Zeus's First Vacation

Virginia Beach 2017

Kate and her new Bolt Zeus
Zeus came to us on June 27th, a 2017 Premier Chevy Bolt with all the bells and whistles and our new primary vehicle. This is not our first plug in electric vehicle but it is our first all electric. We knew the apps to use to plan our route and there was never a doubt that we were going to take it on vacation. As soon as the papers where signed (had to wait 2 agonizing days for delivery) we ordered a receiver and carrier to carry our larger camping supplies then started planning our trip (we were a little excited).

Let's take a moment to talk about planning our trip

Planning your trip is an important part of easy long distance travel.  We used the PlugShare app
 (Android / iOS, not the website) to do the planning and it was a piece of cake.
If you have never used PlugShare to plan a trip here is a quick overview (iOS):

1) Tap the "Me" tab in the app
2) Tap "Trip Planner" then the + icon in the top right.
3) Enter your source and destination address.  If you have already selected your vehicle it will pre-load your vehicle range. The range is 80% of your fully charged range as that is the max a DC fast charge will charge your battery to. Make sure to leave the guide me option enabled, this is what makes planning on the app so easy. 
4) Tap "Find Routes" and select the best route (if multiple are available) and tap continue.
List view of the first stop in our vacation
5) This is where the magic starts, the app will guide you through each leg of your journey showing the best charging options. I like to give myself 60-80 miles of range left at each stop, this way I can travel to another station if needed. Walk through and choose a station for each leg, you'll notice that when you choose a station it tells you how far it is from the prior. 

To the left is an example of the end result as a list view, you can see that my first leg is the longest, this is because I started with a 100% charge and have 240 miles available. The area around where I chose to stop also has several other options available if I had to go to another station. My second stop is only 130 miles as I will have charged to 80% and have 170 available (NOTE: my experience with the trip has shown me that the first leg with 100% I easily got 260 miles cruising at 65 and 200 at 80%) . 

So great we have a route planned, now we want to use it. That's easy as well, when you start you just choose the destination for that leg of the trip and tab directions. This will display a list of apps on your phone that can handle navigation, choose one and that app is launched with the destination pre-selected. With CarPlay integration the guidance is displayed on the huge center screen and you're off. Each time you have finished charging and your ready to do the next leg of your tip just select its destination, send it to the app of your choice and your off.

For our trip I created 3 routes:
Home --> Family in VA
Family in VA --> Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach --> Home

The Trip Down

With the car packed we are ready to start our journey to First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, before arriving we are going to visit my cousin Brooke and her family in Burke, VA for a couple days.

The trunk is packed to the brim, and on the carrier we have our 3 room tent, grill, chairs, and grass rug.
With 180 miles and 3 hours of driving under our belt its time to stop in at our first DC Fast charge station in the Molly Pitcher Service Area. This EVgo charger I had setup on account for right when we got Zeus. EVgo stations only allow for 30 minutes of continuous charging then you have to restart the charging.

Inside the service area we took our breaks and had a bite to eat. By the time we got our food the first 30 minutes were up so I went out and restarted the charging for another 30 minutes. By the time we finished eating we had 50 minutes of charging done, were up to 80% charge, and had a reported 205 miles of range.

Our second stop was a little over 2 hours and 130 miles away at a Royal Farms in Maryland.
This charger required a charge point card, this is a membership I have had since we got our first Volt in 2012.  These chargers are very common L2 EVSE's in our area.

This charger was a bit faster than the Molly Pitcher one running 125 amps instead of 100. A quick stretch of the legs and a picnic with the kids (45 minutes) and we were off to Brooke's house in Burke. We didn't need to charge to 80% to drive the last 74 miles but we did since we had a few activities planned when we arrived.

Visiting with family in Burke

While visiting family in Burke we did some geocaching and visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which is an annex to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and an awesome place to visit if you ever get a chance.

The girls exploring the controls and what part of the plane they effect.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

Averaging 2,124 miles per hour this cold war era jet could travel from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds.

Space Shuttle Discovery

This thing was huge, if you have not seen the videos of it being flown in on a 747 into Dulles take a look here.

Off to Virginia Beach

After a couple days with family we were off to First Landing State Park for a week of camping on the beach. While visiting we fully charged Zeus, the trip was only 217 miles so we could have made it without a stop but once again I wanted to arrive with about 50% charge so I could run out and do some errands after setting up camp. We stopped in at New Kent Pit Stop just off Highway 64 and grabbed some ice cream while we charged for free. This was the first free DC fast charge station I have ever encountered so it was pretty cool to come across it.
 Finally after 3 hours and 197 miles of driving we arrived at camp. We didn't book a site with electricity (doh!) but we had friends that we were there with that had so we left the car at their site to charge while we enjoyed a week of fun in the sun.

Before hanging out with our friends we used Zeus to blow up the air mattresses.

Heading home

 After a week in the sun it was time to pack up and head home. Squished Totoro shows just how much stuff we fit in that trunk.

A little over 2 hours and 140 miles of driving we stopped in at another Royal Farms to charge up while we ate some absolutely delicious chicken and mac-n-cheese. Some pretty nice looking ChargePoint DC chargers, 45 minutes later we were off.
Another couple hours and 130 miles later we arrived at the Wyndham Philadelphia-Mount Laurel hotel. This place was very cool as they had both a DC Fast Charge and a L2 charger, in addition they had covered parking lined with solar panels. They had a lot of solar panels, I wish I had asked how many but they had a dozen covered ports each with probably 60-80 panels.

This hotel only had 3 out of 5 stars but our experience was great, the pool and room were clean and at $76 a night it was a very good price.
After a good nights sleep it was time for the final trip home, 140 miles to the Plattekill Rest Area for lunch and a charge then the last 74 miles home.

This was a Greenlots charger (as was the one at the Wyndham hotel). Unlike most of the prior chargers this was a flat rate of $8 for 1 hour of charging. We stayed longer than I needed just because of this, but still only 45 minutes (I was planning on a quick 20 minute charge just to get home).

In Summary

With a little planning this was a very easy 1,171 mile trip in Zeus. With the exception of the last stop I never felt like I was waiting around for the car to charge, we almost always were busy doing something (its amazing how fast 30 minutes passes by). The Bolt is a fantastic piece of engineering, just I expected it to be after driving a Volt for 5 years.

I am looking forward to our next trip to Tennessee in August to visit my dad and experience the solar eclipse.


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