Road-Tripping with an EV…pictures included

We set off on the maiden voyage of our brand-new Tesla Model X, for which we had waited for almost a year. A 6,000+ mile road trip. Some comments on long-range journeys in EVs in the US today (plus my review of the X). TL/DR – in a Tesla, it’s a snap! X is great – with some caveats.

Our trip as planned in the ABRP.com EV trip planner

Rogie, our aging but willing dog, and I drove out to Bozeman, MT. My wife flew out, and off we set on an ambitious agenda. We had only one month due to commitments but wanted to pack in much that we hadn’t seen in the 40 years we have lived in the US. And to road test the X!

Dog (Rogie) was my copilot

In summary our agenda was: Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Zion National Park, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon (North + South Rims), Sedona, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Amarillo, OK City, Bentonville AR, Memphis, Nashville, Gatlinburg TN, then home.

At the North RIm of the Grand Canyon. It was pretty chilly! On balance it was a great time of the year to do this trip, and the weather was pretty temperate everywhere we traveled.

About the state of EV travel in the US. If you are driving a Tesla, it’s almost as convenient as traveling in a gas guzzler, but does require more planning, preferably in advance of the trip; with any other make of EV it wouldn’t have been as easy, if at all feasible.

Tesla has, in the last 10 years single-handedly created an EV infrastructure. The world, at least the US has now awakended to the necessity of building a universal charging infrastructure.

The secret is not only Tesla’s incredible network of Superchargers (SC), and the seamless integration into the vehicles’ Nav facilities, but the amazing job that Tesla has done in promoting destination chargers to hotels nationally (and I would guess, internationally).

At the Horseshoe Ben of the Colorado River Gorge. Very difficult to put into words the majesty of the views we encountered on the trip.

Having a destination charger allows you start the day with a (free) full charge, with first stop for lunch! Had we realized the opportunity, we could have – and should have booked 100% of our stays in charger-equipped hotels. But the SC network is the real ace up the sleeve.

Looking down on Horeshoe Bend. The Colorado is at a critically low level because of the prevailing drought

Every destination was in reach of multiple choices of SCs on the route, most of which are conveniently located near services for a bite and a rest stop. On the way out I travelled between 500 and 700 miles each day, so maintained 2-hour stages, and 20–30-minute charges.

The presence of the Aspens in the vast Kaibab National Forest approching the North Rim of the Grand Canyon made for a stunning sight

Once my wife joined, we began touring and site seeing, stopping for 2 or 3 days in each location, and the trip legs reduced to a few hundred miles. Generally, we set off mid-morning, stopped to charge for 30-40 minutes in the lunch hour, and arrived at about check-in time.

With Rogie and a sadly depleted Lake Powell in the background.

If the hotel had a destination charger, I would hook up, and we could just take off in the morning. Failing that I would take the car to the local supercharger before or after dinner, or we would charge up in the morning on our way out. Quite convenient.

Upper Yellowstone Falls

The great Tesla value-add is not just the SC+destination network; it’s the integration of the car+network, showing options, and number of charging points free at each location, recommending stops. I can’t imagine planning/executing a trip without that.

Zion National Park provided us with stunning views

I tried abetterrouteplanner.com to plan stops & hotels along the way for my outbound trip, and a guide for hotels to book, but found the UI clunky and awkward, with far too many gotchas. After struggling with it, I gave up and stuck to the Tesla website and in-car nav.

Ansel Adams captured the extraordinary patterns that we saw amongst the tree stumps dotting the active geyser fields

Improvement ideas: need to ensure that there are garbage cans convenient to the SC locations, and ensure they are serviced. Some stops are serviced by the local merchants and are spotless…other not so much. One had a transparent tip-box for local volunteers – it was pristine!

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona. This small Chapel sits atop a small Mesa in dramatic fashion, in a town that is one of the many jewels of the Southwest.

About the X: fantastic tourer, best I have yet experienced. Single major complaint: glare from early/late sun pouring into the vast windshield and driver/passenger window, not dealt with efficiently by the ingenious yet insufficient visor. It’s a design flaw in my estimation.

A little bit of whimsy on Route 66….Cadillac Ranch

I had misgivings about the Yoke before driving the car but loved it from the first. I prefer the Model 3/Y single screen to the S & X split screen. I don’t believe the split screen adds much info, but it distracts from the single focus on information implemented in the 3/Y.

A 60+ year old Conoco gas station in Shamrock TX. Virtually the entire town of Shamrock is preserved in the 60s. One of the greatest treat along Route 66.

I am not sure the stalkless driving solution as in the X & S is yet fully solved. Not even after a month and 6,000 miles of driving did I develop an instinctual grasp of the controls, and I sounded the horn, set off the wipers, and initiated a call, each on more than one occasion!

My wife with boyfriend. Elvis prevades Nashville and Memphis. Graceland was a wonderful surprise…not tacky as I expected, in fact – if anything – somewhat understated.

Wish I had time to have racked up sufficient Safety Score miles to have FSD added (as I have on my daily driver Model 3). But Autopilot (NOA) proved very helpful (mostly freeway miles) and made the driving incredibly easy. I did all the driving, and never felt tired at any stage.

One of Elvis’ Rolls. Panel gaps compared poorly with my new X. Of course that may have something to do with the car being about 70 years old!

Also wish I had had time to get the car wrapped before taking off on the trip. We ended up getting two tiny chips on the nose paintwork (a minor miracle given the freeway miles), not apparent to the casual review. Hopefully when I get it wrapped, they’ll repair the damage.

We had some great meals on the trip, but the most wonderful surprise was breakfast at Monell’s in Nashville. I am not one for Southern breakfasts, but this was a great culinary and social experience. I voted this the best meal of the journey…and of the last year.

We bought the X for my wife, a replacement for an 8-year-old Hyundai Santa Fe. There’s going to be a fight before I hand it over to her. I dearly love that car now.

6 thoughts on “Road-Tripping with an EV…pictures included

  1. Pano Nicolatos

    This is a wonderful travelogue.Sounds like a once in a life time adventure.I envy you .Cheers .Pano

    1. larrygoldberg Post author

      Thanks, Pano. Sorry I missed your note, I thought all our communications would come through the Whatsapp connection that I failed to look in the comments to the article. I use wordpress to write these notes, but generally post them directly to Twitter or Linkedin, so I was remiss about checking comments. As I mentioned to Val (in the comments above), I plan to visit SA next year to make up for missing the reunion, and look forward to seeing you then. Best regard, Larry

  2. Norm Boshoff

    Enjoyed the blog Larry. I’ve been thinking of a Tesla for years. Enjoyed your review. Surprised by you enjoying the yoke. Norm Boshoff

    1. larrygoldberg Post author

      Thanks, Norm. o sorry I missed your note, I thought all our communications would come through the Whatsapp connection that I failed to look in the comments to the article. I use wordpress to write these notes, but generally post them directly to Twitter or Linkedin, so I was remiss about checking comments. Apologies. I am planning on a trip to California in the summer, and look forward to visiting you. All the best, Larry

  3. .Vakerue Stokes(neeYelland)

    Dear Larry , thank you so much for your informative review of your trip in your Tesla Travelling as you have done makes for happy , interesting memories . I don’t know if you remember me Val Yelland , if it weren’t for and Peter
    Adams I would not have passed matrix science,I can’t imagine how difficult it must be today !
    I still live in K drop in a retirement village in Muldersdrift with my husband Ian Stoke who is 10 years + older than myself ,he will be 90 in a months time .We have 2daughters ,a son and 6 grandchildren only one lives in Sydney Aus
    The reunion was good seeing a few school friends KHS is a splendid school thanks to the hard work of Principal and teachers most of the 95 teachers are white but the pupil ratio is not 89 % are indigenous there are 1700 pupils with 1000 applicants for 2023 and only 380 spaces My niece is head of Maths decision .I believe the foundation members are a great asset to the school.
    Kind regards to your wife and yourself ,take care and keep well
    Val Stokes

    1. larrygoldberg Post author

      Val – I am so sorry I missed your note, I thought all our communications would come through the Whatsapp connection that I failed to look in the comments to the article. I use wordpress to write these notes, but generally post them directly to Twitter or Linkedin, so I was remiss about checking comments. Apologies. But so glad to read your remarks, and very pleased to hear from you. Can’t believe you relied on me for science – I was the world’s worst student. What I discovered quite late in life was that I suffered, as a young person, what we now call ADHD, and I disovered that because a grandchild of ours has struggled with it. Nowdays it’s recognized and treated, often with good outcomes. In our day it simply resulted in a very unhappy school career for both student and his or her unlucky teacher! I never had any problem understanding the material…just could not sit still through lessons or homework. The torture was really quite exquisite, and led me to skip college. Only in my middle years was I able to go back and immerse myself in academics. I am amaed to hear of your husband of 90. Wow. Though, as time goes these days (quickly, as it does for you too, I would guess) we will both be there pretty soon. Daunting.
      I wish I had been at the reunion. I only have myself to blame…I somewhat instigated it by nagging at Etienne, and then backed myself in a corner because this long awaited trip turned out to be timed exactly when the darn re-union took place. I am going to schedule a trip to S.A. now to catch up with everyone I missed at the events by making personal visits (want to go and Lynn and Norm in California too.) There are few of us left, and we really need to keep the candle alight as long as possible. In this regard I think it important to establish a presence for our year in the Foundation, and in the museum. I am giving this serious thought. So, hopefully I will see you next year…I will be posting my dates as I get them arranged – can’t quite do this yet as I have some stuff to organize, but will have it done early in the new year. Speaking of which, all the best for the upcoming festive season to you and yours. Best Larry

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