This was the hardest leg of the trip. One thing I didn't really say much about was that I got up at 5:30 AM on Thursday, September 13, 2012 to help my wife get her day started, worked from home, went to a doctors appointment, was interviewed by the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County for the trip and attended my docent trainee session at the Monterey Bay Aquarium before leaving for the trip. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep in King City, but I was getting a little frazzled on the second to last leg from Solvang to Santa Cruz and I made some mistakes along this portion. As noted in the previous post, the battery in my phone was dead so it was not very easy to get connectivity so I could not check for updates or try to get more accuracy on location of chargers. One good thing I did was print out my itinerary and directions in case for some reason some electronics failed so at least I had that as a backup and a contingency charger selected in case I could not find the charger I picked for the trip in case there was an issue.
Now for what went wrong. First, the route I chose to get out of Solvang. Back in the day, I used to ride the Solvang Century. An 106 mile bike ride from Solvang to Santa Maria with 6,000 of my closest friends. When I would leave the event, I would take the state route 246 to state route 154 to rejoin the 101 back in Santa Barbara.
From above, this looks like a great idea. I would not have to back track to Buelton to bet back on Highway 101. What I forgot from my bike riding days was the hill climbing required for this route. I didn't realize it until it was too late. One site I found after the fact was bikeroutetoaster.com, This site is primarily for bike riders to plan their route, but it is also helpful for EV drivers as well. Here is the profile of my shortcut from bikeroutetoaster:
So at from 30km to 36km I had a pretty nasty hill climb. This is also a 2 lane highway. I did maintain the speed limit on the road and was courteous to pull to the right when passing lanes were available (Do you hear that Prius owners? I moved to the right. Try it sometime. However one pickup truck was offended I held him up 5 seconds while I drove the speed limit and proceeded to honk and throw something at my car as he passed in the carpool lane. I kept my cool and let him pass (more on him later)
The downhill was pretty nice though and was charging the whole distance down. On my way back, I will take 101 instead.This will be 102 miles instead of 88 miles, so I need to watch my mileage carefully.
So I made it past the issue on Route 154, and started down the 101 south through Santa Barbara, and here I got in a traffic jam (There was an accident in south Santa Barbara. Remember that pickup. I was able to find a bus here and used it as a drafting agent (Remember that pickup truck that was trying to have a food fight on Route 154? I passed him while he was stuck in the "Fast" lane. The bus made for a nice way to maintain speed. I was able to use it all the way to Camarillo, before the Conejo grade. I then followed another truck up the grade until I was rolling downhill into Thousand Oaks.
I was approaching the location where my next charging location was supposed to be, Janns Marketplace. A shopping center with a few big box stores and restaurants, so it it seemed like a good stopping location. However, there was no sign if the chargers! I still had no power to my cell phone and I was down to 11 miles on the range computer. I went back and forth through the parking area with no luck. I was tired and desperate.
I then hit the BMW assist button. I reached an agent who was friendly, but still was not able to give me any indication where the charger might be. She gave me businesses to look for, but none were visible from where I was. I had to give up and ask her to feed me directions to the National Park Service headquarters. She got me the directions and I was able to drive up a long uphill driveway and found a pseudo futuristic office complex where there happened to be 3 Clipper Creek chargers that were free and a Blink Fee Charger. I plugged in but it was hot and muggy and no amenities. There used to be a visitor center in this location, but it was closed and the offices were sealed tight. So no restroom and no power for my phone and I had been drinking a lot of water to stay cool.
I was antsy and looking at sitting for 3 to 4 hours to get charged to get to the hotel was not looking appealing and I didn't want the family to worry about me. I saw from the charging site that the mall which was about a half mile down the hill had a Verizon Wireless store. My idea was to first take care of my bladder and just buy a spare battery for my Droid Bionic and then call my wife to let her know I was almost there. However this plan backfired too. I drove down the hill, had to hunt for a parking space and then went to the store just to find out they didn't carry batteries.I thought I was smart and took my power adapter with me so in case there was an issue, I could just plug in my phone and get it jump started. I searched around outside and found a a covered outlet. lifted the cover and.......my charger wouldn't fit under the cover. #*(&$@)^%!!!!
So back up the hill to charge for a while. I got to talk to a nice lady from the park service who was disconnecting her Leaf who thought I was another ActiveE driver who parks there on occasion. She recommended I walk back down the hill and see a movie, but I was concerned about the gates at the bottom the National Park Service Entrance and that I could return to a locked parking lot. So I stayed with the car and continued to think of alternate ways to get my phone to work.
As a contingency, I did bring a 70W pocket inverter with a 3 prong plug in case i needed a boost in power. This one did not work well in the ActiveE, but when I found the sweet spot, the green LED ready light eventually turned on. I plugged the phone charger into the inverter and after a few minutes, it worked!!! I then called home and let them know I was OK and got a couple of updates out. As the lot got darker and emptier, I was able to locate another charger in Tarzana at a library that was a little closer to civiization. I drove the car down to the library to the Eaton charger and let it sit for a couple of hours while I had dinner, by this time, my phone died again.
This leg of the journey had me a bit on edge, but it showed the importance of amenities and signage in and around the charger, but with some planning for contingencies, I was able to continue.