Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 04

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the fourth in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

Missed Day 3, click here.

Day 4 – Drive on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The ride’s been good so far, but today’s drive is one of those where we had no real goals, aside from helping our friends at Teslarati fill out the information on the Teslarati App for iOS. Our personal goal is to get to Minnesota, if we can make it to Wisconsin, even better. We didn’t book something specifically, but figured we would find a place “on the route.”

Hilton Garden Inn Rapid City

IMG_0747

The hotel and the accommodations were comfortable. At breakfast, I met a gentleman on a business trip and we spoke about traveling great distances in an EV. He was interested, but was on his way to a meeting.

IMG_20150505_100911

IMG_20150505_100917

We left the hotel at 236 Rated Miles in the morning. That meant that ten miles of range was lost by vampire losses overnight.

IMG_7894

IMG_7897

In driving through these areas, one would notice advertisements for Wall Drug. Apparently, one of the things that Wall Drug is known for is its “dinosaur.” Not really something we will be stopping for, but here’s a picture that we took while driving by the Wall Drug dinosaur. They label themselves as “America’s Favorite Roadside Attraction” but we opted to keep on driving.

IMG_7898

There was a sign we saw on this drive, after Wall Drug that was for the Minuteman National Historic Site.

If I had known earlier, we could’ve planned a stop here, but we were planning on using this day for a “drive as far as we can” day, so skipped it. Here’s a link to it, so if you happen to be by this way, you can tell us what you think.

Lots of grassland… Not even trees.

IMG_7899

Not much on the map between Rapid City and Murdo…

IMG_7901

Wait, is that a BLUE Water Tower… You can see how loopy we can get on long “empty” stretches of grassland.

IMG_7900

Murdo Supercharger

Finally got to Murdo!

The superchargers are right there…

IMG_7904

…but if you didn’t spot it from the road as we did, look for the two tall pines.

IMG_20150505_131647

IMG_20150505_131141

IMG_20150505_131137

IMG_20150505_131643

Got some great panoramics here.

IMG_0748

IMG_0749

The folks at the hotel were very friendly,

The hotel has nice and clean restrooms in the lobby. I was advised that the lobby is open until approximately midnight and may close earlier and may open close to 6am, but could open later. Especially in the winter.

The cell service in Murdo, SD on AT&T iPhone is 1 bar, nonexistent on Virgin/Sprint and T-Mobile is spotty. We don’t have Verizon, so I have no comment on that.

We switched drivers at Murdo, and the better half decided to drive the next leg or two… This freed me up to play with Periscope.

[Click on the image and let it play from the Flickr photostream]

IMG_0750

or play on YouTube –

There were lots of wide open spaces between Murdo, SD and Mitchell, SD.

IMG_20150505_145519

Ooh a truck…

IMG_7908

This was not something we expected… a Lake along the highway.

IMG_7910

IMG_7911

While we were driving along, we got another signal, so I figured to try another Periscope session…

[Click on the image and let it play from the Flickr photostream]

IMG_0751

or play on YouTube –

We had a random sighting of a Signature Red Model S heading West when we were about fifty miles to Mitchell. We didn’t flash lights because the better half was driving and I forgot to let her know how to do that. But that was exciting.

Then, just like that, we made it to Mitchell, SD

IMG_7913

Mitchell Supercharger

IMG_0754

IMG_20150505_165139

IMG_20150505_161548

IMG_20150505_161543

The Mitchell, SD location is right beside a Goodwill store. So, if you’re here during hours, it’s a good place to just browse through. You never know what you’ll find. I picked up a few books. Sue Grafton hardbound books.

IMG_20150505_170510

There is a Dairy Queen next door that is open 10-10 and I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream. Aside from that, there is a County Fair Food Store that is open 24 hours adjacent to these stores as well.

I chose Ice Cream and books.

And then we’re off… Minnesota is next…

IMG_7916

One of our favorite State Line signs…

IMG_7920

You can tell the California traveler, we’re obsessed with water

IMG_7921

You can tell that we’re rEVolutionaries as we get really excited when we see renewable energy sites…

IMG_7925

IMG_7930

IMG_20150505_185201

Good for you Minnesota! Love to see places use what they get power from renewables. Seeing that it was all foggy when we were driving through, wind power might be a better solution there than solar power.

Worthington Supercharger

Next up is Worthington, MN.

IMG_0757

There is a hotel right beside this supercharger, but we still feel like we can keep going, so we took the time while in the car to figure out where to stay for the night. My original plan had us in Madison, WI after staying the night at Rapid City, SD. That’s not going to happen tonight. That drive is just too far. So, we started looking at places to stay near superchargers; however, there were no hotels that really appealed to us.

IMG_20150505_190424

IMG_20150505_190419

So, we figured to look for something where there is either a University or something else on the way and settled on Rochester, MN. Rochester is about sixty to seventy miles past the Albert Lea, MN Supercharger and before the La Crosse, WI Supercharger. Rochester, MN is a good place to shop for hotels because it is located where the Mayo Clinic is located and large, world-class hospitals have to have good lodging for a transient population of patients and their families.

So, we now have a plan of where to go next, and that means going past the Albert Lea, MN Supercharger.

The drive to Albert Lea was in the dark and we didn’t take any pictures, but we got there fine.

Albert Lea Supercharger

If looking for the chargers, look for the hotel sign…

IMG_0759

The superchargers are just on the other side.

IMG_0758

IMG_20150505_213932

IMG_20150505_213928

It was late, but as friendly as the inn keepers were at this supercharger location, it was not the type of hotel that we’re used to staying at, and we were determined to get to the Hampton Inn at Rochester, MN.

Besides at sixty-five miles per hour, it’s about an hour to our next hotel.

Now, this should’ve been fine, but we didn’t realize how thick the fog gets in this part of Minnesota. At least it did during our drive. Now, we ordered our Model S with the fog lights and they’ve helped us on our drive down from our factory pickup weekend but the fog was nowhere near the “soup” we found ourselves in.

The drive was a little scary, and the persistent “Deer Crossing” signs are a little rattling for a couple of “city” kids from Southern California where the only wildlife we normally have to watch out for are “party animals”.

This drive also reminded me of my high school drivers’ education courses on why a driver does not use the high beams in fog. And I was glad to have remembered it and turned the fog lights on.

Hampton Inn Rochester

So, the hour estimate was a little off. But, we did arrive in Rochester, MN before midnight.

IMG_20150505_235037

IMG_20150505_235033

We turned in with 175 Miles of Rated Range when we parked the car for the evening.

After 583 miles of driving, it was time to get some rest. Our goal for tomorrow is to get to Chicago. As many times as we’ve visited Chicago, we have yet to take a picture with “Cloud Gate” or as locals call it “The Bean.”

Go on to Day 5. Click here.

04_Rapid City to Rochester

Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 03

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the third in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

Missed Day 2, click here.

Day 3 – Drive on Monday, May 4, 2015

So, after a short day in the Rockies, and an adjustment to our plans, we’ve figured that for Day 3, we would like to make it to Mount Rushmore at a minimum, if not somewhere passed Murdo, SD or to Mitchell, SD.

Hampton Inn Cheyenne Wyoming

The Hampton Inn Cheyenne Wyoming has a very good spread for breakfast.

IMG_0735

IMG_0736

I was intrigued by the make your own waffles and enjoyed the novelty of making my own waffles. Needless to say, the idea was better than the actual execution.

IMG_0737

Looks like we have almost 100 miles to get to a supercharger a few miles away.

IMG_20150504_102023

IMG_20150504_102036

We lost two miles overnight. That’s not bad. However, as you can see, there is a limit (the dashed yellow lines) on the regenerative braking, and power (subsequent picture, see below). Not being based anywhere one can reasonably call a “cold” climate, these limits were not what we’re used to seeing. Our car is normally parked in the garage and therefore, well taken care off before we roll out, even in the coldest of Southern California days.

IMG_20150504_102359

Regardless, these limit bars are common in cold weather and when the car starts to warm up, the limits disappear (we called Tesla Service to verify what we suspected and they confirmed it.) Additionally, if one shows up at the supercharger with these limits, the supercharger will operate at a slower speed. So, it behooves one to warm the car up, before rolling. Either by preconditioning the car or driving further as it warms up.

Cheyenne Supercharger

This was the first time we used the “hint” from our fellow Model S traveler from Colorado and used the Satellite view to find the superchargers. This was a good idea at this location as the parking lot around the chargers were turned into a “pop-up” RV trailer store.

IMG_0738

IMG_7821

IMG_7823

IMG_7824

So, though the site was encircled by a “pop-up” RV trailer store, the superchargers are actually located in a mall location.

IMG_7822

IMG_20150504_103701

IMG_20150504_103706

We didn’t need to do anything at the mall, so we just stuck around the car. We spoke with one of the RV Trailer salespeople and did our best to educate him about the car and electric vehicles in general. He was thankful to get to see the car up-close and ensured that none of the trailers blocked access to the chargers.

After getting the charge that made us comfortable to reach Lusk, we headed out.

One of the things that changes as you visit other states is the name of gas stations and grocery stores. There are few “national” brands that market with one name in the country. I was amused by the name of this gas station chain in Wyoming (and Colorado too, I believe) called “Loaf N Jug”. Especially since they’re mainly a gas/petrol station. Something tells me they make more money on that than any Loaf or Jug.

IMG_20150504_113209

As we drove toward Lusk, we were reminded that the drive won’t be on Interstates and that divided highways would be minimal on this leg in Wyoming.

IMG_7826

IMG_20150504_113801

IMG_20150504_113815

Furthermore, not only is the drive going to be on undivided highways, construction “season” is starting and we need to be aware that when the weather warms up in the rest of the country, that is when a lot of states start repairing their roads. We have to be cognizant of the start of construction “season.”

IMG_20150504_114650

IMG_20150504_115135

IMG_20150504_115153

This was one of those drives that reminded us that the United States is one big country. We’re not even half-way to the East Coast and we’ve already seen so much of the country.  Being “city” kids, a mild sense of agoraphobia seems to permeate both my better half and I as we drive in these “wide open spaces.”

We would take pictures of things we don’t normally see…  Like steak, I mean cattle grazing… 😉

IMG_20150504_115324

A wide, empty road without anyone else in it with us…  If we were back in Southern California, we’d probably be speeding in it, but we don’t know what’s ahead, so we’re going the speed limit.

IMG_7839

When they say a “Wide Load” in one of these two lane highways, it actually encroaches on the OTHER SIDE of the road.  Had to remember my driver’s education course and remember the rules on passing a car on a two-lane road.  Not a skill I normally need to use in Southern California.

IMG_7840

Hey…  Or in this case, hay!

IMG_7842

Lusk Supercharger

Then we got the sign we were hoping for…  Lusk, Wyoming.

IMG_7843

We figured to get our charge and keep heading toward Mount Rushmore National Monument.  But first, find the superchargers.  If one is in Lusk, Wyoming and looking for the superchargers, look for the following sign (below) and get to the back of the motel.  They’re there.

IMG_0740

IMG_7846

IMG_7845

Looks like we were somewhat efficient in our drive from Cheyenne.  282 Wh per mile.

Now, that we’re in Lusk, what do we do while waiting for a supercharge…

…sunbathing?

IMG_0277

Hang out at the supercharger.

IMG_0278

Here’s a panoramic of the fun little “park”/courtyard for the motel.  So, if traveling with kids, they at least have a playground.IMG_0741

I spy a place for espresso on the other side of the street from the superchargers.  However, it was closed when we got there…  So, no latte for me, I was too late. (pardon the pun, I am a little tired from all the driving ;-))

IMG_7847

And just like that, we’re off…  Back on the road to Mount Rushmore.

IMG_7848

The drive between Cheyenne and Mount Rushmore through Lusk is through undivided highways and lots of open roads, but the good folk of South Dakota made sure that they denoted the border between Wyoming and South Dakota with their welcome sign.

IMG_7849

Then more open road…

IMG_7850

We took a picture of this advertisement for the Flintstones RV Park because the first time, in my youth, that I visited the Mount Rushmore area, I really wanted to stop off, and we didn’t.  Now, that I’m an adult, we STILL opted to skip it.

IMG_7854

On the Northbound drive from Cheyenne, the Crazy Horse Memorial is on the way to Mount Rushmore, we skipped it, but here’s a view from the highway.

IMG_7855

IMG_7856

Mount Rushmore National Monument

So, our goal for the day was to make it to Mount Rushmore, and we made it. The visitor area for the monument looks like it was refurbished since the last time I’ve been here. The parking for the monument is good for the entire year, but this is attached to the specific vehicle that you used to get into the monument. So, if you’re visiting Mount Rushmore in a rental car, then the arrangement isn’t really very useful to you, and, if like us, you’re visiting from over 1000 miles away, then that just means that you need to make the drive to the location again.

IMG_7862

The monument is actually lit up in the evening, we got there in the afternoon, seeing that they would light up the monument at sunset and we were several hours away from that, we decided to enjoy it in the afternoon and then move on.

IMG_7865

Everyone has a favorite on Mount Rushmore, I think mine is President Lincoln.

IMG_7868

Here’s the mandatory picture with the Presidents.

IMG_7870

And a rare sighting of the better half on the blog.

IMG_20150504_170557

How was the drive to Mount Rushmore? Not bad actually. It was a lot of uphill to get here, but only used 322 Wh per mile on the average, so we did pretty good on the climb.

IMG_7875

So, the drive to Rapid City, SD from Mount Rushmore is mostly down-hill. Which means a LOT of opportunity to use Regen for the drive.

IMG_7876

a LOT of Regen. Love seeing charts that look like this…

IMG_20150504_182348

The drive to Rapid City, SD is quite fun, and after all the wide open spaces we welcomed the opportunity to see buildings and the like.

IMG_7878

IMG_7880

IMG_7884

It was a little strange to see a replica of Independence Hall on the way back to Rapid City, SD made us think if we wanted to swing over to Philly on this trip. I guess we’ll figure it out as we get closer to the East Coast.

IMG_7886

IMG_7888

One thing that we did experience on the way to Rapid City Supercharger was a “Navigation Failure”… Not a technical one, just that the navigation system directed us to the superchargers through a road that was “under construction/repair”. So, we had to zoom out and figure out an alternate way there.

Rapid City Supercharger

Once we got to the superchargers, we figured to charge up. This was another location in a mall, the Rushmore Mall, and there were several restaurants behind the superchargers.

IMG_0744

IMG_0745

The road that was closed/under repair is pictured below.

IMG_20150504_182700

IMG_20150504_182632

There is a mall in front. There is a Starbucks and beside it is a Fuddruckers. Behind the superchargers is a Texas Roadhouse and Red Lobster. We decided to give Texas Roadhouse a try. Figured, seafood in South Dakota might be a bit of a challenge.

IMG_7875

IMG_20150504_182334

The next stop on the route in South Dakota would be Murdo, SD and as lovely as the town sounds, we were a little “wiggy” about staying in a town that sounds like murder. So, we either make the decision to stop in Rapid City for the night OR drive all the way to Mitchell or somewhere in between Murdo and Mitchell while budgeting in at least a five mile loss (double what we lost overnight in Cheyenne plus one additional rated mile). We decided to book a hotel in Rapid City that just ended up being a mile away from the superchargers.

Hilton Garden Inn Rapid City

The hotel we chose to stay in for the evening was the one we originally planned on stopping at the night before. Since they were gracious enough to let us cancel the previous stay without penalty we would reward that generosity by choosing to stay there and let them recapture the “lost” revenue.

IMG_20150504_192736

IMG_20150504_192730

It was a pretty short day of travel for us today, but a fulfilling one as we got to visit Mount Rushmore, I’ve been there before, but my wife has not. A little short on the checkins for the beta version of the (now released) Teslarati App for the iPhone but we do have thousands of miles to go, and ample opportunity to get more content in there.

We figured that we won’t have to supercharge on our next day’s trip. We checked into the hotel with 246 Rated Miles in the predicted range overnight.

Go on to Day 4. Click here.

03_Cheyenne to Rapid City

Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 02

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the second in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip

Missed Day 1, click here.

Day 2 – Drive on Sunday, May 3, 2015

So, what did the first day of 808 miles teach us…

It’s not that fun to drive so far in one day. So, we cancelled our scheduled hotels in Rapid City, SD and in Madison, WI and adjusted our plan to get to OH from Tuesday to around Friday, which is when we intended to get there after making a swing to the East Coast on Wednesday-Thursday.

It helps to have booked the first few hotels in a chain that we have “status” in and are able to appeal to the hotel chain’s loyalty program for help with the “non”-refundable first nights.

Doubletree Grand Junction CO

The Doubletree was very comfortable and the cookies were great. We were well rested, after getting to the hotel at an ungodly hour of 4:00 am local time, (3:00 am biological time, since we crossed from Pacific into Mountain timezone in our drive), we slept in.

We didn’t start to roll out until around 2:13 PM

IMG_20150503_141349

In looking at the dash and comparing it with the previous night’s dash, it looks like we didn’t have any vampire losses overnight in Grand Junction. We parked the car at 89 Rated miles, we rolled out at 89 Rated miles.

Grand Junction Supercharger

Since we were staying in a hotel six miles away from the supercharger, we decided to go straight to the hotel the previous night. Even if the car were to lose ten miles on vampire losses overnight, we would have been able to make it to the supercharger.

IMG_20150503_142649

IMG_20150503_142653

Our first supercharger stop in Colorado is located in the Mesa Mall. This was one of the first stops outside of California where we checked in on the beta version of the (now released) Teslarati App for the iPhone and there was already content there. (thanks to @DanielSparks for the content.)

IMG_0729

IMG_0730

Didn’t feel like shopping, so we didn’t really go into the mall. There was a Taco Bell and IHOP behind the chargers. If you’re visiting this location with kids, there is a Chuck E. Cheese just across the parking lot.

So we spent the time figuring out what we needed to adjust to get to OH by the Friday deadline. Where we wanted to be by the “end of the day”. Our original plan was to be in Rapid City, SD, but we knew that wasn’t going to happen, so we had to come up with a new plan.

By the time we rolled out, we figured to target Cheyenne, WY for tonight’s stop. We didn’t want to be in Denver as we figured Cheyenne was closer to where we wanted to be and lodging would probably be less expensive than Denver.

So, we headed off toward Cheyenne, WY… A much more manageable approximately 350 mile journey vs the much longer drive to Rapid City, SD or the 808 mile drive the night before.

Went by our hotel as we headed East.

IMG_7732

IMG_7733

Then the Colorado drive.  The drive to Glenwood Springs is a fairly mild climb and through “Colorado Wine Country”. We didn’t stop to try any Colorado Wines, because, namely, we’re in a drive and drinking and driving doesn’t really mix well.

IMG_7745

IMG_7751

IMG_7752

IMG_7753

The drive was interesting, but not the most memorable one for Colorado, that’s upcoming.

Glenwood Springs Supercharger

We made it to the Glenwood Springs supercharger as the fourth car there…

We spoke with a local who just took delivery of an 85D a few months earlier and just getting a “top up” with his wife in between their kid’s Little League games and he was full of local information.   There was another car that parked beside ours, but she took off soon after we got there.

IMG_20150503_163301

IMG_20150503_163256

The one car that hung out with us was an experienced Colorado owner that was on his way to Santa Barbara.  He gave us a piece of advice that we’ve found to be invaluable since.  We were discussing our relative difficulty of finding superchargers using Tesla’s navigation and he told us his trick for new charging locations.  He turns on the satellite view, and zooms in.  This gives him the perspective of what the area looks like from space and gives a better way of finding the superchargers with less challenge than using the map view.

IMG_0731

IMG_7764

The Glenwood Springs location is another location that had at least one hotel attached to it.  So, if you need to rest on your journey, it is good to identify the superchargers with hotels next to it.  Glenwood Springs has a Courtyard and a Residence Inn adjacent to it.

IMG_20150503_164817

Additionally, you will note the huge cones that are at this location.  Apparently this has been the only proven way to minimize supercharger ICEing. So, if you arrive at this location and the cones are in the way, do not fret.  Chances are the superchargers are operational.

IMG_7760

Before rolling off, the view of the mountain behind the Residence Inn is quite spectacular, so take the opportunity to look behind it. There is also a community garden that seemed to be well taken care off in that vicinity as well.

IMG_7761

Off we go toward Silverthorne, CO.  This drive was stunning not only in the natural beauty but also in the engineering that was executed to create the split highway with the upper level going Westbound and the lower level that was headed Eastbound.

IMG_7766

IMG_7767

Some of the Colorado cities and towns along the way were quite picturesque.

IMG_7775

Additionally, there was still snow in the beginning of May! Yes, you read correctly, there is still snow on the ground.

IMG_7789

IMG_7792

IMG_7797

IMG_7799

One can still ski those runs, with beater skis, but still ski them.

IMG_7800

IMG_7801

Really beautiful snow covered Rockies!

IMG_7805

And soon after that, we’re in Silverthorne.

Silverthorne Supercharger

Silverthorne is a different matter than Glenwood Springs.  We arrived at this Outlet Mall location as the stores had either closed or were closing.

IMG_7811

IMG_20150503_184212

Another eight supercharger location at an outlet mall this time.

IMG_0732

The outlet stores may be closed, but Chipotle is still open.  So, if you need food, or other things, they’re normally open until late.

IMG_0734

IMG_0733

Here is the view of the superchargers from Chipotle.  It’s an easy walk without snow or weather, but then again, I’m from Southern California, so not really the best judge of how far this walk will be in winter weather.

IMG_20150503_184924

Heading into Cheyenne, Wyoming…

A really blurry Wyoming State Line.  Probably a good idea to go to sleep when the state line looks this blurry.

IMG_7816

Hampton Inn Cheyenne Wyoming

IMG_7817

IMG_7818

Checked into the hotel with 100 miles Rated Range.  It’s amazing to get a 305 Wh per mile for the day through the Rockies. That’s better than what we get in SoCal without the elevation changes.

Go on to Day 3. Click here.

02_Grand Junction to Cheyenne

Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 01

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the first in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

A few weeks prior to the start of our trip, a bunch of Teslas decided to get together at Ocean City, MD for the third annual Tesla Road Trip.  These folks were the same group that set out to debunk the controversial NY Times Supercharging hack job that was written early in the Model S launch.

We wanted to join them, but didn’t have the time to do so at their event. However, this was without much consternation and effort to plan a Coast-to-Coast U.S. Roundtrip.  This is the first in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

Day 1 – Drive on Saturday, May 2, 2015

Aside from the pre-trip planning that I wrote about in the previous post there were some things we wanted to do and document before we leave home.

How clean the car is (because, we don’t expect it to stay that way throughout the trip)

IMG_20150502_075954

IMG_20150502_075942

IMG_20150502_075935

And what the car statistics are… i.e.

The car’s mileage at departure is 34,697 miles and the Rated Range at 90% daily charge was 229 miles (didn’t do a Max charge for the start of the trip, but it has been around 254 to 255 miles the last time that we did.)  Additionally, our average consumption since the factory has gone back to 308 Wh per mile

IMG_20150502_075743

Figured to also use the Trip meters on the car for additional logging. So, we logged that Trip A is used from the statistics since we picked up the car at the factory. We will reset Trip B and used that for the current daily totals. And the automated Since Last Charge is exactly that. Which means, plug it in for a few minutes, and that counter resets back to zero.

IMG_20150502_075737

Additionally, we also were approached by our friends at teslarati.com to help with the beta version of the (now released) Teslarati App for the iPhone. Namely, help fill out the information for each spot as we get to it with hints. We committed to at least including a photograph for the site.

So, what is our route… Today? or in general? The answer is complicated. But, to map out scenarios, we used the EV Trip Planner website to help map out guidelines and what we could expect on this trip. So, we figured to use that as a draft and we plotted our trip.

So, to answer the question. The goal for the trip, at least in the immediate plan, was to make it to Grand Junction, CO for the evening. Furthermore, we wanted to be around Akron, OH by Friday, May 8, but felt confident that we could be there by Tuesday evening, so figured that we would go all the way to New Jersey and be back in Akron, OH by Friday and then head back to the East Coast on Sunday, May 10. Since we figured that all plans have to be flexible as to the situation, I only made two other hotel reservations after Grand Junction, CO.  They are, Sunday evening to be in Rapid City, SD and Madison, WI on Monday evening and not much else until we got on the road.

EV Trip Planner advised a stop at the Rancho Cucamonga Supercharger, but we’ve done the drive to Las Vegas and back before (as Southern California residents often do) and decided to just charge to 90% and roll out around 9am.

Of course as we rolled out of home on our trip, we realized that May 2nd may not have been the best day to travel toward Las Vegas. There are a ton of sports going on this day.

1) The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight was going on in Vegas.
2) Game 7 of the first Round NBA series between the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs
3) The Kentucky Derby

There may have been something else, but I forget. So, we rolled out anyway, with the expectation of traffic for these sporting events.

IMG_20150502_095009

Barstow Supercharger.

So, approximately 124 miles later…

IMG_20150502_103750

We’re in Barstow. Well, that was easy.

A few changes have happened in Barstow since we were last here.

1) The construction of the additional 4 Superchargers was completed.

IMG_20150502_105646

2) The location now has a solar panel canopy over the original four stalls.

IMG_20150502_103454

IMG_0568

We arrived around 10:30 AM and Chili’s was closed until 11:00 AM.  Had to use the “facilities”, so I went to the Country Inn and Suites on the other side of the parking lot and they graciously let me use the “facilities”.

IMG_0715

Since we were still on a familiar part of our trip, we figured that we would test out the “Beta” Navigation through superchargers option that was rolled out as part of the latest Over the Air (OTA) Firmware upgrade

IMG_20150502_103744

One of the things it does is when you plug in, it gives you an estimate in time of how long to charge so that you get enough to continue your journey. Additionally, the latest version of the software also gives an estimate (while supercharging) of the time it will take to get to full.

With the latest release, the system will let you know when it thinks that you’re ready to go. It pops up with this message:

IMG_20150502_105223

We didn’t unplug right away, we added a few more miles, of “just in case miles”.

While waiting at Barstow, we met this nice couple from Nevada on their way to California.  They made some recommendations on the route and we made a note of their advice. They had a nice white Model S with some Carbon Fiber wrap on it.

IMG_20150502_104731

IMG_20150502_104837

So, we rolled out toward Primm, NV with the recommended charge plus a small buffer and went merrily on our way.

IMG_20150502_110231

Even R2-D2 was happy…

IMG_20150502_111403

That is, until we saw the following message:

IMG_20150502_113337

So, we thought… That’s not a good sign. So, we slowed down. Experts have noted that 62 miles per hour is the “ideal” mix of travel speed and “refuel” time to optimize time spent “moving forward” with “stopped and charging.” We were going a bit faster than that.

My wife, who was driving at the time, did what we do when we need to “eek out” those miles and found a slower moving, larger vehicle. (Now this was easier back when we drove the Active E, a LOT easier in the Roadster, not so much in a Model S.)  However, being the experienced EV driver that she is, we did fine.

IMG_20150502_135457

So, she picked a few trailers, big rigs, and campers to get behind and the differential in what our expected State of Charge (SOC) on reaching Primm, NV will be. The nasty “slow down” message went away, but the feeling that it gave stayed behind. That is, until we hit some “traffic.”

We never did hit the “now” expected traffic for the “sports” day for Las Vegas betting, but between Baker and Primm, NV, there was some traffic and we crawled to a stop. Now the beta software wanted us to slow down, but we were STOPPED.

IMG_20150502_122040

IMG_20150502_122051

and we were operating with the margin that we added on top of the beta Navigation recommendations (plus a few miles that we added ourselves) so we did what any experienced EV users would do and lightened the accessory load on the car and turned off air conditioning, unplugged all devices and waited until the traffic cleared.

We passed the time by taking nice pictures out of the window.

IMG_20150502_132948

IMG_20150502_132955

(as well as re-thinking our initial plan of following the Beta software.) Part of me was wondering if our trip was over before it even began at this point. (not going to lie to you, it was tense in the car, my better half wanted to go with our “usual” buffer of at least 40 miles, if not more, and I wanted to give the Beta a “chance”.)

Needless to say, after this “experiment” we went back to our “regular” method of adding at least 40-60 miles to the range. (since we’re on vacation and decided to have the option to “go off trail” we upped this to 100 miles, where possible, i.e. where the range to the next SC is lesser than 155 miles away.)

The downhill ride toward Primm, NV had a lot of regeneration on it that we were gaining rated miles as we neared it.  Took some fun shots of the rather impressive Solar Farm that was built and activated recently at the California and Nevada borders.

IMG_20150502_135502

IMG_7672

IMG_20150502_135737

Additionally, there were some folks that were enjoying the desert that fine Saturday. Now, if they used an EV to bring their land yachts/sand yachts then they could have been powered by all renewable energy. One could only hope. But considering the number of folks who bring ATVs, and the like, have to be thankful for those enjoying the desert with wind power instead.

IMG_7673

IMG_7674

Primm Supercharger

So, our next stop was at “the Border”.  Primm, NV has been a popular Southern California to Vegas or back stop for as long as I’ve been an “adult” and it’s gone through a bust to boom to bust cycle.  The superchargers are located in the edge of the parking lot near McDonald’s and the gas station.  There are a total of eight superchargers there and there are “lots” to do in the area.

IMG_0717

The Primm Valley Casino and Resort has a factory outlet mall attached to it for those that do not feel like gambling or “gaming” as they call it.

Needless to say, with the challenge that we faced with the drive from Barstow and leaving with less than what we’re comfortable with, my wife had to be very efficient in her Model S drive, and as you can see, she was. Averaging 292 Wh per mile on a series of climbs and descents is pretty impressive.

IMG_20150502_141019

As you can see, our 40 mile “regular” buffer would not have been enough.

IMG_20150502_141024

So, this is where we decided to really just go ahead and up our buffer for this trip and not worry about it again. The algorithm that Tesla has created are for those that can follow the car and be as efficient as it wants them to be, but we’re not in a rush, and we’re on a vacation, for crying out loud.

Las Vegas Supercharger

The Las Vegas Supercharger is only 44 miles away from the Primm Supercharger. Not really worth a stop. But, when heading into Utah, and after our “experiment”, we both agreed to get a supercharge “security” charge in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Supercharger is in the middle of Downtown Las Vegas, in a “sketchy” part of town.

IMG_20150502_160008

IMG_20150502_160022

As “sketchy” as the location is, it is quite busy. But like superchargers in the LA area, there are a lot of folks getting charge here.

IMG_0576

However, like in most urban superchargers, we all pretty much stayed in our cars and didn’t socialize with the other Model S charging at the location.

IMG_7681

I was surprised to enter Arizona on the way to Utah, didn’t really think about it.  But get camera ready as the canyon passes in the 15 are very iconic West

IMG_7686

IMG_7694

IMG_7695

IMG_20150502_175319

IMG_7702

St George Supercharger

So, the first supercharger stop outside of our “normal” range of travel is the supercharger in St. George, UT. This supercharger is different from others in that the location is deep within the city and further off the highway. Now, if we used the app from teslarati.com that we were beta testing or the fairly reliable plugshare app, it would’ve mentioned the Starbucks prominently, but we used the in-car navigation and it gets a little confusing to find superchargers in that way.

Regardless, we found the chargers.

IMG_7707

IMG_7708

I would advise those that are backing into these chargers to be wary, as the curb is a hazard and they really should put air suspension on “high” as one backs into the spots. Additionally, the Starbucks drive-through is in front of these chargers, so watch out for the curving curb of the drive-through.

You can see the curved Starbucks curve here.

IMG_7720

This next shot is one of our favorite ones and have shared it on a few forums and Twitter. It’s as close to nature as we’ve been on the trip, so far. There’s a thread on teslamotorsclub.com called Model S Nature Pictures that I was hoping to post a few of our pictures in.

IMG_7717

The Tesla beta navigation recommend a very limited stop, however, we recommend a longer one because you get 75- 80 mph speed limit on the drive to Beaver. The inclines feel steep and we’re pretty inefficient in wh use, but a lot of fun to go Zoom, if you ditch Tesla’s recommended charging pattern. Additionally, Utah has some of the highest speed limits and MANY motorists tend to go faster.

Beaver Supercharger

Now, the navigation had us going to Beaver next and skipping Richfield, but, we had a heck of a day so far, so decided to hit both. Boy, was I glad to. The Beaver Supercharger had a Dairy Queen and one of the first ones to have a car wash adjacent to it. So, if you feel like washing your car, this would be a good stop.

IMG_0579

Trying to keep up with the speed limit at 80 mph, and a climb will yield a higher than normal average usage of 367 Wh per mile.

IMG_7721

However, stopping at this location can reward the traveler with Dairy Queen Ice Cream…

IMG_7724

So…

IMG_20150502_215816

What can I say? I haven’t had DQ in a while.

Richfield Supercharger

The next stop at Richfield has a brand new Holiday Inn Express at the location. We made a mental note of how friendly the staff was when I went inside to use the “facilities” and decided to swap driving duties at this location. The better half has been driving all day, and it’s my turn to drive.

IMG_0726

IMG_0725

IMG_7727

581.5 miles of driving and the stress between Barstow and Primm, I got lucky with finding my wife and partner-in-crime. 😉

If we had not already booked a hotel in Grand Junction, CO I would’ve proposed that we stop at Richfield, UT. However, we had booked a hotel in Grand Junction, CO and pressed on.

IMG_7728

Green River Supercharger

Now the next stop was a bit stressful because it was another of those locations that was difficult to find. Even harder in the dark. The four supercharging stations of the Green River UT Supercharger are in a dark parking lot of the John Wesley Powell River History Museum.

IMG_20150503_023607

Another one of those locations that we had to use plugshare.com to find the location.

We arrived here around 2:00 AM and boy were we tired. I took a quick cat-nap while charging, while my wife stayed awake.

IMG_20150503_020026

Doubletree Grand Junction CO

So, looking at our mileage and distance from our hotel, made us decide to drive directly to our hotel in Grand Junction for the evening.

IMG_20150503_040350

IMG_20150503_040345

The hotel looked like a beacon in the desert and we decided to stop for the night.

IMG_20150503_040701

Parked the car with full 89 miles of range left and turned the car to full sleep mode (turned off the “always connected” option) as we turned in ourselves.

And the promise of “Doubletree cookies” at the end of this very, very long 808 mile day.

Go on to Day 2. Click here.

01_LB to Grand Junction

Tesla’s “non-automotive” announcement tonight.

So, the day is here. April 30, 2015.

In about three hours, Tesla’s event starts, which means the announcement will probably be about 30 minutes to an hour later.

I am assisting a couple of my favorite EV and Tesla places with coverage of the event via Twitter.

I am joining a group tweet with folks from teslarati.com via the hashtag (at the time of the planning of) #TeslaEnergy (though that might change.)

I will also be representing the good folks of Transport Evolved at the event via the hashtag #TEatTesla.

It seems that energy storage is on a lot of minds. So, who else is in this space? Well. I did cover the Green Charge Networks folks in my article on the Shore Hotel for TransportEvolved.com. So, they have an interesting model regarding demand management.

Additionally, the remnants of what had been the Coda Automotive has reformed to be Coda Energy. I have yet to study what Coda Energy does, but it really does look like there is something there. After all, this is the first month that my home is on the 2015 TOU-D-A rate on Southern California Edison. Our previous tariff of TOU-D-T-EV or something like that, used to define the PEAK hours for electricity between 10am-6pm M-F which lent itself to being optimized for Solar Photovoltaic rates. This change in tariff now defines the peak hours as between 2pm-8pm M-F. Considering that most times of the year, the hours between 6pm-8pm are in darkness, this nearly guarantees that the Utility company will be able to charge me for some peak usage, while netting out the energy that I produce at an Off Peak rate.

I’ll have to see what the effect is at a later post.

Either way, if you have access to Twitter, you might want to just follow me there.