I’ve wanted to take a solo cross-country road trip for some time. And getting an EV this year gave me the motivation finally to make it happen. My partner Mary encouraged me to do it; she is a wonderful partner in so many ways. So, at 6:54 PDT on June 5, I set out on a near-10,000 mile road trip, mostly to see family and make images, but also to see if America is really EV-ready. More to come. [Note: this will be a long composite post. If you catch it unfinished, or with photos that don't display properly, my apologies. I will get it all cleaned up eventually.]
Day 1 | Sunday June 5
Day 1 is in the books. Three easy charging stops. What a superb car. Although I used ABRP for planning, I used the built-in nav for basic guidance, while running Waze in the background for audio alerts. At one point, in the middle of the Mojave desert, my car went full blonde on me and wanted to send me backwards to charge, even though the destination charger still appeared on the nav screen. I’d probably prefer that to happen somewhere other than the Mojave, but it was quickly corrected once I pulled over and confirmed on ABRP where I thought the next EA charger was. Other than that, the nav was fantastic. Amazing car.
Day 2 | Monday June 6
After a nice dinner and night in Kingman AZ, I hit the road early and headed into New Mexico Charging continued to be readily accessible and successful
Day 3 | Tuesday June 10
Heading into a bit of a charging desert today on the way from Tucumcari to the DFW area, so topping her up.
1. No consumption data for Day 3. I failed to make a record of it, and Short Term Memory was automatically reset when I fired up the car on Day 4. On average, a full 10-12 hour day of driving—covering roughly between 500-600 miles—is requiring 3 charging stops. If I can get to 100% SOC, I will, but 90 and 95 are more typical.
2. I had my first negative experience charging. Coming out of Tucumcari, NM on I40 and heading through Amarillo, there are essentially two ways for an EV to go to the DFW area. The “safe” and longer way is to proceed due east to OKC, and then drop down to DFW. There is more robust charging along that route.
The second way is to take the diagonal from Amarillo toward DFW with a single charging stop in Lawton OK. The route planning showed getting to Lawton with about 25 miles of range remaining. And I did. Arrived with 26 miles. At a Hilton Garden Inn there, there is an 8-station charging plaza operated by Francis EV, a company focused on expanding EV charging in rural areas. That’s a good thing. We need that. But . . . I could not get a single charger to work. Some would fail at initialization, while others would operate for one minute and then shut off. This was, to put it mildly, a problem. I had insufficient range to reach any other charger, including Tesla destination chargers (I have the adapter), of which there were none in the area. Note to self: don’t plan a route in a charging desert that has you arriving at <10% SOC anywhere.
Short of renting a room and using an extension cord to charge the car painfully slowly, I was running out of options. A Tesla driver came by and used one of the chargers with no problem. He advised that the stations were very reliable for him. So, I went back to working on solving the problem. Could it be the 800v platform was too much for the chargers? That didn’t really make sense. I called Francis support a second time. They were very nice and were genuinely trying to solve the problem, having remotely rebooted two of the chargers, and escalated my problem quickly through their tech support. One person suggested I download their app rather than use a credit card to pay for charging. Their app is the white label EVGateway. I didn’t really want another app—but it would be handy at the next scheduled charging stop as well if I was able to get underway—but I did that, created an account, and initiated a charging session. And voila! It worked just fine. I went and got some lunch and let the 50kW charger chug its way to 90% SOC.
The rest of the trip into DFW was uneventful. The app worked fine at the next charging stop. When I got to the Fort Worth area, I discovered that it also had lots of 50kW (and less) chargers. There are 350 EA stations 50 miles or so outside the DFW area to the east and south, but none coming from where I was, and none close enough to my daughter’s house. I’m staying there for a few days and so am learning to top up frequently from these puny chargers and trickle overnight each night in her garage.
3. The Integrated Toll Module has been great. It has worked on every toll road so far with the lone exception of DFW airport, where I dropped a family member on Day 5. It’s possible that if I had waited for longer than 30 seconds, the toll gate would have recognized the ITM, but I already knew airport parking garages are more hit & miss, and the line behind me was starting to back up. So I just punched the button for a ticket and paid manually.
4. As mentioned, there is a fair bit of 50kW charging capacity here in DFW. It’s mostly EVGo. And each one I have used has delivered consistently 36-45kW. Makes for leisurely lunches or early coffee.
5. When I leave here on Day 9, my first stop will be at an EA 350 station in Ennis. ABRP now has me taking a more southerly route than before, where I will have good access to HPCs into Hammond, LA for an overnight stay and on into southern Alabama and middle Georgia the next day.
The car remains excellent.
Day 9 | Monday June 13
After a wonderful visit with Daughter #3 and family (and Daughter #4, who happened to be visiting), I am back on the road. ABRP had originally routed me straight east out of the DFW area, but when updating the plan, the app suggested a southerly route. This route appears to have more reliable and accessible 350kW chargers. I’ll get into Hammond LA in time for dinner. Maybe some crawfish.
Day 16 | Monday June 20
After spending a few days including Father’s Day with my dad and stepmom, I headed out of Central Georgia and up to Raleigh NC to stay with friends. Weather was pleasant, traffic light. I stopped at a couple of rest stops in South and North Carolina that were nicely maintained. Relaxed and had lunch, and snapped some pics. South of the NC border, I ran into a small hiccup with a Duke Energy charger on a travel plaza called “South of the Border.” This charger required the Shell Recharge app which was new to me and not on my phone. Internet was very slow at this location, and though I was able to install the app, repeated failures with it caused me eventually to give up. [This reminds me of family travel planning when I was a kid and my parents had multiple gas credit cards, and would use the road atlas and a AAA TripTik to plan each day’s segment. The current network fragmentation, with all these apps—which a non-local often will not know until at the charger—is understandable, but it definitely needs to improve.] Anyway, I checked the in-car nav for any other DC chargers in the area and discovered there was an EA station at a Walmart in Lumberton NC just 21 miles away. Why the app, and ABRP and EVC, did not guide me there in the first place is a mystery. I was able to arrive there above my 15% SOC goal. At the Walmart in Lumberton, there was a Mustang and an Ioniq at the 350 chargers. I started up with a 150 and was able to get about half my goal while in the store. When I came out, the Ioniq was gone and I finished with the 350 in just a few more minutes. Minor inconvenience. But we’ll see more of that.
My appreciation for #WalMart continues to grow. From nice stores with good selections (including some excellent keto-friendly options) to friendly people and clean restrooms, to hosting the best overall network of high speed EV chargers, the chain has helped to make this a very enjoyable and practical road trip. And today, the Grovetown GA store even had an excellent soundtrack playing. 👍
I rolled into Raleigh with plenty of juice, and had a great night with friends.
Day 17 | Tuesday June 21
I left Raleigh this morning en route to Washington DC to visit more family. A cloudy morning meant that, for once I did not have the sun in my eyes. The car/ABRP/EVC route plans all called for me to charge up at a Walmart in NC and an EVGo at a WaWa station near Richmond. Both stops went fine, but a mile after leaving the EvGo, an HPC charger appeared on the nav screen (I love that feature): you guessed it, an EA station at a Walmart. Still don’t know why this is happening, but I now have a new protocol of always doing a quick DC search when I get within 5 miles of a charger destination.
There was an hour+ traffic delay headed into DC. The car does very well in stop & go. The biggest problem with that situation is the constant jockeying of many of the other drivers. Is what it is. Once I got into DC, I had ample charge to drive around and visit a few spots before dinner and take a few pics, including the one below at the Air Force Memorial. Tomorrow, on to NY.
Day 18 | Wednesday, June 22
Left DC at 6:30am. It’s a short ride to NYC, but it had its challenges. Generally a smooth departure and trip, but both DC and Baltimore involved lots of surface roads, and wow are they in bad shape. And the highways are nothing to love either.
First charging stop was a bust. It was supposed to be an EV Institute in a community library parking lot in Baltimore. Terrible neighborhood, and the gates to the lot were locked. Had to leave Baltimore and look for a charger at a Maryland House travel plaza on I95. That went fine, but sheesh Baltimore is a dump. The chargers at the travel plaza were EV Institute chargers. This is a Maryland DOT company. Payment by CC went fine. As near as I could figure out, there is no app for EVI chargers. And while each charger had RFID capability, none of my tags/cards worked. Settled for a 55% SOC top up.
Worked my way up to Philly. Visited an EVGo charging plaza in a WaWa station. A couple of 150 chargers and a 350. Each had two plugs, the smaller ones with CCS and ChaDeMo; the larger was CCS only. Each offered simultaneous charging, which was nice. There was a Polestar (rented) at the 350. He had to park awkwardly because a semi rig was blocking g part of the last EV charging spot. My sense was the truck driver did the best he could. At first, I didn’t want to crowd the Polestar, so I tried a 150 charger named Algernon. But I couldn’t get it talking to the GT. So, I moved over to 350 Imogene; at least everything was in the right place for the GT’s awkward charging port (my only real complaint about the car), and the hose was long enough. And sure enough, simultaneous charging worked fine. At a 34% SOC, she pulled 150kW right away. Oddly, at 54% SOC, after the Polestar drove away, the rate plunged to 102kW. Oh well. I soon had enough to get to my daughter’s house in NYC and still have 170 miles of range. All good. But man, these east coast roads. And those tolls. $16 to cross over to Staten Island. Thank goodness for the ITM in the GT.
Day 22 | June 26
After a great stay in NYC, I made the short trek upstate to the Albany area to visit more family and grandchildren. I stopped at the World Trade Center and Freedom Plaza on the way out, made some images, etc. the ITM continued to handle all bridges, tunnels, and toll roads beautifully. Lovely day.
This was an uneventful ride with light traffic (but lots of police radar), and beautiful scenery. I made a single charging stop at the under-reconstruction Plattekill service area on 87. It was an EVConnect 50kW charger. The charger wouldn’t/couldn’t read my RFID key FOB/tag, but the app worked just fine. It’s a single charger that you pull alongside, with enough room for two cars at a time. I pulled 47-48kW throughout the top-up. I have found it enormously convenient to arrive at my final destination with 30+% SOC so I can drive around without worrying. I know that’s not rocket science, but it’s now habit for me.
On this short drive, the car flirted with 6km/kWh efficiency. Not bad.
Day 25 | June 29
Charged up at an EVolve charging station located at a Stewart’s in the Wast Greenbush area of Albany near my daughter’s home last night. Two 350kW chargers along with some 150 and ChaDeMo units. Nice and clean, easy access. No app. Just pay with a credit card or tap-to-pay phone.
Easy ride out of the Albany area. Beautiful day. Lots of Ka radar on the roads, roaming, parked, and hidden. At the suggestion of my son-in-law, I decided to build in a detour over to Keene, Lake Placid, Wilmington, and the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway up to the summit. Not only would this put me smack into the Adirondacks with some beautiful scenery, but it would also offer some nice winding, occasionally even twisty roads Except for a few construction sites, these were wide open with very light traffic. The car ate this up. I topped up to 90% at a Stewart’s EVolve station in Keene. Again a pair of 350 chargers and three others of lower wattage. As yesterday, the charger delivered, or the car accepted, about 148kW for a while but then settled in and bounced around from 99-108. Picked up some keto-friendly snacks inside and enjoyed a relaxing picnic in the great weather. Watched a Subaru non-EV driver park in front of the ChaDeMo charger so he could run in and get a drink. Ah well.
Drove up to the summit parking lot at Whiteface ($20 toll!). Then hiked up the trail to the top. Beautiful . Came back down and headed on to Montreal, running into my first heavy rain. The car was of course great in the rain. The Canadian border crossing didn’t look all that crowded, but it still took over a half hour to get through. After that, it was another half hour into my hotel in Montreal. My hotel (Marriott Courtyard Downtown) has two low wattage charging stations in the parking garage. Very nice. I will be topped off when I head to Toronto tomorrow.
Not great efficiency today, but that’s because I had fun driving those roads in Dynamic mode. And I didn’t have to worry because there were plenty of chargers pretty much all over.
Day 26 | June 30
I prepared for the trek from Montreal to Toronto today by trying to make sure I would be app-equipped. I already had Electrify Canada set up. After some finagling, I was able to get the Ivy network app set up. Circuit Electrique was a breeze. But Petro Canada was a complete roadblock. They simply would not/could not get past my US mobile phone number. Given the number of people who travel back and forth across the border, I found that odd. And for USA Audi EV owners, it’s also unfortunate, because the car nav loves Petro Canada chargers for route planning. Probably not a big deal, because there are a lot of chargers between here and Toronto and Niagara Falls.
But then I discovered that the Petro Canada EV app is a completely different beast. Signing up in PCEV was even easier than Circuit Electrique, and the PCEV app has Apple Pay built in. We’ll see how it works for the first charge midway between Montreal and Toronto.
Before leaving Montréal, I did some photo shooting around and on the Pont Samuel de Champlain:
My first public charging stop went smoothly in. Brockville at an Electrify Canada located in Brockville at a Canadian Tire. At the 350 charger, I zoomed up to 151 kW, and then settled in and bounced around from 102-08. These. Badgers were covered, which was really nice. There was also a food stand called Shady that served burgers, poutine, and other stuff, along with a covered picnic area. Lots of places to eat, shop, and kill time just a short walk away.
My second charging stop was at a Petro Canada station in Napanee. This also went smoothly with charging ranging from 153kW down to 65. While only partially covered, this charging station did have trash cans and windshield cleaning stations right by the chargers, which was handy. The A&W burger stand is integrated into the PC convenience store. There is an outdoor eating area. Restrooms were clean.
As I was driving along, I saw the nice OnRoute service plazas and thought to myself: “What a great place those would be for a charging station.” As I passed the third one, I noticed there were charging stations there: Ivy Network. Not a one of them was being displayed in the Audi nav screen. Hmmm.
Another nice Marriot Courtyard. These hotels are WAY nicer than their US counterparts. Good efficiency today of about 5.3km/kWh.
Day 28 | July 2
Today was the shortest driving day of the trip, just under 80 miles from Toronto to the Ontario side of Niagara Falls on a gorgeous, moderate summer day. I had plenty of SOC to get me there, even after tooling around Toronto and visiting the CN Tower, but I wanted to try a charger I hadn’t tried before. At one point in the car nav, I did see an Ivy charger pop up. But I settled on a FLO charger just past Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was located at a Canadian Tire gas station right off the highway, along with a fair number of conventional fast food and service shops. I didn’t have the FLO app, but getting it installed and set up on the phone took less than 5 minutes. Still, this is something that needs to get homogenized for better future EV experience. I have almost a dozen apps just for getting my car charged. In theory, I should just be able to use a CC to pay, but that was the approach most prone to failure throughout the trip. Using the designated app never failed. When you’re local, that might mean just three or four apps, but that’s still unnecessarily messy. If my car can be recognized and charged for any toll in the US, why not have something universal like Apple or Google Pay as an option that is negotiated at connection without intervention by the driver? I know that in some ways it is still “early,” but while there are actually lots of chargers around, predictability and ease of execution have yet to be achieved.
Anyway, charging went smoothly. I relaxed with a coffee at the nearby quite nice Starbucks, caught up with family, and made reservations for a winery tasting on Sunday. And by the time I got back, the car was at 81%. And I headed on in to Niagara Falls. Some sightseeing on Sunday, and then on to Cleveland for the 4th of July.
This car sure generates attention. People love it, especially the valets.
Day 30 | July 4
I left Niagara Falls on a beautiful bright July 4 and crossed the Rainbow Bridge and cleared customs within 10 minutes.
After that, I spent some time looking for promising diners (NY is full of wonderful little roadside places that are good for your soul, if not exactly healthy), but after the third proved to be closed either regularly on Mondays or for the holiday, I gave up and settled for a nice Starbucks in Tanawanda. Say what you will about *$—and I regularly describe them as no longer making coffee—the shops and restrooms are usually clean and roomy, staff are friendly, and the Wi-Fi is reliable. My go-to is a short Flat White, with whole milk and four ristretto shots. Smooth, good kick.
The drive to Cleveland was as uneventful as one might expect. When I lived back east, I traveled this road often. It hasn’t changed. I charged up at the Walmart off Peach St. in Erie. There was a Rivian here when I pulled up. This is the fourth I have seen (twin this trip). I like the truck at first, but the more I see it, the less I like it. Just meh. This 350kW station is easily the quietest I have used on this trip. It shot out of the gate at 259kW, and about 10 minutes later had taken me from 20%SOC to 76%. By the time I got back to the car, it was over 80. It did slow down quite a bit thereafter. No complaints.
Efficiency was pretty good today. Right at 5.2km/kWh. Not a long drive at just a bit over 200 miles. Tomorrow will be a longer day as I head to visit more family in Champaign.
I’ve been on the road a month now. I’ve enjoyed the trip, but I admit to missing my wife, home, and puppy dogs. A lot. Happy 4th to all the USA members!
Day 31 | July 5
Today was a fun day, but also one of surprising glitches and frustrations. I left Cleveland en route to Champaign IL a half hour ahead of schedule. From the git-go, ABRP and the car nav—and to a certain extent the app nav—were not on the same page. As I headed southwest on I71, all agreed I should top up at the Walmart in Mansfield. That went well. But at that stop, it was clear that the car nav was hopelessly confused about getting to Champaign from there. The car nav actually wanted me to go back north to Westlake and then come back down and go over over. It was like a maze route. Every time I ran the route in the app nav, and sent it to the car, the car changed it to this ridiculous route that actually required twelve hours of driving (2x). It’s funny now, but it wasn’t then. (What happened to the app’s ability to send a route, not just a destination, to the car? Earlier on my trip, I thought that was working fine. Now, the car accepts the destination but not the route details, and calculates the route itself. Nine times out of ten, it’s fine. But sometimes it’s a disaster.)
ABRP had the best, most direct route: southwest to Columbus and then head west past Dayton and Indianapolis on to Champaign. Except it didn’t. It quickly became apparent something was wrong with ABRP. It started with the fact that ABRP was sending me all the way through Columbus to get to I670. And when I passed the actual I670 exit, ABRP showed it as 7 miles away. It got worse after that. ABRP showed roads on the nav screen that were not actually there in reality, and vice versa. These weren’t just odd incongruities that can arise when new roads replace old ones. This was as if ABRP didn’t know where it was, and didn’t know what was there. After circling about a long 3-5 mile wrong loop, I got off the highway, researched my route in Apple Maps—which worked just fine—and then used EA to locate HPCs. As originally predicted by ABRP when I did my day planning at breakfast, I only needed two. And they were readily reachable. I plugged each by its address into the car nav, because the car nav was still not leading me to them even though I have the EA preference setting checked on.
Charging in the Indy area at a WalMart went just fine, though at 102 degrees, it was hot. And then I headed toward Champaign. I thought southwest OK and northwest TX were a charging desert. They’ve got nothing on Champaign IL. Home to a fine school (that may have forgotten how to play football), one might be forgiven for thinking/hoping/expecting a progressive large university to have good chargers. They don’t. They’ve got a bunch of puny Chargepoints and Blinks scattered around that, put together, would still be slower than the chargers in my garage at home. Some I found weren’t functional, and others were occupied (no surprise). When I finally found an available working one, pleasantly in a cool parking garage, it was able to deliver a whopping .1mi/minute. I wasn’t even able to recover the juice I had used to get to it in the short time I had before a dinner with family.
By the time I got to dinner, I was sitting at 54 miles. The next HPC en route to Madison was in Bloomington, about 55 miles away. I found a Blink that was nominally a 19kW charger that was able to deliver .4mi/minute. Over the course of a relaxing hour in the 97-degree heat, I managed to add enough of a buffer to ensure my arrival in Bloomington.
Car and driving were uneventful the rest of the way. I did enjoy two hours of the most amazing lightning show I have ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen them all over the world, from the Amazon to Africa to Bali to Bora Bora, and here in the states through much of tornado alley. This was like nothing before. Huge bolts of lightning, occasional fireballs near the ground, and sky lit up like daylight. Worth the price of admission.
It was pouring rain when I charged up at a Sam’s Club outside Rockford. Except for that whole thing about not having a roof, even a miniature one, it went fine.
Long day, and with the weather, reasonably efficient.
Day 32 | July 6 | 436 miles
Today was a solid productive day, even though I did not hit the road until just after 2pm, when I was done visiting friends in Madison. Closed out in Omaha after a 7hr 48m drive of 437 miles.
I started out charging up to 85% SOC at the Madison Walmart. I wish I could have snagged another 10%, because I probably could have skipped my top-up at a lonely charger in Des Moines and driven straight to the EA chargers a Casey’s off the highway in Williamsburg but a Rivian (of which I have seen a lot, including multiple car carriers full of them) and a VW ID4 were both looking to swap spots and they needed me out of the way to do it.
At that Casey’s I had some dinner. I usually snack healthy on the road but this time, I decided to try a “special” they called a Philly Cheesesteak Poutine. Uh huh. It was just too intriguing,, and as it turned out, it was pretty much what its name said and reasonably well-executed. But I doubt I’ll do that again.
[Anyone else get messages saying “the navigation database has been updated”? I’ve gotten several of these over the last few days. It doesn’t seem to affect anything, except the car nav seems to think it can no longer reach its final destination, even though all stopovers are still programmed in. Odd.]
A late evening charge in Waukee at a Kum Go (yes, that really is the name) got me ready to settle in Omaha with plenty of residual SOC to start out the next morning and hit the road running the next morning. All went very smoothly with good charge rates bouncing between 250kW and 85kW depending on the time and curve, with most of the time spent at 145-151.
Anyway, I had a great drive out of Madison through the rolling southern hills and farmland of Wisconsin, truly some of the most pastoral scenery this side of Ireland.
Day 33 | July 7 | 528 miles
Today was a very fun, occasionally challenging drive from the Omaha/Council Bluffs area to Denver. Along the way, I had everything from white clouds and blue skies to driving wind and rain so severe it forced many of us to pull over to the side of the road. As posted elsewhere, I saw my first GT in the wild in Lincoln NE.
Along the way, I tracked a couple from SoCal, who had been on the road for ten days, driving their MachE at a Walmart near Ft. Collins, I asked them how they liked their car. The man said he loved it, but his wife said “I hate this EV ****.” And I think that sums it up well for the duality of the experience. They both said they actually liked (her) or loved (him) the car. He seemed to find the road experience intriguing and e having. She just found the focus on keeping the car powered a distraction from what she wanted to do: have a fun road trip.
I arrived in Denver around dinner time, and had a chance to spend a couple of hours in LoDo making images. Even with some of the heavy weather, it was a good day with successful charging. Pic is of the open train shed at Denver’s Union Station.
Day 34 | July 8 | 746 miles
[My apologies for the length of this post; I am still trying to make sense of this day.] Today was nearly disastrous, a very frustrating and fatiguing day, and I pretty much have no one to blame but myself. The plan was to leave Denver and get to Twin Falls, ID for the night. I mapped the route in both ABRP and MyAudi.
I don’t know whether I simply ignored what the apps were telling me, or what. When I mapped the route in MyAudi, the night before, this is what MyAudi specified:
And that’s spot on. But somehow, when I left Denver at 4:35am, I headed north on I25, topped up at a Walmart in Thornton, and proceeded to keep heading north toward Cheyenne WY. Curiously, the car never once told me I was going the wrong way. It was a beautiful morning and sunrise, and traffic was light.
I topped up in Loveland—at a Target where there are several amenities close by including an early hours Starbucks—and for some reason, it didn’t worry me that the e-tron Route Planner was constantly spinning on an unsuccessful effort to update the route. As I hit I80 to head west, it began to dawn on me that I was driving into a charging desert and that if I didn’t locate chargers along the way, it was going to get ugly. I pulled over into a truck rest stop and started running ABRP, which advised in no uncertain terms that my only option was to double back almost to where I started. I did. All of this happened because, from many previous road trips, I was so reflexively accustomed driving I80 west home to the Bay Area. And I also think that many long days of driving, combined with short nights of sleep and no second set of brain and eyes, meant I was not functioning at my best. And it cost me four hours this morning.
I returned to Loveland, topped up again, and had a very nice conversation with a guy who was eagerly counting the days to take delivery of his Ford Lightning. As I finally reached I76 and then I70, the car nav was still telling me to head back up to Cheyenne. I have a theory on what’s happening here, and maybe some of the more experienced e-tronners already know. The car nav seems to behave differently depending on whether you have sent it merely a destination or a full route. I haven’t tested this fully, but will when I am home. It seems that, if you enter a destination in the MyAudi app, you can send that destination straight to the car without calculating a route in the app. And when you call up that destination in thr MMI, the car will calculate the route, and if it needs to add charging stops, it will so advise and offer up a plan. But you can also calculate a route, and if you click “Start Navigation,” it seems the app sends the full route to the car. This is just a theory, but it's consistent with the way the car behaves. And it could explain why what you see in the app is not always what you get in the car. Apparently, when I set off that morning, I selected the destination of Twin Falls, clicked on a manual DC search, located the Thornton Walmart just off I25N, and everything went downhill from there. This raises a question: in the “Received” MMI screen, is there a way to distinguish between simple destinations and fully calculated routes?
At this point, you would be justified in thinking: "what an idiot." I sure felt that way. Anyway . . ..
The drive out of Denver up into the Rockies was spectacular, with moderate traffic, big cumulus clouds, and sharp blue sky. The car was fantastic, but, I began to develop a bit of discomfort with the ACC on downhill, sharply sweeping curves. The car wants very much to maintain set speed, and for a guy accustomed to downshifting (or paddle shifting on a tiptronic) and powering into curves, that starts to get unnerving. More than once, the car advised “Please take over.” Not the message to put your hands on the wheel. Just take over. As though its digital, stuttery adjustments could not keep up with the analog world. I fiddled with the curves settings in the MMI, but they tended to produced exaggerated and inconsistent results. I could determine no specific reason why some curves popped up in the HUD (showing the car was making a curve adjustment) but most did not. This goes along with the odd circumstances that cause the car to hit the brakes: extreme low angle sun that seems to overwhelm the sensors & cameras, sharp angular shadows across lanes, large trucks “straight ahead” but that are simply ahead of us on a curve, cars changing lanes in front of us, especially crossing our lane from the lane left of us to right of us. Audi Driver Assist is nowhere near ready for fully piloted driving. And that’s fine by me. I don’t want to be a passenger. I want to be the driver. But even the blend of being the “assisted driver” is far from perfect. And don’t get me started on how ACC wants to take every single exit, just because the side white line briefly disappears and that seems to be where the open road is. Why haven’t Audi fixed this?
Anyway, those sharp sweeping downhill curves have a solution, at least for me: the regen paddles. When I first got the car, they seemingly did nothing. But now, wow! It’s not exactly the same as cruising mid-band in 4th or 5th, but it’s what we’ve got, and it’s reasonably close. I found that curves that weee causing me to hit the brakes at 70mph while using ACC, I started taking at 75-80 without noticing the speed while driving “manually.” And it was more fun. Odd how the car felt much more stable this way, much more like the R8 this way.
All good, even with a nice charging stopping Frisco that required me to use the EA app to charge, because the MyAudi charging functionality simply wouldn’t connect. Three timeouts is my limit. And then I hit Grand Junction, where both ABRP and the car nav wanted me to charge up at an EA 350 at a Sam’s Club. But as I exited I70, ABRP decided I needed to go back to Frisco. Seriously. And even more weirdly, the car nav and the MyAudi app decided I didn’t need to stop in Grand Junction after all, and that I could arrive in Green River UT with 12% SOC. Proving that I was not at peak mental operation, I accepted that recommendation, even though a 350kW charger was within a hundred yards, and pushed on. (This was my final straw trying to use ABRP as the prime navigator. It just doesn’t cut it. From its upside-down orientation, to its slowness and lack of information on screen, it’s just not sophisticated enough. OTOH, it does seem that ABRP is an exception to the rule that the MMI won’t permit. An active navigator alongside the car nav. It allows ABRP to keep running, so if two talking idiots is your thing, you can do that.
I made Green River, exactly as spec’ed by the car, though during the last 50 miles, I was running Eco AC in full Efficiency Mode to be sure. And I even turned off the stereo, as though that would make a big difference. That desertr is intimidating. At the charging station, there was another Rivian. And another one came by after him. At this point, I might have seen more Rivians than any other model. Sadly, the Green River espresso cafe was not open.
The rest of the drive into Salt Lake was uneventful. As I recharged in Spanish Fork, I started planning the last leg to Twin Falls. But something was off. Instead of the 3.5-4.5 hour drive that I expected, with ample charging opportunities along the way, and not far from my destination, the My Audi app was showing a 6-7 hour journey. To save my life, I couldn’t figure this out. The in car nav advised that I needed to top off at a 50kW charger at a local Nissan dealership. I admit I was reluctant to do this; I had not pulled into a car dealership to charge yet, even though all the apps showed these as options; were car dealers truly enthusiastic to have non-paying guests glomming onto their chargers? Turs out that, at least in this case, the answer was a ressounding “yes.” Not only did the staff welcome me, they offered me free snacks and drinks, use of their lounge, and their wifi.
The parking space in front of the charger was open. The poor little chargewr was another matter. It needed some love. the lower 2-socket piece of the plug was loose and flopping around. Bteween it and several time outs, it took some patience and holding of the plug in place to get charging initiated. But once I did, it did well. My only fear was that the lower part of the plug might break off and get stuck in the car. Fortunately, it did not. Anyway, I charged u to 85% amd was ready to set off when my wife fortunately persuaded me during a phone call that perhaps a nighjt with some extra rest mighht be in order. I had told her I could not reconcile the different things I was seeing on the apps and maps about how long it would take me to get to Idaho. So, I booked a local hotel, got some laundry done, relaxed and actually got more than 4 hours of sleep.
Days 35-37 | July 9-11 | Final Segments
I’ve been home for a little over a week, and apologize for not wrapping up the itinerary sooner (though I’m pretty sure nobody was holding their breath ). Day 35 had me heading to Portland via I84W, which was arguably the best segment of road on the entire trip, from both a scenic and a construction quality perspective. I found myself reaching the Twin Falls area much sooner than predicted by software the previous evening. My guess is that, again, I was misinterpreting something. In either case, I like the way this worked out. I had a beautiful sunrise coming out of SLC, and a lovely drive with very little traffic through some lovely scenery. As I left the SLC area, I charged up at an EA located in a Walmart lot near Ogden. I got to that charger to discover, and not for the first time, a Chevy Bolt using a 350kW charger. I don’t want to sound mean-spirited, so I won’t say what I was thinking at the time. Amazingly, this would only be the first of three such sightings in one day.
I ran into my second GT of the trip at an EA charging station in Boise. Nice fellow, but this was his first experience using an EA charger, and it showed. The car looks good in Silver. While in Boise, I conducted a taste test at the suggestion of my daughters, to determine whether Five Guys' French fries taste better in Idaho. They do.
I had originally planned to head to Seattle from SLC, but as mentioned in an earlier post, I was really wanting to be home. So, when I discovered that a family member would not be there, I took Seattle off the route. This saved me 1-2 days, but it also meant I would not break 10k miles on the trip. Ah well. The I84 route takes you through the Columbia Gorge and straight toward Mt. Hood on the way into Portland, a truly stunning drive. I stayed in Portland with my brother and his family, and on Sunday, July 10, we ambled about Portland. It was my first time there not spent in meetings at an airport hotel conference room, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the city still shows a few scars of some of its political events, it’s a pretty town full of nice people, interesting architecture, and really good beer.
I left Portland at 6pm with Medford OR in my sights for a place to sleep the night and set the stage for a short drive home on Monday, July 11. I left Medford at 6:15 am, and with stops to charge in Yreka and Willows CA, I was home by 1:10 pm.
Thanks for joining me on this drive! I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Total Miles: 9,341