Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 8: The Home Stretch up the Left Coast

From Bakersfield we headed almost due west to Atascadero, a cute little town just inland of the coastal mountain range.  We were still in the valley so the roads were flat, but there was an almost imperceptible increase in elevation.  You probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all in a gas-powered car but the Tesla energy graph made it abundantly clear that we were climbing.*

Having completed the trip**, I can confidently say Atascadero wins the Best SuperCharger Location Award for the #TeslaElectricStartupSuperTrip.  The competition wasn’t even close.  The A-Town SuperCharger is a 5-minute walk from a cute little downtown with a fantastic burger place called Sylvester’s.  Had it been any day other than Sunday, we would have had to decide between Sylvester’s and a number of other tasty places to eat.

LJ at Sylvester's in Atascadero, CA
After lunch, we continued westward until we reached US-1, the iconic coastal road that winds its way along the Pacific.  It was clear that we had reached the Left Coast when I saw this grizzled old man walking his huge orange cat.  I felt a bit bad taking his picture until LJ pointed out that the guy had a huge grin on his face.

Welcome to the Left Coast (San Luis Obispo County, CA)

We took scenic US-1 up the coast, stopping at various viewpoints along the way.  My favorite was the elephant seals colony in San Luis Obispo, only a few miles north of the Hearst Castle.   There were piles of elephant seals snuggling together, with a few of the young ones clearly not wanting to nap.  And there was a random squirrel not too far from this sleeping elephant seal—not exactly two mammals I would expect to see together.  The clouds rolling up from the ocean and over the first range of mountains kept things cool and cloudy for most of the trip up the coast except where the road rose above the clouds. 


The final SuperCharger stop of the trip was at the Gilroy outlets.  Gilroy’s claim to fame is as the “Garlic Capital of the World”.  This was the first location where we saw more than three Teslas—a total of six Telsas (including ours) were parked there when we first started charging around 6:30 pm.  We killed the charging time by doing a bit more shopping for LJ’s new job.  [LJ and I probably shopped more on this trip than we have in our lives together to this point.  It’s a side effect of the Tesla charging locations and the 30-60 minutes we needed to spend at each one.]

Post-charging, we had dinner with Jocelyn (a friend of LJ’s from Cisco) at Los Gatos Brewery, an old haunt for LJ and his Cisco friends from business trips many years back.  About 10 pm we rolled into Menlo Park and unloaded the car at LJ’s new temporary CA home.

The trip may be over, but the super-nerdy science and engineering discussions are not.  I’m working on a final blog post with all sorts of stats and graphs about our trip that I hope to post this week.

*One of the more fascinating things about driving the Tesla is the energy graph.  I’ve shown examples of it in previous blogs, but here’s another one as a reminder.  For any stretch of road, if we aim to keep the speed constant, the energy usage ends up almost directly proportional to the elevation changes.  In that case, the energy graph is essentially a topographical map of where we’ve been.

Tesla energy usage as topographical map.

**For those of you keeping track at home: Day 1 of the trip was Sunday, November 2nd.  Therefore, Day 8 was Sunday, November 9th.  It’s probably not unexpected that it took me longer to complete this blog post since I returned to “normal” life in NC this week.

Day 8 stats:
398.0 miles in 12 hours (with long charging and meal stops) having used 110.9 kWh and 2 SuperChargers:
·         Atascadero, CA
·         Gilroy, CA

Overall trip: 4225.6 miles in 8 days, having used 1455.5kWh at an average energy usage of 344 Wh/mi

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