Friday, January 31, 2020

The Olympic Peninsula

Back in the day, I had a tradition that every Prius I got, I did the loop. Highway 101 circles the Olympic Peninsula and starts in Olympia and ends....In Olympia.  Yes, that's right; its a true loop. But that tradition ended when I went EV.  The problem; The 101 goes thru a lot of wilderness barely touched by Humanity.  It is remote and wide open going thru the biggest rainforest in the contiguous United States.  But the scenery is a must.  In Winter, the opportunity to do this is limited. We simply do not have enough daylight to drive the 350 miles with charging and pix opps. 

Going counterclockwise is a challenge in that its just under 230 miles to the DC in Port Angeles. This was my original plan but I quickly realized that even if the LEAF could make it in horrid Winter conditions without stopping, I could not.  So the trip has morphed into checking out the various level 2 stops.  So the plan is now evaluating the "stop worthiness" of the locations and amenities. Distance off route is how much was added by stopping as opposed to not stopping. Some instances will have a different route in and out so this can vary depending on your direction of travel.


The plan was to plug into the home EVSE the night before and leave early with 100%.  The weather forecast was predicting very heavy rain thru out the entire peninsula so driving could be  challenge depending on how hard the rain came. Flooding is a major risk as the 101 is where all the flood swollen rivers of the Olympics will be draining. 

But I have never charged the E Plus at home and unfortunately that was still true when I awoke the morning of the trip.  I plugged in immediately then debated whether I should cancel and do it another day.  But part of the challenge was seeing the range in the least desirable conditions and we don't always get storm systems this large so, I decided to go for it.

Since I would be plugging into several level 2's on or near the route, I figured 98% was close enough. Besides the charge rate had dropped below 10 amps.  I don't use the GOM for trips like this (or ever really) so...

Notice power into battery in upper left corner says 4.73 amps? V*I says 1905 watts.   Power feed in was 240 volts @ ~ 9 amps. 

With the expected weather, I figured 3.8 miles/kwh would be a bit ambitious but good a start as any. With detours off the route, it would appear I will be roughly 40 miles short on range to Port Angeles. This meant almost 2 hours of level 2. More than I planned on. We shall see.

Leaving Olympia, I was immediately deluged with rain.  Rain was so hard that hydroplaning became an issue slowing my speeds to 50-55 mph on the 60 mph highway.  This continued until I crossed the hill and began the descent into Aberdeen.

Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. Ocean Shores, WA
Free Chargepoint
App required

Although Aberdeen has a couple level 2 options, I don't consider either a viable option for a stop.  Both are detours off the route. If headed south towards Long Beach then maybe but not for this trip.  The Casino I have actually been to a few times including in my 2011 LEAF while camping near by. They have a very worthy buffet.   It is a significant detour off the route but because its a meal stop, most of the range used will be recovered.   But a few miles before the turn off at Hoquiam, I learned the buffet was closed on Thursdays. Guess they are closed 3 days a week. Well, it is a beach resort so definitely the slower time of the year for them.

Charging Stats
No Charge
24.3 miles off route
Amenities; Great food options, Beach you can both drive and walk on. Its a resort touristy trap of a place. Easy to spend a few hours here.

Lake Quinault Lodge, Quinault WA
Free Semaconnect
No app required. 

The rain respite was brief. As I exited town, the rain returned. A bit slower than before and puddles were minimal. I think it was more due to the road design. I was now paralleling the coast on a road that was once mostly traveled by logging trucks.  Even today, they were the  predominant vehicle on the road. Thankfully traffic was very light.

Unfortunately the weather again turned dramatic as I approached the lodge. By the time I got there, it was again back to monsoon conditions.   It is a short detour off the route on a very twisty narrow road where speed limits dropped to 20 mph as I got close.  The place is quite picturesque but the weather was not agreeing.  The lodge was right on the road with the stations in back situated for easy access to guests at the lodge and cabins.  Thankfully, no app required so it was jump out, plug in and jump back into the car.

Charging Stats
4.5 miles off route
Charge time;  17 min. 1.75 kwh received
Amenities;  There is a few shops, museum, and a restaurant to visit. The lodge sits on a wide spot (actually its very narrow but speed limit is 20 so...) about a block in length.  Easy place to kill an hour.

Kalaloch Lodge Forks WA
Free Semaconnect
No app required

Leaving Lake Quinault, I turned back towards the Pacific and the rain "seemed" to subside a bit.  Although Kalaloch Lodge lists Forks as its location, it is quite a ways from town.  Situated on the coast, it promised some great views and it did not disappoint.  The rain was still coming down but not as badly so I ventured out for pix. But then again, it was near gale force winds so maybe the sideways rain just "seemed" more endurable?  The chargers were located well off the road at least 200 yards from the Restaurant.  They were situated among dozens of cute little duplex cabins. Each cabin had a kitchenette with fridge, no stove but small table, couches and a bed.   A short walk from the chargers there was a gazebo like structure with informational plaques on it in front of a short trail that led to the beach below.  Easy to spend hours here exploring the beach or grabbing a meal.  Despite the short walk, I still got rather soaked so the rain was coming down harder than I expected.

 The view from the gazebo that provided "some" shelter from the rain. The wind is howling here!

Lots of walking here along with a ton of driftwood. Most places don't allow you to take any
but guessing one could easily get away with a few smaller pieces here and there 

A very short walk to the beach. As you can see, there is not a lot of protection should tsunami hit. 

Both the restaurant and store were too far to walk in these conditions so I decided I had enough charge, unplugged and drove up to use the bathroom. 

 Taken from left side of parking lot for restaurant. 

The water isn't deep but you will get your feet wet at anything but low tide
 if you want to explore here. 

Charging Stats
Detour off route, less than a mile. 
Charging time 24 minutes, 2.75 kwh 
Amenities;  An upscale restaurant with very good reviews and views! There is also a store right on the road across the  parking lot with a deli that has excellent reviews as well.  There is a lot to do here. Bathrooms are located outside the store. Not sure if they remain unlocked when store is closed or not. 

Forks Community Hospital, Forks WA
Semaconnect $1.50 an hour
App required

One of the major reasons I took this trip is due to the new station here.  This was one of my clients when I was an auditor so I have been here many times.  As I moved away from the coast, the rain subsided quite a bit until I was 2 notches below intermittent max on the wipers.  For some reason, I had GPS on and it routed me off 101 just outside of town taking me thru a residential neighborhood to the hospital. In retrospect, this prevented me from driving past the new Supercharger site and missing a pix opp.  Recent reports says equipment is now in the ground so activation is likely just around the corner.  It is situated in the parking lot of the largest retailer in town; Forks Outfitters which is a HUGE country store that sells EVERYTHING.   Some say its Fork's version of a Walmart Superstore. I say "No. Walmart doesn't have that much variety. Its more like a brick and mortar Amazon!" 

But the Supercharger site is a very good location and the hospital site is not.  The stations are actually across the street at the clinic and I do know from experience, the bathrooms can be used (although sign says not for public use. Its a small town with a small town attitude.) but obviously limited by business hours closing at 6 PM during the week.   Now during the Summer, its ok for me anyway. Its only a 3-4 block walk to 101 and the main downtown area. 

Charging Stats
1.2 miles off route
charge time 24 mins, 2.596 kwh received.
75 cents.
Amenities;  Any port in the storm, right? Well, unless you want a flu shot, there is nothing here. Nearest anything is at least 3 blocks away.  

It had been my plan to do a sit down eat here but it was later than I had hoped so I grabbed a Subway heading out of town which gave me a chance to say hi to someone I hadn't seen in over 2 years.

Lake Crescent Lodge
Free Semaconnect
No app required. 

The reason for my  rush was Lake Crescent. Because of my job, I have driven past here dozens of times and well, it just never gets old. The lake is essentially a flooded valley between two mountains. It is deep which means the water temperature changes little from season to season and that creates an almost perpetual fog. It is easy to see why a Vampire movie franchise was based here (although they did all their filming in Canada, they still did several flyover videos of the area for inclusion in the movies) 

About 10 minutes outside Forks, the 101 does its bend to the east. Soon entering the Olympic National Forest and climbing to near 1000 feet.  Although the weather was mild in the mid 40's, heavy snow from the  previous week was still in evidence. 

I should mention that Sol Duc Hot Springs and Resort also has charging and its a bit over a 20 mile detour off the route up into the Olympic Mountains. I wasn't planning on stopping there since I wanted to get to Lake Crescent before nightfall but as I passed the turn, there was a tree partially blocking the road so... I knew I had made a great decision! 

As I approach the lake, the speed limit drops to 35 mph and that is really about as fast as you would want to go anyway. There are several blind curves, very narrow roads with sheer rock walls to the right with the lake a few feet off the road to the left.  It was already getting dark so a mile or so before the Lodge, I had to grab some pix before it got too dark.  There a several pullovers along the roughly 8 mile drive past the lake. 

 By now it was rather dark so even when bringing light up, pix is blurry due to darkness. Fog also contributed to the effect. 

 I am using the new Pixel XL 4 with its improved Nightsight mode. Although grayer, the results are much better

Here you can see my headlights hitting the railing on the lower right. Yes, it was pretty dark! 

Despite it only being a few miles further down the road, by the time I got to the Lodge, it was completely black.  Definitely missed a great pix opp. The lodge is located on a peninsula with great lake views on 3 sides.  Its my plan to camp here with my Son this Summer. Should be fun!

Charging Stats
~ 2 miles off route
No charge. 
Amenities; Restaurants, hiking, boating, camping. GREAT views

Dan Wilder Nissan, Port Angeles WA
Free non-networked Chademo
No app required

As I traveled east on the 101, I am moving from rainforest to rain shadow. The Olympics control the weather channeling moisture and wind thru various channels and gaps. On the western side; we have Forks at well over 100 inches of rain a year. At 12 o' clock on the 101 loop is Port Angeles at 25 inches a year while barely 10 miles away,  Sequim sitting on the western shore of Puget Sound where they get 10 inches of rain a year.  By the time I got to Dan Wilder, the place had been closed a mere 15 minutes. They have a chademo only station same as what EVgo uses. So you pull up, select Chademo, plug in and hit start. Its free on a 30 min timer.  It is located off the highway and the exit is similar to a freeway exit although its still the 4 lane surface highway at this point.  The charger is available 24/7 but other than the dealership, there is nothing here. 

I plugged in getting a steady 99-100 amps. My original plan was to charge two sessions here which would easily give me enough to stay on the 101 all the way back to Olympia.  As the first session ended, I got out and tried to restart the 2nd one. It wasn't working.  After 3 tries, someone else pulled up so I left. As I was leaving I saw the fault light on the dash that undoubtedly was the issue.  I stopped at McDonalds for a bathroom run and cleared the error with LEAF Spy.  Oh well, alternate plan in  play. 

Instead of the straight shot home down the 101  (about 125 miles) I only had 110 miles of range so another charging stop was needed. So now it was across the Hood Canal Bridge to Silverdale then staying on Highway 3 to Shelton and rejoining the 101. Adds only 12 miles to the journey but the 101 along the Hood Canal contains the highest concentration of Bald Eagles in the Contiguous United States.  But alas, it was well past dark so wouldn't be able to see anything anyway. 

Charging Stats
1.8 miles off route
30 mins, 19.25 kwh received
Amenities; Nothing but the dealership which closes lobby at 6 PM.  

Haselwood Family YMCA Silverdale WA
Blink Chademo/L2  49/39 cents per kwh
App required. 

Blink has a pretty bad rep and for the most part, deservedly so.  But they have finally found an owner that seems to care about the stations being operational. The transformation could be construed as amazing but when you go from near dead to even semi functional, it is a major leap forward.  At one time, Western Washington had Blink DCs that been non functional for YEARS. Thankfully, those days are gone as nearly every, if not all the Blinks on the network today are working. 

So the Haselwood Family YMCA has literally been an oasis for years. Even during Blink's darkest days, this station has always been rock solid. I have been using this station for years having had several clients in the Silverdale/Port Angeles/Port Townsend area.  Its location is only so so. Being in the middle of town, its on the wrong side of Silverdale Blvd with the mall on the other side. There are only 2, maybe 3 food locations close enough to park,  plug in, get food and return in 30 minutes. I have done this many times.  

With only a few weeks left on my NCTC, I got the first 30 minutes free but unlike EVgo, the station does not shut off. It keeps running and tallying up the bill at the rate of 49 cents/kwh which is pretty high considering I average an estimated 17 cents a kwh on EA and under 30 cents a minute on EVgo. 

So its all about that 29.9 minute charge. I plugged in and it was charging at just 92 amps. Blink lists the station as a "40.5 kw" station which has been my experience as I remember seeing 102 amps normally.  My battery pack was in the high 80's so couldn't be RapidGate  and I soon verified it was not. But on a pay per kwh machine, I guess speed is not that critical.  The Y is open 24/7 and they will let you use their bathroom. You need to be escorted. 

There was no rain here so I leapt at the chance to stretch my legs and returned to the car... 2 minutes late. Oh well. Might as well get used to paying. Its only a few weeks away. 

Charging Stats
2.2 miles off route
Charging time; 32 mins, 18.45 kwh
Cost 88 cents
Amenities; Bathroom at the Y allowed.  A few places to walk to but not recommended in bad weather. Best bet; Get your charge here, then move to the free level 2 Voltas at the mall a few blocks away if a meal is desired. 

Missed Ops

From Silverdale, it was a quick jaunt to Bremerton where I remained on highway 3 to Shelton and then back to the 101.  Leaving late was a mistake. I will repeat this trip. In Summer, the Sun is up well past 9 PM.  The weather prevented me from really evaluating things to do at too many locations.  I am happy the car performed so well. The winter range hit was not nearly as bad as I thought.  As predicted I ended the trip at 3.8 miles/kwh over 373.8 miles.  

A side note; Despite my batteries now in the low 90's, I did a quick stop at the DC in Tumwater and saw 126 amps on the charge. This verifies that the Silverdale station was either having a bad day or perhaps turned down. Recent weather events (similar to what I drove thru) has played havoc on the power supplies thru out the region. 

FYI;  A Rapidgate charge is identified because its a constant power charge. This provides a flat line on the LEAF Spy graph.  A normal charge in a constant current charge until it reaches the knee or the SOC where the current starts dropping. LEAF Spy will show this as a slowly rising power curve. 

That being said; The 62 kwh pack has a completely different BMS especially concerning Rapidgate. Instead of starting a charge at lower current, it starts the charge at the regular current rate but the knee happens earlier.   Normally I would see the full current until nearly 70% SOC. This time it dropped at 48% SOC. So still Rapidgate but a much better version especially if per minute public billing rates are a concern to you. 


  1. Thanks for sharing the adventure David, charge on! 😎⚡👍

    1. Thanks Chaz! Overall, I was a bit disappointed in myself for getting a late start. I did want to see how well the LEAF would do under the worst of driving conditions but that led to many photo ops missed. Stay tuned; I will be repeating this trip again come Summer when the range challenges will be gone but the pix will not!

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