When Jonathan Slade and Novia Campbell decided to drive their all-electric Nissan Leaf from Western Maryland to Ocean City, they were prepared for potential charging snafus.
Those haven't popped up. But they did need their electric vehicle to stop a computer thief.
While waiting for their Leaf to charge at a plug-in station at the College Square Shopping Center in Westminster, Slade and Campbell had their Apple iPad taken from a table at Subway Wednesday.
They were able to find, and confront, the person who took the computer a few miles away in their vehicle, using a signal omitted from the iPad and a tracker application on Slade's iPhone. The woman driving the vehicle said she was trying to return it to them. Slade and Campbell said they aren't sure what to believe.
Regardless, the touch screen computer was returned without the police getting involved. The Leaf, which has a range of roughly 90 miles before it must be recharged, had enough juice to power the search effort.
Now that the iPad is back, the trip can continue.
"It all happened so fast," Slade said.
The cross-state trip won't be nearly as quick. Slade and Campbell, who are married, started The Electric Road Trip Across Maryland to show that it's possible to take an all-electric vehicle across the state without problems. They left Oakland Monday.
While the cross-state trip takes roughly five hours in a gas-powered vehicle, the all-electric vehicle must be charged every 90 miles for 6-to-8 hours. Slade and Campbell hope to reach Ocean City by Saturday.
When not traveling, Campbell plans to knit. Slade's been updating a Facebook fan page about the trip. They will stay at hotels near charging stations and visit local businesses as a way of paying them back for the ability to power their vehicle.
Campbell and Slade have already navigated mountainous Western Maryland, which zaps the battery power more quickly with its steep inclines. They departed Westminster Thursday with a planned stop in Timonium at a public charging station.
"We want to see if Joe Citizen, an average person, can drive it," said Slade, a Lineboro resident who is a film professor at McDaniel College in Westminster. "We want to show that anyone can do it themselves."
Slade downloaded an iPhone application that allows him to spot every public plug-in station in the state. Central Maryland has more than most spots in the country, including a few nearby.
Two ChargePro charging stations are at College Square. Slade and Campbell used a solar-powered plug-in station at Linganore Winecellars near Mount Airy Wednesday.
They simply plug in their vehicle, wait for the charge and they are on their way.
"They're free, for now," Campbell said of the public plug-in stations.
Usually, Slade and Campbell use their Leaf for work commutes to Westminster and Hanover, Pa., respectively. The Leaf has more than enough power to get them to their jobs and back. Slade installed an electric plug-in at their home.
This trip is more complicated with public plug-in stations tough to come by in Western Maryland and Maryland's Eastern Shore. If more public plug-in stations were available, the trip would take a few days less.
In the hopes of promoting awareness for electric vehicles, Slade is planning a documentary on the trip. He is using tiny digital GoPro digital cameras to document the trip, including one mounted on the top of the vehicle.
The cameras weren't rolling during the frantic iPad search, but the rest of the trip is being filmed.
Frequently, the couple gets asked about how the Leaf works.
"I don't get why people don't know more about them," Slade said. "That's one of the reasons why we're doing this."