Vegas Baby, Vegas

In honor of Swingers… Vegas Baby, Vegas.

A week ago was a rite of passage for my EV ownership experience.  (Not that I’ve driven any longer than my first weekend with the Model S  that I wrote about on my blog a few months ago (start here).)   The first was our Model S just passed our Roadster for total miles on the odometer and the second is the somewhat of a Southern California driver tradition to “drive to Vegas” as a young adult.  The Sin City drive is one that a lot of my contemporaries did as they turned 21 and most still do.  As I’m not nearly as young as I have been, this was a trip I normally would have taken an airplane to, after all I’m about 300 miles from home to Las Vegas.

With some published reports of all these new chargers installed on the Las Vegas Strip coupled with hanging out with more environmentally conscious folks have provided me with a little bit of eco-conscience, so, I figured to try driving EV all the way to Vegas for this conference.  Besides’ there is nothing that convinces a Southern California driver more that a vehicle is a worthy one than a positive answer to the question “can I take the car to Vegas”.

Basically, yes… You can take it to Vegas, and refuel in Barstow (like most do). However, your “fuel” is free, courtesy of the Tesla Supercharger installed there. So, drove about 120 miles to Barstow with some wicked elevation changes that was the draining part on the battery.

Barstow supercharger pictures in a beautiful sunny day in the California desert.





The location in Barstow, was tough to find, it’s behind the Chili’s Restaurant and beside a hotel. So, if you arrive there during a meal service, pop in and have something to eat.

Since we did this drive during the day, we got to see the new Solar Plant that was installed on the California side of the border with Nevada. It’s a cool side-note to see the installation of this facility. The last time I did this drive was approximately two years ago and did not notice these plants the last time.



We arrived in Vegas after another 160 mile drive with even more wicked ascents (with consumption above 530 wh/mile) with corresponding descents that recovered some of the charge back with the regenerative braking.  My back of the napkin calculation had me lose about 30 miles of range on the ascent and recover about 10 miles on the regenerative braking.

The superchargers in Downtown Las Vegas was in a covered garage in a commercial part of the city.  No casinos close by, so saved money by not gambling.



Here are the stats for the LA to Vegas portion of the trip.


We decided to supercharge in Downtown Las Vegas because we arrived in town with only eighty miles on the tank and several days of Vampire Load ahead of us, figured to get some charge back into the car and let park the Model S unplugged at self parking.

On the first day of check in, I didn’t notice that I walked by a construction site that was installing two Chargepoint J1772 EVSEs at my hotel.  I was aware that Valet Parking had NEMA 14-50 outlets installed which are ideal for Tesla Roadsters and Model S to charge with (as well as any standard EV that decided to purchase a portable EVSE with this capability).  However, I decided to park in self parking when we first checked into the hotel.

On the second day, I had to get something from the car, and noticed the construction site  that I obliviously walked right beside the previous day and took some quick snapshots of the installation of some new Chargepoint CT-4023 dual head/single circuit 6.67kw shared J1772 chargers.




I remember reading about these new chargers from Chargepoint and this display clued me into the fact that these newer Chargepoint CT4000 series EVSEs split the power from 32A to 16A when both ports are used.   In my experience, the older dual head Chargepoints, the power is 30-32A to each port.


The next day, I decided to contact Aria Guest Services to see if I would be able to use the chargers and were told that I may.  On my way to move my Model S and plug in, I met with the Manager for High Voltage services (in their Facilities group) and was in charge of all the EV facilities for the resort and he mentioned that he had a lot of NEMA 14-50 installed in Valet Parking for EVs to use.   Most folks that pack their own NEMA 14-50 drive Teslas (Roadsters and Model S use the same port) or use the modified ones from Tony Williams (the JESLA) and now with the release of the Clipper Creek portable EVSEs, other EV drivers can as well.

Since I’m a geek, and more importantly an EV geek, I figured to provide some assistance with testing out these Chargepoint stations.  I first plugged into one of the units at full 30A draw and got GFCI a few minutes later.  I moved the vehicle and plugged into the other one, and got the same error.

I decided to do something that Teslas do well, but other EVs don’t seem to have readily available and drew down my Amperage request from less than what the pilot was sending.  I started the draw at 16A and the EVSE began to work.  It projected an eight hour charging session.  So, I decided to kick it up to 24A and that continued to work.  After I had successfully started the charge at 16A-24A, I did what any responsible EV driver should do and added the station on Plugshare.

After my last meeting, but before the end of my charge station, I decided that I’ve had enough of being in one resort for a few days that I took the car out to see the rest of Vegas for my third evening in town.  When I got back to the car I noticed that the car stopped charging and had a Red Fault on the unit and not just a soft GFCI fault (as was earlier) so I reported the fault to the Aria Facilities Manager.  I gave him my telephone number.  I also gave him as much detail as I could and went to the rest of the town.

One of my other stops in my Vegas trip was to have dinner at the Wynn Hotel and Casino because I figured that the food would be good.  Additionally, it was reported that the Wynn Valet would also charge any EV as long as it had a J1772 outlet.  Luckily the Model S has an adapter for this and I decided to try them out.  One of my favorite games to play with the Model S that the Active E didn’t do was collect “charging spots” on the Navigation.  The Model S will put a dot on your Navigation map in all the spots that the car has stopped to charge.  It also will store the profile of the type/speed of charge that it encountered at that location.  I wanted to populate my Model S visited chargers map with multiple locations in Las Vegas and the Wynn did not disappoint.  Though the chargers were J1772, they were full speed 40A ones that would help higher charge vehicles such as the Model S, Roadster, and 2nd Generation Toyota RAV 4 EVs.

While I was out and about in Las Vegas, the Aria Facilities Manager called and told me that both he and Chargepoint needed to do some further testing and repair of the J1772 chargers in Self Parking, and advised that I should use the Valet parking facilities instead.  On the wire side of the chargers, he was seeing some “noise” and needed to isolate and clear it so that the Chargepoint chargers would be fully operational.  Since we were leaving for home the next day, and wanted to maximize my charge, I did as he requested and parked the vehicle at Valet Parking.  The attendants at the Main Valet knew of the Model S and asked if I had my charging bag in the car and I replied affirmatively.  I didn’t actually park and charge the car myself, so I took screen shots of what my Tesla App showed.


After (Max charge ’cause we’re driving home on checkout)

Apparently the Valet Parking is directly underneath the main casino complex.

The last day of the conference was just a morning session, so around noon we left the resort and headed out of town.  Since this was a travel Wednesday, decided to take a slower pace home.  Stopped off at a few casinos that had no chargers (and thus won’t get a mention here) then made the “run to the border.”  Both Chargepoint and Plugshare identified a 30A charger at Whiskey Pete’s at Primm, NV.

It was a legacy CT2000 Series dual head J1772 charger at 30A a side with the B side as constantly reported as “failed.”  I was lucky enough to have been the only EV around, so I took the port and charged up the car for the drive home.


The irony of having a Chargepoint charger located right beside the gasoline (petrol) station was not lost on me, and I took this shot because it illustrated this best.


It was interesting to note that our rated range was within five miles of our home from the time that we left the border. Understanding the elevation changes ahead of us in our trip coupled with my lead foot we made the decision to stop at the Barstow Supercharger again.

The speed of the charge was enough for us to do a quick stop so that we can continue quickly.


I tweeted this picture commenting how nicely the darkness makes the Model S look a lot cleaner than it actually was.



Our stats at the return stop in Barstow.


We headed back home from Barstow and the descents were definitely more than the ascents on the way to Vegas.

Our ending stats for the entire trip.


So, the Southern California native typical question of “Can you take the car to Vegas?” is a resounding “YES!” and the fuel cost is $0.

THE Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World – Staples Center and L.A. Live!

One really fun place to go with nearby public chargers is “Staples Center, THE Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World.” Last weekend, the hopes and dreams of three of Los Angeles’ Pro sports teams were seemingly headed in a positive direction.

In the course of four days, Staples Center was hosting the NHL Western Conference Playoffs with now Stanley Cup bound Los Angeles Kings, the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Though the record ended up being a depressing 2-4 with the Clippers eliminated at home and the Lakers on the road on Monday. It made for an exciting sports-filled weekend.

Out of the six games this past weekend, we decided to try to make it to all six initially, but was too late to make it to the Thursday Night LA Kings victory.

So, we started our Downtown LA long weekend with the Fleming’s Steak House on Thursday night. A very good national steak house with a very good wine list. However, if you find yourself in the area, I prefer the Palm.

Friday night was our first game at Staples Center. It was my Los Angeles Lakers battling the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of the Second Round.

The Lakers in-game production is quite a spectacle and it always starts with an awesome tip-off video like below –

At this point in the series, the Lakers were down 2-0 and needed a victory to regain the momentum of the series. We sat in our regular Section 216 seats for this game.

This was the playoffs, and the Lakers came in and executed in this game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder put long-time Lakers favorite Derek Fisher on Kobe Bryant in this game and my better half had some good shots of them together:




It does look like they gave each other high-fives here!

As with all Lakers games, we had our celebrities out as well

Denzel in his understated New York Yankees Hat.


Jack Nicholson in shades and Andy Garcia, not in his usual seats in Section 113, but courtside.


AC Green spotted in the crowd.


Penny Marshall with Denzel.


Thank goodness for a very hot shooting night from the free-throw line, the Lakers won this game and the series became 2-1.

So, game one of five of our weekend was complete…

Next up, was a 12:30 pm Saturday Clippers game against the San Antonio Spurs.

We sat in Section 210 for this game and there are some stark difference between Lakers and Clippers games. First, Staples Center is darkened for all but the court for Lakers games. The crowd sits in darkness, much like a boxing match, whereas the Clippers crowd is bathed in gymnasium lighting. Second, Clippers fans are a LOT louder than Lakers fans (side note, I AM A LAKER FAN.) That being said, I always root for the Clippers when they are not playing against my Lakers. However, I was not as emotionally invested in this game and the Clippers ended up blowing a rather sizable early lead to lose to the Spurs.

Here is an interesting crowd photo of our weekend, note the Clipper, Laker, and Kings attire in the crowd.


A photo from the seats to show what the view was like.


Not being familiar with who attends these games, I believe Billy Crystal is the big Clipper Celebrity fan, no shots of any celebs.

Game two of our weekend ended in a loss, so we were rather subdued, but had to take figure out what to do in downtown L.A. for four hours in between Clippers and Lakers games, so we decided to take in a movie at the Regal 14 at L.A. Live. We saw Battleship, which was a BAD movie with not enough explosions to redeem itself.

However, it did keep us cool and entertained while we get ourselves ready for the 7:30 pm tip of the first of two Staples Center doubleheaders that weekend.

Game three of five for us was the Los Angeles Lakers Game Four of the Second Round. This was a hard one to take for Lakers fans. The team lost this game on the home floor and had the victory in hand, before it was lost. We were in our regular Section 216 seats that evening.

Ashton Kutcher was courtside for game four. (I blame him for the loss ;-))


Andy Garcia was in his regular Section 113 seats. Maybe it is HIS fault, since he changed seats for this game versus Game 3 of the series! Perhaps he should’ve sat courtside again.


Either way, I and a few of my closest fellow Lakers fans were disappointed that evening.


Thus Game Three of our Five Games at Staples Center ended in a massive disappointment with the Lakers trailing the series 3-1. Still better than their Staples Center neighbors at 3-0, but Lakers fans don’t compare the team against other teams, they compare them against past Lakers Championship teams.

Another disappointing game, so we headed back home for some respite and hopeful that the Kings and Clippers can do better on Sunday… Boy were we wrong.

Sunday was an interesting day in this weekend of sports in that the Final leg of the AMGEN Tour of California bike race was ending at Staples Center/L.A. Live before the start of the Kings game.



So, I guess one could count the last leg as the Finals for this race.

Either way, we were back to Staples Center on Sunday for a 12 noon L.A. Kings Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference Finals versus the Phoenix Coyotes. The L.A. Kings, at this point were hoping to close out Phoenix and find themselves in the Stanley Cup for only the second time in their history.

Game Four of our Five Game Staples Playoff weekend was fun, however, the real Kings fans would’ve picked us up to be “new” fans. I was at the game with a short-sleeved shirt and was promptly chilly throughout the whole game. We sat at the San Manuel Club Restaurant above Section 215 for the game and enjoyed a bountiful and tasty brunch buffet as well as a good view of the game.

Our flickr stream has more photos, but I think video will give you a better feel.

Needless to say, Game Four of Five ended in a disappointment with the Kings ending up being shut out at home. At least we got a good meal, and great service at the San Manuel Club Restaurant at Staples Center.

Sunday was easier than the previous two days in that we got ourselves a room for Sunday night to Monday morning at the Ritz Carlton, L.A. Live. Parking is $40 valet only with in and out privileges.

Here is a panoramic shot of our room (on Monday morning).


The view from room 2358 for that weekend was quite nice.


So, after some rest at the Ritz, we went ahead and attended Game Five of our Five Playoff game Staycation in Downtown Los Angeles with our last game of the series with the Los Angeles Clippers hoping to stave off elimination against the San Antonio Spurs. Alas it was not meant to be…

We had great seats in Section 114 for this last game of the Clippers 2011-2012 season.

Once again, hats off to Clippers fans who seem to be louder than my fellow Lakers fans. And they really have a talented kid in Blake Griffin (pictured here defending Tim Duncan)


This is a nice panoramic crowd shot from my seat at Section 114.


Nice shot of the nearby basket.


At the end of the night, the Clippers succumbed to the San Antonio Spurs and were swept off the playoffs 4-0. Our weekend at Staples Center was a resounding thud with the Los Angeles home teams going 1-4. With the Lakers eventually losing Monday night in Oklahoma City and the Kings getting in the Stanley Cup with a road victory in Glendale, AZ versus the Phoenix Coyotes.

This conversion video from Youtube is rather impressive –

So. You may be asking yourself. Aside from four Los Angeles team losses, how does this past weekend relate to my ActiveE and EVs in general.

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Well, it so happens that across the street from the Staples Center is L.A. Live. An entertainment, retail, restaurant, office, residential, and hotel complex par excellence. Currently charging is free, but the parking could be free (on non-game days AND with a minimum at one of the restaurants at the complex) to very expensive $30-$40 for the day.

At Staples Center, there lies a total of TEN (10) Blink Network Chargers. Now, I must reiterate that the Blink Network Chargers require two things to operate.

1) You need to have a Blink Card. (If you don’t have one, get one. They’re growing in SoCal, not as many as Chargepoint, but definitely growing.)

2) You need to use your ZIP Code to activate the charging process (like the Gas Stations you used to use when you pumped for gasoline.)

There are four chargers in the East Parking Lot.

Two in Parking Level 2 that are back to back from each other.




The other two are side by side in Parking Level 1.


There are four chargers in the West Parking Lot, these are at GROUND Level, around the corner from handicapped and the entrance. It’s almost adjacent to 11th Street.

Three face forward, and the fourth is by itself on a column.



And lastly, there are two chargers in Valet Parking at the Ritz Carlton/J.W. Marriott. Though the actual chargers are in L3 of the West Parking Lot.

One word of warning, the Valets at the Ritz are very helpful, but you need to instruct them on how to use your charger and how to check if it is working. The helpful valet that assisted me ALMOST did everything correctly, except he plugged me into a non-working EVSE. I had to move to the operational charger. Remember to give the Valet your Blink Card AND Zip Code to charge the car.

The Valet Parking is $40 for overnight guests. I don’t know what it is if you’re just visiting. Charging is free, however.

Here is my ActiveE in one of the valet spots:


and here is the other charger at the hotel Valet Parking.


Here is a photo of the non-working Blink charger at L.A. Live hotel valet parking (it should be fixed by now), it was stuck trying to read the RFID card.


It was an emotionally draining weekend and we were glad to have been able to get a room at the Ritz on Sunday night. Los Angeles home victories would’ve been sweeter, alas, one of the three teams are still playing in their playoffs and were looking ahead to the next season.

Here is the full Flickr Photostream of the Staples Center Playoff Weekend.