Team Green Machine heads south – Tales from the 2013 BC2BC EV Rally

Friday, July 5, 2013

Supercharger day

July 4th – well, this day was very calm and relaxing. We looked online for a festival or July 4th party to crash nearby ( don’t want to go too far and deplete the charge before the send-off in the morning). There was one in a park nearby that was to start at 11 am, but when we got there at 11:05, nothing going on at all. So we decided to go wash the car. Uncovered a road warrior wound on the passenger door – a rock dent about 1/2 inch long (help Dumores Collision!!!!!) The first one is the hardest :( we thought the first one would be on the front.)

Left the car at Nissan across the street from our hotel to charge, then pool day! Had the pool to ourselves.
Next was meeting the gang for dinner at Chevy’s Mexican and met the new driver of Jack’s Model S. His name is Georg (pronounced Gay Org ). Jack had a family do to get to, so this was in the plan from the beginning. Jack’s car is in the lead time-wise, so Georg has his work cut out for him!
Just having a quick breakfast then off to the drivers meeting, then off to SUPERCHARGER land!!!!!
Until the next wifi…..
Team Green Machine on the road again with all our plans for the checkpoints in place!
C & R

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Santa Rosa day 1 report from Charlie Brown town

The first day in Santa Rosa was fairly relaxing.
We left the Hyatt Vineyard & Spa at 6:30 am to go find charging as we did not know if there were any media plans for the day. Tony came in around 3:45 am so we didn’t expect to hear for him til noon.
Found a free plug at Sonoma County administration building just a few miles away. There are quite a few broken chargers in this city, and the first one we went to was indeed out of commission. The next building over had a bunch more chargers so that worked out. Talked briefly to a Leaf owner who was arriving at work beside us. What a nice bunch of people EV owners are!
Had a breakfast bite to eat in the county cafe where wifi was present and found an RV park with bigger power to head to. It was at the County fairgrounds, so for $5 we got to charge up for 3.5 hours. We used our time to search for a more reasonable hotel that was close to a charger, then went for a long walk around the perimeter of the fair grounds. Jack, the RV park host told us that the fairgrounds has a huge 4th of July fireworks show and that the RV park would fill up by the end of the day. It was good timing that we got the last 50 amp plug early in the morning!
Then headed to the Best Western Plus and Santa Rosa Nissan for the rest of the charge.
Finally heard from Tony and then walked back over to the Hyatt. The lady at Nissan said it was just up the street and left on 3rd Street -yeah, if you’re driving! It is a mile and a half, in the heat of the afternoon! But we did it, although I was a little red when we got there.
Tony and Terry ( biker) were the only ones there, so we decided to grab a bite at the Mexican place nearby -nummy! FYI – Santa Rosa is all about Charlie Brown, so there are life sized 5′ cartoon statues all over town-so cute!
During lunch we decided to all go together to the county airport to get our checkpoint picture of the CAFE foundation’s only charger for electric aircraft in the world. We took our car and had a blast! We got to the CAFE hangar via a back road. The charger was not in plain sight, and Tony wanted to get behind that fence that said no trespassing, trespassers will be prosecuted, no unauthorized entry etc – you get the drift. They don’t want unauthorized folks in there.
We proceed to try different codes on the keypad and after less than a minute, we’re in!
There was nobody around, just a bunch of buildings and wide open grass fields. We walked around looking for the charger, and lo and behold, there it was! So that just made Tony’s day. We all took a bunch of pictures to prove its existence, then headed out before the Calvary came!
We had a lot of laughs on the way back to town about the adventure!
Dropped Tony & Terry off back at their hotel and headed back to our hotel. Relaxed for the evening, and now are ready for July 4th and all its glory! Going to a festival in the park nearby, then some pool time this afternoon, then dinner with the gang tonight at 7, then off to the races again tomorrow morning at 8 am for stage 3 to San Luis Obispo. Daniel from the Tesla store in Bellevue has given us contact info for his sister-in-law there, so we will look her up.
We can hardly stand the anticipation of using the Superchargers in this next stage!!
Until next time…
Crazy Canadians Team Green Machine
Cheryl & Randy
FYI – this blog link will go onto the Facebook page for BC2BC All Electric Vehicle Rally

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stage 2 report

The stage 2 log: Grants Pass OR to Santa Rosa CA

The criteria given at the send-off gave us a choice of routes:
1. Go coastal and get a checkpoint picture to get another poker card, or
2. go inland I5 and save time
The driver’s meeting left us nervous to stick with our plan of I5 to get to Santa Rosa the quickest. They talked about possible brown-outs with the power, and extreme temps expected inland. We weren’t worried about the car – it was all about us sitting in an RV park along I5 charging up for 4 hours. Most RV parks have little or no shade.
So, we opted for the coastal route checkpoint picture choice figuring that we have the efficient driving down pat ie. the right speed & technique on hills to get the max range. We headed west from Grants Pass and came out at Crescent City. Stopped there at a lovely shaded RV park for a few hours while we had lunch and explored the park. The crusty old RV park owner was extremely helpful and curious about the car. We then headed out down the coast-it is always so exciting to get the first glimpse of the ocean. The trip went well, with minimal traffic, beautiful scenery and reasonable range mileage. We had to make one more charge-up at the KOA in Willits CA at about 6:30 – 9 pm. We talked to some German travelers who where heading up to Vancouver in an RV. He knew all about Tesla, as they are also available in Germany. We gave them some Canada pins.
We arrived at the Hyatt stage 2 check-in at 10:55 pm, and were the 4th vehicle in. It was car 43 (Jack’s Model S), then car 6 (Dave & Helen Model S) , then bike 5 (Terry), then us, then car 45 (Ashoka’s Tesla roadster), then car 1 (Tony’s Rav4), then car 4 (Steve’s Leaf). Eric’s Leaf car 3 had a bit of trouble but he is on his way today, so all are accounted for!
One of the reasons that the other 2 Tesla Model S get to to the stages so quickly is that they have a $650+ Tesla roadster adapter which allows them access to some specific fast chargers along I5. Without that adapter, we are left with 50 amp charging which is basically only available in RV parks. This is temporary until Tesla finishes installing the Superchargers at approximately 200 mile intervals along major routes. They are coming online daily, and we will have a much easier time charging on our way home. We will go from 3-4 hour charging to 20 minutes woohoo!
A bit if rally gossip: so Lee in car 2 started at Blaine in a Mitsubishi iMiev. It is the smallest and least range of the bunch. He actually made it to the first stage in Grants Pass in second place, but carried on with the route on his own. The rules state that stage 2 began on July 2 from Grants Pass. Therefore, he was not there to begin the second stage and have a proper send-off time in order to check-in at the end point of stage 2 in Santa Rosa. He is somewhere south of San Francisco apparently doing just fine on his own rally.
He is posting and tweeting that there is no way he could make it under Tony’s rules, but Tony specifically made the timing work for his car. It appears that Lee has his own agenda, but he is now disqualified from the rally due to the stage 2 send-off no show.
Tony has invited Lee to the finale party in San Ysidro though, so hopefully all will be well in the end.
We are now settling in to Santa Rosa. There are fireworks close by tomorrow night, so we are looking forward to that.
Until next time………Team Green Machine on the loose in Santa Rosa (Charlie Brown town-google that!!)
Cheryl & Rand

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grants Pass interlude day

Our lay over day in Grants Pass:

We slept well at La Quinta Inn and woke up refreshed. Since there were no official events planned, we decided to head down to Ashland OR to do a pre-visit for our next possible checkpoint at Brammo Electric Motorcycles. They welcomed us with open arms, and Adrian (the Marketing exec) gave us a box of Brammo hats to take back for the rest of the participants. They felt bad as they had not responded to Tony’s request for participation in the rally. Charles from Brammo even escorted us to town with his Brammo to show us where the park was for our picnic lunch. Awesome!
We had a lovely lunch in the park, then meandered back towards Grants Pass via hwy 99 ( the old Pacific Highway). Very nice drive sort of like Route 66 in that there are lots of old motels and gas stations from the 50’s and 60’s.
Upon return to Grants Pass we went to the visitors center a block away from our hotel to use their charger to top up for this morning’s take off. We met up with the Tesla Roadster driver and ended up having dinner with him and learning all about data management. He is currently working on his masters in this field ( he explained his field as being sort of like what John Snowden whistle blew about the US govt tracking everyone’s data too closely). Another brainiac to hang out with -FUN!
So, now we are off to the lobby to hand out the Brammo hats and find out the details and checkpoints for stage 2. Wish us luck!!!
Team Green Machine car #8
Cheryl & Randy

Monday, July 1, 2013

Stage 1 Grants Pass Oregon

After breakfast and blogging at the RV park yesterday, we thought we’d be charged and ready to go, only to find that the breaker had blown! Frustrating as now we had to wait another 1.5 hours. We had found out by then that the first driver had checked in at 6:22 am at Stage 1.
The thing with charging is figuring out a balance between how far you have to go with how much “juice” you have in the tank. The tank is measured in miles stored up in the battery (range). (Km when we are at home).
So, we had to go 142 miles and it is recommended that you have a buffer of 50 miles on top of that for unexpected detours, wind, rain, hills etc in order to get to the destination in case there are no chargers in between. So we needed 192 miles in the tank/charged battery. We finally decided to live dangerously and only have a 20 mile buffer so we left the RV park with 162 miles-what rebels you say!!!
The drive was very fun as we tried many different ideas and EV driving tips that the members of VEVA (Vancouver Electric Vehicle Assn) had suggested to get the most range that we could out of the charge. Things like maintaining lower speed on flats (58 MPH was our sweet spot), drafting behind semi trucks so they pull us along, coasting down shorter hills, limiting A/C use.
This all worked such that we actually got to Grants Pass within our 20 mile planned buffer no problem. Now we will use that instead of needing to wait until we have a 50 mi buffer at future charges.
We arrived at Grants Pass stage 1 at 1:28 pm in 34 deg C heat as the second car to check-in. We were so happy with that and could not figure out how the other model S did it 7 hours quicker, as all we did was charge and drive with no breaks, and there are no fast chargers for our model S’s yet along the way. We soon found out the answer to that!
We met in the lobby with the teams that had arrived at 4’ish. By now 4 cars and the electric motorcycle had checked in. 2 model S (us & Jack from Nevada), 1 Nissan Leaf (Eric), 1 Rav 4 (Tony-the rally organizer) and the Zero electric motorcycle (Terry from Florida). We went for a beer down at the tavern, and man oh man what an experience that was!
These people have absolutely brilliant minds with regard to electric vehicles!  They proceeded to discuss their extra charging gadgets in their vehicles that enabled them to boost their charging via simple Home Depot electrical supplies and things they buy on ebay etc. My head was swimming, and I was basically smiling and nodding. Randy was holding his own and really understood what they were saying and was fully conversant. I thought to myself – wow – if this is just an inkling of the kind of minds that are working on improving electrical vehicles, then we ARE going to be able to move forward with this technology without question. It turns out that Jack is an electrical engineer, Tony is a retired commercial plot turned engineer type, and Terry – OMG he is a passionate soul about off the grid living! He is on Off The Grid on Facebook-worth checking him out.
We left there feeling very fortunate to be involved in this experience with these uber passionate people!
Now we have had a great sleep, and have a relaxing day to spend in Grants Pass while we await the arrival of the rest of the cars. We leave on stage 2 tomorrow morning -hope you all enjoy Canada Day (and Happy Birthday to our dear niece Vickie!)
Fully converted EV enthusiast – there is no turning back for me now! :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

First day/night

OK so, we left Blaine at 12:26 pm. They changed up the checkpoints at the last minute, which really confirmed that we are in an “Amazing Race” of sorts.
First checkpoint was the Spark Museum of Electricity in Bellingham. They had a parking spot reserved for us rally participants, and a welcome crew that met us outside, escorted us into the museum, and took our picture beside the big antiqueTesla coil. This is an optional stop to increase odds of winning, so of course we did it! That museum is very well laid out -wish we had more time to go through it.
Next, we headed over to Bellevue Square Mall to get a faster charge at the Tesla store. Stayed about an hour, then had to be at the Lemay Antique Car Museum before it closed at 5. We made it, and wow-that is some building and car collection! Google it to check it out – reminded us of the music museum in Seattle with the unique building design. We had to get a picture with one of the electric cars on display, so we got ours in front of the 1912 Detroit Electric. We also have a picture of us in front of the VEVA Detroit Electric (same model) as our blog pic.
Needed more juice on the way to Portland, so stopped at RV Park for 2 hrs -lots of Tesla time there as little league state championships are on this weekend, and the teams and parents were extremely interested. Tons of questions and they even offered us coffee and burgers! Gave out Canada pins to the kids.
So, the next question was – where to power up overnight? There is a big gap in chargers that are located at or near hotels/motels. They seem to be at retail outlets and food outlets, so not the best place to leave the car overnight. (We sure miss Sun Country’s well placed chargers in Canada!)
Problem solved! We drove to the Tesla store in Portland, arrived at 11 pm to the mall parkade and tucked ourselves in next to the demo Tesla’s and settled in for a night in the car. No obvious hotels around, and didn’t fancy walking blindly around that ‘hood. The Cheesecake Factory was open in the mall, so we went for a night cap and bathroom break.
About 2:30 am a knock on the window -SECURITY was doing their job. He was freaked out to see bodies in the car, but we explained the rally to him, and he had no problem letting us stay.
Up at 6 am, then down the road a couple of hours and now at an RV Park 50 amp charger. Showered, breakfasted, blogged, and now on our way to Grants Pass, where the 1st stage happens. So curious to see how the others faired. We saw a few co-ralliers along the I5 yesterday – so fun to wave and share the excitement.
TTFN – til the next wifi!

C & R. Team Green Machine

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day before we leave

So, today was a very busy day. Randy attended the Powertech DC fast charger launch in Surrey.This jargon means that Nissan Leaf owners will now have the ability to fast-charge their cars in BC. It took a while to start installations, but now these stations will be popping up fast and furious! There were 25 Nissan Leafs, 6 Tesla Model S, 1 Tesla Roadster and 1 Chev Volt, all flanked by the 1912 Detroit Electric car to celebrate this great day for EV’s.
Randy old them that I was busy at home fine-tuning the “hamster generators” and sewing battery leads onto our fuzzy sweaters for extra static electric power for the car! Do you think he wants to win this rally or what?!
In reality I was tieing up loose ends at home from this whirlwind week since we decided to embark on the BC2BC last Thursday.
So, the car is packed ( with lots of extra room if you can believe it)!…and we are ready to go.
Mum visited the local MP James Moore office and got a bunch of Canada pins to give to along the way -thanks Mum!  and we have our window Canada flag to fly along the way. I think we are ready to take on this thing with  a gusto!
Early morning at the “Golden Plug Ceremony” at Peace Arch Park Blaine in the morning.
Tata for now!