The purpose of this road trip was to attend the 2015 California Passenger Rail Summit and to man the registration table for this event. I've been very involved with this event starting with the one held in 2014. My main role has been the design and management of the web site at www.californiapassengerrailsummit.com as well as handling registration. I've been very involved with rail travel for many years including the design and management of the www.trainweb.com web site.
As mentioned about my background elsewhere, I live in Vancouver, Washington, just across the I-5 bridge from Portland, Oregon, but I also continue to maintain a vacation house in Anaheim, California. My wife and I love the lifestyle and the weather of the Pacific Northwest for much of the year, but Southern California is a great place for the winter months when it often gets a bit cool and wet in the north. Plus, most of our closest family still lives in Southern California.
So, since we were in Anaheim at this time, this round-trip would be from Anaheim to Sacramento, California, and back.
Note: You can click on any photo in this report to view a full size image. That is true of most of the photos posted to this web site.
The above two photos were taken on Monday, April 27, 2015 at about 5:45am. This is our 2015 Tesla Model S P85D getting ready to be loaded up with luggage for the trip. From the lighting you can see this is dawn where there isn't even enough daylight to cause the nighttime landscape lighting to turn off yet. In the left photo you can see a Tesla Wall Charger. If you click on the photo to bring up a larger image, you can see a sign to the left of the charger that says "TESLA Model S Parking Only - All Others Will Be Towed". I'm not sure where I found that sign. I think I ran across it when searching the web for some Tesla Accessories. I just thought it would be something humorous to post. At least it serves as a reminder to visitors to keep that space open as we need to park there to charge the Tesla.
If you click on the above photo on the right to bring up a larger image, you get some idea of just how much space the Tesla Model S has in the rear trunk. I'm sure you will also notice the two bumper stickers on the Tesla. Some people have asked me how I could possibly even think of defacing such an elegant car with bumper stickers. I don't know. Sometimes I get an irresistible urge to express myself. I guess that is why I post there stories. The bumper sticker in the center says "Sun Powered - All Electric Car charged from solar panels". My Anaheim house has enough solar panels to produce more than 1500 KWH per month. With our driving habits we use about a third of this solar generated electricity to power the Tesla with the rest left over to help power the house. Thus, the solar panels do generate enough electricity to completely take care of charging the Tesla. I do like the thought that I'm driving a car that is run on power 100% generated by the sun.
Our home in Vancouver, Washington, is a condo so we are not allowed to put solar panels on our roof. However, we will soon be charging our Tesla 100% from sun power there also. The city itself has undertaken a project to install a huge solar array on public lands that Vancouver electricity consumers can buy into. The electricity generated will offset the monthly electric bill. Whatever excess electricity is generated not used by each consumer will be paid to them as their profit from having funded this project. My wife and I have bought into this project and it will soon be generating more than enough to charge our Tesla in Vancouver.
Also in the photo on the right you might have noticed a J1772 Level 2 charger. Before we purchased our first Tesla Model S 85 in 2013 we had purchased a Toyota Plug-In Prius Advanced. We have that car for sale right now at a consignment lot in Portland, Oregon. If anyone is interested, let me know! It is in pristine condition with every bell and whistle imaginable and less than 13,000 miles on it. We kept the Level 2 charger installed in case we get any visitors with an electric vehicle. It doesn't cost anything to just keep it installed, so we figured we would just keep it there. By the way, our Tesla Wall Charger is on a dedicated 100 amp circuit and can deliver up to a full 80 amps of charging power. With the dual-charger option installed in our Tesla and up to 80 amps of charging power, the Tesla charges up pretty fast. We almost always plug the Tesla in whenever we return to the house. By the time we are ready to head out again, the Tesla is all charged up to whatever level we set it to. Thus, we almost always leave the house with at least enough charge to drive 170 miles. "Range Anxiety" is a foreign concept to us.
Almost forgot about the other bumper sticker: "Keep Portland Weird!". This one just reflects the love that my wife and I have for the lifestyle and the whole scene in Portland, Oregon. If you want to understand what is meant by the "weirdness" of Portland, then watch some episodes of the TV series "Portlandia". It is a parody of Portland, but every parody is based on a certain amount of truth. I lived in Portland for a few months in the early 1970s and visited many times since then before finally deciding to move to that area in 2011. There has always been a certain lovable weirdness about Portland, even as far back as the 1970s.
So let's start packing the Tesla for the trip! Normally there is enough room in the Tesla for just about anything you might want to bring along. But on this trip we will have four adults plus all their luggage for this four day trip, plus all the supplies needed for the registration desk at the show. That is asking a bit much of the storage space of the Tesla Model S, but I think we can handle it!
We start with seeing just how much we can fit into the front trunk, or the "frunk" as Tesla likes to call it. The frunk was easily able to hold a rather large gym-bag type of carry-on. This bag has wheels and an extending pull handle which makes it a bit bulky, but it still easily fit into the frunk. Next, my very large computer bag fit right on top of that. To the side of that we managed to fit a smaller notebook computer bag. There was still a bit more space left over in the frunk, but that space wasn't needed for anything.
Then we move on to the rear trunk. Not shown in the photo is the secondary storage space located under the main rear trunk. I was very surprised, but I was able to place my entire small suitcase into that lower trunk! Plus that lower trunk is also where I keep a couple of jackets, a Tesla Roadster Charging Adapter, and all sorts of other things that I like to keep in the car with me just in case. On the trip home there was even space left over in that lower trunk to carry 3 bottles of wine as well as all the left over literature from the event.
In the main rear trunk you can see that we were able to handle 3 more suitcases and a large backpack. The car came with the Model S Parcel Shelf which is quite solid and was able to hold 2 suit bags. One additional small carry bag was placed on the floor between the two rear executive seats. Since there is no drive train running down the middle of the Tesla, the floor is flat and allowed this item to sit comfortably on the floor not in the way of anyone's feet.
So there you have it! Everything for 4 people for a 4 day trip, plus more, all fit fine with maybe even a little room to spare! If all this fits into a Model S, I can only imagine how much the Model X is going to be able to hold.
Departure from Anaheim was about 6:30 am in hope of avoiding as much of the Los Angeles traffic as possible. Normally to get to Sacramento one can just drive straight up the I-5 all the way from Anaheim to Sacramento. However, with the Los Angeles rush hour traffic, that might not be the optimum route for that hour. So, we turned to the Waze Mobile Phone App. That is one App many Tesla drivers would like to see them add to the built-in center console apps. Personally I'd like to see them also add iHeart Radio along with TuneIn Radio and Slacker Radio. iHeart Radio would give Tesla owners hundreds of additional free radio stations. Like the Waze App, I can just use iHeart Radio from my mobile phone, but that is a lot more awkward than having it built into the Tesla.
Waze instructed us to take the 91 East to the 605 North to the 105 West to the 110 North and then onto the I-5 North. Using the carpool lanes much of that way avoided most of the traffic and it was pretty smooth sailing until we got to the 110 North. The 110 North used to have car pool lanes but those were at one point converted to Express Lanes that require a FasTrak device to be in the vehicle. Drivers riding alone in their vehicles can pay a toll using their FasTrak device to use the Express Lanes. Carpools of 2 or more people can use the Express Lanes for free, but they still must have a FasTrak device in the vehicle or be subject to heavy fines. Since we live in the State of Washington and seldom use these freeways, it would not be worth it for us to pay the monthly FasTrak fee. Thus we were not able to use the Express Lanes even though we had 4 people in our vehicle. This was about the only spot that we were delayed by significant traffic. The skyline of Los Angeles was directly ahead of us as the 110 freeway runs almost through the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
This dense traffic is where one is very grateful for the Tesla Adaptive Cruise Control. Though set to about the speed limit, the cruise control was happy to control the car in this dense traffic, even all the way down to a dead stop for a few seconds from time to time. Most of this entire trip I did not have my foot on either the accelerator or the brake. The Adaptive Cruise Control works fantastic at both highway speeds and in very dense stop and go traffic. Not much thought or effort needs to go into keeping the car moving while avoiding getting too close to the car in front, even in very heavy traffic. It is amazing how much this eliminates the stress of driving in traffic. The only point where one has to literally "step in" is if the traffic remains stopped for more than 30 seconds. When that happens, the cruise control goes into "HOLD" mode. But even then, it just takes a tiny tap of the accelerator to resume the Adaptive Cruise Control. I'm looking forward to the day that Tesla implements positive lane departure avoidance that will just keep the car in the lane by itself. I don't mind remaining alert and ready to take over, but it is comforting having the car automatically take care of all the busy work of staying in the lane and keeping at the desired speed. Some have asked if this isn't boring. No, one can always take manual control to work around an arrangement of cars on the highway that have created a moving road block. I am pretty sure the self-driving features aren't going to have the intelligence to work its away around these problems that sometimes crop up when driving. Nothing can be more challenging then working around those circumstances. If anything, one will be fresh to take on these driving challenges not having been mesmerized by the more boring aspects of just driving in the same lane at the same speed for dozens of miles.
Once we got north of Downtown Los Angeles, the 110 North eventually merged back into the I-5 North. From there it was pretty smooth sailing again all the way to the Tejon Ranch Tesla Supercharger.
Arrival at the Tejon Ranch Tesla Supercharger was exactly at 9:00 am, 2 and a half hours after we left Anaheim. That is not bad for having to cover 122 miles right through the morning rush hour. I've been to this Supercharger a number of times on my trips back and forth between Vancouver and Anaheim so I knew exactly where to find it and what facilities were nearby. This Supercharger, as well as most Tesla Superchargers that I've been too, seem to have a lack of signage. Maybe Tesla does that on purpose to minimize the possibility of vandalism. Tesla owners that need to find the Superchargers have directions built in on their GPS to get very close. Then it is just a matter of eye-balling around to see where they are, or looking at the detailed location description for more information. From experience, I've noticed it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to find the Supercharger by following the GPS and then just looking around when it says "You have arrived."
Best as I can recall there was no other Tesla at the Supercharger when we pulled in but there was one other there when we departed. I guess it was a bit early for there to be many Tesla drivers on the road.
The Tejon Ranch Tesla Supercharging Station is powered by solar panels. The solar panels also provide shade which helps to keep the vehicle cooler while sitting and charging. Most of the Supercharging Stations that I frequent are not powered by solar panels, but I think the plan is to eventually convert more of them to solar panel charging. Also, most of the earliest installed Supercharging Stations are configured such that you drive your car directly into a bay in the charging station and then back out of the bay when you are finished. I've noticed that most of the newer Supercharging Stations that I have been to require you to back up to the Supercharger. Personally I prefer driving forward into a charging bay rather that backing into a charging space.
At departure from Anaheim the car had a full charge on the battery of 255 miles. On arrival at the Tejon Ranch Tesla Supercharger there was still 75 miles on the battery. Thus this trip had reduced the battery by 180 miles for the 122 mile trip. That is not surprising considering there is a huge hill that climbs to an elevation of over 4,000 feet (1200 meters) over a steep 5-1/2 mile grade just before reaching the Tejon Ranch Supercharger. Since Tejon Ranch is still at 3,500 feet the battery would not yet be very replenished from the regenerative braking downside of the hill.
There are a couple of places to grab a bite right next to the Supercharger including a Yogurtland and a Panda Chinese Food. The Yogurtland doesn't open until around 10:30am, but the Panda was already open. A little further but an easy walk is a Starbucks. In a bit more of a walk are a lot of other restaurants in the same huge parking lot. The Starbucks is where we usually go to use their restrooms and pick up some fresh coffee.
At about 9:20 AM the battery was up to 180 miles, plenty to get to the Harris Ranch Tesla Supercharger, the next stop. Harris Ranch is 116 miles and about a 90 minute drive from Tejon Ranch.
Arrival at the Harris Ranch Tesla Supercharger was just after 11:00 AM. The battery still had 40 miles remaining. Thus about 116 miles were covered while reducing the battery by 140 miles. Cruising a bit above the posted speed with occasionally power passing slower vehicles not surprisingly draws down the battery faster than the rated range. My personal comfort level is to have at least twice as much range remaining on the battery as the distance remaining to the destination. Generally I charge the battery to at least double the distance needed to the destination. However, due to the distance between many Supercharging stations, it is often not possible to achieve this high confidence level of charge when on road trips. But as the trip progresses, the miles covered drops faster than the miles remaining on the battery, thus increasing the ratio of charge remaining to miles remaining. Long before reaching the destination, the miles remaining on the battery does become more than double the miles remaining to the destination, providing a high level of confidence of having enough charge to reach the destination.
When we used to live in Southern California we would stop by Harris Ranch about every other month when we used to drive up the I-5 to visit relatives in San Jose. Since we usually would start our trips on a Friday after work, we'd usually wait until the rush hour traffic subsided. That meant waiting until 8 pm or 9 pm in the evening. It would take about 5 to 6 hours to do the 376 mile drive from our house to Harris Ranch and thus we wouldn't arrive there until about 1 am or 2 am. We would check in and spend the night at Harris Ranch. It would not make much sense to drive all the way through to our relatives as I'm sure they would not be pleased to have us arrive at around 5 am in the morning. Besides, we could really use some sleep when it got to be about 1 or 2 in the morning. I wouldn't be able to keep my eyes open much longer than that anyway. We'd sleep a bit late in the morning before taking on the remaining 234 miles of the journey to San Jose. On Saturday morning there would not be much traffic on the road and we could easily make the rest of the journey in 3 hours or so.
Actually it was several years ago that I explored a map of I-5 to figure out a spot to spend the night on our journey. Harris Ranch in Coalinga, California, seemed to be the perfect spot as 6 hours of driving was about the most that I'd like to do without a rest stop. Harris Ranch is like a desert oasis. It is a really fine hotel that includes two restaurants, a large gift shop, and very clean and well maintained restrooms. Near the hotel are a number of gas stations and even a car wash. The below photos of Harris Ranch are actually from various times we have stopped there over the years. When we stopped there on this trip, it still looked pretty much as shown in the below photos, though the hotel does not give the impression of having aged at all.
With its relatively central location between the major population centers of Southern California and Northern California, it is no surprise that Tesla Motors selected Harris Ranch as a location for a Supercharger Station. Harris Ranch is currently the only location where Tesla has a battery swap station. At a Tesla battery swap station a depleted battery can be replaced with a fully charged new battery in under 5 minutes, less time than it would take to fill up a car with gas. The Tesla battery pack is located under the passenger compartment of the vehicle running almost the entire length between the front and rear axles and from one side to the other side of the car. The Tesla vehicle drives onto the battery swap platform where the automated battery swap machinery removes the bolts and drops the depleted battery. The depleted battery is shifted out from under the vehicle while the fresh battery is raised and bolted into place. All in under 2 minutes.
Though a battery swap was originally planned to take less than 2 minutes, it now takes a bit longer to do so. In order to provide additional protection for the battery pack from the possibility of hitting road debris, Tesla now includes a titanium shield under every vehicle. They have also retrofit every previously delivered Tesla Model S with a titanium shield free to the owner on request. In order to swap the battery now, the titanium shield has to be removed first and then reinstalled after. This is still a rapid automated process, but it can no longer be done in under 2 minutes.
There is never any cost to charge up at a Tesla Supercharging Station. Free charging for life at every Tesla Supercharging Station in the world is included with the purchase of the vehicle. Having the dual charger option is an add-on item that cuts charging time about in half. Note: There were some low end models of the Tesla that did not come with the Supercharging capability enabled, most notably the Tesla Model S 60. But, the Supercharging capability could be purchased and enabled if desired. The Model S 60 has now been replaced by the Model S 70D as the low end Tesla, which does come with Supercharging capability included. Thus, all new Tesla Model S vehicles come with free Supercharging capability for life. This will probably also be true for the Tesla Model X once deliveries begin.If you purchase the option to have dual chargers in your Tesla, then generally it will take between 20 and 40 minutes to charge up enough to reach the next Tesla charging station on your road trip. If you only purchased a single charger for your Tesla, it will take about twice as long. The cost of charging is always free as mentioned above. But if you'd rather swap out your battery in under 5 minutes to rapidly get back on the road, that will cost you about the same as filling up a regular car with gas. However, it is expected that you will be making a return trip at a later date to have your original recharged battery pack swapped back into your vehicle. If you'd rather keep the battery pack that was swapped into your vehicle, then you might be charged a fee for the differential in age between your prior battery and the new battery.
Right now the policies and prices regarding a battery swap are speculative. The Harris Ranch battery swap station is the only one that currently exists and is a bit experimental. Not any Tesla is allowed to use this battery swap station. Tesla is working with a limited set of Tesla owners who make frequent trips up and down the I-5 to test the viability and desirability of this battery swap process as well as to work out any kinks. There are a number of people who make very frequent drives on business between the population centers of northern and southern California, including Tesla owners. This makes the centrally located Harris Ranch an ideal location for experimenting with the battery swap capability of Tesla vehicles.
Unfortunately, I've never bothered to locate and photograph the battery swapping station at Harris Ranch. The Supercharging process is so fast that there never seems to be the time for this side exploration. Whenever we stop here, we have lunch or dinner and use the restrooms. By the time we are done, the car is all charged up and ready to go. Thus, we never lose any time at Harris Ranch just sitting around waiting for the car to charge up. Speaking of which, we were all charged up and ready to depart Harris Ranch after lunch on this trip. Unfortunately I forgot to note our departure time and charge level on the battery.
The distance from Harris Ranch to the Manteca Tesla Supercharger is 131 miles, about a 2 hour drive. I think we had charged up to about 230 miles at Harris Ranch which would be enough to reach Manteca with plenty to spare.
The reason that we left so early in the day was that we were hoping to stop for a wine tasting in Lodi, California, before they closed at 5:00 PM. At restaurants we usually like to try new wines and we were surprised to find how often those wines originated in Lodi, California. Thus, we've been intending to stop by the wineries of Lodi for quite some time. Unfortunately, Lodi is about 3 hours out of the way on the route we used to frequently travel to San Jose when we used to live in Anaheim. Lodi is not far off our new frequently traveled route between our home in Vancouver, Washington, and our vacation home in Anaheim, California, but I really don't want to drive for many hours right after a wine tasting. Even if I wait a few hours after the wine tasting to insure that even any mild buzz has worn off, I know I won't be totally alert for the rest of the drive. Thus, none of our drives between Vancouver and Anaheim have ever included a stop at the Lodi wineries.
This time, however, our destination is Sacramento which is only 37 miles, about 40 minutes, from Lodi. The plan was to make a small 8 mile detour off our drive up I-5 into Lodi, to do some wine tasting, and then have dinner and relax for a few hours without any alcohol to be ready to drive the final 40 minutes of the journey.
Normally when we drive up and down the I-5 between Vancouver and Anaheim we drive directly between the Harris Ranch Tesla Supercharger and the Folsom Premium Outlets Supercharger just west of Sacramento on Route 50. But this time, that Tesla Supercharger would be way out of our way. Our destination was the Sacramento Riverfront Promenade Embassy Suites which made the Folsom Supercharger 42 miles round-trip out of the way beyond our destination. The Tesla GPS routing suggested that we stop at the Manteca Supercharger on our way to Lodi. By doing that we'd have enough charge to go to Lodi, then to Sacramento, and then back to the Mantica Supercharger again on the way back to Anaheim, assuming we didn't do too much driving in Sacramento. We weren't planning on doing any driving during our stay in Sacramento. But in worst case if we did, then we'd have to make a trip to one of the Superchargers near Sacramento just to have enough charge to begin the drive south.
With this plan, we headed for the Manteca Tesla Supercharger. With a few exceptions most of the Tesla Supercharging Stations between Vancouver, Washington, and Anaheim, California, along the I-5 are less than a mile from an I-5 exit. In most cases it is just about within sight of the freeway. The Manteca Tesla Supercharger is not right off the I-5. You take the CA-120 exit off the I-5 toward Manteca / Sonoma and drive along CA-120 for 3-1/2 miles before getting to the Orchard Valley Promenade Shops at the Union Road exit where the Tesla Supercharging Station is located. I think the reason this particular Supercharger is located this far from the I-5 is that it is right by the CA-99 and can serve that road also. Plus, as mentioned above, it usually isn't necessary to make this stop between the Superchargers in Sacramento and Harris Ranch in Coalinga.
We arrived into Manteca shortly after 2:00 PM. This was the first time I had ever stopped at this particular Supercharger, so it took me a bit longer to find it than the others on this trip. It was way out in a very remote part of the parking lot of the Orchard Valley Promenade Shops. There were 8 Superchargers and no other Tesla vehicles charging when we arrived. I drove into the first charging bay that I came to and plugged in. We headed off to one of the nearby restaurants to use the restrooms. Our plans were to have dinner after a wine tasting in Lodi and thus we did not bother to eat at this stop. Since we had woke up pretty early that day we just went back to the car to take a short nap while waiting for the car to charge.As I walked back to my car I could see that 2 more black Tesla vehicles, same color as mine, had pulled in and were charging. I was in bay #1A. These two vehicles appeared to be traveling together and had parked in 1B and 2A. I was not happy about where they had selected to park. The charge rate of my Tesla had dropped significantly. Many have noticed that charging connectors seem to share a single Supercharger. 1A and 1B connectors share the #1 Supercharger, 2A and 2B connectors share the #2 Supercharger, etc. When there is a Tesla charging at the 1A bay and another at the 1B bay, they will be sharing the same Supercharger and each will charge much slower than if either were the only Tesla on that Supercharger.
Maybe this quote that I found on the Tesla Forum explains it better: The superchargers are numbered, and there is an A and B nozzle for each. You want to make sure you have your own number - not all are arranged in the same sequence. some are 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and some are 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B. Most of the charging pedestals are labeled.
Since the Tesla will charge much faster when not sharing a Supercharger with another Tesla, I unplugged, backed out, and drove all the way down to the charging bay at the other end. After plugging in at a bay where there was no other Tesla near me, the charging rate went up to something quite a bit faster. I guess that most Tesla drivers don't realize this as I often find that other Tesla drivers will park in adjacent bays even when all the other charging bays are empty.
Departing from the Manteca Tesla Supercharger we drove the 30 miles to the Michael David Winery in Lodi, California, which was on our way north on I-5 to Sacramento. A number of our favorite wines are from the Michael David Winery so this was the #1 winery we wanted to visit if there would only be time for one wine tasting. We arrived at the Michael David Winery at about 3:30 PM.
The Michael David Winery offers two wine tasting flights as can be seen by clicking each of the below images. For the $5 regular Tasting Flight you get to pick any five of the ten wines listed. For the $10 Reserve Tasting Flight you get all five of the wines listed. We all decided to go with the $10 Reserve Tasting Flight since we were already familiar with many of the wines on the regular tasting flight.
Most of the wines were good but they probably could have used a little more aging or at least some decanting since they were all young wines, 2012 and 2013 vintages. We did buy 3 bottles of the wines that we tasted but I plan to put them aside for a few years before opening them. We have a lot of bottles of wine starting from 2009 to go through before we'll get to any bottles that we have purchased of 2012 and 2013 vintage.
Not only do we like the taste of a number of the wines from the Michael David Winery, but we like the names of their wines too! Their wines have names like: 6th Sense, Freakshow, Lust, Rapture, Ink Blot, etc. Click on the photos below to see more details on some of the wines from the Michael David Winery. These aren't the ones we purchased during this visit, but they are wines we have had before and found to be very good.
After finishing our wine tasting at the Michael David Winery we decided to take a break so that I'd be totally awake and alert for the final segment of our drive to Sacramento. Thus, we stopped for dinner nearby at the Wine & Roses Town House Restaurant. The Lodi Wine & Visitor Center appears to be on the same grounds as the Wine & Roses Hotel and Town House Restaurant. So, we parked at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center and walked through the gardens to the restaurant.
They were just opening up for dinner as we stepped in the door around 5pm. Rather than eat in the restaurant, we just ate in the comfortable lounge area where they featured live piano music and singing starting at 6pm. There is a really interesting ceiling fan in the lounge that is made of a combination of what looks like 3 airplane propellers. You can see a photo of that below along with photos of the restaurant lounge.
The Wine & Roses Hotel & Town House Restaurant used to be a private home. It has quite a history that you can read by clicking here. Before we departed we explored the house, even looking into some of the original upstairs bedrooms. Some photos of upstairs in the house are shown below.
After a leisurely dinner, piano music, and relaxing conversation, we departed from Lodi shortly after 7:00 PM. From the Lodi Wine & Visitors Center it is about a 5 miles scenic drive through vineyards back to the I-5. Our destination was the Embassy Suites Sacramento - Riverfront Promenade which was 37 miles and about 36 minutes from Lodi.
Arriving at the Embassy Suites we unloaded in the valet area. A bell person helped us unload the vehicle. He was very surprised at how much luggage the Tesla holds in addition to the 4 adult passengers. After unloading all the luggage from both the rear trunk and the front trunk (frunk), the bell person was a bit shocked when I showed him the lower rear truck which held an additional small suitcase plus a bag of 3 wine bottles (with room to spare!).
After unloading I drove across the street and parked in a city parking garage. At $15 maximum per day not only was it half the price of the Embassy Suites valet parking, but I'm always a bit reluctant to turn the Tesla over to anyone else to park it. There have been valet instances where the valet asked if I wouldn't mind getting my own car as they didn't know how to drive the Tesla! There just aren't enough Tesla vehicles out there to assume that every valet knows how to start and shift the car even though it is pretty simple once shown. Plus, you also run the opposite risk that a valet that does know how to drive the Tesla may want to try the "Insane" mode! Tesla may be coming out with a software update to allow valets to drive the car but not play with its extreme power.
Some of the Facebook comments on the travel report have asked what it costs to charge up at a Tesla Supercharger. The answer is that it doesn't cost anything at all for the life of the car! Charging up anywhere in the nation, and I think anywhere in the world, at a Tesla Supercharger is at no additional cost. The Supercharger Charging Stations are just a power cord with a nozzle. There isn't even a mechanism to accept a payment. You just remove the nozzle from the charging pedestal and plug it into the charge port on the car and the charging begins. Some wonder how Tesla prevents other EV's from getting a free charge at Tesla Supercharging stations. The Tesla charging nozzle and charge mechanism are totally incompatible with any other EV. Thus no worry that any other EV is going to get a free charge at a Tesla supercharging station.
On the other hand, when you purchase a Tesla it comes with a set of adapters that allow the Tesla to charge from almost any electrical source. In this kit is an adapter that allows the Tesla to charge at a standard J1772 Level 2 charging station that is quite common throughout the nation. The number of these standard J1772 Level 2 chargers is growing rapidly across the nation. A number of these charging stations are also free. Those that do have a fee are usually $1 per hour of charge. Later I'll try to figure out just how many driving miles $1 provides on the Tesla. It won't be exact as not all J1772 Level 2 chargers have the same amperage and thus the amount of charge for $1 varies. The last time I did such a calculation it showed that you get way more miles at $1 per hour than filling up a regular vehicle with gasoline, whatever the price.
Also in this kit is an adapter that allows you to plug into a regular 220 volt outlet in your home, the type you might find for a clothes dryer or air conditioner. One of the adapters that comes with the Tesla allows you to plug into outlets at RV parks. These are typically either 30 amp or 50 amp outlets. There are RV camps throughout the nation and most will allow you to charge a Tesla for a nominal fee. Another adapter in the kit is one that allows you to plug into just a normal household 110 volt outlet. This is not a recommended way to charge a Tesla as it would take days to charge it up from empty to full, but it is an available option which can be useful if you just need to add some miles overnight to your vehicle. Several other types of adapters are available at extra cost from Tesla. When we purchased our first Tesla in 2013 we purchased a roadster adapter that allowed us to charge up at Tesla Roadster charging locations. There were no Supercharging locations between Vancouver, Washington, and Sacramento, California, when we first purchased our Tesla in 2013. We had to stop at Tesla Roadster charging locations to charge along that segment of our journey. That worked out just fine. But now there are Supercharges the entire way down along the I-5 so there is no problem making that journey. Another adapter that can be purchased is a CHAdeMO Adapter. This is another very common standard throughout the nation. So, pretty much anywhere there is electricity is somewhere that a Tesla can charge!
As mentioned above the purpose of this Tesla Road Trip was to attend the 2015 California Passenger Rail Summit. The website design and management and handling registration was my responsibility as a member of the steering committee for this event. My wife and I would be manning the registration table as people arrived. For more information about the event, visit: www.californiapassengerrailsummit.com/2015/.
A Reception was held the first evening of the event in the Roundhouse of the California State Railroad Museum. A Registration Table was set up in the front lobby of the museum. In the above photo on the left is the view from our seats at the Registration Table. On the right is an evening photo of the museum entrance. Click here for more information about the California State Railroad Museum.
Above is a photo of a building across the street for the California State Railroad Museum in Old Town Sacramento. Old Town Sacramento is a 28 acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park along the Sacramento River. There is shopping, dining, entertainment, historical attractions, and museums all set within the time of the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad. Click here for more information on Old Town Sacramento.
On Wednesday the California Passenger Rail Summit presentations and panels were held in the City Council Chambers at Sacramento City Hall. My wife and I and others manned the registration table just outside the council chambers at the entrance to city hall. The above photo is from one of the summit sessions. For a full report with photos about the 2015 California Passenger Rail Summit, please click here or visit www.trainweb.com/carl/CaliforniaPassengerRailSummit2015. Since City Hall was about a dozen blocks from the hotel and we had a lot to carry, we decided to drive the Tesla there and find a nearby garage.
In the evening after the event was over, I drove the Tesla back to the parking garage across from the Sacramento Embassy Suites hotel where I had parked it the previous evening. A friend had told me that he noticed there were Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in that parking garage, but I hadn't bothered to look for them the night before. This time I did look for them and found them. There were quite a few of them! Several of them were the J1772 Level 2 EV Charging standard. The Tesla comes with an adapter for this type of charger in its adapter charging kit. The chargers were part of the ChargePoint EV Charging Network. I have memberships in a few different EV Charging Networks, but ChargePoint is the most common one that I run into and the one that I used the most when using public non-Tesla chargers.
I pulled into the parking space, set my battery for maximum charge (255 miles), and pushed the button to open up the Tesla Charge Port. Next I swiped my ChargePoint Fob on the charging unit. Within a moment my fob was authorized and the charge nozzle unlocked. After removing the charge nozzle from the locking holder I inserted it into the Tesla adapter and then plugged the adapter into the Tesla charging port on the vehicle. There was a sign at the parking space that said that vehicles were only allowed to remain in a charging spot for no more than 4 hours between 8am and 5pm. It was already well after 5pm so I figured it would be OK to leave my vehicle in this spot overnight so long as I didn't keep it parked in that spot for more than 4 hours after 8am the next morning. We planned to leave before the 11am checkout time of the hotel anyway, so that didn't seem like it would be a problem. Though it might only take 40 minutes to fully charge my Tesla at a Supercharger, or 5 hours using a Tesla High Power Wall Connector, it was going to take quite a bit longer than that at a J1772 Level 2 charging station. But leaving it charging overnight would definitely be long enough for the Tesla to have a full charge by morning on this type of charger.
Sure enough, by Thursday morning the Tesla was fully charged to 255 miles! That would be plenty to safely reach the Tesla Supercharger at Harris Ranch in Coalinga, California, without having to stop at the intermediate Tesla Supercharger in Manteca, California. That would save us a bit of time on our drive south. This was a FREE ChargePoint charging unit so I didn't have to pay a single cent to drive the 186 miles from Sacramento to Harris Ranch in Coalinga, California! Keep this in mind if you don't yet own a Tesla and are considering the financial implications of owning one. Over the years, these fuel savings can add up to quite a bit.
The drive to Harris Ranch was uneventful. Once again we used the opportunity to grab some lunch at Harris Ranch while the car was charging. Upon departure, I allowed one of the other people that was traveling with us to drive the Tesla from Harris Ranch to the next Tesla Supercharger at Tejon Ranch. Since the I-5 between Harris Ranch and Tejon Ranch is pretty flat open road, it is not a bad place for a first drive in the Tesla and to get a feel for its features and capabilities. They adapted to the vehicle pretty readily after a few minor instructions about how to shift gears and some warnings about the rapid regenerative breaking. Also it is helpful to suggest that one be delicate with the "gas" pedal in order to avoid any unexpected rapid acceleration. It doesn't take much pressure on the accelerator to get the Tesla up to speed, especially the P85D with 691 horsepower from the dual engines.
The other driver enjoyed operating the car from Harris Ranch to Tejon Ranch, but mostly drove it without engaging any of its special features, such as the adaptive cruise control. Probably for someone driving a Tesla for the first time it is more enjoyable to control the speed of the vehicle at all times. For me personally, I really like the adaptive cruise control and use it whenever I can. I don't mind just taking control of the speed of the car when I need to pass other vehicles.
After charging up at the Tejon Ranch Tesla Supercharger I took over driving the Tesla for the last segment of this road trip to Anaheim. After Tejon Ranch, no further charging is needed to make it all the way back to Anaheim.
During most of this trip, both up to Sacramento and back down to Anaheim, we had the Waze App running on my mobile phone. Though for much of the journey there aren't alternate routes for avoiding traffic, the App at least keeps us posted on the flow of traffic. Once into the Los Angeles area, the Waze App became very useful. It was still the rush hour when we arrived into the greater Los Angeles area. The Waze Area did a fantastic job of routing us around and avoiding much of that traffic.
So, that pretty much ends this round trip Tesla Road Trip between Anaheim and Sacramento. This is the first Tesla Road Trip that I have ever documented. Most likely I'll sprinkle my next one with a bit more Tesla and scenic photos. Please keep checking back at this website TeslaTouring.com and follow our Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!
NOTE: Next Tesla Road Trip coming right up and it is a really big one! California to Missouri! Click Here for that extended road trip.