We left the Port Huron Comfort Inn and headed for St Clair Michigan, about 15 miles south of Port Huron on the St Clair River. Our goal today is Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant where The Sun Catcher was made, and for us, the completion of our re-creation of Roy Chapin’s journey.
Port Huron to Wayne Michigan where the factory is located, is a bit of a stretch on a single charge. As we loaded up the car, we also found out that the car did not get fully charged overnight. It turns out that the parking lot electrical receptacle is only on when the parking lot lights are on.
We have now traveled over 1100 miles in The Sun Catcher. The car’s information system is telling us we have achieved “Zen” driving status (the other end of the driver rating spectrum is “Zippy”). We are using about 200 W-h (Watt-hours) per mile. 1000W-h (or 1 kWh…kiloWatt-hour) of energy costs about 12.5 cents with our solar energy system in Illinois that has already fed energy into the electric grid for our trip. This is an energy cost of $28 for 1100 miles of travel, but remember, we have been mooching extensively along the way from Deb’s relatives on Long Island to several others who have allowed us to charge for free. Before long, the novelty of EVing will wear off, and with it the gravy train of free charges. But that’s ok, as 1100 miles of driving in a fossil fueled vehicle would be in the range of $80 to $160 (based on 25 to 50 miles per gallon with gas costing $3.50 per gallon).
St Clair has a few chargers around town as shown on the Plugshare map. As we arrived, we pulled into a small city parking lot adjacent to a marina on an inlet connected to the St Clair River. This has to be on of the most beautiful charging sites anywhere. I called Chargepoint, spoke with Steven (we are now on a first name basis), and got the charge started.
An older fella about my age, dressed in a Burger King uniform, walked by the car as I was setting up the charge. He made a remark to the effect that electric vehicles were stupid, to which I replied quite strongly that I am finished sending money overseas for oil to people who hate us and use our money to kill us. I also told him I would pay a lot more for any car that saves the life of one of our service personnel. I think he was expecting a somewhat wimpier, green, liberal, vegan type of response, so he was somewhat taken aback. Deb was busy texting Dana that Dad and The Sun Catcher might be on the receiving end of a few punches. In a sudden turn of events, the man thought about my response, and apparently had a soft spot for our vets, too, and he told me he had been a longtime employee of Chrysler. We talked cars for a while. His favorite was a 1957 Plymouth, which was a sharp car, and I told him about my 1962 Imperials. We parted amicably with Deb in disbelief at the turnabout in conversation and mood. I understood his anger, as is the mood with so many. Our elderly are fearful about the cost to maintain their health and angry that their longsought retirements are turning into shifts at Burger King, while our youth are rightfully worried about their future with a rapidly increasing debt, decreasing resources, and increasing wastes.
We’ll leave the heavy stuff behind for the time being, as Deb and I went to a nice riverside restaurant for lunch while charging. For those of you who have not seen one of the rivers draining the Great Lakes like the St Clair River, the Detroit River, or the Niagara River, these are beautiful, blue, roiling rivers of immense size. Our restaurant overlooked the river with large ships moving up and down.We received a call from media folks at Ford who were arranging a welcoming for us at the plant. We told them we would arrive at two, however, the lower than expected overnight charge at the motel put us in a pinch for fully charging in St Clair so that we could comfortably arrive on time at the plant. Deb and I finished lunch, walked past the Burger King to the car lot without further incident, and disconnected The Sun Catcher with enough charge to make it to the plant…….or so we hoped!