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Ultimate EV Road Trip - Circumnavigating North America

Jax 3

New Member
Oct 26, 2018
4
5
Apex NC
World so small.

I enjoy reading about road tripping, so I started reading your story and began to suspect that we had met. Then, yes, you referred to your stop in (Asheville) North Carolina, and I remembered that you had picked up your S in CA. You, I think, simply wanted to charge that morning but you found yourselves among another 60 or 70 (or more?) Teslas from several NC clubs queuing up to start a caravan on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a great day that was. That mob included my grandson and me, and we spoke for a few minutes at the Asheville chargers. I remember your door issue and being happy for you that a TeslaRanger was at hand. I los
t sight of you when we began to move, so I don't know whether you were able to join us on the caravan. But you already had a giant treasure trove by that time.

I'm happy to read that your entire adventure went so well. And I think you may have helped plant the seed of an idea. Not too long after we met, my wife and I made an 8,800-mile trip ourselves in her S, including some of the roads you drove. We
planned to trip last year (that damned 2020) but obviously had to postpone. I wanted to go try all those new Canadian SCs that were not yet open for your trek. We hope for a better chance this year. For now, I occasionally drive a 100-mile circle around Raleigh for exercise during lockdown.

Extremely small world!

 

Zimo

Member
Feb 12, 2020
12
8
Lincoln, California
I carry a small 12 volt air pump purchased on Amazon for $30.00 which works great and has been a lifesaver. When I just want the tires all checked and filled I go to Firestone. They will do it quickly and for free. I think most tire stores will do this.
 

JohnMJump

New Member
Oct 19, 2019
1
1
Kenosha, WI
Of course charging an EV takes longer than filling a tank, but on a road trip where time is not of the essence it can provide some unexpected benefits..."
As a relative newbie to this community, I find that options I take for granted elsewhere are blocked, such as "liking" or "loving" a post - let's see if I can complete this REPLY - I appreciate your candid acknowledgement that long road trips are where the time required to charge looms largest. This point alone is enough for the anti-EV crowd to snap their minds shut with a big QED and a flounce out of the forum! I would "heart" your post if I could! :)
 
  • Love
Reactions: aerodyne

Prof

Member
Jan 6, 2020
51
38
Florida
In response to a recent question on Quora about the inconvenience of charging on a roadtrip, I posted this response. As it seemed to elicit a favourable response I thought I would share it here, particularly as prior to my trip TMC members provided some very supportive and reassuring advice.

Having never previously driven a Tesla, like the Quora poster I had some reservations about its practicality for a long trip. So a year ago, when the world was a different and much less scary place, we flew into the US from Australia, bought a used Tesla S 85D from Tesla in Los Angeles and the following morning set out to drive around North America. 178 days, 24 states, 11 provinces and territories and 32,000km later we returned to Los Angeles, sold the car and returned home just before our visas expired. During the trip the car consumed 5,700kWh of energy sourced from 62 superchargers and 98 other chargers. The total cost for all fuel and repairs and maintenance for the entire trip was $5.75, including $1 for air for a front tyre.

Keeping mainly to scenic roads and following the coast as far as possible, we drove up the west coast, through the San Juan Islands of WA to BC and the Yukon to Alaska, across Canada (where last year there were no superchargers for 3000km across the electron desert between Calgary and Sudbury and none north of Whistler or west of Halifax, although a lot more have been added since then) to Cape Spear on the easternmost tip of Newfoundland, southwards via Cape Cod, through New York city and along the Outer Banks of North Carolina before heading inland through Nashville and Memphis to New Orleans, across Texas and via New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Joshua Tree NPs to San Diego and back to LA.

main-qimg-d104b59648edd446b5769def2afb2388


At no stage did we run short of fuel or struggle to find a place to charge. Sure it took some planning; in the remoter parts of Canada beyond the supercharger network it meant limiting travel to about 400kms a day, selecting overnight stays with or close to charging points and on a few occasions running a cable out of a motel window to get a few extra kms but the car itself provides far more accurate info about remaining range and refuelling options than an ICE car. It also meant that on occasion on particularly long days, we would drive more slowly than we otherwise would, keeping to 80-100km/h or reducing the a/c to conserve energy.

The only nerve-wracking time was a Bonfire of the Vanities moment leaving New York when en route to the Kearny supercharger I missed an exit ramp, resulting in a lengthy detour through the industrial wastelands of New Jersey, reaching the charger with only 2mi of range. However, we found apps such as Plugshare to be indispensable and very reliable. We only once unexpectedly found a charger out of order or unavailable, (at Gitanmaax off the Yellowhead Highway in northern BC, where the manager of the gas station had gone fishing and taken the key to the charger). Once, in Regina we had to share a hotel charger, where the other driver v kindly unplugged his car and connecting ours when theirs had finished at 2am, and once we did have to queue about 30mins to charge, at the 20 stall supercharger near San Clemente, CA. Otherwise, leaving aside the cost savings and the lack of emissions, and having to stay at one or two motels we wouldn’t otherwise have chosen, it was no more inconvenient and an awful lot more relaxing than driving an ICE.

Of course charging an EV takes longer than filling a tank, but on a road trip where time is not of the essence it can provide some unexpected benefits, such as
  • Not having to worry about whether to fill up now or wait to see if it will be cheaper at the next gas station/town/state
  • The opportunity for serendipitous conversations with other drivers when charging, although not so much in California where the EV novelty has worn off. We would frequently get tips on routes, places to visit, restaurants and bars etc, as well as an invitation to join the NC Tesla club in a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • No worries as a foreigner about not having a zip code linked to our credit card, which with an ICE can mean at best the need to go into the gas station office prior to filling, or at worst not being able to get any gas, as happened to us late at night in Alaska on a previous trip
  • The opportunity to visit interesting places whilst charging, which we might otherwise have passed by. I don’t mean just shopping malls and outlet centres where many superchargers are located but places such as the Russian fort at Fort Ross, CA, the Museum of Western Film History at Lone Pine, CA, the Acadian Historic Village in New Brunswick, the Yukon Transport Museum at Whitehorse, the curiously named Sober Island Brewery in Nova Scotia or even the amazing Fogo Island Inn somewhere off Newfoundland
  • Priority parking, in EV only spaces such as at the Wright Bros National Park in Kitty Hawk NC and at a metro station in Montreal
In short, within the supercharger network, we would give no more thought to charging than we would to getting petrol. The car itself takes care of that. However venturing beyond the supercharger network does require more planning, checking the proposed distance on google maps, sometimes ringing ahead to ask a hotel to make sure its charger is working and isn’t ICEd, checking the latest feedback from users on PlugShare, and occasionally moderating our driving style to conserve energy.

As the car came with a 4 year/80,000km warranty, R&M was free and included a replacement 12v battery fitted in Vancouver and a door handle repair by a roving Tesla service guy at the NC Telsa meetup in Asheville (fixed in the best Microsoft tradition by powering the car off and on again)

Apart from superchargers, overnight/destination charging at hotels, restaurants/museums etc was free except once in Montreal (where paying $1.50 to charge at a metro station car park was cheaper than paying to park in a non EV space) and $3.25 in New Brunswick.

FWIW although for the most part we avoided freeways and interstates, I would estimate about 65% of the journey was on autopilot (HW1) which made driving quite relaxing allowing us to watch the scenery and spot wildlife. Also looking at electricity generation in the various states and provinces we guesstimate that around ⅔rd of the energy we consumed was from renewable sources making us less concerned about the possible harmful impacts of a frivolous journey.

It’s also worth noting that the experience of driving a Tesla back in Australia, now a M3 LR without free supercharging, is a little different. The supercharging network is currently more limited covering only a few of the major highways in southeastern Australia and, like Canada last year, there are large swathes of electron deserts making our next continental circumnavigation more of a challenge. Fortunately the local motoring associations are rolling out a more extensive fast charging network in some states so once covid restrictions ease and state borders reopen we are keen to see how far we can get.

For anyone who is interested but doesn't have six months to spare, here's the entire trip at hyperspeed, https://photos.app.goo.gl/wd2j216xojhszfi16 (Play LOUD!)

I love this writeup. Would it be possible to get a better version of your trip map so we could see the actual roads and charging stops and also a legend for the letters on the map?
 

WECinNC

Member
Feb 28, 2020
22
9
Waynesville, NC
In response to a recent question on Quora about the inconvenience of charging on a roadtrip, I posted this response. As it seemed to elicit a favourable response I thought I would share it here, particularly as prior to my trip TMC members provided some very supportive and reassuring advice.

Having never previously driven a Tesla, like the Quora poster I had some reservations about its practicality for a long trip. So a year ago, when the world was a different and much less scary place, we flew into the US from Australia, bought a used Tesla S 85D from Tesla in Los Angeles and the following morning set out to drive around North America. 178 days, 24 states, 11 provinces and territories and 32,000km later we returned to Los Angeles, sold the car and returned home just before our visas expired. During the trip the car consumed 5,700kWh of energy sourced from 62 superchargers and 98 other chargers. The total cost for all fuel and repairs and maintenance for the entire trip was $5.75, including $1 for air for a front tyre.

Keeping mainly to scenic roads and following the coast as far as possible, we drove up the west coast, through the San Juan Islands of WA to BC and the Yukon to Alaska, across Canada (where last year there were no superchargers for 3000km across the electron desert between Calgary and Sudbury and none north of Whistler or west of Halifax, although a lot more have been added since then) to Cape Spear on the easternmost tip of Newfoundland, southwards via Cape Cod, through New York city and along the Outer Banks of North Carolina before heading inland through Nashville and Memphis to New Orleans, across Texas and via New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Joshua Tree NPs to San Diego and back to LA.

main-qimg-d104b59648edd446b5769def2afb2388


At no stage did we run short of fuel or struggle to find a place to charge. Sure it took some planning; in the remoter parts of Canada beyond the supercharger network it meant limiting travel to about 400kms a day, selecting overnight stays with or close to charging points and on a few occasions running a cable out of a motel window to get a few extra kms but the car itself provides far more accurate info about remaining range and refuelling options than an ICE car. It also meant that on occasion on particularly long days, we would drive more slowly than we otherwise would, keeping to 80-100km/h or reducing the a/c to conserve energy.

The only nerve-wracking time was a Bonfire of the Vanities moment leaving New York when en route to the Kearny supercharger I missed an exit ramp, resulting in a lengthy detour through the industrial wastelands of New Jersey, reaching the charger with only 2mi of range. However, we found apps such as Plugshare to be indispensable and very reliable. We only once unexpectedly found a charger out of order or unavailable, (at Gitanmaax off the Yellowhead Highway in northern BC, where the manager of the gas station had gone fishing and taken the key to the charger). Once, in Regina we had to share a hotel charger, where the other driver v kindly unplugged his car and connecting ours when theirs had finished at 2am, and once we did have to queue about 30mins to charge, at the 20 stall supercharger near San Clemente, CA. Otherwise, leaving aside the cost savings and the lack of emissions, and having to stay at one or two motels we wouldn’t otherwise have chosen, it was no more inconvenient and an awful lot more relaxing than driving an ICE.

Of course charging an EV takes longer than filling a tank, but on a road trip where time is not of the essence it can provide some unexpected benefits, such as
  • Not having to worry about whether to fill up now or wait to see if it will be cheaper at the next gas station/town/state
  • The opportunity for serendipitous conversations with other drivers when charging, although not so much in California where the EV novelty has worn off. We would frequently get tips on routes, places to visit, restaurants and bars etc, as well as an invitation to join the NC Tesla club in a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • No worries as a foreigner about not having a zip code linked to our credit card, which with an ICE can mean at best the need to go into the gas station office prior to filling, or at worst not being able to get any gas, as happened to us late at night in Alaska on a previous trip
  • The opportunity to visit interesting places whilst charging, which we might otherwise have passed by. I don’t mean just shopping malls and outlet centres where many superchargers are located but places such as the Russian fort at Fort Ross, CA, the Museum of Western Film History at Lone Pine, CA, the Acadian Historic Village in New Brunswick, the Yukon Transport Museum at Whitehorse, the curiously named Sober Island Brewery in Nova Scotia or even the amazing Fogo Island Inn somewhere off Newfoundland
  • Priority parking, in EV only spaces such as at the Wright Bros National Park in Kitty Hawk NC and at a metro station in Montreal
In short, within the supercharger network, we would give no more thought to charging than we would to getting petrol. The car itself takes care of that. However venturing beyond the supercharger network does require more planning, checking the proposed distance on google maps, sometimes ringing ahead to ask a hotel to make sure its charger is working and isn’t ICEd, checking the latest feedback from users on PlugShare, and occasionally moderating our driving style to conserve energy.

As the car came with a 4 year/80,000km warranty, R&M was free and included a replacement 12v battery fitted in Vancouver and a door handle repair by a roving Tesla service guy at the NC Telsa meetup in Asheville (fixed in the best Microsoft tradition by powering the car off and on again)

Apart from superchargers, overnight/destination charging at hotels, restaurants/museums etc was free except once in Montreal (where paying $1.50 to charge at a metro station car park was cheaper than paying to park in a non EV space) and $3.25 in New Brunswick.

FWIW although for the most part we avoided freeways and interstates, I would estimate about 65% of the journey was on autopilot (HW1) which made driving quite relaxing allowing us to watch the scenery and spot wildlife. Also looking at electricity generation in the various states and provinces we guesstimate that around ⅔rd of the energy we consumed was from renewable sources making us less concerned about the possible harmful impacts of a frivolous journey.

It’s also worth noting that the experience of driving a Tesla back in Australia, now a M3 LR without free supercharging, is a little different. The supercharging network is currently more limited covering only a few of the major highways in southeastern Australia and, like Canada last year, there are large swathes of electron deserts making our next continental circumnavigation more of a challenge. Fortunately the local motoring associations are rolling out a more extensive fast charging network in some states so once covid restrictions ease and state borders reopen we are keen to see how far we can get.

For anyone who is interested but doesn't have six months to spare, here's the entire trip at hyperspeed, https://photos.app.goo.gl/wd2j216xojhszfi16 (Play LOUD!)

Sounds like it was a great trip. I'd love to view your pics but the link takes me to an empty Google album.
 

Tony8489

Member
Oct 17, 2015
261
346
Same here. Can't see a thing.

Also curious: how much range was lost during the trip with all that supercharging?

Same with me, links to empty album.

I was shocked intrepidtoo ONLY used 68 superchargers. My 2020 travels, LA to Florida, returning via Lake Superior, used 65 superchargers and it was child's play compared to intrepidtoo's trip. He used a lot of destination chargers, particularly in Canada.
 

ThomasD

Member
Nov 22, 2019
870
385
Breckenridge Co Ky
Found this article about driving to the Arctic Ocean. I think it would be a fun drive
  • from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk


Up until quite recently, travellers to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories had only a few less-than-convenient options to get to the famed whaling town that sits right on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. You could fly or boat in from Inuvik, a larger community to the south of Tuktoyaktuk, but if you wanted to drive you’d have to wait until the Mackenzie River froze over and turned into an ice road.

But this all changed in November of 2017 when the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway opened, becoming the first all-weather road to the Arctic Coast and essentially connecting all three of Canada’s oceans via our public highway system. At 138 km, the road isn’t long and only takes a couple of hours to drive, but it isn’t quite like the highways that visitors from the southern part of Canada are used to driving.












I had the pleasure of making the drive from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk this past fall (which is a beautiful time to drive it, as you’re neither experiencing 24-hour sunlight nor 24-hour darkness). For anyone who hasn’t explored the northern part of this country, this drive is a good way to get started — you can fly into Inuvik from points south (Edmonton is a good connection point) and rent a car, or do an epic road trip from British Columbia or Alberta. Here are some tips to ensure a successful journey along this unique northern highway:

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Plan to stay in Inuvik
The igloo-shaped church in Inuvik is one of the town’s key attractions [Elizabeth Chorney-Booth]
There are a few bed and breakfast-style accommodations in Tuktoyaktuk, but they fill up quickly in the summer, so it’s a good idea to stay in Inuvik, which has a handful of traditional hotels. The

Mackenzie Hotel
has an on-site lounge and restaurant, which makes it a good bet. Depending on the time of year, you can get early to make the drive to Tuktoyaktuk and easily get back before dark, and dinner (the restaurant situation in Tuktoyaktuk is a bit spotty). And while I don’t recommend driving drowsy, if you can stay up late to catch the Aurora Borealis, you won’t regret it.

Don’t plan to stop — unless it’s to enjoy nature
Don’t expect to find any restaurants along the road to Tuktoyaktuk [Elizabeth Chorney-Booth]
There are plans to build rest stops on the highway, but at this time there are no bathroom facilities and nowhere to buy drinks, snacks or gas. That said, the road is quiet enough that you can pull over and take in the beauty of your remote surroundings. You’re likely to see wildlife and will definitely see plenty of lakes that reflect the light of the northern sun. You’ll also lose any cell or radio service, so download some music or a podcast onto your phone if you want something to listen to.

Take it slow and choose a vehicle that can handle the road
It’s best to take a heavy, reliable vehicle if you’re driving from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk [Elizabeth Chorney-Booth]
The speed limit on the road is 70 km/h, but you may want to take it even slower. The aforementioned wildlife can be a surprise if they’re crossing the road and you do want to be able to take in the scenery as you move along. More importantly, the relatively narrow road is covered in loose gravel and has steep sides, which means speedy cars may slip around and risk flying off the road. For this reason, also make sure you take to the road in a fairly formidable vehicle. I was in a Chevy Silverado truck, which handled the road easily, and I would not have felt as secure in a smaller or lighter car.




Article content continued
Do keep in mind, however, that locals won’t necessarily be taking it easy and will not hesitate to pass slowpokes. The likelihood of getting a rock chip on your windshield is high, but c’est la vie!

Be respectful of Inuvialuit culture
The end of the road: the author stands in front of the Arctic Ocean [Elizabeth Chorney-Booth]
While it is a thrill for southerners to see the Arctic Ocean, be aware that Tuktoyaktuk is a functioning town and that it’s important to be respectful to the people who live there. Tuktoyaktuk is a small and friendly community and, in general, people are happy to see visitors. Be sure to spend some money, buying goods from local artisans or visiting the Grandma’s Kitchen food trailer for a bite to eat. And while the new road does give people more access to goods and services, it’s not a bad idea to bring some gifts from the south — a box of Timbits never goes unappreciated!
 
  • Informative
Reactions: Hugh-SG
Hi Thanks for all the comments, its great to hear about the range of trips planned or completed. Sorry some have had difficulty with the photos and video, but rather than answering individually I thought I might add some more info for those who are interested as well as some fresh links
  • Yes, the air did cost a $1, and yes it was in CA, at Mojave on day 2, but that was the only time we needed air during the trip. We did buy the Tesla tyre kit jic but didn't open it
  • For the actual route please try this link to mymaps in Google Maps. (Note the letters are a function of Google Maps and have no particular significance). Tesla Road Trip - Google My Maps
  • Re Alaska, we actually went to Alaska twice; first to Hyder and then to Skagway. In our initial planning we had included Fairbanks and the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay (although not the Steese Hwy) but that was before reality set in. With bushfires raging in AK and a pall of smoke haze in the Yukon we cut our losses after Whitehorse and retreated to Skagway and the ferry to Prince Rupert. Similarly in E Canada we abandoned a plan to go through Labrador City and Blanc Sablon to NFL, in favour of the ferry from Sydney to Channel Port aux Basques. I see with the roll out of NLHydro's network it might now be possible but with Uncle Sam not giving us any time out on our visas for the months spent in Canada we had to keep moving.
  • In terms of cost, we bought the car from Tesla and sold it via Craigs List, with a price difference of about $1.5k (plus sales tax which unlike VAT/GST in most countries isn't built into the price and thus isn't recoverable on resale). We were surprised how quickly the car sold - if we weren't up against a fixed deadline to leave the US we probably could have got more, but then the new owner wouldn't have got such a good deal, and our remaining 3½ yrs/50,000k warranty
  • Insurance through GEICO cost about $110/mth as they were prepared to accept our overseas driving record (and lack of US licence, SSN or proof of residence)
  • We briefly explored Turo but who was going to rent their Tesla to a random alien with no fixed abode and no driving licence for six months to drive to the arctic? Anyway the insurance was prohibitive
  • The video was made using an iphone attached to the sun visor with rubber bands and set to take a photo every 2 minutes using an app called OSnap. Yes, there are lots and lots of trees. The time lapse starts at Lake Tahoe as we hadn't quite it figured out at the beginning and as Dave92F1 spotted that the last little bit meandering around CA is actually in a white kia after we'd sold the Tesla and were awaiting deportation.
  • Photos of the trip are in this google photos album link or try (https://photos.app.goo.gl/mGMFoQ8oDQSEDvy26). Note the video is at the end of the album with a separate link to it here (or try https://photos.app.goo.gl/3sduaBkdTBR2L6rc6) It's about 1Gb so give it time to load
  • and if anyone is really keen there's a link to our blog. (IntrepidToo) where you can read about driving around N America in an EV, racing on a 70' yacht from Australia to New York or driving across the Himalayas from Sydney to Scotland in an X5
  • Yes, I know it's not quite a full circumnavigation of North America, but when it's a choice between GA and FA or Memphis & Nashville, Blue Ridge Parkway and the Nanchez Trace, it was an easy decision, particularly as Highway 12 south of Cape Hatteras had been washed away. Anyway, for tij664, between leaving Australia and arriving in LA, we'd spend 3 months exploring Central America in another zero emission vehicle, a friend's 40' catamaran, but that's another story and another blog.
  • Hi Jax 3, yes the opportunity to join you guys in NC for the trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway was amazing, I think there were more Teslas in Asheville that day than there were in the whole of Australia at that time. The M3s have certainly boosted their take up in Aus over the past year, although they are still v expensive with no govt support and even threats of putting additional taxes on them to compensate for the fuel taxes they don't pay. The environmental benefits don't appear to register with our fossil fuel addicted dinosaurs running the country.
  • As a final comment, you may like our photo and comment from Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo Tx.

  • IMG_5860.jpg
 

ThomasD

Member
Nov 22, 2019
870
385
Breckenridge Co Ky
While reading about these long trips into rural areas with a Tesla in Summer to show the car can travel in these areas is interesting. I would also like to see writeups about travel to and though these rural areas in winter. I still do a lot of traveling though not as much as I used to. Traveling through rural areas at 25 below is common for a lot you people. The nearest major town where you can get supplies maybe a 4 hour round trip. It's these people that should try to convince that an electric vehicle could meet their needs. .I see a few people on here from Montana, North Dakota and other rural frigid areas but not many. Not as much as I see from other states. Why
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,145
10,631
California
What a fantastic trip! Glad to see that you drove up 395 along the Eastern Sierras to Lake Tahoe. That's my favorite part of California.
We did a shorter trip in 2015 when our S was new. From Lake Tahoe up the coast to Seattle then across Canada to Banff. Then down to Glacier, Yellowstone and the Tetons then back across Nevada to Tahoe. Total cost for that trip was similar... about $5.00 to charge at one pay charger in Seattle. (Didn't need any air.)
Next year we did the southern route. Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Yuma, Grand Canyon then back.
 

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