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Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Road Trip

Even if you don't buy a Tesla for its "green" credentials (we didn't) you can't help but notice them.  Especially if you are the sort who like to go out into nature and stomp around (we do) admiring the creation.  Pairing those two together... and you have a day full of satisfaction that you are taking "leave no trace" to a whole new level.  Not smugness, no... not that.  But satisfaction.  
While hiking around my community is great for a fitness regimen that nature gets pretty familiar and, I daresay, tiresome.  We wanted to do make a mini-road trip out in the world before our big Summer drive(s) so we decided to take Serena on a big day trip up into the Northwestern quadrant of Pennsylvania.  Here's how it went...
Our route, as planned on Google Maps, would be somewhere around 160-180 miles depending on some details.  WELL withing the capabilities of the car but, being newbies, I upped the overnight charge to 257 just for some extra margin.  This would NOT be a Supercharger trip (that would come 2 weeks later) but more a "shakedown" trip to make sure we could hit the efficiency levels we wanted.  We'd be stopping by my parents' house too and I wanted to be able to demonstrate the thrust of the car without holding back.  In the name of science, of course.
The first leg of our trip was from our home north of Pittsburgh up to Goddard State Park.  It was about 60 miles straight up I-79.  We'd be up north of I-80 and chances were few, if any Teslas had ever ventured onto many of the routes we would be taking.  Even though we received our "dumb" (non-personalized) license plate from PennDOT the day before, I opted to leave it in the trunk so we could run the "Zero Emissions" factory placard up into the hinterlands.  I considered it a mini-goodwill tour.

Driving up I-79, I made sure to use the cruise control.   The purpose of the exercise was to see what kind of efficiency we could achieve without sacrificing cabin comfort (it was very warm and humid that day).  Set for 67mph we were cruising at a reasonable and relaxed pace and amused by the attention we got.  Quite a few waves, some cellphones caught taking pictures and a car full of college girls that did a lot of smiling and pointing.  I'd had that experience in the past... but for different reasons.
When we arrived I checked the final stats for the first leg.  We'd done well-- even getting below the "line of aspiration" that Tesla designed into the energy display (the 300 Wh/mile required to achieve full "rated range").  
Our range had dropped 65 miles but we'd driven about 62 so... Pretty close!  And that was done at normal highway speeds and with the air conditioning blasting and tunes playing.  Cool.  

Blissfully unaware that our guide book was out of date, we marched off on what was supposed to be a pleasant 13 mile hike.  My daughter (who dislikes hiking) was away at her summer camp so we were taking the opportunity to accompany my son on a required 10-mile hike for his scout rank.  He has to make another 4 such hikes.  Not sure that we will view all of them as opportunities though.  

Anyway, so it turns out that the hiking book we assumed was recent (it LOOKS new!) was actually 14 years old and predates our resident Boy Scout.  Normally that wouldn't matter but in this case it did because the ENTIRE TRAIL had been paved in the mean time.  For the record, hiking gear is GREAT when you are actually out on a dirt trail.  Hiking gear is SOMEWHAT LESS THAN GREAT when you are pounding your feet against hard asphalt for 13 miles...  which about mile 11 seemed to be massive overkill for a 10 mile hike requirement.
We returned, sore and full of regret, to find that Serena had been coated with an apocalyptic amount of pollen from the surrounding trees.  Honestly, I don't know why we don't just all drive yellow cars around here, it'd be so much easier.   Yellow with white/black polka dots to disguise the bird poo snipers.  
I'd planned to try and take some "beauty shots" of Serena out in the greenery but it was clear my chance had passed.  While a lot of the pollen blew off once we started moving (we must have been quite a sight launching out of the park, billowing cloud of pollen hanging in the air like the dust off Speedy Gonzales' sombrero) the car would only look clean from a fair distance... no more closeups this trip!
As hot and humid it was, we were looking for any opportunity to stop.  We queried the navigation system for the nearest Rita's Italian Ice but it was WAY out of our way in Ohio.  Ditto for Dairy Queen-- but right at that moment we spotted this roadside stand.  It wasn't fancy, but it did the job!
Pretty sure we were the first Tesla to ever stop here.

We continued West on secondary roads to my parents' house for dinner.
Afterwards we jumped back on I-80 to I-79 and home.  I'd set the cruise control and let Serena transport us back with minimal interference and light traffic.  The entire loop was about 162 miles.  
Cruise control was definitely a HUGE factor in keeping our energy burn rate under the aspiration line.
We'd left that morning with 257 miles of rated range and returned with 82, covering 162 miles.  About 80% of those miles were the highway and probably 5 miles were for my parents' demonstration drive (which definitely skewed the numbers the wrong way!)  
In all, the discrepancy between rated miles and actual miles was 13.  That's an acceptable margin for full air conditioning (we had it on max most of the day and certainly after the hike) and some hard launches here and there.  At the end of the day, we'd made this huge loop and yet returned home with a Nissan Leaf's worth of range available.  Not bad!  That's about 3 Chevy Volts' worth of margin.  Not bad at all.   

Thanks for visiting us here, CLICK to read more at www.TeslaPittsburgh.com and check out the videos on our YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/NZCUTR.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed my test drive and I know you and Tyler enjoyed the dinner!


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