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.