New pages added

Today Tesla unveiled a referral program that saves a buyer $1,000 on the price of a Tesla Model S between now and October 31. Click on the “$1000 Savings” link to visit my page for the full details.

Also, I realize many of you are not Tesla owners and that discussing the fine points of the autopilot and the navigation systems goes beyond your level of interest. For this reason, such posts will be made in a new section entitled “AutoP and Nav”.

Today’s project? Iceman and I are doing experiments with the ARB refrigerator/freezer that will be traveling in the trunk of our Tesla. Lots is at stake because we have a half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer at the moment. Iceman is clearly anticipating a taste of that ice cream.

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Dodging forest fires

Today I journeyed over the Sierras in the Tesla, doing yet another necessary preparation for the trip. The two features of the car that really stood out on this drive compared to my 2013 model are the comfort of the 2nd generation seats and the workload saving features of the active cruise control. I really can drive all day without getting tired.

Here’s a photo on I-80 as I approached the Lowell forest fire in California today. My hat is off to the firefighters. Yesterday, in another rental car, Iceman and I stopped at Blue Canyon Airport, up in the Sierras, because driving more than 3 hours without a break is uncivilized. It looked like a military operation with half a dozen big helicopters, all preparing to take to the sky and battle their foe with external tanks carrying water.

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I returned later today in a rental car (Tesla won’t be ready until Friday), and once again discovered I like to stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours  of driving. Supercharging seems so natural now, and I’m not so thrilled about this concept of paying $30 or more for gasoline every time I visit a recharging (refueling) station. It’s going to be a long 4 days!

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On the Mainland, at last!

Today, Iceman and Papafox arrived in San Francisco after taking the all-nighter from Honolulu. A quick drive brought us to the Tesla’s location. A few days of prepping the 70D will be necessary before beginning the adventure, but we’re getting close!

Iceman naturally helped himself to a swim in the pool and was immediately surrounded by a bunch of Papafox’s nieces. Not a bad way to start an adventure.

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Dashcams

I added a Blackvue 650 dashcam to my car recently so that I could capture that pack of wolves that runs across the road while heading North to Alaska. Heck, I’d even settle for a video of a UFO. Modern dashcams record in HD and will record both the events out the windshield and those taking place behind me. The dashcam remains in hibernation mode when parked, ready to start recording if the car is moved and thereby record the source of the movement to the car (vandal, grizzly bear? I want to know).

Here’s a 2 minute video I took passing by the rock climbing areas near Donner Pass during a pre-trip shakedown cruise. Enjoy! Note: click on the name of the video in the upper left-hand corner to display the video in the full size of your browser’s window.

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Bachelor Broccoli

As a longtime bachelor, I make a point of eating a balanced diet from the three bachelor foodgroups: cheeseburgers, pizza, and tacos. A balanced diet means alternating food groups so that one is not consumed twice in a row (except for leftover pizza, which everyone does). Nonetheless, over the past several decades I have become aware that vegetables can serve a bigger purpose in the human diet than just as pizza toppings. If I want to live a long time and be healthy, I need to eat my veggies. In terms of veggies that will make a nutritionist salute and then do a double back flip, it’s hard to beat broccoli.

The problem is that I seldom cook, and fast food joints seldom serve broccoli. Where does this bachelor solve his culinary challenges? On the navigation page of the Tesla’s 17″ display, of course. To find bachelor broccoli, you need to use magic words. I have found that for me, the words “Panda Express” work great to bring up a source of nutritious broccoli for me and beef for Iceman when entered into the Tesla’s Navigation program. Enter the magic words, and this feature of the Tesla shows me over a dozen nearby locations for solving my nutritional challenges.

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TMC Connect

The Mecca for Tesla enthusiasts is TMC Connect, a gathering of Tesla owners and wanna-be owners that takes place each summer in Silicon Valley. This year, Tesla brought to the gathering their VP of Communications, Ricardo Reyes, VP of Production Josh Ensign, Autopilot expert Marc Wimmershoff, and several other top information providers. Breakout sessions followed lunch. Electric vehicle proponent Chelsea Sexton interviewed Elon Musk’s biographer Ashlee Vance, with lots of questions coming from the audience. A gathering at Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters rounded out the agenda that evening.

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Papafox spent lunch engaged in a discussion at the “Road Trips” table

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Vendors offered everything from custom sound to paint protection in the exhibits area

Perhaps the most fun of the event was simply chatting with other Tesla owners and hearing their stories. Many came from the east coast, which reinforces the need for this blog. If some Tesla owners drive coast to coast with the greatest of ease, why not share road trip experiences online so that others can learn how really accessible long-distance travel in Model S has already become?

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Visiting the mother ship

Any true fan of Tesla cars should visit the company’s factory in Fremont, CA., as I did today. Tesla owners need to arrange a tour in advance with their delivery specialist. Don’t expect to show up and be added to an existing tour, however, because this isn’t Disneyland. The waiting room for tours gives a great view of the superchargers as transient Teslas come in the recharge and out the front window a shade canopy covers two dozen sparkling new Model Ss, ready for introductions to their new owners within the coming minutes or hours.

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 Suggestion Click on the photo and then expand it to full height of 700 pixels as you scroll through the waiting area

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There must be 50 ways to leave your humdrum

The desire to hit the road is universal. Jack Kerowak wrote about it in On the Road, and so did John Steinbeck in Travels with Charlie. Even before road trips were practical, the desire managed to manifest itself in other forms. Listen to Herman Melville describe this feeling in the beginning of Moby Dick:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

Substitute “hit the road” for “get to sea” and you see the message here. Melville’s character was indeed ready to get out of Dodge and see the world. If Ishmael had a Tesla and a thousand miles of open road with supercharger access available, just imagine how literature might have been forever altered.

I find an extraordinary number of people who share this sentiment, to leave their everyday troubles in the dust and blaze onward toward new horizons. If I had fifty seats in the Tesla I still could not carry all who have expressed a desire to join me.

Hitting the road need not be a solitary exercise. Both you and your spouse or significant other can take to the highway together and enjoy a delightful escape.

The trouble is, you really do have to get out of Dodge, and sometimes that’s easier said than done. I originally planned to hoist anchor and set sail on this road trip in late May, but I’ve discovered  the hum drum world of my past doesn’t want to let go quite so easily. Whatever method you use, and fifty must surely be a low number, find your way to extricate yourself and feel the wind in your hair as you drive through the desert in first light.

Not ready to break free this year, though? No worries, we’ll make room for you through this blog to ride along. Please give Iceman a scratch behind the ears from time to time, though, he so likes it.

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Superchargers

Tesla was the first company to make electric vehicles practical for long-distance driving when they introduced a car with greater than 200 mile range plus a network of supercharger stations across the United States. Europe now has a substantial network, as well. Instead of waiting hours for a charge, a driver can now pull into a supercharger station, plug in, and be on his way in about 20 minutes.

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Papafox’s 70D Model S taking it’s first jolt of supercharger energy at the Woodburn charger, south of Portland, Oregon

Only 17 months ago, three Tesla Model S vehicles headed east in the dead of winter to prove that cross-continent driving was now possible in the United States. Come summer, Michael Fritts and Lita Elbertson bagged all 50 states in their Model S adventure. Those were pioneering efforts, but now Tesla’s supercharger network has expanded to the point where taking a tour of the states with your dog is no big deal. Still, the network is anemic compared to what it will look like next summer, and so a few challenges fortunately still remain. Alaska tops the list, but then there’s Northern Michigan and the black hole of Tesla’s U.S. network: Arkansas. Naturally, I must visit these places in order to call this outing a proper adventure.

Initial reactions to supercharging? Fast! I’ve seen more than 350 miles per hour of juice flowing into my S. At times I drove for two hours and the charge to get to the next supercharger station was a mere 15 minutes. That’s hardly enough time to check your emails.

Just for fun, I walked by the pumps at a local gas station while picking up a quick charge at Mt. Shasta supercharger, in California. This one said $65, that one said $71. My supercharger fillup didn’t cost a dime. Ford or Honda drivers will get back on the highway a few minutes faster than me, but how long did it take them to earn the money to pay for that fillup? All things considered, I’d rather supercharge!

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Camping Gear

The Tesla Model S is a lovely thing, but I fully admit that she sports a rather large caboose (which is a good thing when it comes to storage!). No need for roughing it when you decide to pitch a tent for the night. Shown here is a five-man tent, cot, cot mattress, and refrigerator/freezer. The enormous sleeping bag is stored out of sight within this same compartment. Not shown: a full-sized pillow and a dog bed.

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Back in the days when I owned a sailboat, I quickly learned the difference between boating and yachting: refrigeration. It makes all the difference between warm Pepsi and chilled chardonnay. The same applies to land yachting. Fortunately, an Australian company called ARB makes a fridge/freezer that is particularly miserly on power.

In the Tesla, I will power the fridge sometimes from the car’s 12 volt battery. Please note that this 12 volt battery is only about 33 amp/hrs. in size and the car cannot run (or even be unlocked) if the 12 volt battery is depleted. The accessories outlet only functions, however, when someone is seated in the car’s driver’s seat. Thus, the need for Plan B. I will carry a deep-cycle 12 volt solar battery with me on the trip, too, and that battery can power the fridge when the car is stopped. Finally, a 120 volt outlet can power the fridge, too.

Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you need to give up chilled jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce. Let’s be civilized on this adventure.

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The Idea

After working like a dog for five years without a real vacation, it is time to hit the road with my dog and leave the craziness behind for a spell. A tour of all 50 United States in an electric car with sufficient range and sufficient charging network (Tesla)  should be the answer. If you’ve ever wished to toss aside the grind for months at a time and hit the open road, please join us for this tour of America. The sidebar will group articles depending upon focus: Road trip, traveling with your pet, electric vehicle car camping, Tesla-specific discoveries, and other topics. Read what interests you.

Iceman and Papafox (I’m Papafox, the furry fellow with four legs is Iceman) plan to launch the adventure soon in a 2015 Tesla Model S 70D with autopilot (Tesla-speak for advanced cruise control and lane-keeping). The car is a big step forward from my previous Model S (a 40 kwh version) and has an advertised range of 240 miles. Our most challenging leg? That will be to Alaska and back!

A confession: I have driven across the country twice in internal combustion cars and found the effort tedious. A funny thing happened after I owned a Tesla, though. The driving is far more fun, with sports-car handling and acceleration. During the long commute to work and home each day, I found the car’s quiet interior to be a big plus that reduced fatigue. I love to read but hadn’t done much during the 5 years of crazy work schedule. Then I discovered audio books and I’ve gone nuts catching up on my reading, er listening. My favorite hours of the day became the commute to and from work. Since Iceman, a 10 year old Portuguese Water Dog, loves riding in a car, the idea of an extended road trip began to germinate. Will we remain enthusiastic as the trip progresses or fall prey to the relentless demands of the road? Stay tuned!

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