Day 15

Sunday, November 4th

Wait, what happened to Day 14 you say? Well, that was the reunion, which was covered in the Day 13 post, so I’m skipping it. Also, there is no map since I really didn’t go anywhere except over to my sister’s house just north of Philadelphia to spend a few days with her and her family.

I had mapped out where I would charge getting to the reunion, but I hadn’t thought much about where to charge once I got there. I did see that someone with a high-powered wall charger lived just a few miles up the road from her. I scoped it out and saw that it was in a state park at a small house. I told my sister and she said, “oh, the white house in the park? Yeah, no one lives there.” But it really looked like someone did live there. It turns out she was thinking of a different house that is much larger where events are hosted in the park. Still, I wasn’t sure if this was a private owner’s wall charger or something the park had put in.

I had been over in South Jersey for the day and driven around a bit looking at my old neighborhood and other familiar areas, so by the time I drove back to my sister’s house, there wasn’t a whole lot of charge left. Range anxiety? Pfff! Apparently it was long since gone. When I parked the car in my sister’s driveway, it had about 20 miles of range. They didn’t have an outside plug, so I figured I’ll just wait until morning and take it over to the charger I scoped out earlier.

The next day after breakfast, I called the number posted for the charger on PlugShare, but got an answering service. I left a message saying that I would like to charge up using the Tesla charger and to please call me if they had any issues with me doing so. My sister and I drove up to the house and I plugged in and let it charge up through the afternoon.

When I got in the car I was expecting it would have close to the 20 miles of range it had when I parked it the night before. It was cold that night, and the car said it had 5 miles of range. It also gave me a message saying “Battery is heating. Power will improve as you drive.” I hoped so because it was limiting my acceleration severely as I pulled onto the main road. I had it floored and was barely accelerating. Here I am in my fancy car that raves about 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and it’s taking it’s sweet time getting up to 35 mph. Well, it’s my own fault for not charging sooner.

As we pulled into the park and up to the house, I saw that the space was open and I would be able to charge with no problem. That was a relief because I don’t know if I had enough of a charge to make it back to my sister’s house!

Okay, okay, I get the message.

Okay, okay, I get the message.

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I checked the Tesla Connect app on my cell phone and when the car was charged to the daily range setting, we went up to get the car. (I was no longer driving long distances, so I reduced the charging range to ease the strain on the battery when it’s fully charged.) When we got to my car, there was another Tesla Model S parked along side of it and a note on my windshield. Immediately my sister and I suspected the owner was not happy and left me a note stating as much.

To my pleasant surprise (as with many things on this journey) the note said “Did you drive all the way from Washington? How did you get here? Please stop in before leaving.” I peaked around the back of the house since I saw lights coming out of the windows there, and waived to the homeowners. They came out and were so excited to meet me. I told them my story and how I had come all the way from Seattle. The other Tesla was owned by Allan J and his wife, who was originally from the Seattle area. They were so hospitable and excited to see another Tesla owner and hear my story. They had lots of questions, all of which I was happy to answer. I told them I was staying just down the road and that I might need to use their charger again. They were happy to let me use it whenever I needed to, but to call ahead just to make sure it’s available. They were so nice, I gave them one of the four bottles of Washington wine I brought with me to give to folks who helped me out along the way. Since Allan’s wife was from the Northwest, it was especially fitting that they have a taste of “home” with some wine from there.

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Day 13 – Arrival Day

Thursday, November 1st, 2013
250 miles
Charging stops:

  1. Delaware Welcome Center and Travel Plaza, Newark, DE – Tesla Supercharger

Day 13

Well, today is the day. The final day of driving to get to my 25 year high school reunion. After breakfast at the hotel, I stopped by the supercharger at the mall in Glen Allen to finish charging the car in the morning. There was a Barnes & Nobel on the other side of the parking lot from the chargers, so I headed over there to start writing up this blog while the car charged. After about an hour the car was fully charged, so I packed up and headed for dear old Philadelphia, PA.

As I drove, I began to recognize more and more landmarks along the way, like the smoke stack along I-95 with BALTIMORE running up its side in huge, bold letters.

Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

As you can see from the photo above, it was yet again a beautiful day for driving. The last of the colorful fall leaves were still clinging to the trees making for some great scenery.

Fall foliage

Fall foliage

I made it to the Supercharger at the Delaware Welcome Center in the middle of I-95 and had the station to myself. I was able to take advantage of the food court there, which is rather nice I must say, and get some lunch before heading on into Philly. This would be the last supercharger I could use before reaching my sister’s house just north of Philadelphia. My original plan was to go straight to my sister’s house, spend the night, and then head over to Cherry Hill, NJ, for the reunion at noon the next day. However, while I was eating lunch, my friends contacted me and were putting together plans to go out for dinner that night. So, a slight change of plans. I called my sister and worked out plans to arrive at her place later that night. I then contacted my friends and told them to add me to the reservation for dinner at 7 at the Iron Horse Brewery in Voorhees, NJ. After a little over an hour, the car was fully charged and I headed out over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and on in to South Jersey.

Delaware Memorial Bridge

Delaware Memorial Bridge

Yes, there was the usual Friday evening traffic along I-295, but that’s another nice thing about driving an electric car – you’re not wasting energy idling in traffic like you would in a traditional internal combustion car engine (or ICE for short). In fact, you actually extend your range driving in traffic because below about 40 mph wind resistance no longer has a negative effect on your range. Tesla says the car can go 300 miles on a charge, which you can do if you don’t go over 55 mph. If you keep it below 40 mph you can go even more than that. So as far as I was concerned, my attitude was “Traffic? No problem. I’m in no hurry, so it’s actually better this way.” 🙂

The closer I got to the Iron Horse Brewery, I noticed I was actually heading almost right to my old house in Cherry Hill and began to think “Wait, are my friends meeting at my old house?” Well, no. It turns out I had asked the GPS system to take me to the Iron Horse Brewery in Moorestown, not Voorhees. Bummer. Now I’m going to be late. 😦 I reprogrammed the GPS for the correct location and headed on over. Before I left, I replied to the text thread my friends had going to plan the dinner and told them I would be there in about 15 minutes. Well, it actually took me more like 25-30 minutes. When I arrived, being Friday night in a mall with restaurants, shops, etc. parking was scarce and it took me another 10 minutes to park and walk over to the restaurant.

As I approached the restaurant, I could see my old friends gathered outside, talking, laughing and having a great time as they waited for our table. Once one of them saw me they all yelled out “KEN!!!” I felt like Norm walking into Cheers – everyone knew my name and was happy to see me. As I walked up to them, our friend Chang Lee walks over to be the first to shake my hand and says “I thought you said you’d be here in 15 minutes. It’s been half an hour. Don’t you know how to drive?” This from a man who in high school was famous for making wrong turns and then claiming he was taking a shortcut. Chang’s shortcuts usually took about twice as long as the normal route. So when he was getting on my case about being late, I simply replied, “Sorry, my GPS took a Chang shortcut.” The rest of the gang burst out laughing as that was the perfect comeback and the beginning of reliving lots of memories, sharing new stories and reconnecting with some great friends with whom I’ve been out of touch with for far too long.

Class of '88 cake

We had a great evening and an even better reunion with more friends the next day. We met at our friends Bill and Ami Tabares’s house and spent the afternoon catching up with each other. All in all, there were about 12 or so good friends from high school who were able to make it to our reunion, most of whom brought their kids along. There must have been just as many kids as there were adults, and we all had a great time. Afternoon soon turned into evening, and as the night went on, we all wished we had more time to spend together. A few of us ended up spending the night at the Tabares’s (including me) and enjoyed homemade waffles for breakfast the next morning before heading out.

After breakfast and a quick shower, I packed up my things from the overnight stay, said goodbye to my friends and headed on over to my sister’s place just north of Philly. I arrived around noon and settled in for a slightly more extended stay than I’ve had on this trip so far.

This trip has been a huge success and an absolute fantastic experience for me. I’m not sure if it’s good karma, guardian angels, or just plain dumb luck, but somehow I managed to make it all the way across the country in an electric car, by myself, with some rushed, last minute planning and was able to avoid bad weather, breakdowns, flat tires, or any number of horror stories that could have easily ruined this trip.

When I started this trip, I had a LOT of range anxiety. What if I can’t make it to the charging spot? What if it’s actually not there or not working when I get there? I’m happy to say, I’ve encountered it and conquered it. I have zero range anxiety now. That’s not to say I’m not aware of how much charge I have or that I don’t think about where I need to charge. It’s more that it’s just become part of everyday life now and not something I worry about.

I must say, I anticipated that I would be completely exhausted about half way across the country and would just have to grind out the miles to get to my high school reunion on time. I’m happy to report that it couldn’t have been a nicer drive. Sure, my back started to get stiff on the longer days towards the end of the two weeks of driving day after day, but I expected to be much more uncomfortable. Quite the contrary. Driving this car is so nice, so comfortable, that even after over 4000 miles of driving I still love getting in the car and taking it for a spin. Keep in mind, I love cars and I love driving. Still, after 12 days of non-stop driving, I expected to be drained and completely sick of driving, but I’m not. This is truly a great car. To those naysayers who say, “That’s a nice car, but you can’t take it on a road trip.” I say “au contraire mon frère!” Not only CAN you take it for a road trip, you SHOULD take it for a road trip. It’s so quiet, so comfortable, so roomy – both for passengers and their luggage – so responsive on the road, so smooth, it’s an absolute blast to drive, and perfect for grinding out long miles on highways. Yes, you have to plan out your charging stops. Yes, there are currently limits on how far you can go in a day. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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Day 12

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
419 miles
Charging stops:

  1. Burlington, NC – Tesla Supercharger
  2. Glen Allen, VA – Tesla Supercharger

Day 12

I forgot to mention how much I like the little touches in this car, like the way the cruise control works. Tesla really looked at the scenarios of what a driver need on a long road trip, which is exactly when you tend to use cruise control. Being trained as an industrial designer, and having worked as an interaction designer for 15 years, it’s so refreshing to see great design make it into products. How do you know when it’s great design? When you use something and it not only works the way you would expect it, but it exceeds your expectations and fulfills needs you didn’t even know you wanted or needed. This is the case with the cruise control on the Tesla Model S.

Here’s what I mean. As I would drive along either the highway or back roads, eventually I would come to a city or town where the speed limit decreased. On the highway speeds would typically go from 70 mph down to 65 or 60 mph as I would approach a city. In most cars I would have the cruise control set to 70 mph and engage the “coast” mode to let the car slow down to the lower speed limit and then let it go once it’s at that speed. Until now, that seemed totally reasonable. But now that I’ve experienced how the Model S does it, this seems totally dumb. 

In the Model S, I would have the cruise control on, usually set to 65 mph. When the speed limit would decrease to 60 mph, all I would have to do is bump the cruise control lever down one time and it would automatically decrease the set point 5 mph from 65 to 60 mph. And with the regenerative braking, it would slow down to that speed limit automatically. This is especially nice when driving on back roads when the speed limit is 60 mph and suddenly drops to 45 near a town. In that case I would just bump the cruise control lever down three times (5 mph for each “bump”), which would decrease the cruise set point down 15 mph to 45. Having heard multiple stories of local police setting speed traps near towns and catching people speeding when the speed limit would decrease, I was sticking to the speed limit fairly strictly. Also, I’ve noticed that speeding in an electric car really does you no good. The time you gain by speeding is offset by increased charging time once you reach your destination, resulting in leaving the charging station at the same time regardless of how fast you drive to get there.

Once I would pass through the town and the speed limit would go back up to 60 mph (or 65 on the highway) all I would have to do is bump the cruise lever up one time for every 5 mph increase in speed and the car would be set to the new speed limit. If I didn’t hit any stoplights going through a local town, bumping the cruise control lever down and back up would be all I would have to do in terms of controlling my speed through the town. I mean think about it. Speed limits are ONLY set in 5 mph increments. Period. I’ve never seen a speed limit of 62 or 48 mph anywhere. So if that’s the case, why not make it easy to change cruising speed in 5 mph increments? And that’s just what Tesla did.

The other nice thing about the cruise control in the Model S that I haven’t seen in other cars is that once I would increase the speed back up from 45 to 60 mph, the car would accelerate up to the new speed at a reasonable rate. In every other car I’ve driven, to use the cruise control to increase speed I would have to hold down the accelerate mode until the car reached the new speed limit, which sounds fine on paper. The problem is that when I would press accelerate in the other cars I’ve driven, the cruise control system seems to tell the car to accelerate as fast as it can. It’s like flooring the accelerator, which not only isn’t necessary but it’s bad for gas mileage. I’ve never understood why gas cars do this. The same goes for if I have the cruise control set to 65 mph, hit the brakes to slow down for a while, and then press Resume to go back to the previous cruising speed. The gas cars just flog the engine to get back up to that cruising speed. Why? If I really want to get back up to my original cruising speed that fast I can floor the accelerator myself and then engage the cruise control once I get to the speed I want. Honestly, I never really thought about this much until driving this car. Now that I have, all other cars seem pretty lame with regard to cruise control management.

Okay, enough geeking out on the cruise control. As with all of the other days of driving, this one too was a pleasant, easy, three hour drive to Burlington, NC. Once I had charged up completely, I headed over to see a friend of mine from high school who lives with her family in Raleigh, which was right along my driving route. I arrived at her house around 4 PM. We hung out and played baseball with her three boys in their front yard, had dinner and went trick-or-treating with the kids. The weather was so nice, around 65 degrees – perfect trick-or-treating weather. We went to her old neighborhood to trick-or-treat because there were a lot more houses and they were closer together. Plus her kids would get to go out with their friends from their old neighborhood, which was nice. We stopped along the way to talk with several of my friend’s former neighbors. I asked one of them what they were giving out and the things she listed off weren’t anything I liked. She said she didn’t like them either, but the kids did. I asked her why she would get candy she didn’t like and she replied “this way I won’t eat the leftover candy.” It was at this point I had been doing it wrong all these years. I would buy candy I like so that I COULD eat the leftover candy. In fact, I would secretly hope that no trick-or-treaters would come by so that I could have all of the candy to myself. But if I buy candy I don’t like, I won’t eat any of those empty calories. Brilliant!

After the kids were worn out from trick-or-treating, I said goodbye and headed up to Glen Allen, VA. Little did I know that the side trip to my friends and over to the old neighborhood for trick-or-treating would leave me with barely enough to get to Glen Allen. I kept the cruise control on set to 65 mph, which kept my actual range just over the rated range. I arrived in Glen Allen with about 15 miles of rated range left. Not the closest I’ve cut it, but also not leaving much wiggle room for the unexpected either. The Supercharger was about a quarter mile from the hotel, so I charged up for about a 20 minutes. Once I had about 100 miles of range on the car and the batteries were back into the middle area of their capacity, I headed over to the hotel to check in. It was late and I was tired. Also, I wanted to charge the car up in the morning so that it wasn’t sitting at full capacity overnight. And with that, I was just one day’s drive away from my goal of getting to South Jersey for my reunion on Nov. 2nd. Barring any disasters, it looked like my original planning from two weeks prior would work out as I had hoped.

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Day 11

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
237 miles
Charging stops:

  1. Marietta Nissan, Marietta, GA – EV Plug
  2. Hampton Inn, Greenville, SC – GE WattStation

Day 11

Here is where being flexible really helps when owning an electric car. I drove to the Atlanta area where my parents live. I was originally planning on charging up overnight at the Tesla Service Center in Marietta, GA, and staying with my folks in Acworth. However, after some planning ahead, I realized that it would be much better to just recharge there for a few hours and then spend the night further up I-85 as that would get me much closer to my destination much sooner and would make for a much shorter drive the next day.

So, with that in mind, I planned to stop at an office park just off the beltway (a.k.a. The Perimeter) and I-75, around Windy Hill Road. There were four GE charging stations at the Parkwood Point office park garage, so I thought it would make a convenient place to recharge. What I hadn’t thought about was all of the people driving Nissan Leafs to work, then charging them up there for their drive home. My plan was to meet my mom at the charging stations and we would go back to my parents’ place and visit with them while the car charged. However, when I arrived at Parkwood Point, all of the charging stations were full. So, I quickly looked up another place close by via PlugShare.com. We headed over to The Towers at Wildwood Plaza only to find that their charging stations were full as well… with several Nissan Leafs waiting close by to charge up as well. This wasn’t looking good. My mother and I determined that all of the charging stations at business parks would most likely be full, so we drove back up to the nearest free charging point to their house – Town Center Nissan. Fortunately my mother (being ever the mom looking out for her son) had already talked with the folks at the Nissan dealership and they assured her that the charging stations were not only free to anyone (some Nissan dealers aren’t so liberal) but they were accessible 24/7. So, we headed up there and plugged in with no problems.

With the car charging, we drove to my parents’ house for an early dinner and some time to relax and visit. It was still nearly warm enough to eat outside on my parents’ deck, but we decided to eat inside due to the wind. Steaks on the grill – it’s nice to have a home-cooked meal when you’re on the road. 🙂

Steaks on the grill

Steaks on the grill

After a delicious dinner and the car charged up enough to make it to my next stop, we headed back to the Nissan dealership. My mother being who she is, naturally insisted on packing me a sandwich, some snacks, and gave me a box of items to deliver to my sister in Philadelphia, including some cookies and brownies as well as a box of Tide detergent. “They were practically giving it away!” my mom exclaimed. Fine. Whatever. 😛

I put the items into the car (there was certainly enough space), and in exchange gave my mom the fruitcake I picked up for her brother at the Collins Street Bakery in Texas. I seemed to remember my uncle saying that he actually really likes fruitcake, and since this place was claiming that it was famous for their fruitcake, I just had to get him one. Especially since his birthday was coming up. Perfect gift! 🙂

So with the car charged and packages exchanged, I was off to South Carolina. Being well after rush hour, the traffic on “The Top End Perimeter” as it’s known locally was fairly light. As I drove along, I noticed a car sitting on my right side for just a few seconds longer than normal, then all of a sudden there was a horn honk. I looked over to see a Tesla Roadster just before he zipped off ahead of me. I must say, culturally this is a great group of folks. Everyone loves saying hi to one another. If you’re the driver of that Roadster out there reading this, Cheers! 😀

Driving so many hours by myself, I expected to get very fatigued on this road trip. And while I did have a few stiff back muscles, for the most part the car was so comfortable I can’t imagine a better car for such a trip. 90% of my driving was done with the cruise control on, so I was free to put my legs into lots of different positions to help alleviate the slight bit of discomfort in my back. That and doing some stretches at each stop helped as well.

I arrived at the Hampton Inn near Greenville, SC, late in the night. I called ahead to make sure that the charging station would be available. The staff assured me that there was a very high probability that reserving it wouldn’t be necessary, but that they would make a note of it just to make sure. I arrived and sure enough the charging station was available. Sorry, but after hitting so many occupied charging stations around Atlanta I wanted to make sure I would be able to charge overnight here. I plugged in and everything worked perfectly. With the car charging, I went to check in and settle in for the night and watch Game 6 of the 2013 World Series.

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Day 10

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
237 miles
Charging stops:

  1.  McWane Science Center, Birmingham, AL – ChargePoint Station

Day 10

Before leaving Jackson and heading on to Birmingham, I took a few minutes to enjoy the serenity of the rooftop deck of the Old Capitol Inn.

Monarch butterfly on the Old Capitol Inn's rooftop deck

Monarch butterfly on the Old Capitol Inn’s rooftop deck

Today again was a peaceful, beautiful drive through the South. Long gone were the rocky plateaus and cactus of the Southwest and the arid plains of central Texas. Here, the roads were lined with lush trees and green grass, reflecting the onshore flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi-Alabama border

Mississippi-Alabama border

Before starting this day’s drive, I pulled up the phone number for McWane Science Center in Birmingham, as that was where I was hoping to charge up overnight. I called and was directed through several folks until I was given the number of the person in charge of managing the Science Center’s parking facility. I left a message with him explaining my trip and that I would like to charge my car in their garage overnight if possible. About a half hour later, I received a call from him and he was more than happy to have me charge up there. “Sure, I’m just glad someone’s going to use it!”, he said.

I arrived around 4 PM, checked into The Redmont Hotel and unloaded my bags for the evening. With that done, I drove to the Science Center and quickly found the charging station. I swiped my ChargePoint card, plugged in and started charging. With the car charging, I was off to find some dinner. As I walked around, I asked a security guard at one of the buildings if there was a good local restaurant he could recommend. He pointed me down the street and said all of the restaurants were down just a few blocks that way and I would find lots of options. So, I headed down and found John’s City Diner, which turned out to be great. If you’re looking for great comfort food and superb beer, do yourself a favor and stop in here. Being from the Northwest, I consider myself a beer aficionado of sorts, and the selection here was quite good. I started off with Widmer Brothers Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale, which was strong like a scotch ale, but darker like a porter. Delicious.

Since it was still relatively early (5:15) the kitchen wasn’t quite open for dinner yet. So I sat with my beer and being the only person in the place told the bartender my story, to which she was fascinated. Or maybe she was just killing time. Who knows. Anyway, we talked for about 45 minutes until the kitchen opened at which point I ordered their classic Chicken and Waffles… and another beer. This time it was Clown Shoes “Sombrero” Mexican Chocolate Stout, a chocolate stout infused with chilies for an added bit of spice, smoke, and just a hint of heat. Dinner was delicious and with my appetite satisfied, I took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel in the warm fall twilight.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

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Day 9

Monday, October 28th, 2013
215 miles
Charging stops:

  1. Old Capitol Inn, Jackson, MS – ChargePoint Station

Day 9

 

Finally, after several disconcerting charging stops through the South, today was a relatively uneventful driving day, which was nice. 🙂 I had picked up a few postcards to send to folks back home and stopped off at a post office just around the block from the hotel before heading to Jackson, MS. With my postcards mailed and additional stamps in hand, I went back to the car. I ran into two guys who came over to ask me about the car. They had been reading about the Model S and were really interested in finding out more about it. Neither one of them had seen one before, so they were looking it over with amazement. They couldn’t get over the amount of storage, or the huge touchscreen console. They had lots of questions about range, reliability, charging time, etc… the usual. I think I should create a quick Q&A sheet to hand out to folks with all of the most common questions I’ve been asked along the way. They both thought the car was beautiful.

After about a half hour of talking with these two very nice guys, I was off to Jackson. It was a calm, beautiful drive through Louisiana and on into Mississippi. Still no real issues to report with the car (for which I’m very thankful). I found the hotel and upon pulling into their gated parking lot, saw the ChargePoint charging station in the first stall. The only difficult part was that the cable wouldn’t reach my charge port if I pulled in head first, which is how the parking lot is design with angled in parking spaces. But, no problem, I just pulled up to an empty area of the parking lot, turned around, and went the wrong way back to the parking spot and backed in the Model S.

When I checked in and told the front desk attendant that I would need to charge my car, he was happy to set things up for me. Fortunately, they just had the charger’s account updated so that it was free to anyone with a ChargePoint account, so I actually didn’t need him to set things up after all. That was reassuring as I hadn’t had dinner yet and thought about going out for the evening somewhere, but would want to be able to plug in and charge up when I got back. This made that option easily possible without having to get someone from the office to come turn on the charger later that night.

Charging at the Old Capitol Inn

Charging at the Old Capitol Inn

As it turns out, there were some good restaurants within walking distance that the guy at the front desk recommended, so I decided to just leave my car charging and enjoy stretching my legs a bit in the warm southern fall air. I walked down to the Mayflower Cafe and had some of the best fish I’ve had in a long time. A quick check of the charging status and all was well. I walked back to the hotel and as I climbed the stairs to the second floor where my room was, I saw that they have a rooftop deck that was still open. I decided to check it out and snapped this picture of the state capitol building lit up nicely.

Mississippi State Capitol from the rooftop deck

Mississippi State Capitol from the rooftop deck

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Day 8

October 27, 2013
410 miles
Charging stops:

  1. Waco, TX – Tesla Supercharger
  2. Hilton Garden Inn, Bossier City, LA – NEMA 14/50

Day 8

Having charged up last night at the San Marcos Supercharger, I was ready to head up to the Supercharger in Waco. It’s located in the parking lot of the Collin Street Bakery, which is a great place to have lunch, coffee, or just about anything your stomach is craving. Just ask the countless college co-eds “studying” there. I put studying in quotes because even though each of them had large textbooks open, they seemed more interested in listening to whatever was playing through their headphones and checking Facebook on their smartphones. The Bakery’s selection is large, and quite good. Apparently they’re known for their fruitcake. Yes, fruitcake. Along with ads for specials on the bakery’s digital billboard, there was an ad for the Tesla Supercharging station!

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I met a husband and wife who were charging up their Model S as well. We must have talked for half an hour it seems. Very nice folks, and completely happy with their car.

Having charged up, I headed on for Shreveport, LA. This was the first day when the weather wasn’t absolutely gorgeous, though it wasn’t bad by any means. It was just overcast with some mist.

My original plan was to drive up to Dallas and charge at the NEMA 14/50 outlet on the outside of Apex Express, Inc.’s building, just off I-35E, south of I-635. They have a Tesla HPWC, but it’s only available during business hours. Since this was a weekend, they were closed. But they do have the dryer outlet on the side of their building that’s free to use as well. However, looking at Google Maps once again, I realized I could just take the back roads more or less directly to Shreveport, which would cut off enough miles from the trip to get me there in one full charge. Once again, with Google Maps up on the web browser and the GPS on the other half of the screen, I headed out for Shreveport.

Not being a gambler myself, I never realized that gambling is illegal in Texas… that is until I crossed the border into Louisiana. Tons of billboards lined the highway advertising hotels, restaurants, and shows, and every one had the same black border on the bottom with white text saying “If you or someone you know has a gambling problem call…” Just in case folks missed the footer on nearly every billboard for the first five miles inside Louisiana, there was a full billboard dedicated solely to that message. I think I got the message.

I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn, plugged into the NEMA 14/50 outlet on the back side of the hotel, and with the car charging up I went to check in. The outlet is in the middle of the back of the building, right next to what I believe is the hotel’s main air conditioner, which had come on just before I plugged in. After checking in and getting settled in in my room, I checked the charging status. Doing this almost became second nature at this point. Whenever I plugged in the car, I would immediately open the Tesla Connect app on my Windows phone to make sure I could monitor the charging status. When I looked, it wasn’t charging. In fact, it said there was some sort of power error. So I went back down to the car, and sure enough there was an error message on the dash saying that there was an issue with the power source. I unlocked the car, unplugged the cable, and plugged it back in, and it started charging again. So I went back to my room to watch Game 4 of the World Series.

After the game, I checked the charge status again, and sure enough it wasn’t charging. I went back down to the car, unlocked it, unplugged the cable, plugged it back in, and everything seemed fine… until the hotel’s air conditioner kicked on. Just then the light around the charge port turned from pulsing green to red and I got the same error about a problem with the power source.

I called Tesla Roadside Assistance and explained the issue. They had me reset the box on my charging cable by holding down a reset button for 30 seconds. That didn’t seem to do anything. So we tried resetting the charge port by locking the car with the remote fob, unlocking it with the fob, unplugging the charging cable, and plugging it back in. That too didn’t seem to do anything. I mentioned that the problem happened when the hotel’s air conditioner, which was right next to the outlet, came on. This was the key to solving the problem. The Tesla rep asked me to plug in the car and lower the amps it was pulling from 40 down to 30 or even 25. By doing this, any surge or dip in the current caused by the electric motor in the hotel’s air conditioner starting up would be outside the range of current the car would be looking for, and therefor wouldn’t cause the car to see any fluctuation in current, which should keep it charging. Well, that finally did the trick. I was able to reset the charge port, lower the amperage, plug in the charge cable and have it stay on. I thanked the Tesla rep very much for his help and went back to my hotel room. I checked the charge status a couple of times again before finally turning off the lights and going to sleep. All was well and I would be fully charged by mid morning for my next day’s drive to Jackson, MS.

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