OhioTodd

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I’ve had my Mach-E since Memorial Day. I’ve been curious about doing a long distance road trip. Given that I’m a bit of a masochist, a techie geek, and wanting to get out to my farm land in northwest North Dakota for the first time in about 20 years, I decided to take the horse for a ride. In addition to the above, I have some cousins still up there and a friend who I’ve known since I was a kid when my family would visit every summer some 50+ years ago. The total distance was 2794 miles including a little driving around the endpoints.
Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698878881687


I planned to try to get out there in 3 ½ days. I was planning to take my Labrador Retriever with me and maybe get some hunting in while I was at it.

So, I started planning with ABRP. I needed to get from central Ohio to the far northwest of North Dakota. North Dakota is a wasteland for charging. Of course, Indiana and Ohio aren’t much better, especially per capita. So, the first challenge was how to get across North Dakota. The 4 “major” cities in North Dakota each have a handful of fast chargers. There are 2 dealer chargers between, 1 each on the Fargo-Bismarck and Grand Forks-Minot paths. There’s a lonely one way out in Williston. There’s a 62.5 KW station about 40 miles north of Fargo in Hillsboro at a Subway. The endpoint of the trip was halfway between the metropolises of Powers Lake and Columbus, about 90 miles west-northwest of Minot. It’s about 200 miles one way from Grand Forks to Minot or Fargo to Bismarck. There is a diagonal highway, US-52, from Jamestown to Minot that’s also about 200 miles. There had been a “Coming Soon” EA station in Jamestown when I first started looking during the summer, but it seemed to disappear from Plugshare about September 1. With the likelihood of significant wind, I figured 200 miles without a charge might be asking for trouble. So, I found a hotel in Devils Lake, about 90 miles west of Grand Forks, that had L2 Chargers. That sounded like a good solution for getting a good 100% charge overnight. 120 miles to Minot plus 90 miles out to the farm sounded dicey, so I planned to do a top-off charge in Minot.

ABRP had me doing charges in various places in Chicago after stopping in western Ohio on the Turnpike and South Bend off the Indiana Toll Road at EA stations. The South Bend one had poor reviews. I wasn’t keen on trying to find my way to some Walmart in god-knows where Chicagoland. I wasn’t too keen on having charging problems on the first day. Google Maps almost always shows taking US-30 from Findlay, OH to Chicago for a regular car. It cuts off the angle of going all the way up to Toledo to catch the Turnpike. I wondered if there was a way to get there that way. It’s about 30 to 40 miles shorter than the turnpike route or the I-70 to Indianapolis to Chicago route. I figured that would save me KWH and therefore some charging time. I found Tom Kelly Cadillac in Fort Wayne had 3 Chargepoint chargers that had excellent reviews and were 62.5 KW chargers. Not too bad. Better than a de-rated EA charger at 50 KW. There was another dealer on the east side of Chicago, Webb Hyundai, in Highland, IN, (Chargepoint) right about where the Tr-state Tollway starts and about 1.5 miles off the main road. That’s about 120 miles west of Fort Wayne – not stretching the limits, but keeps me from charging in Chicago. Plus, my endpoint for the first day was Rockford, IL, which was about 90 miles from Webb Hyundai. A cluster of hotels in Rockford has 4 L2 chargers. The only one that shows it on their website is the Hilton Garden Inn. I made a reservation there for the first night, and panned a charge to 100% on their L2 charger.

The next leg led to an overnight with my college roommate in Edina, MN. That was my shortest leg. Wisconsin has 4 EA stations on I-90/I-94. I didn’t need to stop at the one in Madison. The Tomah one was just the right distance for the starting re-charge. ABRP and Ford planners put the Woodbury, MN EA station as the second stop. However, the reviews on that one are bad. So, I didn’t want to depend on that one. I decided to stop for a top up at the EA in Eau Claire, instead. And then, I planned a top-up at a dealer, Inver Grove VW (Chargepoint), before I got to my friend’s place. He didn’t have a 240V outlet and there weren’t any public L2s nearby. So, I was planning to have to make a short run the next day. I also figured I could plug into 110V and get 10 or 15 KWH overnight.

The third day out I planned to stop at Alexandria, MN for my first recharge. That would be a distance that I thought I could manage and probably would be max for the first thing in the morning need for a restroom. Tesla has recently put in Magicdocs in Alexandria and in Monticello, MN. I didn’t know they were there until ABRP had them as stops on a plan I ran. I also saw a press release that Circle-K had just put in two 180 KW stations (Circle-K) also in Alexandria. Then, the next stop would be the Hillsboro Subway (Chargepoint). Free KWs there!!! Finally on to Fireside Inn and Suites in Devils Lake.

The last day only required a quick stop in Minot to top-up. A dealer charger and a Simonson’s charger had poor ratings but the CENEX station on the north end of town had a 62.5 KW charger (Chargepoint) with excellent ratings. That’s what I decided for my top up. It was on the other side of town from US-52/US-2. But, the other side of town in Minot isn’t that far.

Coming back, I was going to try to make it in only 3 days. So, I had longer hops coming home. I did a lot of the same. I tried Ryan Chevrolet in Minot for their 62.5 KW charger (Evconnect). I also stopped at Lakes Chevrolet, Buick GMC in Devils Lake with a Blink charger. Then Hillsboro, and then Alexandria, again. Then carried on 25 miles to Sauk Centre for the night. I didn’t see any hotels in central Minnesota with destination chargers. That was why the stop at the 180 KW charger at Alexandria just 20 miles before the hotel. I needed a stop somewhere in the Twin Cities to tide me over to the Tomah EA station. I found another dealer, this time Buerkle Hyundai (Chargepoint) in St. Paul with 62.5 KW charger. Then on to Tomah and finally to Rockford again. This time I stayed at another of the hotels in the cluster.. I would charge overnight which would get me through Chicago and then did Webb Hyundai and Tom Kelly Buick again.

All-in all, most everything went well. The only kinks were construction and traffic in Chicago as well as in western Wisconsin and Minnesota starting at the Wisconsin border. And, of course, a snowstorm developed over the Rockies and the forecast was for snow on the day I had initially planned to depart. I left a day early to beat the snow. Thank goodness, as there were 8 inches+ in the areas around Minot and west the first night of the storm. As it was, I still had some snow falling and 30 degree temperature out in the country when I actually started home a day early.

Another challenge was wind. It is frequently windy in North Dakota and this was no exception. It was also breezy in Wisconsin. It seemed I was going into the wind practically everyday.

Some observations and pleasant surprises:
  • The 180 KW chargers in Alexandria were great. They were new and I got charging rates comparable to what you would want to get at EA chargers. It started in the 120 KW range and stayed about 100 KW until about 70% charge and then slowly drifted down to about 80. When it hit 80%, it dropped to the usual 37.5 KW above 80%.
  • I had planned to use the charging stops to take my copilot (the dog) for a walk at each of the stops. We’d do a 20 or 30 minute walk (much like we do at home) and that usually nearly filled the entire charge time, even of the 60 KW chargers. It was good exercise and kept from getting sitting-fatigue.
  • I had several pleasant and interesting conversations while charging. At the first Alexandria stop, there was a young man and his wife traveling back from Fargo. They had a rented Volvo and were experiencing EV-ing for the first time. I chatted with them for a while and they told me that they had seen the wind impact. They had roughly 10% greater miles/KWH going east with the wind than they had when they drove from Minneapolis to Fargo. A local Minnesotan walked up and asked me about the Mach-E. He had a great Minnesota accent. He was quite curious about how it all worked and what it was like. It was a nice conversation. When I stopped at the Lakes Chevrolet dealer, I poked my head in the General Manager’s office and thanked them for the charger and I spent about 20 minutes talking about EVs. They had just gotten their first 2. One I think was a Hummer, and I forget what the other was. They were very friendly (they’re North Dakotans, after all) and we had a very pleasant chat. They also had a brand new Corvette in Silver on the showroom floor that looked awesome. They said they were a big Corvette dealer.
  • I got a feel for some of the various charger networks' usability. Most of my charging spots were Chargepoint. Ryan Buick had EV Connect which was probably the easiest to use if you weren’t used to the way Chargepoint works. All you do is open the EV Connect app and it has you turn your camera on the Q-code and it gets the ID of the charger and starts the charge. Very simple. Of course, being more familiar with Chargepoint and others, I had a hard time at first figuring out what to do until I read the info on the charger.
  • I was a bit worried that the dealer chargers might be busy when I got there. I only had one instance, at Buerkle Hyundai, where the charger was busy when I got there. It had been available when I checked the Chargepoint app about 5 miles out. Fortunately, the guy that was there was local and was just trying it out. I chatted with him for a couple minutes and he disconnected and let me get my charge in. All of them ran 60 or more KW. The 2-handle ones did close to 75 if I was the only one there.
  • The Mach-E is a really comfortable ride. Another post in the forums I saw commented on the comfort of its seats. I agree. They were comfortable for the whole time. Even 3+ days in a row.
  • The traffic jam east of Chicago where I-94, I-80, the Indiana Toll Road all come together caused the Ford Navigation to route me to I-90W for about 10 miles and then backtrack to Webb Hyundai that I had programmed in. At first I thought it was nuts, but then I saw the back-up at the entrance to the toll road. So, I followed the navigator and I-90 was clean and green. And it took me back another 4-lane highway and crossed the Tri-state. A mile and half was Webb Hyundai. I charged, went back the mile and a half and got on I-94 W and it was fairly normal traffic, but the eastbound traffic was stop and go for another 5 or 10 miles. I’m sure the back-up on the eastbound side went all the way to the entrance that I got routed past and all that was the cause of the mess at the entrance to the Tollway.
  • The Navigation system kind of freaked out on me at my final destination in the middle of nowhere ND. I was down to about 60 miles range and Minot was 90 miles away. It didn’t know about the 240V welder in the shed at my friends farm. It wanted to route me to a charger about 36 miles away. That must have been Estevan, Saskatchewan. It kept beeping at me and telling me to turn around. It was about 9:00 at night, and I didn’t think the closest border crossing was open that late. I just looked it up, and it closes at 5:00 PM. So, that would not have gotten me to a charge. At least not until the sun came up the next day and sleeping in the car in the middle of nowhere!
  • Stopping to charge slows your trip down, but it makes the drive less stressful with more and longer breaks. At the end of each day, I felt relatively calm and relaxed compared to when I’d make a 600+ mile trip from Rochester, MN to Toledo, OH and then back again in the 80s when I was a youngster working for IBM in Rochester and going home for Christmas. Or, 450 mile trips to Lynchburg, VA for my son’s college with one gas stop and a couple quick bathroom stops. It also reminded me of the days when, as a kid in the 60s and early 70s, my family would drive out to Minnesota and North Dakota every summer to visit the grandparents. Back then, there weren’t gas stations on every exit out in the country. There still aren’t, but it was even rarer back then. And, cars got 12 MPG (if you were lucky), 6 or 8 if you were pulling a pop-up camper like we usually did, and a 20 gallon tank. 200 miles between fill-ups was pushing it. So, you had to plan your stops. Remember AAA Trip-Tiks? Also, fast food was non-existent so you either had to stop at a diner/restaurant or pack lunches and stop at rest areas for meals. So, the total pace was slower and pretty similar to using an EV.
I’m glad I went and was pleasantly surprised. I had a good time visiting friends and relatives and even had a little luck hunting.

1698878007691.png
 

ArthurDOB

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Nice write-up! It was fun reading about the portion of your trip between Madison, WI and Alexandria, MN. I've been through that stretch many times for various reasons. Thanks for letting others know that it IS possible to drive up this way and not get stranded!
 

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Did you connect to the 240V welder connection? These are usually 6-50 3 plug connections, so you would need an adapter. Just curious. This would provide faster charging than a 120V connection. Definitely an option if you drive this route again.

Also, did many of the other brand dealers comment on the Mach-e?
 
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OhioTodd

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Yes, I did use the welder and did get an adapter. I was depending on it. I ordered several varieties of adapter plug prior to leaving. My friend and I had a challenge figuring out which was which over the phone. I sent him a spec sheet showing all the NEMA plug types. He didn't see any that matched his. I finally figured out which NEMA plug it was just before I left and ordered it on Amazon and had it delivered to ND. I could have done 110 in a pinch, but the car would have been plugged in for quite a while.
One of the showroom guys mentioned that one of his relatives had a Mach-E. I don't recall any of the other car dealers commenting on the Mach-E. I didn't talk to the one in Minot as I was waiting for my cousin to show up for lunch.
 

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Great reading. You had me at “hunting.” 🤪🐩 Very good to read that your trip was mostly pleasant. How was the hunting? Mostly pheasant? Grouse? Chukkar? 😊🐩

Your comments about the scarcity of gas stations in the ‘60s reminds me of when my dad and mom used to meticulously plan out trips, with primary gas stops, backup fuel locations, rest stops, packing a cooler with food and drink, etc. They put way more planning into a trip with an ICE with a 32 gallon tank back then than I did with my last couple of trips in my MME. 😊
Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698938119209
 


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I’ve had my Mach-E since Memorial Day. I’ve been curious about doing a long distance road trip. Given that I’m a bit of a masochist, a techie geek, and wanting to get out to my farm land in northwest North Dakota for the first time in about 20 years, I decided to take the horse for a ride. In addition to the above, I have some cousins still up there and a friend who I’ve known since I was a kid when my family would visit every summer some 50+ years ago. The total distance was 2794 miles including a little driving around the endpoints.
Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698938119209


I planned to try to get out there in 3 ½ days. I was planning to take my Labrador Retriever with me and maybe get some hunting in while I was at it.

So, I started planning with ABRP. I needed to get from central Ohio to the far northwest of North Dakota. North Dakota is a wasteland for charging. Of course, Indiana and Ohio aren’t much better, especially per capita. So, the first challenge was how to get across North Dakota. The 4 “major” cities in North Dakota each have a handful of fast chargers. There are 2 dealer chargers between, 1 each on the Fargo-Bismarck and Grand Forks-Minot paths. There’s a lonely one way out in Williston. There’s a 62.5 KW station about 40 miles north of Fargo in Hillsboro at a Subway. The endpoint of the trip was halfway between the metropolises of Powers Lake and Columbus, about 90 miles west-northwest of Minot. It’s about 200 miles one way from Grand Forks to Minot or Fargo to Bismarck. There is a diagonal highway, US-52, from Jamestown to Minot that’s also about 200 miles. There had been a “Coming Soon” EA station in Jamestown when I first started looking during the summer, but it seemed to disappear from Plugshare about September 1. With the likelihood of significant wind, I figured 200 miles without a charge might be asking for trouble. So, I found a hotel in Devils Lake, about 90 miles west of Grand Forks, that had L2 Chargers. That sounded like a good solution for getting a good 100% charge overnight. 120 miles to Minot plus 90 miles out to the farm sounded dicey, so I planned to do a top-off charge in Minot.

ABRP had me doing charges in various places in Chicago after stopping in western Ohio on the Turnpike and South Bend off the Indiana Toll Road at EA stations. The South Bend one had poor reviews. I wasn’t keen on trying to find my way to some Walmart in god-knows where Chicagoland. I wasn’t too keen on having charging problems on the first day. Google Maps almost always shows taking US-30 from Findlay, OH to Chicago for a regular car. It cuts off the angle of going all the way up to Toledo to catch the Turnpike. I wondered if there was a way to get there that way. It’s about 30 to 40 miles shorter than the turnpike route or the I-70 to Indianapolis to Chicago route. I figured that would save me KWH and therefore some charging time. I found Tom Kelly Cadillac in Fort Wayne had 3 Chargepoint chargers that had excellent reviews and were 62.5 KW chargers. Not too bad. Better than a de-rated EA charger at 50 KW. There was another dealer on the east side of Chicago, Webb Hyundai, in Highland, IN, (Chargepoint) right about where the Tr-state Tollway starts and about 1.5 miles off the main road. That’s about 120 miles west of Fort Wayne – not stretching the limits, but keeps me from charging in Chicago. Plus, my endpoint for the first day was Rockford, IL, which was about 90 miles from Webb Hyundai. A cluster of hotels in Rockford has 4 L2 chargers. The only one that shows it on their website is the Hilton Garden Inn. I made a reservation there for the first night, and panned a charge to 100% on their L2 charger.

The next leg led to an overnight with my college roommate in Edina, MN. That was my shortest leg. Wisconsin has 4 EA stations on I-90/I-94. I didn’t need to stop at the one in Madison. The Tomah one was just the right distance for the starting re-charge. ABRP and Ford planners put the Woodbury, MN EA station as the second stop. However, the reviews on that one are bad. So, I didn’t want to depend on that one. I decided to stop for a top up at the EA in Eau Claire, instead. And then, I planned a top-up at a dealer, Inver Grove VW (Chargepoint), before I got to my friend’s place. He didn’t have a 240V outlet and there weren’t any public L2s nearby. So, I was planning to have to make a short run the next day. I also figured I could plug into 110V and get 10 or 15 KWH overnight.

The third day out I planned to stop at Alexandria, MN for my first recharge. That would be a distance that I thought I could manage and probably would be max for the first thing in the morning need for a restroom. Tesla has recently put in Magicdocs in Alexandria and in Monticello, MN. I didn’t know they were there until ABRP had them as stops on a plan I ran. I also saw a press release that Circle-K had just put in two 180 KW stations (Circle-K) also in Alexandria. Then, the next stop would be the Hillsboro Subway (Chargepoint). Free KWs there!!! Finally on to Fireside Inn and Suites in Devils Lake.

The last day only required a quick stop in Minot to top-up. A dealer charger and a Simonson’s charger had poor ratings but the CENEX station on the north end of town had a 62.5 KW charger (Chargepoint) with excellent ratings. That’s what I decided for my top up. It was on the other side of town from US-52/US-2. But, the other side of town in Minot isn’t that far.

Coming back, I was going to try to make it in only 3 days. So, I had longer hops coming home. I did a lot of the same. I tried Ryan Chevrolet in Minot for their 62.5 KW charger (Evconnect). I also stopped at Lakes Chevrolet, Buick GMC in Devils Lake with a Blink charger. Then Hillsboro, and then Alexandria, again. Then carried on 25 miles to Sauk Centre for the night. I didn’t see any hotels in central Minnesota with destination chargers. That was why the stop at the 180 KW charger at Alexandria just 20 miles before the hotel. I needed a stop somewhere in the Twin Cities to tide me over to the Tomah EA station. I found another dealer, this time Buerkle Hyundai (Chargepoint) in St. Paul with 62.5 KW charger. Then on to Tomah and finally to Rockford again. This time I stayed at another of the hotels in the cluster.. I would charge overnight which would get me through Chicago and then did Webb Hyundai and Tom Kelly Buick again.

All-in all, most everything went well. The only kinks were construction and traffic in Chicago as well as in western Wisconsin and Minnesota starting at the Wisconsin border. And, of course, a snowstorm developed over the Rockies and the forecast was for snow on the day I had initially planned to depart. I left a day early to beat the snow. Thank goodness, as there were 8 inches+ in the areas around Minot and west the first night of the storm. As it was, I still had some snow falling and 30 degree temperature out in the country when I actually started home a day early.

Another challenge was wind. It is frequently windy in North Dakota and this was no exception. It was also breezy in Wisconsin. It seemed I was going into the wind practically everyday.

Some observations and pleasant surprises:
  • The 180 KW chargers in Alexandria were great. They were new and I got charging rates comparable to what you would want to get at EA chargers. It started in the 120 KW range and stayed about 100 KW until about 70% charge and then slowly drifted down to about 80. When it hit 80%, it dropped to the usual 37.5 KW above 80%.
  • I had planned to use the charging stops to take my copilot (the dog) for a walk at each of the stops. We’d do a 20 or 30 minute walk (much like we do at home) and that usually nearly filled the entire charge time, even of the 60 KW chargers. It was good exercise and kept from getting sitting-fatigue.
  • I had several pleasant and interesting conversations while charging. At the first Alexandria stop, there was a young man and his wife traveling back from Fargo. They had a rented Volvo and were experiencing EV-ing for the first time. I chatted with them for a while and they told me that they had seen the wind impact. They had roughly 10% greater miles/KWH going east with the wind than they had when they drove from Minneapolis to Fargo. A local Minnesotan walked up and asked me about the Mach-E. He had a great Minnesota accent. He was quite curious about how it all worked and what it was like. It was a nice conversation. When I stopped at the Lakes Chevrolet dealer, I poked my head in the General Manager’s office and thanked them for the charger and I spent about 20 minutes talking about EVs. They had just gotten their first 2. One I think was a Hummer, and I forget what the other was. They were very friendly (they’re North Dakotans, after all) and we had a very pleasant chat. They also had a brand new Corvette in Silver on the showroom floor that looked awesome. They said they were a big Corvette dealer.
  • I got a feel for some of the various charger networks' usability. Most of my charging spots were Chargepoint. Ryan Buick had EV Connect which was probably the easiest to use if you weren’t used to the way Chargepoint works. All you do is open the EV Connect app and it has you turn your camera on the Q-code and it gets the ID of the charger and starts the charge. Very simple. Of course, being more familiar with Chargepoint and others, I had a hard time at first figuring out what to do until I read the info on the charger.
  • I was a bit worried that the dealer chargers might be busy when I got there. I only had one instance, at Buerkle Hyundai, where the charger was busy when I got there. It had been available when I checked the Chargepoint app about 5 miles out. Fortunately, the guy that was there was local and was just trying it out. I chatted with him for a couple minutes and he disconnected and let me get my charge in. All of them ran 60 or more KW. The 2-handle ones did close to 75 if I was the only one there.
  • The Mach-E is a really comfortable ride. Another post in the forums I saw commented on the comfort of its seats. I agree. They were comfortable for the whole time. Even 3+ days in a row.
  • The traffic jam east of Chicago where I-94, I-80, the Indiana Toll Road all come together caused the Ford Navigation to route me to I-90W for about 10 miles and then backtrack to Webb Hyundai that I had programmed in. At first I thought it was nuts, but then I saw the back-up at the entrance to the toll road. So, I followed the navigator and I-90 was clean and green. And it took me back another 4-lane highway and crossed the Tri-state. A mile and half was Webb Hyundai. I charged, went back the mile and a half and got on I-94 W and it was fairly normal traffic, but the eastbound traffic was stop and go for another 5 or 10 miles. I’m sure the back-up on the eastbound side went all the way to the entrance that I got routed past and all that was the cause of the mess at the entrance to the Tollway.
  • The Navigation system kind of freaked out on me at my final destination in the middle of nowhere ND. I was down to about 60 miles range and Minot was 90 miles away. It didn’t know about the 240V welder in the shed at my friends farm. It wanted to route me to a charger about 36 miles away. That must have been Estevan, Saskatchewan. It kept beeping at me and telling me to turn around. It was about 9:00 at night, and I didn’t think the closest border crossing was open that late. I just looked it up, and it closes at 5:00 PM. So, that would not have gotten me to a charge. At least not until the sun came up the next day and sleeping in the car in the middle of nowhere!
  • Stopping to charge slows your trip down, but it makes the drive less stressful with more and longer breaks. At the end of each day, I felt relatively calm and relaxed compared to when I’d make a 600+ mile trip from Rochester, MN to Toledo, OH and then back again in the 80s when I was a youngster working for IBM in Rochester and going home for Christmas. Or, 450 mile trips to Lynchburg, VA for my son’s college with one gas stop and a couple quick bathroom stops. It also reminded me of the days when, as a kid in the 60s and early 70s, my family would drive out to Minnesota and North Dakota every summer to visit the grandparents. Back then, there weren’t gas stations on every exit out in the country. There still aren’t, but it was even rarer back then. And, cars got 12 MPG (if you were lucky), 6 or 8 if you were pulling a pop-up camper like we usually did, and a 20 gallon tank. 200 miles between fill-ups was pushing it. So, you had to plan your stops. Remember AAA Trip-Tiks? Also, fast food was non-existent so you either had to stop at a diner/restaurant or pack lunches and stop at rest areas for meals. So, the total pace was slower and pretty similar to using an EV.
I’m glad I went and was pleasantly surprised. I had a good time visiting friends and relatives and even had a little luck hunting.

Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698938119209
Great trip analysis! Thanks.
 
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OhioTodd

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Great reading. You had me at “hunting.” 🤪🐩 Very good to read that your trip was mostly pleasant. How was the hunting? Mostly pheasant? Grouse? Chukkar? 😊🐩

Your comments about the scarcity of gas stations in the ‘60s reminds me of when my dad and mom used to meticulously plan out trips, with primary gas stops, backup fuel locations, rest stops, packing a cooler with food and drink, etc. They put way more planning into a trip with an ICE with a 32 gallon tank back then than I did with my last couple of trips in my MME. 😊
Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698938119209
I severely cut down my hunting by leaving a day early. I got a Gray Partridge (AKA Hungarian Partridge) the first day. We flushed 4 Sharptail Grouse while we were recharging at the CENEX station at the edge of Minot. Didn't have a gun out at the time. We did a little pheasant hunting the second day while inspecting my farm and chased 3 rooster pheasants, but they disappeared into the scrub woods behind the rise of the road. There were gobs of ducks and geese that could have been had. While driving back to Minot, I stopped for a quick potty break on the side of the road, farmer-style, and a fellow was in the reeds calling ducks. I heard him, but couldn't see him.
 

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You were about 5 miles from my place. I could only give you 48 amps though. U.S. 30 does need some chargers. Some are scheduled for 2024.
 

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I’ve had my Mach-E since Memorial Day. I’ve been curious about doing a long distance road trip. Given that I’m a bit of a masochist, a techie geek, and wanting to get out to my farm land in northwest North Dakota for the first time in about 20 years, I decided to take the horse for a ride. In addition to the above, I have some cousins still up there and a friend who I’ve known since I was a kid when my family would visit every summer some 50+ years ago. The total distance was 2794 miles including a little driving around the endpoints.
Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698938119209


I planned to try to get out there in 3 ½ days. I was planning to take my Labrador Retriever with me and maybe get some hunting in while I was at it.

So, I started planning with ABRP. I needed to get from central Ohio to the far northwest of North Dakota. North Dakota is a wasteland for charging. Of course, Indiana and Ohio aren’t much better, especially per capita. So, the first challenge was how to get across North Dakota. The 4 “major” cities in North Dakota each have a handful of fast chargers. There are 2 dealer chargers between, 1 each on the Fargo-Bismarck and Grand Forks-Minot paths. There’s a lonely one way out in Williston. There’s a 62.5 KW station about 40 miles north of Fargo in Hillsboro at a Subway. The endpoint of the trip was halfway between the metropolises of Powers Lake and Columbus, about 90 miles west-northwest of Minot. It’s about 200 miles one way from Grand Forks to Minot or Fargo to Bismarck. There is a diagonal highway, US-52, from Jamestown to Minot that’s also about 200 miles. There had been a “Coming Soon” EA station in Jamestown when I first started looking during the summer, but it seemed to disappear from Plugshare about September 1. With the likelihood of significant wind, I figured 200 miles without a charge might be asking for trouble. So, I found a hotel in Devils Lake, about 90 miles west of Grand Forks, that had L2 Chargers. That sounded like a good solution for getting a good 100% charge overnight. 120 miles to Minot plus 90 miles out to the farm sounded dicey, so I planned to do a top-off charge in Minot.

ABRP had me doing charges in various places in Chicago after stopping in western Ohio on the Turnpike and South Bend off the Indiana Toll Road at EA stations. The South Bend one had poor reviews. I wasn’t keen on trying to find my way to some Walmart in god-knows where Chicagoland. I wasn’t too keen on having charging problems on the first day. Google Maps almost always shows taking US-30 from Findlay, OH to Chicago for a regular car. It cuts off the angle of going all the way up to Toledo to catch the Turnpike. I wondered if there was a way to get there that way. It’s about 30 to 40 miles shorter than the turnpike route or the I-70 to Indianapolis to Chicago route. I figured that would save me KWH and therefore some charging time. I found Tom Kelly Cadillac in Fort Wayne had 3 Chargepoint chargers that had excellent reviews and were 62.5 KW chargers. Not too bad. Better than a de-rated EA charger at 50 KW. There was another dealer on the east side of Chicago, Webb Hyundai, in Highland, IN, (Chargepoint) right about where the Tr-state Tollway starts and about 1.5 miles off the main road. That’s about 120 miles west of Fort Wayne – not stretching the limits, but keeps me from charging in Chicago. Plus, my endpoint for the first day was Rockford, IL, which was about 90 miles from Webb Hyundai. A cluster of hotels in Rockford has 4 L2 chargers. The only one that shows it on their website is the Hilton Garden Inn. I made a reservation there for the first night, and panned a charge to 100% on their L2 charger.

The next leg led to an overnight with my college roommate in Edina, MN. That was my shortest leg. Wisconsin has 4 EA stations on I-90/I-94. I didn’t need to stop at the one in Madison. The Tomah one was just the right distance for the starting re-charge. ABRP and Ford planners put the Woodbury, MN EA station as the second stop. However, the reviews on that one are bad. So, I didn’t want to depend on that one. I decided to stop for a top up at the EA in Eau Claire, instead. And then, I planned a top-up at a dealer, Inver Grove VW (Chargepoint), before I got to my friend’s place. He didn’t have a 240V outlet and there weren’t any public L2s nearby. So, I was planning to have to make a short run the next day. I also figured I could plug into 110V and get 10 or 15 KWH overnight.

The third day out I planned to stop at Alexandria, MN for my first recharge. That would be a distance that I thought I could manage and probably would be max for the first thing in the morning need for a restroom. Tesla has recently put in Magicdocs in Alexandria and in Monticello, MN. I didn’t know they were there until ABRP had them as stops on a plan I ran. I also saw a press release that Circle-K had just put in two 180 KW stations (Circle-K) also in Alexandria. Then, the next stop would be the Hillsboro Subway (Chargepoint). Free KWs there!!! Finally on to Fireside Inn and Suites in Devils Lake.

The last day only required a quick stop in Minot to top-up. A dealer charger and a Simonson’s charger had poor ratings but the CENEX station on the north end of town had a 62.5 KW charger (Chargepoint) with excellent ratings. That’s what I decided for my top up. It was on the other side of town from US-52/US-2. But, the other side of town in Minot isn’t that far.

Coming back, I was going to try to make it in only 3 days. So, I had longer hops coming home. I did a lot of the same. I tried Ryan Chevrolet in Minot for their 62.5 KW charger (Evconnect). I also stopped at Lakes Chevrolet, Buick GMC in Devils Lake with a Blink charger. Then Hillsboro, and then Alexandria, again. Then carried on 25 miles to Sauk Centre for the night. I didn’t see any hotels in central Minnesota with destination chargers. That was why the stop at the 180 KW charger at Alexandria just 20 miles before the hotel. I needed a stop somewhere in the Twin Cities to tide me over to the Tomah EA station. I found another dealer, this time Buerkle Hyundai (Chargepoint) in St. Paul with 62.5 KW charger. Then on to Tomah and finally to Rockford again. This time I stayed at another of the hotels in the cluster.. I would charge overnight which would get me through Chicago and then did Webb Hyundai and Tom Kelly Buick again.

All-in all, most everything went well. The only kinks were construction and traffic in Chicago as well as in western Wisconsin and Minnesota starting at the Wisconsin border. And, of course, a snowstorm developed over the Rockies and the forecast was for snow on the day I had initially planned to depart. I left a day early to beat the snow. Thank goodness, as there were 8 inches+ in the areas around Minot and west the first night of the storm. As it was, I still had some snow falling and 30 degree temperature out in the country when I actually started home a day early.

Another challenge was wind. It is frequently windy in North Dakota and this was no exception. It was also breezy in Wisconsin. It seemed I was going into the wind practically everyday.

Some observations and pleasant surprises:
  • The 180 KW chargers in Alexandria were great. They were new and I got charging rates comparable to what you would want to get at EA chargers. It started in the 120 KW range and stayed about 100 KW until about 70% charge and then slowly drifted down to about 80. When it hit 80%, it dropped to the usual 37.5 KW above 80%.
  • I had planned to use the charging stops to take my copilot (the dog) for a walk at each of the stops. We’d do a 20 or 30 minute walk (much like we do at home) and that usually nearly filled the entire charge time, even of the 60 KW chargers. It was good exercise and kept from getting sitting-fatigue.
  • I had several pleasant and interesting conversations while charging. At the first Alexandria stop, there was a young man and his wife traveling back from Fargo. They had a rented Volvo and were experiencing EV-ing for the first time. I chatted with them for a while and they told me that they had seen the wind impact. They had roughly 10% greater miles/KWH going east with the wind than they had when they drove from Minneapolis to Fargo. A local Minnesotan walked up and asked me about the Mach-E. He had a great Minnesota accent. He was quite curious about how it all worked and what it was like. It was a nice conversation. When I stopped at the Lakes Chevrolet dealer, I poked my head in the General Manager’s office and thanked them for the charger and I spent about 20 minutes talking about EVs. They had just gotten their first 2. One I think was a Hummer, and I forget what the other was. They were very friendly (they’re North Dakotans, after all) and we had a very pleasant chat. They also had a brand new Corvette in Silver on the showroom floor that looked awesome. They said they were a big Corvette dealer.
  • I got a feel for some of the various charger networks' usability. Most of my charging spots were Chargepoint. Ryan Buick had EV Connect which was probably the easiest to use if you weren’t used to the way Chargepoint works. All you do is open the EV Connect app and it has you turn your camera on the Q-code and it gets the ID of the charger and starts the charge. Very simple. Of course, being more familiar with Chargepoint and others, I had a hard time at first figuring out what to do until I read the info on the charger.
  • I was a bit worried that the dealer chargers might be busy when I got there. I only had one instance, at Buerkle Hyundai, where the charger was busy when I got there. It had been available when I checked the Chargepoint app about 5 miles out. Fortunately, the guy that was there was local and was just trying it out. I chatted with him for a couple minutes and he disconnected and let me get my charge in. All of them ran 60 or more KW. The 2-handle ones did close to 75 if I was the only one there.
  • The Mach-E is a really comfortable ride. Another post in the forums I saw commented on the comfort of its seats. I agree. They were comfortable for the whole time. Even 3+ days in a row.
  • The traffic jam east of Chicago where I-94, I-80, the Indiana Toll Road all come together caused the Ford Navigation to route me to I-90W for about 10 miles and then backtrack to Webb Hyundai that I had programmed in. At first I thought it was nuts, but then I saw the back-up at the entrance to the toll road. So, I followed the navigator and I-90 was clean and green. And it took me back another 4-lane highway and crossed the Tri-state. A mile and half was Webb Hyundai. I charged, went back the mile and a half and got on I-94 W and it was fairly normal traffic, but the eastbound traffic was stop and go for another 5 or 10 miles. I’m sure the back-up on the eastbound side went all the way to the entrance that I got routed past and all that was the cause of the mess at the entrance to the Tollway.
  • The Navigation system kind of freaked out on me at my final destination in the middle of nowhere ND. I was down to about 60 miles range and Minot was 90 miles away. It didn’t know about the 240V welder in the shed at my friends farm. It wanted to route me to a charger about 36 miles away. That must have been Estevan, Saskatchewan. It kept beeping at me and telling me to turn around. It was about 9:00 at night, and I didn’t think the closest border crossing was open that late. I just looked it up, and it closes at 5:00 PM. So, that would not have gotten me to a charge. At least not until the sun came up the next day and sleeping in the car in the middle of nowhere!
  • Stopping to charge slows your trip down, but it makes the drive less stressful with more and longer breaks. At the end of each day, I felt relatively calm and relaxed compared to when I’d make a 600+ mile trip from Rochester, MN to Toledo, OH and then back again in the 80s when I was a youngster working for IBM in Rochester and going home for Christmas. Or, 450 mile trips to Lynchburg, VA for my son’s college with one gas stop and a couple quick bathroom stops. It also reminded me of the days when, as a kid in the 60s and early 70s, my family would drive out to Minnesota and North Dakota every summer to visit the grandparents. Back then, there weren’t gas stations on every exit out in the country. There still aren’t, but it was even rarer back then. And, cars got 12 MPG (if you were lucky), 6 or 8 if you were pulling a pop-up camper like we usually did, and a 20 gallon tank. 200 miles between fill-ups was pushing it. So, you had to plan your stops. Remember AAA Trip-Tiks? Also, fast food was non-existent so you either had to stop at a diner/restaurant or pack lunches and stop at rest areas for meals. So, the total pace was slower and pretty similar to using an EV.
I’m glad I went and was pleasantly surprised. I had a good time visiting friends and relatives and even had a little luck hunting.

Ford Mustang Mach-E Trip to the Wild West – Columbus, OH to Columbus, ND 1698938119209
This is awesome! Can't wait to see how far the next adventure with your Mustang Mach-E takes you!
 

kindofblue

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Thanks for the report. It had not occurred to me to charge at EV dealers and it was good to hear how welcoming they were. And AAA still offers trip-tiks!
 
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BadgerGreg

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Glad your trip went well...you were brave venturing that deep into the CCS desert. In that area, you definitely need to think beyond EA. This time of year is always spooky for EV drivers when the range begins to drop off quickly...it requires you to rethink the road trip strategy. Looks like you made the right decisions along the way.
 
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OhioTodd

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Glad your trip went well...you were brave venturing that deep into the CCS desert. In that area, you definitely need to think beyond EA. This time of year is always spooky for EV drivers when the range begins to drop off quickly...it requires you to rethink the road trip strategy. Looks like you made the right decisions along the way.
Thanks for the comment. I had a backup idea for most of the trip west of Minneapolis. Based on the info in Plugshare, I was optimistic about most of the charging locations out there. The big surprise was the opening of the EA station in Jamestown. That gave me pause and I reevaluated my plan to go back the same way I came. I would have been 50 miles shorter and faster. BUt, there was no backup if it turned out to be too far from Minot given the prevailing wind and cold temperatures. I elected to go with the safer option that had me only trying to cross 120 miles between charging along US-2. I probably would have made it to Jamestown, but being kind of a rookie, I didn't want to take the risk.
 

kindofblue

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The last time I rode my BMW GS motorcycle up in North Dakota, driving south I had the bike leaned into the wind all the way south until I got to the Colorado boarder. And that was in the summer. As windsurfers say, "It blows like stink" up there.
 
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OhioTodd

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The last time I rode my BMW GS motorcycle up in North Dakota, driving south I had the bike leaned into the wind all the way south until I got to the Colorado boarder. And that was in the summer. As windsurfers say, "It blows like stink" up there.
:) And that's on a nice day.
 

OON7

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Excellent read, thanks for sharing!
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