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Another Cross Country Trip with an S85

I've been mentioning to this forum our upcoming cross country trip from PA to LA to Vancouver to Yellowstone and Grand Teton and back to PA in 53 days. Well, we finally took off on June 22 and are now on day five and resting peacefully in Rapid City, SD, after an interesting day in the South Dakota Badlands. Though my wife and I enjoy good food and good wine, our focus will not be on the epicurean but on the adventurous. Sbeggs did a marvelous job covering food and wines on his thread recently. A few weeks ago I wrote a thread about SC ICEing anxiety based on my experiences on trips I Iook on the Virginia- Boston corridor. I am happy to report that after stopping at 15 SCs during the last five days, from PA to VA, PA, OH, IN, IL, WI, MN, and SD, I found not a single SC iced... For that matter, we only saw one other Tesla being charged in Mamee, OH, and it belonged to the Columbus, OH, store. We actually miss the camaraderie and good fellowship of other Tesla drivers. Tesla has done a splendid job of placing the SCs in great locations unlikely to get iced and providing plenty of power to them. We typically have been charging at 360 miles of range per hour. I have to admit, this part of the country is lovely, though prone to incredible thunderstorm like the one tonight in Rapid City. I'll be reporting more details about the performance of our Tessie and about some of our adventures in the days to come...

Awesome! We'll certainly be happy to hear your updates. I really love it when the naysayers are proven wrong, over, and over, and over again... Be safe!

Pleased to know that for the next 7 weeks I can, once again, vicariously travel cross country with another Tesla owner. Thank you!

It's wonderful to be back home in San Diego after our 8 week West Coast/Canada trip, but it is also fantastic to hear that we can enjoy vicariously another quest. Especially one which takes in some National Parks at some distance from the Supercharger Highway!

We wish you a trailing wind (literally), few of those pesky thunderstorms, and the total enjoyment of this incredible machine.

And thanks for the compliment about our coverage of the left coast food and wine, we are a bit obsessed. We learned a lot about our own country, Canada and the car.

Safe travels! Claudia and Steve

I so love reading about these travel adventures. It really makes me want to go on a trip with my Model S. I keep looking around Plugshare and such to see where I can go but don't have any actual travel plans. Vicarious fun!

Let us know when you'll be in Hawthorne . . . we'll welcome you to the West properly.

I'll definitely live vicariously through your stories, not only as someone waiting for his S85 to be delivered, but as someone who has always dreamed of taking an extensive period of time for a wide-ranging drive across the US and Canada.

Here's hoping you have a *marvelous* time and I'll be looking forward to hearing more. :)

Like a lot of us you'll discover that fear of ICEing is overblown--do be on the lookout for hail, though. These thunderstorms can turn vicious very quickly--be mindful of potential refuges. The WY SC trail doesn't do a lot to showcase the state, but CO and UT are certainly gorgeous routes. You'll get to see WY's better half when you head to Yellowstone. Don't know if you can incorporate the Beartooth Highway--Charles Kuralt deemed it the most beautiful drive in America, or something like that:)

@ Bighorn: Don't know if you can incorporate the Beartooth Highway--Charles Kuralt deemed it the most beautiful drive in America, or something like that:)

It's fantastic. Views, more views, and gorgeous lake-filled high country on the way to those views and in between them. Visit the fire tower for the best view of all. Plus some amazing winding roads - be cautious about the motorcycles, though. I just hope you can find enough charging locations to make it accessible in a Tesla.

Note: The fire tower is a few miles up side road #142, about a mile west of Beartooth Lake.

Is this trip taking Ivy home?

If you go in early summer, you can still drive through 20' snow canyons that the plows create to open the road.

+1 on CO and UT. I think our favorite part of going cross country was Hwy 128 going NE out of Moab, UT. Stunning as you drive through a mini-micro Grand Canyon. 128 will take you to an Interstate connecting to Grand Junction, CO and a Supercharger.

Everyone, thanks for the comments... @Bighorn, don't underestimate how beautiful Wyoming looks to an outsider, especially in the fading early evening light as you head south towards Lusk. Simply gorgeous! Thanks for the thunderstorms and hail comments. I am concerned about it and have the weather map on half the screen at all times. As you know, there are 20 or more mile stretches in Wyoming that have no shelter. Will look into the Beartooth highway detour... The stretch between Coeur D'Alene and West Yellowstone is a bit of a challenge, but we've planned for it. Tessie will sleep at an RV Camp getting charged while we sleep at a nearby motel.
@Samo, we will not be going to Hawthorne, but to Morro Bay from Vegas.
@sbeggs, thanks for the best wishes.

We could consider yesterday, June 26, the first real day of vacation on this trip. We finally visited our first National Park, Badlands NP, and what a magnificent place it is. We started down Rt 240 a bit later than expected and had to give up on our planned long hike through it, though we did hike every suggested stop: from the "door" to the "window" to the "shelf nature trail" to the "fossil trail". Here we decided to do some off trail hiking to get the true feeli of the Badlands away from other tourists. By then we had gotten used to the terrain and how much our approach shoes would bite into the dried mud that makes up the Badlands. What must be incredibly slippery when wet is surprisingly grippy when dried. It wasn't a very long hike, maybe an hour, but a very satisfying one. Naturally, we had to stop at every overlook and take our customary dozens of pictures. The most interesting part of the day came as we parked at the last overlook prior to exiting the Park, the Pinnacles overlook. Liz spied a couple of mountain goats perched on top of one of the pinnacles. Soon she saw other goats with their kids crossing the treacherous steep sided slopes of the Badlands. Eventually five of them completely surrounded Tessie before walking calmly by. We captured some memorable scenes in pictures and videos which I'll post on my Vimeo site after we get back. One scene was a mother goat feeding her demanding kid while standing on the side of what looked like a vertical wall! Shooting into the setting sun at some of the mountain goats standing on the pinnacles provided us with some unforgettable moments.
Today we visited awe inspiring Mount Rushmore which is really beatifully done by the Park Service, though we could do with less of the touristy hoopla in the town of Keystone. We continued on to Custer City for lunch at the self proclaimed best burger and buns restaurant in America while Tessie was getting a charge from a Nema 14-50 at the Custer City visitor center. Fred from the Chamber of Commerce was enthusiastic about Tesla and turned on the power to the four outlets. We got an extra 40 miles of range during lunch, which served us well when Liz decided she wanted to drive the Needles Highway and visit Custer State Park to see the wild burros and the herd of bison. Of course, we had to take the obligatory videos of Tessie squeezing through the 8'4" tunnel. Given that it's a few inches wider than our garage door, it was child's play. According to the very helpful ranger at the entrance to Custer State Park, the burros can usually be found at the southeastern corner of the Park, and that's exactly where we found "them": a mother and her baby, both incredibly friendly, insisting to be hand fed some of the junk food we had in the car. Given that these are really domesticated burros who have turned feral, we didn't feel too badly about breaking this most basic of rules. A quick look at our range told me that we needed to backtrack to Rt87 and start our trek to the Lusk supercharger. On the way back, we stumbled upon a herd of buffalo moving east through the lush grass of the Park. Some of the babys didn't know whether to eat the sweet grass or suckle on mom's milk. What a sight! One more nature sight awaited us when we came upon a herd of pronghorn antelope grazing in a sloping meadiw. They are really graceful creatures, more so than the herd of deer that visit our Pennsylvania backyard every day. The rest of the trip to the Lusk SC was uneventful other than the customary thunderstorm on our way to Wyoming. Uneventful but not ordinary. The beauty of the landscape in the evening light as we headed south to Lusk was breathtaking... One more surprise awaited us in Lusk. During all the months we have owned Tessie, we seldom see more than one Tesla a week. In Lusk, today we saw four! A grey one from Illinois headed to Oregon, a black one from New York State, and another white one like Tessie. Clearly, Lusk is a happening place!

Hey, what about pictures? I would appreciate them. It would be more like being there with you. Enjoy.

Wow! I could see if through your eyes! Great descriptions of the animals, roads, and what you felt. I can't wait to keep reading.

I have some pictures from my cross country journey just a little while ago that shows the animals in Custer State Park.

All the cross country posts can be found here:

Wow--you've really done well with spotting wildlife! Goats and nursing bison on the same trip is pretty rare. Those pronghorns are the second fastest land animal after the cheetah--conveniently, they don't jump fences so you don't have to worry about hitting them. Your descriptions of the Custer area bring back fond recent memories of our Black Hills Tesla rally. With your good fortune, I look forward to hearing tales of moose, bear, bighorn sheep and mountain lions in the coming days.

Very nice-- the S is a great road trip car. Please keep the posts & pics coming.

I have to look up how to transfer pictures from our cameras to my IPad. Apple usually doesn't go out of its way to make any communication to another device very simple. I know that I have transferred pictures from SD cards to the IPad in the past, but have to relearn the process. Our days are very full from early in the morning to late at night, even the SC stops seem too fast. Today, June 28, was an easy driving day from Cheyenne to the Lone Tree SC to Colorado Springs. We had lunch at California Pizza near the SC. Not fine dining, but good food nonetheless. I had been warned this morning while charging in Cheyenne that the Lone Tre SC was likely to be saturated with Teslas, and so it was: we saw four Teslas, three white ones and a black one, we being the fifth. It looked as if we were out of luck! But wait, one of the slots was empty and we quickly pulled in, started charging, and walked to the restaurant. As we were leaving, another white S pulled in. Five white Ss within a few feet of each other, one of them from CA. The fifth Tesla charging, was charging at a HPWC that Tesla has installed next to the SCs. This is obviously a very popular spot, being only a few feet from the main entrance to the upscale mall. By the way, those of you traveling to Cheyenne, be aware that the SCs are completely surrounded by RVs, so that the SCs are very difficult to spot. Apparently the RVs are there permanently on display by a RV dealer.
Tomorrow, bright and early, we meet Bill from Front Range Climbing for a day's climbing in the Garden of the Gods. We're a little apprehensive about the climbs (mostly 2 or 3 pitch trad climbs) given that we haven't climbed in a year, we're totally unfamiliar with the Garden's rock quality and rating system, and I have a brand new pair of shoes I've never worn. Bill casually mentioned numbers like 5.7 to 5.9, which elicited a choking sound from me. Neither one of us can climb 5.8 or 5.9 consistently. I'm also going into the 7th year of my retirement, so I'm no spring chicken and the lack of any climbing practice this year is bound to give us away. You can't fake your way up vertical walls. We'll have to scale down Bill's expectations. We had the same problem when we started climbing in Cortina with our guide Enrico, and happened to make it up a 14 pitch, V+, climb, the equivalent of a 5.8 in the US. For us it was a desperate day of survival which only confirmed to Enrico that we were indeed 5.8 climbers, which we're not. We have spent the last 15 years trying to prove to Enrico that he grossly overrates our ability. I'll keep you posted, assuming we make it back in one piece.

June 29, 30, July 1, July 2
Well, resuming my narrative on July 2. We did indeed climb Montezuma Castle in the Garden of the Gods, and to be fair the 5.7 rating was about what I would have expected on the East Coast. The rating was OK but Liz and I were not up to it. We had been eating a lot of questionable food in lots of questionable places and neither one of us was feeling very good. Nonetheless we made it up the first pitch that has the crux move. At the belay station I started getting cold sweats, feeling very nauseous, and practically passing out. Long story short, I was able to rappell down the 100 ft, the resciue squad was called, and I spent the rest of the day at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs. A battery of tests later they released me with all the tests being negative. I was going to get a physical anyway when I get back, now I won't have to.
We headed over the rockies stopping at Silverthorne SC. The Model S is really an amazing car. We went over Vail Pass at 10662 ft and cruised down to Glenwood Springs, using a lot less rated range than actual between the two SCs. Filled up to about 255 miles of range and moved on to Snowmass Village where we'll be for four days. The next day we took the shuttle to Aspen, cruised up the gondola and hiked for several hours above 11200 ft as a way to acclimate for more arduous hikes later. It's clear that the episode in Colorado Springs has left me greatly diminished and I haven't recovered yet. Nonethelss, today we took Tessie to Independence Pass, at 12095 ft, the highest paved road in the country. Tessie handled it routinely. We did a hike to about 13000 ft but I was feeling the altitude, age, a shaky intestine, and we did not complete the climb/hike to Twining Peak, 13711 ft. The climb to North Maroon Bell will have to wait for my re-incarnation. On the way back to Aspen Tessie proved once again what an amazing car she is. We left Independence Pass with 129 miles of range and arrived in Aspen 24 miles later with 142 miles, 13 miles more than our start. Liz did not use the brakes once, how cool is that! It pains to see the red brake lights on ICE cars... What a waste.

Sorry to hear of your illness and hope you regain full strength so you can better enjoy your adventure. As the CO crew is aware, the highest paved road in North America is up to Mt. Evans at 14,130 ft. We gained between 22 and 25 miles coming down that stretch. Maybe there's an asterisk because it is a dead end or the Aspen folks conveniently forget about other zip codes?

Bighorn, you're absolutely correct. The US Geodetic Survey folks define it as "the highest Colorado State Road of a through road". Put enough qualifiers and any road becomes unique.... I guess the road up Pike's Peak is also paved these days... I'm not over my bug yet and common sense would dictate a day's rest... I'm doing that if not for the entire day at least for a long afternoon today...


This is really a great thread. My 12 yr old son and I are about to embark on the exact same route you are on! We are making the run from Chicago to Freemont. Have you found any hotels you like along the way?

It's funny you mention the burger joint in Custer, SD...I was just reading an article today about the top 10 burger joints in America...and sure enough there it was. Is it truly top 10?

Keep the play-by-play is really a great read as we prep for our voyage next week!

Wow! Sounds very ambitious and quite strenuous. Hope you recover fully, maybe take some ginger and turmeric. Take it easy for a while... Enjoying your reports nonetheless.

Amazing trip. Keep trailblazing!

@jrkbob: Hampton Inns are uniformly good... In Mitchell, SD, do not stay anywhere north of I90. Use the hotels on the south side... A bit more expensive, but worth it. Best Westerns are a crap shoot, some excellent some dungeons. Read all the reviews and glean out the truth by reading between the lines. This time of the year all the hotels along I90 are booked solid, even the the poor ones. Don't plan to eat in Murdo, it seems the only place there was really bad. Even in Lusk there are only a couple of eateries. Rapid City is OK. My wife ate the burger at the Black Hills Burger and Bun in Custer City, she loved it and would probably concur the it's one of the best.

The proprietor at the Murdo motel supercharger saw me charging and told me to grab some breakfast from their free buffet. Nice gesture.

I didn't realize that Montezuma was taking revenge that far north.
What a coincidence. It is a bummer when vacations take those turns. I hope you are feeling like you are in top form soon.


I completely concur with your taste. On my x-country trip, I frequented a ton of Hampton Inns. They are very uniform and consistent (and kind of boring eventually). The quietest of this level of chain hotel.

The only restaurant I really liked along the supercharger route was Black Hills Burger and Bun in Custer! I made a point to stop there on the way back.

July 3 - Snowmass Village. We're leaving tomorrow bound for Moab for two days hiking in Arches and Canyonlands NP. We couldn't leave the area without hiking in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. We drove Tessie up to the Maroon Bells parking area at 8:30 and started our hike to Crater Lake, about 500 ft above scenic Maroon Lake. The ranger had only seen one or two Teslas up here; he told me one of his friends works for Tesla. It was a crystal clear day and the Maroon Bells stood out sharply in the southern sky. Pyramid Peak loomed large to the east of Maroon Lake, its many towers sharply outlined against the blue sky. Given my shaky past few days, we had set a turnaround time of noon plus or minus. Normally we hike down at twice the speed of our ascent, so a couple of hours of ascending should easily take us past Crater Lake. Our ascent slowed to a crawl with all of the pictures we were taking at Maroon Lake and on the hike to Crater. The good news was that I was feeling strong and we arrived at the Buckskin Pass trail junction fairly quickly. Here the trail goes down to Crater and radiates west to the pass. I got twinges of regret: this is also the trail we were planning to take to North Maroon Peak for our climb. From here we could see the lake was full of tourists and, wanting a little more solitude, we decided to take the Buckskin Pass trail. In fact I suggested to Liz that we should cross the evergreen clad shoulder above us, cross the rock glacier to the North Maroon Face, and continue on North Maroon as if we were going to climb it, knowing full well that we could never make it anywhere near the top. The cut off trail to North Maroon can easily be missed, according to various accounts, so I was looking for a climber's trail on the left of the Pass Trail. Sure enough, we came to a narrow trail heading towards the Minnehaha gorge. We passed a campsite, just like the ranger had said, and continued on towards the gorge, expecting to see the river crossing. Instead, we came to a very steep but dry gully that had no sign of passage. It was far too dangerous to proceed so we backtracked to the Buckskin Pass trail and decided to follow it to the pass. As we approached the top of the Minnehaha gulch, we came upon the "real" cutoff trail. It was very obvious and we headed down to the roaring creek to find a crossing. There was a lot of water coming down and the creek proved impossible to ford. We almost attempted to jump from a large rock in the middle of it onto the marshy shore until I realized we could never make it back. No matter, we continued on to Buckskin Pass. As we got higher, the views became even more exceptional. The bastion of Pyramid Peak to the East, North Maroon Bell to the Southeast, and the crimson ramparts of the Sleeping Sexton to the west in front of us. Higher up, the trail eventually crossed the creek with a series of well placed rocks. It was getting near our designated turn around time. We had lost much valuable time trying to solve the river crossing, and now the sky was getting covered with clouds, never a good sign in the mountains. Not really knowing the weather signs in these parts, we decided to go back down. We had reached about 11,400 ft, a respectable 1900 ft above the parking lot. We made terrific time going down to Crater Lake and the weather was holding, so we continued hiking around the lake trail. Coming down the Minnehaha gulch we saw a huge waterfall, sparkling in the sunlight, a powerful magnet drawing us to it. We followed a trace of a trail, climbed on some loose, steep, scree through the aspens, and came around a vertical wall to the sight of the thunderous waterfall. The extra effort was worth it. Enough, time to go down. We got down at 3:45, seven hours after we started. We're obviously much better acclimatized to the altitude today, and would love to attempt something interesting tomorrow. But it will have to be in the Canyonlands of Utah.
Some impressions of the people we met in Colorado and in the Snowmass/Aspen area:
1. Most people of all ages are very fit, much more so than on the East Coast.
2. People are very friendly and polite in a natural, unforced way. This was universally true of all people we met, rangers, waitresses, hikers, hotel personnel, salespersons, etc. It's a very comfortable place.

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