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Saturday, July 12, 2014

June Trip 2014 - Part 1: Blissful and Ignorant

Despite both kids reaching double digit ages I still periodically find myself subjected to "kids songs".   Around town these are easily avoided because the trips are short, but pack a car up and hit the open road and shure'nuff you'll find playful lyrics and corny comedy assaulting your ears soon.
This time, however, was different.   As we arced gracefully and quietly on the big sweeping Turnpike curves East of Pittsburgh, it was not the kids who were calling up the soundtrack of our early parenting years.  No.  It was my wife, in a fit of nostalgia, who encouraged the revisiting of silliness.  It could become a long trip...
Our first Supercharging opportunity would be Somerset, PA.  I'd been using the cruise control once we hit... well.. cruising speed.  We were getting great efficiency stats according to the onboard computers and our rated range was very closely mirroring the actual miles traveled.  Safety margins on range were well beyond the distance remaining to Hagerstown, so we waved at the red Model S charging there as we whooshed on past.  How cool is it that there are some "extra" Superchargers?!
Inbound to the Hagerstown Supercharger (maybe 50 miles out) a black Dodge Avenger comes up from behind, respectful distance, as I'm passing a line of slower traffic. Pass complete, I move right and he pulls alongside. The driver (white guy/ballcap/beard) does a series of friendly honks and a huge across the car emphatic thumbs up. I return my usual mahalo and he pulls on away.  In the weeks since we got the car I've had to recalibrate my expectations when I hear a lot of horn honking and wild gesturing around me.

Pulling in to Hagerstown we STILL had nearly 60 miles of rated range.  Indeed, despite some of the craziness that would come on the trip, this would actually end up being the lowest state of charge (SOC) we'd have THE WHOLE TRIP.  And it was easy.  It was completely anxiety free.   The future has become the present!
Plugging in to the Supercharger, there were no other cars around.  The current started flowing in at CRAZY powerful levels and once I'd verified the car was charging properly, we headed off looking for lunch.   A few minutes later I came back to retrieve water bottles for refilling (see the video clip at the bottom of this post), only to discover that Serena was already charged up with vastly more range than we needed to get to the  next Supercharger in Newark, DE.    ALREADY!!   Are you kidding me?!?

I returned to my family with the good news, sitting down to eat all the munchies we'd found in the large food court.   On our way back to the car we found 2 more Teslas had pulled in.  They were properly spaced out so we all had a Supercharger to ourselves and were nicely color coordinated as a bonus!  In case you don't know, each Supercharger (hidden behind the fencing) services 2 of the pedestals.  So since there are 6 pedestals in Hagerstown that means there are 3 Superchargers serving them and you get maximum current when you are not sharing with another car.  The pedestals are marked alphanumerically to indicate how they are connected to Superchargers (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B).
The other grey car's owners were nowhere in sight but the red car's owners were walking their dog.   They were heading much farther than we were (towards the Midwest if I recall correctly) and very sociable.   We chatted with the husband for several minutes while downing some pineapple we'd brought along.
One of the cool things about having Google Maps in the car is that when traveling you get a much better perspective of where you are and what surrounds you.  We found this to be incredibly useful throughout the trip not just for navigation (especially in downtown DC, seeing actual pictures of the buildings) but also for simple curiously of "what's over there?" type questions.  I honestly don't know how other manufacturers can implement this without using a touchscreen-- it just makes it all so easy to use.
As you can see from the energy use display, our cruise control was keeping us safely below the "aspiration line" I discussed in our shake-down road trip.  That line indicates where you need to be to attain the full rated range of the car-- and being well under it, our real world range was exceeding the numbers displayed on the dash.
Charged up WELL past the safety margin/buffer we needed--  Newark was only about 135 miles away-- we pulled out to resume on electric road trip.  It was so cool and we were near euphoric about how smoothly everything was going.  It really could not have been more impressive.  In fact, if we'd had a means of charging at the place we were staying for the wedding we could have just gone straight there and skipped Newark completely!  Alas...  we would stick with our plan and try and charge way up in Newark to cover our driving for the rehearsal/wedding trips.  It was a solid plan.  A plan that couldn't possibly fail.  Right?

Yeah.  You know that isn't how this is going to end.

Click HERE to read about the road trip from the beginning.
Click HERE for Part 2: When Traffic Attacks

Video clips from the first leg of our road trip-- if you haven't seen them already:

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