(This is the final post in a series on our Electric Vehicle. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 herePart 3 here, and Part 4 here.)

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

-T.S. Eliot

Our daughters are amazing. They were immersed in a landscape of incredible brilliance this summer. At the corrals on Yost Road they chauffeured adolescent horse people through 3 weeks of horse camps, against the backdrop of soil and sky.

Amy’s father Bill joined us on our visit for a ride on the gondola to the top of the mountain. The scenes were jaw-droppers in every direction.

We spent our days together soaking in glacial waters, anointed by serene magenta awesomeness. Falcon guardians circled ever above us, lifted by warm summer drafts in perpetual oversight on our small time.

However you say it, we had been to the mountain top.

In a few fleeting moments, it was more than enough. And way before we were ready, it was time to descend. To find our way home.

We summoned the NextCharge map once again. No need to re-do our low-charge experience of LaGrande. The map showed a cluster of chargers to the north, just above the State line in Washington, an abundance of Level Twos around Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities. So we hugged the daughters and left for home by another way. Soon we were in the depth of the Blue Mountains on a road never taken. We descended from shaded forestlands to the wheat fields, coulees and wind farms of the Palouse. Driving into Milton Freewater I wondered if they still hold the annual Pea Festival and the Pea Parade with the Pea Queen and her court. Soon we were approaching Onionville. Wouldn’t you give anything right now to be in Walla Walla? Sweet!

By noon, we were in Pasco. The temp was already high 90’s. Our “Fuel Efficient Parking” space was waiting and we plugged into the Blink Level 2.

It took us 45 minutes to find and devour burritos, refried beans and horchata at Juanita’s around the corner. We got back in the car with 19 miles added range, just enough to take the edge off our anxiety, heading back to Arlington. We crossed the Columbia back into Oregon and found ourselves in Irrigon. You can grab your tongue now and try saying “Irrigon, Oregon” over and over really fast if you’re getting bored. It was late July and all of Creation was not yet on fire. As we would discover, the small range smokes we saw were only harbingers of climate dramas to come.

Nearing Arlington (from the east this time) and the grain elevators again…we breathed another sigh of great relief…the orange light was flashing at us again. We were sweating already because it was 105 degrees and running the AC too much really reduces our range. But we arrived with 19 miles to spare (the same amount we had added at the Blink station in Pasco)!

Great to have 2 hours in Arlington again. There’s a city park with WATER!!!! We got a swim and a game of rummy with our full charge and took off toward The Dalles to spend the night. There was a West Coast Electric Highway charging station at the Fred Meyer, a good walk from our motel. We gave it 3 hours with dinner and picked up 80 miles with a surprise: someone had unplugged us—-it does happen occasionally—-it was no surprise that the Level 2 plug still works for us and the Level 3 still doesn’t fit!

I was headed to Collins Retreat Center on the backside of Mt. Hood to teach a Climate Justice Course, so next morning we took the highway south toward Dufur. Now repeat after me: “Ask not what Dufur can Dufur you, but what you can Dufur Dufur!” From here on, the Mountain would be watching over us.

For lunch we found another West Coast E Highway station in Rhododendron, Oregon next door to the pub. And yes, the Level 2 plug fits and the Level 3 still doesn’t. Hope that will change soon.

With the 20 miles we added during a 45 minute lunch, Debbie was able to drop me off at my gig and get home to McMinnville easily with 101 miles to spare! Back in our garage, we plugged into our Level 2 (40A) charger, ready for the next adventure in responsible driving. We had traveled 884 miles to Wallowa and back, using 8 different charging stations and 221 kWh of electricity.

In our travels with the Bolt EV, this is what I think we know so far:

  1. Reliable Range: 180-270 mile on any terrain.
  2. Energy Efficiency: best at 55 mph, on level, with no heat/AC.
  3. Power Use: climbing uses most, braking & descending (regen) adds range.
  4. Plugs: Level 2 J1779 & Level 3 CCS FIT, Tesla & CHAdeMO DON’T FIT!
  5. NextCharge App: gives charger locations & pictures of plugs offered.
  6. Added Range/Hr Charge: Level 1=4 mi, L2=25 mi, L3=80% in 30 min.
  7. NoBrainer: You got 2+ cars? One should be EV! Good used Leafs available!
  8. Stopping Is Underrated: meet people/see places you’d otherwise miss!
  9. Charging Network: is evolving fast
  10. Hornets Don’t Care What You Drive: but you must!

If these EV blogs help your decision-making in any way, then it’s been worth my time. Have you seriously considered the impact of how your family transports itself and the whole fossil economy we’ve assembled around the right to drive? On our return we were challenged to know our place again. We are realizing we drive much more in retirement because we now have a child living in Bend. We couldn’t convince him to settle next door to us. Go figure!?! If there was a train to Bend we’d be taking it all the time. For the time being, to be Net Zero in housing and transportation, we must add more solar panels to the roof than our original energy models showed. We will do that real soon. This is the only home we have.

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