Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 6: America the Beautiful

The limitations of the Tesla SuperCharger locations means that not all the national parks on our route are within range.  For example, Bryce Canyon and Zion are right along the I-15 corridor that serves as the current SuperCharger route across Utah.  We could have made it to Zion National Park between the Beaver and St. George SuperChargers, but we could have only made it just to the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park and might not have made it back.  Either way, it would have taken significant planning to be able to see those parks and we had already visited them many years ago.   

Instead, lucky for us, we had the Moab SuperCharger two blocks from our hotel, which meant that Arches and Canyonlands National Parks were easily accessible to us.  Apparently other Tesla drivers had similar thoughts, as LJ saw two other Teslas at the Moab SuperCharger when he walked to go get it first thing in the morning. 

I had been to Arches many years ago with a graduate student program at CU-Boulder (remember GAANN?) but this was LJ’s first trip.  We made a few stops at viewpoints in the park before getting to the 3-mile round trip hike to Delicate Arch, the most-recognized and iconic arch in the park.  The skies were slightly overcast as we hiked up to the arch but they mostly cleared as we arrived at the arch.  There were about 20 people at the top of the hike with many more on the way.  I can’t imagine how crowded the hike can get in the high season.

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park, Utah

LJ's iPhone panorama of Delicate Arch

Devil's Garden Trailhead at Arches National Park, Utah


We spent more time than expected in Arches and didn’t get out of there until 1 pm.  LJ’s reconnaissance for the trip told us that there was a pretty awesome State park not too far away.  It had a less than attractive name—Dead Horse Point State Park—but it was only a few miles away from Canyonlands National Park.

The $10 we paid for admission to Dead Horse Point State Park was absolutely worth it.  The photo below is a view from Dead Horse Point across to the La Sal Mountains 35 miles away.  Like much of the American West, photos can’t quite do justice to the huge panoramic vistas.

Dead Horse Point at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah


Before this trip, I had not heard of Canyonlands National Park.  LJ commented that it seemed like CNP got short shrift by tourists who tried to do Arches and Canyonlands in the same day, much like we were doing.  I think he was right—and I also think I understand why.

As we drove into Canyonlands, we saw a sign that said “No food, water, gas or lodging within the park”.  The Island in the Sky Visitor Center did have a water fountain but the park was clearly not developed for the average tourist.  There were few short trails and only a single road into the park from this direction, with the three other districts in the park being even more remote and mostly inaccessible.

With our limited time, we drove to the end of the road to the Grand View Point Overlook.  The view was quite impressive, with the vertiginous views that made me realize how expansive the landscape was.  It was so silent that we could hear the motor bikes thousands of feet below us in the valley.

Grand View Point at Canyonlands National Park, Utah

By 3:30 we were on the road making tracks across the desert.  The next stop was the Green River SuperCharger located in the parking lot of the River History Museum.  Not the most exciting place to have spent 45 minutes.  The entire town had an abandoned feel to it, so desolate that I could easily envision a zombie movie being filmed there.  The sense of desolation was only enhanced when, on the way out of town, we saw someone with a tripod taking a photo of an abandoned gas station.

Our next SuperCharger stop at Beaver was well-timed for dinner.  There are a number of little restaurants and fast food chains and hotels that seem to be benefiting from the Tesla SuperCharger locations and this stop was no exception.  We had a nice dinner at a little place called the Timberline Restaurant, surrounded by families and truck drivers.  We then drove to the St. George SuperCharger and onwards to our evening stop at Mesquite, NV.

Only two more days to go on #TeslaElectricStartupSuperTrip.  Here’s a preview of coming attractions: Day 7 is Vegas and the haul across southern California and Day 8 is the drive up the Pacific coast to Palo Alto.

Day 6 stats:
523.1 miles having used 172.2 kWh* and 4 SuperCharger stops:
·         Moab, UT (overnight—might have skipped the next one if we didn’t visit the parks)
·         Green River, UT
·         Beaver, UT
·         St. George, UT

Overall trip: 3384.6 miles in 6 days, having used 1193.8 kWh total*

*These stats were taken a few miles after starting driving on Day 7, rather than at the end of Day 6.  Also, note that the extra driving in the national parks will add to the overall trip distance beyond the 3700 miles or so actually needed to do the Tesla cross-country drive from the Triangle area of NC to Palo Alto, CA.

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