Trip Report: National EVA meeting

It's been quite some time since I've written a trip report, but I thought this would be a good subject to get back into it. In January, we took a weekend trip in The Blue Spirit to the Electric Vehicle Association annual meeting in Carlsbad, California. This was the first EVA annual meeting we have attended, and we had a wonderful time which I'd love to tell you about.

Day 1: Las Vegas, NV to Cardiff, CA
The majority of our first day was spent in travel mode - lots of freeway driving and very little sightseeing. The I-15 travel corridor has a lot of traffic with numerous EV chargers along the way. We fully charged The Blue Spirit at home, and made good time to the Barstow area. We often stop for our first break and charge at Eddie World in Yermo, a great stop with Tesla Superchargers, ChargePoint fast and slow chargers, gas, restrooms, massive candy & snack selection, and several hot food options. This time, we decided to drive a little further before stopping to charge.

I should point out at this point that our car is over 4 years old, and with over 75,000 miles on the odometer, it is showing its age in range degradation. We have also made modifications to it that reduce range, such as skid plates for the underside and a 2-inch lift kit, to help us get around better on rough, abandoned sections of Route 66 where extra ground clearance is helpful. Thanks for the lift kit install goes to MADHouse Detailing & Customs! I think we had some extra headwinds on this trip as well, which further cuts down range. All this is to say that while we have often made it as far as Hesperia for our first charge, this day we could not get that far, and I really should have made that stop at Eddie World!

Instead, we drove to a newer supercharger station at The Outlets at Barstow. This shopping center south of town currently has 20 Tesla Superchargers and about 20 Tesla Destination Chargers, with restrooms close by. This location is in the midst of expansion, with 30 or more additional superchargers going online very soon. And they are needed - when we arrived, all 20 superchargers were full except for the handicapped-preferred spots. If I had waited only a couple minutes, a supercharger vacated that I would have been able to use, but in honesty I had to use the restroom so I quickly plugged in at one of the Level 2 destination chargers and walked over to the mall.

By the time we left the restrooms, the car had added a few miles, just enough to get us to another new Tesla Supercharger in Victorville. This one is right on Route 66. At the corner of 7th Street and La Paz Drive, this is a great location with lots of shopping and food options nearby, as well as the vintage New Corral Motel with its classic neon sign within sight of our parking spot. We plugged in with just 5 miles remaining, and after a little while charging we headed across the street to Rite Aid to grab some snacks. It took me so long to decide on my snack foods that by the time we came back to the car it was nearly fully charged. We then continued down I-15.
Charging in Victorville, CA

After a couple more uneventful hours of freeway driving, we arrived in Oceanside at the home of our friend Beth, a great photographer and trustee of the California Historic Route 66 Association, who graciously put us up for the couple nights of this trip. We visited briefly before driving 20 minutes down the coast to Cardiff for the first event of the trip: an evening meet-and-greet BBQ hosted by the president of the Electric Vehicle Association. It was a great introduction to many wonderful people who are passionate about EVs and the electric future of transportation. The view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean was amazing, too. We ended the evening back at Beth's place in Oceanside, with our car still utilizing the charge we had given it in Victorville.
Sunset in Cardiff, CA

Day 2: Carlsbad and Vista
The EVA annual meeting took place on Saturday, at the headquarters of Aptera Motors in Carlsbad. Aptera has been developing a three-wheeled electric autocycle concept that is highly efficient, with a range of 250 to 1,000 miles, and charges up to 40 miles per day from solar panels integrated into its design. Beth accompanied us on a tour before the meeting, when the folks at Aptera showed the EVA members around their facility, letting us examine their alpha prototypes and explaining various aspects of their product and business. They have completed development of their unique vehicle to the production-ready stage and plan for production to begin later in 2023.

Gathering outside Aptera headquarters

One of Aptera's prototypes

Looking inside an Aptera prototype

An Aptera prototype with doors open

An Aptera test mule. A few folks were given rides! (not us, haha)

At lunch time, many attendees headed over to QC Charge just a few minutes away in Vista, where we were treated to a pizza lunch and a great talk by QC Charge founder Tony Williams. His company makes EV charging equipment, and also repairs, services and upgrades EVs. It was a great overview of some nuts-and-bolts technical aspects of modern EVs and the challenges in keeping out-of-warranty EVs from 10+ years ago viable on the road.
QC Charge works on rare EVs like this Tesla-powered Toyota Rav4 EV.

After lunch, we returned to Aptera HQ for the EVA annual meeting proceedings. We learned about the operations of the EVA and activities by EVA chapters all over the country, and a number of awards were given out for chapters that did exceptional work in the past year. Many award recipients that were not able to attend prepared videos to tell everyone about their local efforts and projects.
Chairs filled with attendees shortly after this photo

In the evening, the final event of the day was a meet-up at Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad, a great spot for dinner featuring many different food vendors with a wide variety of cuisine, all under one roof. We and Beth got some great dinner and spent more time chatting with EVA members from all over the country. There is so much knowledge out there in the EV community and a great willingness to share experiences. We certainly needed the rest back at Beth's house after such an eventful day.

Day 3: Carlsbad to Las Vegas
On Sunday morning it was time to say goodbye to Beth and our EVA friends, but not before one more event. A 'Cars & Coffee' meetup was held at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets, where Tesla Superchargers and EVgo fast chargers were both available. While chatting with EVA members about their cars under intermittently drizzly skies, and seeing dealer-provided vehicles from Polestar and Electra Meccanica, our own car charged up for the first time since Friday afternoon in Victorville. Jessica took a test-drive of Electra Meccanica's cute Solo electric vehicle, an inexpensive 3-wheeled autocycle made for just one occupant.
Cars & Coffee under rainy skies in Carlsbad

A Polestar 2, made by Volvo

Two Electra Meccanica Solos were on hand for test drives

An Electra Meccanica Solo, near a Polestar 2, Ford F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1S, & several Teslas

A Rivian R1S

Lots of room inside the Rivian R1S

All good things must end, so as heavier rain began to pelt the last Cars & Coffee attendees we finally said our goodbyes and headed north, back towards Las Vegas. We did have time for one Route 66 stop along the way, however. The California Route 66 Museum in Victorville was open as we arrived in town, so we decided to stop and check in with our friend Delvin, another trustee of the California Historic Route 66 Association and volunteer for the museum, as well as friend and fellow museum volunteer Bonnie. We had a great visit at the museum, which is a must-stop for anyone traveling Route 66 through this area.
The California Route 66 Museum in Victorville is a great stop!

Inside the California Route 66 Museum

Outside the museum is a huge mural on the side of the building

After leaving the California Route 66 Museum, we hit the interstate back to Yermo, where we stopped at Eddie World for a late lunch while our car charged. By the time we were finished with our meal, the car was also ready to take us home. Thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end of this very long trip report! See you out there on the road...


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