As we were selling off all of our “stuff” before hitting the road we had a million decisions to make. A major one being the type of home we would buy and accompanying transportation. Mind you, the home is to be on wheels, because it is a tour after all.
Since we had a travel trailer for the previous 20 years, which, by the way, we figure we pulled over 300,000 miles – the first thing we started looking at were fifth wheels. But not a 19 footer like we crammed into all those years. I wanted room to spread out and work comfortably, so a 36 footer was my first choice.
To pull a 36 foot travel trailer you need a very large truck, and those trucks run on diesel. The more we thought about it the more we realized that was not the right choice when going on a Climate Tour. And I started to imagine the comments from the audience as we pulled up in a huge 3500 diesel truck! Ever try to park one of those beast at the grocery store?
Our search switched to a Class C motor home – the kind that looks like a van in the front with a cab over bed. And then we realized we could pull an electric car, so the only time we are using fuel was when we moved the motor home between locations every 3 months. That is a lot smaller carbon footprint.
We found a 31 foot motor home and a used Nissan Leaf. We discovered that Nissan had leased a bunch of the Leaf’s in 2016, so in 2019 we were able to get one at a third of the cost as they were being returned and traded in for new models.
Now we have Erma, the 31 foot home on the road, and Pearl, a cute little electric car that takes us around town without a tailpipe. Much better. And we have not visited a gas station for the entire month we have been here. Good thing because Erma took over $100 per gas stop to get here!
What is that?
One challenge we have is that the car only has a range of about 85 miles. In order to go further we need to identify charging stations along the way. And they need to be Fast Charge stations, which means we can charge up Pearl in about 30 minutes. On a regular house current, it takes overnight. Not very practical when you want to recreate for the day.
To be safe, we found a couple of spots on our trek down to the Redwoods National Park, which is about 70 miles away. We could get there, but there are no charging stations once we got there so getting back would be a problem.
First stop was about 25 miles from here at a Walmart. We pulled in to the lot and plugged in and ran inside to grab a couple of things for the trip and for the house. As we were plugging in there were two guys gathering carts. One walked over and informed us that he had no idea how that thing worked, even though we did not ask for any help. He was curious I guess.
I began to feel like the stranger rolling into Dodge after a hard winter. Another man walked over and just stared at the charger but did not speak. More onlookers stopped and stared a moment before heading into the door of Walmart. Some asked questions and were curious about how long it took to charge and how much it costs. We were definitely a novelty in that small Northern California town.
The next station was at a Casino another 25 miles down the road. This one was free and fast. Good thing because I really did not want to gamble. We figured out that this one will work for the whole trip next time and on the way home we plugged in and went inside the hotel lobby and ate the rest of our lunch.
We try to educate people about EV’s whenever we can. It is a no brain-er. No fuel to buy, no oil changes, clean air. And they are fun to drive! Dealers don’t advertise them so much because about 40% of their income comes from maintenance on gas vehicles. But you can still ask for one. In fact, used EV’s sell pretty fast when they come in.
I know I feel better driving an EV instead of the huge diesel truck and will enjoy educating people about the car as we continue our Climate Tour over the next two years.
Update 2021: We ended up getting a smaller Toyota car that gets 42 mpg. The EV would not allow us to do what we wanted to do – explore. Plus, when the pandemic hit, we had to find other types of work, which includes delivering food to shut-ins. I have my eyes on a new EV in a couple of years. They will have a much longer range and a lower price tag.