Tesla owner Kathleen Goforth took a 9-day road trip to the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The monument didn’t have any EV chargers within an over 50-mile radius.
Goforth said she got creative and trickle charged at an outlet in an abandoned gas station.
Tesla owner Kathleen Goforth said she took her Model Y on a 9-day road trip through a rural area and had to get creative at one point when it came to charging.
Goforth, a climate action advocate, detailed her experience traveling to the Carrizo Plain National Monument with her husband in a blog post on Acterra, an environmental education nonprofit.
“It is remote and almost entirely undeveloped – the perfect challenge for planning our first road trip in our new, all-electric Tesla Model Y,” Goforth wrote regarding the Carrizo Plain, a grassland in San Luis Obispo County, California that is about 50 miles long and 15 miles wide. “There are no services within or anywhere near the Monument – no food, water, gas stations, and, certainly, no EV charging stations. Could we do it?”
The Tesla owner said she planned her route ahead of time using a Travelocity filter that allowed her to find hotels with EV chargers, as well as using Plugshare’s Trip Planner, which helped her plot out the various charging stations along the way.
The greatest hurdle the couple faced during their trip was once they reached the Carrizo Plain, Goforth said, as there were no chargers within at least 50 miles of the location. At their first stop, the couple was able to make use of a Level 2 fast charger, but they had to find different methods to charge at the California Valley Lodge, a motel just 20 miles outside of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Goforth said the couple had initially planned to charge using an RV hook-up site near the lodge and they were a “little nervous” about how it would work. But, when they arrived they were told the RV hook-up site was no longer available so they had to come up with another idea. The couple identified an unused gas station across the street from the lodge.
“Although the pumps had been removed long ago and the building was vacant, the electricity still worked and there was an exterior outlet we could use,” Goforth wrote of the gas station. “It was only a standard 120V outlet, so we would be trickle charging, not supercharging, but that was sufficient to more than replace, overnight, whatever energy we used on our daily excursions around the Monument. I loved the poetic justice of recharging our EV at a defunct gas station!”
A trickle charge only adds a few miles an hour to the car’s battery life, while a Level 2 charger can charge an EV to 80% between four to 10 hours, according to the Department of Transportation. The couple relied on the old gas station to replenish their car for two days while they explored the surrounding area and were able to use a Level 2 charger and Tesla Supercharger to finish their trip and eventually travel home, Goforth said.
In the blog post, Goforth said the couple traveled nearly 1,000 miles and saved over $300 in fuel costs.
“Now that we’ve experienced how easy, fun, and economical road tripping in an EV can be, we’re looking forward to many more all-electric adventures,” she wrote.
Not all EV owners share Goforth’s optimism when it comes to charging their vehicles on long road trips. Over the years, EV owners have shared horror stories about trying to find chargers on long road trips — from a road trip where a Kia EV owner had to stop 12 times to charge at slow public chargers, to a Mustang Mach-E driver who had to stop at four different charging stations, frantically searching for a working one. Earlier this year, another Tesla owner said he faced some “hiccups” on a 6,392-mile road trip, but ultimately found the carmaker’s Autopilot driver assist feature to be a “lifesaver.” Ultimately, a successful ev road trip comes down to properly plotting out your trip, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV owner previously told Insider.
Some Tesla owners say they have a distinct advantage when it comes to navigating longer journeys, including the use of the company’s ultrafast Superchargers, as well as Tesla’s internal navigation system which helps owners plot out paths with multiple charging sites.
An Acterra spokesperson said the organization is working to “dispel the idea that EVs are out of reach for some because of cost, believing that EVs are truly for everyone.”
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