I think both Ben and I were in love with adventure when we met. When I got the offer to do the roadtrip of a lifetime with him I jumped at the chance. (I considered Ben – aka Dusty Coyote – to be the road trip king when I heard about his journey with a friend of mine driving his DeLorean through Area 51 dressed in Men in Black suits with skinny ties and a ‘mystery briefcase’ ha! for a little extra drama) This time a roadtrip with an electric car?! But that’s half the fun, he explained. No one has ever really gone that far- figuring out where to ‘plug it in’ along the way was part of the adventure. He’s right. In this day and age, where you can take ‘adventure tours’ and be assured of the same experience as the people in the brochures – it was seeming that the possibility of adventure was long gone. Space was tight – I packed a ninja wardrobe, with some hiking shoes, laptop, and a silk scarf and dove into the unknown. Gleefully.
We started off in San Francisco and the plan was to head up the coast on Hwy 1 up to Arcata- over to Bend and across what I considered no man’s land of Eastern Oregon – and then on to Sun Valley via the back way through Stanley. Oh yeah, and we were going to stay off the Interstates and stick to the blue highways. We called in on friends (and some long lost friends along the way) to visit – and suck off their dryer plugs. That was part of the adventure, too – we were not inert in some plastic bubble moving through space, but instead we relied on friends and strangers for info and charge top-offs, with the wind in our hair and we were part of the landscape as the smells wafted over us.
ok, this little car MOVES! It’s like a jet engine that happens to stay on the ground. It hugged the curves like a motorcycle!
Being land-locked in Idaho, I only had two requests: I wanted to say ‘hi’ to the ocean, and sleep in a hammock in the redwoods….
The car has a range of about 200 miles, so a sure bet/safe haven for us was the RV Parks along the way. The first one in Fort Bragg was a little dodgy. It was more of a trailer park (with a great website – ha) We kept on blowing their circuits, and it was full of long term residents living in old school busses and trailers – “You take me to all the best places” I joked – but the real truth was that I was having the time of my life.
With space so limited, we didn’t even have a cooler, and grazed on nuts and hardy fruit. Ben is quite the backpacker and spent 6 months living off the land. Since he is a vegetarian – he survived on “shrubbery”. He knew the latin name for everything and would feed me shrubbery along the way. I always tried – as long as it wouldn’t kill me? Mostly I made a face and spat it out, but I liked the wild mint. He is kind of like speed racer/MacGyver/Euell Gibbons and is constantly surprising me.
We creeped into Eureka on reserve and made it to the Charge Point station – sometimes free, this one was $2.50/hr and we let it charge overnight. It was our biggest energy expense of the trip at $27.50. Still not bad for 200 miles! A completely full charge from empty takes 60 kwh of power – less than $5 of electricity!
The Osprey bags that we strapped to the back doubled as backpacks, and we headed into the redwoods (oops a little late and had to hoof it to make it to camp by dark)
I got to go to sleep in a hammock in the redwoods. Ahhh – talk about sleeping in a tree house! The next morning when we were taking the hammock down, we noticed that on the tree was already engraved B + T 2012. Whoa. Ben ASSURED me the environmentalist in him would NEVER cut a tree.
Then in Arcata we visited Ben’s friend Shiloh – He was remodeling a house that had been previously been equiped with a 50amp circuit (welcome to Arcata!) -plugged in, and caught up on work on the laptops. He also fashioned another adapter for dryer plugs which saved our butt later. We also visited my childhood sweetheart, Bill, and his lovely wife (a photo teacher!) and awesome kids. He went over the top on a pizza party for us & will be famous for these gourmet pizzas some day I’m sure. Check out his website at woodfiredpizza.org
We felt like rock stars (or at least we were driving one) and everywhere we went all sorts of people were so interested in this car from the future. I learned a little about electricity along the way, as Ben was kind of an ‘electricity embassador’ of sorts – spreading the word and educating and giving people a glimpse of what’s possible.
We passed a lot of cars. Sometimes three at a time!
Very small trunk!!!!! It’s as big as a set of golf clubs (and a third taken up with cables and extention cords).
I found that all that stuff that I thought I needed, but really didn’t, just got in the way of the wind in your hair.
The only way to make it to Burns, OR was to top off in Bend at the Nissan dealership. They have plugs for their Leaf, and were very supportive of us and our journey. We went to a coffeeshop to laptop it and had lunch with Paul, my favorite professor from photo school. When it started to rain in our absense, the Nissan guys even covered our bags with plastic. Well done!
Each RV Park had it’s own distinct personality. Crystal Crane Hot Springs near Burns, OR, was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it had hotsprings, and after a bit of a chilly ride, it was an oasis. So, it turns out that 30 amp RV hookups is only 120 – not 220. At that rate we would be there for two days for a full charge. While I was out photographing the sunset, Ben sweet-talked the camp host to let us take off the screens to the laundry room windows, and used the connector box that Shiloh made to be able to get the 220V that we needed to get a full charge overnight.
We were the crazy modern kids from the future at this very neat and clean RV Park for retired people in Ontario, OR.
Bittersweet on the home stretch – that means that this great American road trip adventure will eventually end.
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Thanks, Ben! Words can’t express my graditude for this most amazing journey. …
I can’t wait for the next adventure…… ; )