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We're going on a road trip

Diane Glass and her husband Jeff standing in front of their new Chevy Bolt

Jeff and I leave on a car trip tomorrow, the first in years except for our regular journey up north to see the kids in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. It’s not that we don’t travel; it’s that if a trip is more than four hours, we prefer to fly.

So what happened? We bought a new car, an electric car, a Chevy Bolt and it’s ready to exercise its wheels. We figured out that an eight-hour trip is two four-hour trips, doable. Our friends rave about Chrystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s time for us to check it out.

Traveling by electric car means mapping out not only roads and hotels but charging stations. Numerous phone apps guide people like us. We chose ChargePoint, one of those apps, to do the work of planning our stops. Our car states we can travel about 260 miles before charging. It’s not that simple. Weather affects mileage. Cold weather and use of heat and air conditioning and other features take electricity. No one wants to arrive at a destination with zero battery power left.

On a trip to Eden Prairie, we arrived at Clear Lake with 20 miles of power left. Where to stop? We found a charging station on the side of a vacation rental business, fortunately available.

The battery would take an hour to charge fully. Luckily a brewery was a half block away.

Lesson number one: Don’t wait until you have only 20 miles left.

Lesson number two: If you can find a charging station near a restaurant, coffee shop or convenience store, the wait becomes tolerable.

Jeff enjoys this aspect of our travel. He’s become a travel agent of sorts. So our itinerary is detailed—all the charging stations we might want to use along the way. But it’s more complex than that. Charging stations come in three different levels of power. Not all may be available or even working. That’s where apps like ChargePoint become indispensable.

I will let you know how it goes. In the meantime, we’re loving that we can determine when we walk out the door tomorrow. No airline has determined that for us.

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