A good night’s sleep and we were up relatively early and ready to roll after cold showers (I couldn’t do it and washed my hair in the sink instead).
We made it to Watson Lake and spent extra time exploring the Signpost Forest while the car charged for about an hour and 45 minutes.
We needed a full charge to make it to Fort Nelson – actually according to the car estimates we can’t make it that far. When fully charged it says 505 Kilometers and Fort Nelson is 512 Kilometers away. On our way up, we stopped for the extra charge at an RV park along the way and had passed up the only level 2 charger on this route. That time we spent 3 hours getting 30 kilometers that we just barely used on the journey, but it gave us the piece of mind we needed while we were still new to traveling long distances in an EV.
As we started the journey from Watson Lake, the car estimated that we would still have 24% of our battery charge when we reached Fort Nelson. How is that possible? We are still puzzling on how the navigation system does the estimating. Does it know that it’s mountainous terrain? Does it know wind speed and direction? Does it know how we drive? We rarely go above 90 Km/hour (55 miles/hour). We decided to experiment. We set the navigation for the Northern Rockies Lodge where they have the level 2 charger. Reading the reviews on the charging apps, it suggests that this charger really barely meets the level 2 criteria and would probably take just as long as our RV camp stop did before. Can we conserve enough energy to make up for the potential 3 hours wait to charge (driving slower will take longer to reach our destination, but it’s moving time rather than sitting time)?
The car suggested we would have more than 50% of our battery power left by the time we got to the lodge with the charger and it was more than half way to our destination. We checked the map for how many more campgrounds there were after that to use as backup (3 more). We were doing well by keeping our speed down by the time we got to the lodge, so we drove on by, keeping careful watch on the predicted range of kilometers we had in the battery versus the number of kilometers still to travel.
Paul discovered that if he slowed down even more (about 40 miles/hour) on the downhills, he could gain quite a bit of battery charge. Since we had a number of mountain passes to cross on this route, we had some major downhill opportunities. The trick was to also slow down on the big uphills so as not to burn away all that extra power in going up.
Fortunately there was not much traffic in this stretch especially since it was almost 9pm when we arrived in Fort Nelson. So we weren’t bothering anyone by going extra slow on the highway.
We made it all the way to Fort Nelson and had 10% battery power remaining when we plugged into the charger at the Triple G Hideway RV park. By going that much slower, it did take us almost 3 hours more than if we had gone the speed limit, but it was 3 hours on the road with spectacular views.
TRYING A NEW ROUTE TO MILE ZERO
We enjoyed a conversation with a new friend, Loni (and her dog, Coopy) before leaving camp. It’s hard to hurry when there are so many interesting people to meet and beautiful sites to see.
This time we found the high speed charger in Ft. St. John, so we didn’t need to spend the night so close to our last overnight which will give us more time to stop in Jasper and Glacier National Parks on our way home.
On our way up we took a scenic route and bypassed Dawson Creek the official start of the Alaska Highway – at that time we pledged to go through Dawson Creek this time, so we did. And met Harry there who was just starting on the Alaska Highway as we were finishing.
Carrying on we decided to stop for the night in Grande Prairie. Rather than seek out the fast chargers in town, we opted for the Hampden Inn that had a level 2 Tesla charger that we could use overnight for no additional fee.