The final installment of our 1300+ mile road trip in our electric car (Part 1 & Part 2 & Part 3 here).
When we first planned our road trip, we weren’t quite sure which route we’d take back home. Because of the possibility of excessive heat and unpredictable wildfires, we left that decision open until it was time to head south. The coastal route is interesting and cooler, but we drove up that way. There are a couple of north/south freeways that offer the shortest and quickest drive, but they are mind-numbingly boring. If we drove further east before heading south, we could visit Mono Lake, something that I’ve always wanted to see.
When it was time to start home, the temperatures had dropped a bit and there weren’t any active fires, so we decided to head east, then south. This route required some additional planning because, unlike the state’s western corridor, the eastern areas aren’t as populated, and superchargers aren’t as available.
Fortunately, at this point in our trip, we had become comfortable with the apps that located the chargers and with our car’s ability to predict the level of charge we’d need at each one. As we headed east, we drove through mountain passes and pine forests – away from any population centers – but our car told us that we’d reach the next charging station with plenty of juice to spare. Although it can be anxiety-producing to watch the car’s range shrink when climbing hills, regenerative breaking adds most of that range back when driving downhill.
When we came around a bend in the road and first caught a glimpse of the lake from a view turnout, I was in awe. I had seen pictures of Mono Lake but was thrilled to now see it for myself.
Mono Lake, an ancient saline lake located at the eastern edge of the California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, is home to trillions of brine shrimp, millions of birds, and the world-famous tufa towers. The lake was nearly destroyed when, in 1941, water was diverted from the lake’s tributary streams and sent 350 miles south to meet the growing water demands of Los Angeles. Fortunately, because of the work of dedicated activists, this practice was stopped, and the lake’s water level is slowly being restored.
The Final Stretch Home
When we got on the road the next morning, our plan was to recharge twice along the way before stopping for the night about halfway home. During the drive, we continued to find charging stations available with no wait, as well as places to eat and “refresh” close by. As we approached the half-way point, we were feeling pretty good, so we decided to continue driving after charging.
This decision is not unusual for us; we often choose to power through the last stretch because we are anxious to get home and sleep in our own bed again. What was different was how good we felt after driving for over 7 hours. Stopping every couple of hours for a quick charge (charge time averaged 10 – 15 minutes each) made us get out of the car and stretch our legs. When we arrived home after 8 pm that night, we both felt good.
So, not to get too wonky on you, here’s our final thoughts about our 1300+ mile EV trip:
What we liked:
Charging more often but to lower levels not only makes the trip more enjoyable but the total charging time is actually less.
EV owners are nice and full of information so good conversations happen while charging.
Our car had plenty of power, the cabin comfort was outstanding, and we had more than enough storage space for our luggage.
Although it wasn’t our intention, we saved money. Gas prices are high but so are electricity rates at superchargers. Even so, we spent about half as much as we would have at the gas pump (and no stinky hands).
What could be improved:
Because charging stations aren’t as prevalent as gas stations, the trip took extra planning, and we had a bit of a learning curve on how to use the tools available. Next time, we’ll be better at it.
California has good charging infrastructure, so we had no trouble finding stations. Although more public chargers are being added all the time, for now, we might need to stick to the main freeways when traveling in certain states.
The biggest negative for us is the car’s single large screen located in the middle of the dashboard. Although this is a trend for a lot of cars – even gas-powered ones – we don’t like it. We prefer not to have to take our eyes off the road to perform some of the car’s functions or to see how fast we are driving vs. the speed limit. Without a co-pilot, I’m not sure either of us could comfortably drive unfamiliar roads and read the tiny print on the screen, especially with our older eyes.
Now that we’ve been home for a while, we are already thinking about our next EV adventure.
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