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Seattle to Banff, Canada area


Nov 30, 2012
With all of the updates to the "Coming Soon" supercharger map today that included Hope, BC, I thought I would finally post musings on my recent drive from Seattle to the Banff area.


After the obligatory stop at Burlington to top up to about 250 miles rated (to cut down charging time in Hope), I crossed the border at Sumas after a 45 min wait. The drive to Hope was easy, and fast. There is a SunCountry CS90 in Hope, located right on the main town square:

If the hardware store guy I spoke to is correct, Tesla folks were interested in a vacant parking lot about 2 blocks from this site for the SuperCharger.

From there to Kamloops is a steady uphill grade for the first 75% of the ride. While it's easy on a full charge, I recommend leaving Hope with a nearly full battery to avoid range anxiety and allowing greater speed. The last 15 miles or so are steadily downhill into Kamloops with lots of regen action.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites (not to be confused with the Holiday Inn Express). The charger is located outside the main entrance (on the back side of a pillar). Let them know you want to use the CS90 SunCountry unit, and they will rope off the parking spot for you. Comfortable rooms, pool and hot tub open late. Several restaurants nearby.

Next day I was off eastward. The road to Sicamous is quite flat and I used just under rated range (about 64 degrees most of the way). Sicamous is very small. The charger is located on the north side of the library building across the parking lot from the main grocery store. It's a nice walk to the marina. Another good charge on a CS90, I believe. Not much to do here. Get a range charge here as the next leg is steadily uphill (especially the later part) and the next charger is slow.

On to Golden. The route off the highway to the charger is circuitous and it's located at a hardware store. It's a SunCountry CS60, I believe. I got about 35-41 mph. The folks in the store are great. I noticed that the voltage does go up about 10% when the store closes. There are a good Greek restaurant and decent grocery store about 3 blocks away. Golden would make a good overnight locale, especially when the SuperChargers are in on this route later in the year. I heard, on many occasions, Canadians raving about the restaurants and lodging in the mountains just south of town. Worth investigating if you are coming this way. On the next leg eastward I used about 115% of rated, despite going uphill for a good bit at first, but it was warm (75 degrees).

The next section is the most scenic. Every few miles there were hordes pulled over to the side of the road to view the wildlife. The mountains are spectacular. Once the pass is crested, it's a long gentle slope downhill into the Bow Valley (of course, you'll need to take the uphill slope into account on the return trip). Again, I used only a modest amount over rated on this leg. Drove past Banff....

...and on to my destination, Canmore, Alberta. Canmore is a great little town. New, clean, lots of shopping and good restaurants. The charger here, another SunCountry CS90, is located in the middle of the tourist zone. The spot is electric vehicle only parking. I liked this town and can recommend staying here as a base camp when exploring the area. I stayed at the Paintbox Inn...highly recommended (charger is 4 mins away).

On the way home, I reversed my track and headed to Kelowna where I stayed at a Best Western (not new or opulent, but located in the center of town and they have THREE CS90s. This area is beautiful, has many wineries to visit (I did a day long tour and greatly enjoyed it, although the red wines, while good, are not superb, the whites are damn good), and has many recreational opportunities. Easy to charge here with three chargers, and the staff is truly committed to green...well, everything.

From there I headed south back into Washington where I charged at Omak at the charger deployed by Plug-In Northwest (go Jack!). I watched the US win their World Cup game while my baby charged at a bar across the parking lot. I then headed through the boonies through Coulee City to the Ritzville SuperCharger en route to Spokane. I was unaware of the 3200 ft pass I would have to climb, or the 25 mph headwind I would face. So I undercharged (to about 180 rated for a 143 mile route). It was not long that I realized I was going to be close and that the later 50 miles was through open farmland without even an outbuilding to charge in. So I drove really carefully, pulling over and letting traffic pass me several times, and going 35 mph up the steeper slopes. But, as I am generally conservative when in unknown driving territory, I made it to Ritzville with 30 range miles or so left, despite going the speed limit for the last 30 miles once I knew I was in good shape. This route would be a fun drive on a full battery. From there to Spokane, and then home to Seattle was uneventful, using SuperChargers.

So, what did I learn?

1) I used much less juice than I expected eastbound from Sicamous to Canmore. The roads are good, there are third lane pullouts on almost every uphill slope and there is construction along the whole route to improve the roads.

2) The drive is pleasant and doable now, but with SuperCharger deployment, it will be a blast!

3) Canadians are fun. At one point, I was caught in a 3 mile backup behind an accident, and they all got out of their cars and had a party on the blacktop.

4) The expected changes to the nav system in 6.0 (i.e., hoped for included data on altitude changes and weather) will be very welcome.

If you have considered this trip, I encourage you to take it. I had a great time.
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