Road Trip: Day 1: Bellingham to Lynnwood

We expected today’s journey to be largely uneventful. It was a little bit more exciting than expected, however.

We left home about ten minutes earlier than planned (wow!) and stopped for a late lunch at Boomer’s Drive-In in Bellingham. Then we headed south, charged at the quick charger in Burlington for 12 minutes, and continued to Magic Nissan of Everett.

Trish and her blue appliqué
Trish and her blue appliqué

At Magic we were met by Ray, from whom we bought our car, who had a special surprise for Trish! A while back she had seen someone else’s LEAF had a blue console appliqué, and decided that she wanted one too. Ray wasn’t sure that we could get one, as it’s typically a factory option. Nevertheless, we was able to get one and we installed it in the car for Trish. She was delighted!

Just as we were finishing our charging session at the dealer, the heavens opened and released, of all things, cats and dogs. I quickly unplugged and got in the car to not get wet in my t-shirt and shorts, and we headed to our destination.

Day 1 Charge Level
Day 1 Charge Level

Traffic was a bit heavier than expected, probably partly due to the heavy rain, but we got through at all and got to Trish’s dad’s house. I plugged the EVSE to my extension cord and adapter and that into the 50 amp outlet in his garage — it works! We charged up to 90% then stopped — we’ll charge the rest in the morning, so the car doesn’t sit at 100% overnight.

At the left you can see a GPS track of our journey. The color of the line reflects the amount of charge in our battery: green is 100%, blue is less than that, purple even less, and red would be 0% (which we hopefully won’t be seeing!). You can see where the hue changes abruptly when we charged.

We’ll need 100% tomorrow because we’re going to attempt a long drive. Ideally we would charge in Fife and then Olympia. However the company that built the charger in Fife is now charging a $5.00 flat fee for using the quick charger — even if we only used it for a minute. So we, along with many of our EV-owning friends, are protesting by not using these chargers. We’re not upset that there is a fee, just that it is a flat fee. We’d like to see them charger per-kilowatt-hour, ideally, or per-minute otherwise.

Day 2 Route
Day 2 Route

Anyway, this means we’d like to get to Olympia (Tumwater, actually) without using the charger in Fife or any of the ones in the Seattle area (which are all the same brand). The distance we need to cover, then, is 82.5 miles. I’d like to have a reserve of 2-3 kWh for emergency detours and such. With a full charge we end up with 21.3 kWh usable in our batteries, minus 3 kWh reserve, gives us 18.3 kWh to go 82.5 miles. To achieve this, we would need to get 4.5 mi/kWh. This is probably not going to happen: our car is loaded full of camping stuff and we’ll be going at freeway speeds (depending on traffic). On the way down today we only were able to get 3.9 (the rain doesn’t help, neither did the headwind).

So our plan instead is to stop at a level 2 charger (instead of the quick charger) about halfway through the route. We will likely use the one at the Walgreens in Des Moines — it’s close to I-5 and WA-99, either of which we may be using. By my calculations, we’ll want to charge there for about 35-40 minutes to get what we need to comfortably make it to Fife. We’ll probably use this time to find some lunch nearby (there are many options there).

The rest of the day should be fairly straightforward. After charging in Tumwater, we’ll continue south and charge in Centralia, Castle Rock, and Ridgefield. This will get us into downtown Portland, where our friends live, with plenty charge to spare. They have a 110 outlet in their parking garage we can plug in to for charging overnight.

The trip odometer now reads 88.6. We’ll be adding about 200 miles tomorrow.

Remember to follow @tyrel and watch #EVroadtrip on Twitter for updates along the way. I’ll write again tomorrow night from Portland!

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