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The Supercharger Trail: Navigating from Coast to Coast

My wife and I drove from Los Angeles to Connecticut, primarily on the SuperCharger Trail. And even though we left the trail twice, we did it all without an ounce of range anxiety. I'm very glad we did it, and doing it in a Tesla is about 10 times better than any ICE. To say otherwise is to speak from ignorance. To stop every 2 or 3 hours is not a bad thing, except that we ate way too much junk food. Our fault, should have planned better and been smarter.

Best Vista: Tie between Monument Valley, UT and driving Utah Highway 128 along the Colorado River

Biggest Thrill/Surprise: Arriving at the SC in Hamilton Township, NJ to find the 100th Supercharger Grand Opening in full swing. It was supposed to be 2 days before so I thought it would be quiet.

There are so many people, threads and web sites (detailed below) that are so very helpful for Tesla drivers. I want to summarize some of the things we learned in the hope they might help future travelers. I made a google spreadsheet detailing each charging stop, mileage (actual and range), KW used, etc. You can read it here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ava8IVA02tLHdGItLU1oei1ULS1...

1) For us, it was much better to drive fast and stop more often. East from Blanding, UT there's a LOT of superchargers. You can drive as fast as you want, NOT need to do a range charge (in an 85), and still have plenty of juice and zero range anxiety. We did not do a single range charge east of Colorado, did not experience any range anxiety, and drove as fast as we wanted. And in a few cases, we even passed right by superchargers without stopping.

2) The 3 major things that affect range are: speed, speed and speed. Slowing even from 70 to 65 makes a big difference. 75 to 65 is a real big difference. And if you're worried, drive 55-60. If you have any range anxiety at all, just drive 65 and keep comparing your range miles with the miles left in the navigation. You'll know if/when you can speed up.

3) After speed, the elevation change and outside temperature also can affect range. Speed you can change. Changing elevation and outside temperature requires superpowers.

4) Cabin electricity has very little effect on range. Heat it, cool it, listen to stuff, etc. We even regularly charged our phones and tablets. Climate control has more effect than these other things, but it's still pretty insignificant. Think how much juice is required to propel a 4600 pound car (before occupants, luggage, etc.) at freeway speeds?

5) As of April, 2014, outside California the number of Tesla's drops dramatically until you reach the East Coast. Between Los Angeles and Colorado, we never saw more than one Tesla at a Supercharger. And from Silverthorne, CO to Cranberry, PA I only saw one other person charging.

6) There's great information available for Tesla Road Tripping:
www.TeslaMotors.com/Superchargers shows the map, and some details on each site. This is the "official" Tesla page.
www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/supercharger-tips-and-reviews This thread from @PBEndo has tons more tips from Tesla owners about their experience on the trail. More useful than the official page.
supercharge.info is a great map of the Supercharger Trail, allows you to plot distances, etc. Better than the official page.
EVTripPlanner.com calculates the Range Miles you will use between two points. It is an invaluable tool on road trips, particularly where elevation is involved.

7) Yes, there are very useful websites. But through a lot of the middle of the country, we did not have internet coverage except with WiFi. We have Sprint. Maybe it's different if you have Verizon or something else.

8) The changes to the Navigation system make finding and using Superchargers much easier. The SC tab makes it easy to find the next one. The checkered flag is pretty tight on locations, so just zoom in and it will direct you to the correct part of the parking lot.

9) We left the SuperCharger trail twice. Kingman, AZ to Blanding, UT and also Somerset, PA to Hamilton Township, NJ. Both of those cut off significant mileage and/or provided great sightseeing. Almost all RV campgrounds (and there's a ton of them) have Nema 14-50 chargers available. Some are very EV friendly. Some are not. YMMV so always call first, and ask about "50 amp hookups". You'll only get 18-32 range miles per hour of charging, but if you can charge overnight or just need a little boost, it can work out very well if you want or need to leave the SC Trail.

10) Off the Supercharger Trail, we went from Kingman to Blanding and charged at the Grand Canyon Trailer Park. Yavapai Lodge/Cafe is a short walk away. But make sure you have a reservation for a space to charge, and make sure your reservation is prominently displayed on the dashboard. We were disconnected a few minutes after we left the car (by persons or animals unknown) and had to hang around the next day for 5 hours to get enough charge to continue.

11) We also went from Somerset, PA to Hamilton Township, NJ, stopping overnight at the Fairfield Inn in Hershey, PA. They have two public Level 2 J-1772's that charge at 18 mph and cost $1.24/hour. Perfect for an overnight stay.

12) I have lots of comments and opinions about the restaurants on the way. I posted them all in the Supercharger Tips thread, where you can see the opinions of other Tesla travelers about where to eat or stop. My most important food comment is this:
In most cases, you only need to charge for about 30 minutes. Don't feel you need to eat in the restaurants (often fast food) around the SC. Just relax or maybe have a coffee. Then find a good restaurant in town or on the way. We rarely did that.....

Kingman, AZ - Calico Restaurant. Maybe try something else.....
Moab, UT - Lots of good restaurant choices walking distance. Not so in Blanding, UT.
Silverthorne, CO - For fast food, Which wich was actually pretty healthy and good
Lusk, WY - Very small town. Not much to eat or do.
Murdo, SD - Rusty Spur had decent food and lots of beer on tap
Mitchell, SD - Food choice is probably the deli section of the County Fair supermarket. Many salads, pizza, chicken, beef, etc and a large sitting area.
Worthington, MN - Good strong wifi in the Ground Round. The steak was very good, and they have a bunch of beers on tap.
Rockford, IL - We liked Granite City. Mostly burgers and beer, but pretty good.
Special mention: Although not on this trip, Harris Ranch, CA should be noted as really really good food. If you're driving I-5 in California, you must stop there.

13) Here's our experience with hotels, with the first being best:
Fairfield Inn, Hershey, PA
Best Western Canyonlands, Moab, UT
Hampton Inn, Onalaska, WI (La Crosse SC)
Little America Hotel, Cheyenne, WY (our best meal on the trip)
Range Country Inn, Murdo, SD
Yavapai Lodge, Grand Canyon, AZ
Ramada Inn, Angola, IN

I hope this can help others. If you have any questions, post here or email me. I have a gmail account using my name here.

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing this.

Nice job golftoday. I linked to this route information on the Supercharger page.

Did you play any golf?
;-)

I think he played every day.

I can offer a suggestion as an alternative to eating while charging since this has always been a problem for EV drivers.
Take a short walk around the area. It can be a lot healthier and requires no additional equipment except for maybe a pair of tennis shoes.
You may even learn something about areas you may never have heard of before.
If you feel guilty about not supporting the charger host, buy a soft drink. It has high profit margin for them and could help you remain hydrated.

@PBEndo @J.T. Thank you so much for your kind words. Much appreciated.
@NKYTA - Sadly, no :((( It was hard enough to convince my wife this was a good idea, without adding in 4-5 hours of golf....even once. I have done golf road trips, getting a foursome, golf bags and minimal luggage in the trunk and frunk. Definitely the way to go !
@Earl and Nagin - I totally agree. Not all places are really conducive to walks, but even walking around a big parking lot gets you a little exercise. And you can always use a soft drink for the road. If I do another long road trip, I'll definitely follow that advice. We got in the bad habit of "getting a bite" at too many fast food places....


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