Thought I would drop by the Chicagoland forum to share my first beyond-range road trip from Oak Park, IL to Milwaukee, WI. I strove to make the entire trip free of paying for charges. Almost did it....
This past Saturday 4/5/14 I had my LEAF plugged in at work in the Holley Ct. garage in Oak Park, IL until I departed at about 5pm. I left with 100% SOC. Being late on a Saturday, I knew the Rosen Nissan Dealership in Gurnee, IL was to be closed by the time I would arrive and would thus lose the opportunity to check out and utilize their L3 DC Quick Charger. This was actually fine by me for two reasons... one, I was only about 4-5 bars short from a full 12 by Gurnee and two, I kinda needed a nap after an 8 hour Saturday work shift on 6 hours of sleep.
That said, I continued on, at about 60mph on cruise control like I had most of the trip, toward the free charger in Pleasant Prairie at the Gateway Technical College - Horizon Center. I knew if this station didn't work for some reason, I would still have enough to make it back to Gurnee Mills Mall where I'd have to pay to charge. The station worked fine and I charged while napping for about 52 minutes. Afterwards, I carried on toward Milwaukee knowing there was a AAA charge station toward the outskirts of the city limits if I couldn't make it all the way to my charging destination at Schlitz Park which is walking distance from my friends house where I would be staying the night. Stress free, I made it easily to Schlitz Park and found a VOLT plugged into it's only J1772 cord. It was finished however, so I left a note, unplugged it and charged overnight with no issues. Even moved my car into my buddies parking garage after our night out once it was finished charging.
The next morning we went to breakfast at Cafe Hollander (I highly recommend, but be ready for a wait on a Sunday) which is nearby two soon-to-be working DCQC stations at the UW-Milwaukee Campus. We drove by one and I documented it's status on PlugShare, I assume the other is in similar construction phase status but don't know for sure. After breakfast he drove me back to my car, and I departed toward home planning to charge either at a free station in Gurnee called WindFree on Plugshare or at Gurnee Mills if I had to pay. After arriving at the really deserted barn shaped strip-mall where the free charger was located in the rear, I charged for about a half hour while taking pics and posting on PlugShare. It was terribly boring and nothing around whatsoever. I only charged so long because, in my quest to remain free from paying, I opted to gain enough range to head toward ABT Electronics in Glenview. Figured I could shop and charge for free!
ABT on the weekends is like a MADHOUSE! Both EV parking spots were taken... one by an ICE Mercedes (BOOOOOO) and the other by a Plug-In C-Max Energei which had the charge port open but no plug inserted (also BOOOO.) Funny thing was, there was a Tesla right across from it too in a regular spot. I tried parking between the handicap space and the curb but the plug wouldn't reach and thus decided to head to Golf Mill Mall. Unfortunately, here's where I had to pay.
Charging at Golf Mill Mall is $2/ hour but I needed a bathroom break and something to do as well as a charge by this point. Golf Mill Mall sucks, however, and thus I just walked into a few stores and decided to leave the mall and go to Panera Bread across the street since I was hungry and had time to kill. After a whopping $2.42 of charge time, I left but not before 2 nice passers by stopped me as I was unplugging and had about a 10 minute Q/A conversation with me about EV's.
Making it home to Glendale Heights was really no problem after this and I just clipped the Low Battery Warning arriving with between 10-17%. All in all, I would say it was a success.
P.S. I wrote to ABT Electronics about my experience and gave them more than several suggestions on how to avoid this from happening. I received a call from the store manager the very next day and they said they were sorry this happened and that it was the first time they knew of it happening, and that they would take all of my suggestions into consideration. Was very nice to hear as I LOVE that store and really wished that was where I spent my hour!