Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 7: Desert Beauty and Vegas, Baby

We left the Nevada border town of Mesquite, NV, and headed into… Arizona, a state that we didn’t realize we would drive through on this trip.  Apparently I-15 cuts through the northeast corner of AZ on its way to southern CA.  That means that we’ll end up driving in 16 states on this trip. 

We took the scenic route of our town to Valley of Fire State Park—given the drought, it’s probably an accurate name.  The drive to the park was across desert land spotted with scrubby brush and the occasional desert flowers, but nothing spectacular.  And then we turned the corner to look into the valley, which makes it easy to see why the park is named what it is.  The unexpected rock formations, with their vibrant red against the vivid blue skies, were well worth the $10 we had to pay for our 15-minute drive-through of the park.  We then followed the northeast side of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, with a glimpse of the lake among rolling hills and mountains.

Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Beehives at Valley of Fire State Park, NV


Coming into the east side of Vegas, we saw a number of cars on the side of the road watching something up in the air.  It was an F16 as shown below.  It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that we realized it was part of the Nellis Air Force Base Open House, aka their yearly airshow.  This was the first bad travel luck of the trip, which is pretty amazing for a 4,000 mile drive across the I-90 route in November.

Here’s what I mean by bad luck: LJ is a total airplane nerd and had even looked up the Thunderbird shows at the beginning of the year to see if he would be anywhere near one of them for a business trip.  Of course, that was months before this startup job and the Tesla Super Trip were even a remote possibility.  The only reason we even realized that there was an airshow is that I saw this smoke loop as we were walking back to get the Tesla at 3:12 pm, three minutes before the Thunderbirds portion of the airshow was scheduled to end.


Anyone who’s been to Vegas may know this, but it’s really two towns (or more).  There’s the bright lights and high-end casinos and hotels whose names many people know, like the Bellagio and the Venetian.  And then there’s old Vegas, the part in the city limits. 

Back in January, Wired magazine ran an article about how Zappos moved its headquarters to Vegas and is buying up defunct property to revitalize it.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the Tesla charger in Vegas is only blocks away from the Downtown Container Park that Hsieh (the Zappos CEO) had built.  It’s a trendy area of small shops and restaurants that would be at home in any gentrifying area and has a 40-foot-tall praying mantis sculpture to increase the quirkiness factor.

This Tesla SuperCharger was unique in a couple ways: it was the first one we’ve seen that was in a parking deck—and it was the first one where we saw any vehicle other than a Tesla parked in the spaces.  Here’s a picture of the clearly-not-a-Tesla that was taking up one of the six spaces.  Luckily there was only one other Tesla there so we had no trouble charging up.

Not a Tesla


After lunch at a BBQ place in the Downtown Container Park, we walked over to The Mob Museum.  In case you’re ever in Vegas with time to kill in the daytime, it was a fantastic place to visit. 

When we got in line to buy tickets, there were surprisingly few people paying with a credit card.  The guy working the ticket window where he could only take credit or debit cards had to keep announcing that he could take the next person in line.  We were both puzzled as to why no one used a card.  Then I remembered that we were in Vegas, about the same time that I saw the guy in front of us in line peel a $20 off the stack of bills that he pulled out of his pocket.


We left Vegas with a completely full charge, which meant that our next stop in Barstow was a short one.  If you recognize this town name, it’s probably from the sign at the other end of I-40 in Wilmington.

On the way out of Vegas, we stopped by the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility.  Over 300,000 mirrors concentrating sunlight to heat up steam and generate electricity.  We were there just as each of the three solar towers turned off.  Edison (the Tesla’s name) did not seem to recognize how much battery juice was being generated right there.

Edison (the Tesla) at the Ivanpah Solar Facility, CA


The final SuperCharger stop of the night was at Tejon Ranch at yet another outlet mall.  While I appreciate the convenience of having the SuperChargers near shopping and restaurants, stopping at this many shopping centers over the course of over a week gets a bit tiring and monotonous.  The stop for the night was in Bakersfield, CA, at a Hampton Inn where we could get a free night on Hilton points. 

Day 7 stats:
478.8 miles in 7 days having used 150.8 kWh and 3 SuperChargers:
·         Las Vegas, NV
·         Barstow, CA
·         Tejon Ranch, CA

Overall trip: 3859.6 miles in 7 days, having used 1344.6 kWh total

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