Road Trip #6: Wilder Ranch

Wilder Ranch

Wilder Ranch State Park is down near Santa Cruz. According to Apple maps, it is about 1hr 20m drive away from Alameda without traffic. It was a lot longer than that on Saturday morning.

We encountered traffic in several places along the route, mainly on HWY-17 before Los Gatos. Sadly, even once we passed that, there was too much traffic on 17 to really enjoy the curves. (“Winding Road” is not really a warning sign, is it?).

Since the traffic was so bad, we stopped for lunch in Santa Cruz; not down by the boardwalk, but on Pacific Avenue. Eating outside on the street we had a mix of poke from Poke House and sandwiches from Zoccoli’s Italian deli. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Pre-Trip Charging

Charge Level At Start of Trip

We were too late Friday night for me to head over to the Electrify America chargers and sit there for 30 minutes to charge, so instead I left early on Saturday morning, plugged in the car and went into Target to pick up breakfast at their in-store Starbucks for everybody.

Back at the car, charge level had reached 92% with an estimated range of 242 miles. More than enough for our round trip, which was also to include a stop in San Francisco, so we needed a bit more than for the simple out and back route.

Wilder Ranch

Wilder Ranch is both an historic ranch with some old buildings for the ranch, some old equipment, workshops and live animals (we saw goats, chickens and wild rabbits) and also trails out to the cliffs and around the hills behind the ranch.

Around the ranch there are also a number of very climbable trees, and other gardens.

Old Cove Landing Trail

After exploring the ranch area, checking out the animals and old farm equipment, we headed out to the coast on the old cove landing trail. The walk is easy, with almost no elevation change and a packed dirt trail all the way. Keep an eye open for cyclists though as it seems to be a popular bike trail as well. Just over a mile from the day use parking lot gets you views out over a deserted sandy beach (it is a nature preserve so nobody is allowed on the beach), and the surrounding cliffs from the top of the cliffs.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Since our route home was via San Francisco, we left Wilder Ranch and drove north on Highway 1, along the coast. Stopping along the way at a fruit farm shop for fresh cherries, strawberries and some popsicles to cool us down.

After that, the plan was to head straight to SF, but when we saw Pigeon Point Lighthouse in the distance we thought we should stop and explore before it closed.

The lighthouse was first lit in 1872, the lighthouse is now literally crumbling from years of erosion by the wind and ocean. As a result, the lighthouse itself is closed to the public an fenced off (parts of it have fallen in the past). When first built it was equipped with a state-of-the-art fresnel lens light to warn shipping of the dangerous coastline. There is a section of a wooden schooner, the Point Arena, that was thrown onto the rocks in 1913 and wrecked on the site to prove just how dangerous those rocks can be for shipping.

Charging and Trip Statistics

Charging at Electrify America, Alameda

Our long stop in SF reset the trip statistics, breaking our journey into two sections. The portion from Alameda to San Francisco, via Wilder Ranch, came in with an average consumption of 3.0 mi/kWh for a distance of 153 miles, averaging just 32 mph (did I mention the awful traffic on the way down to Wilder Ranch?). The twenty miles to home, starting with a cold battery, we only averaged 2.5 mi/kWh.

Back in Alameda, I dropped the family at home and went over to our nearby Electrify America chargers for a quick charge, The first one I plugged into, with a state of charge on the car of just 24%, reported a charging rate of just 41 kW, claiming the car requested 42 kW. That is well below the 150 kW the charger claims to be capable of.

41 kW

Luckily, a week earlier I had been told by another EV driver that some of the units appear to be charging slower than they should, and moving might get a better rate, I moved to a different bay, the one I had used that morning, and as predicted, the rate jumped to a much better 130 kW.

130 kW

This unpredictability is a serious issue with Electrify America (although earlier trips we had problems even getting them to start charging at any speed, so I guess this is progress). The conversation I had a week ago was with an ID.4 driver, and he said just before he plugged in an Audi etron driver had experienced the same thing, and moving from one bay to another had made a huge difference to the charging speed.

While it is expected that the rate will drop as the state of charge increases (as a battery charges it is more difficult to push charge into it), it is definitely not expected that moving from one bay to the next with the car in essentially the same state will result in a 3X improvement in charging speed. What is even more frustrating is that EA, and the three vehicles (the Taycan, the ID.4 and the etron) are all part of the VW group. They should really all work perfectly.

Oh, and the “Plug and Charge” feature that EA has only works on the Taycan, Mustang Mach-E and yet to be delivered Lucid Air. Except that it does not work on my Taycan. It does not even support the brand new ID.4, nor the older etron EVs.

I have seen videos of it working on the Mustang, so it is real, but apparently it only works on non-VW group vehicles. How does that happen?

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