October 26, 2013
- Iraan Energy House, Iraan, TX – GE WattStation 100 Amp
- Kimble County Airport, Junction, TX – NEMA 14/50
- San Marcos, TX – Tesla Supercharger
As I planned out the next day of driving, I planned on driving to a charging station in Iraan, TX, and then on to an RV park in Kerrville, TX. I couldn’t understand why there would be a charging station, as the PlugShare.com site noted “attached to an abandon building”. I tried looking on Google Maps street view and sure enough, there it was. Now the only question was, did it actually work? Well, I hoped so. And with that hope, I set off on day 7 of my journey.
To this point the car had performed pretty much flawlessly. There was a minor glitch in the GPS system on the West Coast. With about 70 miles to my destination, the GPS system wasn’t subtracting the miles I was driving from my remaining miles. I just got closer and closer to the highway turnoff and the miles to the turn just stayed the same and the estimated time of arrival kept creeping forward. It all resolved itself once I got to the highway exit and made the turn. In fact, the voice system still came on and told me “In two miles, take the exit right…” even though the map said I had 70 miles to go. Strange. It never happened again.
I had been worried about spending that much time sitting in a car. I thought for sure I would develop some sort of back pain, leg cramps, or something. Nope. I must say, this is the smoothest, most comfortable car I have ever driven.
As I pulled into the town of Iraan, TX, I quickly spotted the charging station attached to the Iraan Energy House. What that was I wasn’t quite sure, but there was a charging station and upon plugging it in, IT WORKED! Not only did it work, it provided nearly 70 Amps of continuous power! That’s almost as much as Tesla’s own home charging unit, which can provide up to 80 Amps of continuous power if the car to which it’s connected has twin chargers. Fortunately mine does.
As I stretched my legs and took a few photos, a man pulled up in a pickup truck and began asking me questions about the car. I figured he was just a passer by who was curious about the car. After all, having a stranger approach me about the car was becoming fairly commonplace. He asked me all about the car, and was very excited to see one at the station and hear about my cross country trip. His name was Dana Beck and he told me he knew the person who installed the station. Dana said “I have to call Ira! Even if he’s in bed, I’ll drag his butt over here to see this!” He asked how long I would be charging, and I told him it would be at least three hours. Dana said, “Well, if you’re hungry and want some lunch, my wife runs a barbecue restaurant just down the street.” “Oh?”, I replied. He leaned in and (in a classic bit of Texas stereotype) said “Best damn barbecue in Texas.” Classic. He was so nice, he even offered to drive me over to the restaurant. So, I grabbed my jacket and hopped in his truck.
The restaurant is the Mesquite Wood Bar B Q run by his wife, Nancy, and was only two or three blocks down the road. He pulled up and yelled for Nancy to come out and meet me. He told his wife I was charging my car at the Energy House and asked if she had anything ready for lunch. It was only about 10 AM and all she had was brisket. She asked if I wanted a brisket sandwich and naturally I said that sounded great. Dana took off in the truck to go find Ira while Nancy took my order for how I wanted my brisket sandwich. As she made it, I told her a bit of my story. Nancy was so enthralled with it, she said “I’m gonna give you this sandwich on the house.” Wow. As I sat eating my sandwich, several bikers pulled up for lunch. Apparently they came out of their way on their road trip because they heard about this barbecue place. Hmm, I was beginning to think I had randomly stumbled on a really good food joint. Nancy told me she had been in business for over a decade, so she said she must be doing something right. The sandwich was great, as was the sweet tea. If you ever find yourself in southwest Texas, be sure to stop in for some barbecue here!
I was nearly done with my sandwich when a man and woman came right up to me with big smiles and greeted me. Apparently, Dana wasn’t kidding. He had gone and found the owner of the station, who had dropped what he was doing and came right over to the restaurant (after taking some pictures of my car charging up at his station). They were Ira Yates and his wife, Roxanne. Ira was beside himself to see a Tesla Model S plugged in to his station in Iraan. He primarily lives in Austin, TX, but has a place out in Iraan as well, and drives his Tesla Roadster between the two. He put the charging station in to recharge his Roadster… and to create a bit of mystery and myth in the town. 😉 He too was ecstatic that I was driving across the country in my electric car, and that I had stopped to charge at his station. He told me of some other charging spots along the way to Austin, and even offered to have me stay at their place in Austin that night! I continue to be astounded at the generosity of fellow Tesla owners. I thanked him, but declined as I already had a hotel reservation in Universal City, near San Antonio. We exchanged contact information, took some photos together, and headed our separate ways.
As I left Iraan and headed to San Antonio, I realized that with a bit more juice I could make it to the Supercharger in San Marcos, TX, between San Antonio and Austin. I gave Ira a call and asked him for directions to a charging spots his friend, Bill Nieman, installed at his airport hanger in Junction, TX. With detailed directions from Ira, I reprogrammed the GPS and found the NEMA 14/50 outlet. After a couple of hours, and some calls to friends and family, I had enough juice to get me to the San Marcos Supercharger and was on my way.
The GPS had me taking I-10 all the way down to the Charles W Anderson Loop (Route 1604), over to I-35, then up to San Marcos. This is where the web browser came in very handy. I was able to pull up Google Maps and try various routes to San Marcos and plot out the shortest route that would ensure I made it there. My plan was to charge up at the San Marcos Supercharger, drive 35 miles to the hotel in Universal City with a full charge. That way I would be able to go directly to the Supercharger in Waco, TX the next morning without having to stop at the San Marcos Supercharger. That would save me a charging stop and I would be able to get into my next stop, Shreveport, LA, at a decent hour. I ended up having two maps up on the center console for a couple of hours as I navigated my way through the local towns of central Texas. I expected to lose a good bit of time taking this route due to slower speeds, but that turned out to be much less of an issue than I thought. The speed limit of the back roads was often 60 mph, except close to the few towns I went through. All in all, I think it actually saved me time since it was a much shorter route.
I arrived at the San Marcos Supercharger, which is at the San Marcos Premium Outlets, around 8 PM. The outlet mall was still open, and I had a craving for ice cream, so I hit the Cold Stone Creamery for two scoops, which hit the spot. I cruised around the mall and ended up buying a very nice, but reasonably priced watch at the Watch Station – my one splurge purchase to commemorate the trip.
I was close to empty when I arrived at the outlet mall, so it took about an hour and a half to fully charge up, but the air was warm and perfect for strolling around the outdoor mall to stretch my legs. Once charged, I headed down to the hotel in Universal City, and watched what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most bizarre endings to a World Series baseball game ever.