April marks our 1-year anniversary with Buzz — and the half-way point of our 2-year field trial with our ActiveE. For the first year, Buzz has been a fantastic around-town car for us, but we’d never gone outside of San Diego County with him, so we decided a little road trip was in order to commemorate the one-year mark. But where should we go?
Well, a few months ago, The Beloved had some business in the Inland Empire and stayed at the beautiful Mission Inn in Riverside, which was interesting because I had stayed there nearly 20 years ago when I interviewed at UC-Riverside for a position in their biochemistry department. When she’d come back, we’d said we’d have to go back there together sometime. From our house, Riverside is just outside of Buzz’s normal range and the Mission Inn seemed like a good destination for a weekend.
A mild Santa Ana was coming on Saturday when we left — clear skies and hot temperatures — and we drove without a ton of regard for saving battery usually going ~75 mph. From checking EV maps, we knew there were a couple of charging stations in the town of Temecula. At half-way between our house and Riverside, that seemed like a good place to stop, have lunch, and grab a charge. Pulling into town, we found two empty chargers at the top of the municipal parking garage. Sweet. Upon our return, the other was taken (Volt) and we had a note from a Leaf-owner asking us to plug her in when we left. No problem.
We got into Riverside with ~25% charge left on the battery and figured even with a slow 110V-charge overnight we’d have almost a full charge by morning. When I made the reservation I mentioned our car and charging needs, and while the hotel didn’t have an EV-charging station, they said that we could charge from a spot in their parking structure since we had our adapter. Sadly, the concierge that told us that was err — completely and utterly wrong. They had one outlet, about 50-feet away from one spot, and no extension cord that could support the charging power needs. So, no recharging for Buzz in the garage overnight.
But we figured that wouldn’t be too much of a problem because Plan B was to charge during the day at one of the Riverside Municipal garages — each of which we could see had a couple of EV charging stations — while we walked old-town Riverside and grabbed coffee/breakfast, etc. Well, guess what? All the Riverside municipal parking structures are CLOSED on weekends. Whoops — the ChargePoint app doesn’t mention that.
So — okay. For Plan C, we managed to drive around for a bit and find one open garage near the UC-Riverside Law Library that had a ChargePoint station. We swiped our card, plugged in, and got charging. Whew. Except that upon our return several hours later, we learned that the station inexplicably lost power 20 minutes into our session and that I never received the text from ChargePoint that I was supposed to about having my charging interrupted. ChargePoint fail on all levels.
Plan D? Well, I didn’t think we needed a Plan D, but since we were down to a pretty uncomfortable ~15 miles in the battery, we needed one, so we called over to the folks at BMW of Riverside (eight miles away), who were happy to give us a charge and a lift back over to town (not to mention a tour of an X1 that the Beloved might be starting to have an eye for). Let’s just say that I’m glad we didn’t need a plan E.
We headed back yesterday with no problem, stopping again in Temecula (though at a different lot) for lunch and getting the extra charge that we needed to make it home. Temecula clearly wins the I-15 prize for EV charging facilitation!
So, was the road trip experiment a success? I’d say a qualified one. Not being able to get a charge until late on our second day in Riverside kept us from being able to go see one of the things we wanted to, so that was a bit of a bummer (and it was closed on Monday). It seems to me that more precise information about where and when stations are available could have saved us some time and frustration.
And, of course, most importantly, it was just really fun to get Buzz out on the highway and go. No second guessing that!