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Road Trip, Maryland to Florida

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by TMunro, Jan 27, 2014.

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  1. TMunro

    TMunro Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
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    Location:
    Germantown, MD
    I've had my Model S since Nov 5, 2013 and had accumulated about 3500 miles doing my 60 mile daily round trip to work and various errands near home. I had already committed to a family event in Tampa in January, so when I learned that the final SC needed for the trip was complete just a couple days before I was to leave I decided to take the Tesla.

    Now I had never charged my Tesla anywhere except home and I wasn't exactly sure how the Superchargers worked, but I headed out on faith. I left home in Germantown, MD with the temperature hovering at 4 degrees F and a 260 mile charge.

    leaving home.jpg

    A couple hours later we were in Glen Allen VA. The Supercharger is as simple as plugging it in! At 20 degrees F however, that big thick cable gets pretty stiff. My wife and I had a cup of coffee at the Panera, and off we went again.

    Glen Allen.jpg

    Next stop was Rocky Mount, NC. It was still hovering near freezing, but there was no more snow on the ground. We got lunch at the Texas Roadhouse, then off again
    Rocky Mount.jpg

    At Lumberton, the Texas Roadhouse was tempting, but we were not hungry, so we went shopping nearby for 45 minutes.
    Lumberton.jpg

    It was dark when we arrived at Santee SC. I plugged into the supercharger and we headed over to the nearby restaraunt. I checked on my pnone after 15 minutes and discovered that I was NOT charging! I walked back to the car and just as I arrived another car whipped in next to me, the driver got out and announced that she is the property manager and had been alerted by Tesla that there was a problem. Ten minutes later the problem was solved and we were charging. We were shortly on our way to Savannah.

    We arrived in Savannah about 8:30 pm. We checked into a hotel, got some dinner and charged up the car at the airport. I was a bit impatient, so I only charged the car to 220 miles. Early the next morning we were on our way.

    Heading to St Augustine with just over 170 miles to travel and a rated range of 220 miles and a starting temperature of 31 degrees F, I was a little anxious about range. I turned on cruise control and set it to 65 mph. We arrived in St. Augustine with 22 miles of range left. The charger is in a big outlet mall, so we shopped for 40 minutes before heading out on a short leg.
    St Augustine.jpg

    It was a quick trip to Port Orange and as we were hungry for lunch we were happy to have a choice of several restaurants. We chose the Japanese restaurant and when we were done with lunch we were ready with a max charge of 260 miles. We headed across the panhandle for Tampa.

    I was a little anxious about the availability of chargers at my hotel, so I called ahead to the Tesla Service Center in Tampa and they said they would be happy to give me a little boost. By the time we arrived we only had a half hour to spare, but we plugged anyway. The Tesla service crew even washed the car for us (Thank you so much!). Then we headed over to Best Western Yacht Harbor in Dunedin. We were happy to find that the ChargePoint chargers were readily available and easy to use. They aren't free, but they are an extremely good value.
    BW_Dunedin.jpg
    BW Dunedin.jpg
    BW Dunedin.jpg

    So tomorrow its time to head back North, just as a new snow storm is heading our way. The adventure continues.
     
  2. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sarasota, Florida
    #2 Larry Chanin, Jan 27, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
    Welcome to the forums and welcome to the Sunshine state.

    I notice from your photos that your parking at Supercharging stations improved with time. :biggrin:

    Would you have done anything different? Did the Savannah airport have enough things to do, or was charging there like watching paint dry? How far was the hotel from the Savannah airport?

    I'll probably do the reverse trip at some point.

    Have a safe trip back.

    Larry
     
  3. TMunro

    TMunro Member

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    Location:
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    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for your feedback. We were at the Savannah airport at 10:30 pm so it was very quiet. I did venture inside to find all the stores and restaraunts shuttered for the night, but it looked like you could easily pass a couple hours there. This was the only point on our trip where we saw another Tesla at the supercharger. All the superchargers are a little bit different from each other. In Savannah we followed the lead of the car already there and backed into the bay. After we had been charging a couple minutes I realized that we were supposed to park nose-in and that by backing in I had left the nose of the car sticking out into the traffic lane. It was pretty quiet, so I just completed charging as we were.

    When we first arrived in Glen Allen (Richmond VA) I properly backed into the bay. I discovered that at 20 degrees F, that big thick heavy charging cable was stiff like a lead pipe. I did my best to mold it into the S-shape needed to plug it into the charging port, but even then it applied a strong moment (torque) to the charging port on the car. The port glowed red and the vehicle dash said "Check Supercharger Power" (or something very close to that). I removed the cable and re-positioned the car to be able to plug in the supercharger with less manipulation of the cable and I got a good connection. That is why I was positioned across the parking bays at that particular station.

    I realize that charging etiquette is important. Its probably a pretty big deal in California with the greater Tesla density there. I see that ChargePoint has a blog post on "Charger Rage"! I'll be more careful with my parking in the future, but I can attest that no Tesla owners were inconvenienced in the production of my photos.

    Incidentally, just as we were about to embark on the return trip on Tuesday 10/28 I saw the Weather Channel anchors become positively apoplectic and hyperventilating with hysterical hyperbole about the impending hoary ice storm and predictions of an approaching apocalyptic icy Armageddon. We took the auto train home. The guys on the auto train were already familiar with the Tesla so its no problem. I guess I can say that I made it from Tampa Fl to Germantown MD on a single charge.

    Tom
     
  4. Chris

    Chris Member

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    Maryland
    Awesome report, Tom! I am happy you had such a nice road trip in your MS. While you were gone Hagerstown SC opened up. I did a quick test charge on Saturday after a day of skiing at Whitetail. Just like you I struggled a little with the stiff charging cable but it worked just fine!
    Christian
     
  5. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the response.

    Can you provide a bit more information on the auto train? Where was the pick-up in Florida and the drop-off up north? Do you mind me asking how much it cost?

    Thanks again.

    Regards,

    Larry
     
  6. Captain Ducman

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
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    Location:
    Florida
    Great write up!! I hit the same SCs (-SAV, St Augustine) driving from Newark NJ to Palm Harbor FL, You were right down the road from us. That Best Western has some negative write ups on ChargePoint saying employees ICE the Charging Station spots and don't like EVs taking them, anything like that happen to you?


    Cheers!
     
  7. TMunro

    TMunro Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    The Auto Train runs daily between Sanford Florida (just north of Orlando) to Lorton Virginia (just outside the DC beltway and right next to I95). Trains leave each origin once daily at 4:00 pm and arrive at the destination at 9:30 am. You drop your car off as you arrive (latest drop off is 3:00 pm but they prefer that you arrive by 2:00 pm). You can board the train at about 2:30 pm and complementary wine and cheese is served between 3:00 and the 4:00 pm departure.

    I think we paid about $175 for putting the car on the train. Motorcyles are less and oversize vehicles cost more. Vehicles towing a trailer pay for two spaces.

    Each passenger pays a fare of about $100 that entitles you to a coach seat. We also purchased a roomette (a tiny but private compartment with two seats facing each other that converts to a set of bunk beds at night) for an additional $200. With taxes everything together totaled $600 for two of us and the Tesla.

    The rail experience is just sooooo different from flying. We had white tablecloth dining with a main course and desert. The food is basic but wholesome and the wine is inexpensive but palatable. The trip normally includes dinner and a continental breakfast. There is just nothing quite like sleeping on a moving train. I loved it. Our trip was delayed 6 hours by the exceptionally rare ice storm in Georgia and the Carolinas, but Amtrak was prepared with lunch service as well.

    My Tesla was delivered promptly and in perfect condition at the destination.

    The rail cars are clean and everything works well (showers included!). They are a bit dated. Our roomette included a 120 volt outlet labeled "For shavers only" but it charged my computer just fine. There is no WiFi, and no built in USB charging ports. I don't know why it isn't popular with the younger crowd but the average age on the train is probably about 55.

    In summary, while I would have preferred driving, given the unusual inclement weather, the AutoTrain provided a great alternative.

    I hope this helps.

    Tom
     
  8. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Thanks Tom,

    Great information!

    Larry
     
  9. Tedkidd

    Tedkidd Member

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    Location:
    Rochester, New York, United States
    Wow, great blog post! Way more interesting detail than I expected.
     
  10. Ven Rala

    Ven Rala Member

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    Location:
    Montgomery County, Md
    Great trip and post, will have to think about doing this
     

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