It was an odd experience waking up with the Rinehart staff coming into work…it felt a little odd to say the least! I was sleeping on the sofa, and I remember waking up to Larry peering down at me and saying “Don’t mind me, you’re more than welcome to get some more shuteye!” This is something that I promptly did. But when the office starting filling up it was time to awake properly and gather all the team members together from the various parts of the office. Except one team member though; Nik was not to be found.
A few minutes later however, he turned up looking very dishevelled. In a triumph of intelligence, Nik had decided to bed down in a flower patch outside which was riddled with sprinklers, and at around 4pm they turned on and he got soaked. But rather than coming inside, he decided to sleep on the concrete outside the office, and when a member of staff arrived, they were concerned to find what looked like a homeless person passed out in front of their office! But upon being ruffled awake, Nik introduced himself and all was well as he walked into the office to join the rest of us.
Most of the time, RGE is super keen to carry on moving and getting the miles under our belt. But this time we had to stop and take care of a growing problem; laundry. I can’t speak for everyone else, although I suspect they were in a similar situation, but I had absolutely no clean clothes left. So we had to take a break and go and do some wash our clothes and generally clean ourselves up. This being completed, we reassembled at Rinehart and gave our hosts a couple of spins round the car park, packed up, and started our journey south to Yreka.
Today was another one of those journeys where months before you start dreaming about it, for today we were to enter California on our epic road trip. Romantic notions of the sunny summer of ’69 and the accompanying hippie songs ran through our minds…we were in the mood for California! It was a long drive to Yreka though, with huge gradients in between, so we had to take it at only 50-55mph on the highway. In fact, we had been warned about this particular mountain we had to cross as it was high, around 4,500ft, and right at the edge of our range which means we were driving uphill with very limited charge left.
At around midnight we hit the mountain. Up and up we went, and suddenly signs for local ski resorts started popping into view, and the air was certainly becoming cooler. But by now, our state of charge was dropping vast as we drove upwards, and soon we had hit zero! We were now running on our “reserve tank” and with no end of the hill in sight, the state of charge situation starting looking a little dire.
But finally, signs for the summit appeared and the welcome site of a 7 mile downhill stretch beckoned. By this time however, we were on -3% state of charge, and the regenerative breaking, whereby we put energy back into the battery pack when going downhill, was most definitely needed! Off the throttle I came, letting gravity do the work. At the bottom of the hill and with the Californian border in sight, the state of charge read 1.9%, and we coasted all the way up to the border gate.
“Border?” I hear you say, “There are no borders between US states!”. Well that’s what we thought too until we were asked to stop. I was expecting a thorough questioning about what the car was and why it was here, but instead I was stopped by an elderly farmer-looking and moustached man and asked if I had any fresh fruit on me. I did not, and neither did the support vehicle, so we were able to pass without hindrance! Apparently diseases in fresh fruit brought into California can cause problems with their crops, hence the strictness.
Anyway, back to the driving. We still had a good 12 miles to go to our recharging point, and the state of charge was falling once again. After driving very carefully, in a process we have come to call “EcoFoot”, we made it to the Holiday Inn in Yreka, which fortunately had an adjacent RV park to charge off. And just to add more flavour to the evening, which was by now very late (somewhere in the region of 3am) we got stopped by the police. But this time they were not even interested in looking at our documents, and were far keener to hear about the car and project. I did a few skids in the gravel to impress upon them the potential of electric vehicles, and then headed over to a charging bay to give the car some much needed juice.
By now we were absolutely exhausted, and not even the hotel’s pool was enough to tempt us away from rushing towards our beds at the Holiday Inn. But what from little we could see in the dark, the surrounding scenery looked stunning and we were looking forward to the morning when we could take a look around and drive through the area.