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Driving from Dallas to Boca Chica & back with family

Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,169
6,244
TX
I have a week off, this coming week, and the thought of watching a Starship launch is exciting to me. There is no guarantee that the launch will happen this week, but I am willing to take my chances. My wife and teenage daughter surprisingly agreed to join me. Now that means more planning.

It is going to be very long and rather boring drive. I have driven to San Antonio from Dallas and back a a few times and quite familiar with the robust charging and eating options. What about south of San Antonio towards Brownsville? Are the Three Rivers, Kingsville and Brownsville SCs reliable? Any experience? Also is the charger in SpaceX facility in Boca Chica open to public? supercharge.info shows two stalls but I am worried it is only for SpaceX employees, maybe?

It is a 600 mile one way drive from Dallas, but the 220 miles from Three Rivers to Brownsville (via Kingston) looks desolate. Completely desolate with no services, no fast food nothing. Does that sound right? Any experience driving this route?

Where does one stay for this event? Which is the best hotel with a good view to the ocean for watching the launch?

If I am driving alone, I would just hit the road with little planning. But with wife and daughter in tow I want to cross i's and t's.

Thank you
 
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Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
5,822
7,156
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The hotel that Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut) stayed at for SN8/SN9 would probably be a good choice. I believe he mentions which one it is in his broadcast. It seems a lot of the youtubers stay there for launches. I expect they have done the work to figure out what works best. Good luck!!
 

Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,169
6,244
TX
Yes he did mention that, but now I can't seem to remember. It is a 6 hour video and can't search like text reports :)
I am hoping a few TMC-ers might have done the trek.
 

get-atty

New Member
Mar 15, 2021
2
4
McAllen TX
Hello from South Texas - rumours of our End of the Road-ness are greatly exaggerated.

Supercharger in Three Rivers is located at Love's Truck Stop with all services, including Subway and McDonalds. Heading south on US 281 from the next town George West to Alice TX is about a 40 minutes drive. From Three Rivers, you can also take Interstate 37 toward Corpus Christi which is a large town.

The Supercharger in Kingsville is located at Holiday Inn Express on the northbound side of US 77. Kingsville is a medium sized town with many restaurants. One destination restaurant is just south of town, called King's Inn - well worth a stop on the Texas Bucket List
Also the King Ranch Saddle Shop is worth a visit

Best bet for lodging is South Padre Island (probably toward the south end) which is not far from the launch site as the crow flies. There is talk of setting up a viewing amphitheater in the Post-Covid future. Driving to Boca Chica from Brownsville is a long rural drive and there are certainly no services out that way. You will see historical markers from the Civil War and think the place has not changed much since 1865.

There is a Supercharger (small) in South Padre Island (3 stalls) but it is there.

The Brownsville Supercharger is located in a large HEB grocery story, easy access. Check out the Vermillion Restaurant nearby.

In generaly the superchargers will not be that busy and you will have a great trip. Lots to see and do. It is Spring Break so I would avoid the cheap places at South Padre Island.
 

Cattledog

Active Member
Feb 9, 2012
2,177
2,893
San Antonio, TX
It's a long and trucker filled drive from 10 miles south of San Antonio to any of the major valley cities of Brownsville, Harlingen or McAllen. You can supercharge to break it up as suggested, otherwise it's 250+ miles depending on your target. The scenery is very similar most of the way. Autopilot.
 

Missile Toad

Member
Aug 30, 2016
605
577
Houston
I stayed overnight at the Residence Inn by Marriott . It has 4 WCs. They told me that they welcome people who are just passing through, and are not hotel guests. If that doesn't pan-out, the local superchargers are less than 1/2 mile away.
The route has many wind-turbines alongside the road. Its worthwhile to make a 15 minute detour to observe one up close. You would be surprised at how much energy these provide the grid at 3AM in Texas. This is literally where most of your kW comes from -- assuming you only charge from 3-4AM.
You will find the RV park on the southern tip of S. Padre to be an ideal spot to watch the launch. I was there for SN9, and there are restaurants within a short walk of the RV park entrance. Be sure and get there early to assure you can get a parking spot.

One advantage to getting there the night before, is that you can drive right up to the rockets -- close enough you could throw a baseball and hit them. I recommend the Residence Inn over the beach hotels because
1. its a 45 minute drive to either the launch pad, or the S. Padre RV Park;
2. you can charge to 100% overnight, and after the rocket launches, you can immediately set your course to return home. Certainly this hotel has the most charging options, that I'm aware of, of any hotels in the Boca Chica vicinity.
IMG_2323.jpeg
 
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Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,169
6,244
TX
Thanks everyone. Very nice details. Plan is now changed to, I am going alone. No family member in tow. That gives me some freedom. This first shot of Morderna today is keeping me a little dull. Maybe tomorrow the effect would go away.
 
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Kat Jacks

Supporting Member
Sep 26, 2020
114
89
Maine
I wish I could be there. Have fun! I've had both Moderna vaccines--good for you in getting them. Have a great trip! ;)
 

Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,169
6,244
TX
Had a fantastic trip. This was the longest trip on my Tesla, and my Model Y and the Superchargers all performed flawlessly. In every supercharger, between me taking a break and having some food, the car was always ready and fully charged (95%+) and more than ready to go. Visit to SpaceX launch site had the feeling of a ultra orthodox person visiting their holy shrine. It was unbelievable you could see the rocket so up close sitting on the launch pad, and get near the landing pad even more closer - just around 100 feet away. They were building some huge concrete ramp, perhaps leading to the launch pad?

I also had a glimpse of BN1 - Booster No 1 - which seemed much more taller than SN11. I did not know what it was, until tweeter personality BocaChicGal posted that picture with some details around it. The view from South Padre Island of the rocket sitting on the pad is fuzzy given the distance. Not much different from the view of pad 39A in Cape Canaveral from even the closest viewing site. But here in South Padre, you have the opportunity to rent a room at a high rise condo named - Sapphire condos - and get a fantastic view. This is where apparently Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut) live streams the launch, but then they have multiple remote cameras positioned at various closer locations too

Now the bad: The much anticipated launch never happened last week, and it appears it might fly sometime this week, presumably Tuesday subject to a good test firing on Monday. That was really disappointing, although I am itching to take a flight tomorrow to Brownsville !!

The BN1 picture below is not mine but from from tweet posted by @BocaChicaGal. The SN11 you see at a distance is zoomed picture taken from southern tip of South Padre island.
 

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Discoducky

P100DL, 2021 M3, 3 CT reservations and counting
Dec 25, 2011
3,473
3,633
Seattle
Had a fantastic trip. This was the longest trip on my Tesla, and my Model Y and the Superchargers all performed flawlessly. In every supercharger, between me taking a break and having some food, the car was always ready and fully charged (95%+) and more than ready to go. Visit to SpaceX launch site had the feeling of a ultra orthodox person visiting their holy shrine. It was unbelievable you could see the rocket so up close, sitting on the launch pad and get near the landing pad even more closer - just around 100 feet away. They were building some huge concrete ramp, perhaps leading to the launch pad?

I also had a glimpse of BN1 - Booster No 1 - which seemed much more taller than SN11. I did not know what it was, until tweeter personality BocaChicGal posted that picture with some details around it. The view from South Padre Island of the rocket sitting on the pad is fuzzy given the distance. Not much different from the view of pad 39A in Cape Canaveral from even the closest viewing site. But here in South Padre, you have the opportunity to rent a room at a high rise condo named - Sapphire condos - and get a fantastic view. This is where apparently Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut) live streams the launch, but then they have multiple remote cameras positioned at various closer locations too

Now the bad: The much anticipated launch never happened last week, and it appears it might fly sometime this week, presumably Tuesday subject to a good test firing on Monday. That was really disappointing, although I am itching I might take flight tomorrow !!

The BN1 picture below is not mine but from from tweet posted by @BocaChicaGal. The SN11 you see at a distance is zoomed picture taken from southern tip of South Padre island.
I feel like we should all chip in and buy a place in Boca Chica so we can visit whenever we want, that way you won't miss the next launch...at least it will just be a plane ticket;)
 

Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,169
6,244
TX
Thanks to @Missile Toad . I couldn't pass the opportunity to go see a Windmill up close. There are hundreds of them littered on the landscape around Kingsville. I drove to a specific Ranch (forgot the name now) and drove to a windmill, almost right underneath. It was a bit scary as there was not a single soul around for several miles (it seemed that way) and the windmills are scary huge. HUGE. And it makes a whoosh sound as each blade sweeps right above you. I had mixed emotions seeing those blades spin above you and hearing that sound - a bit scary (can't explain why), a bit giddy like a child. I was also bit worried that I might be trespassing.

I saw several trucks on the highway carrying those blades, and you realize the size of those blades only when you pass them on the highway.

First picture: The old and the new. The evil and the good
2nd picture: Made for each other. Love at first sight.
 

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Missile Toad

Member
Aug 30, 2016
605
577
Houston
@Electroman my in-laws in Kansas live amongst the wind turbines. One of them took us out to some of them down a gravel road. She acknowledged that the turbine owner/operators probably had some ownership of the 'driveway', but indicated that a) they probably don't care, if just sight-seeing; and b) have nearly no way to know.

When I was down in Cameron county (adjacent to where SpaceX launches), I stopped at one of the public roads that forms a rough grid in the area. That is a public road -- and therefor, fair game for launching a drone from. I simply flew it straight up and straight down. FAA regulations prohibit being within 200 (or is it 300'?) of a structure. Anyway, good common sense suggests that no kites, ladders, or drones should ever enter the radius that a blade can sweep through around the hub of the turbines -- and I was at least double that distance.

I love this picture. I can almost see the electrons running out to all those hungry Teslas.
Screen Shot 2021-03-22 at 3.55.00 PM.png
 
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Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,169
6,244
TX
So many questions popped in my mind as I was driving through those wind farms.

- As I was driving through I noticed every one of them I could spot was spinning. Not even one I could see that was not. It was a glorious sight. But the next day though (around the same time) only 20% of them were spinning. Wind was definitely lower that day, but then my question is, if the wind was good enough for a few to spin, it should be good enough for the rest, right? In what condition would some of them spin and others not?

- Why do the speeds vary between two that are next to each other? It is an open plain and so the wind speed should be pretty much the same. I calculated the speeds varied from around 5 seconds/revolution to 9 seconds. There was one that was so slow, it was easily at around 90 seconds. Why this much variance?

- When the wind direction changes, do they change direction automatically? Are those controlled from a central unit?

- Is there a control center where they can actually read the telemetry of each of the turbine, and also remotely command them?

- There are no visible ugly hi-tension wires connecting to each Windmill. So I presume they are run underground?

- How much do each of them generate on a typical day? what are the stats for say last one year? What time of day and which month is best for wind generation?

- Bright idea moment: Does it make sense to have turbines that spin on a vertical axis (as opposed to the horizontal ones that we all see)? With that design you can have 3 or 4 rotors on a single pedestal? <I will wait for my Nobel prize >
 

Missile Toad

Member
Aug 30, 2016
605
577
Houston
So many questions popped in my mind as I was driving through those wind farms.

- As I was driving through I noticed every one of them I could spot was spinning. Not even one I could see that was not. It was a glorious sight. But the next day though (around the same time) only 20% of them were spinning. Wind was definitely lower that day, but then my question is, if the wind was good enough for a few to spin, it should be good enough for the rest, right? In what condition would some of them spin and others not?

- Why do the speeds vary between two that are next to each other? It is an open plain and so the wind speed should be pretty much the same. I calculated the speeds varied from around 5 seconds/revolution to 9 seconds. There was one that was so slow, it was easily at around 90 seconds. Why this much variance?

- When the wind direction changes, do they change direction automatically? Are those controlled from a central unit?
Cut-in speed is the minimum wind speed necessary for the turbine to generate electricity. Turbines that are downwind of other turbines can see reduced winds, so that can be a factor. This effect is reduced by spacing the turbines apart. To see the geography/design of the array of turbines at a site, see this interactive map (which reports the nameplate MW capacity of each turbine). Certainly, some turbines can be better lubricated and maintained than others.
In general, the turbines along the coast generate less electricity than those well inland. However, the winds are more intense during the daylight peak loads on the grid. Since the panhandle generators receive strongest winds late at night, the coastal generators even-out generation to make net generation less susceptible to wild swings.
Also, bear in mind, winds are not uniform, and can contain gusts and whirlwinds... so this variability also accounts for changes in the rotational speeds.
 
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