An EV RV at Quail Creek

October 28, 2014

Mark D Larsen

A Leaf in the Campground
(click to enlarge)

Since my LEAF’s hatchback is big enough to accommodate a sleep mattress, I have wanted to take it camping. I had hoped to do so at the Pine Valley campground, but sadly discovered that my battery capacity was no longer sufficient to make that round trip. I then wanted to try overnighting at the Red Cliffs campground, but it has been closed for renovation for several months. I finally concluded that, if I was going to camp at all this season, I would have to opt for a location like Quail Creek Reservoir, even though the facilities are more to accommodate boaters, and thus not as picturesque. My li’l girl, ‘Tisa, and I loaded the camping paraphenalia into the Leaf, drove to the campground, and paid the usual $15 fee for a site at the far end of the loop, overlooking the lake, as shown in the photo above.

Click any of these photos to enlarge them.

When blowing up the air mattress, it occurred to me to tuck the left bulge into itself so that it wouldn’t stick up into the foot of the bed, as you can see here. With the rear seat headrests reversed, the surface is adequately flat to make for a comfortable bed. As I am only 5'9" tall, it fits me just fine, but anyone over 6' would probably feel a bit cramped.

Sleeping bag and pillows laid out, we’re ready for a good night’s sleep. I had brought the mosquito net with us, but decided that it was too cold to leave the hatchback and rear windows open during the night. As a matter of fact, the next morning the Leaf’s temperature gauge showed 41°F, yet we had stayed nice and warm inside.

By the time the sun was setting, we had finished setting up our camp. Folder chair... check. Cooler... check. Firewood... check. Axe... check. Hotdog fork... check. Time to burn some weiners!

Ever since I was just a toddler, I have loved sitting around a campfire. There is something mesmerizing about watching the flames dance. Maybe the campfire elicits the genetic proclivities of our Paleolithic ancestors to feel more secure from night predators...? I now worry, however, about the greenhouse gases emitted. Am I saving the planet with my EV, only to destroy it with my campfire? My one solace is that the amount of CO2 released is supposedly the same, whether burned or left to rot. The difference is a question of the rate of release: fire does so much faster than weathering.

This was the first time that ‘Tisa had ever seen a campfire —let alone any fire. I was curious to see how she would react. She was rather wary of the heat and crackling sounds at first, but after she had eaten her dinner laced with hot dog morsels, she was more than content to settle down in my lap and likewise contemplate the flames. Maybe her own Paleolithic genes were emerging...?

After the embers died down, we got into the hatchback. The bed was comfortably cozy, although ‘Tisa was perplexed not to be back home in bed. As you can see, we then watched a movie on my laptop —an embarrassingly contradictory luxury when claiming to get “back to nature” by overnighting “in the wild”! Eventually we both drifted off to sleep. We did have to get up once in the night, however, because... well... the LEAF doesn’t feature a portapotti.

All things considered, the LEAF works well enough to camp in: better than I had anticipated, truth be told. No, it does not boast all the amenities, comforts, and versatility of a bona fide RV, but it is definitely a cut above sleeping on the ground in a tent. For now, it will have to do until there are true “Westfalia” EV campers available, like Hillside Leisure’s Electric Campervan in the U.K., built upon Nissan’s e-NV200 van. As far as I’m concerned, they couldn’t get here fast enough!