Road Trip to Tesla

Road Trip to Tesla

With the announcement of the next big event, my son and I have decided to spend his summer break road tripping ot across America, from St Louis to California. We plan on arriving in San Jose Sunday just in time to catch the last few hours of the event. We are looking forward to hopefully getting to meet other Tesla reservation jolders and having the chance to talk Tesla with them.

Liz G | 16 mars 2012

Well we have completed the first leg of our journey. We made it Topeka last night after a quick stop on Columbia at Shakesperes pizza, were we met a very nice family and introduced the to Tesla. We also got some pics from our Tesla cam (the RC roadster we got equipped with my son's video camera) for the video diary of the trip we are making.

Todays drive will take us across the state of Kansas into Colorado, where we will be making a quick stop at the Tesla store outside of Denver before spending the night in the mountains.

Mycroft | 16 mars 2012

What fun! I envy you Liz. Sounds like an excellent trip for a mom and her son.

rdgreene | 16 mars 2012

That's a really cool trip!

BYT | 16 mars 2012

Have a fun and safe trip Liz, sounds like a documentary in the making! Title it, From Saint Louie to Cali, Model S Final Destination

Sudre_ | 16 mars 2012

Have fun Liz! You should see if you are going to pass any charge stations on your drive and see if your Model S of choice would have made the drive.

Liz G | 16 mars 2012

So I've been doing the calculations and assuming my Tesla would get 190 miles per charge, I could have easily made the first leg of the trip from St. Louis to Topeka. that's assuming there was a super charging station in Columbia, preferably at Shakespeares pizza. One super charge the would have carried me all the way to Topeka.

Now the second leg of, our trip from, Topeka to Georgetown, Co would be a little trickier. I would need at least 3 stops on the way. One in Russel, didn't look like to bad a town, couple of little restaraunts that may have worked for charging station points. After that I would probably stop on Hayes. It had a nice travel center with a Starbucks and Quiznos and some shopping. The battery wouldn't have been completely spent but the really wasnt a good place to stop between there and Burlington, CO.

Burlington wasn't bad from the you could charge up and make thru Denver to Georgetown in the mountains. Charge up at the hotel and be ready for the trip thru the mountains. Tomorrow we'll see how well we would fair going thru Utah.

Liz G | 16 mars 2012

On a side note. We made a stop at theTesla store just south of Denver. And I have to say everyone there was very nice. They had an alpha there in the pearl white. Not a bad color thou I'm still leaning towards the green. Got a chance to see the interior in the design studio. Talking to the rep there I was told that there are still some changes that may occur on the interior. We specifically talked about somewhere to put sunglasses and the cup holders. And while they would not commot to anything, it did seem like there was a potential for changes yet even though the design studio has been released for the interior.

Finally got a chance to inspect the battery and frame closely. Looks pretty good. Was very interesting how few parts there actually are with the Tesla. Much simpler than a typical ICE.
Also, had a chance to compare the 19 inch wheels to the 21 inch. The 19 inch are bigger than I thought from just looking online, but I think they will do. Unfortunately they didn't have one of the 19 inch aerodynamic wheels. The rep said that he has yet to see one of those. However, after talking to him a bit about the pros and cons I think I'm going to stick to the regular 19 inch. Since my daily drive is only 40 miles round trip the Aero dynamic wheels would have very little affect on my mileage.

Other than that nothing else new to report from the visit, though I did learn that there are about 20 S's ordered in the St. Louis region which is great and they are planning to open about another 15 stores/shops in major cities within the next year.

Hoping one will be in St. Louis.

Liz G | 16 mars 2012

And on a really side note.. both my son and I were excited to see some prong horn antelope and we're hoping to get aglimps of some big horn sheep tomorrow morning before we leave for Utah. If you've never driven thru the Rockies you should make a point to do so. The drive is amazing.

Liz G | 16 mars 2012

Thanks for the well wishes.

Brian H | 16 mars 2012

Went thru the (Cdn) Rockies (w→e) decades ago -- on a Kawasaki 175. Now, that was amazing! The next 1000+ miles to Toronto wasn't bad, either, but nothing matches mountains for exciting beautiful driving.

What are you riding in, btw? Don't recall if you mentioned.

Liz G | 17 mars 2012

@Brian H

Nothing to exciting. I've got my husbands Honda Civic. It's got the best gas mileage of all our cars. Unfortunately I'm running, those gerbils hard driving, thru the mountains.

Liz G | 17 mars 2012

BTW if any one wants me to ask questionsabout the S when I get to the event just put them in this forum. Or if thermis something you'd like a picture of just let me know.

ddruz | 17 mars 2012

Liz G, Good luck on the rest of your trip! If you have time I'd love a picture of the glove box and an estimation of how big it is since this may be our only in-car covered storage. Thanks.

Soflauthor | 17 mars 2012

@Liz: Someone on TMC mentioned that there was a center console attachment of some kind in the Silver Model S, IIRC. If you could take a pic of it, it would be greatly appreciated.

pilotSteve | 17 mars 2012

Great road trip Liz! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Looking forward to your impressions after you see the actual cars.

Liz G | 17 mars 2012

So this is the leg of the trip that gets really tricky with estimating where we would need to have super charging stations. Mainly because of all the mountain driving. And I'm making all my assumptions on charging needs off of the 60kw battery so hopefully I'm not too far off.

OK, so assuming I roll out of bed, shower, throw on my clothes and jump into my fully charger S. Grab myself some breakfast in Georgetown. Which by the way if you do go the don't get the blueberry muffin at the Mountain Buzz pizzaria. it tasted like it was freezer burnt.

Next stop I would suggest is Glenwood. It's a good stop and there's lot to do the including the Tram which was a really neat experience. Stick a charging station there, run up the mountain, check out the view and take a ride on the Alpine coaster. Strangest coaster ride I've been on but a lot of fun.

After charging up there keep heading west. Now we took a detour down to Arches National park. If the gov would go for the parking lot for the trek up to the Delicate arch would be a great spot for a charging station. It'll easily take you 45 mins to walk up there.

However, whether or not you stop and charge up at the park you'll still want to charge up at Green River. Nothing really there but its the only stop for over 100 miles and with all the mountain climbing your going to need all of that charge. Beautiful drive though. The mesas are awesome and the views are magnificent. According to the signs on the road we got as high up as 7882 ft above sea level. Wow.

After all that driving we've stopped at what would probably be your next charge up, in Salina. There are several restaurants here,including the Dennis I'm currently blogging from. Unfortunately, they don't have wireless. Luckily the Super 8 next door does. Anyways off on our last bit of driving tonight. Got a hotel bed waiting for me in Ely, NV.

Liz G | 18 mars 2012

So about 20 miles outside of Salina I realized I may have made a mistake staying in Ely, when I looked at the trip mileage and saw that the distance between Salina and Ely (approx. 248 miles) was greater than the range of my 60kw S. Wouldn't have been a problem if I was getting the 85kw, but I wasn't.

This really didn't phase me though, as I figured that there would be towns along the way that could become potential charging sites. And sure enough, I calculated that I could have waited to charge up in Scipio instead of Salina and I would have made it to Ely. Course there wasn't much there except a Subway and Dairy Queen. And the Dairy Queen closed at 7:30, much to my sons disappointment.

Of course, this really wasn't the true reason why going via Ely was a bad decision. Even when it started raining 150 miles outside of Ely, I didn't have any misgivings. But at 7700 feet above sea level rain quickly turns to snow. And there is nothing more hair raising then driving on winding mountain roads, at night, in white out conditions.

My poor planning and disregard of meterology was apparent to anyone who saw me roll into town an hour and a half later than I planned in Jean shorts and my Tesla T-shirt.

While Missouri may be having an unusually mild winter. It was 80 degrees when I left. It appears the rest of the US still remembers what its supposed to be.

And to top it off I've been informed that all mountain roads west require snow tires or chains. Which, not surprisingly I failed to pack.

So, here I am a wake at 3am. After consultation with the local sherifs department, who were very helpful. I'm about to detour north on 93 to catch 80 west. Hopefully, I make it time for the event. Hopefully I make it through the mountains.

See you on the other side.

David M. | 18 mars 2012

Be safe. What a fun excursion. Enjoy!

ddruz | 18 mars 2012

Good luck Liz! You can make it.

Brian H | 18 mars 2012

Actually brought up Google Street view of Ely! Didja stay at the "Hotel Nevada"? ;)

Is that "Denny's"? That's the chain I'm familiar with.
Hope the snow phase of the meteorology doesn't faze you! ;)

Good luck with the final jump.

Liz G | 19 mars 2012


Nope we stayed at the Ramada. Though the Hotel Nevada was my second choice.

Liz G | 19 mars 2012

Well we made it. After a 12 and a half drive through rain, snow, sleet and hail we got there with 45 mins to spare. Reflecting back on the drive now I do wonder how the S would have faired. Definitely would have needed snow tires. There's no way I would by a cheap see of snow chains and slap them on hoping that they would come flying off if I went to fast, as the Guy I bought them from warned they would do, causing body damage. Yep the S would need snow tires,which I did hear the repmat the show mention. Als, wonder how it would have handled the ice roads. We hit too patch both on hills, one I had warning due to the overturned semi in the ditch and that stretch really wasn't too bad as long as you slowed down. The other was during the hailnstorm when a car I front of us lost control and blocked the roads causing us to stop. Almost got stuck there when I had trouble getting traction. I can only hope that if I were in the Tesla and had snow tires I would have been OK as the issue was traction. I do wonder though how the aluminum body would have held up to being hit by the hail. It was larger than pea size, some of it almost as big as whoppers candy and there was no place to take shelter.

As far as charging goes, while I was unable to pay close attention to the best points to stop at, go figure, there were plenty of small towns along the way where charging stations could be placed.

Liz G | 19 mars 2012

Now about the Model S's at the show.

I have to admit the interior did not Wow me. Other than the touch screen I found it to be very bland. They had an example of the lacewood which was really interesting, it has a texture to it which is kinda neat. I've already made some comments on the other threads about storage, so I won't repeat them here. Comparing it to the Leaf, I got more of a Wow factor out of the Leafs interior. But the exterior was still far superior.
I did ask about the glove box, but neither of the 2 "production" line betas they had had a functioning glove box, so I wasn't able to get pictures. The rep did try to describe it to me, but wasn't very successful. Right now I have a Subaru Baja and the way he described it I'd have a slightly larger glove box but not much, and I'm not sure how easy it will be to get to from the drivers seat.

As far as the center console question. It was only a rumor that they would be showing an option at the show. Both of the "production" line cars had the open console and when I asked the rep I was told there currently was no center console option.

I really liked the design of the doors. I thought of any part of the interior they fit the car the best. And there's a neat arm rest built into the door tha's molded to fit your arm better than the flar rectangular ones I've seen in some other cars.

The head room in the back may be a problem for taller people. My son who is 5'9"sat back there for me so I could compare between the pano roof and none pano (they had one of each). There was definitely less room in the non pano than the pano. Even my son looked like he might hit has head if we hit a large bump. When I mentioned this to the rep, I didn't really car for the comment he gave. He said that it would be OK because they found that most people tended to slouch down in the seats so they could lay their head back on the top of the seat. Apparently, that's why they've now removed the head rests on the back seats.

Luckily for me I don't plan on transporting too many people in the back seat, so most of the time this won't be an issue for me. As long as my son doesn't grow too much taller. :-)

The door handles were still nifty, though they didn't retract as fast as people thought they should. I sat and watched for a while and people would shut the door and then stand there and wait andthen in about 5 or so seconds they would finally retract. A number of people would actually shut the door wait a second and then open it and shutn it again, thinking that they hadn't shut it tight or something.

Liz G | 19 mars 2012

All in all, I'm still going to get the S. The outside is sleek. And while I wish the interior had more storage and more pop, it will fit my needs for my daily driving. And I do believe this car and this company has a future. I am going to look into leasing though versus buying if that is an option. I feel that in two or three years Tesla will make major changes to the interior based on owner feedback and with the improved batteries, I'll defitely want an upgraded version.

Liz G | 19 mars 2012

One other thing, the store there had a program for calculating mileage based on driving conditions and it makes me wonder if I was over estimating the range I would have gotten on this trip.

Hopefully, this program will show up on the website some tome soon but here are the numbers I remember.

60 kW at 55 MPG = 238 miles
60 kW at 65 MPG = 199 miles
There was no option for 75 MPG but makes me wonder if this is basically linear and the miles would have been 160

Also 60 kW at 65 MPG at 32 degrees = 189 miles
85 kW at 65 MPG at 32 degrees = 259 miles
I think the other numbers were at 70 degrees. So there is a slight degredation as temperature decreases but not much.

They also had a program for calculating the number of charges you would need based on the distance you were traveling. Highest it would go was 400 miles. So for the 60 kW to go 400 milesat 65 MPG, you would need 2 charges. Assuming you start out full it said go 179 miles then charge from 10% to 80% in 41 mins then drive 139 miles. Which takes you back down to 10%. You then charge up to 51% in 21 mins which allows you to drive the last 82 miles of your trip. So the whole trip including charging would take 7 hours 11 mins. Not sure if I would only charge up to 51% on that last charge. Would depend on how fast I'd need to get to my destination. But it was a nice little program to give some ideas on how you would need to plan for a trip.

BYT | 19 mars 2012

Thanks Liz, I hope you had a great trip even after all the weather delays.

Brian H | 19 mars 2012

Great detail. Thanks. Based on the Roadster vids and data about traction control, I think you'd have had less trouble in the S than the Honda.

BTW, it's "MPH" not "MPG". Per hour is speed, per gallon is range.

Liz G | 20 mars 2012


Thanks for the catch. With this trip I guess I have MPG on the brain.

ddruz | 20 mars 2012

Thank you very kindly Liz. I'm delighted you made it. Wish you could have been there earlier with all the effort you made. Very much appreciate your comments.

kidheme | 20 mars 2012

Hi Liz, 20 Model S's in St. Louis is great--more than I thought (I'm P2636). Where would you put the StL dealership? Plaza Frontenac?, maybe Clayton?
Have a safe trip home.

Sudre_ | 20 mars 2012

I would put it in Clayton.

I was noticing that the Kingshighway dealership row in St. Louis city has a lot of vacant space cheap but I highly doubt that is the client list Tesla is looking for, even tho I live in the city.

St Charles probably wouldn't work since many of the people outside the 270/255 circle think EVs are only for city folks (trucks and SUVs are the game). That would also include South into the Arnold area. Maybe an option when X rolls off the line.

That leave West but you don't want to get too far away from those city folks so Clayton is perfect.... maybe Ladue.

Crow | 20 mars 2012

Good luck in the mountains this time.

Liz G | 20 mars 2012

Clayton wouldn't be bad. Of course for me I'd prefer Chesterfield as I'm actual out in Wentzville.

Brian H | 21 mars 2012

How does the route back look? Have you hit the road yet?

Liz G | 21 mars 2012

We are on the road heading home now. Left Monterey this morning. Took a day off from driving and did some whale watching and visited the Aquarium. Haven't been there in 20 years, since I was stationed there. Its changed a bit, but for the better. Still thinking about retiring ther.

Anyways, so we are talking a more southernly route back. Going to spend tonight in Las Vegas and then hit the Grand Canyon and Petrified forest tomorrow. I've adjusted my estimate for how far I can go based on the new milage info I got in Santana Row. Figuring An Average speed of 70 mph I should get about 179 miles to the charge. But since I would probably charge up to 80% that probably gives me a range betweeen charges of about 130 miles. A bit short but not there seem to be enough places to stop.

First stop would be Lost Hills not much of a town but a few restaruants where you could log into the internet and sit down for some authentic mexican food. Next stop would be Boron, CA not sure what you're going to do there. Might want to have a good book along. Then one final stop in Baker to charge up just enough to make it ti Vegas. And a side note: Looks like Baker has one of the few remaining Big Boys. There's also a Mad Greek Cafe for those of you who want something other than American fare.

Liz G | 21 mars 2012

So I just passed a sign that said "Avoid overheating turn off AC next 16 miles" I'm guessing that this would not be a problem fo the S. Any thoughts?

BYT | 21 mars 2012

It shouldn't be an issue with the battery being liquid cooled but it's a good question to ask! The folks in Arizona with Roadsters can probably give us the best answers Liz.

ThomasN | 21 mars 2012

Check out Bryce and Zion national parks on the way. Amazing scenery

Sudre_ | 21 mars 2012

What Thomas said! I skipped Zion so many times on that drive. We went last year and it was fantastic.
I like the North rim of the Grand Canyon best.