Had a surprise week off of work in August and decided to try a Leaf trip diagonally across WA State (well, not ALL the way across like from Neah Bay or Blaine to Clarkston or Asotin, but pretty close). I planned to drive from Tri-Cities to Anacortes or thereabouts using US2 Stevens Pass and all those nice DCQC’s. The short story is that we made it to Bellingham and back, 800+ miles without the dreaded turtle or being towed, although it was more difficult than anticipated.
Summary of Seattle-side driving: You guys got it EASY with all these DCQCs and L2. Yes, I know, we always need more and there will probably be “somewhere” on your route that needs another one or two, but man, all I can say is “try coming to eastern WA” and driving across the Hanford Nuclear Reservation where the nearest “non-govt” electricity might be 35 miles away! (Note to those adventuresome soles, there is NO useable L1 at the Vernita Bridge Rest Area).
Here’s the long version:
I used a modified LEAFer’s spreadsheet to record the data (viewtopic.php?f=31&t=9170&hilit=BC2BC+Return&start=50#p208868
Left Tri-Cities on Highway 240 around 4:15am in an attempt to miss some of Hanford’s early rush hour, BB=12, L1 100% finished at 0300, GOM=114mi, Garage Temp=72F, Air Temp=55F, Wind NW=5, TB=6. Arrive Schwana/Beverly 0530, 57.3 mi, GOM=31, AT=65F, NW=10-15, BB=3, Dash=5.0mpkwh
Well, at this point I was pretty sure I’d be using a tow truck. The wind and cold really sapped the battery. About 0515 I noticed the trees swaying at Desert Aire and realized I was screwed. There was no way I would be able to climb up ~1000 ft to get to George, WA where I had arranged some L1 charging at 78.7 mi. Initially I got 7-7.5 mi/BB, then closer to 5-6mi/BB into the wind. So we pulled into the 76 gas station with a new coffee shop addition. I meekly asked if I could buy 50 cent worth of electricity with my coffee. Lori (owner) laughed but after realizing I was not joking, allowed me to plug in (through the front door since there were no exterior outlets). We had two cups of coffee, relaxed for about an hour, thanked Lori for the help, picked up a bar I think, then slowly rolled out of “town” past Wanapum Dam. At this point the sun was up and the wind had decreased a bit. Up and down past the dam to connect with I-90 and then it’s up to George. Thankfully very little traffic (except a ton of people between Mattawa and Desert Aire going to work in all the orchards and vineyards). Rolled into George at 0815, GOM=9, BB=1, 4.7 mpkwh. Shucks, it looks like I could have made it without that extra charge, but chickened out. If you’ve ever driven that route, you know why I was extra cautious. Charged at the 76 gas station in George by permission of owner (Sanjay) for about 3.5 hr. Walked around town, went to the café for breakfast, talked with the city admin who helped arrange the charge. They are interested in installing a charging station, perhaps DCQC at the 76 station. Departed about 1200.
AV Quincy, 1230, 92.1mi, GOM=14, BB=1.9, 4.7 mpkwh. I estimate not enough charge to reach Wenatchee (31 mi) and so stop at Chamber of Commerce (another pre-arranged approval) for another chat and 3 hr wait. This turns out to be way too much charge, but again worried because of previous wind, two-lane roads, and now school/afternoon traffic. Depart 1530 with 4 BB. AV Wenatchee, 1615, 123.5 mi, GOM=11, BB=2, 4.8 mpkwh. I knew it was downhill to Wenatchee from Quincy, but did not count on a 15-20 mph tailwind. I drove 60-70 mph and splurged by using AC which was good since we were heading NW into the sun and temp was 85-90F. Well, this was where it was supposed to get easy, except the DCQC was NOT WORKING! ARRRGGHHH. Used L2 over dinner, departing 1900 with BB=6 and only 23 mi to Leavenworth. Again, charged more than I needed.
AV Leavenworth, 1938, 146.1 mi, GOM=11, BB=2. 40 min DCQC, +20 min wait for pizza, and we were on the road at 2030, BB=11, TB=7. GOM read 9 mi at the top of Stevens Pass and about 40 mi at Skykomish. Almost hit an owl in the dark over Stevens Pass, but otherwise uneventful to Skykomish where we picked up our 2nd DCQC at 197 mi, 4.6 mpkwh, T=58F, BB=11, TB=7. We left Sky at 2205, skipped the Sultan DCQC and rolled into Totem Lk/Kirkland around 2300 (sorry too tired to record any data). I do remember that we had to use HEAT to mitigate condensation (a strange concept in dry Eastern WA and highs near 90F earlier). Arrived with 3-4 BB at 252 mi. Lots of errors on this leg of the journey, but that’s probably normal for a 1st time over 102 mi and only 4th trip out of town. I charged on L2 for an hour and L1 for at least 2, and probably 4 hrs longer than needed.
Many might question my route choice, but I had determined that it would be shorter, and likely faster to reach the Wenatchee DCQC. I also believed, (later proved to be incorrect), that the Yakima Nissan dealership (L2) would only allow charging from 8am-5pm, which would have required leaving later. The unexpected headwind, my nervousness about going below BB=1 in this remote area, and the non-functional DCQC conspired to add 3-4 hrs to the trip. Still, probably better than the alternative, a tow truck.
A good night’s rest, an abundance of charging station, and maybe coffee, gave me the confidence I needed to cruise to Anacortes, skipping the DCQC in Burlington, and arriving on LBW at Walgreens. As “Doug” says on Plugshare, EFuel =$0, human fuel =$20. Lunched at the Brown Lantern and surprised relatives, overnight L1 in a 1920’s garage (definitely not originally designed for EVs). A full charge and we zip (not even watching the speedometer) up to Bellingham to visit friends, check out the Nissan dealership with 5+ Leafs in stock, almost sell a prospective buyer, charge at the DCQC while browsing in REI (man that charger is TOO fast) and then head back. Decided that 83 mi freeway is too far, so stop at Burlington DCQC and have my FIRST and only experience with getting “Leafed”. They must have just plugged in, and had another 15 min to go. I settled on L2, walked around the Outlet Mall (not my idea of fun) and returned to unplug the other Leaf (leaving a nice note that he was finished) and get myself 10 min QC. Was just leaving when he returned, chatted briefly, but had to jet to back in time for dinner. He couldn’t believe that a Tri-Cities Leaf made it there.
Ok, after a couple of days enjoying the Kirkland area, the return trip was eeeeaasy. Again, assuming no L2 in Yakima after 1700 forced me to either leave at 0500 or spend the night somewhere. Well, a 1000 massage appointment helped with that decision. So, departed at 1212, 536.2 mi, BB=12, TB=5, GOM=96, Wind=SW5, 4.5 mpkwh. Had 9 BB at Monroe and arrived in Skykomish at 1325, 51.3 mi, BB=3, TB=5, GOM=19, 4.2 mpkwh, 72F. Nice lunch in town, depart 1350, BB=11, TB=6. Crossed the top of Stevens Pass at BB=6 and GOM=17 and arrived in Leavenworth at 1530, 102 mi, BB=3, TB=6, GOM=28, 82F, 4.4 mpkwh. Left at 1615 after finding Starbucks, BB=11, TB=7 (yikes), GOM=108. What’s this, I spot another RED LEAF at a hotel and swing in to take a quick picture. They were from BC Canada! And, here I thought I was the big adventurer. Took US97 over Blewett Pass (yikes that’s two DCQCs and 4000+ft climbs in one day) to Ellensburg (right through the burned out area). Arrived at 1730, 160 mi, BB=1 (hmmm, I’m getting better), TB=7, GOM=17, Wind=W5, 78F. Used 2 hr L2 over dinner to BB=6 then L1 at the Super 8. Thankfully I brought a 50 ft, 10 ga extension cord (my only extra equipment except the L1 cord/brick) otherwise I would have needed another room. Fortified with sleep & fresh coffee, departed 0800, BB=12, TB=5 (ahhhh), 50F, GOM=123, and drove the leisurely and scenic Yakima Canyon (Rd 821), and arrived at the Yakima Nissan dealership at 0900, perfect timing to get a full charge during business hours. Spoke with Isaac, the Leaf “specialist” who hasn’t quite finished all the training or received approval to actually sell the car. But yet, they do have L2 right in front of the building and IT IS OPERATING AND UNLOCKED 24/7 (Dang, wish I'd known that a week earlier). They do have active security+cameras due to the less-than-stellar neighborhood, but Isaac assured me that management will allow off-hours charging. All the same, I would make sure you look trustworthy and stay with your car. Took a quick walk around the area, heading toward “downtown”, but don’t expect many services of interest (unless you need some bodywork or other similar light-industrial business.
Departed Yakima at 1115, BB=12, TB=6, 65F, GOM=103 driving pretty much with traffic (65-70 mph) on I-82 (~78 mi to Richland and slightly downhill with W5 tailwind). Stopped briefly at the Sunnyside Ford/Chevy/Nissan dealership and confirmed that there is NO charging available or planned for this location. Don’t believe everything you read on PlugShare. Arrived in Tri-Cities at 1400, 817.1 mi RT, VLBW, TB=6, T=84F. VLBW sounds more dramatic than it really was since I made three stops in town (groceries, library, bank) actually arriving with GOM=9 and BB=1 but lost those on the intervening stops. Once in my own town, apparently I gained back the confidence that I lacked 6 days early at 0530 driving uphill into the wind.
Well, that’s my EV swan song drive. Unless/until there are DCQC stations on I-90 and I-82, that drive is just too long except as a vacation road trip. I’m trying to forget the drive over, but the return trip was under 12 hrs drive/charging (compared to about 6-8 hrs ICE). However, this does not compare to a 4 hr ICE crossing via I-90 Snoqualmie Pass (or with DCQC’s, you might make it in 6-7 hrs). For now, I’ll return to my previous in-town driving experience.
Respectfully submitted, Reddy