I’ve always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, especially when it comes to travel. Typically, I won’t even look at the map until I get in the car—so when I decided to take a cross-country, 10,000+ mile trip in the Tesla, I had to slightly adjust my old ways. Not only did I need to plan my route, I needed to find Tesla SuperChargers (SuC) along the way. OK, so I still didn’t do a lot of planning, but I did look at the Teslamotors.com Supercharger map before I left. That’s more than I usually do.
That said, Tesla makes it pretty easy for travelers like me to feel prepared. You can pull up a list of every supercharger from the in-car touchscreen, which makes it easy to plan ahead. This tells you how far away each charger is and if you touch the one that you want, it navigates you there – telling you how many miles, ETA and how much charge you’ll have left when you get there. If you choose one that is too far away, it will route you to one that is closer. In the event that you don’t plan ahead, and you’re stuck out in the boondocks without a lot of charge, you can usually make it to the nearest supercharger by slowing down (even dropping to 65 mph ups your range and if you’re really low, you can double your range in most cases by dropping to approximately 25-45 mph, so even the most ill-prepared driver is unlikely to get totally stranded. I also have the PLUGSHARE app on my phone which gives me all types of chargers in any given area. EVTripPlanner is also a great aid. (If you use EVTripPlanner.com, be sure to check out the developer’s story – 17 year old – use his link to donate to his college fund!)
The beginning — Cardiff by the Sea, CA to Mesquite, NV
I started my trip in Cardiff by the Sea, California with an 80% charge. I still had plenty of charge when I stopped at the Rancho Cucamonga SuC, but I wanted an excuse to grab a drink, stretch my legs and check out the charger location for future reference.
The next charging stops were in Barstow, then Primm, and then Las Vegas. I didn’t need to do more than one stop between San Diego and Vegas, but I love an excuse to stop and take a walk and see what amenities are offered at each location. (I’m a retired chiropractor, so I know the importance of taking care of your body…..not that it changed my driving habits prior to the Tesla.) The Vegas supercharger is in an odd location inside a small parking garage….not much there, but since I had stopped at the Primm SuC, I didn’t need much of a charge, so I walked around a little and then got back on the road. When I stopped to call it a night in Mesquite, Nevada, I didn’t realize I could have stayed at the Eureka Casino Hotel right across the street which has Tesla chargers (and it’s only $69/night and the rooms look great.) I should have checked the destination charger list in the car – lesson learned. So, I ended up staying at the Virgin River Hotel and left the next morning.
St. George, Utah to Arches National Park
I set the next morning and drove to the supercharger in St. George, Utah. The charger is conveniently located behind a Starbucks, so I had breakfast and met a couple who was driving to Maine in their ICE (internal combustion engine vehicle.) I also met a woman who owned some Tesla stock, but had never seen one—so, naturally, I gave her the Tesla tour. She loved it.
The next supercharger stops were in Beaver (not much there: Dairy Queen, Timberline Restaurant, and a Chevron—thanks to the service guys for adding a little air to two of my tires! – who knew there were service stations with actual service???,) Richfield, and Green River. While waiting for my car to charge at the Green River SuC, I stopped in the JW Powell River History Museum, which was really interesting. I talked to the gentleman inside about the Tesla charger and he said there had been some debate on the city council about whether or not to install them. I’m so glad they did: it’s a great location to charge, especially before you head down to Arches National Park. I bought some postcards and on my way out, saw a great license plate on a black Tesla: ELECSLDE. I love Tesla creativity!
The scenery on the drive down to Moab, Utah was gorgeous. I stayed that night at the Best Western Plus Canyonlands in Moab, which conveniently had superchargers in their parking lot. The hotel was really nice, very upscale, and after plugging in and checking in, I drove and then walked around Moab at sunset. Later that night, I sat in the hotel’s hot tub with a couple from Washington. It’s such a small world: he grew up in Detroit, just like me and went to the same grade school as my younger brother and sister! They were on a road trip from Washington to Arizona, driving a friend’s Porsche Cayman (not a Tesla, but hey, still a gorgeous car). We talked about Teslas, Porsches, road trips, work ethic and life. I capped off the night with a margarita, and enjoyed a great night’s sleep.
Onward to Denver and then Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wall Drug and the Corn Palace!
A few more stops at the superchargers in Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, and Silverthorne, Colorado before I arrived at my sister’s place in Denver. I stayed there for a few days and used her 110 outlet in the garage to charge. The visit was great, and I gave lots of her friends rides in the Tesla. People typically have no idea how fast and fun an electric car is (OK, how much fun a Tesla is.)
When I left Denver, I headed for Mount Rushmore. I’ve traveled all over the United States, but had never been there before. So I drove north on I-25 toward the supercharger in Cheyenne, WY. It’s located at the Frontier Mall, which has a great food court (Five Guys is one of my favorites) but it was a little too early for lunch, so onto the charger in Lusk, Wyoming. I loved this place. Lusk is this tiny town, and the Supercharger is at the cutest place ever: America’s Best Value Wagon Wheel Inn. They have an indoor pool, super nice staff, an outdoor picnic table, hammock and more. It’s a great place to stay or a nice relaxing place to just stop and charge. And on a nice day, it’s a great place to just walk around or sit at the picnic table and chill……when I got near Mount Rushmore, I merged onto a road that is 9 miles long and takes you right to the Park. I merged at about the same time as a motorcycle…so, he followed me into the park. Once we got close to the park, I ended up in the wrong lane and he was nice enough to let me back in. I waved to thank him and he pulled up next to me…..we were all waiting in line to pay at the gate that takes you into the parking area…..and he said that if I didn’t mind, he would follow me in as he had a lot of questions about the car. So, of course, I gave him the tour…..would have given him a ride, but I was just a little low on charge. He then told me the best trails to tour the park. It was a gorgeous day and I had never seen Mt Rushmore before, so it was a great stop and walk around the park. It was amazing to see the granite sculpture 60 feet tall! Interesting side note…. I saw a few mountain goats on my way out of the park and found that…..
Mountain Goats are not native to the Black Hills. The population can be traced back to six goats, a gift to Custer State Park by Canada in 1924, that escaped from their pens and found their home among the granite peaks of the Black Hills. There are now approximately 200 mountain goats in the area.
Then, off to Crazy Horse Monument. I didn’t know prior to my visit that it is not state or federally funded. The Monument was amazing and is a work in progress. There were lots of people there to check it out.
From there, I drove to Rapid City, South Dakota where the charger is located at the Rushmore Mall. Lots of shopping and food choices. From there, onto Wall Drug – cruised through and then back on the road toward Murdo, SD. This was the only glitch I had in the trip – very minor, but I was driving at night, in South Dakota……can you say – not much out there???, by myself, and it disappeared from the list of chargers……a little scary for a few minutes…..wondering, was I crazy?…I’ve been told that before. I’m sure it was there before. What would I do if it wasn’t there or if it was down for some reason? I didn’t think there were many public chargers near Murdo, South Dakota. I called Tesla, they gave me the address, assured me it was there and up and running. I entered the address into the nav and it popped back up again. Talked to a couple of Tesla owners in Murdo. One of them had just given a couple with a new Camaro a ride in their Tesla….I think they are now converts! Spent the night in Mitchell, SD. Interesting and rather ironic – the Tesla SuC’s are directly in front of the Goodwill Store entrance. I wish they had been open while I was there – I love thrift shopping! The SuC is also next door to a Ramada Inn, so that’s where I spent the night. Then, the next morning, I checked out the Corn Palace. It’s a wild place – who even knew there was somewhere called the Corn Palace? Check out the pictures – pretty wild – pillars that look like corn on the cob – murals made out of dried corn cobs. Not something you see every day!
Again, I love a road trip – you just never know what you’re going to find!
This totally brought back childhood memories. My parents were so frugal that I never even knew that people paid for charcoal. My Dad always used dried corn cobs or wood scraps to cook on a grill. All five of my siblings still remember Christmas Eve near Disneyland (we had driven from Detroit.) My Dad cooked pork chops with wood scraps on a grill in the parking lot of the Motel 6. Whoa! Love it!
Getting anxious to meet all of the siblings in Michigan!
Then, on the road to Minnesota – stopped in Worthington to charge and then Albert Lea, before getting into Wisconsin. Stopped at the LaCrosse, Mauston and Madison SuC’s before calling it a night in Rockford, IL where I topped off at the SuC before staying at a Hampton Inn. I was really hungry when I pulled into the SuC and I saw a store sign that said “Mac Only.” I immediately got this major craving for mac and cheese…..oh yeah….bummer of all bummers – it was a Mac computer store. OMG, I’ve never hated Mac computers more than at that moment!
I was starting to get excited to get to Michigan where all five of my siblings were meeting. So, I got up in the morning and after stopping at the Country Club Hills SuC in Illinois, my next stop was the St. Joseph, Michigan SuC.
Last stop for a few days – Williamston, Michigan at my brother and sister in law’s house. Making it to Williamston, Michigan by September 26 was the only timeline I had for the entire trip. My dad passed away about two years ago and all of my siblings were meeting in Williamston and then heading up to Big Rapids, Michigan on Sunday the 27th of September for a dedication at my Dad’s church.
Pulled into my brother’s driveway, greeted everybody and asked for a bucket. My sister in law told me that it was the first time that anybody ever came to visit and immediately asked for a bucket to wash their car. What can I say? I think the week I had been on the road was the longest I had ever gone without washing my baby! I plugged into the 110 outlet in their garage and then stopped the next day at the Grand Rapids SuC. Grand Rapids is home to the tool and die company that Tesla purchased, formerly Riviera Tool LLC, now Tesla Tool and Die.
Drove up to Big Rapids the next day to visit with my Dad’s wife – she loved the car, but I think the thing that most impressed her was the fact that I can ask the car to play any song in the world (when my friends and I travel together, we play stump the Tesla….it’s not easy to do!) My siblings kept warning me not to do a “launch” with Anne – they warned me – you could give her permanent whiplash…..or worse!!! So, I behaved and gave her a sweet, gentle ride. I did do a launch with some of her grandkids and great grands. When her daredevil great grandson got out of the car, he looked a little green!
Into Canada and Niagara Falls!
So, I stayed in Michigan for about four days and had a great time with all of my siblings. We ate, drank, enjoyed life! Then I made this my first international road trip in the Tesla by heading from Detroit into Canada. Again, childhood memories – we grew up in Detroit and we used to drive from Detroit to Windsor, Canada for brunch on Sundays once in a while. I can still remember – it was $1.25 per person. Restaurants that offered all you can eat used to hate seeing my family. All five kids ate like horses! Anyway, I love that the Tesla not only translates my mph into km/hr, but also translates the speed limits into km/hr (for non-Tesla owners – another feature of the car is that it reads the speed limit signs and displays them on the dash. It’s an awesome feature, especially when you’re driving in areas that you are not familiar with and where the speed limit changes often. Made my first stop at a Canadian SuC at Comber, Ontario. The chargers were behind a gas station, and two guys who worked for an oil company drove up and asked all the usual question: How far does it go on a charge? How long does it take? How much does it cost to charge? Obviously, I gave them the Tesla tour. They loved it, though they mentioned that they found it rather ironic since they’re employed by the oil industry.
Afterwards, I headed for Niagara on the Lake, a really quaint town just before you get to Niagara Falls. I spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn just outside Niagara on the Lake which had an EV charger (for non Tesla drivers, EV is Electric Vehicle. Tesla chargers only charge Teslas and are very quick~300 miles of charge/hour. EV chargers are much slower~24 miles of charge/hour, but are great for overnight charging.) I didn’t really have to stay at a hotel with an EV charger, since there is a supercharger just over the border in Buffalo, but I love to patronize supporters and it does eliminate or reduce the time required for the next stop. I enjoyed walking around the town of Niagara on the Lake. It’s very quaint with older buildings, a gorgeous lake and lots of cute shops and restaurants.
The next morning, I drove to Niagara Falls. It was a super windy day, but the Falls were spectacular—so powerful and so beautiful. It was so windy that the car got drenched just driving down the main street by the falls.
Heading for New England…..
The next stop was the charger in Buffalo, New York. I was getting hungry and wandered into the Barnes and Noble, where there was a small café. They had the best caprese sandwich I’ve ever had, which was totally unexpected. I made it a point to stop here on my way back home in November. Then onto the chargers in Syracuse, Albany, and then West Springfield, 30 minutes from my friend’s house in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Once I landed at my friend’s place, I took a moment to reflect – I couldn’t believe how easy and quick the trip was! It’s amazing to me how easy the drive was. I have driven all over the country and I’ve never had an easier drive. I love how quiet the Tesla is. I love the ease of traffic aware cruise control, TACC. Many cars have this feature, but now the Tesla has TACC combined with autopilot. Wow! It’s so much more relaxing to drive when you know that the car has it covered! I seriously got in the car the next day just to drive around. I was having withdrawls!
I stayed in Wilbraham, Massachusetts for 6 weeks and did continual day trips and weekend trips to see the fall foliage all over New England: Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and Maine. I was due for my first check-up with the Tesla, so I drove to Connecticut to drop my baby off. Thank goodness they gave me a red Tesla for the day and I cruised around the Milford, CT area. It’s sick, I know, but I can’t stand being without a car and now I can’t stand being without a Tesla. Silver Sands State Park was a short drive away, and I walked up and down the picturesque shoreline before having lunch at the Lobster Hut food truck. There’s really nothing like a warm lobster roll (with extra butter, oh yeah, gotta have the extra butter) on the eastern seaboard. Before I headed back to Massachusetts, I stopped at Lobster Hut again for dinner and ordered the same thing. It was that good.
One of my favorite trips while I was there was a trip my friend and I took over a long weekend to Provincetown, Massachusetts, where we stayed at the Anchor Inn. It’s a wonderful place to stay. Half of the rooms look over the main street of Provincetown and the other half look over the ocean. I think all of the rooms have spacious balconies. The owner was a great host, and he was very interested in the Tesla. He was considering purchasing a Tesla and I talked to him about checking with Tesla to install a charger at the Inn, so I gave him a spin in mine. A spin, a launch, whatever…..lol. I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully, The Anchor Inn will soon be on the destination charger list!
The Sage Inn in P-town is currently the only destination charger past Hyannis, and I can’t believe that so many hotel managers are passing up a great opportunity to get more business with very little effort required to install a Tesla (or EV) charger. Every B&B, motel, or hotel with a Tesla charger shows up on every single Tesla’s “destination charger” list. It’s the first place I look when I’m finding somewhere to spend the night—which means it can increase business, big time. For places that currently don’t have good supercharger coverage (Nebraska and Iowa, along I-80, for instance), many Tesla owners choose to have lunch, dinner, and overnight stays at places that offer charging. Even when I didn’t need a huge charge, I would still stop to shop, eat, drink, or walk around when I saw a supercharger, high powered Tesla charger, Tesla charger, or EV charger, which makes it a great feature for business owners. So, for about $1 to $9 for a full charge, which most Tesla owners rarely need, you get a customer!
Traveling around New England was absolutely amazing. The fall colors were fabulous. Many days I would just head out without a destination. I loved taking the back roads and just seeing where I ended up. I checked Plugshare at times just to see what was around. It’s amazing the variety of places that have public chargers now. I’ve charged at police stations, churches, libraries, stores, airports, restaurants and more.
After six weeks in Massachusetts, it was getting cold and rainy—in other words, time to head home to California. As sad as I was to leave, I still had the whole glorious drive back, with autopilot! AP or autopilot was enabled while I was on my trip. That is one of the most amazing things about a Tesla: it keeps improving. It’s like having a new toy, all the time. So cool!
Time to head back to California
I headed for New York and decided to spend a few days in the Finger Lakes area. It was so picturesque with all of the lakes, fall colors and lots to do. I checked out the Women’s Rights Museum. I never even knew there was such a thing, but it was really interesting! This area didn’t have a SuC nor did it have any destination chargers. I called a few hotels to see if any of them had EV chargers or would let me plug in. The Hampton Inn was nice enough to let me plug into a regular 110 outlet (right by the front door) and I found a Tesla charger at a lodge/restaurant on a lake that was about 25 miles away and an EV charger at an electrical union hall, so I used both of those along with the 110 outlet at the hotel and it worked out perfectly. I spent two nights there and then on to Canada. It was so cold and blustery going through Canada that I didn’t stop, but the drive across the Blue Water Bridge from Canada to Port Huron was beautiful. I grew up in Detroit, and I’ve always loved the Blue Water Bridge! (didn’t care for the tunnel from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario as my older brother always told us to watch the tiles in the tunnel. Then, he would explain the physics of one tile popping and the water pressure filling the tunnel with water. Yeah, love you Don! That was probably the reason I took the Ambassador Bridge vs the tunnel from Detroit to Canada on the way over.) The customs agent at the bridge told me that I was the first Tesla he had personally seen coming across the bridge. I spent the night at the Best Western in Port Huron, Michigan as they had two Tesla chargers and an EV charger, and I love supporting a business that’s supporting electric vehicles. Drove to Novi, Michigan to meet a childhood friend, her sister and a friend of theirs for lunch. I arrived a little early, so I pulled into the Novi Police Dept’s EV charger. I didn’t notice on Plugshare that there was a $3 charge, so that ended up being the sum total that I spend on fuel for the trip. Anyway, it was great to see my friends. Hadn’t seen my friend in about two years and hadn’t seen her sister in about 30! Took them all for a short launch/ride. OMG, they loved it – screamed like they were on a roller coaster. From there I drove to Ann Arbor (SuC is there) and then walked around University of Michigan’s campus and their Matthaei Gardens. Not nearly as nice as Michigan State’s gardens, but it was a beautiful day for a walk. From there I went to North Bay Park near the Detroit airport and walked around Ford Lake. Another gorgeous day – warm, sunny and the park was wonderful. Trails and wooden walkways all the way around the lake. Swans, ducks and not too many people……a great combination!
Then onto the Detroit Airport South Cell Lot to wait for my brother and sister in law who were coming back from an around the world trip. Free EV charger in the lot, so I fueled up while waiting for them. So, they arrive – keep in mind, I’m on a two month automobile coast to coast trip. The trunk area was packed and I had the frunk (front trunk) packed with emergency gear….sleeping bag, lights, water, etc. I rearranged a little, removed the cover up thing, and we packed all of my stuff, and their two LARGE (did I say LARGE….I meant HUGE!) suitcases, two regular suitcases, two backpacks, two carryons and all three of us in the Tesla. We all talked about how it would have made a great commercial.
Then, off to their place in Williamston. I spent the night there and then drove around East Lansing (I lived there for one year when I was a kid and again for six years as an adult while I was attending Michigan State (don’t judge – worked full time while putting myself through undergrad.) I parked at City Hall and used their EV charger – triple bonus – free to park, all of their other slots were paid parking meters – it’s hard to find parking in East Lansing at times – and a free charge! Walked around campus for a while and then back to the car. Then, I drove about 1/2 mile down the street to the East Lansing Library. Another free EV charger. Went inside, worked on my blog for about an hour, left a few bucks in the library donation jar and headed out again. Met the most interesting guy in while I was charging. He was very interested in the car – lots of questions and we had a great time talking cars. He told me that he had a Model T and that this spring he and his two daughters are going to take lessons on how to drive it. Drove over to the MSU/Kellogg Convention Center to plug into another free charger (it did cost me $1 to park for an hour) and then walked around that part of the campus. Then, back to my brother’s place for Chateaubriand for dinner. Life is good!
Off the SuC grid in Iowa, freezing cold in Kansas and back to Denver
After two nights in Williamston, Michigan, I drove to Davenport, Iowa to visit my alma mater, Palmer College of Chiropractic and where the Beiderbecke Inn had a high powered Tesla charger (charges ~60 miles/charge/hour.) If you’re ever near Davenport, Iowa, check out the Beiderbecke Inn. It’s a wonderful four room Victorian B&B. Pam and Dennis are the owners. Their residence is on the first floor and the wonderful B&B rooms are on the second floor. I had the Mississippi Rose room with the cutest covered porch/balcony that looks out onto the Mississippi River. It was awesome – check out the pictures! They have one of Davenport’s only Teslas. One of the first SuC south of Denver was in Springfield, IL at a Scheel’s store. If you’ve never been to one – check them out. This one has 240,000 square feet of everything imaginable! Once I got to the SuC in Hays, KS, it was late and really really cold…..13 degrees cold! So, I stayed in the car with the heat going and napped for a few hours as it was waaaay too cold for this Detroit girl turned San Diegan to get out of the car. This was one of the few places that I had to alter my ideal route: if I could have taken I-80 out of Iowa and over to Denver, it would have saved me about 300 miles. Instead, I drove southeast and then west to get to Denver, where I spent three days visiting my sister, sister in law and friends. So, even though it was a pain, it was the only inconvenience in a trip that logged over 10,000 miles.
Denver, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico
On my way south out of Denver, I topped off to 100% charge at the Lonetree/Park Meadows Mall SuC. This was one of the few times I needed 100% charge since it was 185 miles to the Trinidad, CO SuC and it was cold and snowy outside. Since my trip, Tesla has added a SuC at Colorado Springs. It’s amazing how quickly Tesla’s SuC network increases! While there were six Tesla chargers in Trinidad, all but one had snow piled up on them, and that one already had a Tesla in it. The snow plows had pushed a bunch of snow into the Tesla spaces! (I called Tesla to let them know that someone needed to talk to the plow people.) I had to get out, kick the hardened crusty snow, and then drive back and forth over it to smash it down enough that I could angle into a spot. It does make me a little crazy when Tesla spots are filled. Really, would it be OK if Teslas blocked all gas station spots??? But, considering that I had driven from California to Maine and was on my way back, I guess one minor problem at a charger is saying something! I talked to the family in the other Tesla there. They were heading for the Grand Canyon as their daughter was in the fourth grade and they were taking advantage of Obama’s “Every kid in a Park” program (every fourth grader gets a family pass to the National Parks.) I never even knew there was such a program, but what a great idea! After that, south to the Las Vegas, NM SuC and then Santa Fe. I stayed at the Loretta Inn and Spa, where they had a Tesla destination charger and a last-minute deal for rooms at $114/night. It was an awesome property, beautiful room, and a great town to check out. I enjoyed a margarita and spoke to the bartender and another patron about taking the road trip in the Tesla. It amazes me (and then again, it doesn’t) that people have no idea how incredible Teslas are and that you can totally and easily drive them up and down and all over the country. In the morning, I showed the valet guy how to plug and unplug a Tesla and then drove to the SuC in Albuquerque. Then, onto the Gallup, Holbrook, Winslow, Flagstaff, and Kingman SuC’s. I stayed with a friend in Bullhead City, Arizona, and then back to California. I charged at Indio, CA and took off toward Palm Desert on Highway 74, and had a glorious drive… until I got a speeding ticket! I’ve had my share of speeding tickets in my life, but this was the first in the Tesla. It was almost worth it, as I think it was one of the most fun roads I took on the entire trip – winding down and around the mountains out of Palm Springs. Even the officer had some of the usual questions – where do you charge, how far does it go, how do you find the chargers?
Then, home to Cardiff by the Sea, where the Tesla got to rest at last. Ahhhhh, it was great to be home, but so sad that it was over…..then I remembered, I can take another trip! I’m leaving soon for a trip to Hearst Castle, up the coast of California. Check out that blog also!