Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Unintentional Consequence...

Saturday March 12 I decided that I would check out a new DC fast charge station in LaGrange, Ga.

Located in a Chic-Fil-A parking lot 97.4 miles to the south from my house.  The Spark EV would need to be charged at least once on the way southwest on I-85, and prolly the same for the return trip.

I planned initially to stop-in at Kia Atlanta South, where a DC fast charge resides, on both routes; however, they close at 7pm and are closed on Sundays, so I could only use them once if I got a late start...and I got a late start.

It was after 5pm when I left my driveway.  I'm in no rush, and was looking forward to seeing a part of Georgia I have not yet seen.  I view this trip as a test run to the southwest; I've been to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga., many years ago, on a motorbike adventure.  That's only a few miles to the southeast of LaGrange.  I plan to revisit that area in the future, especially FD Roosevelt State Park.

I decided to travel the route that would take me past Kia Atlanta South, even though I would prolly not make it to that site in time to use the DC fast charge station.  Nearby, there is a Mitsubishi dealership with a L2 charging station, so I checked it out and found it to be functioning, even though I didn't use it.  I didn't make it to Kia on time, so my next stop would be a L2 charging station further south, prolly at Eaton Industries in Peachtree City.

Stopped there for about 30 minutes, charged at 3kW.  Place was deserted.  Peed behind a bush.

Made it to Chic-Fil-A with 15 mi range remaining and...both charging spots are ICED:

I always try to make a Plugshare comment wherever I charge, so here's the text of my comment from that charging episode:

"Error 56; error 91. Suspended. Fault. No port available. These are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. When I arrived at the charging station, both charging spaces were ICED. One of the offending vehicles was a Chic-Fil-A catering van. I enquired within and management kindly sent out a nice young man to move the van. After about ten minutes of being unable to move the van, he called for help from his smartphone. One of his colleagues appeared, a nice young lady, and five minutes later van no move. I thought I would offer to help, so I wandered over to the driver's side where the young girl was struggling with the controls. She said she was having trouble getting it to move...all the dash lights were lit...and here's where being an EV driver for the last 4 years paid dividends. We're so accustomed to the silence of the EV...we forget that the car makes no noise when it's running. And this big-assed van was making no noise, soooo...I had to do it. I had to ask. "Is it on?" The girl stared at me for a brief second, pivoted in the seat and turned the key. Van cranked right up like nobody's business...problem solved. Right? Nope. That's when I was introduced to the multitude of error messages these charging stations can display. It was as if it couldn't make up its tiny little mind which error message was the appropriate one, so it decided to display all of them, one at a time. 😀 Yay! There are no CCS charging stations nearby, and my range remaining was 15 miles, soooo...Lafayette Garden Inn across the street has RV/boat hookups in their parking lot. 120V/20A. Gratis. And 10% off breakfast at IHOP next door! Battery should be nearly full by 10AM. Trouble ticket opened with Chargepoint. So this charging station, I have it on good authority, is...wait for it...non-functional. Nite nite."

So, I crashed at Lafayette Garden Inn across the street.  Clean, not too expensive ($66 incl. tax), and I got to charge up my car for free.

Here's what I didn't include in my Plugshare comment:  "So, there I was, minding my own goddamn business…

I first went next door to Burger King for a Whopper meal and to use their WiFi.  Needed to do some scouting for alternatives for the evening.  Not much in the way of charging stations in the area; a Nissan dealer 3.8 miles away (L2)  That’s about it.  L2 charging, at this depleted state of my battery, would require about 5 hrs of charging to make the 40 mi north to a Kroger, where more L2 charging stations reside, where I’d spend another 5 hrs charging to get enough juice to make it home.  It would be well past sunrise by then.

Fat chance I’m spending the night in the goddamned car.  So, I’m eyeing the hotels nearby…like, less than .5 mi away.  There are at least 4 from which to choose, none more than $75/night.  Most times, I can find an electrical outlet on the hotel grounds to use to charge the car.  No worries.  So, I walk back across the BK parking lot to my car at Chic-Fil-A.

Whilst I’m trying to charge the car at the DC fast charge station, I'm on the phone with Brian of ChargePoint, the company that maintains the charging station and with whom I have an account.

Whilst I’m standing there with the phone held up to my hear, a late model SUV pulls through the parking lot as if it was exiting the drive through lane.  I only noticed it because it slowed down as it passed me.  The three occupants, all young high-school age boys, were checking us out.

Then that same SUV comes slowly back around the Chic-Fil-A and parks two spaces down from me.  The driver hops out, walks right up to charging station, grabs the CHAdeMO connector and tries to plug it in to the nose of the Toyota Camry parked next to my car.  Of course, he’s just goofing around, so I pretty much ignore him and his buddies.

They have their fun and leave, and I continue talking with Brian.  A moment later, same SUV pulls up; this time, the back seat occupant hops out.  Same routine.   This kid is short, maybe 5 foot nothing, wiry and wearing a high school wrestling t-shirt.  He also grabs the CHAdeMO connector and also tries to plugin the Camry...so, I engage him:

Me:  Hey, what’s up.
Kid:  Hey.  (His buddies are in the SUV, laughing.)
Kid:  (He’s holding the CHAdeMO connector).  How does this thing work?
Me:  (Looking at him funny)  It’s just electricity...
Kid:  Oh…
Kid:  Where’s this thing plug in?
Me:  My car’s port is on the side; some are in the nose.
Me:  Say, what weight class you wrestle in?
Kid:  (his eyes light up, big smile, lots of braces on teeth) One thirty five!  I got (unintelligible) in state!  (Big grin).
Me:  Outstanding!
Kid:  Yes, sir!

He decides that this has gone on long enough, replaces the CHAdeMO connector, and bids me a "good night, sir”.

Ya think it’s over, eh?  Not hardly...
I never get the car to charge, and I’ve got 15 mi range remaining.  Not much maneuvering room.  So I head across the street to the Super 8.  I usually will troll the parking lot of hotels looking for electrical outlets before I commit; this one had 6 RV/Boat hookups on 6 light poles.  Outstanding.  Except they weren’t at the Super 8; they were property of the Lafayette Garden Inn.

No biggie.  Same price.  $66 for the night including tax.  In fact, I stood in the lobby at the check-in desk and booked my room on Hotels.com whilst the clerk waited.  Ha.

Car charged overnight to about 75% full by 11AM.

Parked the car where I could see it from my room.  A pickup truck with boat/trailer had the boat plugged-in, too:

Set the car to draw 12A; checked it a couple of times before retiring for the evening.  Cables were not warm.  No danger of tripping the breaker.

10AM the next morning, I hop out of bed ready for the day.  I've not thought this trip through very well, though.  I have no clean clothes (read: undies), no toiletries (read:  toothbrush/floss), no way to charge my phone (no wallwart).  However, I washed out my undies last night and used my shoes as paperweights to anchor said undies over the vent on the ubiquitous HVAC unit.  Turn the fan on "low" overnight and presto!, dry, clean undershorts in the AM.  Usually, these cheap hotels have CRT televisions (check), microwaves (check), and coffee makers (check).  Made some decaf last night, but decided to skip the morning joe, and instead took a quick shower, dressed and headed for IHOP.

Settled-in at IHOP with my 2-egg breakfast.  I've brought both smartphones with me:  my iPhone which is my "daily driver" but with a nearly dead battery, and my Moto G, which I keep in the car to use for satnav (BringGo).  Its battery is nearly full, and I had some reconnoitering to do before heading north, so during breakfast I used the Moto G for that purpose...mostly Plugshare surfing.

During breakfast, I've got my nose in my food and Plugshare, paying little attention to anything else.  Something hits the back of the seat of my booth near my left shoulder, impacting once on the seatback (boink), once on the seat bottom (boink) and then landing on the carpet by the booth.  I watched it hit on the second bounce, but did not see its initial trajectory, so I was not sure of its origin.  However, the reactions of the three patrons in the booth next to mine made it clear they probably knew that answer.  A bearded white man and two black women, looked to be in their 20's, were already seated when I arrived.  I'm pretty sure they were fucking with me, especially the dude, although for what reason, I wasn't sure.

Perhaps they're related to my three new high-school aged friends from last night...?

A moment later, my waitress appears, and I show her the thing on the carpet and tell her what had happened.  I said "I don't know what that is", and she answers, "It's a lemon seed".  I say, "Hmmm, I wonder where it could have come from...", and she says, "Well, I don't know...", and we both look at the table of my fellow patrons in the booth next door.  As if on cue, they gather their things and start to get up out of the booth, and as they do so, I notice that they had lemon slices in their water glasses, so I exclaim, loudly enough for all the other patrons in the place to hear, whilst pointing at my three new friends, "Oh, you mean that lemon seed might have come from somewhere like the lemons those guys had in their water???!!!"  Their exit picked up speed as I said those words, so I saw the opportunity to add "Well, maybe they could buy my breakfast!" as they sped out the door.

I gave my waitress got a nice tip. :)"

The return trip was even more interesting.  Since I know I can make it back home...eventually...and since I've got nothing else to do but kill time on this nice Sunday in early March, I decide to visit a Nissan dealer 3.9 mi away, where a L2 charging station resides (and a CHAdeMO).  I'm not completely sure the dealership allows access after hours...the Plugshare entry has a comment that mentions that they charged on a weekend when the place was closed...so I decide to roll the dice.

On the way there, I stop in at a Mitsubishi dealership because I noticed that they have a 2012 iMiEV in their used car lot.  Sure enough, they have a L2 charging station, but it is showing an error idiot icon in the form of a wrench, and the instructions on the station include explanations for the different icons.  The wrench means "system must be serviced; do not attempt to use".  Okay.  I'll contact them to see if they'd allow it to be included in the Plugshare database.

The Nissan dealership is closed, but access to its lone L2 charging station is not blocked, so I pull around the back of the shop and plug-in.  40 min later, I decide that's enough.

Do I head home?  Nope.  There's a DC fast charge station at the Georgia Visitor's Center at West Point, Ga., about 20 mi to the south on I-85.  I've used it once, but it has been unavailable due to construction on the Visitor's Center, which will be closed until sometime later in March.  The DOT website says that it will be "closed for 110 days beginning 12/07/15", and it's not been 100 days quite yet, but...what the hell, let's go see.

The charging station, according to Andrew at Greenlots, is still powered on...but no one has used it since my i3 driving buddy Shaun used it 12/13/15.  The Visitor's Center is on the northbound side, so you have to cross the border into Al, circle back to I-85N, to access it.

So, I do just that.  And the barricades blocking the entrance leave plenty of room for an 18 wheeler to pass by, so I dart past them quickly hoping nobody sees me and park at the charging station.  The screen shows that its still powered-up, so I plug-in and, sure enough, it's working.  38 kW, but hey, I'm not complaining.  I do a "range charge", then head north but not before messaging Shaun that the unit is still functioning:

I can neither confirm nor deny that I was here...

Next stop, Kroger in Newnan, where there are 2 Blinks.  Hate the Blinks!  Hate 'em, I do!  Sure enough, one of the Blinks is on the blink, and the other is taken by a chocolate brown 2016 Leaf.  I wait for a few minutes and call Blink; they're no help but they promise to put up a service call.  The family of the Leaf shows up, and the dad and I chat and I give him our EVCoTS business card.  They leave, I plug-in for about 90 minutes, get enough juice to make it to Agnes Scott's DC fast charge station in Decatur, where I charge for about 30 min and take a nap in the car.  It's a beautiful March day in Georgia...

Home again around 5pm.

No comments:

Post a Comment