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3 country, 7,800 mile road trip in 15 days - SAFELY. Range anxiety, oh no! (yawn)

jkirkwood001

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Feb 20, 2018
1,044
2,961
Ottawa, ON
(©2019 photos are copyright)

I recently completed a 7,800 mile (12,500 KM) road trip from Eastern Canada, to Mexico, up to California, and home to Ottawa, ON. I haven't heard of many trips like that so thought I'd post - enjoy!

I didn't record a blog for this trip, so I'll just add some notes to give you some highlights:
  • I love my Tesla!! (what can I say?) [Model 3 LR dual-motor / AWD, Red, 18" wheels]. This car continues to be a pleasure to drive and live in and explore with.
  • AutoPilot drove my car for about 98% of the highway driving. I couldn't have safely driven up to 12 hours / day (avg 8 hours / day) if I didn't use AutoPilot. AutoPilot drove through a raging, nighttime thunderstorm with aplomb while on the busy highway passing Cleveland. It was pretty incredible.
  • I drove home in a hurry from San Francisco to Ottawa (comparable to NYC) in just 4 days (2,900 miles / 4,670 KM) - yeah, I kinda wish I'd had more time to stop and meet people and learn more about the places I was passing through.
  • I planned to drive west from Monterrey and ferry to Baja California. But then I found out
    1. that our Canadian and US models' LTE doesn't work in Mexico (losing maps was OK, but I was more worried losing "Tesla save me!" if I got a flat tire!)
    2. that it would take 2 extra days travel that I didn't have the luxury of
    3. that my insurance doesn't extend to Mexico. Whoops.
    4. I had to pass through some sketchier regions of the country - I've backpacked through some 45 countries, so I'm comfortable off the beaten path, but not in a beautiful Tesla!
  • I did have one accident. While distracted and on AutoPilot, I hit a pylon which smashed my passenger side mirror. It was little consolation that 2 days after I got back, I received v.10 which detects pylons! Oh goody.
  • I spent $365 in SuperCharger charges. I used a destination charger at one hotel (but usually those locations were more expensive than a cheaper motel + SuperCharger).
  • I brought my single foam mattress, pillow and blankets. I slept in the car saving money 5 nights. Super comfy as I just set the temp and fell asleep under the stars (BTW I'm 6' tall). I would fold the mattress into the trunk during the day. One late night I stopped at a deserted, rural Catholic Church parking lot. At 2 AM I got a loud rap on the window. State troopers asked me to drive several miles down the road to a rest stop. Whoops.
  • Highlights included (some shown in my Tesla photos):
    • Nashville, TN
    • Austin, TX
    • SpaceX @ Boca Chica (I also saw Falcon Heavy launch during my springtime road trip to Florida)
    • Crossing into Mexico (Reynosa) without ever being stopped and asked for my passport (what??)
    • Monterrey city and nearby Parque La Huesteca
    • Desert Sunlight Solar farm in the California desert (and the Arizona and New Mexico deserts)
    • Big Sur Highway 1
    • Tesla Fremont factory tour
    • Bonneville Salt Flats
Road trip to Mexico, California - Google Maps.jpg

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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,700
3,360
Maine
(©2019 photos are copyright)

I recently completed a 7,800 mile (12,500 KM) road trip from Eastern Canada, to Mexico, up to California, and home to Ottawa, ON. I haven't heard of many trips like that so thought I'd post - enjoy!

I didn't record a blog for this trip, so I'll just add some notes to give you some highlights:
  • I love my Tesla!! (what can I say?) [Model 3 LR dual-motor / AWD, Red, 18" wheels]. This car continues to be a pleasure to drive and live in and explore with.
  • AutoPilot drove my car for about 98% of the highway driving. I couldn't have safely driven up to 12 hours / day (avg 8 hours / day) if I didn't use AutoPilot. AutoPilot drove through a raging, nighttime thunderstorm with aplomb while on the busy highway passing Cleveland. It was pretty incredible.
  • I drove home in a hurry from San Francisco to Ottawa (comparable to NYC) in just 4 days (2,900 miles / 4,670 KM) - yeah, I kinda wish I'd had more time to stop and meet people and learn more about the places I was passing through.
  • I planned to drive west from Monterrey and ferry to Baja California. But then I found out
    1. that our Canadian and US models' LTE doesn't work in Mexico (losing maps was OK, but I was more worried losing "Tesla save me!" if I got a flat tire!)
    2. that it would take 2 extra days travel that I didn't have the luxury of
    3. that my insurance doesn't extend to Mexico. Whoops.
    4. I had to pass through some sketchier regions of the country - I've backpacked through some 45 countries, so I'm comfortable off the beaten path, but not in a beautiful Tesla!
  • I did have one accident. While distracted and on AutoPilot, I hit a pylon which smashed my passenger side mirror. It was little consolation that 2 days after I got back, I received v.10 which detects pylons! Oh goody.
  • I spent $365 in SuperCharger charges. I used a destination charger at one hotel (but usually those locations were more expensive than a cheaper motel + SuperCharger).
  • I brought my single foam mattress, pillow and blankets. I slept in the car saving money 5 nights. Super comfy as I just set the temp and fell asleep under the stars (BTW I'm 6' tall). I would fold the mattress into the trunk during the day. One late night I stopped at a deserted, rural Catholic Church parking lot. At 2 AM I got a loud rap on the window. State troopers asked me to drive several miles down the road to a rest stop. Whoops.
  • Highlights included (some shown in my Tesla photos):
    • Nashville, TN
    • Austin, TX
    • SpaceX @ Boca Chica (I also saw Falcon Heavy launch during my springtime road trip to Florida)
    • Crossing into Mexico (Reynosa) without ever being stopped and asked for my passport (what??)
    • Monterrey city and nearby Parque La Huesteca
    • Desert Sunlight Solar farm in the California desert (and the Arizona and New Mexico deserts)
    • Big Sur Highway 1
    • Tesla Fremont factory tour
    • Bonneville Salt Flats
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Great story, and great photos. Love the clouds. Crossing the border, I'd worry about all the questions crossing back! Hope you didn't drive too fast on the salt flats, could be quite abrasive on that beautiful paint job.
 
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Fernand

Active Member
Mar 22, 2019
1,554
1,559
Northern california
Love the story, the sleeping in the car, the photos and the vibe!

When you say "I" do you mean literally alone? & no hitchhikers?

My wife has a mattress rig all ready to go for our next trip. Way
to go wherever, in style. One of my favorite car-camping areas
is on the Pacific Coast where you can look up at the stars in the
night and then wake up in the warm fog. A glass ceiling is perfect
for that. Personally, I'd love some sort of SpaceX short path moisture
recovery distillation setup to be able to take a shower in the morning
before the coffee and croissants, and skip the motels altogether.
 
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njsrikar

Member
Dec 16, 2017
163
78
Boston
Great photos!

I recently did a similar, but shorter road trip, ~4500miles in about 6 days (with 2days in Austin for F1 USGP).

Again, reiterating the same thing - trip wouldn't have been possible or as easy without Autopilot and of course the supercharger network.

Negatives on my trip
  • Just about 8hrs into our trip, we had a flat tire when we were exiting the supercharger lot in Carlisle, PA. It was cold and raining. I called Tesla Roadside Assistance, at first they told me they had the loaner wheel program (which I had used before in 2018) and took my details. She called me back in 10mins to say that none of their "partners" were picking up her call. We tried this for about an hour and decided to checkin into a motel for the night. I called Tesla again at 5AM hoping that their partners might answer their call now, but was told that they don't have any service partners in that area and I had to take my car 90miles to Baltimore Tesla Center. I decided to fix the flat with slime and drive the 90miles rather than getting it towed. Tesla at Baltimore prioritized our request and installed a new tire in 30mins or so. It was 9AM and they had a long line of cars signing in for service.
  • It would be nice if Tesla supercharger stations had restrooms and trash bins!! Most of the time, the stations were in a far off corner of a huge mall lot.

COflWkP.jpg
 

jkirkwood001

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Feb 20, 2018
1,044
2,961
Ottawa, ON
Interesting trip, but I have to ask Why?
500 miles a day isn't a simple trek.

Thanks for asking, @ewoodrick . I had 3 weeks between contracts, and I love to travel. I just headed southwest, with loose objectives of seeing SpaceX and California. Mexico was a lark, and in fact I didn't stay long unfortunately. And truly, road-tripping in a Tesla is like taking the train - very relaxing.

I like geographies and local culture more than historical sites. I got the first driving across America, and had evenings and nights in many interesting cities and places, but stopping to learn more about the regions I missed. I did lots more fun things besides what you see in these photos - club-hopping in Nashville, horseback riding outside Austin, wine tasting in California - but I admit it was a bit too rushed. I did 2 months in South America in 2018 and 5 months in India in 2014. Both of those were taking local transit.
 
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jkirkwood001

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Feb 20, 2018
1,044
2,961
Ottawa, ON
Terrific and inspirational ride - reading this really helps reduce my range anxiety. But I’m still not going to take my Tesla into Mexico...
Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, @Ferengii . For various reasons, I didn't prepare much. I was forwarned about losing cell coverage by two Telsa technicians I happened to run into at a SuperCharger in Kingsville, TX. One was transporting a Model S from Monterrey to somewhere in the US for a customer, so he knew the idiosyncrasies of the different versions.

You can do it with a bit more preparation. There is Mexico coverage available, just not from Aviva Canada. Someone on Facebook told me of a company that gives you coverage by day - let me know if you need more details. As for cell coverage, of course if you have a roaming plan on your mobile that provides cheap data for Mexico, you can work around losing it in-car - I didn't. Aside from that, there aren't SuperChargers west of Monterrey, so you have to plan with Destination Chargers or 3rd-party, both of which require overnight charging. I usually have the luxury of time when I travel, but not this time.
 

CharleyBC

Active Member
Jun 28, 2019
1,438
1,628
Talent, OR
Great adventure!

So two trivia questions:
  1. How fast did you go at Bonneville?
  2. What are the gold star locations on your map? Only a few of them are along your route.
See you in ON in a couple years when I do my grand trek of the TCH!
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,700
3,360
Maine
Great photos!

I recently did a similar, but shorter road trip, ~4500miles in about 6 days (with 2days in Austin for F1 USGP).

Again, reiterating the same thing - trip wouldn't have been possible or as easy without Autopilot and of course the supercharger network.

Negatives on my trip
  • Just about 8hrs into our trip, we had a flat tire when we were exiting the supercharger lot in Carlisle, PA. It was cold and raining. I called Tesla Roadside Assistance, at first they told me they had the loaner wheel program (which I had used before in 2018) and took my details. She called me back in 10mins to say that none of their "partners" were picking up her call. We tried this for about an hour and decided to checkin into a motel for the night. I called Tesla again at 5AM hoping that their partners might answer their call now, but was told that they don't have any service partners in that area and I had to take my car 90miles to Baltimore Tesla Center. I decided to fix the flat with slime and drive the 90miles rather than getting it towed. Tesla at Baltimore prioritized our request and installed a new tire in 30mins or so. It was 9AM and they had a long line of cars signing in for service.
  • It would be nice if Tesla supercharger stations had restrooms and trash bins!! Most of the time, the stations were in a far off corner of a huge mall lot.

COflWkP.jpg
Holy cow, you went just for the COTA F1 race, from Boston! My buddy in Houston bugs me and some other friends to come every year. I'm not going to tell him someone from Boston drove his Tesla to the race.
 

Fernand

Active Member
Mar 22, 2019
1,554
1,559
Northern california
Yes, @njsrikar, you are so right about the restrooms and trash bins. I guess they have enough trouble pulling in power cabling without also having to deal with water and effluent ;-)

@Dogtone I agree, it's highly suspect, this gorgeous spotless car. Maybe it's shot on bluescreen, or photoshopped in. The pictures, I mean. The trip is probably real, but why ruin it with actual photos of a dirty car ;) ?
.
 
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jkirkwood001

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Feb 20, 2018
1,044
2,961
Ottawa, ON
Great story, and great photos. Love the clouds. Crossing the border, I'd worry about all the questions crossing back! Hope you didn't drive too fast on the salt flats, could be quite abrasive on that beautiful paint job.

Thanks, @KenC .

The Salt Flats story is this: I'd gotten a call from my son - he of the DiL and my twin granddaughters - asking for parenting help. So I literally rushed back from California. I got to Bonneville late in the day and wanted to reach Salt Lake City by nightfall. To reach the Speedway, you just drive 2 miles from the highway and literally drive off the end of the road onto the flats (there's good instructions online). There were a half-dozen people standing around. I got out of the car to take a photo, but saw that their 6 PM shadows were getting in the way. So - back in the car to go out a little further to take photos even though the sun has almost set (wow, gotta admit, those turned out great - the one in the post, and my current avatar). Since I'm out there, of course I gotta go for a spin, eh?? But I haven't prepared at all: do you need to adjust tire pressure? which direction on the flats is best for a noob (it's like driving a boat on a huge lake - no lanes!)? what's the FAQ for speeding your Tesla? So I did a run, but nothing crazy - 110 MPH - enough to get a thrill, but nothing stupid! It didn't seem to kick up any salt, felt fine. It was a lot of fun. :D

TeslaCam freeze-frame:
upload_2019-11-20_15-13-5.png
 

jkirkwood001

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Feb 20, 2018
1,044
2,961
Ottawa, ON
...Crossing the border, I'd worry about all the questions crossing back!

The border's another story:
I said I had 3 weeks between contracts. But then I heard they wanted our team to present results to the executives midway in the 3 weeks off. Grr! I thought - I'm going to go anyway! I'll fly back for the presentation. So I get to Monterrey, leave my car in the locked hotel parking for two days (remember, I've got no LTE, so I can't monitor the car remotely), and fly back to Ottawa (I know, I know, all those wasted carbon credits... :(). During the flight back, the meeting is cancelled. I actually land okay with it because a) this just makes my trip that much more excitingly absurd, b) I had a few days with family and gave travel stories (they thought it was nuts I'd left my car two countries away), and c) I went into the client and was able to charge a half day's time to pay for the flight cost.

Oh right, the border: when I go to fly out, before boarding, they ask me for my immigration form. I tell them I didn't get one when I drove in because nobody stopped me at the armed river crossing. They said "we can't let you on the plane without an immigration form. You'll have to go and get one". By this point I'm the last person getting on the plane. I asked the 6 staff at the gate "can't someone please come with me? I have no idea where or how to get it in the airport" Finally a young guy agrees to get me to the immigration office. We run to the counter, but it's empty, so we have to run to the other terminal (in 100° heat. while carrying my laptop and overnight bag). Luckily when we get to the other terminal, the counter is manned, there's no line-up, and we get the immigration form in a minute. The young attendant radios back to the gate that we got it and that we're running back. We run back (in the sun, carrying bags) and arrive before they close the gate. I thank him profusely, pour out all the pesos from my pockets and some greenbacks too - vigorous shaking of hands and many broken Spanish thank-yous by me. Another travel story with a happy ending - I love these!

Crossing back into the US at Laredo, once I'd flown back and picked up my car again (zero issues - yay!) is the opposite: big border lineups, sniffer dogs, and interview. While you're lined up in your car before you reach the crossing, you're immediately surrounded by friendly Mexicans who wash your windshield, sell food & water, and try to get you to buy hats, musical instruments, cloth, toys, etc etc etc. It all goes well. Wish I could have stayed longer in Mexico.​
 
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