Iceman the dog and my Tesla have now been on the mainland for a month, ready to launch this road trip. The problem? Life happens! A pressing issue brought me back to Hawaii for several weeks. During that time, I kept thinking of the marvelous feeling of the open road, a spirited car to drive, and my best friend snoozing in the back seat. I can almost smell the pines on a cool morning drive through the mountains. Can’t do your own road trip this summer? No worries, please join Iceman and I on this trip via this blog!
What’s this? My Tesla is getting serious about breaking us free from our bout of Island Fever. The Model S 70D and my dog Iceman were set to depart for LAX on Pacific Air Cargo while I rushed over to Hawaiian Airlines to catch a flight to Los Angeles and see if we could all get together that night.
My concerns about whether the car would make it onboard the 747 evaporated when my friend Vic, a freight pilot, happened by and sent this shot to me via smartphone. The trip is on!
Ever wonder what a flying Tesla sees heading across the ocean? Check out this dashcam view:
Iceman the dog and I are diagnosed with a bad case of island fever. Remedy underway. Please see video. More to come soon.
This winter Iceman and I chose to remain in Hawaii. As Christmas approached, the big question was: has Iceman been naughty or nice this year?
Several times this year, Iceman thinned out the tourist population on Kailua Beach through his various efforts as shark dog. This behavior definitely fits in the category “naughty”.
On the other hand, he’s been a terrific companion, and the nice balanced out enough so that when Santa arrived this year, he came to Kailua aboard a surfboard, guided over the reefs and to a soft landing in the sand by none other than Iceman.
A recent article on Bloomberg, I Went Camping in the Trunk of a $145,000 Tesla, highlights the vehicle’s hidden attribute of serving not only as a sports and luxury car, but also as a camper. Author Tom Randall did a great job of laying out an alternate method of keeping the car’s ventilation system running all night, should you choose to catch your Zs in the vehicle.
During my road trip last summer with Iceman, we found ourselves a couple times in a situation where neither dog-friendly motel nor camping spot was readily available. What to do? Model S camper mode to the rescue, of course! The true aficionados of sleeping in a Model S will use some cardboard to even out the floor after the back seat is folded down, place an inflatable pad upon the sleeping area, break out pillow and sheets, and snooze away in a surprisingly comfortable sleeping area. My nocturnal slumbers took place in the driver’s seat, folded way back like on one of those ritzy first-class seats for flying across the ocean, but the Tesla bed would no doubt have been more comfortable.
Twice during camping sessions I chose to abandon my tent and sleep in the Tesla: once when a mighty thunderstorm rumbled through, and once at a campground where the other campers just wouldn’t quiet down. Inside the Tesla, neither electricity being thrown down by Zeus nor chatty campers could disturb my tranquility, and I even requested a few favorite songs via Slacker to ease the transition into total relaxation.
The trick with sleeping in a car is ventilation. Leave the windows down a crack and a squadron of mosquitoes will slowly set up a traffic pattern to your exposed skin. Fortunately, Tesla’s air-conditioning system will work for days at a time on that enormous battery, with the only challenge being to find a way to avoid the default shut-off while parked after 30 minutes. In Randall’s article, he details a step-by-step method that worked for him. An easier solution for those of you with iphones is to buy the “Remote S” app and keep the Tesla’s environmental system running all night by selecting “Camper Mode.”
Fifty-state pioneer Michael Fritts has even created a tent that fits perfectly when his Model S’s hatch is open. Check it out.
So, might I abandon the tent in favor of snoozing in the back of the Tesla on my next grand road trip through America? Yeah, I just might. The time spent in setting up camp and breaking camp eats up an hour on each end. Those two hours a day could be better used for so many other things. In bear country, I’d sleep more soundly within my aluminum cocoon than in a nylon tent. Way up north, beyond the superchargers, lies a world of 6 hour charging sessions to bring a battery full again. Previously, I charged overnight and then wasted many hours with a long helper charge mid-day. Instead, I could charge and sleep for 6 hours, hit the road, and repeat in order to substantially up my daily mileage, should I feel inclined.
The lure of adventure is a powerful thing, and I could see this blue Model S making its way back to the mainland some day in the future. After all, there’s a road here and there that my dog and I haven’t seen yet.
We know that some crazy drivers have gotten Teslas airborne, but that’s not what I’m talking about. How about thousands of miles covered at a time? Here’s photographic proof that Teslas can indeed fly! All it needed was a little help from a Pacific Air Cargo Boeing 747. My 70D arrived in Honolulu today, May 10, on my birthday. Once I drove it out of the air cargo hangar it officially became a 50-state Tesla.
The time arrived for yet another important chapter in the Electric Road Trip. A voice in me kept saying “Go west young man and dog,” and it was a voice I could not ignore. And so the Tesla 70D headed south again, into Nevada and then California, in anticipation for yet another move.
An intermediate stop would be Las Vegas on our trek to Los Angeles. Later this year, the Tesla supercharger route from Reno to Las Vegas would be completed, and a Tesla could quickly run south for the 500-odd miles in the most direct routing possible. A detour was needed for this leg, however, and the best routing looked to be southbound down Interstate 395 to Big Pine, then a scoot between the mountains on seldom-traveled roads near Death Valley in order to hit the Beatty supercharger for a much-needed recharge before taking on the final leg to Las Vegas. This routing could not be repeated in the reverse, direction, due to the elevation changes, but topography was on my side, and so we set sail.
What a joy to see that no off-supercharger charging would be needed. Unlike the trip this past summer, the route south from Reno could be covered with stops at new superchargers located at Topaz Lake near Gardenerville, and at Mammoth Lakes, California. The rapid-growth of Tesla’s supercharger network is taking most of the sport out of long-distance travel these days, but the Mammoth to Beatty leg would be an exception. After over-nighting in Bishop, I hit the road for Beatty with a proposed arrival buffer of 21% charge. Tesla’s onboard navigation software would never have routed me through this little ribbon of asphalt through the desert mountains. Rather, it would have taken me much further south on well-traveled routes (and also added hours to the trip).
The road ahead looked both lonely and inviting
After arriving in Beatty with a comfortable 25% remaining energy, I took off for Las Vegas with extra energy in the battery, due to a 75 mph cruising speed planned through the desert. The trip’s big surprise? Autopilot had evolved substantially, even since the January trip. If it was a baseball player, I would have given it zero errors for the event.
Eventually, the trip turned west towards Los Angeles with the autopilot doing virtually all of the highway driving.
I needed a charge as I neared the ocean, and so I pulled into the Hawthorne supercharger, located in the holy ground between Tesla’s design studio on the left and the huge SpaceX building in the background.