Father and son bonding events can range from a Padres or Chargers contest to a game of catch but for SDG&E employee Randy Schimka and his 15-year-old son, Brandon, the week-long vacation from work and school took them down a unique path that few have trodden.
On the morning of April 1 they left San Diego on a 7-day, 850-mile roundtrip drive to San Luis Obispo. Under normal circumstances, the journey would not have been noteworthy or very remarkable.
What makes this father and son trip unique is that during the entire trip the two never stopped for gasoline. This was due to the fact that the two set out in Randy’s red, all-electric Nissan Leaf, a car that can traverse a maximum of just 80 to 100 miles before needing a charge.
The close confines of the car’s range called for a two day excursion each way, alternating between city streets and highways. Randy had mapped out multiple charging location opportunities along the way as needed, and their strategy was to make short frequent stops to recharge the car while they did sightseeing, ate meals, and walked around. If one of the stops had been out of order or busy, they could have gone on to the next stop for a charge. Along the way, they also planned an overnight stay in the Oxnard Marriott Courtyard that had a handy charging unit installed.
“Due to the charging limits the trip took some planning but it was very rewarding to take the ‘roads less travelled’ and get a glimpse of California that’s often missed by zooming exclusively down the interstate highways,” Schimka said. “We never felt like we were waiting excessively since we were busy walking around and checking out the local sights.”
“Due to the charging limits the trip took some planning but it was very rewarding to take the ‘roads less travelled’ and get a glimpse of California that’s often missed by zooming exclusively down the interstate highways,” Schimka said.
Randy admitted to a winning car charging strategy that kept wait times to a minimum. “We minimized charging time during the day by starting the trip with the car fully charged and monitoring its battery life as we drove,” he said. “We would replenish the Leaf slightly at charging stops and ended each travel day nearly empty. This allowed us to charge for the night and begin the next day fully powered up.”
During all those charging stops there was only one location in Solvang that required a $1.25 per hour fee. The rest were free with the more notable units located at a Target store in San Luis Obispo, Rabobanks locations in Goleta, Santa Maria and Atascadero and a DC fast charger unit in Cypress that delivered ten times the charging power in 10 percent of the time, delivering an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.
Along the way the two stopped in Newport Beach to visit the Tesla Motors showroom, and saw an all-electric Roadster that can accelerate to 60 miles an hour in 3.7 seconds, has a range of 245 miles and a price tag in excess of $100,000. A Tesla Model S coupe with top speed of 125 miles per hour and a $50,000 sticker price was on display and the two learned that car would be going into production this year.
Randy and Brandon also took time to visit Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Morro Bay and See Canyon. One of the highlights of the trip was the Thursday evening Farmer’s Market in San Luis Obispo.
Would they have rather accelerated the trip if given the chance and taken a more conventional vacation in a gasoline fueled car?
“Not really,” Randy said, “My son never said ‘Are we there yet? And the company we shared didn’t make us long for a quick trip in a car fueled with gas. But I think Brandon would have loved carving out a part of the trip in that Tesla Roadster.”
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