Saturday, August 14, 2021

EVing The Pacific Northwest

The summer travel season is in full swing but unlike past years, the new concerns along with smoke and AQI, is new public charging station owners. The West Coast Electric Highway was a program that was supposed to cover travel of EVs on the West Coast. But California had budget issues, other priorities, etc. so they kinda went off our their own leaving Oregon and Washington. So a network of 44 stations in Oregon and 12 in Washington was built, changed hands several times and for a while, Webasto was the gatekeeper and did a decent job. Up time was normal, repairs fairly quick, customer service was responsive.

Webasto is now EVCS

Well, all that changed last year and no one knew why. The WA stations performed well for the most part, but large sections of OR fell into disrepair with some stations broken for several months. What we didn't know at the time was the Webasto was getting out of the public charging game. They ended up selling their stations to a new company EVCS who had launched in 2019 and had stations in a handful of locations all in California. But unlike Webasto, the changeover has been slow, repairs even slower but more shockingly; EVCS doesn't have a good grasp of the actual condition of their stations or the customer experience especially in WA. I was able to contact the EVCS's WCEH manager who was apparently under the impression that we were charging issue free which was far from reality. During a brief part of the changeover process that just happened a month ago (sale completed last winter) "Pay with Plugshare" became inoperable. When it was relaunched under EVCS, it was wonky, billed for failed sessions, etc. In many cases, even a remote reset of the station by Customer Service failed to resolve the issue. It was only after some email tennis that I was able to relay the issues we were having. But it has become clear to me that we end users need to start a dialogue with this new company or they will not have a complete picture of what is going on? So if you have an issue on the EVCS (formerly Aerovironment/Webasto) network, comment it on Plugshare AND email the EVCS manager responsible for communications on the WCEH; email:

Plugshare Plugshare Plugshare! 

Call me sentimental but Plugshare has been with us since the beginning! Sure there new apps for roadtripping but none of them does as good a job advising us ahead of time on station reliability and best charging options. So yeah, its my go to for EVERY trip I take.  Now, I consider myself to be both savvy and cheap which is a great combo for an EVer but lately even I have not been keeping up with the new charging options available to me.  Free charging has been around since day one but new options are popping up every day including a gem I discovered in Astoria OR; EV Connect.  They have a DC and AC station located at Clatsop Community College that was fast AND FREE. I didn't get over 46 kw while charging (supposed to be a 62.5 Kw machine? ) but pack was in the mid 100'sº F so maybe a bit of Rapidgate (although that seems doubtful) 

Although I downloaded the app and everything "seemed" to work, scanning the QR code only immediately got me a "station down for maintenance" message. So, I unplugged. Station says "Plug available" I plug in, prompted to scan fob or use app and... same message. So I called customer service hoping for the best, expecting the worst and...

With no other customer service interaction coming remotely close, it was THE greatest interaction I have ever had!  EV Connect is small, only has a few stations right now but I am hoping they grow and maintain that level of service. FYI; I was able to call them and get the charge started faster than most Webasto stations take to connect! 

Oswald West State Park

I recently transferred from my old work location to a brand new facility a few miles farther up the road.  (actually quicker since its an easier more direct route off the freeway) So our first day was this past Sunday and as we all know, supply line logistics has been a major challenge due to trucker shortages and despite working for what is likely the best logistics company in the World, we were not immune.  

So the product we were expected to have on hand had not quite materialized. In fact, we had ONE item. Now this will be the largest Hazmat FC in the entire network...eventually, but not today.  So the next sensible thing to do was to do our basic orientation, a few classes and then give us the rest of the week off WITH PAY! Naturally, this meant some free time had to be used and fast! 

Now, truth be told, this trip was already planned and despite my efforts to get definitive info from EVCS about the WCEH subscription availability, I heard nothing. But the plan was for Thurs (my normal day off) but smoke predictions made me push it to Wed not to mention 100+º temps predicted. 

So we hit the park taking the Cape Falcon Trail to check out the water.  Now the trail is a 2.5 mile out and back to a viewpoint overlooking Treasure Cove and had modest elevation gains so by all accounts, an easy hike.  

A bit of up and down but the real challenge was high humidity, a "warmer" day and roots!  This should be called the "Roots Trail" as it covered well over 90% of the trail and made footing tricky. One guy fell hard right in front of us.  Luckily there was no service except near the viewpoint or I would have broken my ankle for sure with no one to blame but Facebook! 

This is what most of the trail was like root wise. Size wise, it was generally only 2-3 feet wide so walking around the roots wasn't an option. 

Despite the challenges, it was a gorgeous hike and we only passed 2 groups going in, a half dozen going out. 

Here is a glimpse of our destination. Its the grassy top of the point in the background

This is a temperate rain forest so the ferns and Salah was everywhere. 

And the view?  Worthy!

EV Stats; One day, 345 miles, two DC Sessions Zero cost. 

Ledbetter State Park, Long Beach Peninsula WA

Release the beach!  As we all know, the Washington coast was all but a pipedream for many EVers due to lack of charging for day trips. PLENTY of options mostly free for campers and anyone staying overnight but for a quick there and back? VERY few options.  One key sore spot was Grays Harbor Washington; "The Gateway to the Pacific"   Well that all changed when Electrify America finally started working in Aberdeen.   So this hike was all about testing the range of the LEAF Plus to see how much it had lost and I found it really hadn't lost much at all. 

Ledbetter State Park is at the very end of the peninsula anchored by Long Beach WA and had a "coast to coast" hike that I thought would be fun so off we went! 

Now this was the day "after" the free charging weekend EA offered for the 4th of July and despite getting a notice on the 2nd of July that the stations were live...they weren't. Now with a plus, it didn't matter. There were several other stations I could hit by simply returning home thru Oregon instead but that wasn't the plan so I decided instead of driving to the hike and back to Aberdeen with less than 20 miles of range left, we stopped in on the way out adding 20 miles to the trip.  Sure enough, the "day after" the freebie ended, the station finally went live.  Nice one EA! We know what you did there!  So after grabbing my 4 kwh (to cover that 20 mile detour) off we went.  

Now the park is a bit..."isolated" and getting there was easy enough but then we turn into the park entrance and the double lane road ended about 200 feet later turning to a single lane with random "wide" spots. IOW; it was a one lane road and a narrow one at that! 

We finally get to the parking lot about 3 miles in and there are a few options and all the hikes are short so we decided to do the forest hike which merged the Bay Loop then the Burberry Trail. A decent adventure! 

So off we went on the Forest trail and it was like ALL sand and dead trees which is generally sign of Tsunami's. Salt water kills the tree so fast, they don't have time to do the normal decaying process so they turn a bleached white.  Not only was the sand hard walking (just like a beach!) it was dry and loose which made it tougher but the play was swarming with mosquitos! I can't remember the last time I got a mosquito bite in WA. They are just not an issue most of the time!  But they were insane here.  

So after doing a quick detour at the first opportunity, we hit the beach. Now this is a national protection sanctuary for the Snowy Plover nesting grounds but there were marked pathways that allowed us to access the beach so off to the Pacific we went! 

You can see the off limit boundaries using the white sticks in the background. 

It was a nice breeze and 60º.  A perfect day for a nice hike. FYI; mosquitos 
hate wind cause they can't fly! 

Although we could not invade their territory, they
had no issues invading ours!

After a walk along the beach, it was time to head east to the "other" coast. 

Notice, its dirt here? Also much less mosquitos! 

The "East Coast" viewing Willapa Bay. 

All in all, a decent hike despite the casualties reaped by the mosquitos. Coast to Coast in a day! Always something worth bragging about! 

After that, it was back up the "trail" (we only passed two cars!) and back to civilization. Because of the earlier stop in Aberdeen, we didn't need a whole lot to get home taking in 9.82 kwh.  

EV Stats  One day  294.9 miles  2 DC's $5.59

Big Creek Trail Lake Cushman Olympic National Forest. 

Now this was unplanned and kinda tossed together. Since it was only 156 miles roundtrip, no public charging was needed. This hike has actually been on the bucket list for a while but was waiting for my Son to be a bit older first. I think he still hasn't forgiven me for the Sequim Spit Hike (which is the longest spit IN THE WORLD totaling just under 12 miles RT) when he was 11. Since he was 14 now (and taller than me) I figured it was time and having the day off with pay didn't hurt either! So Tuesday, off we went.  As mentioned, this was a bit more of a challenge but ended up being milder than expected. The Big Creek Trail itself is a 4.5 mile loop with modest elevation but that would be boring so we elected to hit the viewpoint which was a mile out and back and an extra 750 feet. 

With detours, we ended up going just under 8 miles. Because it was on a Tuesday and before the heatwave, it was much nicer with temps only in the 70's for most of the hike. There was also a lot of shade and the humidity was a lot lower.  Big Creek serpentines down the side of the Olympic Range so there was MANY bridges.   

Question; Why can something so blue, be so green?  

Answer; Lake Cushman is a man made lake with Lake Cushman Dam providing green hydroelectric power to Mason County.  The powerhouse is in Hoodsport which is a town perched rather precariously on the banks of Hood Canal.  Part of the reason the dam was there is erosion control along with generating power.  Parts of Hoodsport is literally only 50 feet wide with steep rocky cliffs on one side and Hood Canal on the other so losing "any" land wasn't really an option for the area.  Plus, you have to admit it did make for a pretty awesome recreation area. 

EV stats; One day;  156.3 miles starting with a full charge. ~ 102 miles remaining

Ten Fails Trails, Silver Falls State Park, Sublimity Oregon

If there was ever a MUST DO, this is it. Reputed to be one of the best waterfall view hikes in the entire United States, I just had to see for myself and it did not disappoint. Again, a loop but over 7 miles in length (varies from 6.8 to 7.8 miles because some falls had short detours for better view and WE TOOK EM ALL!)  

The trail varied from very wide to a few creeps around ledges but there was never much of a sense of danger. Railings were in "most" places and footing was excellent.  Despite the obvious abundance of water near by, the trail was solid and dry. This trail is open all year round which is a good indication of how well the trail is maintained. We met several volunteers who walk the trail constantly making sure no one get in trouble or is doing things they shouldn't be.  Very well marked! 

Because of the length of the drive (nearly 200 miles one way) and the extra time I wanted to take on the hike, we drove from Olympia and spent the night in Sublimity which was about 10 miles away.  We did drive past Sublimity to Mill City, another 20 miles or so to charge and like WOW! 

Mill City Oregon 

Out in the middle of haystack,  Christmas trees, logging and NOTHING else was a gleaming EV Oasis!  4 62.5 KW DCs and a level 2 to boot and CHEAP!  At 18 cents/min (before 4 PM) it was a very good deal. We picked up 26.748 kwh for $6.22 or 23 cents/kwh. Not too shabby.   The best part was driving 205 miles and still having nearly 60 miles of range left. That was a bit surprising! 

140 amps is decent speed. Max'd out at 54 KW

The Hike! 

Only posting a few pix because of the crazy volume.  If you Facebook, here you can view a LOT more. 

The South Falls

One of the best parts of the hike was the trail running behind the falls. Here is an example. FYI; pictures here do not do justice to the amazing views on this hike in any way!  The number of professional (or VERY well equipped amateur) photographers out is indicative of how beautiful this park truly is. 

good example of the many railings and other protections built in but as mentioned, not always the case. 

Some of the ponds below the falls were at least 20 feet deep but so clear you could still see the bottom

The North Falls like the South Falls had a trail that ran behind but the North Falls fell over a HUGE block of Granite that had a natural undercut creating an amphitheater like enclosure. Despite taking several pictures, it was impossible to capture the grandeur of the scene. 

Now the temperature was predicted to be over 100º but cloud cover saved us so it never got above the mid 80's. In anticipation of the heat, we were on the trail by 8:30 AM so finished before 2 PM.  After a stop in Salem for lunch, we charged up at Portland International Airport on the EVgo and headed  home. 

EV Stats; 2 days,  473.7 miles 2 DC sessions, $13.54 

Of course, this is but a small part of what I did this summer but you get idea!