Saturday, July 23, 2016

Final Thoughts on the Drive to CO

Now that the crew is settled in to CO, and I'm already back from a quick jaunt to Toronto and London, I figured it made sense to come up with some conclusions, at least until Sam and I drive back to Long Island at the end of August.

Everything that all the glowing reviews say about the car is true - it's smooth, quiet, fast (too fast - but happily I moved to cruise control mode after my first speeding ticket in PA) and very fun to drive.  No need to repeat all the accolades that many have already given it.

More interesting though is how driving an electric car, that needs to be charged fairly frequently, across the country really is.  A few important observations:

1. Unlike a normal gas car, driving faster doesn't necessarily get you to your ultimate destination sooner.  In a gas car, if you don't care about MPG, safety and speeding tickets, the best way to get to where you are going on a long trip as soon as possible is to drive as fast as possible.  This is not a complicated concept.

But in a Tesla that's not true.  Since there are still not that many Superchargers along the way you need to optimize your range between them.

I'll give a simple example: assume that the Superchargers are located 100 miles apart along the highway.  With a car that can do >200 miles on a full charge you would assume that you would have to stop at every other station.  But, remember, the 200 mile range is an estimate based on a number of assumptions, including how fast you are going.  If you are driving too fast your range will decrease and if you are driving fast enough that the car no longer thinks it can get 200 miles on a charge, but let's say 180, when you get to the charger at the 100 mile point that you were planning on skipping, the car will urge you to stop there to charge, since it knows that you only have 80 miles left in the tank and have 100 miles to get to the next charger.  Making more stops at 20-50 mins each will slow you down a lot.

Contrast this with a gas car.  Of course driving faster in a gas car will yield you lower MPG, but since there are so many gas station along the way, it doesn't really matter which one you stop at - who cares if you have to stop 10 miles earlier than you had planned - you probably hadn't even planned at all where you were going to stop.  Furthermore, since the gas stops are much quicker than the charging stops, it really doesn't matter all that much.

Based solely on our observations, Sam and I felt that 70 MPH was probably optimal based on the locations of the chargers.  In other words, at that speed you would make it to the charger that the car expected you to make it to, and going slower almost certainly wouldn't allow you to make it to the next charger.  75 is probably still OK - 80 and above it a no-go.  For a while we were coasting along at 85 (in a 75 MPH zone in Kansas) and this was definitely too fast and caused us to have to make an extra stop, which more than negated our faster speed.

2. The Superchargers are really nice in numerous ways.  Firstly, they are fast, really fast.  At home we went to the trouble and expense to install a 100A line to the wall charger and purchased the dual charging option for the Tesla to improve charging speeds.  This got us up to speeds of around 45 MPH (yes - it sounds like a driving speed but it's also the charging speed - the car adds 45 miles of range per hour of charging).  The Superchargers get up to 300MPH - that is insanely fast!  You immediately notice the difference when you realize how thick and heavy the cable is to the car, and how Tesla was required to make the cable short, and therefore why you have to back-in to the spots to charge.  Its interesting to note that the whole technology around the Supercharger is different - it is a DC rather than AC system - if you are interested in this you can read more about it here.

Another thing about the chargers is that they are almost always empty.  Generally speaking the stations we found were either 6 or 8 stalls.  Most of them were empty when we arrived and we didn't see anyone else using them (remember this was the weekend at some weird hours and some remote locations).  In a few cases we saw one other Tesla, and I think there was only one or two cases where we saw two.  This is good since the disaster scenario is that you arrive at one of these and they are full.  I'm guessing that driving around the San Francisco area is a different experience.

But the nicest surprise about the Superchargers was the locations.  The only ones I had seen in the past were either at the Syosset dealer on Long Island or the Superchargers along I-95 in CT, which were at rest stops right off the highway.  Interestingly, most the chargers we ran into were a bit off the highway - not far, maybe 0.5 to 2 miles from the highway.  This might not sound like a good thing but it was.  It allowed us to get a small taste of the place we were at, rather than just another highway rest stop.  Now don't get me wrong, these places weren't quaint towns - most of them had the same Holiday Inn Express, McDonalds and Applebee's, but it was still nice to get slightly off the beaten path to charge.

The last thing I'll mention here is how it has been now that we've gotten to our destination and lived with it for a week outside of our home, where there is a charger in the garage.  The short answer is that it's been easy and great - but the longer answer may be that this is not necessarily conclusive.  We are staying in a condo in Vail Village with a parking lot outside.  The facility doesn't have an EV charger (despite that fact that we offered to buy one for them, but that's another story), so we have to count on charging at other locations.  Luckily, the Vail Parking Structure has free EV charging available via the Chargepoint system.  Its slow (17 MPH or so) but you can park there for free 24/7, so every few days we drive the X over to the garage and park there for the night.  Luckily the garage is very close to the condo and this is no big deal.  Now, if the closest charging wasn't walking distance and/or they charged for it, this would be a very different story and would seriously put a crimp in the whole experience.  But since we knew these chargers existed we were relaxed about being able to use them.

I'm sure there is more to write about - as I think of other things I will add to the blog.  And of course, keep an eye on this at the end of August when Sam and I drive back to LI!

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Buying a Tesla?

If anyone is looking to buy a Model S or X you can use this link to get $1000 off - I wish I had one of these when I bought mine:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Really Fun Way to Spend 90 Minutes

After 90 mins of waiting and not moving a police officer escorted us across the divider and on to I70 heading east - we then meandered our way around the accident and made it to the Denver Supercharger.
We are now eating at Pizzeria Uno while we charge.
The crazy thing is that the accident happened about a quarter of a mile ahead of us - we were right behind it and had to brake very aggressively to avoid being part of it.  Luckily we are now OK.  A helicopter had to get someone out - see this news story:

The latest problem is that we hear that the Eisenhower Tunnel is closed tonight and we'll be detoured around that tonight - lovely.
More to come.

Final State

Just got to Colorado. This is our final state for the trip.

Not Moving

All of a sudden we're in massive traffic outside of Denver and Sam is approaching a bathroom situation - more to come.

Great Fun Fact

The western sliver of Kansas is actually on Mountain time - Sam noticed his phone had changed while we're waiting for our totally unneeded shakes at the Steak & Shake in Goodland, Kansas.


Goodland, KS - had a small scare with the charger not connecting properly - we switched to a different stall and it seems fine - will be charging here for about and hour then on to Denver.


Just meet a nice guy at the Hays, Kansas supercharger. The guy had a Tesla S.

Hays, KS

Not a lot going on around here but a good time for lunch at Applebee's.

Wind Farm

Look at all those windmills. That's pretty awesome that we have renewable energy.

Charging stop

Quick stop in Salina. It was a quick 5 minutes.

Another Reroute

In Topeka after all - I think I'm driving too fast which is actually making me less efficient - will need to look at that.

Big state

We are in Kansas now. This will take the most time in this state. But the next state will be Colorado!

I Don't Understand the Math

So we're still at the first charging stop - here's the weird thing.  When we first left the car had our first stop in Topeka, KS, about 200 miles away.  It also had an arrival time in Vail of about 7:30pm.  Then the car wimped out and decided that we needed to stop sooner - Independence, MO (where we are now).  Fine, it happens, our mileage wasn't as good as we were hoping I guess.  But then when we check our expected arrival time it was moved up to about 6:50pm. 

I'm trying to figure out how and why this would be but I can't get my head around it.  You would think that there are two key principles when it comes to charging: 1 - less stops are better, and 2 - the car charges faster on a lower battery.  This unexpected stop though seems to break both those rules.

Any help from some more experienced Tesla people out there would be appreciated.

An Unexpected Stop

Charging at the Stoney Creek resort - an unexpectedly nice place.

First Stop

Independence, MO - car rerouted us - more on that later - looking for food around here - not great options - dying for a Denny's!

Were Off

Last day - CO here we come!

Love the View

Excellent view of the Superchargers from the hotel room - 5am CDT - time to get rolling!

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Sam was too tired to pose for a last pic in Columbia.  We're all settled in to the Holiday Inn Express.  The Supercharger is literally in the parking lot of the hotel - it can't be any more convenient.  8 charging stalls - all were free when we arrived.

That's probably it for tonight - tomorrow we have a very wide Kansas to tackle but we'll be sleeping in Vail, CO!

Thanks for following - the alarm is set for 4:30am CDT.

Last Stop

Last stop of the night before the hotel and Sam is totally passed out - I think the jet-lag is still getting to him.  This is in suburban St. Louis - spending the night about 100 miles west of here in Columbia.  We have a very quick 10 min stop now and then we're off.

TGI Fridays For Dinner

A serious step up from McDs for breakfast and Taco Bell for lunch. 

We are in Effingham now - we had planned on sleeping here but when we decided to leave on Friday night we changed from here to Columbia, MO.

Effingham, IL

Nice to be here


Just got to Illinois! Now we have gained 1 hour!

Blood Bowl

Ran into a Blood Bowl tournament at a hotel outside of Indianapolis while charging - how awesome is that huge Big Gulp this guy is rockin'!


Made it to Indianapolis with Sam almost urinating in the car.  Two roads were shut down along the way.  8 empty Tesla Superchargers here - awesome!

New State

Now in Indiana! Second to last state for today.

101F - hot day

A reroute

While Sam inhales his last taco it's worth taking a moment to comment on a reroute.  Originally after leaving WV the Tesla had us going to Dayton, OH, but somewhere along the way the computer must've decided that we were a bit short on battery and instead stopped us in Columbus.  We will now be skipping Dayton and charging next in Indianapolis.  This wouldn't be a bad thing except for the fact that the charger in Columbus is a bit off the beaten path (Grove City to be exact).

Well be taking off in a few mins - hopefully this won't happen again.


Taco Bell in Columbus, OH, of course.

Go Bucks!

O H - I O


Now charging near Columbus Ohio.

New State

We have made it to Ohio.

We're not on Long Island Anymore

At a Cabela's in West Virginia for a charging stop - a shocking number of guns here.

Second charge of the day

Triadophia, WV

New State

Got to state #4 West Virginia. My finger is covering the sign sorry about that.

Sam's first Egg McMuffin

First stop

First charge of the day in Somerset, PA

Speeding Ticket

We just got our first speeding ticket. For now we are only going on cruise control. But the officer only wanted to talk about the Tesla.

Hitting the road at 5am

We're off

Already awake

Jumping in the shower and then heading out.  Should be on the road by 5am.  Going to Columbia, MO today - long drive - ~13 hours without any stops.

Amazingly, I'm awake and Sam, who is supposed to be 6 hours jet-lagged, is still sleeping.

We'll stop for breakfast at the first place we Supercharge.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Change of plans - Sam and I are now leaving tomorrow night - will stay the first night in Harrisburg, PA (in a hotel next to the Supercharger) and the second night in Columbia, MO (in a hotel next to the Supercharger).

More updates to come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Here is the route - we'll be leaving pretty early on Saturday morning.  First stop will be either Allentown or Harrisburg.

We plan on leaving Saturday morning as early as possible - Sam doesn't even know we're doing this yet - he'll find out when he lands back in NY on Friday.