DAY 16

Columbia, Missouri to St. Louis, Missouri
Total Miles: 146

Progress Maps: Close Detail | USA View

Charging at the Stewart Farm
(Mike Stewart photo)

Last night I barely made it into Columbia. The number one goal for my Charge Across America was to properly plan my charging intervals so that I would never run out of battery power. Due to no fault of my EV1, I almost blew it. As I stated in yesterday's report, a defective circuit breaker at one of the businesses I charged at resulted in an undercharge situation. I had to scramble to find a suitable source of 220v power in order to finish the hilly drive to Columbia. I had originally planned to get a full 100% charge in Sweet Springs, Missouri but opted for 81% at Mel's Truck Service to avoid being too late for media coverage of my arrival in Columbia. The constant ups and downs on this segment of I-70 robbed my batteries of the energy than I had planned for. Luck was on my side, and I made it to Columbia in time for TV and newspaper coverage. This was the only close call on my trip, and I'll be more cautious in the future.

I had planned to use the small 110 volt "convenience charger" at the Super 8 Motel in Columbia, but because my battery charge was so low I was afraid I wouldn't be properly charged to leave on time this morning. My tight schedule called for a 1:00pm arrival in St. Louis, and I had a scheduled intermediate stop in Warrenton. Columbia Daily Tribune reporter Leslie Wright had planned to interview me last night and have photographer Mike Stewart shoot my car this morning. When I explained my problem to Leslie last night, she gave Mike a call and he offered to let me charge up with the bigger 220 volt charger at his nearby farm. I had to let my car fill up a bit at the motel on the small charger to give me enough "juice" to drive over the big hills to Mike's farm. Once I got to the farm, we hooked up the 220 volt charger which started pouring power into my EV1's batteries as soon as the charging paddle was inserted. Leslie dropped me off at the motel in town, with a promise to pick me up at 6:45 am. We'd do the photo shoot quickly, and I'd be on my way. Sounds like a plan! But....

Filling in my charging log
(Mike Stewart photo)
When I arrived at the farm this morning, Mike said that he checked the charger last night at 3:00 am and it was off, just as I told him would automatically happen when the batteries were fully charged. This morning as I prepared to pack up the charger and cables, I noticed there was no display saying "FULL COMPLETE" on the charger's display window. Not a good sign. The 6.6kW unit pulls 29.5 amps and is designed to operate on a 40 amp breaker. Other than the incident in Sweet Springs yesterday, I had successful operated the big charger on 30 amp dryer circuits many times during this trip. In both cases of breaker tripping in Missouri, I suspect the facilities were at an extended distance from the power pole transformer resulting in slightly lower voltage, which I had been told could result in breaker tripping. Fortunately, Mike had another 220 volt outlet in his barn, this time a 50 amp welding circuit. We quickly moved over to that circuit, and the charger did its job while Mike served coffee and Leslie interviewed me. Somehow I'd try to make up the time to avoid arriving late in St. Louis.

(Mike Stewart photo)
After an hour of charging at Mike's farm, my EV1 had received an 85% charge which I deemed adequate to make the 68 mile drive to my next stop in Warrenton, Missouri. While I drove down a beautiful country lane on the way back to I-70, Mike photographed my car for the Columbia Daily Tribune from the back of a pickup truck with Leslie driving. Mike was kind enough to electronically send his images to me for inclusion in my diary. As you can see, he did a great job! Thanks for the charge and the photos, Mike! The Internet is handy for pulling off tricks like this.

My next stop on Interstate 70 was Warrenton, Missouri. My contact in St. Louis is Rick Durbin. Rick works for Ameren Electric, a utility that was formed when Union Electric and Central Illinois Public Service merged. He arranged my charging stop in Warrenton at the Warrenton Jr. High School. I called ahead from Columbia to let Chris Merritt, my contact at the school, know I'd be late. When I arrived, I was greeted by wave after wave of students eager to see the EV1. Kids from neighboring schools arrived by bus to join the students at the junior high school. 8th grade science teacher Mike Spoede told me that my timing was perfect, because his classes were in the middle of learning about energy conservation. What better way to demonstrate it than with an EV1! The kids really seemed to respond to my concerns about rapid depletion of our natural resources to fuel automobiles. I proved to them that there's more than one way to propel an automobile down the road. The EV1 does the job admirably and reliably, and I explained that the day will come when they will have the opportunity to drive derivatives of this car themselves. Mike Spoede helped out with my chores at school while I met the principal and enjoyed lunch in the school cafeteria.

When I was planning my Charge Across America back in Los Angeles, I knew that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was one of the places I wanted to visit. This stainless steel monument took my breath away when I first saw it a few years ago, and I felt that the arch which sits just west of the banks of the Mississippi River would make a great backdrop for a photo of the EV1.

Ameren's Rick Durbin suggested that I stay at the Regal Riverfront Hotel which sits just across the street from the arch. I highly recommend this conveniently located circular hotel. Baseball fans will appreciate that Busch Stadium is a short 2 block walk from the hotel, and the views of the arch and the Mississippi River are not to be believed. The rotating restaurant has great food and incredible views. Rick made arrangements with the Riverfront's Jim McHugh to supply 220 volt power for my charger, and my EV1 was treated to a great parking spot under the portico where hotel guests could get a look. Every trip I made out to the car turned out to take at least 15 minutes as I explained the EV1's features. As usual, most everyone was impressed that the EV1 is actually in production and available for lease in selected areas. Too bad it's not available everywhere - I could have sent local dealerships some hot prospects!

After meeting with St. Louis Post Dispatch business reporter Repps Hudson over lunch, I snapped some photos of the arch and was off to Ted Drewes famous Frozen Custard stand on old Route 66 (called Chippewa Street in St. Louis). This place is a madhouse, especially on a warm summer evening. Cars constantly arrive at Ted's, and the locals love the "concrete," an extra-thick frozen dessert. Apparently my EV1's arrival had been publicized, because lots of people knew I was coming and stopped by to look at the car. KMOV Channel 4 covered the whole thing and ran a nice story on the evening news.

Tomorrow morning I'll continue east on I-70 crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, where I'll have a second opportunity on this trip to meet a city mayor.

Trip Log

Stop #1
Stop #2
Town or City Columbia, MO Warrenton, MO St. Louis, MO
Odometer 16754 16822 16900
Trip Odometer 0 68.1 59.3
Driving Notes Overnight power failure during charge cycle delayed morning departure. Continuous rolling hills. Bridge construction west of St. Louis, slow traffic. After press interviews at hotel, drove to Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard on old Route 66 for TV coverage and EV1 show-and-tell.
Grades Encountered - Minneola Hill - 8% grade for 2 miles Minor hills
Charging Information
Charge Start Time Overnight 10:40 AM 9:00 PM
Charge End Time - 12:55 PM 1:00 AM
Charge Duration   2h 15m 4h 0m
Charging Facility Stewart farm Warrenton Jr. High School Regal Riverfront Hotel
Contact Name Mike Stewart/Leslie Wright-Columbia Daily Tribune Chris Merritt Rick Durbin
Charger Type 6.6kw/240v 6.6kw/240v 6.6kw/240v
Charge Indicator
(In Bars/11=100%)
10 1 start/10 finish -
Charge Start (%)   5 27
Charge Stop (%) 85 83 100
Ambient Temp (°F)
Weather Conditions
65° 70° -
Approx. Miles to Next Charging Stop
and Known Grades
65 miles. Many, many hills. 60 miles 53 miles - flat

BACK to Daily Diary HOME page