Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day 2: Midwestern Hospitality

Sunday night’s hotel was only 15 minutes from the Maumee, OH, SuperCharger, where we spent ~20-30 minutes Monday morning getting charged up for the first leg of Day 2.  We made a short stop in Angola, IN, to pick up enough juice to get us to Mishakawa, IN, the SuperCharger in South Bend, IN.   .

South Bend is the home of Notre Dame.  LJ had the great idea of using Uber to get us from the charger at the mall in South Bend to the Notre Dame campus as it’s only a 5 minute car ride away.  That would have been a great way to kill the 45-50 minutes of charging time we needed to get to our lunch stop in Geneva, IL. Unfortunately, the Uber app showed that all Uber cars were in service.  Instead, we made the long walk across the parking lot to the mall.

For the record, LJ was the one who actually wanted to go shopping, not me.  LJ needed to replace his hiking shoes and pick up some nice work shoes.  Upon entering the mall, we were puzzled to see that we seemed to be the only people under the age of 60, other than the parents with small children in the play area.  Then we remembered that it was a Monday morning. We ended up at a small store called TradeHome full of unbelievably nice and helpful people where LJ got the shoes he needed.

Once the battery was topped up, we drove towards Notre Dame on our way out of town.  Neither of us had been to Notre Dame, so we drove into campus and up to the guard gate that prevents riffraff and tourists from driving through the campus.  LJ asked the nice older gentleman in the guard booth if we could drive through campus, to which the gentleman indicated that he wasn’t really supposed to allow tourists through here.  He then asked if we had ever been there before.

“No sir, never been here,” LJ responded.  “We’re on our way from Raleigh, NC, to Palo Alto, CA.”  I looked over from the passenger seat where I was typing away on my laptop.  LJ and I sat quietly waiting for the guard to make a decision.  The Midwestern mindset clearly won out as the guard gave us directions through campus to the bookstore and told us we should stop by there on our way through.  He then opened the gate and let us pass through.

From South Bend, we continued on I-80/I-90 across Indiana to Illinois.  At the I-80/I-90 split, we stayed on I-90 to head to Geneva, IL, where Lara (college friend) and her family live.  We made our only non-SuperCharger stop of the day at a ChargePoint Station behind the Geneva courthouse.  Our 2.5 hour break involved a lunch at the nice hotel overlooking the river and dessert at the All Chocolate Kitchen, run by Chef Alain Roby, who apparently was the head pastry chef for Hyatt hotels for over 20 years. 

LJ at the Geneva, IL, Chargepoint station
This extended stop gave us enough power that we didn’t need to make the stop at the slightly off-route Aurora, IL, SuperCharger.  At first, I was sad that we were missing the home of Wayne and Garth of “Wayne’s World” fame. But a bit of Internet research told me that all the landmarks from the movie were actually in LA and other movie towns.

We stopped at the Rockford, IL, SuperCharger for 20-30 minutes and headed on our way to Madison, WI, where we met one of Andy (a friend of LJ’s from Cisco) for dinner at a pub near U of Wisconsin-Madison.  The place we met was only a block or two from the football stadium.  The beer was fantastic but the fried cheese curds were only average (they didn’t squeak).  Andy beat us at electronic darts and we were on our way to our final stop for the night in La Crosse, WI. 

Now that we’re well into the Upper Midwest, the SuperChargers are becoming more convenient and the La Crosse one was no exception.  It was a 3-minute walk from a Hampton Inn, which meant we could leave the car plugged in and charging overnight.  Getting to an almost-full battery (> 90% full) takes about an hour, so while we don’t need to charge overnight, it means we don’t waste that time in the morning when it’s time to hit the road.

The updated map below shows how far we made it in these first two days. 

Day 2 of the Tesla Electric Startup Super Trip: One-third the way across the USA

Day 2 stats:
576.5 miles in ~16h (including long stops at lunch and dinner)
5 SuperChargers with a long Chargepoint stop at Geneva in the middle:
·         Maumee, OH
·         Angola, IN
·         Mishakawa (South Bend), IN
·         Geneva, IL  [Chargepoint]
·         Rockford, IL
·         La Crosse, WI (overnight)
One hour shoe shopping in the mall
One trip through Notre Dame campus
One rainstorm post-dinner from Madison to La Crosse

Overall trip: 1352.7 miles in 2 days, over 2000 miles to go

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