Our first long trip in our electric VW van was quite an adventure! We wandered from Ashland, Oregon, to Monterey, California, traveling a total of 1,400 miles. We spent most of our time traveling on Highway 1, a winding, narrow road that was a perfect fit for the van. It’s amazing how much more you see when you’re going slow! Driving through the redwoods and along the ocean, we really got to take in the beauty going more slowly.
My main job was navigating and finding the charging stations and campgrounds/RV parks. I used the PlugShare app to locate them. Although I was grateful to have this resource, it was not always accurate. Sometimes, we would get to a listed charging station, but the people there would have no idea about how we could plug in the van for recharging. Some were willing to let us use their power and some were not, which meant that we had to cross our fingers and try to make it to the next station. During the day, if the van’s batteries got depleted, we could park it in the sun for a couple hours and get enough energy to get to our destination. At night, though, it was a different story. Only one time in our trip did we run out of energy at night. We were only about a mile from the charging station, but had to climb a big hill to get there—and we didn’t have enough in the batteries to do that. Then, my 8-year-old son, spying a nearby house, suggested that we stop and ask the homeowners if we could plug in. Hesitantly, we trusted his innocence. It turned out to be a sweet couple that let us plug in the van and camp in their front yard!
We lived off-grid for many years, so we’re all used to using energy conscientiously. We had plenty of electricity to charge our phones, laptops and iPad. The appliances we chose used very little power. This was our first trip in the van, and there were a lot of things in building the camper part of it that we had to design by imagining what it would be like on the road. For the most part, everything worked well, but we got some insight into how we can make some things better and easier for the setup and take-down process.
During the trip, I turned into a amateur videographer and social media junkie. We wanted to have a way that people could “follow” us on our trip and a place where people could find out more information about our project. The week before we left, I created a website and opened Facebook and Instagram accounts.
We met some really great people on our journey and had some serendipitous connections. I think one of the biggest lessons for me was trusting and opening ourselves up to the good that is in everyone. Yes, we did get some angry honks from people who were in a hurry, but we just smiled and waved to them . For the most part, folks were very interested, helpful, and kind. This is the world that I want my kids to experience and I think they will have fond memories of this summer for the rest of their lives.