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13,000 miles, 45 days, 25 states, 3 people, one 2017 Model S90D

Discussion in 'Model S' started by RCFLMA, Aug 26, 2018.


    RCFLMA Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    Just got back to Massachusetts from an epic cross-country journey with my wife and daughter.

    Interstate Highways & Route:
    • Massachusetts to Milwaukee (I-91, -84, -81, -80, -71, -94, -43), Des Moines (I-94, -80, -35, -29), Kansas City, Topeka (I-70), Denver (I-70), Moab (I-70), Las Vegas (I-70, -15), Mojave (I-15), San Diego (I-15, -40, -17, -8, -5), Los Angeles (I-5, -10) Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey, Palo Alto, San Francisco (I-80), Point Reyes, Napa, Yosemite (I-5), Tahoe, Sacramento (I-80), Mt Shasta (I-5), Klamath Falls (I-5), Crater Lake, Astoria, Walla Walla (I-5, -84, -82), Missoula (I-90), Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Jackson Hole (I-90, -15), Pocatello (I-15), Park City (I-15, -80), Gillette (I-80, -25, -90), Custer (I-90), Lansing (I-90, -94, -69), Port Huron (I-69, -75, -96), Niagara Falls, Buffalo (I-90), and back to Massachusetts (I-90, -91).
    National Parks and State Parks (Spectacular!)
    • Glacier (MT)
    • Arches & Dead Horse (UT)
    • Yellowstone & Grand Teton (WY)
    • Pt Reyes, Yosemite, & Joshua Tree (CA)
    • Badlands & Custer (SD)
    • Niagara Falls (ON)
    Autopilot and Driving Observations:
    • Generally excellent.
    • “Nagging” to hold wheel was appropriate.
    • Crossing state lines can markedly affect autopilot usability. Some states have clean lines, others have all sorts of other markings (tar lines, poor paint jobs, varying pavement colors and textures, etc) that affect the user experience.
    • Interesting to "hear" the difference for tires in different states, since the road construction and materials are clearly different across the country. I had my 25k mile service while in Salt Lake City, and needed new tires.
    Route Selection:
    • Tesla navigation was very good.
    • Predicted battery percentage remaining at destination was quite accurate, perhaps even a bit too conservative. Even on roads with significant elevation changes, the estimates were very good.
    Efficiency and Driving:
    • I am convinced that around 75+% of the additional energy needed to climb was returned on the descent.
    • Driving faster negatively affects efficiency - between 65 and 85 mph, each 5 mph increase costs around 5-8 percentage points of efficiency.
    • With the 90KWH battery, I had no concerns about range.
    Public Perception:
    • Very positive.
    • Lots of questions about range, “filling up”, time to “fill up”, charger availability, reliability, etc.
    • Quite a few were amazed that an electric car with Massachusetts plates was comfortably driving around in the desert or in National Parks.
    Lodging Notes:
    • Easy to find lodging online with appropriate apps (eg,, Expedia, etc), even on only 1- 2 day’s notice.
    Charging Notes:
    • Superchargers are absolutely wonderful for highway driving, destination chargers are useful for overnight charging.
    • Most superchargers are excellent. Some seem a bit wonky. Recommend you make sure your car is charging at a respectable rate before you wander off. Use the Tesla app to confirm.
    • PlugShare is a great app for finding charging options in a specific area.
    • Every hotel or site with a destination charger that I found allowed me to charge, even if I wasn’t staying there. Be polite and ask.
    • Not many hotels/motels have destination or J1772 chargers. Interestingly, some that have them didn’t know it. At a few sites, I found a working charger that the front desk didn’t know about. I suggest you ask at all of them anyway, and thank them upon checkout.
    • Only two problem sites for charging – San Diego and Glacier National Park
    • Bizarrely, San Diego has the greatest concentration of Teslas we saw and by far the weakest supercharger infrastructure. Only two sites – one at Qualcomm in the employee parking lot and the other in a downtown parking structure (which was often blocked by trucks when we were there due to Comic-Con). Completely ridiculous charging support for a city of that prominence.
    • The issue at Glacier National Park is more understandable. It is in northwestern Montana, on the Canadian border. The nearest supercharger is 120+ miles away in Missoula, which is plenty to get you to Glacier. We spent the first two nights at an RV Park and Lodge in Columbia Falls. The room was spartan but adequate. I knew we would be there at a peak time (early August), so I called two days ahead to confirm that 50 amp (NEMA 14-50) service was available. It was available, but I didn't realize that only 2 of the 20 or so had the 50 amp service; the rest had a 20 or 30 amp service which required a much different adapter (rounded plugs, NEMA 6-20?). Upon arrival, I could use the NEMA 15-40 for the first night but that both 50 amp slots had just been reserved for the second night. In retrospect, I should have booked and paid for it when it was still available. My error. By that time, all the 50 amp RV slots we could find in the area had been reserved (again, high season). When we had access to the charger at the RV park, we had plenty of freedom and flexibility to do whatever we wanted at Glacier. When we didn't, I rented an ICE car near the airport for $50-$60 for the one day so that we could have full flexibility.
    • Indicator on the screen when there is or will be no internet connection
    • Capability to set sequential destinations as is available on many of the apps
    • Better a/c flow to back seat
    • Great car, great drive
    • Absolute amazement at the beauty and variety of this country of ours
    • Like x 7
    • Love x 2
    • Informative x 1
  2. dark cloud

    dark cloud Member

    Apr 14, 2018
    289 miles per day; wow, that is a lot of driving! memories you will carry the rest of your life. My daughter is a good traveler, how old is your daughter?
  3. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    McKinney, TX
    You’re lucky. I proposed a trip somewhat like this for spring break next year and the response I got from our two girls was “there’s no way we’re spending our spring break sitting in the backseat of the car for a week.” They’re in high school so I guess family road trips aren’t cool at that age.
  4. Idaho_Steve

    Idaho_Steve Member

    Jan 14, 2018
    Meridian, ID
    Thanks for the write-up. Hoping to do something similiar next year. Echo your comments about the scarcity of charging infrastructure in MT). Northern MT and ND definitely require some advanced planning ... which is all part of the fun.
  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Well-Known Member

    Jul 12, 2012
    Remember those words for future re-use as "There's no way I'm spending my <time period> <doing something they want you to do for them>."


    RCFLMA Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    My daughter is 23 - the first stop was for my 40 year high school reunion. Her first comment when I mentioned it to her was "there's no way in hell I'm missing that"
    • Funny x 1

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