Thursday, July 3, 2014

Harris Ranch

This will be my third time at Harris Ranch this week.  It's an excellent stop with comfortable places to sit, good food, great beer and a fast charger.

Danielle's Supercharger Dance

Sizzlin' California Beef

Trippin on Sunshine

On the road again!  This time we are doing a quick tour of California.  We are driving up the 5 to Napa Valley and then going to take Highway 1 down the coast.  It promises to be a beautiful drive and being that we are in California, electrons will be freely flowing.

First stop - Tejon Ranch for some juice.  Tejon Ranch is one of the few superchargers that has been completely outfitted with solar energy.  It ironically mimics the gas station next door in the pull up and fuel up look.  We got an early start and were the first and only ones at this charger.  That wasn't unusual on our CHI - LA trip, but in CA I've found it's a rare occasion.  We've already passed 4 other Model S' rolling along the hills coming out of LA this morning.

Tejon Ranch Supercharger

Brewtus drinking that sweet sweet sunshine

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.