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Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

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  • Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

    I know this is about a month late, but wanted to give everyone a quick "road trip" report along with a cool photo about my trip from Long Beach to the San Francisco Bay Area and then Reno and finally back to Long Beach. I did the drive with my 2006 Honda Civic GX.

    I left Long Beach on December 23 and drove to the Bay Area. I stopped in Bakersfield at the CNG station to top off, then drove over to I-5 and took the 5 up to the CNG station in Los Banos (getting a great fill!) before finally making my way to the East Bay. One good thing I saw during my drive was that the Bakersfield CNG station now has 3000 psi AND 3600 psi and the pump actually delivers a full 3600 psi! Last time I was there they only had 3000 psi available there.

    I spent December 24 (Christmas Eve) in the East Bay with family. On the 25th, I started to drive to Reno only to find out the I-80 was closed in Auburn due to heavy blowing snow. Highway 50 was open, though, with chain controls from Placerville all the way to Tahoe and Carson City. Therefore, after filling up in Davis at the PG&E CNG pump, I decided to take the "long way" to Reno by driving up Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe to Highway 395 in Carson City.

    I put my chains on in Placerville and made my way up Hwy 50 with no problems with the GX even though it was dumping snow. Once I reached South Lake Tahoe, I pulled into the Tahoe Airport's access road with a brief worry that they might have not cleared the 2+ feet of new snow from the parking lot where the CNG pump is located. But I didn't need to worry as a plow must have gone through the parking lot within the past hour as the parking lot was pretty clear even though it was still snowing on and off.

    I pulled into the CNG pump, noticed the outside temperature was just 19 degrees, and filled up in South Lake Tahoe at 6,500 feet in elevation. Definitely the highest elevation I've ever filled up at. PS... for an awesome picture of the CNG pump just covered in snow, check out the attached photo!

    Once I got back into my car after filling up, I quickly noticed that I must have gotten one incredible fill as my fuel gauge stayed on the very top light bar for the first 24.7 miles of my drive! I finally got to take my chains off once I reached the 395 in Carson City (even though it was still snowing lightly they had done a great job keeping the 395 clear). When I finally got to Reno (72 miles from the South Lake Tahoe CNG station) I still was above the lower "full" mark on my fuel gauge!

    The next morning I drove up to Mt. Rose to go skiing, which meant I needed to put the chains back on the car for the trek up highway 431 as it had snowed almost all night long. After an incredible day of skiing, I drove back to Reno and saw family that evening.

    On Dec. 27 it was time to drive home. Given the lack of CNG stations on highway 395, that definitely wasn't an option to get me back to LA, so I "topped off" the CNG tank at the Reno CNG station at Western Energetix (I had gotten a card from them a few weeks earlier). I then drove over I-80 (finally not needing chains as it had stopped snowing and they had cleared the road fairly well), topping off in Auburn at the PG&E CNG pump before going down Highway 99 towards Los Angeles. On the way back to LA I topped off in Merced and again in Bakersfield before finally making my way back to Long Beach many hours later.

    Definitely a trip I will remember for quite a while!

    Attached Files
    Last edited by skierrob; 01-26-2009, 11:56 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

    Nice road trip report. I was in Reno in late October and the Western Energetix was closed and when I called them they said they weren't going to re-open. Are they really $3.29/GGE??

    I bought a dedicated CNG car in Reno and drove it back to Utah. Had to fill in Tahoe, Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Barstow, Las Vegas, Cedar City and Orem. About 1200 miles that direction. Makes me appreciate the dual-fuels.
    2004 Toyota Avalon bi-fuel
    2013 Tesla Model S 85


    • #3
      Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

      When you guys say 'Bakersfield' do you mean the School District or PGE?
      02 GX
      01 GX
      03 Crown Vic
      06 GX
      Home Fueler


      • #4
        Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

        Wesetern Energetix had their CNG pump open, but it was the dreaded $3.29 price. They make no apology for it, saying that it is very expensive to operate and that they are the only station around.

        The South Lake Tahoe station was a lot cheaper -- I remember it being around $2.00 a gallon but forget now. So if you are going to go to South Lake Tahoe but stay in Reno, it's better to just fill up in Auburn on the way up I-80 and then fill up again once you reach South Lake Tahoe for the cheaper gas.

        As far as Bakersfield is concerned, I fill up at the PG&E station. I haven't been to the school district one mainly because it is further off the freeway (the PG&E one is right off the freeway and very easy to access).



        • #5
          Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

          Sounds like a nice road trip, gives me hope of someday taking the GX up to Tahoe. Only problem now is lack of space for a family of 4 with ski gear

          Honda are you listening, how about an accord with a bit more trunk space? I guess I'll have to have a roof rack with basket to carry some of the gear.


          • #6
            Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

            Hey Skier Rob . . . loved the trip details for your ski trip!!

            Picture of snow-covered cng pump is so cool . . . post other pics you might have!!

            Spread the word on benefits of clean cng. Maybe some day Honda will introduce bi-fuel Pilot or Odyssey and you'll have the ultimate ski vehicle.


            • #7
              Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

              I take my GX skiing all the time to Big Bear, Mt. High, Baldy and the other Socal ski areas. I've also taken it to Kirkwood and Bear Valley in Central California (filling up in Stockton both ways) and to South Lake Tahoe a few times. Especially driving to Big Bear, it's great to drop by the Riverside City CNG station to get their really cheap fuel!

              What I want to try next is to get from my brother's house in the SF East Bay to Dodge Ridge, which is a ski area I used to love to go to when I was younger. It's a bit further away than Kirkwood or Bear Valley, and I know I am always pushing it CNG wise when I go to either of them as they are each about 105 - 110 miles away one way from the Stockton CNG pump and that pump is only 3000 psi. I generally return from Kirkwood or Bear Valley with only 2-3 bars still lit up on the fuel gauge (thank god for the great mpg you get going back DOWN the mountain.... LOL!)

              I have some pictures I need to find of my car with chains on it just covered in snow at several ski areas... I will post some of them when I find them.

              The car does handle well in the mountains... I have yet to have any issues with loss of traction in the snow (ok, now I need to find a piece of wood to knock on!)

              PS... yes, the GX is small, but if you have only two people you can put the skis in a ski bag the back seat with one end of the skis on the floor of the passenger side and the other end of the skis up by the ceiling of the car on the driver's side.

              But, if anyone has found a good ski rack that works well with a Honda Civic LX / GX, let me know! I know Honda definitely doesn't make one and I was very disappointed with the one 3rd party ski rack I bought and quickly returned about a year ago.



              • #8
                Re: Long Beach to SF, then Reno and back

                Great info. Interesting you chose to go to Bakersfield, then over the 5, up to Stockton. I wonder how many bars remain at that point?