciate that you didn’t use electricity from 4 to 9pm, though when I tell friends from outside the US about having to conserve energy like that when it’s too hot, they seem to disbelieve this state of affairs 🙂

    1. Since climate change in impacting everyone, I’m surprised that your friends from other countries aren’t being asked to conserve too. In fact, I think Europeans are being asked to conserve big time due to the war, aren’t they? We really don’t mind doing our part but I’m afraid that it’s only going to get worse.

      1. Their surprise comes from what they perceive as lack of planning since we talk about this every year for the last 10 years… They’re wondering why there’s not more investment in solar, for example.
        Here’s how that conversation started this year: someone we know who lived in Alaska and told us about the dreaded “heat up the metal wire to keep the pipes/sewer from freezing” in the winter. Our friends in Sweden have never heard of something like that…

        1. Oh yes, the planning that never was. Interesting about solar, though. The reason that the request for power conservation was between 4 – 9 pm is because later in the day, solar is no longer adding enough energy back onto the grid. Everyone comes home from work, turns on the home AC, TV, electronics, etc. and adds a big load.

  2. Sounds like a good trip! My daughter was telling me about the heat wave in LA and we just weathered Hurricane Ian here in Orlando. Crazy weather and very unsettling. Congrats on the EV. Glad the experience was a good one and may you have safe and easy travels on your way home.

  3. It seems your bro & sil relationship is a good one – perhaps fortified by their “generous hospitality”?? HA!
    The interesting thing I got from your experimental EV road trip experience is that the AC didn’t have a huge impact of ‘energy usage mileage’ (does it have a specific name for EVs?)
    Hope you enjoy more trips in the near future!

  4. Well, I’m going to have to check out Morro Bay. Can’t believe I’ve never been. I’ll mention it to hubs, who is doing journey management for our next road trip.

        1. With all of the tools available, both online and onboard, we are much more comfortable taking longer trips. The charging infrastructure isn’t as robust everywhere, so that’s really the only barrier. As I said in part 1 of this series, I don’t want to miss seeing things/going places I want just because we can’t find a charging station. I think this will be less of an issue going forward.

  5. You were very clever and responsible to avoid the peak times for electrical usage. There was a lot to think about on this wonderful trip. I like any excuse to visit Morro Bay! And avoiding the heat is a very valid one. 🙂

  6. Sounds like a lovely trip. I’m not a fan of attending my husband’s reunions although they have moved them from evening events to luncheons. Those old folks want to drive home in the light! (Us too!) The timing made it easier for us. We are a little over an hour away. It was not far enough to get a hotel room but far to drive home at 11 p.m.

    1. I was happy that we had a room in the hotel where the reunion was being held. I was able to slip out and let my husband be with his pals. Next year, mine is in the city where we live. Depending on how far away the event location is, I might want to get a room anyway (assuming it’s at night).

  7. We were on vacation in the Santa Barbara area during the heatwave. It got unbearably hot that week. Once it topped 100 degrees! I forced my husband and I to spend from 3 to sunset on the beach and in the ocean. He bodysurfed and I boogey boarded!

  8. This sounds like a wonderful trip despite the extremely high temperatures. Wonderful idea to change your route to stop at a cooler place along the way. And interesting info about all of the luggage space — I would have never guessed that. Now you can travel back here! We would be delighted to have you stay in our guest room, drink good wine and enjoy the hospitality!

  9. What a great trip and nice to see Morro Rock again, Janis. It’s been a while since I’ve been there. My brothers have a Tesla and I was stunned to learn about the amount of storage as you describe–duh, no engine, LOL! Wow, 50-year class reunion. Our 50-year is in 2028–we’ve lost many classmates already. A sobering thought indeed.

  10. Congrats – it sounds like all went well despite the heat. Your comments as an observer at the reunion are profound. I think that when folks are getting back to normal activities and gatherings we’ll see the same phenomenon – those that are surviving and thriving and those that aren’t. That’s impressive storage space in your car. Are you happy to be home? Was your hubby happy to see his school peeps? Any big surprises for him?

    1. I think my husband was happy to have made the effort to attend his reunion. Hopefully he’ll stay in contact with several classmates he reconnected with, but we all have such full lives as it is. Sometimes it’s hard to say why some people are doing well, and others not so much… nature/nurture… but it was striking.

      I’m always happy to be traveling, and happy to get home. Life is good!

  11. Oh, the wonders of the electric car! If I read another post on it, I might be tempted to try one here in Canada. But the lack of charging stations in the Interior of BC will hold me back.

  12. Morro Bay looks good, but even the 70s would have me melting! Noting the info about your EV for future reference. I’ve only ever had one school reunion and it was more general than one specific class – the building was being demolished so it was a last hurrah for everyone. I still met quite a few people I hadn’t seen since the 1970s and was surprised how many I would instantly have recognised walking down the street.

    1. I wonder if reunions are more of a “thing” here in the U.S. Each ten years they seem to get more and more casual as we (most of us, anyway) value the relaxed atmosphere rather than trying to impress each other with how far we’ve come since high school.

  13. What a great trip! I loved the pics of the rocks. And sometimes, it’s more fun to go to a spouse’s reunion, because you do get to observe and not have to try to remember who everyone is!

  14. Janis, this is so informative. Good for you to take the risk to go on a long vacation using nothing but electricity. You have set the standard high!

    1. I know that a lot of people are thinking about maybe getting an EV next so I thought our trip might be of interest. In a recent comment on a friend’s Facebook post, someone said that they “had no desire to drive a golf cart.” Modern EVs are definitely NOT golf carts. In fact, I could probably beat her in a road race… except that I’m more of an old lady driver so I’d probably just let her go ahead 🙂

  15. That’s a notable rock, for sure! I was aghast at the heat reports coming from the West Coast. Not unusual here in the middle of the country (at least not up to 105 or so) but anything above that is jaw dropping. Global warming is real, people.

  16. Thanks for the real-world experience report, Janis. Many years ago (when Ilived in WA), I drove north from the southern border of California home to Seattle. The ride through CA was one of the hottest times I ever spent in a car. The AC struggled the entire trip.

    1. When I attended grade school, we often had “Santa Ana” days in the early fall – like snow days, but HOT – when temps soared over 100 degrees and we got to stay home. Because these events only lasted a few days, the schools didn’t have AC and neither did our home. Now, with warming temps becoming more common, AC is almost required.

  17. I have seen reports about how using your heat sucks up the power so it’s interesting that the A/C does not. Wow that’s hot so good call on that unique rock stop. That picture of the leaning one is so cool!

  18. It sounds like the EV trip was a real success story. I’m glad to hear it. We live in such a remote area that I’m rather hesitant to consider electric for anything other than a local runabout vehicle.

  19. What an interesting rock formation to explore! I totally understand the attempt to seek out cooler areas in that kind of extreme heat. We found ourselves in Paris in 41c (about 103F) degree weather & it was pretty! I found myself sweating from place I didn’t know you could sweat from😂

      1. Thankfully I had been to Paris before so I didn’t feel the need to pack everything when it was that hot. Our little boutique hotel had AC so we may have spent some time indoors drinking wine🤣

  20. I’ve enjoyed reading about your vacation. I know I’d enjoy the laidback feel of Morro Bay. Your experience with your car is also interesting. Don’t know of anyone else who has done what you’ve done, documenting as you went along. Very helpful

    1. I think we’ve only spent one night in Morro Bay each time we’ve used it as a stopping point on our trips up north. After this brief stay, I think I’d like to make it a multi-day destination next time. Lots to see and great hikes to take. The day we left, they were setting up for their annual Avocado/Margarita Festival. How fun would that have been?

  21. These 2 posts were a great read Janis and well done on the planning for your trip. EVs are becoming very popular here too but charging stations are still a bit of an issue in this huge country of ours! That rock at Morro Bay is seriously impressive!

  22. Frunk – I love that word. Is that actually what they call it or you made that up? I enjoy reading about your breaking the misconceptions about EV in your posts.
    Morro Rock looks intriguing and I rather like the rock cairns too. I saw plenty of them in the mountains in Norway and they are controversial there due to the amount that are visible.

    1. I can’t claim that word… frunk is actually what the front compartments are called. (I wonder though, in the UK, where trunks are called “boots” are the front compartments called “froots”?)

      I think the purists feel that carins should only be created as trail markers. But – people being people – they have become an “art project” for many.

  23. Fun to read about your electric car road trip, Janis. What a treat to spend a night in Moro Bay and visit the incomparable Moro Rock. We had been reading about the great California heat waves and are glad you could enjoy a brief respite on your trip up the coast.

  24. I’ve never been to Morro Bay, but it is definitely on my list of places to visit. I’m located in Southern California, so it’s definitely doable for us.

    Also, I love how you point out all of the common misconceptions of EVs. My husband had a Tesla for a year before it got totaled in a bad accident. I swear, it did a better job holding up than my gas car would. We both walked away unharmed, and a car T-ed us at an intersection on my side (passengers). It was terrifying, but the car was amazing and kept us both from getting injured. We plan on getting another EV soon.

    Thank you for sharing your trip and beautiful photos with us 😊

    1. I was T-boned in my first EV (a Nissan Leaf) so I know how scary it can be when someone comes out of nowhere. I’m glad your Tesla kept you safe. I’m also glad you are getting another EV. There are so many great choices out there, and there are more all the time.

      I hope when you visit Morro Bay you can spend some time exploring. That Central Coast area has a lot to do.

      1. Yes! We are looking at the new Hyundai Ionic (but also still looking at Tesla too because we loved the first one so much).

        I hope so too! It sounds amazing!

          1. My gas car is a Hyundai accent. It was the most fuel efficient vehicle in 2016, and I fell in love with Hyundai. I’m hoping to get an EV eventually and don’t want anything but a Hyundai haha 😂

  25. Actually just visited Morro Bay myself and it was something to behold that’s for sure! I love that you love the ‘generous hospitality’ of your brother and sister-in-laws giggle giggle 🥰🥰🥰🤭🤭🤭😁🥰🥰

  26. You have a trunk AND a frunk? Sign me up for an EV!

    I’ve never been to a single high school reunion and probably never will, seeing as how I changed schools right before my senior year. I just don’t have that connection with anybody.

    1. Funny thing, we almost forgot that we had all that extra room up front. It was like finding an extra room in your house you didn’t know you had :). High school reunions aren’t for everyone but I enjoy going to mine, especially now that they have become much more casual.

  27. This is great fun to read. Having just purchased a hybrid this summer, I’m still getting used to some of the differences that self-generation create. Unfortunately, I’m not yet ready to go fully EV. The current bushes where I tend to take my car don’t have enough wattage yet. 🤔 So, I don’t get that wonderful storage bonus that you have with the lack of a combustion engine. My Kia had oodles of space, especially in the back where it was designed for 3 rows of seats, but mine had only 2, which provided me with this wonderful extra storage cubby under the deck in the back. I’m sure loving my RAV4 Hybrid. Looking forward to the future when I hope to replace my roof, add solar to the roof, buy an EV and become fully self-sustaining, power wise.

    1. Those RAV4 Hybrids are really nice, and a great alternative when you can’t go completely electric. Don’t forget to add a house battery if you want to be fully self-sustaining… if not, you’ll still need to be attached to the grid at night. I think, like so many technologies, there is going to be huge leaps forward over the next few years as far as electric power goes. Also, other alternative fuel sources. It’s an exciting time to be alive 🙂

      1. Yes, I think Idaho Power has a sneaky way of tethering all of us to the grid. At least all of us within city limits. There will be lots of details to investigate. But it’s a ways off for me.

  28. It’s been interesting reading about your travels again Janis. I know I really enjoyed your Mexico trips when I first began following you. Morro Rock is beautiful and the way you framed the shot with this big rock and the street leading down and the boats … very nice. I learned more about the EVs in this post, all what I didn’t know before. That is a good incentive to stay healthy by seeing all those classmates that left too soon. I’ve lost quite a few classmates too. We did have a large graduating class (613) though.

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying the series, Linda. Taking the EV added a level of complication, but it was an interesting journey and everything went very smoothly.

      Your graduating class was huge! It was so sad to see so many pictures of my husband’s classmates who had passed away, especially those who died not too long out of high school. Yes, stay healthy!

      1. It’s been a long time since I took a road trip Janis. I think I mentioned my 13-year-old car just passed 10,000 miles. I once thought it was fun to walk more than I drove, but now the mechanic says I must drive more. My favorite season, Fall, is a good time to do that.

        Yes, our June 1973 class was huge and 1973 was the last year that there was a January graduating class and I think there were 125 or so kids there as well. We had some O.D.s out of high school and now it is mostly heart disease – very scary. Staying healthy is key!

  29. Why do some people not like carins? I’d never heard of this discussion. Loved this part: we always enjoy staying for free in their guest room drinking good wine from their extensive collection their generous hospitality. Haha! Sad about some people at the reunion looking fragile and some having passed away. :/ P.S. I know I read these out of order. Ah well.

    1. There are probably a few reasons people don’t like them. Some just don’t like nature being messed with and feel that so many in one place destroys the natural beauty. Others object to carins being used for anything other than trail markers. This objection makes sense if you are hiking and see some random carin. Is it an important marker or someone “art” project?

      I don’t care what order you read my posts in, I’m grateful that you take the time to read them 🙂

      1. Interesting. And that makes sense. I’ll bet for the person making them, it’s a good experience, cathartic even and the fulfillment of meeting the challenge. But I definitely get the arguments against too.

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