To take advantage of the drought conditions here in Southern California, I planned to drive to the highest peak in Ventura County, 8,800 foot Mt Pinos, and look for rain clouds with a freshly washed car.
I also wanted to try out the ShorePower service at the Flying J truck stop at 4,100 foot elevation in Lebec. ShorePower provides “power pylons” at truck stops so long haul truckers don’t have to idle to get power and heat. The 208-240 volt NEMA 14-30 can provide full L2 for charging, with a portable L2 EVSE. They also provide cable and WiFi. At 66 miles with a 4,000 foot climb, one way, I would have arrive at Lebec with virtually 0% SOC. The Flying J is about 2 miles past, and 200’ below the summit which might preclude return at 0%. Because things can go wrong, I decided to charge at an RV campground in Castaic, at the base of the climb. I expected to arrive at Lebec with ~50% SOC.
All going to plan when I arrived at 51% SOC to find the 6 ShorePower pedestals not in use and the LCD display reads “available”. They are set back from the parking lot about 20 feet so trucks backing in don’t accidently flatten them with rear overhang. I was pretty sure the cord on my SPX Power Express EVSE would just make it.
First problem. Connector is not the NEMA 14-50 I just used at the campsite. It’s a 14-30, which has an “L” shaped, not flat blade, neutral pin. The fix is to remove the Neutral pin as it’s not used anyway. Only tool I have is a Leatherman multitool, but it clumsily disassembles the connector for removing the neutral blade. I plug in.
Second problem. The SPX cable is a foot too short. I’m worried about a broken chin spoiler if I try to climb the curb to get closer, so on to back-up plan. I sent my Honda portable EVSE in to EVSEupgrade for modification so I can use it to charge at 240 volts, up to 20 amps. Since this is 208 volt service, I’ll only end up with a ~4kW rate, so about 2.5 hours instead of 1.5 hours to charge up. Cable is just long enough, so finally ready to charge, I go in to pay at the ShorePower kiosk
Third problem. Kiosk screen says “Service Unavailable”. No problem. There is an 800 number to call to activate the station.
Forth problem. Operator at the service center says the units are off-line and cannot be activated.
Fifth problem. They have no idea how long they will be off-line.
I call a mobile home / RV park up the street that I had seen when scouting the route. No answer. Since It’s 5 miles UP the hill on two lane with no shoulder, I take the hint; “Fate asks that you do not proceed”.
I was counting on the regen descending Mt Pinos to add back enough range to descend Hwy 33 down the other side of the mountain into Ojai. No charge in Lebec means I can’t do that either. My only escape to a charger is back toward Castaic.
So there you have it. Have a back up plan for every step and ”know when to fold 'em”.