Lessons Learned from our first Cross Country EV Trip

Read the trip from the beginning, click here.

Missed Day 23, click here.

On the map, blue is our Eastbound journey and yellow is Westbound.23_Road Trip Full Map LB to LB

Hopes and Dreams

When we made this journey of 8,245 miles, in 23 days, through 26 states (including California),

Our mileage when we left on Day One.

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Our mileage upon our return home.

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we had a very short list in our plan, not necessarily in this order:

1) Get to Copley, Ohio by May 8 or 9.

2) Get to New Jersey, then figure out where to go from there.

3) Reach the Atlantic Ocean. I wanted to get a photograph of our Model S with the Atlantic in the background. After all, we were inspired by the Tesla Road Trip guys – Reach the Beach EVent in Maryland.

4) Help out the Teslarati guys with content for their beta of the (now released) Teslarati App for iOS.

5) Have fun. (Definitely need to include this on the plan, otherwise you’re just driving.)

We made some goals on what we would like to achieve from this adventure.

1) I would love to be a “Random Model S” that is spotted on Tesla Motors Club Forums.

2) Living in Southern California and not being a “nature” dude, I am always amazed by the many beautiful pictures that have been published on the Model S Nature thread on teslamotorsclub.com. I wanted to post a few shots that is worthy of that thread.

3) Meet some of the folks that I’ve known via social media, forums, and the like “in real life.”

4) Talk EVs/Tesla/Renewable Energy to as many people as I can.  Let people know about the resources available to them in the EV community, sites like Transport Evolved and Teslarati.  Groups like Plug in America or Adopt A Charger (though I think the latter is more California-focused.)  I wanted to also let folks know about the Napkin Math (series that I wrote a few years ago post 1, post 2, post 3, and post 4) and the $0.0085 per mile it costs us to drive EV with Solar on our roof vs. the $0.22 to $0.25 per mile on our SUV.

With those plans and goals in mind, we packed with the idea of being on the road for about 2 weeks, give or take.

Observations and Lessons Learned

One of the things that really stuck out to me on this drive is the dearth of motorcycle traffic on our drive coast to coast. In Southern California, I often notice the multitude of motorcycles that buzz by on the road and in traffic. Additionally, California specifically provides motorcycle riders lane splitting rights. Having grown up as a driver in California, it is second nature to me to be constantly on the lookout for a motorcycle rider to be beside me in my lane. Now, this was not such a challenge in the Active E or Roaster, but it is definitely a little more difficult with the Model S.

I can count on our fingers, and not even having to resort to our toes, the number of random motorcycle riders that we have seen on our journey. Heck, even if we add Zero Motorcycle riding Ben Rich to our list, we still don’t need to use our toes to count the minuscule number of motorcycles that we’ve seen on this journey. Perhaps it has to do with the transition from Winter to Summer or just the time and roadways that we were on. I found it strange.

Additionally, when we did share the roadways with motorcycles, the riders that we encountered behaved differently from what I expected. They stayed in the lane, and would pass like cars but with some really tight distance between cars, almost pseudo-lane splitting. For that matter, I suppose a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for those visiting California from other states is to expect our California riders to take full advantage of the multitude of motorcycles and expect them to pass you in between lanes while you sit parked in traffic or even moving at a slow pace. Remember to give motorcycle riders some space.

Another observation that we had on the trip is that emergency numbers for mobile telephones in each state changes. It’s not just 911 -*NHP (*647) is an example of what is used in Nevada. We did not need to report any issues throughout our ride, thankfully, so didn’t test to see if 911 ALSO would work. However, typically these reporting numbers are on signs as you enter the state and throughout the journey. So, make a mental note as you enter various states that the reporting number

One thing that we carry on our person, as a general rule, is service with three different mobile networks for our voice and data use. We’ve found that this policy is especially useful when traveling cross-country. We have devices from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Virgin Mobile (Sprint). This diversity of providers have proven quite useful for ensuring that we are connected “with the rest of the world” throughout a majority of our drive. Since we cancelled all hotels after Day 1 and planned to “play it by ear.” This carrier diversity ensured that we’re able to book lodging throughout the drive. I suppose we could have taken this one step further and swapped out AT&T for Verizon since the Model S comes with access to the AT&T network, but we didn’t do that.

We spent a lot of time paying attention to weather along the route. This gave us a good gauge of what to expect and plan accordingly. Aside from the built in weather apps on our mobile devices, Twitter is useful, the Weather Channel or CNN have dedicated Twitter feeds for this.

We didn’t check the message boards (either TMC or Tesla’s own forums) and this could have been helpful. After we returned from the trip, there was a posting on Tesla’s forums about the roads to and from Lusk being washed out on June 5, 2015 that would have put a big stop to the whole trip had it happened while we were traveling there. I think that Wyoming way be in the process of repairing the damage now, but it just goes to show that there are many places for information.

Speaking of Lusk, we remind travelers to remember to allot time for construction zones. Especially when traveling on warmer months. Much of the country try to do their road repair during the warm months, so that means what would be a high speed route can be slowed down by construction zones.

One thing that you could lose by being a traveler and not a local is emergency alerts and amber alerts on mobile devices tend to go off for those devices in their home area only. When we were at dinner in New Jersey on Day 15 a bunch of the mobile devices went off with what sounded like the Emergency Alert tone. We found out later that a tornado warning was issued for the Morristown area. So, there’s that. (And remember, we are carrying three mobile provider devices.)

Absent planning to spend the night at a destination charger or at a supercharger location, one of the common places that we look for lodging in are college or university towns. When doing this strategy, pay attention to the particular school’s calendar, i.e. graduations, football games, and the like do tend to increase the cost of staying at particular locations.

When you do stay the night at a supercharger located hotel, plan to just charge the next morning while you get ready for your day (and remember to put your contact information on the car, in case the SC gets filled up (like the EV Card from Plug-in-America or the cool handy dandy “hotel” inspired charger tags).) Figure with the overnight vampire loss, you’ll make up for it in the morning.

Besides, we like to be able to charge with more range so as to provide ourselves with the flexibility to not only make the next supercharger, but also to do things, like “get off the the Interstate” or just go to a location that is not necessarily “along the way.”

Pack some thank you cards.  Especially when planning on “crashing” over at people’s homes. A little consideration goes a long way.

Lastly, bring coins.  You never know when you’ll need to use it for either tolls (Garden State Parkway automated toll booths, anyone?) or parking meters.

Back Home

Since Southern California service centers are pretty full, we made a note of all the things we wanted our local service center to look at and made our appointment on the road before we got home.

So, what did we have our local service center do when we returned?

A bit, actually.  Here is the list that we sent them, followed by their response.

1) We had them replace the gasket (again) on the front passenger side (which shredded on trip and was replaced by Syosset Center) because it was bubbling up.

The original problem looked just like what happened when we picked up the car from the factory.

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Service Center Response: The service center replaced this gasket again.

2) Aside from the issue in St. Louis on Day 20, there have been numerous out of service (no Edge or 3G when there IS AT&T service (we have an iPhone 4 on same network). It seems that the modem going out). We had to tether to my T-Mobile)).

Service Center Response: They also replaced the modem.

3) As we mentioned on Day 20, the St. Charles, MO location, the frunk got stuck numerous times and we had to use manual release.

Service Center Response: Frunk adjusted.

4) We had the wiper blades replaced.

Service Center Response: Wiper blades replaced.

5) The latch on the bend of the rear center console is broken.

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Service Center Response: The service center took the broken one back and a replacement was drop shipped to our home.

6) The water condensation in the rear lights was happening again.

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Service Center Response: The service center applied the “new” fix. apparently the original fix was flawed.

7) Had them check the tires, including the spare in the frunk. We also requested the Tire Tote that we saw on the website.

Service Center Response: Tires checked. We purchased the Tire Tote (see below.)

8) The steering wheel has a “rash” on the bottom part of it.

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Service Center Response: Steering wheel replaced.

9) There looks to be a water spot in the rear driver passenger side corner. We went through some inclement weather and wonder where the leak came from. (see picture, it’s more evident in person).

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Service Center Response: They performed a leak and water test and could not figure out where the stain came from. They did clean the stain.

10) The air conditioning does not seem to cool as quickly as it used to.

Service Center Response: Coolant recharged.

When we set out on the drive, we originally packed the car with our spare wheel and tire. The good folks at our local service center put the wheel and tire in a plastic bag and we put that in the frunk.

It looked fine, but didn’t really “show it off.”

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So, one of the things that we picked up from the service center was the Tire Tote that we found out about during one of our supercharging stops

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It is so much easier to stow and remove the tire and wheel with this tote.

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Additionally, one thing that we should have rolled out with is a small set of our car wash kits, towels, etc. We brought some of our towels, but forgot the car wash fluids at home. We did get stuff drop-shipped when we were visiting family, so that came in handy, but it was still something we should’ve planned for.

Plans achieved

How did we do on executing our small list of non-prioritized plans?

1) Get to Copley, Ohio by May 8 or 9.

Response: I would say. We got there a day early.

2) Get to New Jersey, then figure out where to go from there.

Response: Decided on New England with the guys in New Jersey. Saw a “Summer Cottage” in Rhode Island; had lobster in Maine, and visited (and christened the CHAdeMO) Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Vermont.

3) Reach the Atlantic Ocean. I wanted to get a photograph of our Model S with the Atlantic in the background. After all, we were inspired by the Tesla Road Trip guys – Reach the Beach EVent in Maryland.

Response: Took a photo of the Model S with the Atlantic Ocean at York Beach, ME.

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4) Help out the Teslarati guys with content for their beta of the (now released) Teslarati App for iOS.

Response: We definitely did this. We even stopped off at a bunch of superchargers that we didn’t need to, like the one in Angola, Indiana on Day 6.

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5) Have fun. (Definitely need to include this on the plan, otherwise you’re just driving.)

Response: That we did.

From our first day of our adventure,

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during our trip, even when we were late Night supercharging stop,

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or just at a rest stop.

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Even when the winds are blowing hard and I’m experiencing “bad” hair toward the end of our trip.

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Or enjoying my idea of a good “hike” at Arches National Park.

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We had fun.

Goals Reached

How about those five goals that we had for the trip.

1) I would love to be a “Random Model S” that is spotted on Tesla Motors Club Forums.

Result: Though we turned quite a few heads, had our own “Random Model S” sightings (where we’re the ones to spot and post the other Model S), our car was never someone else’s “Random Model S” on TMC.

2) Living in Southern California and not being a “nature” dude, I am always amazed by the many beautiful pictures that have been published on the Model S Nature thread on teslamotorsclub.com. I wanted to post a few shots that is worthy of that thread.

Result: I think we did a good gradual set of posts here. With plenty of photographs that we can now share.

We ranged from our first silly one from the St. George Supercharger.

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To getting closer to nature, but not quite there…

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To some thread worthy ones from Utah that we still have to pick from and share on that TMC thread.

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3) Meet some of the folks that I’ve known via social media, forums, and the like “in real life.”

Result: Done, missed a few, but there is always a “next trip.”

4) Talk EVs/Tesla/Renewable Energy to as many people as I can….

Result: Definitely. Remember the day at Sustainable Morristown?

The goal that I (Dennis) have every day and is usually strained by the stress of a long trip is “stay married.” 😉

Result: I am happy to report, and is usually the first thing we answer to our friends when they ask, how did the trip go? – We’re still married. 😉

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We finally got that Pacific Ocean view with the Model S that we tried to do on our return.

Where are we off to next? We don’t know and I will continue to post sporadically on the blog. Best plan is to either just subscribe to the blog and be notified via email (there’s a choice to do so in the sidebar) or follow me on Twitter, I tend to auto-tweet new posts there.

We have a few “short trips” to the Bay Area planned. After missing the first two years of Teslive/TMC Connect, we’ll be in Santa Clara for this year’s event, so stop by and say “Hi.”

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Dennis

rEVolutionary armed with a Tesla Model S S85 and a Tesla Roadster, when his wife let's him borrow it. Formerly driving a BMW Active E (2012-Feb to 2014-Feb). Dennis has been driving EVs since he found himself on the BMW Active E trials on February 2012. As a result of his involvement in the Active E program, he became Accidentally Environmental. Aside from this blog, he often tweets @dennis_p. When not driving, he can be found on the following Tesla/EV forums - teslamotorsclub.com, teslamotors.com, and model3ownersclub.com as AEdennis or on speakev.com as Dennis. In the interest of full disclosure, Dennis has an inherent bias toward electric vehicles and has an investment in and is LONG Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA).

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