Monday, January 13, 2014

Plan B

The superchargers thus far have taken most of the decision making out of our trip.  Without supercharging, road trips in an EV can be incredibly tenuous depending on your resources and decision making skills.  It can be fatiguing constantly watching your rated range, projected range, average Wh/mi, temperature, elevation and distance and judging based on all of these variables whether you'll roll into your intended destination at a normal driving speed, at a comfortable cabin temperature, or whether you might be freezing your toes off, crawling along, or (augh) arrive on a tow truck, like Brewtus did last January.  Beyond these variables, you also have to choose your sites carefully.  Is it open?  Is the plug actually working?  How much power does it deliver?  Do you have the correct adapter?  These are questions you need to find the answers to; however, often the people you are asking are not familiar with electric vehicles at all or with what you are asking.  They may not be able to give you an answer, or even worse, sometimes the provide you with a wrong answer.  So sometimes you just have to hedge your bets and go for it.  This is the whole element of "range anxiety".  This is what deters people from buying electric vehicles (other than that many of them have been pretty funny looking before Tesla).  Fortunately, it is beginning to be a thing of the past.  But even with Tesla, which moves at warp speeds, change can feel not fast enough.

We hit our first major obstacle today.  Here's what went down.  

There are two superchargers between Grand Junction, CO and Farmington, NM that are under construction, but have not yet opened.  We had a few options.  One was to take a back route through more of Colorado starting at Silverthorne and going down through Salida, to Pagosa Springs to Farmington.  The place was teeming with chargers listed on plugshare.  Apparently around this area of the country the J-plugs are starting to get better as well - many of them providing 70amp service.  Around the same time we were making this decision, we were actually contacted by a local owner through the Tesla Motors Club forum.  He had personally been a strong impetus in getting two of these chargers installed -- one in Salida at Wood's High Mountain Distillery (with a tasting room) and another at Pagosa Springs - a rental agency very close to the hot springs in the area (and with beautiful mountain views).  Upon hearing of the locations, I turned to my husband and said, "These are my people!".  

All joking aside though, I do feel comfortable in the EV owner and particularly Tesla owner community.  Many of them are just really good people.  Plus they're a fun and adventurous lot as well.  This is far from the first time an owner has gone out of their way to contact me (or other owners)  and offer assistance.  Beyond that they're always using their own personal skills to promote Tesla and make the experience better for all of us -- like this map (so much more useful and informative than the one on the Tesla Supercharger site), this commercial, aftermarket products and modifications and all the other random equations or info regarding apps, tips and tricks they offer the community.  As I've eluded to before, you may find your entitled gimme-gimme owners, but you won't find any other car manufacturer with it's customers so willing to go to battle to protect and promote Tesla's brand.  But, I've rambled on about my appreciation and love for Tesla before (like here), so I'll end rant.

Our originally plan was to take the Whiskey and Hot Springs route above; however, the Distillery/charger in Salida was closed (we spoke with one of the owners who was out of town).  We decided to instead continue along the supercharger route to Grand Junction and then make our way down to Farmington.  We figured a supercharger and a known hotel would make a better option at this point in our trip.

As I noted in my last post, we ended up staying at Grand Junction last night instead of Farmington and instead headed south this morning.  Farmington is 216 miles from Grand Junction - definitely a push for Brewtus through cold temps and unknown mountainside.  With plugshare we did find a great transit stop about 40 miles prior to Farmington though with SIX J1772 plugs.  And they're free!  So we figured we'd play it safe (stayin' alive at 55!), the sun was shining (no HVAC!), try to make it to Farmington and if it's closed, stop at Durango to buffer the rest of the way.

Our trip was going great with plenty of both projected and rated range buffer, until around Ridgeway, where we came to a sign flashing "Red Mountain Pass closed due to rock slide".  Eek.  I quickly looked up bypass routes, but the best route I could find was still 147 miles long and our current range was reading 132.  Fail.  We turned around back to the small town diner where we had just eaten lunch.  Fortunately, E was functioning again (after a full day of antibiotics and prednisone) and while I searched the apps and map for options, he got out to ask the locals.  The first person he asked let him know that the Sheriff had texted her about the pass being closed, confirming it was the real deal.  Great luck - the second person he spoke to was a postman who knew the area well.  Gotta love small towns.  The postman detailed a route which ended up being the same exact route I had mapped out, but he also confirmed that a good portion of it was downhill (promising).  By the time E got back to the car I had also found a few RV parks along the route and after being shot down a couple times, found one with a 50amp spot open for us.

The decision was now to risk the new, largely unknown, route, or turn around, go back to Grand Junction, fill-up and take a new roundabout route through Utah.  We stopped at a gas station, filled up on "survival food" -- chips, salsa, a couple gallon jugs of water, beef jerky and ho-hos, in case we got stuck, and decided to go for it.

The route was beautiful.  We rolled into the RV park with 37 miles r-range left and Brewtus is tucked in charging while we are inside with our chips and salsa -- E answering emails and me blogging.  Just checked our range and we're good to go to Farmington, so we're off on the next leg of our journey.  Luckily Plan B was a success and we didn't have to go to C, D, or E.

Even in good weather, shit happens.

Our saving grace.

Grand Junction to Dolores, CO
Distance 190 miles, using 61.6 kWh at an average of 324 Wh/mi

Addendum -- WHAT!  Just refreshed the Tesla site and the Blanding, Utah supercharger opened while we've been sitting here.  Blargh!!

1 comment:

  1. How frustrating that the Salida charger was unavailable and that the Blanding Supercharger came online while you were sorting out the Red Mountain Pass closure. By the way, you had another charging option in Fort Collins: there's a J1772 outside the New Belgium Brewery's tasting room. Great beer, but maybe not such a good idea for making progress down the road. :-)

    - stevezzzz