Surprise. Surprise. Range anxiety isn’t the sole province of EVs and their drivers. This hadn’t occurred to me before this weekend, but should have. I nearly ran out of gas in the middle of South Dakota—at night—once some fifty years ago driving a VW bug. I still remember the experience vividly to this day.
At the end of this past summer it looked like the pandemic was finally winding down. In celebration, we planned a two-week excursion to Northern California and Southern Oregon in October to see family and friends we haven’t seen in nearly two years. We were vaxxed, boosted, and raring to go. The state of California had finally—after many delays—installed a slew of new DC Fast Charge stations, Electrify America had opened more of their Diesel-gate stations, and the weather was good. It was time to hit the proverbial road.
Darwin Falls on the western edge of Death Valley National Park is a 3.5 hour drive from Bakersfield via Ridgecrest, California and the Panamint Valley. This requires one charge stop at Inyokern in a Chevy Bolt or equivalent EV. You can make a big loop by returning via a charge stop at Coso Junction. The falls are a two mile roundtrip hike. This is a trip in an EV that’s best done with an overnight in Ridgecrest.
This Covid-Escape wasn’t as adventurous as most. It required an hour’s drive east from Bakersfield into the Greenhorn Mountains where we met our friends, experienced amateur botanists, at the Shirley Meadows ski slope. From there, we threaded our way down a graded Forest Service road in search of the rare Greenhorn Fritillary (Fritillaria brandegeei).
This trip was an adventure that I’d thought about since I moved to California four decades ago. It’s legendary. Mythic even. And I never thought you could still do it until we visited the Ridge Route Museum in Frazier Park pre-pandemic. There the curator mentioned that there’s a movement to preserve the road that still exists and “some” still drive it she said. The implication in her voice was that we couldn’t.