Wednesday, April 15, 2015

302 Miles and a lot of luck: Part 1 - Road to Richmond

On 3 February, 2015, I had only two things I wished to accomplish: Attend Clean Energy Lobby Day 2015 in Richmond, Virginia and visit with some friends in Elkridge, Maryland.  On any given day, Elkridge would be tricky but doable and Richmond would be a trial but to do both in one day, some might call me insane.  Yet that's exactly what I did and thanks to LEAF Spy I can take you on that journey with me, through all the slow, meandering drive at 06:00 to the frantic search for the Richmond Omni Hotel to a relaxing sunset in Stafford, VA to the mystery of the South-West beltway to a dash to be home before midnight.  So come with me along an exciting journey of 302 mi (486 km) in one day in #CO2Fre Nissan LEAF.

In the maps below, not only is my route shown, but my State of Charge is indicated by the colour of the segment.  A green segment represents a near complete charge, a yellow segment a battery at 50% and a red segment is pretty much just the infamous turtle .

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I had intended to wake at 05:00 that morning but ended up oversleeping and was not on the road until about 06:00, much to my chagrin.  None the less, I knew it I could make it to my first checkpoint of Pohanka Nissan of Fredericksburg, 61 mi (98 km) from home.  Ideally, I could have gone farther but that was the last CHAdeMO before Ashland, VA—19 mi (30 km) from Richmond—which is 97.9 mi (157 km) from my home and thus to risky for #CO2Fre in my experience.  So Fredericksburg it was and to be absolutely safe I used ECO routing which meant, as you can see on the map, I avoided the Capital Beltway and stuck to the lesser roads in more or less a straight line.

I got stuck behind a couple school buses on the way there but fortunately I passed by one just before his lights flashed so no Class 6 Misdemeanor on my permanent record for me.  Other than that, the drive was uneventful and although I missed the turning and took a little time to find the CHAdeMO, I plugged in and set my timer for 30 minutes.  Little did I know these CHAdeMO units, unlike the NRG eVgo run units, will not stop after 30 minutes and can run until your LEAF is full—which is good because often times the CHAdeMO will cut off before reaching 80% because of the 30 minute timer.

Not charging to 100% in Fredericksburg, however, would lead to some dire consequences.

Wherefore Art Thou, EVSE

I was running late so I decided to forsake ECO routing and book down to Richmond as fast as I could.&nbps; For a spell I could see an unmarked car pacing me though so I avoided going too fast.  As I approached Richmond, ideally, a mere 53.3 mi (85.8 km) from where I started, I noticed my battery capacity dropping precipitously and began to slow my roll.  First, I slowed to 10 mph (16 kmph) below the speed limit.  As I lost another state of charge bar, I went down to 20 mph (32 kmph) below.  By the time I was down to my third bar I was going only 25 mph (40 kmph) on I95, desperate to make it.

I finally crawled into Richmond about 15 minutes late for my meeting with Delegate Robert Bell, and I still needed to park.  I had sunk to Very Low Battery by the time I got near the hotel and had only about 6 GIDs left according to LEAF Spy.  I just needed to find the hotel where I could charge my car using L2 since I planned to be in Richmond for several hours.

The LEAF navigation got me within about a block of the Richmond Omni Hotel so I knew I was close.  As you can see, I circled and circled East Cary Steet, South 12th Street, East Main Street, back down 10th Street and round again.  I eventually pulled into the Bank of America with the turtle clearly visible on my dashboard and LEAF Spy reading only 5 GIDs left.  I knew from experience that at 4 GIDs the LEAF goes dead and you need a tow and the last thing I needed was to be stuck in Richmond, meters from my target, late for my appointment, waiting for an hour for a free tow to the nearest charging station and the 2013 Nissan LEAF leaves little room between 5 GIDs and the deadly 4—if you see the turtle, usually it's too late.

I finally parked in the Bank of America lot and called the hotel for directions.  After going around the parking lot one more time, and paying for just passing through, I spotted a standard, NEMA 5-20 wall plug at the parking lot exit.  I pulled out my charging paraphernalia and set my custom EVSE to draw 16A from the 20A socket.  Unfortunately, because of the cord length, I ended up blocking the exit to the parking lot so when I car did try and exit, I had to pull out my 100 foot (30 m) extension cord and move my car to get out of the other car's way.  I parked in a reserved spot, ran the cord along the exit road and resumed charging.

Eventually, the Richmond Omni Hotel and I were able to work out where I was with respect to the hotel and so I unplugged at 6 GIDs again and made my way, finally finding the hotel on South 12th Street a block below where I was.  I rolled in and hotel staff directed me to the EVSE.  I was saved, but alas, was an hour late for my legislative meeting and ended up profusely apologizing to Delegate Bell's staff since the delegate had already left for a General Assembly session.

As I had some time to spare on the top floor of the legislative building, I decided I'd stop in to see my own Delegate, Tom Davis Rust, who gave a heartfelt speech a few days later when he announced his retirement this year.  Delegate Rust and I had a nice, social chat and I must say his staff, Shane in particular, was very helpful and I owe him a personal thanks too.  Delegate Rust and I didn't speak much as I had another meeting to get to, but I will say from the bottom of my heart, we may not have agreed on every issue, but I will say it's very rare you meet a somone with office with the integrity and intelligence of Delegate Rust, and I know I'm not the only one to feel that way.  We'll miss you, sir!

More to come…

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the great information and the travel trips. I have a Nissan Leaf from Leckner Nissan in Stafford. They had a great price and a free charging station. I have used several other dealership but like their waiting room the best. I like the location right off route 95 the Aquia Harbor exit. I found them at