We took our first electric roadtrip as a family last weekend, as the children got Columbus Day (and the preceding Friday + the following Tuesday) off. We headed to Guntersville, Alabama on Saturday, where my parents live by the state park.
But first, we stopped at a Nissan dealer in Rome to fill up on electricity and then headed northwest to Scottsboro, where airports’ unclaimed baggage is sold in a giant superstore.
The children got sunglasses and watches; the Mrs got jewelry; I got impatient to get some BBQ across the street.
After we had our BBQ, we headed to Guntersville just in time to watch the Alabama game with my folks (also UA alumni). The next morning after church, my dad joined our crew to head up to Huntsville’s Botanical Garden, meeting my friend Jim Bob (whom I’ve known since 9th grade) and his family for the tour. We loved it. It was decorated for the fall with a Scarecrow Trail, Sorghum maze, and lots of things for children to crawl on or climb.
Then we parked by a Whole Foods to charge up again, using the hour or so for some shopping at a sale at Mountain High and having sushi at a new restaurant called Maki Fresh.
The next morning, Jim Bob’s family went with ours to explore Cathedral Caverns. Led by our guide, “Rooster,” we explored the biggest and best cave I’ve ever visited (and I spent a good bit of time in caves as a child in middle Tennessee).
We were glad Rooster carried a flashlight, because just as we concluded the tour and were as far from the entrance (and daylight) as we could possibly be, the power went out in the entire state park (and surrounding town).
We then returned to my parents’ house for a BBQ lunch. I got a picture of Jim Bob’s children with mine just before they headed home to Birmingham.
The next morning, we went to the city harbor, where replicas of the Nina (the most historically accurate Columbus replica ship ever built) and the Pinta ships were available for touring.
We followed a school field trip’s tour to learn about how the ships were built of wood and iron, using only hand tools, and how they decided not to build the Santa Maria, because it was much larger than the other two, so it couldn’t have made it up through the rivers that the other two are using for its 11-month tour (and the original didn’t make it back from the New World anyway, as it got stuck on a coral reef and had to be taken apart and turned into a fort).
Then we packed the car and headed up to the Chattanooga airport to use the super charger and headed south down I-75 toward Atlanta, stopping for Mexican food in Cartersville.
Our first electric road trip was a success! It was a little scary on Sunday night when we got back from the trip to/from Huntsville with 6 people in the car, as the projected mileage was not as good as the actual mileage, and there are no high speed chargers in Guntersville (or even Huntsville). I was worried about the next day’s trip and then heading home the day after that. All we had nearby was my folks’ 110v plug next to their garage, which provided a whopping 3 miles/hour of charge. I looked for RV campgrounds and found one rather close by at the state park we could use, but instead, we took my mom’s car to the caverns on Columbus Day, allowing over 36 hours of continuous charging before heading home (by way of Chattanooga) on Tuesday. That said, I enjoy the challenge. I like knowing we have set stops to relax, eat, shop, or exercise a bit. And, not having to pay for gas or use nasty gas station restrooms is pretty nice.
Our next excursion is next week, when he head a bit farther away, to Saint Simons Island, and then there’s talk of trying to head out west between Christmas and New Year’s (as in, way out west…to the Grand Canyon and back!). That will require significantly more planning, but I believe we’re up for it. And is there a better way to see the American West than by following Route 66 and/or the interstate? No way.