Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Road Trippin

We drove 2800.4 miles, using 976.8 kWh at an average of 349 Wh/mi over six days.
In my previous vehicle this would have meant about $622 in gasoline.  We paid about 41 dollars for electricity during our trip.  All of the superchargers were free.  One of the RV parks charged us $7.50 and the other $10.  One public charger charged us $18.50 and one charged us $5.  The rest were free. If we were paying for all of the electricity ourselves, at an average rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour we would have paid $97.68.  Two of the public chargers we used acquired all of their electricity from sustainable sources, such as solar or wind energy.  Soon all of the superchargers will be solar powered.

We went through nine different states, temperatures varied 77 degrees and elevation went from 2000 to 13,000 feet.

We only got in one argument.

I've eluded to this before, but I have to say this trip completely renewed my interest in and love for road trips.  We live in a friggin' gorgeous country and what better way to see it than on the ground in an emission free vehicle.  I loved traveling through all the small towns and even ghost towns at times.  Stopping every 2-4 hours to charge meant we became more intimately familiar with our surroundings then we would normally.

In the past few years, particularly with the price of gasoline, my road trips turned into hard-charging, marathon trips driving the furthest distance in the least amount of time possible in order to arrive at my destination.  Because you are required to stop, even if it's just a brief supercharge stop, the whole attitude of the trip changes.  You take in your surroundings and get to taste the culture of the places you are driving through.

Beyond all of the environmental and psychologic benefits, I have to say, I think traveling this way is healthier.  Usually on road trips I end up eating fast food, feeling claustrophobic, cramped and antsy, sleeping poorly and arriving dehydrated, bloated and exhausted at my final destination.  Stopping every few hours meant I could drink as much water as I wanted without being annoyed by having to stop and use the restroom and "waste time".  Charging for an hour meant we could sit down for a normal meal, stretch our legs and walk around.  And switching drivers with a break every few hours meant we were more alert and well-rested for each leg of our drive.

As my husband said this morning, "I kind of want to turn around and drive back... just a little bit".

Brewtus Returns to his Birthplace

The last couple portions of our trip were pretty uneventful.  Which for me is good, but for you all means boring.  We stopped in Indio, California to buffer our charge (again at a Nissan dealership) and have dinner.  We lost track of time and were almost full by the time we left, which meant we could make it all the way home.  One last bit of excitement was driving through a big wind farm near Joshua Tree National Park.  They always look so eerie/awesome at night with their synchronized air field of red lights.  We considered stopping at Hawthorne to charge up full, but our bed was calling our names pretty loudly, so we headed to our new home together.  Plus, we're in Brutus' homeland now.  There are electrons waiting to eaten around every corner.

E and I practicing our positivity faces earlier in the trip

Sun setting with California in the distance

Quartzite, AZ to Indio, CA
122.8 miles traveled, 41.8 kWh, 340 Wh/mi

Indio to Culver City, CA
139.9 miles
44.6 kWh
319 Wh/mi

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Last Supercharge!

Quartzsite was our fifteenth and last supercharger before we hit home.  With eight stalls it was the biggest we had seen yet.  I wasn't impressed with the Carl's Jr location though, so instead we broke into our survival salsa.  At this point, I think it's safe to say we're going to make it.

Survival Salsa -- glad it wasn't necessary

Quartzsite Supercharger (#15!)

Phoenix to Quartzsite, AZ
139.1 miles traveled
47 kWh used at a rate of 338 Wh/mi

Phoenix Sun

We dropped almost 4500 feet coming into Phoenix, getting far beyond "ideal range".  Beyond that the temperature also went up to 72 degrees.  We were both shedding layers at this point and Brewtus was so happy he didn't know what to do with himself.  Another surprise was that towards the bottom of the hill we actually were getting "tire pressures too high" readings.  I had been getting some tire pressure low readings with the low temps in Chicago and my tires had been checked and, I assume, filled.  We left Gallup earlier today at 10 degree temperatures and 6500 feet and had underwent a 62 degree temperature increase, not to mention coming down to 2-3000 feet elevation after hitting 13,000 foot elevations the day before.  I know our tires were likely very warm from all the driving, and perhaps even from the steep declines (though we used regen, not actual brakes -- which I think is sort of like engine-breaking in electric car world), but I was more worried about them popping, so I suggested we pull over and measure them.  They were all at about 60psi, with the recommendation being 51psi.  We put them down to 55, figuring it was a good warm tire median and didn't have any more problems.  Phoenix was chock-full of chargers, so we avoided going further into town and stopped at the first place along the interstate.  Since we killed it getting to Phoenix, leaving so much of our range left, we had just a brief charging stop before getting back on the road to Quartzsite.

There was one detail I forgot about on the last leg.  We actually got pulled over on our way to Flagstaff.  (Another snag in New Mexico before I escaped).  My Illinois registration expired in December.  Since the notice I received said it wasn't late until the end of January, I figured I would just get new tags when I arrived in California and immediately forgot about the fact that they were expiring.  Fortunately the police officer sympathized with my logic and since my tags were only about two weeks expired and our packed Model S demonstrated the fact I was moving, he let us off with a warning and a story about how he found it funny that Teslas weren't yet registered as an existing car in their computer system.  //shrug

Flagstaff to Phoenix, AZ
Distance traveled 129 miles.
Total energy: 29.9 kWh.
Average rate was 232 Wh/mi.
Temperature in Phoenix

Brewtus kicking up the dust in Arizona

Found Brewtus and E relaxing in the sun at a rest stop

Trip Recovery

I woke up this morning still somewhat grumpy.  New Mexico had soured me and I was ready to get to our destination.  We woke up just about fully charged and headed out towards Flagstaff.  There wasn't much to look at along the drive - vastly different from the awe-inspiring sites I had been spoiled by thus far.  E suggested I take a nap - smart guy.  Of note, Tesla did contact us and have Gallup up and running before we even ate breakfast.  Apparently we were (once again) the first ones to attempt to charge there and it wasn't quite ready.  As my husband put it, "we are driving on the razor's edge of development".

We drove through miles and miles of dead grass and nary a soul (or bathroom) in sight.  E was appropriately listening to Route 66 by Nat King Cole and Take It Easy by the Eagles as we were passing all of the towns and cities mentioned in the lyrics.  Eventually I had to eat my words as Arizona redeemed itself and our scenery once again turned unbelievably beautiful.  As the sights, temperature and distance we were covering improved, so did my mood and I was reminded to enjoy the journey.  We reached Flagstaff and plugged in at our fastest rate yet -- 289 mph of charge.  The temperature was above 50 degrees and I took my winter jacket off to be packed away.

The hotel lounge was extremely comfortable, but we didn't get to stay long before we headed south to Phoenix.  The plan is to buffer up in Phoenix (which is full of chargers, but no supercharger yet) and then make it to Quartzite where our next supercharge is waiting.

Flagstaff, AZ Supercharger

Gallup, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
184.5 miles traveled
61.2 kWh used
rate of 332 Wh/mi
arrived at 1055
Temp is 52*F

(Un)lucky Number Thirteen

We left Farmington with the plan to stop for a partial charge at Gallup and then get to Flagstaff before the night's end.  The Flagstaff Supercharger is at a Courtyard Marriott.  Originally I was kind of annoyed at having so many Superchargers in hotel parking lots.  Though usually only a block or two, it means walking to the surrounding restaurants while you charge.  As I realized what staying at the hotel would mean, my whole attitude changed.  We could plug in and leave -- just park and go straight into the hotel without waiting for our charge beforehand.  Likely we'd set our charge limit to 90% and restart charging for the last bit (via the app on our phone) while we get ready in the morning so as not to sit with an overly full battery all night.  We were getting tired of driving at this point, so I was really looking forward to that.  The scenery was no longer sparking interest and it was past dark.

We pulled into the Gallup Supercharger with about 40 miles of rated range.  The Hampton Inn sign proudly displayed "Welcome Tesla".  We parked, plugged in to what was fittingly our thirteenth supercharger of the trip aaand... nothing.  The all too familiar alert chime binged and the screen indicated "Unable to Charge - Software Incompatible".  Errgh.  Gallup had four supercharger posts so we proceeded to repark and try each individually -- except one, at which a Mercedes was parked.  Grrr.  This also happened to be the first time I've seen another car parked in one of the Tesla spots.  As we hit the last one and received the same error, E was already on the phone with tech support - the number is listed on the superchargers.  It was just about midnight by this time and I was reconciling the fact that we would be staying in Gallup.  Tech support went through a few things, but was unable to fix the problem within the couple minutes we were on the phone, so they said they would contact engineering and get back to us.

We headed inside the Marriott, grumpy and overly ready for a good night's sleep, but we didn't make it very far.  Plastered on the front door was a sign indicating they were all full for the night - no rooms.  Just our luck.  I decided since we were staying the night, we might as well get some charge while we're at it.  So instead of looking for the next hotel, I looked to see if there was a charge site nearby.  Luckily there was an RV park less than a mile down the street.  We headed that way to check it out.

After passing the RV park twice (all the lights were off), we finally found it and pulled in.  The owner came out, she was familiar with EV's charging at her site, took $10 and led us to a 50-amp site.  We plugged in, confirmed we were receiving a strong current and then moseyed over to a hotel around the corner.  I had toyed with the idea of popping a tent for the night (we brought one as part of our just-in-case supplies), but E wasn't having it.  Even though it was a short walk to the hotel, it was quite miserable as the temperature outside dropped to 10 degrees that night.  Wasn't this supposed to be the south?  I had left warmer temperatures in Chicago.  Also, the hotel was a little run-down and seemed sketchy.  I was miffed about what should have been my perfectly convenient plug-in and comfortable stay in Flagstaff.  To make matters worse, my app was having difficulty connecting with the car and I was sure we were going to pop the breaker and stop charging overnight, seeing as how our luck was running.

In my foul mood and with the charging issues, I forgot to take down our stats.

Brewtus with his RV buddies in the morning.

Back on Route

We left the RV park in Dolores and had to make the choice to go through Durango where there were known charging options, or go the route our Navigation was suggesting, straight to the Farmington Supercharger.  The 'straight' route was about 85 miles distance and we had 95 miles of range.  Cutting it close, but topography-wise, it looked like through Durango was more mountainside, whereas south to Farmington was (hopefully) a lot of downhill.  At this point we were getting kind of tired and my desire to just get where I wanted to go was overriding my desire to make safe decisions, so we took the Farmington route.

Luckily, my topography guestimate was correct and we arrived in Farmington surpassing our rated range with 21 miles to spare.  Personally, I did not like Farmington.  The supercharger was a little ways off the highway and there are all sorts of speed traps down to 25 mph in some areas, making it seem like it took forever to get there.  We took a short (though cold) walk to Chili's and had dinner.  We actually ended up getting our salads to go, because we were done charging before we were done eating.  I was glad to be back on the Supercharger route.  It's easy to adapt to having 120,000 watts waiting for you at the next stop.

Farmington Supercharger

Dolores to Farmington
88.1 miles
22.3 kWh
253 Wh/mi

Monday, January 13, 2014

Plan B

The superchargers thus far have taken most of the decision making out of our trip.  Without supercharging, road trips in an EV can be incredibly tenuous depending on your resources and decision making skills.  It can be fatiguing constantly watching your rated range, projected range, average Wh/mi, temperature, elevation and distance and judging based on all of these variables whether you'll roll into your intended destination at a normal driving speed, at a comfortable cabin temperature, or whether you might be freezing your toes off, crawling along, or (augh) arrive on a tow truck, like Brewtus did last January.  Beyond these variables, you also have to choose your sites carefully.  Is it open?  Is the plug actually working?  How much power does it deliver?  Do you have the correct adapter?  These are questions you need to find the answers to; however, often the people you are asking are not familiar with electric vehicles at all or with what you are asking.  They may not be able to give you an answer, or even worse, sometimes the provide you with a wrong answer.  So sometimes you just have to hedge your bets and go for it.  This is the whole element of "range anxiety".  This is what deters people from buying electric vehicles (other than that many of them have been pretty funny looking before Tesla).  Fortunately, it is beginning to be a thing of the past.  But even with Tesla, which moves at warp speeds, change can feel not fast enough.

We hit our first major obstacle today.  Here's what went down.  

There are two superchargers between Grand Junction, CO and Farmington, NM that are under construction, but have not yet opened.  We had a few options.  One was to take a back route through more of Colorado starting at Silverthorne and going down through Salida, to Pagosa Springs to Farmington.  The place was teeming with chargers listed on plugshare.  Apparently around this area of the country the J-plugs are starting to get better as well - many of them providing 70amp service.  Around the same time we were making this decision, we were actually contacted by a local owner through the Tesla Motors Club forum.  He had personally been a strong impetus in getting two of these chargers installed -- one in Salida at Wood's High Mountain Distillery (with a tasting room) and another at Pagosa Springs - a rental agency very close to the hot springs in the area (and with beautiful mountain views).  Upon hearing of the locations, I turned to my husband and said, "These are my people!".  

All joking aside though, I do feel comfortable in the EV owner and particularly Tesla owner community.  Many of them are just really good people.  Plus they're a fun and adventurous lot as well.  This is far from the first time an owner has gone out of their way to contact me (or other owners)  and offer assistance.  Beyond that they're always using their own personal skills to promote Tesla and make the experience better for all of us -- like this map (so much more useful and informative than the one on the Tesla Supercharger site), this commercial, aftermarket products and modifications and all the other random equations or info regarding apps, tips and tricks they offer the community.  As I've eluded to before, you may find your entitled gimme-gimme owners, but you won't find any other car manufacturer with it's customers so willing to go to battle to protect and promote Tesla's brand.  But, I've rambled on about my appreciation and love for Tesla before (like here), so I'll end rant.

Our originally plan was to take the Whiskey and Hot Springs route above; however, the Distillery/charger in Salida was closed (we spoke with one of the owners who was out of town).  We decided to instead continue along the supercharger route to Grand Junction and then make our way down to Farmington.  We figured a supercharger and a known hotel would make a better option at this point in our trip.

As I noted in my last post, we ended up staying at Grand Junction last night instead of Farmington and instead headed south this morning.  Farmington is 216 miles from Grand Junction - definitely a push for Brewtus through cold temps and unknown mountainside.  With plugshare we did find a great transit stop about 40 miles prior to Farmington though with SIX J1772 plugs.  And they're free!  So we figured we'd play it safe (stayin' alive at 55!), the sun was shining (no HVAC!), try to make it to Farmington and if it's closed, stop at Durango to buffer the rest of the way.

Our trip was going great with plenty of both projected and rated range buffer, until around Ridgeway, where we came to a sign flashing "Red Mountain Pass closed due to rock slide".  Eek.  I quickly looked up bypass routes, but the best route I could find was still 147 miles long and our current range was reading 132.  Fail.  We turned around back to the small town diner where we had just eaten lunch.  Fortunately, E was functioning again (after a full day of antibiotics and prednisone) and while I searched the apps and map for options, he got out to ask the locals.  The first person he asked let him know that the Sheriff had texted her about the pass being closed, confirming it was the real deal.  Great luck - the second person he spoke to was a postman who knew the area well.  Gotta love small towns.  The postman detailed a route which ended up being the same exact route I had mapped out, but he also confirmed that a good portion of it was downhill (promising).  By the time E got back to the car I had also found a few RV parks along the route and after being shot down a couple times, found one with a 50amp spot open for us.

The decision was now to risk the new, largely unknown, route, or turn around, go back to Grand Junction, fill-up and take a new roundabout route through Utah.  We stopped at a gas station, filled up on "survival food" -- chips, salsa, a couple gallon jugs of water, beef jerky and ho-hos, in case we got stuck, and decided to go for it.

The route was beautiful.  We rolled into the RV park with 37 miles r-range left and Brewtus is tucked in charging while we are inside with our chips and salsa -- E answering emails and me blogging.  Just checked our range and we're good to go to Farmington, so we're off on the next leg of our journey.  Luckily Plan B was a success and we didn't have to go to C, D, or E.

Even in good weather, shit happens.

Our saving grace.

Grand Junction to Dolores, CO
Distance 190 miles, using 61.6 kWh at an average of 324 Wh/mi

Addendum -- WHAT!  Just refreshed the Tesla site and the Blanding, Utah supercharger opened while we've been sitting here.  Blargh!!

Supercharge City

We blew through Silverthorne, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction fairly quickly.  The superchargers are only about 90 miles apart and we didn't have to stop long before we had more than double the range necessary and took off.

In Silverthorne, the superchargers are at an Outlet mall.  The weather was still very windy and snowy so we didn't venture out except to use the restroom and wave at our neighbors before we took off with 187 miles of R-Range.  Of note, the temperature also varied wildly during our trip.  We left Denver with temps in the 40s and the sun shining.  Not more than an hour or two later the temperature was in the single digits and the snow and wind were swirling around us.  I'm sure the people who live here are used to it, but I found it pretty amazing.  We saw numerous points where all commercial vehicles were required to stop and put chains on their tires.  Fortunately Brewtus did just fine in the snow, despite only being rear-wheel drive.  His weight and the precision with which the motor is able to control the wheel speed keeps him steady.

Silverthorne Supercharger

Chain-up Boys!

Silverthorne to Glendwood Springs
Traversed 92.7 miles, using 24.2 kWh at an average rate of 262 Wh/mi.
Arrived at 1852 in 28*F.

Glenwood Springs Supercharger was at a Marriott.  The supercharger spots hadn't been plowed, but did their job just fine.  We popped into the hotel to grab a lemonade and were back on our way.

Glenwood Springs Supercharger

Glenwood Springs to Grand Junction
95.3 miles, 32.5 kWh at 341 Wh/mi

Originally I had hoped to make it to Farmington, NM, but with our very late start and the weather, we decided to hit it early and stay in Grand Junction.  We refueled at an Outback while Brewtus had his dinner at the supercharger and hit the hotel.

Plenty of room for friends at the newly opened Grand Junction Supercharger

The City of the Green Smoke

We spent the night in Denver, CO, arriving late after charging at a slower charger in Fort Collins.  We were hoping to have enough energy to make it to the Silverthorne Supercharger in the morning; however, that's not how it worked out.  The hotel staff told us they didn't know of any exterior plugs and seemed knowledgeable; however, in the morning we did notice a 110 plug by the exterior door.  If we would have been able to plug in overnight it would have made all the difference.  The morning ended up being a huge run-around.  E's sinus infection was turning for the worse with a severe headache and unbearable pressure and pain in his face, despite loading him up on decongestants and analgesics.  The city was abuzz with Broncos fans and traffic was blocked off in some areas.  We ran around to a few different urgent care centers, all closed or with long waits, before we found an open Take Care clinic and jumped on the waiting list.  I was hoping to find a Walgreens Take Care clinic that had an EV plug as well (as many of them do), but unfortunately, the two we found with plugs had closed their clinics for the day.  I dropped him off and went to find a nearby plug.  Plugshare, unfortunately, took me to an empty lot where a firestation and J1772 was supposed to be.  I then went downtown to the cultural center where a lovely parking garage provided free electricity with a well-endowed J1772 and just $5 for parking.  I tucked Brewtus in and headed to a cafe to wait for E.  He was having his own troubles.  He ended up taking an Uber to meet me, but got dropped off at the wrong location and had to walk.  Although we didn't get an early start like I wanted, the morning ended in good spirits as E got the treatment he needed and our lunch at Mad Greens was absolutely delicious.  They also had a coffee shop and Wifi so the almost two hours during which we charged went by quickly.

We stayed at the cafe until Brewtus has about 120 miles rated range on him.  We had looked up the elevation to Silverthorne realizing we were about to double our current elevation in Denver.  The charger was only about 60 miles away, but I wasn't sure what to expect.  Thank goodness we did.

We did decide to make a pit stop along the way.  We saw on Plugshare a pizza joint that had installed two J1772 plugs powered off wind and solar power.  What a cool place!  The pizza place was huge and rustic.  It was also very busy. We would have loved to stick around if we had been hungry.  They covered the entire place with solar panels as well as an Antique store next door where the plugs were located.  Brewtus found his first charging neighbor - an owner in Breckinridge who was pausing before his drive to Denver.  We were questioning why he would have needed to stop in Idaho Springs to charge, assuming he would have had a full charge from Silverthorne, but we soon found out.

The climb to Silverthorne continued to be almost completely uphill, burning through all of our charge.  We were using more than 2 rated-range miles per actual distance mile.  Brewtus was performing flawlessly, but in doing so, he was also vomiting kilowatts all over the mountainside.  On top of it, apparently we were coming through right after a "straight-up blizzard" as the kids at the Marriott in Silverthorne called it.  There were lots of snow drifts and the route was slow-going.  Even worse - the road in the opposite direction was a complete parking lot -- likely why our neighbor had stopped to charge, or at least to get out of the car.

Turns out this was one of my favorite portions of the drive.  The scenery was gorgeous as we passed all the top ski resorts.  We were listening to classical music and the ebb and flow of the music seemed to match the road and traffic.  This, along with the billowing snow drifts, made the whole experience surreal.

As we got close, I was getting nervous.  We were down to 16 miles R-Range and 12 miles of distance and were burning through it at a much faster ratio.  Our average Wh/mi was well over 600.  Fortunately, that happened to also be exactly when we hit about 11,000 feet and stopped climbing.  The rest of the trip into Silverthorne was downhill and using just regen (regenerative braking) down the hill, we actually arrived with 19 miles of range to spare.

Charging in Idaho Springs at Beau Jo's Pizza

E states, "This is the only time I've ever questioned our panoramic glass roof." as he is peering up at the rock walls surrounding us.

Listening to Bach Cello Suite #1 (Prelude) as we wind around, the Funeral March as traffic slows almost to a stop and the Carmen Overture as we hit the top.

Parking lot to our left.

Brewtus' view on the trip.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tumbleweed and Moo-Cows

Heading out of Rapid City I was a little worried about range, because it’s difficult to judge how hilly our route will be and it’s effect on the range.  I can honestly say the drive today was an absolute joy.  We climbed out of Rapid City towards Lusk, WY and the sunshine and above freezing temperatures provided us with plenty of range without even needing the HVAC.  The entire drive was gorgeous and I found myself itching to pull over and soak it all in numerous times.  The tiny towns and intersections we passed were interesting too and brought to mind a handful of classic rock songs to which we then jammed out.  

In Lusk, the supercharger is located at the Covered Wagon Motel.  This is by far the most remote supercharger location we visited thus far.  We walked across the street to a little diner for lunch and just as we were about to pull out, the motel owners came by to greet us.  Apparently we were the first Customer MS to charge at Lusk and they were just as tickled as we were.  We shared our excitement over Tesla and headed out with a battery packed full of electrons – our fullest charge of the trip.  I made E wait until every last mile was added, because the next portion was going to be a doozy.

Between Lusk, WY and Silverthorne, CO is Cheyenne, WY; however, the Cheyenne Supercharger is (barely) not yet open.  This is the first stroke of bad luck this trip.  Fortunately there are some quick chargers in Fort Collins, just a little further south of Cheyenne.  It would just be a stretch to get there – or so I thought.  The 190 miles we covered is the longest distance thus far this trip, but with the temperatures reaching 50 degrees and the smooth roads, we made it with almost 60 miles to spare.  We actually got our rated range, even driving at 70+ mph.  Yeehaw! 

After a non-functioning charger at Discovery Museum, we ended up in Fort Collins at a Nissan dealership.  We chatted with the Nissan crew about Tesla and EVs in general for a while, then headed to BWW to catch the end of the game and grab some food.  We ate our wings back at Nissan while filling up and headed to Denver, CO for the night.  Of note, Nissan dealerships have always been super accommodating despite the fact that we are clearly not there because of any interest in purchasing one of their vehicles.  Remember my post from February 2013?  When I was in a tight spot with charging, they moved their own vehicles out of the way and put me inside in the showroom where they had another charger.  Good people.

Rapid City, SD to Lusk, WY
Traversed 152.7 miles, using 57.4 kWh at an average of 376 Wh/mi.
Arrived at 2:45pm in 48 degree weather.
Charged for a little over an hour and left at 254 miles of rated range.

Lusk, WY to Fort Collins, CO
Traversed 188 miles and arrived with 58 miles of rated range remaining.
Unfortunately I forgot to record the rest of the stats.

Lusk Supercharger

Soaking up the Scenery

Stone Faces

We awoke this morning, got a little juice at the supercharger and headed up into the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore.  I’m not sure this is a site we would ever see if we weren’t forced through town on the supercharger route, so we were pretty excited at the opportunity.  The morning was gorgeous.  Blue skies and sunshine followed us into the Black Hills and the sites along the way were interesting.  I can’t imagine trekking up that mountain to carve out four faces for 40 years.  It was a peaceful morning at the memorial and we only passed another couple as we were heading out.

We had arrived to Rapid City with about 50 miles remaining last night before  After the small amount of juicing and then driving to/from Mount Rushmore, we eventually settling into the supercharger (located at a mall - we grabbed a Sub in the food court) for a just-barely-shy-of-full charge of 245 miles rated range.  Time to head south.

Sunrise at Rapid City Supercharger

Quick visit to Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

What the Black Hills looks like from Brewtus' standpoint

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day 2, complete.

At 2:30am today when we were going to bed, I thought for sure we wouldn't make it to Rapid City.  But with the smooth-smooth-sailing today, here we are!  There was also a pleasant time change as we pulled in, which meant we'll get an extra hour of sleep tonight too.  Woot.

We charged in Murdo, SD at the supercharger.  It's located at Range Country Lodging, which was an interesting place.  It's pretty impressive outside and inside there is an exquisite display of stuffed dead animals (yikes).  We moved on fairly quickly.

I'm sure the drive to Rapid City would have been gorgeous if it was day time.  We passed a lot of signs indicating scenic lookout points, but it was pitch-black out.  I would have loved to see some of the Badlands as we were driving through.  Next time.

Mitchell, SD to Murdo, SD
Left at 1810 with 217 R-Range partial charge in 33 degree weather.
Drove 140.1 miles using 54.8 kWh at an average of 391 Wh/mi.
Charged on a supercharger for 53 minutes.
Left with 202 miles rated range.

Murdo, SD to Rapid City, SD
Drove 136.1 miles, using 56 kWh at 412 Wh/mi.

Day two was a success.  Supercharging makes this stuff easy.

The current Supercharger locations.  As you can see there is just one choice for our route form Chicago to Los Angeles.

Supercharger in Murdo, SD

The Coyote State

We've been traveling straight down the same road for about 7 hours now.  South Dakota reminds me of Nebraska, except with a few more trees.  Flat, flat, flat.

I jumped in the back to lie down and slept basically the entire way to Mitchell.  We folded down the back seat.  Combined with the trunk space it provides a pretty significant amount of room and we laid out a sleeping bag for the non-driver to take naps.

Good news -- since we've left Chicago, five more superchargers have opened!  The route after Glenwood Springs, CO has been keeping me up at night and now it looks much more do-able.  I wouldn't be surprised if another one or two open before we even get there.  Thank you, Tesla!

Mitchell didn't have much other than a Dairy Queen in the parking lot.  Luckily we didn't need to stay long.  28 minutes and a Reese blizzard later and we were on our way.  Looking at the stats, E totally schooled me on energy usage.  I'll blame it on the increase in temperature.

Here are the stats:
Worthington, MN to Mitchell, SD
127.8 miles traveled, using 45.8 kWh at an average of 359 Wh/mi.
Left with 222 miles R-Range, arrived with 63 left.
Charged for 28 minutes.
Left with a partial charge of 217 miles.
Temperature is 38*F.

What it looks like with someone lying down in the back.  Boxes/Clothes are stacked up on the passenger side along with our lemon tree.

Supercharging at Mitchell, SD.  Temperatures above 30 degrees feel like a heat-wave! 

Now we're rolling.

About to cross over into South Dakota.  I still can't get used to supercharging.  It's amazing.  My husband keeps having me guess how many miles we have at certain points while we're charging and I'm always way off.  I just guessed 49 and the actual number was 112.  Before we even got out of the car we had gotten 8 miles.  We went inside the restaurant, ordered a cup of soup, ate it and then got our burgers to go since we were already finishing charging.  You may have noticed we only got like 14 miles at the last spot... in 45 minutes.  We had more than that here before we even got inside.

Albert Lea, MN to Worthington, MN
116.5 miles traveled, using 46.5 kWh at an average of 399 Wh/mi.
Left with 176 miles R-Range, arrived with 14 left.
Charged for 45 minutes.
Left with a partial charge of 222 miles R-Range.
Temperature is 31*F.

so fast.

Brewtus is getting lonely at these superchargers.  Eventually we'll have a neighbor.

taste the sunlight.

We stayed out too late having fun with friends and chatting over (delicious) breakfast, so we didn’t get on the road until about 10:20am.  We left the car overnight in a parking garage about a mile away that has a chargepoint J1772. 

We left with a full charge of 245 miles in 24 degree weather.  We’re headed to the Worthington Supercharger, but since our range was cutting it close, we decided to stop and visit what looked like a cool charger at a local community college.  We didn't stay long -- just enough to ease my range anxiety, write this post and use the restroom.  

Rochester, MN to Albert Lea, MN
63 miles traveled, using 23.6 kWh.  Average Energy 374 Wh/mi.
Arrived with 164 miles R-Range
Charged for 45 minutes.
Left with 176 miles R-Range.

Riverland Community College's solar EV charger in Albert Lea, MN providing Brutus with his first taste of sunshine.

not my first rodeo.

Here we go again.  We drove from Chicago to Rochester, MN.  In January.  I must say, this time around was almost too easy.

I'm moving from Chicago to Los Angeles.  We put all of our belongings into a POD, shipped it off and (practically) all that is left is us and Brutus, our Tesla Model S.  We are leaving just a day after the Polar Vortex which has plummeted the temperatures in the midwest to well below zero.  During the days before we left, I would sometimes get close to half of my rated range, trying to keep the cabin at a comfortably warm temperature in negative 15 degree weather and make it to work on the icy, windy roads.  This did not help my last minute range anxiety.  My husband on the other hand is all butterflies and rainbows in regards to our range.  But, he has not really driven Brutus in the winter and he most definitely did not experience my last trip to Minnesota.  Like I said, this is not my first rodeo.

We are basically taking Elon's proposed LA to NY supercharger route, backwards.  We have been watching the supercharger map closely.  The first part of our trip will be pretty straight-forward.  We have one spot around Cheyenne, WY that is a little spotty and a lot of the last bit of the trip after Colorado.  Other than that we're just hoping for good weather and clear roads.

Our first day was an easy day.  We headed to Rochester, MN where we would visit with some friends and spend our first night.  We stopped first at the Rockford Supercharger to top-off and then hit Mauston, WI.  We could have made it from there, but we also stopped to fill-up in Onalaska.  The lesson I've learned is to charge when you can, and give yourself as much of a buffer as possible -- especially when it's ridiculously fast and free!

The superchargers have basically revolutionized driving an EV.  Well, driving a Tesla EV anyway.  We made it to Rochester in just a little over 7 hours, which is almost as fast as an ICE (internal combustion engine).  It was a leisurely drive without any range anxiety.  I actually think I will really enjoy "needing" to stop every 3-ish hours.  It's the perfect amount of time to get out, stretch your legs and not really get bogged down by the drive.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the trip.  Here are the stats so far.  I'm still figuring out what stats I need to write down in order for this to make sense, so bear with me.

Time Charger Temp *F kWh Miles Wh/mi Charge Time Drive Time
Elgin, IL Arrival 1/9/14, 0702 NEMA-1450 -5 start 8477.4 start 22752 373
Rockford, IL Arrival 748 Supercharger 0 15.1 38.6 390 46 min
Departure 237 r-range
Mauston, WI Arrival 1108 Supercharger 5 54.6 142.9 mi driven 382
Onalaska, WI Arrival 1241 Supercharger 5 25.3 65.2 mi driven 388
Departure 137 226 r-range
Rochester, MN Arrival 247 Chargepoint J1772 16 32.3 76.7 420 8+

Plugged in at Rockford.

Stopped by to check the progress in Madison, WI

"What's Shakin" -- at the supercharger in Mauston, WI

Last charging spot - Onalaska, WI