Houston to the land of superchargers

As I progressed south, I could feel the desire to supercharge. It began when the Tesla Nav software insisted on routing all my trips through a supercharger station more than 350 miles away. Imagine charges measured in minutes rather than hours or days. Intoxicating!

The easiest route solution out of Houston would be to do a long drive to Prince George, spend the night in the destination hotel, and then begin the next morning on a full charge. Unfortunately, I had my nose in the air, sniffing for superchargers, and wanted to make better time southbound. Thus, I drove 10 miles beyond Prince George and picked up a “helper charge” at an RV park. With a phone call, I confirmed these people would be willing to let me plug into a 50 amp outlet for a few hours. That charge would allow me to make Williams Lake before sundown.

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Mama Yeh RV Park, near Prince George, offered a great 50 amp connection for a quick helper charge

After a couple hours of 32 miles/hr charging, I had enough energy onboard to press on to Williams Lake. Instead of parking at a university and using public charging at 13 miles/hr., however. I chose instead to overnight at a Williams Lake RV Park and depart the next morning with full charge. Yep, RV parks have become my “destination charging in a tent” destinations.

The next morning I was on the road again. Williams Lake and points north in Canada are absolutely gorgeous. The kind of lakes that would be million dollar properties for second homes in the U.S. were commonplace up here.

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Gorgeous lakes are everywhere in British Columbia, Canada

In one long leg I drove from Williams Lake to the supercharger at Kamaloops. What a joy to plug in for a quick charge then hit the road again!

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Relaxing in the grass at Kamloops supercharger during our brief stop

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The road back to Houston

And so a long drive back through Canada lay before me.  I endeavored to apply my new knowledge of off-network charging to the trek:
* Charge overnight at 50 amp spots to maximize daylight driving time
* Adjust speed as necessary to achieve desired range
* Avoid dark and cold driving in deer country and at temps that compromised range

Early on the third day of our stay in the Steward/Hyder area, Iceman and I loaded up our stuff with 241 miles range showing and began the drive back to Smithers. It would be a more challenging drive than the drive down, since we lost 1600 feet of elevation coming to Stewart but would be gaining that amount on the way back, for a net difference of more than 3200 feet. To make up for this handicapped, I chose to drive at a slow 40 mph for the majority of the route to Smithers. 

Weather was overcast with a light drizzle of rain, but temps were moderate. Some energy was needed initially for defrosting, but not much was needed once underway with the car interior warmed up. Tesla’s Navigation software gave this alert as be pulled out of Stewart:

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The energy available at destination of “-2%” didn’t look promising, but I knew Tesla’s nav program was calculating based upon normal speed limit driving, not range enhancement speeds

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By turning off air-conditioning, lowering temp, and setting defrost mode, I was able to get very satisfactory interior environment without using much energy

In many ways, the trip couldn’t have been much better. The early morning departure meant that we had the road to ourselves, with frequent waterfalls and wildlife sightings to break up the north country greenery. The Bear Glacier looked entirely different from this new angle as we approached it.

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Bear Glacier

By the time we reached Maziadin Junction, where we joined the Trans-Canada highway, the Tesla Navigation software had digested our driving and environmental controls style and had come up with a much more optimistic estimate of energy upon arrival at Smithers

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An estimate of 24% energy remaining at destination sounded MUCH better

Just past Meziadin Junction we started spotting bears. It was the perfect trip with comfortable energy management, no traffic, and all the attributes of the north.

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Slow down to avoid allowing some creature like this to become a hood ornament

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A very angry hood ornament!

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One of these would also make a poor hood ornament

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I was rewarded for slow driving by retaining plenty of energy at the completion of 208 miles

As I neared Smithers and the traffic picked up, I had the confidence to increase my speed. At destination the Tesla still showed more than 50 miles range remaining. I could have overnighted at Smithers, but such a move would mean a long recharge the next day at Houston. Instead, I did about a 6 hour recharge with the 110 volt, 12 amp charge at Smithers as I rested. Then, as the evening light offered just enough illumination for a comfortable 40 mile drive uphill to Houston, I set off.

At Houston, the A&W was closed now, the visitor center was closed as well, but I had called ahead to chargepoint and a quick phone call activated the public charger. With my seat cranked way back into a near horizontal position, I positioned my pillow, gave Iceman an under-the-chin scratch and retired for the night. At intervals of approx. once an hour, the Tesla’s ventilation system would shut down (to preserve energy, I suppose) and I remedied the situation by briefing cracking a door open and then closing it, which reset the clock and allowed comfortable ventilation to return. Tesla ventilation was far superior to a cracked window, letting in mosquitoes.

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Badger crossing

On the drive up to Hyder from Prince George, I saw lots of crossing signs. There’s the typical mainland deer crossing sign, but also I saw elk crossing (fuller rack of horns), moose crossing (looks like Bullwinkle), mountain goat (looks like an overfed, shaggy goat), and mountain sheep (big horns). The most amazing sign, though, was the badger crossing sign. I mean, how much damage could a badger do to your car?

Well, I used some imagination and looked at the worst case scenario. Here it is:
Hyder Star-Bugle Sunday Edition: “Emergency responders today rescued a family of four that had apparently encountered a badger of the highway near Bear Glacier. The Toyota Camry was found up on blocks, with all tires shredded and all food-stuffs in the trunk and intereior completely decimated. The family was rescued from high positions in three separate fir trees. It is assumed that the driver was not taking the badger crossing signs seriously.

And so I err on the side of caution and keep a sharp eye for badgers in the bader-crossing area.

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Alaska, at last

An essential aim of this drive north was to reach Alaska by EV, and so the day arrived to use some of my precious battery energy to cross the border into Hyder. There’s no border crossing run by the U.S., but one must pass through Canada’s border security before you re-enter Stewart.

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A mile up the road Iceman and I entered Hyder and claimed Alaska as one more state on the tour.

There was something too interesting to pass up a few miles further along the road, and so we pressed on. The U.S. Park Service operates a facility at Fish Creek, where salmon come to spawn and bears come to eat the salmon.

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In theory the bears cross the highway on the left side, and the people stay safe within the wooden structures on the right side of the stream. Iceman stayed in the Tesla during this activity.

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For best results, double-click on image to expand to full resolution, and you will see the river filled with 20-25 lb. chum salmon (with the occasional pink salmon thrown in). It’s an active place as males fight for spawning opportunities and expired salmon become food for the gulls. A few hours after this photo was taken, a big grizzly showed up, pulled a big chum out of the river, tore it apart and ate it, then repeated the process two more times. 

After visiting Fish Creek, we returned to Stewart to complete the charging before our trip back south.

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You know you’re in bear country when …

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Welcome signs are shaped like bears

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Half the businesses in town include the word “bear” in their name

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The score sheet at the local hotel shows a grizzly visited the nearby fish creek about two hours ago.

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Trash cans are built like bank vaults

and finally…


Bears outnumber dogs, cats, cattle, and deer beside the highway
Note: To best see the bears, click on the icon that looks something like an X at the bottom right corner of the video to play this HD video full-screen.

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Hanging out in Stewart

My calculations showed that a charge of some 60 hours (after figuring energy I’d use for the trip up to Hyder) would be needed to fully charge the Tesla’s battery before I set off again for Smithers. That placed me at full charge early in the morning of the third day. I didn’t have much wiggle room if I wanted to leave morning of the third day.

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I chose to set up camp and charge at Rainey Creek Campground, which was a short walk from the main street of Stewart. 

Timing how long it took to add one mile of range, I figured we were gaining about 3.3 miles per hour at 12 amps and 110 volts. Unfortunately, on day two a heavy rtainstorm arrived, and with powerlines wet in the Stewart area, the charge sometimes dropped to 9 amps. By unplugging and then replugging, I was able to get 12 amps back again and keep the charging on schedule.

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Looking down 5th Street, Stewart’s business hotspot, you can see the mountains with glacier in between dominate the horizon

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Here’s a zoomed view of Stewart’s 5th Street. You can get decent pizza, burger, seafood, and lodging on this street

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To Alaska’s doorstep

All looked good for the final push to my destination. By driving during daytime with reasonable temperatures, not using the heat or air conditioning, driving at about 45 mph and smartly, I should easily be able to cover the 209 miles ahead while leaving a reasonable reserve.

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Tesla’s navigation feature suggested that I would arrive at destination with 10% (about 24 miles) of my energy remaining. I intended to drive much more conservatively than this.

And the scenery? All I can say is the further North I traveled this day, the better it became. Mountains sported glaciers reaching down from their summits, and vegetation was thick and green, a perfect hiding place for bears.

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As you can see from the image above (click on any image to see in full resolution), as I progressed towards Hyder, Alaska, with my conservative driving techniques, the expected reserve at destination had grown from 10% to 17%. I am more interested in the trend than the numbers themselves, and as long as I am growing or at least maintaining my reserve, I know my energy will be sufficient. Ultimately, I finished the trip with more than 22% of total energy.

This drive had become the reward for the long hours of charging and all the effort to learn the fine points of off-network driving with a Tesla Model S. My energy was good, the road remained paved and with light traffic, the the scenery just became more fabulous with every mile.

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I noticed something odd about the cattle grazing beside the road up here. They were quite muscular and had claws!

Turning the corner for the final stretch towards Stewart, Canada, and Hyder, Alaska, (towns separated by less than a mile), I pretty much had the road to myself with lots of energy in the battery left and stunning sights everywhere.

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Check out the glaciers coming down from these mountains

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Then I came across Bear Glacier, which flowed right down into the lake across from the highway

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Streams cascaded down the mountainsides

After a drive lasting more than 4 hours, I pulled into sleepy Stewart, Canada, just a mile short of my destination, Hyder. The charging, camping, and dining opportunities looked better here than in Hyder, and I decided to spend the night. What a delightful drive this had been!

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To Houston and Smithers

Determined to make it all the way to Houston before charging, I drove mostly at 50 mph. Plan B was to stop at Burns Lake, quite a bit short of Houston. When faster cars approached, I put on flashers, and pulled to the right to encourage a pass if it was safe. The leg to Houston required nearly 4 hours on the road, but the Tesla navigation program had finally given up trying to send me back to Kamloops for a recharge, and it calculated that I was gaining, not losing, expected miles of charge for my Houston arrival. I now knew I could make it. I used only 51kwh of my 70 kwh battery.

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The world’s largest fly rod stands in front of the Houston visitor’s center. Below that tree to the right of the rod sits a little blue Tesla.

Charging at Houston took over 8 hours because a typical public charger can only deliver about 22 mph of electricity. It seems every Canadian town has an A&W Root Beer and Houston was no exception. Iceman and I walked over and lightened their load of teenburgers. Canadians are typically friendly,and I enjoyed showing the car to several, plus a couple groups of curious German tourists. Shortly before my departure, council members from Houston showed up to get a photo for a story about my visit.

I had discovered a great resource for finding RV Parks both in Canada and the U.S.: www.rvparkreviews.com . Through this site, I learned of the Par 3 RV Park in Smithers, and phoned ahead to reserve a tent site with 15 amp electricity. Why not use more power for a quicker charge? Par 3, as with many RV Parks, lacked 50 amp hookups, and Tesla does not offer a 30 amp charging adapter for U.S. and Canadian RV parks. Instead, I had taken someone’s advise from a forum and ordered a 30 amp to 14-50 (50 amp) adapter, but I had been given bad advice and the adapter would not work. Thus my only option was the slower than molasses 15amp 110 volt electricity, which is the same as a standard wall plug in any house. Nonetheless, I needed less than 40 miles range at Smithers, and by the time I departed the following morning, I had a full battery.

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My campsite at Smithers. A grass tent site is a luxury for us campers, and our hosts at the RV Park had both recently taken a drive in a Model S when a Tesla rep came north for an event an at nearby location (WTG Tesla!). The tent is a 5-man Coleman and contains an enormous cot, cot pad, and plush sleeping bag. The combination is actually more comfortable than my bed at home.

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The mountains near Smithers are gorgeous and made me eager to drive that last leg to Alaska.

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A plan materializes

Reaching Alaska in an electric vehicle requires some planning, particularly for someone not well-seasoned on off-the-supercharger-network travel. I needed to answer a few questions before setting off:
* Would I really be able to get at least rated range out of my car?
* How do I break up the legs to Hyder, Alaska, so that they are achievable?
* How do I pay for the use of public chargers en route? I have practically no experience using public chargers.

And here’s what I came up with:
* Range- The leg from Prince George to Houston is on relatively level ground and covers 191 miles. If I arrive with a large enough energy reserve, then I will have confidence of doing such a distance again. The Houston leg is a test case because the previous leg didn’t go so well.
* When Michael Fritts did this route to Hyder, he drove an 85KWH version of the Model S. My car has only 70KWH available. Michael went from Houston directly to Steward Canada/Hyder Alaska, but I can’t, since it is 246 miles long. Instead, I will go to Houston in one leg (191 miles), recharge at 26miles/hr. rate until the Tesla’s battery is full, then drive the 40 miles to an RV Park in Smithers, where I will recharge at a mere 3mph rate until I have a full battery again, then tackle the 200+ mile leg to Alaska. I did my calculations using http://www.evtripplanner.com .
* Payment for charger- I called the Visitor’s Center in Houston, which is next to the charger. The friendly Canadian visitor’s center employee said that she could approve a complimentary charge for my car. Done deal as long as I arrive before 5pm. I found valuable information about charging stations at http://www.plugshare.com .

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Typical road view on the Prince George to Houston leg

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Destination charging: Inn of the North

Cold and tired, I arrived at my Prince George hotel, Coast Inn of the North, in the black of early morning. This hotel is known as a destination charging location because they have installed a Tesla charging unit in their parking garage and make the electricity available to patrons at no extra cost. In this hotel, the charging unit is next to a generic charging unit and gives the Tesla a great parking spot. I plugged in, knowing that I’d have a full charge overnight. Iceman and I took the essentials up the elevator and I soon fell fast asleep.

The beauty of destination charging stations is that you lose no time while off the supercharger network. You sleep then continue your trip with a full battery. Also, I have yet to find a hotel that does not accommodate dogs.

In reviewing the previous night’s drive, I realized that my range had been affected by the cold, by the need for the defrosting, and by the ups and downs and constant turning of the road. Looking at the dual issues of cold temps affecting battery performance and cruising at night in deer country, daytime driving makes more sense than night runs. I spent a second night at Inn of the North while provisioning for the next legs of the trip and planning my strategy.

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Dark and kinda scary

The trek from Williams Lake to Prince George began as I stowed the charging cables with enough juice in the battery to give us about a 25 mile reserve at the end of the 150 mile trip. Our ETA at Prince George was expected to be about 5:00 am, due to the slow driving speed I would use in order to maximize range. Off we went into the night, with temperatures below 50 degrees F now. I left the heat off, mostly, and wore my North Face jacket while Iceman snuggled comfortably on the back seat. Soon, though, the twists and turns of the road prompted Ice to move into the secure space on the floor between the two seats. That dog is no dummy.

This was deer country and I kept us at between 45 mph and 50 mph. My speedometer read in kilometers/hr., though, because I had switched the units after crossing the border. Some electricity was needed from time to time to defrost the rear window and keep the windshield clear. We cruised through patches of fog and then emerged again. The Tesla’s auto high-beams worked well to illuminate the road when no other vehicles were near. At this speed and with high beams on, there wasn’t much chance of hitting an animal. Mostly, the traffic was truckers in semis, and I would sometimes speed up until reaching a passing zone where they could get by. What bothered me was that at this lower speed we weren’t seeing the range improvements I had expected.

To make matters worse, Tesla’s navigation software is not yet optimized for off-network drives, and instead of giving me an estimate of electrical reserve on the Williams Lake to Prince George route, it insisted in routing me back to Kamloops for a charging top off. As I neared the point where not enough range remained to make Kamloops, I received the following message.

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Not long afterwards, the Tesla alerted me with an even more dire warning. These messages that I was about to enter the charging twilight zone did not improve my state of mind.

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Closer to Prince George now, and two semis were behind and I sped up to nearly 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) until the next passing lane. Coming around a curve I saw the carcass of a newly-killed deer in the other lane. Yep, speeding up this much was a bad idea in these conditions. I arrived at my destination in Prince George with only 20 miles of reserve and a warning from the Tesla that with temps now at 40 degrees F, any further decrease in temperature would noticeably degrade battery performance.

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Go north young man and dog!

Yep, we’re going to Alaska! The clear route North is through Prince George, but getting there from Kamloops in an electric vehicle is the challenge. WWW.plugshare.com says there’s a public charger in Williams Lake.

Most of the drive to Williams Lake was uneventful. Scenery is mostly small farms along the road, with forest in the background. As we approached Lake Williams, though, the forest took the upper hand and thus the feeling of being “up North” began.

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The Tesla navigation page indicated I would arrive in Williams Lake with 22% of charge remaining. If driving slightly over the speed limit, I find these estimates are usually accurate within about 3% once the Tesla digests my driving style.

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The Williams Lake public charger is located at Thompson River University

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Unfortunately, the Tesla felt the current coming from this charger was “dirty” and dropped the amperage of my charging, so that instead of getting 22 miles per hour of additional charge, I was only getting 13 mph. The second charger produced exactly the same problem. Oh well, I’ll have enough juice to proceed towards Prince George at 2 a.m.

Several members of the university staff took an interest in the Tesla. They are friendly people and I shared several “have a seat and I’ll show you the magic of this car” moments.

New page “Off-Net” added today to expand upon off-the-supercharger charging challenges and solutions.

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Border crossing

Instead of taking us through Vancouver, as I had expected, Tesla’s Navigation feature directed us through lovely country roads so as to avoid Vancouver traffic. I didn’t realize it, but these smaller border crossing sites are often not 24 hour sites, so in order to avoid disappointment, be sure to check the crossing hours before proceeding along the Tesla system’s yellow brick road. Fortunately, the border was open.

Canadian Border Crossing Considerations:
* U.S. citizens should have passports
* Be sure to have a current rabies vaccination document (not tag) for your dog
* Some crossing sites not open 24 hours. Check ahead if using a smaller crossing.

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Pleased to see that no wanted posters with my mug adorned the border site, I managed to produce the necessary docs and Iceman and I were now zooming through Canada towards our final destination of Kamloops. Well, fatigue hit, and while charging at the Hope supercharger, I chose to remain there until daylight.

The 2nd Gen seats are amazing if you need to take a snooze. The whole seat tilted back, then the backrest continued farther, and farther and farther back until it resembled one of those first-class seats on Royal Grand-Poobah Airways. Add a pillow, and I was asleep in no time.

The next morning I awoke to find the Canadian Rockies surrounding Hope. What a great way to start another day of the adventure.

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Now the big question: Continue east to Montana or turn North? Leaving on this trip in August instead of May, as originally planner, perhaps the prudent thing would be to head east.

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Model S-ing in Seattle

Our trip took us through Seattle, and as we entered the Cascades the 100 degree temps of the past few days gave way to comfortable 80s. Yes! As a bonus, the place wasn’t on fire.

We toured the town from south to north, with a very brief stop to visit a friend who was unfortunately ill at the time. What a cool home she had, though. Situated next to an airport, the view you see in the photo below is actually the door to her hangar, in which resided a plane very capable for visiting the backcountry airstrips of Idaho or landing on the beach in Oregon during low tide. This is one of the few transportation machines that can distract a Model S owner! The other side of the building is a comfortable house. How’s that for convenience?

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A strange noise had recently appeared, and we dropped into the Seattle Service Center at our appointed time to have it checked out. These people earned 10s all across for their diligence in finding the noise, hospitality during the service and then thoroughness in the repair. They expedited a part from another location in the Seattle area to get me on my way asap.

Although Iceman was born in Australia, he shared his hometown in Hawaii with his sister, Hana. During this time, Iceman attended the pool party to beat all pool parties at Hana’s house, where a trio of Portuguese Water Dogs frolicked in the pool, all jumped out for a quick game of chase, and then returned to the pool with dazzling splashes. Hana had moved, but this evening we drove up the steep driveway in a heavily-wooded neighborhood on the outskirts of Seattle to reunite these two dogs. Hana and Ice both recognized each other and took up where they left off at that fabled pool party.

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Iceman on left with his tall sister Hana on right

After a spell, Iceman disappeared, only to return from another room with a stuffed elephant in his mouth. Later he went shopping again and dragged in a stuffed Portuguese Water Dog toy. Some things never change.

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The kleptomaniac canine strikes again. Notice motion-blur of tail.

Hana’s owners, Ken and Gay, fed Papafox wonderfully and I enjoyed seeing these two fine people once again. As for Iceman, he delighted in the reunion with his sister known for the epic pool party.

A brief stay that night near Burlington, WA, was followed by much preparations to get the car ready for its next leg. With all systems go, we headed to the border for a night crossing. Five states are now covered, and it is time for the trek to number 6!

Tesla impressions: Still feeling like I’m driving the most responsive race car in town. Supercharging gives a nice pace to a long day of driving, with 20 minute breaks after two hours on the road. Enthusiasm level very high.

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Westward ho!

From Boise our trek took us west towards a city by the coast. As with most other western states, Idaho saw  a number of forest fires in this dry year.

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Camp this evening took place in a KOA campground in Pendelton, Oregon. The good news is that KOA often offers 50 amp service, clean rest rooms, and a well-managed facility. The bad news is that it’s a bit more like staying in a trailer court than camping, but for a place to pitch our tent and catch some shuteye, it hit the spot.

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The next morning our route took us through Oregon then up into Washington state. Crossing the cascades, the forests became more and more lush. Such would be a great location for snapping a photo of the lovely Tesla.

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Boise, post-celebration

As if the supercharger party wasn’t enough, the people of Boise had even more hospitality in store for Papafox and Iceman. Directly from the party I headed over to a dinner invitation at the home of longtime friends Leslie and John. What a joy to eat something delicious and nutritious and not only visit with these friends but meet their impressive boys who had grown a good ten years since my last meeting. Evan is going to give Ansel Adams a run for his money. John and two of the sons joined me in a post-dinner Tesla familiarization drive. I think he has the bug now!

During the gathering, Iceman “went shopping”, which means he scours the property for a toy or stuffed animal which he can then parade around with for the remainder of the night. At home, he is a shoe thief, determined to find ingenious new locations for hiding my shoes. Sure enough, he found a playtoy of the house’s pooch and regaled in his new find.

Later that night, I drove across town to the home of grand friends Dan and Suzy. Their small dog Max met Iceman at the door with a look of disdain, but soon Max accepted the visitor. We traded tent for house living that night and sure enough in the morning Iceman went shopping again, this time scoring a big black bear. Dan and Suzy let Max lounge on the furniture and in Iceman’s eyes when in Rome do …

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One must be careful about saying “make yourself at home” to Iceman

How’s that for a Monday? A big thanks to my dinner and lodging hosts, too!

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The great Boise supercharger celebration

The departure Papafox and Iceman from Nevada to points north depended upon the opening of the Boise supercharger. I had friends up there to visit, and I wanted to meet the Tesla owners from a location where the car still hasn’t caught on in a big way yet. A celebration at the newly-opened supercharger would be the best of all worlds.

Bottom line: Boise Tesla owners and enthusiasts rock!

Boise Tesla owner Kunal Parekh joined me in getting the word out about the celebration on Mondaty after work, and we waited to see how many of the dozen and a half owners in the area would show up. Would we be able to fill all 8 supercharger slots?

One by one they started coming in that evening. Before long all supercharger slots were filled and more Model S cars kept arriving. We had 15 by my count. I served ice cream cones from the freezer in the back of my Tesla, and Kunal brought a wonderful assortment of appetizers to appease the hunger beasts.

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apafox’s  70D about to turn into an ice cream truck. Nice lineup of Teslas!

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There were Teslas everywhere you could look, 15 (maybe more).

Now, in the midst of this Tesla party at the Boise supercharger, a lone Tesla arrived, driven by someone just passing through and looking for a quick charge. You can imagine his surprise when the supercharger site is standing room only with all slots filled and what looks like a half dozen or more Teslas already waiting in line for an opening! Fortunately, one of the owners moved his car and the charging began without interruption.

During the gathering, Kunal circulated among the various owners, getting signatures on two hats. I felt sure that I’d get a chance to sign too, but as it turns out, one of the hats was a gift to me with the well wishes of those in attendance. Names and Tesla production numbers decorated the headwear. Rest assured, this is my favorite baseball cap of all time. What a fabulous way for the Boise gang to have a good time and also wish Iceman and I well on our upcoming adventure. A HUGE thanks to Kunal, his wife Angie, and all the other Boise Tesla people who made the evening a fabulous memory for me!

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T
he Boise Cap

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Kunal presents Papafox with the cap while Iceman officiates the presentation

Five states are checked off the list now (including Hawaii since Iceman and Papafox has 40,000 Tesla miles there already): HI, OR, CA, NV, ID

 

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On the road at last!

‘Twas a Sunday afternoon when Iceman and I hit the road with 75% battery charge and 100% enthusiasm  level. Dozens of friends and strangers had already stated they wished they could join us, to exchange their everyday worries for the lure of the open road. I was guiding a sleek new carriage pulled by galloping electrons, and it felt good.

The first leg from Reno to Lovelock revealed Chevys, Studebakers, and Pontiacs heading northeast from Hot August Nights and scores of bikers on their Harleys, rumbling southwest as they returned from Sturgis. No doubt the lure of the open road takes many forms.

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wapping stories with the bikers at Lovelock’s supercharger (next to a Chevron station).

As Nevada gave way to Oregon, the sagebrush yielded to grasslands. A lone coyote crossed the road and antelope nibbled on green fields of grain.

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We reached Jordan Valley in the last light of evening. Wind shook the trees and a thunderstorm threatened in the distance as I assembled the tent. Early that morning lightning and thunder arrived and we retreated to the safety of the Tesla for half an hour. The adventure was underway.

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New Main Image

The Hawaii sunrise photo is gone and an image of the 70D cruising around Lake Tahoe has taken its place. Does this change foreshadow the road trip’s imminent launch? Stay tuned.

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Protecting the paint

Before I put 8,000 or more highway miles on this car, I need to be sure the Tesla’s paint is protected from rock chips and other hazards of the road. For this reason I used the Teslamotorsclub.com forums to find an installer of Xpel film with a great track record for their work. Thus, last week I dropped my car off in Walnut Creek, CA, so that Joe Torbati and his crew at OCDetailing could install Xpel and then coat the whole car with Opticoat Pro. I couldn’t be happier with the work! Here’s a photo:

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Driving back towards the Sierras I met a nice couple and their dog at the Rocklin supercharger. I gave a card with this blog’s web address to them, and a couple hours later pulled into the Truckee supercharger.
“What flavor of ice cream do you have in your refrigerator/freezer?” I heard as I stepped out of my car. Sure enough, there’s the couple and their dog. She was driving this leg and he had time to browse the blog from the 17″ monitor.

I had a somewhat embarrassing confession to make, “Vanilla, but I’m still conducting experiments and wouldn’t think of possibly ruining a great flavor such as cookies and cream until I am confident of the settings.”

Such is the fun of being part of the Tesla community.

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