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BMW i3 Adventure Day 2

The second day of my adventure would take me across the desert South West and over the continental divide.  Did the little REx have what it takes?


Before I set out on this trip I prepped with a 5 gallon jug of gas and 2 cases of water bottles.  Figuring I could use them as coolant replacement or for my self if the car broke down.  Cheap $8 worth of insurance that I will drink eventually anyway.

I set off from Barstow about sunrise and started my trek eastward on I-40.  I made it maybe 10 minutes before the sun crested the mountain straight into my face.   Imagine my surprise when the cruise kicked off saying the sensor was dirty.  Great.  I tried several times to enable it, all met with failures.  It doesn’t like direct sunlight.  I hope this wasn’t a sign of things to come.

I continued towards Needles with the sun in my face and made it over the first pass no problem.  After which I found I could reengage the cruise control.  The sun had risen enough to be out of direct line of site with the sensor.  I enjoyed the drive, as I love driving through deserts.  The vistas are amazing and the golden hour light shining down into the valleys is just amazing.

It was already hitting 80 F and it was not even 9 am.  It was making to be a hot day, and knowing the limitations of the REx in the i3, I really didn’t want to be cooking in the car.  After a quick stop for breakfast and gas I continued east, knowing the pass was about to get much steeper and higher.

As I feared, the next stretch of about 60 miles is all up hill from Needles (495 ft) to Kingman (3,333 ft), with no gas stops.  There is no way the range extender could make that on 2 gallons gas.  I was running max out and not going very fast, buffer run down.  I made it somewhere past Yucca before I was out of range according to the indicator.  A quick fill up from my 5 gallon tank and I was back in business.


I was able to make at least 55 mph most of the way to the 3000 feet, but that last little run right into Kingman was bad.  I saw the steep hill and my buffer was already at 0.5%  I should have pulled off to the side and let it recouperate to 6%, but I pressed on.  Unlike the pass up to Barstow, this one only has 2 lanes.  It is a bit annoying to traffic if you slow down.

I pressed on and then started slowing, and slowing.  I set my flashers on.  Semis were passing me. I kept slowing, no power, it was hot, the AC had long since cut off.  It finally bottomed out at 30 mph.  I think I can, I think I can.  The little motorcycle engine pulled through and I made it to the top.  No one ran me over (although some semi trucks past me).


Once to Kingman I had one of the worst passes out of the way, but still another 4,000 ft elevation before Flagstaff.  This had me worried.  If I dropped to 30 mph at 3,300 ft, what would the car do with 12% less horsepower from the generator engine (roughly 3% loss per 1000 feet elevation)?

I pressed on and past through some areas that look like they belonged in the Cars movie and another gas fill-up from my 5 gallon container.  I eventually reached another slow pass before Seligman where I dropped to maybe 30 mph again but was able to follow a slow truck.  I also learned to moderate the buffer better so I had it for hills.  Slow down on the flat gently slopping uphills to retain buffer, so you have some for the critical steep sections.

Thankfully, the rest of the way into Flagstaff was not as bad as I expected.  Slower climbs without the buffer draining uphill stretches right before the steepest parts. Leaving Flagstaff was a joy.  It was the first time I could really go the speed limit or higher all day.

The great thing about Albuquerque is there are plenty of quick chargers.  Unfortunately all Greenlots which I don’t have at home and I didn’t want to be bothered by the $25 minimum load amount since I will never use one again, so I just skipped charging.  Big mistake.


The sun was just setting and I saw there was a big mountain pass coming up (if you zoom out on the map on the pro Nav it shows imagery along with the maps), between Carnuel and Sedillo on I-40.  The close proximity of this to the town means a charge would take you up and over.  I pushed on through and regretted it as I was going very slow by the top, maybe 40 mph, and lots of traffic and only 2 lanes near the peak.  I wasn’t causing much blockage as cars were easily able to pass me, but still annoying none the less.

After a hot day in the car, it was time to call it quits around 10 pm.  That 780 mile drive from Barstow to Santa Rosa was very grueling and took about 20 fuel stops.  I stayed at some cheap hotel and crashed. Only 1000 miles to go and day 2 was a long one.


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