Road Trip: Day 14: Castle Rock to South Whidbey

By Tyrel on September 11, 2013

Day 14 Charge Level Map

Day 14 Charge Level Map

Today was a bit of a travel challenge for an EV, since we wanted to avoid using any Blink quick chargers and their absurd $5-per-session fee. We left fairly early from our campsite with a 100% charge. Since it didn’t take much to get to Castle Rock proper, we obviously didn’t charge there.

The next quick charger is in Centralia. We skipped this as we had plenty of charge to reach the next one, in Tumwater. We plugged in at Tumwater with a fairly low charge and charged for about 40 minutes — to the point where the quick charger turned off, which coincided exactly with the point at which it would be just as fast to charge on Level 2 (6.6 kW). I’m not sure if the car does this intentionally or not.

We carefully continued north. After Fort Lewis we switched from I-5 to WA-99 so we could go slower and conserve a bit of power. We arrived at the Walgreens in Des Moines, right on WA-99, at about noon. So we plugged in to the charger there and walked across the street to have some Mexican food for lunch. By the time we got back to the car, I calculated that we had enough charge to reach Magic Nissan of Everett, so we unplugged and continued.

We got the Low Battery Warning something like 5 miles before Magic Nissan. In the 2013 there’s quite a bit of range after the LBW, so this did not cause us any concern. When we reached Magic we had 15 miles on the guess-o-meter and 2/12 bars of charge still.

We charged for a few minutes so that we would have enough charge to drive to Trish’s dad’s house by Lynnwood then over to her mom’s house on South Whidbey. When we got out to charge, we suddenly realized how hot it was outside — we hadn’t noticed this in Des Moines or earlier in the day. But it was in the high 80s in Everett. Just after we finished charging, the car displayed 8/12 battery temperature bars, which ties for the highest we’ve ever seen. The actual temperatures were showing about 108 degrees.

Day 15 Planned Route

Day 15 Planned Route

We visited Trish’s dad then went to the island. I left the car on-ish while on the ferry so I could record GPS information with the LEAF Battery App, so we could see the path of the ferry in the charge level map.

I’ve plugged the car in to a welder plug in the shop and set a timer so we’ll be charged and ready to go in the morning. We’ll head up the island to cross at Deception Pass, rather than crossing at the ferry again, to save costs. We’ve done this once before in the LEAF and it was fine, so we’re not worried. We’ll probably hit Low Battery Warning before we get to Burlington, though.

After that we’ll head home, and get attacked by our cat who surely misses us.

Road Trip: Day 13: Astoria to Castle Rock

By Tyrel on September 10, 2013

Campsite at Seaquest State Park

Campsite at Seaquest State Park

We made it back into Washington!

After a good nights’ sleep at a half-occupied campground, the car finished charging on level 1 around 9:00 am and we first headed out to the very corner of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia river. It was fairly foggy so we couldn’t see much, other than a ship coming in.

Day 13 Charge Level Map

Day 13 Charge Level Map

Then we headed east along the southern side of the Columbia. We reached the little town of Westport and plugged in to the quick charger. While charging, we ate lunch at the Berry Patch restaurant, the host of the charger, which was great. Trish got distracted by their likely delicious jams, but I was able to drag her away without purchasing any. Whew!

When we left, the charger had finished and we took off. We finally crossed the river into Longview and then at Castle Rock turned toward our campground. We were a little early so we first checked out the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center. It was interesting but we didn’t want to pay $5 each for admissions, so we left after a short time and went to our campsite.

Day 14 Route

Day 14 Planned Route

Camp here is quiet — there are few other campers around, and most of them seem to be retired couples with their motorhomes. We’ll cook up some sausages and head to bed. We’re plugged in to level 1 charging again, but it should finished by the time we leave.

Tomorrow we’ll be driving back up to the Seattle area and will stay with relatives on Whidbey Island. It’ll be a huge stretch of a drive to get from Tumwater to Everett without using a Blink charger, so we’ll stop at the Walgreens in Des Moines again to use the level 2 charger there, which is $0.49/kWh, a pricing model we agree with.

Road Trip: Day 12: Cannon Beach to Astoria

By Tyrel on September 9, 2013

Campsite at Fort Stevens State Park

Campsite at Fort Stevens State Park

Day 12 Charge Level Map

Day 12 Charge Level Map

We left our inn at Cannon Beach this morning and headed north to Astoria. On the way we stopped by Seaside to have lunch at a wonderful little restaurant, the Fireside Grill. Our food was absolutely delicious!

Then we drove around a bit in Seaside to get the feel for the town. We thought about stopping to look at shops, but decided to move on to possibly more interesting things in Astoria.

Our destination in Astoria was the Columbia River Maritime Museum. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was interesting. They have a LOT of models of old ships that were very cool to look at. It made me want to build a model ship myself. Trish isn’t so sure that’s a great idea, though.

We watched a film there called “Sharks 3D”. It had videos of sharks, in 3D. Other than that we weren’t very pleased with it — as we watch a lot of documentaries, there was nothing new for us in it other than the 3D-ness of the sharks, which was nice in that it provided a sense of scale.

After the museum we headed to our campsite. It turns out that we picked a very nice site. There’s a lot of privacy and it’s very large. We could put up 5 tents on this site if we wanted to! The folks driving around selling firewood said this is their favorite site in the whole park.

Day 13 Planned Route

Day 13 Planned Route

Tomorrow we’ll head back through Astoria and continue east. We’ll cross the Columbia and head north a bit to Castle Rock, where we charged on our way down 10 days ago. This will complete the big loop of our trip. We’ll be camping at the state park next to Silver Lake there.

Road Trip: Day 11: Nehalem to Cannon Beach

By Tyrel on September 8, 2013

Day 11 Charge Level Map

Day 11 Charge Level Map

Camping last night went well — it was very quiet. There was no 220-volt plug at the campsite, so I plugged the car’s stock level 1 EVSE into the 30amp 110 outlet (with an adapter). It was 100% charged by the time we got up in the morning.

As I mentioned yesterday, our trip today was to be very short. First we explored the beach near our campsite for a while. As we were preparing to leave, I was approached by an elderly gentleman traveling from Prince George, BC who had a lot of very good questions about the LEAF. I gladly answered them, of course.

Day 12 Planned Route

Day 12 Planned Route

Then we headed straight to Cannon Beach. We drove around, had lunch, drove around, walked around, checked in to the inn, drove around, ate dinner, drove around, walked around, and drove back to the inn. There’s some sand and rocks out there. At this point we’ve seen a lot of sand and rocks along the coast.

Despite all that driving around, we only used about 35% of our battery capacity, as you can see in the charge level map above. We might not even charge for our trip tomorrow up to Astoria (I haven’t looked at the numbers yet).

On our way up to Astoria tomorrow, we’ll stop first Seaside to check it out. Our campground is actually west of Astoria, at the very corner of the state. It’ll be our last stay in Oregon!

Road Trip: Day 10: Lincoln City to Nehalem

By Tyrel on September 7, 2013

Camp at Nehalem Bay

Camp at Nehalem Bay

Day 10 Charge Level Map

Day 10 Charge Level Map (some data missing)

I’d been starting to think that we’d been making this too easy on ourselves. Our travel distances every day were very small and we always left with 100% charge. It made us pretty confident in our ability to get from city to city along the coast. Probably a little too confident.

First of all, our night in the yurt went quite well. It was warm, dry, and comfortable, despite the drizzle outside. We got a fairly good nights’ sleep. The campground itself (Devils Lake State Park) was quite good — fantastic bathrooms and showers, everything was clean, etc. It was a lot better than Honeyman State Park which we stayed in for two nights a couple eons ago.

After checking out a nearby beach (by the shortest river in the world, “D” River), we grabbed an 80% charge from the quick charger and headed north. We were confident in our range and decided to take the scenic route. I programmed the car’s navigation system to take us around that way, and to take us by the things we wanted to see in Tillamook once we got there.

One of our friends told us before we left home that if we see something interesting, go check it out. We used this advice a couple of times on this part of our journey.

First, as we were driving along the coastal route, we noticed a huge rock standing by itself out in the ocean by Pacific City. We went off our course a bit to check it out and take some photos from the beach. Then we continued on.

By the time we reached Cape Lookout, I happened to notice something of concern: The range available according to both the LEAF Battery App (at 4.2 mi/kWh) and the Guess-O-Meter in the dash were less than the distance to our destination indicated on the navigation system (28 miles). Usually the car warns when this happens, but it didn’t today, for whatever reason.

This caused a brief moment of panic. We pulled over and Trish went to take pictures while I did some computation to see what our options might be. I cleared everything from the navigation system and told it to map us to the quick charger in Tillamook. It was only 12 miles away. This was well within our range, and I was much calmer. It turns out the navigation system was giving the total distance between our waypoints (of course), which were back and forth all around Tillamook, and thus a much farther distance. Going to the charger first solved this. We did make it to the charger with 3 bars left.

Next we drove up to check out the Tillamook Air Museum. It didn’t look particularly exciting, other than being in a giant blimp hangar, so we didn’t go inside. Then we went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It was obviously a huge tourist activity, and being tourists, it seemed like something we should do. It turned out to be pretty boring. But we got some interesting cheese to eat and good ice cream cones. Then we headed north toward camp.

Riding on a Steam Train

Riding on a Steam Train

But on our way, we had another distraction. Travelling through the town of Rockaway Beach, I suddenly noticed a steam-powered train sitting on the tracks next to the road, and it was actually running! We pulled over quick and investigated. The train had tourists on it, and it was leaving in 5 minutes to go to the town of Garibaldi, after which it would return to Rockaway Beach. I’ve always been fascinated by trains, and have never ridden on any train, let alone a steam train! We hopped on and took the ride.

Day 11 Planned Route

Day 11 Planned Route

The train didn’t move fast, but it was pretty exciting. It’s too bad it’s coal-powered, but I think it’s okay for an occasional vintage machine to run on fossil fuels for entertainment purposes. It took an hour and a half for us to take the round trip. There were some nice views from the train; but just getting to ride behind a steam locomotive is fun enough. This was a lot better than the cheese factory, for sure.

Finally we made it to camp. The weather has dried up, which is a relief. The grounds are full here, but it seems to be pretty quiet. We can hear the ocean roaring to the west, but we haven’t had a chance to check it out yet — now that it’s dark, we’ll wait until morning.

Tomorrow’s plan is very easy. We’re going to drive about 16 miles to Cannon Beach. We’ll be staying in an inn there, and check out the touristy things around town.

Road Trip: Day 9: Newport to Lincoln City

By Tyrel on September 6, 2013

pufandhouse
Today went much better than yesterday! First, it was nice to have slept in a hotel, although we chose not to use our own pillows, which turned out to be a mistake, as we both had neck aches in the morning.

Our first objective was to check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium before leaving Newport. This took us about 2 hours. It’s not a very big place, but they had a decent assortment of creatures. We enjoyed watching the sea otters and puffins in particular.

We used the charger in Newport again. We just used level 2 while we grabbed lunch at the place next door. Then we began our cruise up to Lincoln City.

Day 9 Charge Level Map

Day 9 Charge Level Map

The first stop was Yaquina Head, where we checked out the cobble beach. It was very interesting — an entire beach made of round basaltic stones. The sound that they made when the water pulled back between the waves was very cool. We visited with a cormorant (bird) that was sitting on a rock there, then headed out because the flies were driving us crazy.

Next we stopped at Devil’s Punch Bowl, which is not a bowl, without punch, and I didn’t see the devil, either. Nevertheless, it was an interesting geological feature in which sea water violently goes into and out of a hole.

Meandering up the coast, we came across Depoe Bay, where we honestly didn’t expect to find much. We were surprised, then, to find a spouting horn. This is also an interesting geological feature in which sea water violently goes into and out of a hole. But in a different way than the other hole. It was quite impressive!

Just as we were about to depart, we noticed a red LEAF coming up the highway. They pulled in next to us, and we visited for quite a while. It was a nice couple, Debbie and Patrick Jimmerson, of Seagrove. They are a two-LEAF family and had never met another two-LEAF family before. They were apparently one of the first LEAF owners in the area. It was very nice to visit with them. On our whole journey they are the first LEAFers we have talked to, amazingly!

Day 10 Planned Route

Day 10 Planned Route

It wasn’t much farther until Lincoln City, where we first stopped at the quick charger to top off a bit. A Tesla Model S had just pulled out. The charger is right next to the campground we’re staying at, so we quickly headed over after charging.

Tonight we are staying in a yurt — which is basically a large, round, wood-framed tent. It has electricity and heat, which is nice, but cooking is not allowed inside. Since it is raining outside, this will be a lot more comfortable than tenting. Hopefully the rain is gone by tomorrow night when we’ll be tenting it again.

Speaking of tomorrow: The plan is to head to Tillamook, where we must obviously check out the cheese factory, then head even further north to camp at Nehalem Bay State Park. There is a quick charger in Tillamook we’ll use, and then we should be able to charge at camp again tomorrow night.

Road Trip: Day 8: Florence to Newport

By Tyrel on September 5, 2013

Looking Back at the Sand Dunes

Looking Back at the Sand Dunes

Things don’t always go as planned — but that’s okay as long as you’re able to adapt. Today was a pretty good example of this.

First, the night went fine — nothing to report there. We woke up early (around 7) and started packing up to head north to Newport.

Day 8 Charge Level Map

Day 8 Charge Level Map (some data missing)

The first stop along the way was the Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside, where we looked at an insect-eating plant. It wasn’t super exciting, but cool.

Next we went to see the sea lion caves. But, of course, the elevator down into the caves was offline today (of all the days of the year), so we couldn’t go down and see them. They offered to let us go on their trail and look out at the ocean for $5 each. That would have been a total ripoff, as we could drive a couple hundred yards up the road and see the ocean from a turn-out. So we went that way instead. It was the ocean. Strike one.

From there we could see a lighthouse to the north. We decided to go check that out. When we arrived at the parking lot, we saw the sign that indicated it was a half-mile hike from there to the lighthouse. Trish’s feet have been getting sore, so we didn’t go there either. Strike two.

Next was Devil’s Churn, where the sea waters come into a very small space and smash up in the air in great bursts. But, alas, the seas were too calm and nothing was happening here either. Strike three.

Continuing north, we arrived at the little town of Yachats where there is a quick charger. Just as we were arriving, a very bright and loud thunderstorm arrived. We debated whether it would be safe to be connected to the charger (in case a nearby tree got struck by lightning or something), and decided that we would just charge for a bit to get some extra charge, then continue on. We didn’t really need much at this point so only being plugged in for a bit would minimize our risk.

There wasn’t much else we were interested in until Newport. Shortly after arriving at Newport and having lunch, the thunderstorms had found their way up here as well. We were exploring a park when a downpour began. We found ourselves back in the car, soaked, and wishing we didn’t have to camp tonight. Strike four (?).

Day 9 Planned Route

Day 9 Planned Route

As the rains continued and the forecast wasn’t looking any better, we debated in our wet clothes about whether to camp or just find a hotel. Eventually we elected for the hotel option, and made a reservation at the Comfort Inn in Newport. It’s obviously much more expensive than camping, but it’s very much worth it. We are enjoying the dry, warm, and comfortable room. After camping for three nights, it feels very good. It’s also nice to have real Internet access instead of using tethering on my phone!

Tomorrow we’ll start our morning by visiting the Oregon Coast Aquarium here in Newport. Then we’ll continue north to Lincoln City, just 26 miles away. At the campground there, we’ll be sleeping in a yurt, so the rain will not bother us as much if it continues. In fact, we love the sound of rain, so that would be enjoyable. We’ve also never stayed in a yurt before, so that’ll be fun as well.

So far the trip odometer is up to about 700 miles! We may not hit the 1,500 total miles I was anticipating, but it’ll be close.

Road Trip: Day 7: Florence Area

By Tyrel on September 4, 2013

Cleawox Lake

Cleawox Lake

Sand Dunes and Forest

Sand Dunes and Forest

Our first night in Florence went well. There were no disturbances during the night and both of us slept very well in the tent.

For today we didn’t have any travel goals — it’s sort of a rest day. We ended up going to Fred Meyer to get a few things we needed and walked around Old Town Florence a bit. We also spent some time exploring around Cleawox Lake and some of the sand dunes.

Day 8 Planned Route

Day 8 Planned Route

Walking barefoot on giant sand dunes is fun but tiring. We crawled all the way to the top of one so we could have a look around and take some pictures. There were some people “sandboarding”, which is like snowboarding except on sand. It seemed to work pretty well. One group of guys actually built a ramp out of sand like you’d build a sand castle and would zoom down the hill, hit the ramp, and fly through the air into the lake.

Tomorrow we will leave Florence and head north toward Newport. There are a couple places we may stop along the way to see the sights. This is the longest span along the coast without a charger, but it’s only 50 miles so it will not be a problem.

Road Trip: Day 6: Eugene to Florence

By Tyrel on September 3, 2013

Our first night camping went fairly well. The campground was basically empty, as it was the day after Labor Day. We packed up after breakfast in the morning to head west to the coast.

The first thing we did was stop at the first town (Veneta) where we had decent cell service so we could get some things done that we had intended to do the night before — but we had no connectivity at the camp. Then we headed out over the hills to the coast.

Day 6 Charge Level Map

Day 6 Charge Level Map

The drive was easy, beautiful, and largely uneventful. We listened to another Radiolab podcast to pass the time. We were so distracted by this that we missed the turn for the quick charger at the casino in Florence, and had to turn around to go back for it. While we were charging we were approached by a couple of folks who had questions about it.

We weren’t able to check in to the campground until 4pm, so we grabbed some lunch and headed to Sandland Adventures, which offers tours of the sand dunes here. They were already booked for their last tour of the day (1:45) but lucky for us, someone cancelled a few minutes before it was to head out, so we got to go on it.

I have to say it was extremely enjoyable! They have two options, a high-speed joy ride or a slower-speed sightseeing tour. Our was the sightseeing variety. It was definitely worth the $15/person to do it! We thought we might even do it again. It was a full hour tour of all sorts of different types of terrain in the dunes, along with great explanations from the tour guide/driver, Doug.

Sandland Adventures

Sandland Adventures

After that we went up to check out a beach on the north side of town. It was exactly like the beach I remember from San Diego, with lots of sand and big waves, except not as many people zooming all over! I never realized all of this was so close to home.

Honeyman Park Campsite

Honeyman Park Campsite

Finally 4pm rolled around and we were able to check in to our campsite. This campground is bigger than the one last night, and a lot busier, but it’s far from packed. Probably less than 50% of the campsites are occupied, and most of them are tents. We again have 50 amp service at our site so the car can charge up; again, though, the breaker panel gets warm so we’ll do it a bit at a time.

We don’t need much charge for tomorrow anyway — we’re just going to stick around the Florence area and check out a few things (we’re not sure what yet!). We’re camping in the same spot again tomorrow night. It’ll be nice not to have to take down and set up everything for one night. Hopefully we can find some fun things to do!

Road Trip: Day 5: Albany to Eugene

By Tyrel on September 2, 2013

First LEAF Campsite

First LEAF Campsite

After an outstanding dinner, sleep, and breakfast with a friend in Albany, we were off toward our first night camping.

There were three quick chargers along the way, but we only used the one in Eugene/Springfield. The terrain before Eugene was remarkably flat and the roads straight, making for easy driving as long as you can find a way to keep yourself awake, which we did by listening to a Radiolab podcast.

Day 5 Charge Level Map

Day 5 Charge Level Map

Our intention was to hike up to the top of Spencer Butte, just south of Eugene. We got most of the way up, then wimped out and went back down. We were exhausted, hot, and not feeling very well overall. Oh well.

From there we went to Fred Meyer to pick up some groceries for camping. After getting what we needed, we headed off to camp at Richardson Park, west of Eugene. Only a few other folks were in the camp, as it was the night after Labor Day, so it was very quiet. We plugged the car in to the 50-amp outlet and charged it up. However, the electrical panel there was getting very hot, so I turned off charging every 10% or so to let it cool off. I suspect it’s not designed for continuous 30-amp draw. We’ll keep this in mind at other camps as well.

The plan for tomorrow is to head west to the coast, where we will camp at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park in Florence for two nights while we find stuff to do around there.

Day 6 Planned Route

Day 6 Planned Route

Trip odometer so far: 542.8 miles.