Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day 1: Rockin' the Suburbs

Thanks to the clock change, we were able to make an early and mostly awake start before dawn, rolling out of the driveway a little before 6:30.  I took the early driving leg since I’m more of a morning person than LJ.  Okay, more accurately, LJ is more of an evening person than me. 

Start of the #TeslaElectricStartupSuperTrip

 About an hour into the trip, when I was desperate for a fancy pumpkin spice latte from the non-existent Starbucks on the empty stretch of I-85 in northern NC, I saw a Chick-Fil-A sign that had the small reminder “Closed Sundays”.  I then added the lack of Chick-Fil-A to my complaint, to which LJ reacted with a word (or two) I won’t type here.  His response prompted me to ask/state, “So you forgot today was Sunday, right?  And you were looking forward to Chick-Fil-A?”  Luckily we were still in the southeast so we substituted Bojangles for Chick-Fil-A and went on our way.

The weather is already having an effect on the journey.  But by weather, I primarily mean wind.  The front that dropped quite a bit of snow on the mountains of NC and West Virginia is moving eastwards across our paths, bringing sustained winds of 10-15 mph and gusts up to 25 mph.  Nerd time: the efficiency of the Tesla battery usage is primarily a function of effective airspeed, or how fast the car is moving through the air.  On a still, warm day, the air is less dense, meaning that the Tesla’s aerodynamic shape can move quite efficiently at the rated speed limits of 65-75 mph.*  But in the cold morning air with strong winds, we had to drive a bit slower than our planned speeds to make sure that we get to the next Tesla SuperCharger.

We made our first Supercharger stop at the Ashland exit on I-285 just north of Richmond.  Most of the SuperCharger locations in the eastern US are on the edges of suburban strip malls and this first stop was no exception.  While the car charged, we walked across the parking lot to the Panera Bread where I worked on this blog and LJ did the dynamic trip planning necessitated by the excess winds.  We ended up spending almost an hour (from 9:25-10:15) hanging out there and getting an almost-full charge before LJ climbed behind the wheel.

Charge Stop #2 was at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets in—wait for it—Hagerstown, MD.  Not a place that I’d want to be trying to charge during the Christmas shopping season but perfectly fine on a clear and cold Sunday in early November.  The food court allowed us to multi-task by eating lunch waiting on the car to get partially charged.

I drove the next 100 miles or so to get to Charge Stop #3 at Somerset, which is in a Wendy’s parking lot.  The Wendy’s was proud enough of the SuperCharger station that someone had posted this article from early January of this year.  Fun fact: the article says that at that time, the next nearest Supercharger was in Connecticut.  Apparently Tesla has been putting in SuperChargers at a crazy-fast rate this year, which you can see at

Somerset Supercharger story

Fun car game—the Tesla has a station on its Internet radio called the “101 Greatest Cover Songs of All Time”.  There are so many songs on this station that I never knew were cover songs.  “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes was the most surprising of the bunch for me. 

Random technology reference—LJ is Facebooking this trip with a hashtag he just made up called #TeslaElectricStartupSuperTrip.  I decided to start using my mostly dormant Twitter account and tweeted that hashtag. 

Stop #4 is in a mall sprawl in Cranberry, a random town on I-76 in PA.  Tesla SuperChargers are behind the Hampton Inn and a short walk away from a Starbucks, where we killed about 20 minutes charging.  Stop #5 is in Macedonia, OH, about 150 yards away from an Outback Steakhouse.  Since it was 6:30, that was timed perfectly as a dinner stop.  We pulled out of the parking lot with an almost-full battery (242 rated miles) and LJ drove the last leg to Bowling Green, OH.  We managed to score a pretty cheap night at a Hampton Inn using some of LJ’s copious number of Hilton HHonors points. 

Day 1 stats:
776.2 miles in about 15 hours and 15 minutes for an average trip speed of 51 mph
3 random food/drink stops while charging: no cost to charge but ~$12 in drinks and snacks
45 minutes of napping in the car for me

End of Day 1

*I plead the fifth here and will not comment upon actual speeds driven.

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