06/15/2016 – 07/07/2016: 5800 Miles TX-OK-NM-AZ-NV-CA Cross Country Roundtrip

This is our longest road trip (5800 mile roundtrip) so far since we bought Saara 18 months ago. The previous longest was 4000+ miles from Austin, TX to New Work, NY. Since we thoroughly enjoyed our earlier 9 day road trip to NY last Fall, we decided to make this one a bit longer to 23 days!

Our main idea was to visit the Bay Area (CA) to meet some friends and also have fun along the way exploring stuff. Following is the list of attractions that we visited during this trip:

Route-66 Attractions
 - U-Drop Inn Cafe - Shamrock, TX
 - Leaning Water Tower - Groom, TX
 - Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, TX
 - Ghost Town - Glenrio, NM
 - Blue Hole - Santa Rosa, NM
 - Musical Road - Tijeras, NM
 - Diner 66 - Albuquerque, NM
 - Sandia Peak Tramway - Albuquerque, NM
 - Elmer’S Bottle Tree Ranch - Oro Grande, CA
 4 Corners Monument - Junction of the 4 States: UT, CO, AZ and NM
 Yosemite National Park
 Bay Area
 - Golden Gate Bridge
 - Lombard Street
 - Fisherman’s Wharf
 - Piers
 - Alcatraz
 - Silicon Valley Companies - Apple HQ, Facebook HQ, Google HQ, Tesla HQ and Factory
 - Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory
 Mystery Spot - Santa Cruz, CA
 Pacific Coast Highway 1 (PCH-1) 
 - 17 Mile Drive - Pebble Beach, CA 
 - Monterey Beach
 - Bixby Bridge
 - Pfeiffer Beach
 - San Simeon Bay
 - Piedras Blancas Rookery
 - Morro Bay
 - Pismo Beach
 - Santa Barbara (Shoreline Park)
 Hollywood Sign - Los Angeles, CA
 Hollywood Walk Of Fame - Los Angeles, CA
 Universal Studios - Los Angeles, CA
 Hoover Dam - Las Vegas, NV 
 Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
 Dinosaur Tracks at Tuba City, AZ
 Antelope Canyon, AZ

During our previous road trip to NY, I had to charge Saara a couple of times at non-Tesla charging stations on the way (in addition to charging at Tesla Destination and Super chargers), which set us back a few hours sometimes, so this time I decided to charge only at Tesla Destination and Superchargers. I did take my CHAdeMO charger with me but never had a chance to use it.

Total Payload (about 900lbs)
2 adults, 3 kids (ages 11, 8 and 8), 2 huge suitcases, 1 cabin luggage, 1 big duffel bag, a big cooler, etc.

Based on the routes to the above listed attractions, below are the list of chargers that I made use of:

Onward Journey Charging DetailsReturn Journey Charging Details

We drove across 6 states (TX, OK, NM, AZ, NV and CA) and brushed 2 (UT and CO) on our way. Based on the lessons learnt from our previous road trip from Austin to New York,
we tried not to drive more than 500 miles per day.

Drive Day Routine
– Breakfast at hotel, checkout and hit the highway by 9am
– Lunch on the way while supercharging. On some days we cooked rice before we checked out of the hotel and had that for lunch along with some readymade curry. If any superchargers were located at any hotels (Holiday Inn, Courtyard Inn, etc), the hotels were always generous to let us use their dining rooms/halls where we had our lunch inside while the car supercharged.
– Reach destination hotel by 6-7pm.

The above routine gave us ample time to stop by and enjoy attractions on the way coupled with 2-3 supercharges.

Charging Limit
Until Day 6, I used to supercharge Saara upto 100%, but after that, I never felt the need to charge it beyond 90% and also due to the fact that charging it to 100% more frequently will affect the life of the battery.

Heat Handling
When the temperatures hovers around 95+ degrees, I noticed that the car made a lot of noise trying to cool the cabin and the battery – the noise was worse when the temperature was hovering around 120 degrees in the Mojave desert.

Out of the total 5800 miles, the car was on Autopilot for atleast 4500 miles with eyes always on the road and hands always on the wheel except while stretching out for a few seconds to relieve stress – it is the best road trip that I have ever taken so far, thanks to Autopilot that took the stress/fatigue away, especially during long stretches. Out of the 5800 miles that my wife and I drove, I was on the driver’s seat for atleast 5600 miles!

As far as the comfort/luxury with 3 kids in the back seat, it was fine most of the times – we played a bunch of road games, kids used their mp3 players whenever needed and to my surprise, they got to watch only 1 movie in the car during the whole trip!!!  Sometimes, I did feel that it was a little cramped for 5, but it was much better than most of the family Sedans that I have come across.

Trip tab in Saara’s Energy App and Plugshare app are the ones that I used most of the times and I did check the altitude of some cities on Google.

Gist of itinerary, with details on any EV related stuff, wherever applicable
Day 2: Route 66 attractions
– U-Drop Inn Cafe – Shamrock, TX (inspired the Ramones Garage in the CARS movie)
– Leaning Water Tower – Groom, TX
– Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX (inspired the background landscape for Radiator Springs town in the CARS movie)

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U-Drop Inn Cafe – Shamrock, TX
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Leaning Water Tower – Groom, TX
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Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX

Day 3:
Route 66 attractions:
– Ghost Town – Glenrio, NM
– Blue Hole – Santa Rosa, NM
– Musical Road – Tijeras, NM
– Diner 66 – Albuquerque, NM
4 Corners Monument (UT,CO,AZ,NM): To get to 4 Corners Monument, we stayed at a destination charger hotel in Farmington, NM. Since the Farmington hotel was just 180 miles from the Albuquerque supercharger, I charged the car to only 90% – 237 rated miles (versus the 100% – 265 rated miles). I had to take I-25 and NM-550 to get there, with most of the drive being on NM-550 which did have a couple of non-Tesla charging stations but we wanted to skip those kind of chargers as much as possible in this trip. Driving on NM-550 eventually got a little trickier and did give us some range anxiety, when we had to reduce the speed a bit and we eventually reached the hotel with 42 miles on the battery!!!

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What more proof do I need to show that I did take Route-66?
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Diner 66 – Albuquerque, NM
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42 remaining miles when we reached Farmington, NM
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4 Corners Monument (UT,CO,AZ,NM)

Day  4: Without a flat tire, can you say that you have been on a road trip??! While we were driving towards Kingman for our night’s stay on day 4, we had a flat on one of our rear tires at around 10pm. I tried using the Fix-A-flat tire kit that I had with me
but to no avail. I called Tesla Roadside Assistance who said that they can have the car towed to my hotel but I have to arrange my own transportation (Cab or Uber) for my family from the incident spot to the hotel, so I called AAA and they sent a flatbed that could also accommodate all 5 of us and took us and the car to the hotel. The following morning, I had the car again towed by AAA from my hotel to the nearest Walmart tire center (as it was a Sun, all tire centers were closed there, except for Walmart) where they patched up the tire. There was a setback of few hours in our schedule that day, but we eventually caught up and were fine from the following day.

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Flat tire when approaching Kingman, AZ at around 10pm

Day  5: Route 66 attraction (Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch), Mojave desert. The temperature that day was a scorching 118 degrees!!! Saara was making a lot of noise while cooling the battery and the cabin. Also, we did charge at our first solar powered Supercharger at Barstow, CA.

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Charged at the solar powered Tesla Supercharger at Barstow, CA
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Driving by Mojave airport

Days 6-8: Yosemite National Park – Hikes to Bridal Veil Falls, Giant Sequoias in Merced Grove, Glacier Point, Vernal Falls, El Capitan and saw some bears in the wild. I used the HPWC destination charger at the camp sites at Yosemite with no issues. I did see a couple of other Teslas but there was no conflict at the single Tesla HPWC charger there.

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Yosemite NP
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Tunnel View (El Capitan on the left, Half Dome in the center, Bridal Veil Falls on the right) @Yosemite NP
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Half Dome on left and Nevada Falls @Yosemite NP
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Camping @Yosemite NP
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Yosemite NP
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Sequoia tree, Merced Grove @Yosemite NP
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Vernal Falls @Yosemite NP
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Horseshoe Tail Falls @Yosemite NP
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Bridal Veil Falls @Yosemite NP
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Charging @Yosemite NP

Day 10: Silicon Valley HQs in the Bay Area, CA
– Apple
– Facebook
– Tesla
– Google

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On the way from Yosemite NP to the Bay Area
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Tesla HQ @Palo Alton, CA
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Facebook HQ @Menlo Park, CA

Day 11-12: San Francisco area
– Golden Gate Bridge
– Alcatraz prison
– Piers and Fisherman’s Wharf
– Lombard Street
– Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory
– Tesla factory

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Golden Gate Bridge @SFO
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Alcatraz @SFO

Day 13-15: Mystery Spot and PCH-1 attractions (Monterey Beach, 17 mile drive, Bixby bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, Piedras Blancas Rookery, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara Beach). I loved and enjoyed the way how the car handled the windy roads of the coastal highway bordering the Pacific.

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Pebble Beach @17 Mile Drive
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Lone Cypress Tree @17 Mile Drive
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17 Mile Drive
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Bixby Bridge on PCH-1
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Pfeiffer Beach on PCH-1
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Pfeiffer Beach on PCH-1
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Piedras Blancas Rookery on PCH-1
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San Simeon Bay on PCH-1
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Morro Bay on PCH-1

Days 16-17: Los Angeles area
– Universal Studios
– Hollywood Sign
– Hollywood Walk of Fame2016 CA Road Trip (787) (Large)
Days 18-19: Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and Dinosaur Tracks at Tuba City, AZ. I charged at the HPWC destination charger at the hotel at Grand Canyon with no issues.

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Lake Mead @Las Vegas, NV
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Grand Canyon NP
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Grand Canyon NP
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Dinosaur Tracks @Tuba City, AZ
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Dinosaur (Dilophosaurus) Tracks @Tuba City, AZ

Day 20: Antelope Canyon, AZ – one of the most beautiful places that I have seen in this vast country. After wrapping up the hike at the Antelope Canyon, we drove back to the destination charger at the hotel where we stayed the previous night to add enough juice to get to the next Supercharger.

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Antelope Canyon, AZ
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Antelope Canyon, AZ
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Antelope Canyon, AZ
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Antelope Canyon, AZ
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Antelope Canyon, AZ

Day 21: Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque, NM2016 CA Road Trip (1021) (Large)
Day 23: Home sweet home!

Summary2016 CA Road Trip (1041) (Large)
– Miles driven: 5794.6
– Miles on Autopilot: Atleast 4500
– Energy consumed (kWh): 1903
– Average energy consumed (Wh/mi): 328
– Number of Superchargers: 38. We did skip a couple of Superchargers on the way as we  had enough juice to get us to the subsequent one.
– Number of Destination chargers: 6
– Number of non-Tesla chargers: 0
– Amount paid for Charging: $0
– Amount paid in Tolls: $0
– Speeding Tickets: None

Lessons Learnt
– AAA service is better than Tesla Roadside Assistance – especially for a family of 5.
– I experienced range anxiety on a couple of occasions in NM and AZ due to the nature of the terrain, so be aware of altitude variations and charge/drive the car accordingly.
– On Autopilot, I experienced much less fatigue, but always kept hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Sometimes when passing huge trucks, I felt like the car was moving towards the trucks, but that could have been just my feeling, so I took over the car manually on some of those occasions.

Tips/Bottom Line
Based on this trip’s experience, given a payload of about 900lbs on the car, driving within 10mph above the highway speed limit, Model S can drive comfortably up to 225 miles on a full charge and one can totally trust the car’s Navigation/Energy app in doing its job!
While charging, whenever the Navigation app was on with the next destination on it, the Charging app would pop up a message “you have enough energy to continue on your trip” as soon as the car determines that the current charge on the battery is enough to make it to the next destination, but
I always waited until the estimated remaining charge on the battery reached atleast 25%.


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