This was my first day on Electric Road Trip S, but day 5 for Tina and Peter. After leaving Erin and Dave’s (thanks again, guys!) we headed out to Tesla’s supercharger at Hawthorn CA for a quick charging “top off.” A supercharger charges up the battery to full in about an hour as opposed to about 8 hours on a regular 50amp stove outlet. So I started out the trip pretty spoiled. While charging Peter got so excited about talking to Larry (a very friendly navy pilot who flew F14s off of aircraft carriers, now flies commercial planes and incidentally graduated from University of Maryland, like us) and a fellow Model S owner that didn’t plug the car all the way in. After about 40 minutes, we realized that we hadn’t charged at all. Oops. On the plus side, we were still in sunny southern CA and the nice person from the Tesla facility made us coffee. In the lot on the way out, Peter showed me how the car accelerates. I’m not a car person, I haven’t owned one in eight years, but that was awesome. It takes off like one of those super fast roller coasters!
After picking up Tina, the Electric Road Trip S was pretty smooth and uneventful until our arrival in Barstow, CA a couple of hours later. The outlet mall where the supercharger was must be doing something right, because every fast food restaurant was packed to the gills. First prize goes to In-N-Out Burger, a must stop for me every time I’m in CA. The pandemonium going on in there reminded me of the line to get into Lolapalooza in the mid-90s, so unfortunately no In-N-Out for me. Not to worry; I’ll be back for that deliciousness next time. Speaking of In-N-Out, thanks to the awesome supercharger we were in and out of Barstow in an hour and back on the road. The weather was cooperating with us, it was a beautiful sunny day and we could enjoy the great view of the desert and the mountains, something us east coast dwellers don’t see every day. We even got a thumbs up from a car on the road. Apparently, some people know what a Tesla is I’m not going to go on about how beautiful the moon was over the desert because you just had to be there.
We pulled up to an RV park in Kingman, AZ at about 8:30PM, but then magically it was 9:30 due to that silly thing called time zone change, which we forgot about completely. That’s when the fun really began. It was dark, it was cold, and the 14-50R plugs (or 50 amp hookups) where we were going to plug in the car were too far apart (Peter needed to use two of them because of the device he made that allows him to cut down the charging time from eight hours to about four hours). For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t feel bad. I already had to ask Peter about the names of these things about three times and I think if I ask him one more time he’s going to throw something at me. Basically, they are big outlets like the ones that you use to plug in a dryer or a washing machine. Peter pulled out his tools and in a very MacGyver move made an extension cord right there on the spot all while chatting up some lady that was so enamored with the car that I think she already put in her order with Tesla. Alas, after the extension cord was made we still could not charge the car because it was 3 phase power (no idea how to explain this in plain English, please ask Peter). So off to an RV park down the road we went. At that point, it was pretty clear that we were not making it to Flagstaff, AZ tonight as originally planned. What followed was a tour of the local motel chains (I’ve never seen so many motels as I have in Kingman, AZ) in search of a 240v plug to charge the car overnight. Luck smiled down us at Motel 6. Tina and I got a good laugh from watching Peter just walk into the laundry room of the motel without actually checking in to inspect the plug for the washer and dryer. It would have been even more funny to watch him explain this to the motel stuff. Luckily, after another MacGyver operation, Peter pulled one of the pins out to make the plug fit. The great people at Motel 6 let us use the plug to charge the car. It was just in time, too, because my battery, much like the car’s, was pretty low on charge. I haven’t slept so well in a while; although Peter and Tina tell me that that is the earliest night they had so far (we passed out around midnight) so I guess I’m still a lightweight electric road tripper.