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Roadtrip: Sacramento-ish, CA to Seattle, WA - Day One (8/28)

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About a month ago, Chad Schwitters (fellow TMC forum member/ChadS and President of Plug In America) contacted some of us to see if we would be willing to drive our EVs (EV=electric vehicle) to Seattle for the Beyond Oil Conference on Sept 7th. (I like roadtrips, so I’m always an easy mark.) My company also has an office in Portland, OR & the engineering team had asked me to bring my Roadster to Portland (i.e., begged and whined) so they could see it first hand.

So it seemed like a reasonable trip. Drive from my home in Loomis, CA (near Sacramento) to Portland. Work at the office for a couple of days. Head for Seattle where I conveniently have a couple of close friends. Hang with them over Labor Day weekend and beyond. Attend the conference & then head home.

House/Pups sitter in place. Mail stopped. Stuff for work, hiking, friends, conference packed. Car charged in range mode. Tire pressure checked.

And yet, I still couldn’t get out of the house until noon. But I only needed to drive to Yreka, about 300 miles, where there was a hotel with a 70amp charger. Charging overnight at a hotel is a win – no time spent waiting for a charge.

This is my second all-electric roadtrip. The Tesla Highway makes it easy to travel up and down the West Coast. It is a string of charging stations (the blue markers are 70 amp) from San Diego to the Canadian border, allowing a Roadster to travel the entire coast.

A section of the Tesla Highway:
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Day One: Loomis, CA to Yreka, CA

Total miles driven today: 280 (I had a late start!!!)
Total time on the road today: 7 hours (2:09 hrs charging, 4:30 driving, plus a rest stop to stretch legs)

Some tips:
  • ALWAYS have a hard copy of charging stations in the car with you. Reception isn't always *ideal*. I kept a printout of the Tesla Highway with addresses and phone numbers in the car.
  • Whenever possible (like always), keep enough range that you can get to a backup charger, if the charger you want is occupied or inoperable.
  • Range mode and cruise control are your friends, your lead foot is not your friend. 'Nuff said.
  • Don't stress the miles you lose to elevation gains ... you gain a lot of them back when you go downhill.


Since a few of you on the forum asked that I keep track of some basic info, here's what I started with in Loomis:

Odometer: 14891
Ideal Miles: 241
Elevation: 100

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Did I mention that I had a late start (noonish)? ... but I knew I wasn’t driving far, so… (Plus, when you see the “sad dog” faces, it’s hard to walk out.)

First stop to charge: Orland, CA - 70 amp Tesla charging station
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When I stopped:
Odometer: 15015
Miles Driven: 124
Ideal Miles: 91

My first stop was at The Berry Patch restaurant, in Orland, CA. Near the restaurant is a CVS Pharmacy, Dutch Bros coffee, Taco Bell, and a gas station.

The owner (Jack) told me that a Nissan Leaf had charged there. Huh? It's a Roadster connector, 70 amp. Turns out the Leaf owner had an adapter, had said it cost about $1000. Jack The Owner thought he had a photo of it, but didn't have it available when I was there. Maybe on my way back?

This was on Tuesday - I hit it right during PG&E peak for electrical rates. Small business, and I know Jack The Owner was a little stressed over what I was adding to his electrical bill. (Questions like, "So how long do you think you'll be charging?" were kind of a clue.) So I picked up a stack of thank-you notes at CVS, wrote one out for him, stuck some cash inside, and left it on the counter on the way out. (Nice guy, very interested in EVs.)

Since I knew I only had to drive to Yreka, I didn't fully recharge the battery. When you know you're spending the night where you can charge, it doesn't really matter what range you have left when you arrive, as long as it is greater than zero miles. (I also called ahead to confirm the charging station was operational and available.)
Charged 2:09 hrs
34 kWh
Ideal Miles: 208


Second (and final) stop to charge: Yreka, CA - 70 amp Tesla charging station
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Comfort Inn
Yreka, CA
Elevation: 2700 (high point was 3400) , lots of miles chewed up, but much recovered on the downhill leg.

Upon arrival:
Odometer: 15171
Miles Driven: 156
Ideal Miles: 35

The folks at Comfort Inn were extremely accommodating. They gave me a room that overlooked the charging station (tucked behind the hotel). There is a Taco Bell next door. (Not a fan, but hey, you might be interested - no judgment here - what you eat on a roadtrip is your business.) Free WiFi.

Continuing reading, Day Two.

Updated 2012-09-01 at 06:40 PM by bonnie

Roadtrip , Roadster


  1. doug's Avatar
    Sounds like a nice trip.
  2. NigelM's Avatar
    This is a great read for EV newbies who are stressing about road trips and range. Here in FL we're incredibly envious of your "Tesla Highway" but doing our best to motivate and encourage similar infrastructure on the east coast; we'll get there!

    Thanks for writing up your trip.
  3. dsm363's Avatar
    Great looking car Bonnie. Have a great trip.
  4. Robert.Boston's Avatar
    If there were a 70A "Tesla Highway" like this on the East Coast, I'd be getting the twin chargers on my Model S. Nice to have a network to enable fun trips like this for you, Bonnie!
  5. pilotSteve's Avatar
    Fun trip, great real world EV Tesla driving experiences. Thanks for sharing!
  6. bonnie's Avatar
    Worth noting that the Tesla Highway didn't just magically appear - Roadster owners paid for many of the HPCs that I'll use on this trip. I've helped fund a couple - so have most people I know.
  7. doug's Avatar
    What's the difference between the blue and yellow markers?
  8. bonnie's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by doug
    What's the difference between the blue and yellow markers?
    The blue markers are HPCs/70 amp (70ish), yellow are lower amperage. I ignore those for the most part and rely on iPhone apps for current locations - popping up so quickly it's hard to keep up.

    A few of the HPCs have been converted to J1772, that adaptor is a must-have.
  9. sprediletto's Avatar
    Bonnie, I'm envious there are so many HPCs along your travel routes. We are sorely lacking a high-powered EV charging network in the southeast.

    You're right on about elevation changes. This morning we drove from Highlands, NC to Atlanta; 112 miles. For the first 12 miles, we lost 2,900 feet of elevation and I gained 1 kWh of energy.

    @NigelM, you'll appreciate my latest road trip adventure:

    Two weeks ago, I drove the Roadster 194 miles to an Aiken, SC horse park to watch Brie compete. I recharged using an RV hookup at the farm and that evening, drove 194 miles back to Atlanta. The only downside; an extremely muddy car and the $30 the owner of the horse park charged me for the electricity.
  10. ChadS's Avatar
    Bonnie--thanks for coming up for the Beyond Oil conference in Seattle! It was very helpful to have you and your lovely Roadster at both the Next50 party and the conference. Having EV owners from B.C., OR and CA really helped the conference attendees understand that EVs and infrastructure are ALREADY here, not just a future dream.

    BTW, the 7 Feathers casino (actually the truck stop; owned and overseen by the same group, but managed separately) is an interesting story. I spent TONS of time trying to find places that would agree to install an HPC if I gave it to them free--most people I talked to in Southern Oregon had never had an EV come to their business, so they didn't see the point. It was a really hard sell. 7 Feathers was the only place that called ME--they had heard I was looking for a host in a nearby city. The GM has been a great guy to work with, and is thinking of getting an EV himself. They have since installed a CHAdeMO station as well.
  11. bonnie's Avatar
    It was great fun, Chad, and I truly enjoyed meeting you, Vincent, Tom, and Kathy. Always nice to meet people in person.

    Thanks for the background story on 7 Feathers. It really is a great place to charge. I'm always happy when there are more options than just a restaurant. Two of the Rabobank chargers (as I'm sure you know, but maybe not others) are near movie theaters. And many have parks nearby. It's nice reaching your destination feeling relaxed, rather than road weary.
  12. lujoleasing's Avatar
    Hi Bonnie , I share smilar experience in the tesla highway from Mercer Island to Long Beach. its defently a change in culture of road trip but for me it was great also from RV Parks , Motel 6 to the Beverly Hills Hotel ( 5 days ) its all changing fast to accomodate EV user , I felt , that Sacramento,Ca was the most EV frendly city visted and the most unfrendly highway was US 1 from Santa Cruz down , I had to return to santa cruz after 100 miles south and I was cutting it short for the next tesla supercharger because I was driving my MS P85 fully loaded , 2 Pax , 1 golden reteiver dog and 5 suite cases ,so my pay load was high and driving it like sports car mode. now here with in Santiago , Chile and very happy of all the experinces involve in this incredible raod trip , looking forward to crossing the Andes Mountain to view the Aconcagua mountain on the Model S in december 2013 , fortunatly there is the Hotel Portillo that has level 1 charging 15 AMP to connect with J1772 which i promoting there , Its slow plug that will faclitate this journey.
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