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Trip Report: Spontaneous 600 mile round trip from So Cal to Mammoth for dinner.


New Member
Jun 27, 2021
Alabama U.S.
I don't write trip reports often, so forgive me if this book of a post is long and rambling.

Yesterday morning I was a bit bored, so I decided to drive 600 miles round trip to get dinner in Mammoth (mostly I wanted a reason to drive my MY). I usually don't plan trips, even cross country (ICE or EV), and am trying to get comfortable with SC-SC driving as it lets me be more flexible to changes/problems along the trip.

My trip took me up I-15 for a short drive then on to US-395, which is mostly a very long 2-lane undivided highway (1 lane each way with some passing lanes every so often) for the rest of the trip. My goal was to get as close to Bishop as I could without needing to charge. The Tesla routing software had me getting their with 5%. Due to there being a lot of long uphill driving heading north on US-395, that was a bit uncomfortable for me, and I figured I'd reassess as I get closer and see if I need to stop at the Lone Pine super charger, about 60 miles south of Bishop for a short charge to get me to Bishop.

The first leg of the trip, the temp hit 113 degrees outside, but I had the cabin set to 67. I have ceramic tint, so with that the A/C operated like a champ. I would have had no idea what the temp was outside. It was just comfortable. I had no NoA for the trip, not sure why, I guess Tesla doesn't recognize US-395 as a highway, or it specifically requires freeways to be enabled. I used AP for a good portion of the drive there, but the highway is 55 MPH and with the highway not being seen as a freeway, I was restricted to 5MPH over the speed limit (60MPH), and going 60 on some stretches of the highway just isn't safe for me or the long line that will inevitably be behind me. On those stretches, I stuck with TACC and just stayed 10 over the speed limit as it jumped between 55 and 65 mph. Flicking the right scroll will to move TACC up 5mph is super useful.

For the stretches where I used AP, it worked while I was driving in the day time. The only times I really had issues, was both AP and TACC would disable if I went too fast over small hill s in the road (the kind that gives you a negative G for a second). For about a 10 mile stretch, there are a lot of them, and as soon as I crested the little hill, I would get the AP disable sound as if you pushed up on the right stalk and no other warnings. So if you're not paying attention, then you'd be kinda screwed.

I had no real issues on this first leg. The car was comfortable, I never got a disengagement from AP when I used it, and putting the car in to sport mode before passing made passing super simple. Not sure how much the accel boost plays in to things when you're already at speed, but after hitting the accelerator, I passed the big rigs before I even realized I had completed the lane change. Passing didn't even phase the MY. Just one little annoying thing I noticed is that if you're wearing sunglasses that you will get nagged much more often than if you don't have sun glasses on while on AP. I was getting the nag about once every 10-15 seconds, where with no glasses on it was less frequent.

I got to my first stop, which was the Coso Safety Roadside Rest Area in Olancha, CA (if anyone drives this route, it's where the Crystal Geyser water bottling facility is) for a break. As I finished using the facilities and was heading back to my car, I noticed a single empty charging station at the end of the parking area. I checked PlugShare and realized it was a free use CalTrans L3 DC fast charger. This changed my planes completely, especially as I learned CalTrans has installed several of these along different highways around the state. As I drive this route often (this is the first time with my Tesla) I decided to see if I could make it up to Mammoth/Yosemite area completely free using these chargers.

At this point I was at 31% SoC. I backed in and hooked up with my new CHAdeMO adapter and got 32kWh, which was fine. I wasn't in a rush so I decided to push the charge to 90%, which Tesla said would take 1 hour. I knew there was another charger at the next rest area, and then another one up the highway in Bishop at the Department of Transportation office, so I kept an eye out for other cars that might need it heading back down to So Cal, but none came and I was free to sit there as long as I needed.

My first real problem of the trip presented itself while charging, and I think the 113 degree temp outside might have contributed because it happened during the day, but not at night. When I loaded up Netflix, my screen would freeze, the AC would then kick on full blast, then back to normal, then back to full blast a few times, and then eventually Netflix would crash and I'd be taken back to the main screen. I tried it about 3 times before I gave up. This happened at the next charger as well, but when I charged after dark and when the temperature dropped to/below 100 degrees, I no longer had this problem. One other thing I noticed was my top glass got SUPER hot (I have ceramic tint on it). I mean so hot that I could feel the heat radiating on my head and across the top of the cabin, and when I couldn't touch the glass for longer than a second before it hurt too much to keep my finger there. The cabin still stayed pretty cool, but near the glass was just too hot.

It took me 1 hour to get from 31% to 90%. Since I didn't have Netflix, I just kinda hung out and I had two visitors checking out my car while I was there. One person was a M3 owner from LA who didn't know anything about the CHAdeMO adapter and was wondering how I was able to charge there. I explained it to him, we chatted about long trips, and then he took off. Another guy who was parked next to me in a BMW SUV asked the typical "how long does it take to charge" questions, which I was happy to answer as I love talking about the car and educating potential future owners. He asked how I got it and I told him about having a M3 reservation, but saw the MY own the new inventory page so I grabbed it. He seemed put off by this, and mentioned that his friend has been waiting for months for a MY and hasn't gotten hers yet, then the conversation ended and he took off.

After leaving Olancha, I drove north to Bishop which was originally my intended destination. I stopped at a small casino attached to a gas station half way to Bishop and put $20 in and came out $75 richer after hitting a slot machine bonus spin on my last $1, win! I then made it to Bishop, but couldn't find a restaurant there that I found overly interesting, so I decided to drive to Mammoth to hit Giovanni's Pizza in Mammoth, which had excellent reviews. I was at 67% SoC, and I found the free charger near the south entrance to Bishop at the Department of Transportation office across US-395 from the Super 8 (if you see the CHP office, you've gone just a bit too far) and stopped to top off to 90% to make sure I had no problem if something happened up in Mammoth (or if I decided to drive further north).

While charging, a Chevy Volt showed up, driving from Boulder City, NV and parked next to me in an otherwise empty parking lot. I needed to get at least to 67% to give myself a bit of a safety buffer due to the elevation gain, so I told them I needed about 10 min. We chatted about the Chevy Volt, which I didn't know gets over 220-250 mile range. This was the last non-Tesla fast charging spot before Yosemite which has only L2 charging (there's a Tesla SC in Mammoth Lakes), so I gave up the spot to them so they could fill up. As with everyone I've chatted with while charging, they were great people and I hope they have an excellent Yosemite trip.

I then drove up to Mammoth Lakes and ate ate Giovanni's. I'll be honest, if you are up in that area, it's worth a stop. Not far off US-395 and their cheese bread was absolutely amazing. Calzone I had was excellent as well, but the cheese bread with the garlicy dipping marinara was definitely the star of the show.

I left Mammoth at about 46% SoC and headed south. Due to it being downhill I was able to make it to the rest stop after bishop, the Division Creek Safety Roadside Rest Area, without problem and arrived at 22%. At this point it was getting dark, and I charged planned on charging for about 45 minutes to 90% while watching a few episodes of Star Trek TNG to fill the time, but again about 20 min in a Chevy Volt showed up, who was heading to Reno nonstop (it was already 9pm). He only had 14 miles left and I had enough to get back down to the Coso rest area, and planned on stopping there anyway so when I hit 70% about 5 min later, I gave the spot up to him so he could get charging and get back on the road. I made it to the Coso rest area at 44%, and spent 45 minutes charging to 90% which is all I needed to get home. During this time, now around 10PM, I had no visitors, the rest area was mostly empty, and my Netflix worked great (probably due to it being cooler), so I watched an episode of TNG and when the charging hit 90% I took off. Every charger aside from the first use of the Coso charger I hit around 43kWh and 190 mi/hr, I think the first Coso stop was slower just due to how hot it was outside.

I was estimated to get home around 2am, though I knew I'd get home around 1:15-1:30am based on experience of driving this route and knowing the real speeds (not speed limits). Now that it was night time, and very dark (quarter-crescent moon) I really saw where AP and TACC have problems. First, is the auto headlights. For the most part they worked OK with oncoming traffic. They would turn off a few miles out, a couple places where I saw issues was that brights would turn back on before the car passes me, and then not turn back off for cars behind it.

Another issue I found was, in CA there will be, for example, a 65 MPH speed limit sign on highways/freeways, then shortly after there is a 55mph when towing sign. Not sure if it was a night thing, but the software would show 65 MPH when passing the sign, and then once the car passed the 55mph sign the software would then show the speed limit is 55 and AP would be limited to 60 on a 65mph road where I should be able to at least go 70mph before I'm limited. One a two lane undivided highway, this made AP unusable and I had to revert to TACC.

Next issue I assume was an issue with the cabin camera at night, but I was getting nagged every couple seconds, even though I had my hands on the steering wheel and was looking forward outside of the car, so I had to keep jiggling the steering wheel. At one point it didn't acknowledge the wheel jiggle until I pushed it hard enough that right after it disabled AP. Another time, I acknowledged the nag, and then it started nagging again 2 seconds later, then almost immediately showed large red hands on the steering wheel and told me to take control and I was then locked out of AP until I stopped the car. I definitely acknowledged the previous one as the blue on-screen warning went away, but when it started up again I had very little time to react, not sure why that happened.

The last major issue was being on a two-lane undivided freeway on a dark night driving 75mph freaked out both TACC and AP and several times I got impending accident warnings with the warning sound blaring for cars that were in their lane and would heavily brake the car. I had to hit the brake and take control to keep it from going crazy. There were other phantom breaking incidents over the trip, usually around mountainous blind curves with cars coming the opposite way, but nothing as bad as night time.

Overall it was super fun trip and I got home at around 1:25am-ish. Even driving 600 miles over 14 or so hours, I was completely comfortable, whereas in my Tacoma I'm tired and my back and ass would start hurting around the 300-400 mile mark and that's about the time I can't take it anymore and need an overnight break. The CHAdeMO adapter was great and knowing that I had many more options for charging, even with there being 4 superchargers that I could have relied on, significantly reduced my range anxiety to almost nothing. Using the free CalTrans chargers was a little bit slower to travel due to the 50kw limit, but when I travel I'm never in a rush and getting an hour break off the road every few hours worked well for me and it's cool knowing I can make that entire trip for free if I want to and that I can break up the trip with a few episodes of whatever I'm binging at the moment (assuming Netflix doesn't crash).

Hope this is helpful and gives some insight for other new owners who are considering long trips in the Tesla! My 2.5 week old car is now just under 3000 miles on the odometer and it's been nothing more than a blast.

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