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Ohio to Florida 1000 Mile Trip w/o Supercharger

Discussion in 'Florida' started by OHJimIO, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. OHJimIO

    OHJimIO Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
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    Location:
    Sarasota / Cincinnati
    The following is a summary of my 1000 trip from West Chester OH (Cincinnati) to Sarasota, FL in my P85 Tesla ( first long distance trip in the car) on October 15-17, 2013. Purpose is to provide at least one way to get back and forth from the Midwest to Florida until Superchargers are available and help others who are thinking about traveling long distances.

    Day 1: West Chester, OH (home) to Chattanooga, TN (Marriott Residence Inn) Total Distance 373 miles
    Left with Max Charge of 266 at 6:00AM

    Leg 1: West Chester to Renfro Valley Creekside Resort, Mt. Vernon, KY 156 miles
    Charged here for approx. 5hrs (50 AMP RV site which gave me 28Mph)
    I had made a reservation with them in advance. This was a Tuesday so there were dozens of sites available.
    Person at the registration desk wasn't sure what to charge me (since manager wasn't there), so she came up with a special rate of $15-16. I was at a site near the guest bathrooms which was very convenient. It was a nice autumn morning so I filled the time with a) short hike to a nearby lake, b) looking around the pioneer village and shops adjacent to the site, c) sat in the Tesla and used the 17" monitor to make some airline reservations, surf the web, and do email, d) took a short nap, e) gave an overview of the Tesla to the kind gentleman camping next door who was curious about the car, and f) made productive phone calls. The 5 hours actually went by fairly quickly and before long I was charged up and ready to go.

    Leg 2: Mt. Vernon, KY to Chattanooga, TN (Marriott Residence Inn) 217 miles
    I was more conservative in terms of monitoring range, as I began this leg because this is the stretch that traverses the Appalachian Mountains. I started at 60 mph and occasionally got up to 65 or higher. But as I passed over Raritan Mountain and got 75 miles into the trip, I was pleasantly surprised that my projected range was still looking very good (wanted to make sure that I had 20-30 miles of range left beyond my destination). Once I got through Knoxville, I began driving 70Mph and nearing Chattanooga 75Mph and pulled into the Marriott with a nice cushion of miles left (20-25 miles). I had picked the Marriott because there are two Blink J1772 chargers in the parking lot that from my advanced checking were operational. I called the Marriott early afternoon and told them I was coming and that my EV definitely would need one of the spots. The person said no problem and they put a small orange cone in front of one of the spaces. I did go online days before and joined the Blink network (no charge) and was able to get their reduced rate ($1.00 /hr) Charged overnight for 13 hours (17Mph) and left the next morning with around 235-240 miles.

    Day 2: Chattanooga, TN to Valdosta, GA (Hampton Inn / Lake Park KOA) Total Distance 354 miles

    Leg 1: Chattanooga, TN to Tesla Marietta Service Center, Marietta, GA (Atlanta) 100 miles
    Left at 6:15AM and this would have been a very easy drive except for the Atlanta traffic the last 20 miles, which was bumper to bumper. Arrived at Tesla around 8:30AM. I had called weeks ahead and arranged for a charge with them and they were very accommodating. Free coffee, water, and WiFi, and there is a terrific restaurant (Marietta Diner) about 5 minutes from the service center. They have a HPWC and a 14-50 outlet. Since I don't have dual chargers I couldn't take advantage of the HPWC, so they connected me to the 14-50. The entire staff was very friendly and it was fun seeing all the other Teslas being serviced or delivered. The current service center is very small and they are in the process of expanding it and they are going to add a sales center next door. Unfortunately I had to spend 6 hours charging here because I was only charging at 24Mph and I definitely needed a Maximum charge because the next leg was 254 Miles. Initially, my car was inside the SC and for the last 3 hours had to move it outside. Time passed more slowly here and there weren't as many options to kill time as in day 1, but the staff and manager really went out of their way to accommodate me and in the last hour even had one of guys come and clean bugs off my windshield, mirrors, and front of the car. Finally around 2:30PM I was ready to roll.

    Leg 2: Marietta, GA to Valdosta, GA (Hampton Inn / Lake Park KOA) 254 miles
    Beginning this drive through Atlanta, I kept the car at 60Mph to preserve battery. You have to get used to staying in the right lane and watch the semi's roll by you :( but it really wasn't that bad. By the time I was past Atlanta I could see that at driving 60Mph I was actually increasing my cushion of miles from 6 miles to up around 20 miles. Once I got to 20 miles of cushion I began to drive faster and found that even driving 65 Mph I was still adding a few extra miles into my projected range. This stretch of the drive is very flat and there was no rush hour traffic. I also used the Traffic function to look ahead and see if there were any delays or accidents as a pre-caution. For the last 100 miles I began driving 70 and occasionally up to 75 Mph and was still able to maintain my 20 mile cushion, which at one point had gotten as high as 28 miles. I rolled into Valdosta about 6:15 without making any stops. I first checked into the Hampton Inn and then proceeded to the Lake Park KOA which is within walking distance of the hotel (15 mins). Again I had made reservations with the campground in advance and they are very EV friendly. Since I was a late arrival (after 6pm) they left a map which showed where my site was located. I drove back plugged into the 50Amp circuit was delighted to see I was charging at 29Mph! Only get 28Mph at home. It was dusk as I made the walk back to the hotel. Some reservations about leaving the Tesla so far away, but there were other RV's around and its way off the beaten path -- plus I had no choice. Monitored the charging via my Droid app throughout the evening which is such a great capability. I woke up early the next morning and at 6AM walked back to the RV park, unplugged and came back to the Hampton Inn to have breakfast and check-out . Was on the road by 6:30AM with 270 miles on the Tesla.

    Day 3: Valdosta, GA to Sarasota FL Total Distance 267 Miles

    I fully intended make this drive on one charge and I believe I could have by carefully watching my speed, but after Day 2 decided to make a stop at the Tesla Service Center for some warranty work since it was on my way. If so, I would have arrived by 12:00 noon.

    Leg 1: Valdosta, GA to Tesla Service Center, Tampa, FL 220 Miles
    This was an easy drive and I pretty much drove 70-75 Mph the entire way. The Marietta Service Center called Tampa SC and made the appointment for me to have an alignment and that I would need a charge. Again the staff was very nice and did some other warranty service while I was there. The Tampa Service Center is by far the best of the three that I have visited (Columbus, Atlanta, Tampa). It is much more spacious and is more conducive to hanging around if you need to charge for a few hours. They are also in the process of building a sales center directly next door. Staff was great and when service was completed my car was washed and vacuumed! Left by 12:30

    Leg 2: Tesla Servic Center, Tampa Fl to Sarasota, FL 53 Miles
    Left with Tesla with 70 miles of charge and made to our home easily even driving 70Mph+


    Key Learnings / Watchouts
    1) Have back-up charging locations for each day both at your destination and along the way. For example on my first day, I booked the Marriott because I knew they had two working chargers but within 5-10 miles of the Marriott there were several other public chargers available. Likewise, in day 2 I located several other chargers along the way that I could have used if necessary.

    2) Don't assume that public charging stations are operational. For example, I found that there were four (4) Blink chargers near Macon, GA (Middle Georgia State College), but after seeing a message on Recargo, I called Blink and confirmed that none of them were working.

    3) At least two KOA's in GA, that I called were not EV friendly -- not sure why unless they are worried that EV's will take up spots for their regular customers.

    4) Pack a camping chair if the weather is nice. I took along a folding camping chair which can be very useful to sit and read outside your car if you are going to be at an RV site for several hours.

    5) Use Tesla Service Centers for charging stops in the interim, but schedule with them in advance. They are very helpful and accommodating until there are Supercharges available in the area.

    6) Chargeport Denying Charging Cable: If you are trying to insert a charging cable into the chargeport and you can't push it in -- use the touchscreen or your phone app to re-open it. Apparently after a period of time after you open the charge port door, there is a small tab that comes up to prevent a charging cable from being connected. Simply hitting the open chargeport on your screen or your phone app causes the tab to drop down again allowing you to connect. This happened to me at the Marriott at the end of day 1. Apparently I took too long in trying to connect the Blink charging cable (new for me) and then it wouldn't accept the charge cable. Scared the bejeebers out of me!
    Finally when I re-opened the port from the touchscreen, the cable plugged immediately.

    7) Kentucky and Georgia do not have many charging options along I-75. Tennessee has many more.


    Hope this helps someone else in planning a trip up north.
    Can't wait to use the Superchargers down here!
     
  2. daxz

    daxz Member

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    Good info as it may be a couple of years till SC are in this route, here's a map of your trip: Cincinnati, OH to Sarasota, FL - Google Maps

    It also may be worth it to note if your P85 had 21" tires and if you know if the KOA's were open year round.
     
  3. kvietor

    kvietor Model S S280 VIN 168

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    Thank you.
     
  4. hugenbdd

    hugenbdd Member

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    Nice!

    No Tesla yet for me, waiting on used market or Gen III (I do have Volt though). We take our Spring Break in the Pan Handle (Northern KY to Ft. Walton), but it looks like they won't allow for enough Super Chargers to make it down to Florida via I65. Seems there's about 290 mile gap between Nashville TN and Montgomery, AL. There also appears to be very few public chargers in that area to get the extra few miles needed. Does anyone know the exact locations in AL for the Super Chargers?
     
  5. Kipernicus

    Kipernicus Model S Res#P1440

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    Great write-up.
    How long did this trip used to take you in the gasser? Worth it to drive the Model S? How long would it take with superchargers rolled out? (I'm thinking it would save 1 day)
    Do you think a few hours saved at the service centers with twin chargers would have been worth $1500?
     
  6. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Member

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    OHJimIO,
    This was awesome info! I'm highly considering making a trek from Stockbridge, GA to Clearwater, FL for a wedding this weekend. If I made the trek in my MS, I'd definitely be hitting a couple KOA's along the way. Can you tell me which KOA's weren't EV friendly to save me some time and phone calls?
     
  7. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Hi Jim,

    Great posting! Do you have any photos of your journey?

    Welcome back to Sarasota!

    Regards,

    Larry
     
  8. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    Excellent write up - glad you got there safely and as planned!

    I just have to say, the superchargers are fantabulous. They even impressed my wife!
     
  9. Rifleman

    Rifleman Now owns 2 Model S's!!!

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    Great post, Thanks! Once I eventually have my Tesla, this information will directly benefit me.
     
  10. Lawsteve

    Lawsteve MCATDT

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    wait it a minute. You are going to drive past Tallahassee this weekend and miss the second coming of Bobby Bowden? Gotta get those priorities straight - wedding vs Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles? No contest.................
     
  11. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Member

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    I made a promise :)
     
  12. OHJimIO

    OHJimIO Member

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    Trip Photos

    Photos enclosed (I hope)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Yes, I have the 21" tires. Not certain about the KOA's but I would guess they are because they cater to RV's that can travel year round.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I normally would do this in 14-15 hours straight, but for most people it is a two day trip. If there are at least two Superchargers in place on the route, I hope to get back to a single day.
    With the Superchargers coming I can't justify the HPWC -- all of my normal travels are well within 250 miles. For others who travel a lot in one day, I could see it.
    The drive itself was like an adventure and I will do it again on the way back in the spring. However, really looking forward to the SC's. The other option was to have the car transported and then fly down (bit expensive).

    FYI, I spoke with the Tesla SC manager in Marietta and he told me that there is going to be a Supercharger in Chattanooga (don't know if this is one that is already known about).
    Apparently a mall-owner in Chattanooga is a Tesla owner and he told the SC manager that Tesla had approached him -- no other details.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I believe they were the Cordele GA and Ashburn RV Park. HOWEVER, at least one other Tesla owner has charged there successfully, so I wouldn't necessarily give up on them. In my situation (first time doing this), I really wanted a firm reservation for a site and then they start asking you what size RV you have etc. At that point (when you say you just want to charge) is when they started to back off. I am guessing the other Tesla owner may have just stopped by and given that they had plenty of sites, they gave him a spot. Based on this trip and two parks I was in on weekdays -- there are plenty of sites available, so you are probably going to be fine just stopping by.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. First Impression

    First Impression Local Vendor - Florida

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    That was indeed an adventure :smile:

    Welcome back to the sunshine state.
     
  14. jrreno

    jrreno Nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile

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    For future reference there are lot of Chademo chargers at Cracker Barrels in Tennesee. ( check plugshare or recargo). When the adapter is finally available these might be helpful.
     
  15. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    One would have to be passing through Tennesse quite a few times to justify paying $1,000 for an adapter. I believe there is only one CHAdeMO charger in the state of Florida.

    Larry
     
  16. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Member

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    OHJimIO, sorry if you already answered this but did you call ahead and reserve at all those KOA's or just roll up on them? If you did, what information did you have to provide to reserve? CC#? I've read from other enthusiasts on the forum that when trying to reserve a spot, say "50 Amp", not "14-50" or "240v" because they don't typically refer to the plug that way.
     
  17. OHJimIO

    OHJimIO Member

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    Yes, I did reserve the KOA spots in advance -- just wasn't sure how busy they would be. In both cases, there were many, many spots available when I got there (weekdays). All I asked for was 50AMP service.
     
  18. purplewalt

    purplewalt Active Member

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    KOA has a booklet/Directory you can get at any (most) KOA sites.
    They also have slightly reduced rates if you become a KOA Kamper and you use the Member Number they give you.

    I just came from a similar trip into the wild, always called (or emailed) ahead, said I needed a 50 Amp plug for my electric car.
    One KOA Park in TN declined to allow an electric car charge there, the owner claimed a previous EV had caused a plug/station to burn up.

    Okay: Since this can impact where you are allowed to charge, and your anticipated range requirements, and maybe your travel path, you need to have a fall-back game plan.

    Some of my Additional Real World stories:
    **One park in SC was nearly full (with Snowbirds), and the station I was to charge at was not working that night.
    In the rain.
    In the dark.
    The maintenance guy worked on it, but it was not going to start working that night.
    Good thing was I near my intermediate destination, I still had over 150 miles of charge and was only going to use the car for a relatively short drive the next day.
    Following night, I was relocated to a working 50 Amp station in the same camp.

    **One park in TN I charged for about 10 minutes, circuit breaker tripped.
    Reset it, it tripped again.
    My diagnosis: bad circuit breaker, it should be replaced.
    I suggested that I move to another station.

    Second Station: Plugged my car in, ring of light at car's charge port was RED (bad sign).
    I had read (somewhere) that RED indicated a ground fault.
    Sure enough, the outlet was cracked at the round prong hole.
    It was already broken/cracked before I ever plugged in.
    THAT outlet needed to be replaced.

    Third Station: Plugged my car in, worked just fine.
    Gave the maintenance guy a couple of things to repair (that were ALREADY BROKEN before I ever arrived.)

    **Be sure to check and double-check your charging rate, even with a 50 Amp circuit.
    At one Park in TX, I plugged in needing a charge to continue for the day, and it was reading 23 Miles/Hour charge rate, not 28 or 30 Miles/Hour.
    This can definitely impact your anticipated schedule charging duration, adding an hour or so to an already long day.
    I moved to two other stations, finally found one that hovered around 26 Miles/Hour charge rate.
    What should be a 3 1/2 hour charge might end up taking 5 hours.


    ALSO Useful information to know.
    Large RVs have tremendous power requirements:
    Two AC Units
    Microwave
    Refrigerator
    Insta-Hot Water Heater
    TVs
    Lights
    etc.
    They probably use a lot more than a Tesla (40 Amp Max) when all that equipment is turned on and running at full power.

    Similarly, Good Sam has lots of Associated RV Parks with 50 Amp stations.
    And some State Parks also have 50 Amp outlets for charging.
    Another alternate might be to have a 30 Amp adapter (three prong), charges slower than 50 Amp, but might work in a pinch if no 50As are available.
     
  19. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Purple,

    Thanks for your insights regarding RV parks. I don't know whether I would ever be able to convince my wife to stay at an RV park, but do you have any experience at staying overnight at a RV cabin and charging the Model S at a high capacity outlet?

    Thanks.

    Larry
     
  20. purplewalt

    purplewalt Active Member

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    #20 purplewalt, Nov 11, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
    HAHAHA

    First, I actually did look in earnest for Hotels that did have 50 Amp outlets.
    I even booked one in Shreveport, only to discover the Hotel did have many outdoor outlets, they were all standard 110V.
    Not going to work for me.
    Alway have a back-up Plan: I did.

    So your goal is to convince your wife that it is both doable and she and you will have a lot of fun doing it...

    YES, I have LOADs of experience staying in their Kabins (KOA uses a LOT of Ks when convenient) and re-charging my MS during the day.

    For overnight charging: Some (most) Kabins do not have Linens, some do.
    If they have pillows and linens, (or in-suite restrooms) there is a cost associated with it.
    So you need to either bring your own linens, or bring a couple of pillows and sleeping bags.
    All Kabins had AC, All also had heaters (It does get cold in TN mountains).
    Some have ceiling fans, a couple of windows for cross ventilation when the weather is warmer and if it is not too hot.
    Some have screen doors to the Cabins, and clunky (bear-proof?) door hardware.
    There is typically a queen-size bed with plastic-covered mattress and a bunk bed with Mattresses in a Kabin.
    There is also a table and a chair, maybe some coat hooks on a wall.
    Also a broom in each Kabin.

    Bring a couple of good books to ease the charging time during the day.

    Most do not have restrooms or sinks inside the Kabins, some do.
    There are large public restrooms (M and F) in the main building which also has showers.
    Some doors have codes for access control (they will give you a pin number).
    All KOAs also had laundry facilities, so maybe you don't need to pack and bring as many bags (thank you Rick Steves).
    MOST Kampgrounds also had in-ground swimming pools and decks (for use when the weather is warmer).
    Most Kabins have an area to sit or a swing on the covered porch and probably have an adjacent picnic table to dine al fresco, with some sort of grille to heat/cook/barbeque your food.
    Or there might be a place to build a campfire in a pit at the end of the day--they sell mini-packs of wood to burn in most Kamp stores.
    You might consider packing a couple of collapsible chairs to sit on if the weather is nice outdoors.

    A few NOs:
    No cooking in the Kabins.
    Probably No smoking in the Kabins either (I don't, so I didn't pay that much attention to the specifics).

    During the day, the Kamp stores have some drinks and snacks, some toiletries, etc.

    Typically there is one 110 V outlet in the Kabin for your use (recharge your phone or batteries for your camera).
    There are other outlets in the Kabin for AC and or Heater.

    Typically there are no reading light(s) in the Kabin, just one over-head light inside, one porch light outside.
    Be sure to bring a flashlight (or two) for night-time walking to and from the restrooms.

    A couple of KOAs had cable TVs in the Kabin, most do not.

    All RV Parks had 50 Amp (my paramount requirement) charging stations for my MS.
    Which was actually a bigger priority than my sleeping accommodations.
    Without adequate charging, why would I stay there?

    A definite step-up to my typical RV Park stay: Loretta Lynn Ranch (mid-way between Nashville and Jackson TN) had two story cabins with TVs, kitchen (with toaster, microwave, coffeemaker), shower, toilet, sink, a down-stairs Queen size bed with Linens and upstairs queen-size bed.
    Oh, and 50 Amp charging outside my door.
    Pricier, but worth it.

    The step-down is an RV Park with no cabin, fold down the rear seat of the MS, use an inflatable mat, sleeping bag, pillows, with sleeping goggles to block the light.
    Did I mention this was in the wild?

    dmetcalf did the sleeping in the MS another step-up when he went camping with his two sons: He used a fully engaged tent at the rear of his plugged-in MS, and had the AC running to chill the inside of the car AND the tent (some assembly is required).
    I really think this is GENIUS!
    Maybe next trip?

    State Parks are another Option for 50 Amp charging, but most do not have cabins.

    I look at it this way: the MS is sort of like a Swiss Army Knife of cars.
    It can be driven as a Sports car.
    It can be used as a Luxury car.
    It can be used as a (long distance) Touring car.
    Maybe it can be used as a Baby RV for camping trips too, with tent and AC (certainly Model X will fulfill that bill).

    One Word to alert you to a dose of my reality.
    Campgrounds and Kamp grounds are seldom paved.
    You will probably get your car dirty both inside and out, especially if it is raining or the ground is wet.
    I certainly did.
    The good news: It all vacuums up and washes off....so she is as good as new.


    Best of luck in your discussions with your wife to consider and convince her about Kamping with Kabins, or other Options.
    There are a lot of very nice and some interesting people who travel and live in RVs.
    And you might run into a few folks who are genuinely interested in learning more about your MS, Teslas or EVs in general (I certainly did).

    I will never forget this adventure into the wild (with only one SC station encountered in nearly 3,000 miles), it really was a learning and growing experience.
    I now have a much deeper appreciation and trust for my MS.
    Reliable, faithful, steady, responsive, so much fun.
    But, I certainly am eager to take an even LONGER trip using only Superchargers.
    Maybe to Seattle or Vancouver in 2014?

    I was limited to about 400 miles a day without Superchargers, was completely maxed out at 495 Miles in one VERY long day. YMMV :wink:
    Traveling during Late Spring/Early Summer months might make it a bit easier driving with longer daylight hours.

    I nearly forgot:
    In Point South KOA, they also have a couple of pullman train cars (Kaboose) you can stay in, if the Kabin might not fit your bill.
    Don't know what the rate is or the accommodations inside the car.
    Definitely something very unique, NOT at every KOA or most other RV Parks.
     

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