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1500 Mile family adventure - Frozen, stranded, but loads of fun :)

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by KOL2000, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. KOL2000

    KOL2000 Member

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    Below is a fun account of our holiday trip from San Diego to Arizona and Nevada. Cargo was about 500 pounds and the frunk and trunk were stuffed to the brim. Me and my wife and the 6 year old, 4 year old, and 7 month old baby...

    Day 1 (Dec. 26) - We leave with a full tank (255 RR) and get to Yuma with 14 miles remaining. We made a brief stop at the El Centro Costco and I kept to the speed limit the entire time. I can see why the El Centro Supercharger is being built – it's a nail biter of a trip in an 85 if you have cargo and it's cold outside - charged to full capacity. Traveled on to Phoenix via Gila Bend - another nail biter with 13 miles RR remaining upon arrival. Was able to charge at a full 110 kWh at this stop. We stayed at the Hilton Tapatio Cliffs resort. They had 110V charging but it was crap (2 miles an hour and far walk from the room) but we didnt need it as we could recharge at the Scottsdale Tesla store.

    Day 2 - Fun in Phoenix and Scottsdale area. Went to Butterfly wonderland and the kids loved it!

    Day 3 - off to Sedona with a stop off at Cordes Lakes for a charge and Montezuma Castle. Absolutely beautiful sites. Stayed at the Best Western and they let us charge at a healthy 4 mph in a 110 outlet.

    Day 4 - More sightseeing in Sedona and then off to Williams, AZ via Flagstaff for a ride on the Polar Express. Stayed at the Best Western again. This time I highjacked a 110V outlet from one of the poles that was powering christmas lights. The people at the desk had no idea what an EV was and looked at me when I was from mars asking to plug in.

    • Advice: Stay at the Grand Canyon Railway hotel when you go to Williams as you can use a NEMA plug there. They were sold out or we would have stayed there.

    Polar express ride was great- highly recommend for kids

    Day 5 - Visited Grand Canyon. Had enough juice to get to the south rim but not enough to go back. No problem though as I could charge at the Trailer Village RV park. No cell access there so had to pray that during our 6 hours it was not unplugged. A supercharger or destination charger at the GC seems like a real need here. Luckily we returned to a nearly full battery with a 30-31 mph charge! Did some more sightseeing and then went to Flagstaff to stay at the Marriot Courtyard with the supercharger. This turned out to be a life saving move. The hotel is very nice and had an indoor pool which the kids enjoyed. I charged to 90% and then parked the car in an adjacent spot. We went to sleep and heard there would be a bit of snow overnight. How nice the kids can have a snowball fight, right?

    Day 6 and 7 - We wakeup to SNOWMAGEDDON in arizona. Everything is covered with 10-20 inches of snow.... Luckily I brought my snow chains (read about that adventure here: Into the storm...). As you can see from the pics the car was immersed in snow and nobody was at the supercharger so I made it my own for an hour while I got the car ready and preheated the cabin. IF you are curious, YES you can use a supercharger to power your climate :) Good think I charged to 100% as you will see below I needed every last electron. Little did we know what hellish experience was awaiting us....

    With our snow chains we felt like KINGS of the road (it would later be my downfall). We went everywhere. Even beastly pickup trucks couldnt keep up with us. On the on-ramp to I-40 we passed one car after another (including a new porsche panamera) spun out and stuck as the snow plows couldnt keep up with the blizzard. We drove to williams and visited Bearizona, a drive through park where the animals come right up to your car. It was amazing as we were the only people at the park (it was covered with 6-12 inches of snow and continued to fall). In fact they closed the park while we were there! The kids loved it. Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a bit of a somber note...

    We got on to I-40, hearing rumors that there is was an extreme traffic jam (but nothing online az511.com indicated what would happen next), and took off the snow chains as the highway was manageable without them. We left Williams, AZ at 2:30 and at 330 pm we came to a complete stop. Over the next 12, yes TWELVE hours, we remained in that general spot (perhaps moving a few miles). IT was a scene out of a movie. People were building snowmen on the side of the road. Everyone was talking. Hours went by and soon sunset came. The truckers had relayed to people via their CB radio (no cell reception!!!) that we should prepare to spend the night on the road as it was officially closed due to numerous accidents and trucks that were jackknifed. At this point we had about 35 miles to go to get to Kingman supercharger and roughly 70 miles of RR.... We rationed our energy like bread during the great depression. We bundled up and tried to use our bodies as heat generators since we had no idea how long we would be out there. Slowly I watched as the RR dropped mile by mile. We spend New Years Eve on I-40 (see attached photo - notice lights on car behind us are off - everyone sleeping on the interstate - also notice icicle growing on our trunk) as the car froze nearly to death with the windchill at -20 and the temp at -10. Then, at around 330 AM a patrol officer knocked on our window and said the road is ready and to travel with caution. He recommended putting on the chains. Unfortunately, in my frozen and delirious state I put one of the chains on in the wrong fashion (misaligned) and this would be the biggest mistake of the journey. We made it about halfway to kingman before hearing a pop and the tire went flat.... I can tell you theres nothing worse than this. Spending 12 hours on the freeway, getting out finally, and then getting a flat..... Managed to limp it at 5 mph to a rest stop and called Tesla roadside that sent a flatbed and we arrived in Kingman at about 7am. We were able to get a room (another Best Western) and some sleep and then I had to get the car repaired. Unfortunately Tesla's tires and rims are like exotics and everything was closed on New Years Day so I get a flatbed to take the car and the family to Vegas for our final stop.

    All worked out great and the Tesla Las Vegas team replaced the tire, cleaned the car (they said it took a while to dig it from the caked ice), and parked it at our hotel. In hindsight I should have either been more careful putting the chain on or simply taken it off sooner but I was operating in an impaired and frozen form. The kids did great through all of it and were either asleep or watching their iPads.... Thank goodness.

    Day 8 - After some sightseeing in Vegas (the sharks at Mandalay Bay and games at Circus Circus) we returned to San diego after a brief visit to the hoover dam. I found that going to Primm and then to Rancho Cucamonga is much better than Vegas to Barstow.

    Overall the car performed like an absolute champ. They really do mean NO COMPROMISES when they say it. The people that say the Model S is a "toy" are simply ignorant. It has a cavernous amount of space, is a dream to drive, and is the only car on the planet that you can take 3 kids in for this kind of trip and dust any M5 you see at a stop light (and now ferraris with the D). I think that the other car companies must be shaking in their boots and hoping that Elon and his team are shut down somehow. The media has it all wrong, saying that gas prices going down will have an adverse effect on the company. Let me make it clear -- DEAR OPEC, You can give your oil away for free and I won't ever buy another ICE car again. For me, it's not only about the environment, this is simply the future of transportation and a dream to drive.

    22,000 miles on the odometer and I'm still looking for excuses to go out for a run and drive this thing! Even after our 12 hour ordeal on I-40...


    Some observations and recommendations for the Model X (which we are waiting for)-

    • The frunk needs space - enough for a stroller. I couldn't have done this trip in a Model S with dual motors.
    • More general cubby spaces would be good.
    • A built in entertainment system would be great for back seat.
    • More powerful USB ports (and more of them) - 1 Amp is crap and charges at an unacceptably slow rate. Same goes for the cigarette lighter. It's crap.
    • Better heating and ventilation for the back seat
    • Better insulation in the cabin
    • Adjustable head rests (please dont copy and paste the Model S seats into the X)
    • Beefier defrosters for when you are stuck in a blizzard for 12 hours
    • Bigger glove compartment please


    PS. For those that buy the snow chains if you need help putting them on (the instructions are like the ones you get at IKEA, just contact me)
     

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  2. GoBlue88

    GoBlue88 Member

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    Great trip! Thanks for the rundown.
     
  3. Majerus

    Majerus Member

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    Wow what a crazy time! nice pictures btw.
     
  4. marcelg

    marcelg Member

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    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!, i love to see some fauna near the road, but i hate to drive with snow.
    I love you charging at 110v 2miles per hour, jajaja, you will need nearly a week to fill your tesla in full!
    Good luck
     
  5. rocketdallas

    rocketdallas Member

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    Awesome write up, and what an adventure! We love road trips in our household, although your 12 hours in the blizzard would have made me a nervous wreck. Thanks for sharing a great story and pictures.
     
  6. sickfox

    sickfox Member

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    Pic # 2 @ 13 miles left and the Savior music is playing….. crazy!!!!! :biggrin: Glad everything worked out.
     
  7. rjcbox

    rjcbox Member

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    Awesome trip report! Thanks for posting
     
  8. KOL2000

    KOL2000 Member

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    Thanks everyone :) It's funny last night we asked the 6 year old what her favorite part of the trip was and she said "When we got stuck in the car!"... Unbelievable!
     
  9. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    What an adventure! I was just thinking that: the kids will remember this trip... forever! (As the best trip). :)
     
  10. mikeash

    mikeash Active Member

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    Kids have an interesting perspective on car trouble. My four-year-old still speaks fondly of the day I totaled my Malibu with her in the back seat. (No injuries, thankfully.) She eventually stopped asking if we can crash the car again, but still seems to think that the only way to get a new car is to crash the one you currently own. A couple of months ago, we were driving home from the mall in our Prius v after visiting the Tesla showroom and she asked, "After we crash this car, can we buy that one?"
     
  11. mibaro2

    mibaro2 Member

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    Quite an adventure. Glad everything turned out okay.
    The pics you posted really showed the situation you were in.
     
  12. KOL2000

    KOL2000 Member

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    LOL that is hilarious!!!
     
  13. Phil K

    Phil K Member

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    What a wonderful story of a great trip, and nice photos too. It must be scary when things happened but great memories when looking back.
     
  14. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    > We left Williams, AZ at 2:30 . . [KOL2000]

    Right there (!!) when you are all set to leave town is the time to recheck weather reports. Even if it was 73*F the day before, to recall one of my own fiascos. Especially easy in the MS with teslaweather.com animated radar (you need to know the zipcode for that area). Weather.gov will also provide the 7 day forecast (and the zipcode). Crucial info. Do not rely on your present view of the horizon! Thirty miles later you will face a snowstorm with jackknifed semis all over the place. "But it was nothing but blue skies when we left Laramie" - keep telling yourself that.

    Best to ask a trucker who is still in town, to get a 2nd opinion. The truckers who get caught in the storm are not the best counsel.
    --
     
  15. KOL2000

    KOL2000 Member

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    This is great advice which we will follow next time. In the meanwhile I hope everyone on the forum learns from our mistake!
     
  16. Dbitter1

    Dbitter1 Journeyman Member

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    Ok, you now owe me a replacement drink, and some towels and cleaner safe to use on screens and my desk.

    Although, in defense of that M.O., it is how I source new tools. 18V drill not able to apply enough torque? Buy the 36V one. Prybar too short and snaps? Whelp, time to go get a bigger prybar! Never considered doing it with a car. "Damn, honey, that McLaren P1 just beat me by a few tenths of a second at that light, hope Elon comes out with the dual 470HP motors soon!"
     
  17. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    Thanks for posting this story...truly a great learning experience for us all...including the happy ending!
     
  18. Victory

    Victory Member

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    What a story, thanks for sharing.

    I've had a couple scenarios where I arrived at the supercharger with under 6 miles of RR left. Not a good feeling, left me wishing I still had an ICE car sometimes.
     
  19. jthompson

    jthompson JThompson

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    #19 jthompson, Jan 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
    Wow - what an awesome trip report! Interesting that you have 21s and were able to use chains. The Tesla owners manual (dated 31 Dec 14) says "Tesla has tested and approved Security Chain Company (SCC) Model Z-563 chains for use on the rear wheels. These chains must only be used if your Model S has 245/45R19 rear tires installed. Do not use chains on 21 inch tires." So obviously you were able to use chains - what kind of chains and did you have to modify the ride height settings when you had the chains on?
     
  20. paco3791

    paco3791 TMC OG

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    Maybe someone can enlighten me. I grew up in northern MN, so I'm no stranger to snow but we never use chains here in the midwest, snow tires sure, but not chains no matter how deep the snow is. I know it's different in The West, some mountain passes require chains? I think?, but if I have a decent set of snow tires on for a road trip are snow chains still a necessary piece of kit? Especially since I'm not used to using them I'd rather just not use them at all and remove the human error part of the equation as noted by the OP.

    Or alternately just carry something like this? :http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0046CZKIA/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3MDPMHG97RSU1&coliid=I1HP9LHVRJ4557
     

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