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Driving the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland in an S85

Discussion in 'Canada' started by leafarmer, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    I started a long, non-supercharger drive today, and so far have been told by Customs, and EVSE hosts in St. Stephen and Quispamsis that I'm their first customer. I'm both surprised and disturbed by this. Surprised because I believe the EVSEs have been here for a while (both Sun Country's), and disappointed because we're not likely to get superchargers here anytime soon. If these EVSEs go unused, they're likely to get neglected.

    To encourage others to make a similar excursion, I'll post my experiences to this thread. So far, it's gone well. But, it's important to recognize that most RV parks in this area only have 20A and/or 30A electricity. On a good day those provide 1.9kW and 2.4kW respectively. (You need a special, non-Tesla supplied adapter for 30A). Without 50A RV parks here are not nearly as good a backup as they are in the states.

    Day 1:

    I drove from Portland, Maine to the urban border crossing in St Stephen on an 90% charge (S85) without anxiety. Customs at this minor crossing was totally unfamiliar with the car and insisted on looking over the entire thing. The frunk was a little troubling to them, since they don't normally check under car's hoods, and would not have if I hadn't told them they hadn't finished going through all my stuff yet. It took about 45 minutes in total to cross.

    Based on Plugshare I expected two good EVSEs in St Stephen, so I could count on some redundancy if there were ICEing or malfunction problems. I'm pretty sure there is only one EVSE here, so no redundancy. But, the one EVSE that is present is a good 90A 208V Sun Country unit at the visitor center. These are always on, so you don't need a card, app, or to call someone to get them enabled. The visitor center is open until 6PM in the summer and has bathrooms and wireless. The wireless was on after the center closed, and could be accessed from tables outside the building providing you got the password when they were open. There are some places to eat within very easy walking distance, but not much shopping.

    After a few hours I proceeded to the EVSE hosted by Amsterdam Inn in Quispamsis. It's also a Sun Country 90A, 208V, and works perfectly. It's location is not likely to ever get ICE'ed. The Hotel is very nice, has wireless and is reasonably priced. There's shopping and food nearby.

    The Tesla stopped getting data not long after crossing the border. It shows signal "bars", but doesn't seem to be able to send or receive data. Somewhere I read that US Teslas don't get 3G service in Canada, so I was prepared, but come on Tesla. Fix this. It's embarrassing. I have an ATT cell phone, which switches to Rogers, and T-mobile switches to Bell.

    More tomorrow.
     
  2. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    I'll be following you with great interest as I want to make the same trip in the future.
    Do you have dual chargers to take advantage of the Sun Country chargers, or how does that work with a Tesla?
     
  3. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    No, I've only got the single charger. Kinda wish I had the dual, but so far it hasn't made much of a difference. Tonight's hotel has a 60A, which means it only supplies 48A maximum (80% continuous rule). A single Tesla can take 40A, where a dual can take 80A, so the dual will only be 20% faster in this case.

    Note that the EVSEs are typically at businesses, which are almost always 208V. Many RV parks have 240V service. A 240V 50A RV outlet is as good as you'll ever get with a single charger Tesla. That's how you get the full 10kW.
     
  4. RiverBrick

    RiverBrick Active Member

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    Imagine if it had been a crossing with some type of sensor capable of detecting the suspicious, hollowed-out space under your hood.

    There's a new Model S owner in St. John's, Newfoundland that has posted a few times on this board. He said he expects to be able to go from one end of the province to another in 16 hours, but he has the twin chargers. Have a safe trip, and I look forward to your reports.
     
  5. mnx

    mnx 2013 P85

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    I've crossed the border dozens of times in Ontario and I've never had them go through my stuff. Is this typical of the lesser used crossings? That's crazy!
     
  6. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    Keep us posted, would love to take that trip.
    Where did you start from?
     
  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    #7 ItsNotAboutTheMoney, Jun 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
    In our Prius we've done:
    - Coburn Gore (route 27)
    - Sandy Bay (US201)
    - Lubec/Campobello Island
    No searches.

    Just for the sake of completeness of information: Calais/St Stephen is on US-1. Did you drive the coastal US-1 or take the Interstate to Bangor (I-295, I-95, Route 9, US-1)?
     
  8. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    Ok, that makes sense, though it sounds like dual chargers would be advantageous for the 90A Sun Country chargers.

    How about the connectors you are finding? J1772? No CHAdeMO up there? I guess that would be DC quickcharging, but so far I have no experience with them, so am curious.

    Thanks for letting us know how this is going!
     
  9. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    Canada has no record of me ever entering the country, since the last time I did was in the 1960s. That's why they looked at me more closely than others.

    I started in Texas, drove to the Keys and then up the east coast. This trip has been interrupted multiple times with flights back to work, so it's been a part-time extended drive. From Portland, Maine I took the most direct route. I can usually do better than 300 Wh/mile on the highways without much effort, providing the wind and weather cooperate. They did on that part of the drive. Today was continuous rain with some wind, so my efficiency was around 330 Wh/mile. Everything in Canada has been a Sun Country EVSE so far. There is a CHADeMO listed on Plugshare in Bangor, but Tesla has teased us with that adapter beyond any sane amount of patience.

    Day 2:

    Started with a 100% charge from Quispamsis Amsterdam Inn and drove to another Amsterdam Inn in Sussex, about 8 kWh away. I wasn't thrilled about filling the battery to 100% again so quickly, but there was a Bell-Aliant store close by and I figured I could get my iPad setup for data, so I could tether the Tesla to it and get the "avonics" back. (That effort began the ordeal of the day, which I won't go much into, but I'll describe the process of getting data to the Tesla at the end).

    Amsterdam Inn Sussex has the same Sun Country unit, also right by the front door. It's not likely to get ICE'd. They have had some locals use it, and they might of thought I was one too because I was there only for an hour while I walked to the store to buy a nano sim card. Free coffee, open wireless, but they usually book well in advance, so if you're planning to stay there you need to reserve. You might also want to reserve the charger.

    Drove to Moncton for another Sun Country unit at a Subway/Tim Hortons. This one wasn't on Plugshare (it is now) so it may be new. It's in an awkward location that you won't be able to get to if someone is using the handicapped spot. There's really not much to do here, but there is a place called Magnetic Hill within walking distance. I don't know anything about it, but it might be a place to kill some time. You could also walk under the highway where there are a number of hotels, including yet another Amsterdam Inn.

    I then took a shortcut through Moncton (to stop by another Bell store, where I spent hours with the car NOT charging) and continued on to Masstown. Masstown Market is pretty good store. It has lots of unique items, but produce and specialty items are not in abundance (no sushi), and their wine selection leaves much to be desired. There is a nice place to eat inside the store, but no wireless. The coffee is excellent. Their EVSE is in a good non-ICE likely location, and also tops out at 48A.

    The final leg was to the Claymore Inn in Antigonish. I arrived with 30 km left and was concerned that I didn't have a good backup plan should the charger not work (or not even exist). It does exist, attached to the back of the hotel, but when I plugged in there was no power. Yikes! I checked in at the hotel with a strong look of concern on my face, and after some calling around, the desk clerk learned that it needs to be turned on. Only certain employees know how to do it and none were around at that time. But, after an hour someone knowledgable showed up and activated it, and it works fine, even with water from the roof pouring all over it. If you plan to charge here, it would be good to call ahead. (This is the biggest stress I experience on these drives -- not range anxiety, but charger anxiety).

    So, tomorrow the weather should be better, data now works, and I'll have more time to actually enjoy the drive.

    As for getting data working in the Tesla, you need to connect to a device that allows tethering. You can do that with an iPad Air (or other device) with some form of cellular service. I've got one of these that normally has Verizon, but that's useless in Canada. To get it working in Canada you need to get a sim card from a Canada service provider. In my case I went to Bell-Aliant, which I'm under the impression has better coverage in Newfoundland. The sim card costs $12. My phone works fine for calls, but roaming data is too expensive, and I'm not sure it even works.

    Now, the hard part is you MUST have a Canada addressed credit card to get any kind of service -- phone or tablet. At least that's what everyone at Bell told me -- it was the only thing they all agreed on. One phone rep suggested getting a pre-paid credit card, which I had never heard of, but they are available at most larger convenience stores. I got one of these (well, actually two, but that's part of what I'm not going to go into) good for $75. There's a $6.50 fee on top of that, but that gives you a stand-alone credit card that you can go online, to http://www.visaprepaidcanada.com, and setup an account, enter your actual information, but for the address enter something in Canada. It can be the store you bought the card from, or a hotel you're staying in, or the mall in Moncton, or probably something bogus, but it's got to say Canada.

    Then, you install the sim card, reboot your tablet, and call the Bell number on the sim card. You need to tell them it is in a tablet (if that's what you're using), and they provision it for that capability (data, no phone). Finally you go to the settings page on your iPad, Cellular Data, View Account and enter a bunch of personal information. It will take five minutes or so, a popup notifies you, and then the iPad should have data service. If that works, you can enable Personal Hotspot and create a password.

    In the car, touch the signal strength icon, and the car should look for and find your device. Select it. Once connected everything should come back to life. At least it did for me. It's a joyous moment when that map page, stuck with nothing on it for the past day, pops back to life!
     
  10. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    Intense! Thanks for all the details...
     
  11. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    Day 3:

    Much less intense!

    Started with a 100% charge from Antigonish and drove about 180km without charging to North Sydney. I checked a few RV campgrounds along the way for 50A service, as listed on RV Parks and GS Camping apps, as well as sites identified simply by searching for "RV Campgrounds" on google maps. None of these had 50A, although one place thought they had two 50A sites, but were not sure. It isn't uncommon for the listings to be wrong -- perhaps there is a bait and switch thing going on.

    I discovered a good RV campground in North Sydney, very close to the ferry terminal, that has plenty of good 50A sites (available, clean and 240V) with the added plus they have small cabins for rent. You could probably work a deal if you want both electricity and a cabin. You'll find it on plugshare.

    The Sun Country charger listed in Sydney proper is working, and appears to be generally available. It delivers 200V at up to 48A. The gas station it is attached to has a fast food outlet with seating, but otherwise there isn't much nearby. There might be a casino -- didn't investigate.

    My cellular data woes returned. The clerk in Moncton messed things up so badly that his errors are still reverberating in my account. It took three more hours to straighten out, and now I've got no confidence it will continue to work. But, I'm now on the Argentia ferry, and if this posts the data is working now. It sure would be cool if there were outlets on the ferry. I looked around the parking level and didn't see any.

    There is an app called Galileo. Its a downloadable map app, so you don't need internet connectivity. It's got all the data you need, and you can load only the provinces you want so it isn't too big. It is presented in an incredibly obtuse way, not showing major place names unless you're zoomed just right, but it has saved me multiple times when I've not got data service. If you're traveling anywhere remote I'd look into it. You need a tablet that includes a GPS. With Apple products, that means you need one with cellular service capability, though you don't actually need the service.
     
  12. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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  13. Mayhemm

    Mayhemm Model S P85+ "Lola"

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    If all goes well, I'll be heading to the maritimes (specifically Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) in August, so any records of previous EV travel should be very helpful.

    Thank you, Lea, for posting your travels!
     
  14. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    OK, Cottonwood, you got me to check into St. Pierre. Unfortunately (or thankfully) there is no passenger + auto ferry. It's probably possible to arrange shipping your car there and taking the passenger ferry, but it sounds brittle, and I can just see the the natives standing around my car with a dead battery all saying "qu'est-ce que", so I leave that for the next pioneer.

    Mayhemm -- you've got to do this trip. I've traversed the Texas supercharger "gulf" three times, and dove down to Keys once, and this is the best yet. Of course, it's likely the most challenging part is yet to come.

    Day 4:

    Woke up on the ferry somewhere along the French/Canada border after a great nights sleep. The North Sydney -> Argentia ferry is superb. Deck 7 has all the services (many close early) and deck 8 has cabins. I'd strongly suggest getting a cabin, but I wouldn't try to pack more than two, or possibly three people in one. If you've got four you'll only be able to sleep, as there will be room for just one person to sit. With three people you can fold up one of the beds and have plenty of room. I had the room to myself. The total cost was $550 Canadian for me, the car and the cabin, and the trip takes about 15 hours. Business class international flights are expensive, cruel punishment by comparison.

    My iPad's now functional data service worked for about two hours after leaving North Sydney, and about an hour before arriving Argentia. I was able to exchange a few emails with >NetZero and we arranged to meet at his place. The car had more than 200 km of range thanks to the gas station charging the day before, and only lost a couple on the ferry ride. So, I drove fast and didn't bother checking an RV park I'd found online that had 50A service. I'd also been advised by >NetZero to try calling the dealers who host the chargers along the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) to confirm their availability. I did do that with the one in Clarenville, so I've got some confidence I'll not have troubles on day 5. You'll know when you read how day 5 went. (I'll know sometime before I write it). One issue is the Tesla can't figure out the time zone. This was an issue only with my car -- not the local Tesla. Is there anyway to force the time offset from GMT?

    It was great meeting >NetZero and his dad. My S85 stayed at their place sipping on some tasty hydroelectric joules while we went to lunch in their shiny new black S85. Mine was dirty. I tried to cook up some excuses, like it was parked at the back of the boat, but in all honesty I'm just a slob. Later we went to Signal Hill and Cape Spear with both cars and met a friend of their's driving a Leaf who is trying to start the EV revolution in St. John's. His company is called Green Rock E.V.S., and he's working to get more chargers installed, as well as import more electrics. If you check the other thread on this forum (http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/32788-A-Tesla-Model-S-Has-Found-a-Home-in-Newfoundland) you'll see some great photos of, if I got it right, the majority of the electrics on the island in one place at the one time. Mine is the gray one. Yes it's gray, not REALLY dirty black.

    If you were stuck in St. John's I'm sure >NetZero would help you out. He's got a 50A outlet with 240V goodness in a great location, and I'm guessing his Tesla won't be thirsty most days. Green Rock E.V.S. could also help you out. So you consider St. John's EV nirvana. I'm at the Hampton tonight, where they have two EVSEs of a kind I'd never seen before. A blue light comes on when it's charging. It's only 30A at 200V, so you're only getting 6 kW, but if you're at the hotel for at least 12 hours you should be good. Its a shopping area, with places like Costco, Staples, etc, so you might want to find a way into town. After exploring a bit more in the car, I arrived at the Hampton, plugged in and walked over to the grocery store (Dominion) and found some sushi! I also picked up a bottle of Newfoundland wine. It's sure tastier than Texas wine -- what more can I say!

    This trip would be much better if I'd set a slower pace. From what I've seen St. John's deserves at least four days, maybe more. It would have been even better if I'd pronounced Antigonish correctly. "antig" is pronounced "ang" like in angry, and "gonish" rhymes with knish (the polish dumpling). I'll leave it to >NetZero to correct me if I've got that wrong. He's also advised me that the other side of the island is even more spectacular, so I'll probably spend one of my extra days there. The return ferry from that side of the island runs two or three times each day, and there's probably not much of an issue booking at the last minute. It's not nearly as long, so it won't be a big deal if the cabins are sold out. The ferry to Argentia wasn't close to full, though I think most of the cabins were booked.

    The reason for heading to St. John's first is the ferry only runs three times a week, and only in the summer. Unless you're traversing the island twice, I'd recommend doing the drive in the west direction. You'll have much more flexibility.
     
  15. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    Day 5:

    The Sun Country highway let me down today. The charger at Hickman Motors in Clarenville was powered off, and while there was a mechanic there we were unable to contact anyone who was able to turn it on. This is the dealer I called to ensure it would be available. The fact they ever turn it off is very troubling. I suspect the dealer uses it simply as a sales tool when trying to close deals on Volts. I've driven a Volt, and I can tell you the novelty of charging it (at 3.3 kW) at your local dealer wears off in about five minutes. If this is what's going on, this station should be removed from plugshare, and Sun Country ought to remove it from their map as well.

    There is another Sun Country EVSE just down the road. I tried that one, and it started to work, delivering a strong 235V, but after a few minutes stopped, so a breaker probably blew. I called the number on the door, but nobody answered. Struck out again.

    On to Gander, where there was another EVSE at another Hickman Chevy dealer. Same story, only this time I could see into the window the very switch that needed to be LEFT ON. The dealership, however, had a 20A 120V outlet below the EVSE that wasn't turned off. I charged a whole 2 kWh over the time it took for me to get some lunch, and did so mostly for the novelty of using the 20A adapter I'd picked up from Tesla service in Santa Rosa last month. After doing the math in my head, it became clear I'd be better off driving slowly then waiting for more charge. (I had already slowed down after the first failure).

    In Grand Falls - Windsor I checked out the RV park by the river. They didn't have any 50A available, but they did let me test one that was reserved that evening. It's 235V. At 40A the breaker popped. Reducing it to 35A seemed to work, at least for the five minutes I charged. They only have 5 50A spots, and suggested calling once you know the date you're going to be there. You might luck out and be able to use it in the middle of the day between RV guests.

    Finally arrived at the Riverfront Chalets about 20 km west of the RV park. They have a Sun Country EVSE that ACTUALLY WORKS! That's a good thing, because I was down to 35 km of range, which would have just barely got me back to Grand Falls, though there's not much I could have done there but beg for a 50A and sleep in the car. But, the Chalet's EVSE is working now, delivering a surprising poor 30A. I didn't know any Sun Country stations were that low. It will take 12 hours to fill the car.

    The Chalets are very nice, and are really meant for longer stays.

    The good news is the charger crisis forced me to try serious hypermileing. It's no fun constantly pulling over to let cars pass, but at 80 kph it did allow for 140 Wh/km (225 Wh/mile, or 4.4 miles per kWh). If done for the whole charge that would give you a range of 570 km, or 355 miles. Of course, the weather today was perfect, there was no wind, and the elevation changes were fairly moderate. Still, its pretty cool that you can go that far if you have to.

    What will tomorrow be like?
     
  16. >NetZero

    >NetZero Member

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    Wow! Thats terrible news! Im glad that you made it to your destination though. I am going to start complaining to both Hickmans and Sun Country that this is not acceptable. It makes no sense that they just wouldn't leave them on. Especially, that you called ahead to confirm.. thats what really bothers me..

    Anyways I hope you'll have better luck at the Sun Country Highway charger in Deer Lake. I am assuming your going to stop there for a charge before you head down to Port-Aux-Basque?
    I hope you get some time to enjoy the nice scenery on the west coast.

    Keep us posted!
     
  17. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    Great updates! Yes, keep us posted!

    Try to do the out and back to Gros Morne National Park from Deer Lake. It is pretty amazing, and should be an easy out and back on one charge!
     
  18. Mayhemm

    Mayhemm Model S P85+ "Lola"

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    #18 Mayhemm, Jun 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
    I'm very skeptical of any charging station located at a GM dealership. They are typically a) For Chevy Volts Only b) Only operational during business hours c) Slow as molasses or d) All of the above

    I'm reading about this happening more and more. I get the impression that many of the SCH charging stations were NOT installed by electricians.

    Again, seldom do electricians do the work for RV parks. Their 50A plugs are typically only on 40A breakers, so drawing the full 40A load (like an EV does) will kick the breaker pretty quickly.

    I'm very disappointed to hear about this one. I was relying on the Riverfront Chalets station for when I go to visit my sister later this summer as it is the closest one to her home in St. Albans. It is supposed to be a 90-amp unit. If you're only getting 30A, Lea, I would say it is actually a 40A unit (SCH sells those).
     
  19. leafarmer

    leafarmer Member

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    Day 6:

    I started with a full battery and a plan to drive to Port aux Basque in two days. This seemed like a safe bet, with both days well within the car's range. My intent was to either secure an RV site in Deer Lake, or verify the Sun Country EVSE there worked. But, the Newfoundland EV curse struck again, and while I probably could have made it work my confidence was shot and I defaulted to the safer bet.

    Arriving in Deer Lake I stopped by Gateway to the North RV. Nobody was at the office, but they listed some open spots and three of them were 50A. Great! The closest one was attached to the office, in a fairly unappealing location for an RV. That's is exactly what I want since it is in a high visibility area, and probably always available. OK, so take out the cable, plug it in, and no power. A guy in an adjacent site tells me "no power". No problem, I'll try another. He says "don't bother". It turns out power was out in the entire region, apparently for the first time in recent memory, and nobody had a clue when it would return. You gotta be kidding!

    So, I plugged in, briefly talked to the owner just as he arrived, and took the bike from the frunk to ride around town and check out the EVSE. (I carry a Brompton folding bike up front, which also has electric propulsion). If the power came on while I was in town the car should start charging.

    Power came back on about three hours later. During that time I rode most of the town, and didn't find the Sun Country EVSE. The problem may have been I took the location from plugshare, not from Sun Countries own website. So, that one will have to remain an unknown.

    After letting the car charge for a couple hours, I debated Gros Morne. It started raining hard, so I decided to abandon that plan and simply drive to Port aux Basque. (I know that shows a lack of backbone, but at this point my back's very sore)!

    The owner of the RV park had been a tiny bit uncomfortable letting me charge the car. If I heard him right he said something like "I don't let RV'ers charge their electric cars because I pay 14 cents a kilowatt". I told him I'd happily pay for it, and the car will tell us how much it consumed. This made him comfortable with the idea. Unfortunately he wasn't around when I departed, so I left him $5 (Canadian) and an explanatory note, suggesting this is a good way to make some money in the middle of the day when many of the sites are otherwise vacant. (I've been making an effort to patronize establishments that let me charge, and hint that's the ONLY reason I'm there).

    Now at the St. Christopher's Hotel in Port aux Basque, and their EVSE works. It's a 90A unit (any idea why 90A only delivers 69A? 80% of 90 is 72). It's right by the front door. They told me it's been there a while, and I'm the second person to use it.

    Bell cellular data has worked well across all of Newfoundland. Tethering the Tesla usually works great. The only problem I've noticed is when the tablet loses data the Tesla will soon drop the connection and you have to manually reestablish it. If you try to reestablish it and the tablet does not have working data the tablet will say it has the Tesla tethered, but the Tesla will not complete the link. I think the Tesla is trying to reach the internet before it sets the connection.

    Here's the scorecard for Newfoundland EVSEs. It's disappointing:

    ? St. John's didn't try any (other than >NetZero's 14-50)
    Failure Clarenville powered off
    Failure Clarenville stopped working
    Failure Gander powered off
    Slow Grand Falls works, but it's slow at 30A, thus only appropriate for customers
    ? Deer Lake don't know, didn't find it
    ? Stephenville didn't check -- too out of the way
    Great! Port aux Basque works, and it's fast

    In all fairness, if yesterday wasn't Sunday, and power wasn't out in Deer Lake today, the trip could have been trivial. Please don't let my experience discourage you.

    Oh, and when the power was out in Deer Lake at least one of the gas stations had a big line of cars waiting for the pumps to start working again. It turns out ICE cars need BOTH petroleum and electricity to operate. That warmed my heart!
     
  20. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    Best quote of the whole trip! You don't now what you missed in Gros Morne. Keep up the great posts!

    Shag Clif.png
     

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