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Desert Southwest Trip

edited November 2019 in Model S
We had such a great time last November in Palm Springs and Idyllwild, CA that we wanted to return.

We spent 10 days in Desert Hot Springs relaxing in the mineral pools at Lido Palms, seeing friends, fine dining, and exploring Joshua Tree. We ended up driving around Joshua Tree a bit, but it was quite windy and cold. We'll come back in the spring for the flowering.

As soon as we realized weather in Arizona was favorable, we headed east to see friends in Cave Creek and Phoenix.

Sedona for Thanksgiving then on to Tucson.

Home first week of December in time for Christmas!

That was 2015. Now we are back in Desert Hot Springs, at our favorite apartment at Lido Palms Resort, charging overnight on the newly installed 14-50 outlet, and visiting with family from Denver. Home November 20.

Four years later, we keep coming back, although our trips to Phoenix and beyond have become more limited!


  • edited November -1
    A googol search says it reopened on July 24 last. I looked as I expect to go that way to Palm Desert later this year. For my annual snow bird stay in the desert.
  • edited November -1
    google of course.
  • edited November -1
    A google search says it reopened on July 24 last. I looked as I expect to go that way to Palm Desert later this year. For my annual snow bird stay in the desert.
  • edited November -1

    That is odd, as the notice displayed right in the Nav instructions earlier today. Yet when we zoomed in, there was no traffic jam in red. Better check Waze tomorrow before we head that way.

    Any particular routes through Joshua tree that the T would enjoy driving?

    Should be good weather.
  • edited November -1
    Per D.O.T. CA, I-10 is closed 10.7 miles east of Cathedral City to Indio from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. Monday through Saturday (Detour available). Construction will continue until 11/21/15.
  • edited November -1
    @Simply Red,

    Thank you so much!
  • edited November -1
    Enjoy your trip. BTW, if you head to Sedona I would also recommend a stop in Prescott and Jerome. You may have read this info before so I'll make it brief. If you charge in Quartzite and head to Wickenburg (nice road) for another charge take AZ89 to Prescott. A great scenic ride! I stayed at the St Michael Hotel on Whiskey Row but no charging. You will have plenty of charge from Wickenburg to Sedona (actually, enough to reach Flag). I believe there are a number of trails from Slide Rock State Park just outside of Sedona.

  • edited November -1
    @Simply Red,

    That is fantastic info, thank you. I hope we get to go to AZ.

    Meanwhile, we are checked into our hotel in Desert Hot Springs, after lunch in Temecula with a friend, a stop at Trader Joes, and a top off at Cabazon Supercharger.

    Water is pouring out of Miracle Hill and into our swimming pool and is a muscle healing 90 degrees!

    The palms are rustling and the beds are Tempur pedic.

    More tomorrow.
  • edited November -1
    first report:

    November 8, 2015
    Coursing through CA’s Inland Empire

    We packed the T full with food, water, wine (frunk) and necessities for our desert trip. Pulled the plug on range charging when it hit 261 miles and headed north from San Diego to Temecula. Steve took the first leg, but was sneezing uncontrollably, and with eyes watering, said “switch drivers”. I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up meats and yogurts, and then we walked around Temecula’s Old Town. Sun was shining brightly as we returned to the town’s parking structure where we needed to charge one year ago on our Idyllwild to Palm Springs trip. The Cabazon Supercharger makes this unnecessary today.

    Met a friend of my cousin Janey’s for lunch at Baily’s Temecula. We learned she was involved in a near-fatal car collision a week ago Friday, but survived with only bruises, but her Subaru was totaled. She is quite philosophical about it, but shaken.

    The nav system kept altering the heading off the 215 freeway into the back country of southern CA’s Inland Empire. Sere country, winding roads, dairy cows with their heads through feeding bars in long rows outdoors. Our Classic S85 was rock steady and quiet as we coursed through the curves.

    Entering I-10 east toward the ten stalls at Cabazon Supercharger, massive stands of windmills appeared. The Supercharger is right off the freeway near a McDonalds. The entrance to the adjacent mall is through iron gates, and gives one a sense of modern shops along a winding way that seems medieval in layout. Announcements in Japanese catered to the tourists brought here in vans for shopping!

    We averted our eyes on the rutted road into Desert Hot Springs, as the turning of wind turbine blades made our minds go tilt!

    The Lido Palms is a complex of 10 one story apartments surrounding 3 mineral pools. We have the end unit, with black slate tiles, recliners, full kitchen, Tempur Pedic beds, pistachio and brown accents, and ample storage.

    The mineral water here has won awards, and come from the Miracle Hill deposit right under our hotel (and beyond). I hopped into the 90 degree warm pool with the other ladies and was buoyed by the constantly welling current. Water in the pools is changed 9 times a day. Magnesium, sulfur, copper, silica, and sulfur make up the content.

    We should be here 9 nights, and will explore Joshua Tree national park. We also have in mind Palm Springs’ aerial tramway, the hot springs discovery museum, outdoor Palm Springs Saturday market, fine dining. We plan to see friends, walk and swim. Maybe a spa treatment! I’ll try to get the French massage therapist so I can practice. The weather is fine, and we already feel relaxed.
  • edited November -1
    November 11, 2015
    Desert Hot Springs Currents Run Deep

    We’re taking the waters, here at the spa. Floating buoyantly in the Lido Palms 93 degree swimming pool, the 98 degree indoor pool and the 105 degree Jacuzzi. The fierce winds of the last 3 days finally calmed, leaving the palm fronds still.

    Nice to have a kitchen. Our lunch here was chicken breast Marsala with Crimini mushrooms, ham cubes, onions, fresh thyme and cream, sugar snap peas, salad with avocado and a Pinot Noir.

    At 1:30 p.m., we took the $12 tour at the Cabot museum up the hill. Pat Larson explained how a man from a Midwestern mercantile family bought a large tract of land on the hill northeast of Palm Springs, bare desert. What he built using scavenged materials resembles a multi-layered Hopi pueblo.

    He had to walk 7 miles from the railroad terminus to fetch water. Paying attention to Indian legends, he dug Indian style ramps here on Miracle Hill in Desert Hot Springs. He found excellent water springs, both cold and hot.

    In 1941, he began building. He made rooms to the length of wood he found, and built small windows and passageways to create a cooling effect on hot days. In one room with rock fireplace, he kept the floor of natural earth covered with gravel. After his first wife left for Seattle with his son, he married again, and built a suite of rooms with kitchen, shower and bathtub.

    Pat told amusing stories about the mule Merry Christmas, who was trained to pick up a bottle of water in his mouth and tip it up to drink it.

    The tour concluded with a gift of a bottle of Mission Springs water, which has won several awards for taste. Outside, we strolled around looking at outbuildings, desert gardens and sculptures.

    We learned about the fanciest resort in Desert Hot Springs, Two Bunch Palms. Apparently it is 75 years old, and was a hangout for mob and movie stars. We heard several recommendations about the Essence restaurant, and “discovered” 2 Tesla 80 amp charging units. The grounds are beautiful and green, with pools, ducks, water coursing down slopes, mud baths and massages offered in separate wooden structures. The restaurant looked excellent, although we felt overdressed, as patrons were in their spa bathrobes! While we were enjoying the spacious grounds, T picked up 40 miles of range in 35 minutes at 79 amps!

    Desert Hot Springs currents run deep…both aqueous and electrical.
  • edited November -1
    Spencer’s restaurant at west end of Baristo is excellent. Palm Springs.
  • edited November -1
    Met @Greenee and her 85D 'Red' today!
  • edited November -1
    You did not say you went to Spencer's. Fantastic old style restaurant, a favorite. Enjoyed the lunch at Essence, but enjoyed the company more. Thanks for making the forums fun to read!
  • edited November -1
    Today was a highlight of our trip, nice to meet the real people who drive these cars of the future. I always learn something every time. See you next time we come through Palm Springs!
  • edited November -1
    November 14, 2015
    Farmers, Model Airplanes, Tram!

    Saturday is farmers’ market day at the Camelot Theater on Baristo in Palm Springs. Local purple, orange and green broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce and avocadoes shone with freshness in the morning sun. We also purchased homemade borscht and beet almond salad from a Ukrainian man from Odessa.

    Our friend George from our aerospace days invited us to the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club’s site in the farm country south of I-10 and 86. We passed enormous flat fields of vegetables, table grape vines, and mysterious forests of date palms, with protective bags lying on the ground after the recent harvest. He told us that agriculture is still California’s number one economic activity, and it is agriculture which gets first priority on water. Here, some 4,000 workers tend the crops.

    A group of congenial enthusiasts gathered under the sheltering tents over custom built long tables with embedded posts protruding upward to support the model airplanes.

    Our friend has accumulated 2,000 hours piloting a Cessna and demonstrated perfect skill in flying the three airplanes he had brought. Each maneuver, twist, roll and turn was precise and beautiful.

    I’m including technical details that he supplied: “The airplane we flew with the streamers is a model of the Russian YAK 54 competition aerobatic airplane. Wingspan is 64", weight is 6 lbs with battery. Battery is a 6-cell lithium polymer battery, 4.2 volts per cell or 25.2 volts when all cells fully charged. Amp draw at max power is 60 amps or 1500 watts power. I measured static thrust at 6+ lbs, this will actually be more in the air because prop "bite" is better with forward airspeed. So power to weight ratio on the airplane is 1:1, making climb performance very good. Battery endurance on most of our models is 6-10 minutes depending on how much time at high throttle.

    "The white biplane resembles a full-size Pitts Special aerobatic airplane, popular on the competition circuit for many years. Wingspan is 41", weight is 4.4 lbs with battery. Battery is a 4-cell LiPo, 16.8 volts fully charged. Current draw at max power is 50 amps, so 50 amps x 16 volts = 800 watts. Again, I like 200 watts/lb for good performance.

    "The model Steve flew is the North American T-28 "Trojan" advanced trainer used by both the Navy and Air Force for many years. Wingpan is 35", weight with battery is 2.2 lbs. Battery for this is a 3-cell LiPo, 12.6 volts. 30 amps x 12 volts = 360 watts, so power/weight on this model is around 160 watts/lb, good enough for modest performance.

    "We didn't see any at the field yesterday but there are even bigger electric-powered models with 8 ft and 9 ft wingspans. They run 10-cell and 12-cell LiPo batteries, 5 amp-hr capacity. They draw 100 amps at max power for almost 5000 watts to the motor, more than 6 horsepower. Cooling for the motor, speed controller and batteries are significant issues on these airplanes.

    "Speed control on the motors is just like on your car: pulsed DC current (i.e. alternating current) is sent in phases around the motor windings by the computerized controller. The faster the pulses, the faster the motor turns the prop. The bigger the prop, the more current draw (power) and heat but less battery endurance. So it's all a balance.”

    I shot photos of all the model airplanes for my sister Gail, who loves everything that flies! There was also a cool F-18 model whose pilot was skilled, like George, and used electric motor drive high-speed fans rather than the propellers used on the acrobatic planes.

    We headed to the Indio Supercharger, and set up the parcel shelf table that Steve had made and picnicked on cold chicken, avocado and beet salad with a Cotes du Rhone wine. After conversing with locals at the supercharger, I took the wheel and drove to the Swiss-built Palm Springs Aerial Tram.

    Elevation at the bottom is 2,643 feet, and the tram brought us to 8,516 feet. We reached the top at 2:15, and it was 47 degrees in the shade. Several sunny vantage points afforded a gorgeous view over the windmills, the airport, Desert Hot Springs, the Joshua Tree park’s western facade, the San Andreas Fault, and the desert communities with deep pockets of green golf courses and parks. Behind us were the San Jacinto peaks, with pinyon and Jeffrey pines, and white firs. Descending in the 80 passenger gondola with revolving floor, we spotted yucca, yellow sycamores, and striated grey and beige granite rocks. We rode down with 64 year old twin brothers who had spent 5.5 hours climbing to mountain station.

    Gorgeous and wonderful day. Thanks to George for orchestrating it. It would take many hours of practice to master flying to the level he has achieved. So we’ll just concentrate on piloting our electric battery powered “magic carpet” T around the desert southwest.
  • edited November -1
    November 17, 2015
    Springs to Saguaros

    Tuesday was a long day in the saddle, working in harmony with the T’s needs and our own. Bidding a wistful goodbye to the Lido Palms’ magical hot springs, we bolted out at 7:15 am. A clear 45 degree day dawned, San Jacinto mountains pink with morning sun. Dust devils in a cross wind. Half hour to Indio Supercharger, 15 minutes to top off and get rid of morning coffee. An hour and a half of monotonous high desert climbing. Then, an amazing panoply of purple mountains’ majesty!

    At the Quartzsite Supercharger, Carl’s Jr restrooms are still dirty. With a feeling of shame, we picked at fried onion rings in the 20 minutes we were there.

    Our 1.5 hour longest stop was planned for Wickenburg Supercharger for lunch. Exiting truck choked interstate 10 east, we entered 60, a two lane road rising and falling. Low cactus, a profusion of trailer parks, farms. Suddenly, the green rolling hills were punctuated by majestic saguaro cactus, their graceful curving spiny arms pointing skyward. We caught glimpses of desert sand washes, and standing water from recent squalls.

    We set to 100% charge in Wickenburg and headed down the hill behind the quaint town’s municipal building across Wickenburg’s main street to Bedouian’s Bakery and Bistro, where we ordered shish kebab, salad, spinach and feta quiche and an amazing fresh fruit bowl. Oriental rugs hung on the wall and we were told Victor Bedouian had a shop next door. As we collect oriental rugs and have ten at home, after lunch we went to the shop and saw a small but select collection, not too pricey. It’s right behind the restaurant down the slope.

    T was charged to 261 miles, with 50 to go to north Phoenix. We checked into the Residence Inn, and wasted no time convincing Luis and Jonathan to hook us up to the 120 V outlet out of the electrical room. We were getting 4 miles per hour of charge and woke up with a full tank (90%).

    At 6 PM, the hotel grilled chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers with fixings, served wine and beer, and cantaloupe and watermelon. Tomorrow also!

    And on the tenth day, they did laundry! That, and a home cooked lunch today before seeing our friends Friday and Saturday. Knowing us, we will not be able to resist visiting the Tesla Service Center sometime Thursday!

    Thanks, everyone, for the driving and restaurant tips!
  • edited November -1
    What a fantastic write up!
    It wasn't hard to imagine being right there with you instead of riding this desk and avoiding explaining to our Chief of Staff why we've spent so much money on overtime this year.
  • edited November -1
    Haha @PhillyGal, fun to be distracted from boring things, isn't it?

    Forgot to mention that we didn't use beta in car trip planner. Instead, we navigated from Supercharger to Supercharger, using the trip graph with percentages to get to the next objective. We watched as the yellow graph line changed to green as electrons were being added.

    We kept 20-30% buffer due to climbing and headwinds on the legs we drove.
  • edited November -1
    Just got back from Tucson. Should you venture south of Phoenix (Casa Grande, actually), as evidently the Supercharger team has not, do note that of the 3 Chademos within 50 miles of Tucson (there used to be 4, but the one at Picacho Peak is no more), the one at the Nissan dealership on the north central side of Tucson is available during business hours, free, throttled by manufacture to 20kW, and is serviced by a 50A circuit. Translated, this means it will take 5+ hours to gain a full charge. Fortunately, one needs just enough to get to the Casa Grande SC, which is about 75 miles away via a relatlvely flat stretch of I-10.

    The east side Marriott listed at their own site earlier this year as having EV chargers does not.

    There are a handful of hotels that have chargers - most want over $200/night plus resort fees. However, one can lunch at these and have access for a couple of hours - see the La Paloma and JW Marriott properties.

    We used for a Tucson condo rental and it worked out fine, except there was no EV charging - no big deal, given the Nissan dealership and gracious manager and personnel thereof (thanks, Darrin and Tom).

    Tangentially, in order for the eminently more sensible I-10 route east to become viable during the winter months, Tesla will need to build at least 8 SCs from Tucson to near San Antonio through Deming, El Paso, and points east such as Ranger or Van Horn. Tesla built exactly ZERO of those in 2015 and exactly ZERO of those have yet been sited, let alone permitted or are under construction.

    Having just come back from Florida via the more northern OKC/NM/Flagstaff route, I can tell you that will be the last time that happens after October and before April. Have driven in an ICE the I-10 route numerous times and there's a reason why people do that. Am taking a close look at what RV parks and Nissan dealerships exist between Tucson and San Antonio now. It doesn't look great.
  • edited November -1
    Hey, I just tracked down your thread. When you moved from the Southern California Club to this location did you need to go through a Supercharger. ;-)

    Taking the road from Quartzsite to Wickenburg is a nice way to travel. The road is well paved and lightly used. The restroom facilities in Wickenburg's City Hall are superior to Carl's Jr. Did you have a chance to walk into Nana's Sandwich Saloon across the street from the Superchargers to do a little shopping? Last time there I picked up a nice tea set for a family gift.

    Hope you two consider stopping at Prescott and Jerome if you're still planning on visiting Sedona. I enjoy reading your adventures. Continue to have a safe journey.
  • edited November -1
    @Claudia: Thanks for the marvelous travelogue. Enjoy every minute of your trip.
  • edited November -1
    LOVING this journey!!!!!

    Please do share your wine and cheese pairings when they happen.
  • edited November -1
    Really great thread and posts, @sbeggs. Pictures would be great, but your writing is already picturesque :)
  • edited November -1
    Thanks for the realistic evaluation of the effect of winter conditions for driving the route out of Flagstaff. We are in north Phoenix now heading for Sedona Sunday. Will look at weather conditions Monday for visiting Meteor or Sunset craters north and east of Flagstaff.

    Holding reservations at Lodge on the Desert in Tucson for after Thanksgiving. We stayed there 30 some years ago, traveling in the 1970 Buick Skylark! We need to have lunch at a place with HPWC, we have dual chargers. We do not have the CHAdeMO adapter.

    We also look forward to Tesla fleshing out the most southerly of cross country routes.
  • edited November -1
    We took your suggestion, @Simply Red, to drive the road to Wickenburg, thanks! Will explore your other suggestions from Sedona!
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