Day 8: Final push

Day 8 began in a fairly disappointing manner.  Jesse woke around 10:30 and went to check on the car to find that it had only accumulated 110 miles (plus the 9 we had left over) over night before the breaker blew.  This put us behind our intended schedule for the day, but actually ended up working out for the better.  While the car continued it’s standard charge up to the 250 mile range, we took advantage of another beautiful day to catch up on emails, find some coffee (KOA Madison has a Keurig in the camp store).

From Madison, we headed towards Hagerstown, MD to show the car to some friends there.  We checked into the Jellystone RV Park in Williamsport, MD and had a very interesting discussion there with the staff about the possibility of offering different rates to EV owners who are just looking to stop and charge for the day.

While their current policies didn’t allow for anything other than paying for a full reservation of a site, they at least said they’d look into this further.  Further discussion with the owner of the park said that EV owners have also made a blip on the RV Park Owners Association of America (or something like that) and they’re currently deciding how best to accommodate EV owners in the future.  If anyone knows of this type of governing organization, it might be worth reaching out to them to see if we can’t help them gather facts to make an informed decision.  In my opinion, RV parks have a crucial role to play in making EV travel a reality in the short to mid-term future.

Our friends met us at the RV park and brought a picnic dinner to share while we waited to accumulate enough mileage to make it to the final destination for the evening, northern MD.

Tomorrow is a big day, with two events: a showing at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, at 9am, followed by the Tesla Showroom Event starting at 1 tomorrow in DC.  Hope to see some of you there!

Goodnight, for now: Steve

 

 

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Day 7: No Sleep till Brooklyn (or Pittsburgh)

We left Chicago early morning, determined to make it to the South side of Pittsburgh by the end of the day.  To make it this distance, we had to pull off two charges during the day.

The day started off well with Eric from Tesla Chicago picking us up with a freshly washed and charged car.

We then dropped him off back at the Tesla dealer and hit the road.

Charge stop #1 was in Elkhart, IN, where we stopped at the local KOA and charged up to standard mode.  Because we started off in range mode, it was only a couple hours until full and we were off again.

Next stop was in Sandusky, OH, where we stopped at another KOA and replenished the charge we used from there.  Due to charging infrastructure problems, we were there for longer than we liked, but finally left at 12:30am for a midnight run to our final destination, a KOA in Madison, PA.  We rolled in just after 4:30am, plugged in immediately, and crashed like a beaten sack of potatoes.

Interesting to note that I did find the mileage at which the battery indicator turns red (13 miles).  Not intentionally, we rolled into Madison KOA with 9 miles left and maybe I have range anxiety to thank for keeping me awake on the drive.

EV Terminology: Chargesitting

chargesit: verb – to keep a vigilant watch on your EV as it charges to ensure that there are no charging problems.

other forms: chargesitting, chargesat

Used in a sentence: We weren’t able to make it to Hagerstown on time because we slept in a cabin instead of chargesitting the car.  The breaker tripped after only 30kWh and we needed 65 to make it there.

or: I sure can’t wait until the ‘My Tesla’ app is released for my smartphone, as it will make chargesitting a thing of the past.

Tesla DC Arrival Party

Hello everyone,

We wanted to give everyone advance notice about our arrival into DC and invite you to join us in celebrating the completion of our road trip from Fremont, CA to Washington, DC. Bill, Jesse and I (Steve) will be there to show you the car, discuss what it’s like to cross the country in a Model S, and share stories from our trip. Tesla’s been nice enough to host an arrival party at their DC showroom and even arrange for some light refreshments. Here are the deets:

When: Friday, September 21st, 1-5pm
Where: Tesla Showroom, Washington, DC. 1050 K Street Northwest #101, Washington‎ DC‎ 20001

While walk-ins are absolutely welcome, if you know you’ll be able to attend, shoot us a quick email and let us know you’re coming, so we can do a bit of planning.

Hope to see you there!

Day 6: Tesla Motors Service Center Chicago

After we checked into our hotel in Chicago, we brought the car over to the Tesla Service Center on West Grand Avenue.  Eric Bendler met us there and spent 2 hours with us going over the car, our impressions of the first 2000+ miles and taking our comments on the car.

 

Our suggestions, which Eric eagerly wrote down and sent immediately to Tesla for feedback, were minor in nature and would make a great car, even better.  We are really excited to be part of the early production field test and appreciate the time that Tesla took to listen to our feedback.  And because the car is essentially one giant smartphone on wheels, 95% of the suggestions can be incorporated into software changes and immediately rolled out to the production vehicles in the field.

 

After we were done there, Eric took the car and got it washed (THANKS!) and fully charged it over night.  The car he returned to us in the morning looks a lot more like the car we picked up in Fremont 1.5 weeks ago.

The level of service that Tesla has shown along our trip has been second to none.  Their attentiveness, professionalism and commitment to excellence and to solving problems has been effective and immediate.  Those of you who are purchasing these cars are in good hands when/if you need to have your Model S serviced!

Day 6: Chi-Town

Starting at the border between Iowa and Illinois, we woke up early and headed east (is there any other direction at this point?) to Chicago.

Mostly flat and straight roads, as we neared Chicago, we got a chance to drive the car in traffic, where it performed admirably, but we were reminded that it’s a big car.  When you’re around nothing but 18 wheelers, you don’t really realize your size, but when you pull up next to a Malibu, 3 Series, or 60% of the cars out there today, you realize exactly the size of this car.  It’s not boaty at all, just a large car.

Today was a short day for distance traveled, as it was only about 180 miles, but this left us some time to visit the Tesla Service Center in Chicago (more on this in subsequent posts) and have a real night’s sleep.

We got a chance to also visit our favorite outdoor store, Moosejaw.  The staff there is super friendly and knowledgeable, and even when we’re not necessarily looking for anything, we usually end up with another t-shirt.

Nice enough to come out and say hi was blog follower Todd from the greater Chicago Area.  He’s also got a Model S on order (and just came from a test drive at the Oakbrook Retail Store, and we enjoyed talking about the car, sharing some beers and stuffed Chicago style pizza, and having some very deep discussions about life.

At this point, we’re feeling confident with our ability to make Washington DC on Friday.  Watch the blog for more details about where we’ll be and when.  We hope that many of you can meet up with us and help us celebrate a successful crossing.

Your Best Friend: Cruise Control Explained

So if you’re looking to save a few kWh’s and extend your range, you’ll want to use the cruise control a lot. Much like the computers that actually fly a jet aircraft, the throttle (?? Not a throttle, maybe an accelerator) computers can make finer adjustments much quicker than my size 10.5 boat shoes could ever dream of. It’s actually neat to watch the energy meters make tiny tiny adjustments when the computer is driving.

So here’s how the cruise works.

  • To turn it on, push the stalk in towards the steering column.
  • To set a speed, move the stalk up or down. It’ll engage at the speed you’re currently traveling.
  • To accelerate or decelerate by 1 mph (helpful when trying to follow the inconsistent speed of trucks, not their fault), nudge the stalk up or down, stopping at the first detent.
  • To jump up or down by 5 mph, mash the stalk past this first detent, until it stops, and you’ll be catapulted forward almost instantly, or go into full regen as the car slows.
  • To make gradual but large speed changes, you can push and hold the stalk up or down and the car will change speed by ‘2mph per second’, according to the manual. We’re not sure this is an exact calculation but it’s effective, none the less.
  • To pause the cruise, push the stalk away from you and to turn it off all together, push the stalk in towards the steering column.

One comment on the cruise, which is probably intentional for every day driving, but slightly counterproductive when you’re trying to conserve battery. When you change speed, the car applies liberal amounts of accelerator or decel to get to the desired speed almost immediately, and then jumps back to the steady state condition. And with 416HP and 443lb ft of torque on tap, it could be considered overkill, or at least not how Grandpa (or Grandma) would drive.