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Tesla 3 - Road Trip to Lake Tahoe

Tesla 3 - 1,000+ mile Road Trip
Orange County to Lake Tahoe via Hwy. 395, and return via I-5.

Report 10 by Carl Morrison, September 10 - 13, 2020
Comments welcomed at: or in "Comments"  below the Facebook report.

This is my tenth report on our 4-month-old 2020 Tesla 3 Standard Range Plus, posted at  In this report I cover:  1.  Driving a Tesla Model 3 fully-electric car 500+ miles following Hwy. 395 from Orange County, California, to Homewood, California, on the northwest side of Lake Tahoe.  2.  Driving around Lake Tahoe and visiting Truckee, California.  3.  Round trip - Tahoe City, California, over Mount Rose to Virginia City, Nevada.  4.  Driving from Tahoe City, California, via I-80, Hwy 99, and I-5 to Orange County, California.  5.  Safe Photography from the driver's seat.  6.   Summary. 

North Shore, Lake Tahoe

Driving a Tesla Model 3 from Orange Country, California, north following Hwy. 395, and I-80 to Northwest Lake Tahoe.

With COVID-19 in its 6th month, the Three Comb Over Brothers needed some relief from the close quarters and decided to take a 1,000-mile road trip.  The trip would be in our 3-month-old Tesla Model 3 from Orange Country, California, north following Hwy. 395, documenting our Supercharger stops along the way to Reno, Nevada, then to Lake Tahoe for a couple of days.  Finally, we would return following I-5, documenting the Super Chargers on the way back to Orange County.  It was during the fires of 2020, so many hazy photos to prove the point.

Click the image for a larger copy.

Route to Fontana and Inyokern Superchargers using "A Better Routeplanner".

Left, Orange County about sunrise with smoke in the air from multiple fires on the west coast.  Right, First charging at Fontana Supercharger.
24 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 72kW

Added a "few" center markers since our last trip up 395 north of Adelanto.

Good rate of charge - 579 miles charged per hour at Inyokern.
4 superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW

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Hwy 395 between Inyokern and Lone Pine.  "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear."

Lone Pine to Lake Tahoe information.

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Fast charge at Lone Pine Supercharger where the 4 chargers had been moved and 4 others added.
8 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 250kW

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A stop in Bishop for Pecan Coffee Cake and Macaroon Cookies at Erick Shat's Bakery..

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North of Bishop the smoke gets thicker.

South entrance to Mammoth.


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Mammoth Lake Supercharger.  Left, At the end of charging one can see the amount of the charge in the bottom right corner.  Right, Mammoth pull through chargers.
8 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW

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Gardnerville Supercharger Stop at the state line, to get us to Reno.

We completely missed this Supercharger in past years because the address says, "Gardnerville, 1979 US 395, Gardnerville, Nevada 89410-7081". Now wouldn't your start looking at addresses as you entered Gardnerville?  Be aware, this Supercharger is actually in Topaz Lake, near the state line, 21 miles south of Gardnerville!
Charging Details:  6 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW

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Knowing there was an In-N-Out on South Virginia St., we stopped for supper.  Eating was allowed inside this Nevada Restaurant, socially distanced.  We then continued north on Virginia St. to the Atlantis' Supercharger.  I noticed the blue Model 3 next to us had a wrap license place on Carlos M.'s car.  He said he got it from for $50 and that wrap license plates were a pilot program in California.  In reading YouTuber, SpawnPoint in the UK, I notice they have wrap license plates.  When reporting a broken Charger to Tesla, I've read that there is a phone number on each stall,  The red notice on the stalls at the Atlantis has, "Please Call:" and an image of a cell phone, how does that work?
6 superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW

Driving around Lake Tahoe and visiting Truckee, California.

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From Reno, we took I-80 west then south to our destination:  Homewood, CA.  Right, Our accommodations for a couple of nights.

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The plan for the next day was to drive around Lake Tahoe.  First, breakfast at the Fire Sign Cafe with seating in the back, outside.  Very refreshing in the cool, 6,000+ ft. air.


The Tahoe Lake Superchargers have an excellent location with the Information Center on the same lot, the Lake Tahoe Truckee River outlet dam and park, and the Dam Cafe across the street.

View from the Tahoe City Superchargers.

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The Information office has restrooms and is on the same lot as the Superchargers. The Dam Cafe is across the street.

Click any image for a larger copy.

Lake Tahoe Dam

A pedestrian bridge is on the lake side of the operations covered bridge.

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Informative signs can be seen through the operations building's windows.

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Evidently the 4-legged friends enjoy the bridge as well (not my photo).  Very large fish can be seen below the highway bridge.

View of the dam from the highway bridge with fish below.

Any image can be clicked for a larger copy, then "X" that image to return to this report.

After a good night's sleep in Homewood, CA, we drove around Lake Tahoe.  We "juiced up" at Tahoe City (top left) and drove clockwise around the lake.  Superchargers are on the map for your convenience, but we did not need any charge for this 51 mile drive.  Pay no attention to the time of day, that is just the time I created the map.  Distance between Superchargers is valid.

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I knew there would be some scenic overlooks where I could get a shot of the Model 3 with the lake in the background.  North Shore with plenty of smoke from California fires.

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Around on the southwest side, Emerald Bay.

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Pull off for Emerald Bay

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Henry J Kaiser Estate in Homewood, California, on northwest Lake Tahoe.

For more information on the Kaiser,
Fleur-Du-Lac, Estate, go to:

As we entered Truckee, the Amtrak California Zephyr was about to leave town heading east to Chicago.

We dashed east of town a bit to get the Zephyr underway.
The bi-level consist was two Genesis locomotives, a baggage car, a transition/crew car, two sleeping cars, a diner, a sightseer/lounge car, and two coaches.

This UP freight was awaiting the Zephyr's move out of Truckee so she could proceed west.

A closer view of the freight with an unusual consist - a whole train of large creations in wooden freight boxes.  Any idea what would be in these boxes too large to be trucked?

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Truckee Diner and track side of the Amtrak Truckee Station.

My two loves - Trains and Teslas.


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A Greyhound bus pulled into the Truckee Amtrak Station and I noticed the onboard amenities they now advertise.

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Adjacent to the Truckee Amtrak Station is this restored Flying A Service station.

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The price of Regular was set at 27.9¢

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Round trip from Homewood, California, over Mount Rose to Virginia City, Nevada

After a good night's sleep in Homewood, we took a round trip over Mount Rose to Virginia City, Nevada.  Mount Rose Summit is a mountain pass located in the Carson Range near Mount Rose and Slide Mountain northeast of Incline Village.  The 8,911 ft.-high pass is traversed by State Route 431, which is the highest point of the highway and the highest mountain pass open year-round in the Sierra Nevada. 

Traveling at high altitude and at times 7% grade, the Model 3 performed perfectly gaining some miles of charge going down both sides of the mountain.  If you had your eyes closed you would not know we were crossing such a high mountain...except for your ears popping.

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There is a nice overlook above Incline Village with directional markers with town names around Lake Tahoe.

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We parked on west C Street and noted mine tailings across the valley.

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On Virginia City's website, I saw some HDR photos, so I said, "I can do that."  Here are a few.

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I had heard that there was a steam tourist train in town, so we followed the signs down the hill and found the Virginia & Truckee.

Luckily, we heard the Virginia & Truckee approaching town from the west, so we hustled down a couple of streets to catch the last run of the day.

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Maybe old steam trains look best in black and white.

Unusual vegetation at this 6,148 ft. elevation.

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On the way back over Mt. Rose, I caught the California state line sign and the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics entrance.

Heading Home from Lake Tahoe

Juicing up at the Tahoe City, CA, Supercharger and heading across I-80 then south on Hwy-99 to Stockton where we took I-5 to Pasadena.

The A Better Routeplanner route we followed home.

ABRP is much more detailed than the Navicomputer in the Tesla Model 3.  As you can see in the screen shot above, it first gives you a summary of the entire trip in hours and minutes; miles; and number of charges and total time of charging.  At each charging stop, it shows that it is a Tesla Supercharger and how many stalls are free, on the left.  It also shows the amount of time and miles to your next charging stop.  The time of day when you will arrive and depart relative to time you are to charge (We were seldom ready to go when the car was.) The arrival state of charge in percentage and the departure state of charge (We often charged longer so we would arrive at the next Supercharger with more than 10%.)  The $ amount of your charge; and drive time to your next Supercharger.

I like to have this printed out and with me on the trip.  I would glance at the printout and when I got back in the car after charging, I would put in the next Supercharger as our destination on the Tesla's navicomputer.  This way, the car could precondition the battery, if necessary, for the fastest possible charge at the next Supercharger..

Left, I-80.  Crossing Hwy. 50 on which Paul and I had crossed the nation in 2004, and along which I was born on a farm in Hayden, Indiana.

First charge, Elk Grove, California.
16 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 250kW


Gustine, California, Supercharger between Pea Soup Andersen's and Hwy. 99.
12 superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW

There was an In-N-Out at the same exit as the Gustine Superchargers.

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Kettleman Superchargers

40 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 250kW
24H Tesla Customer Lounge (With a code of 0106#, but the door was open).

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All parking stalls were covered by solar panels.

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Because of COVID-19, all tables and chairs were stacked and store items very sparse.

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Things I've never seen at a Supercharger.  On the right, air pump, trash can, and windshield cleaner.  Several pulled in, but no charger at this spot.

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We unplugged and drove back to I-5 noticing a drive all around the structure, perhaps a showroom for future Teslas for sale as in traditional auto dealers.

Final charge at Tejon Ranch, north side of the Grapevine, just south of the I-5 - Hwy. 99 split
24 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW

Heading south on I-5, north of the Grapevine.

Southbound I-5 over the Grapevine following two Model 3s.  This is where  you might encounter internal combustion vehicles overheated and pulled to the side, but this is not the case for an electric vehicle.

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"Looking Back" on this trip of over 1,000 miles with Fred and Paul, it was a great way to escape the COVID-19 isolation, and still stay safe with masks and social distancing.

Photography from the driver's seat.

You may have noticed that my photos were taken either from the passenger seat when Fred was driving or when I was out of the car at Superchargers or scenic overlooks.  However, Autopilot (Auto steer and traffic-aware-cruise control) have made photography safe from the driver's position.  If you don't have Autopilot engaged already, as you approach a possible photo opportunity during your driving, engage Autopilot (two downward motions on the right stock starts both cruise and auto steer) then you can safely reach for your camera, compose and take photos while your Tesla safely handles the driving duties. 

In Summary

 We three travelers had driven the 500 miles to Reno three times in earlier years in a Tesla X of Steve Grande and Barbara Cepinko's so the route and Supercharger stops were well known to us.  However, the 500 mile trip from Tahoe City to Placentia, California, that I chose just for the experience, we had never driven in an Tesla.  The realization was that we had no range anxiety, thanks to Tesla's own onboard Navicomputer, and "A Better Route Planner" I could plan the trip at home and again in the car - Supercharger to Supercharger.   As you look to the maps above, you will see, on average, we stopped about every 100 miles.  Some of those stops involved meals, and all involved nature calls.  However, it was not the need for a charge that we stopped, since we often arrived with over 20% left, but rather the nature call part.  It took only $40 of charging to drive the 500 miles of each leg of the trip.  That's using the fastest chargers in existence with many alternative Superchargers we could have used along the way. Finally, as you look at the maps, you will see that we never were required to charge for more than 22 minutes.  This negates the naysayers who believe it takes hours to fully charge an electric vehicle to 100%.  The fallacy of this statement is that, on a road trip, you never need to fully charge from 10% to 100%.  In fact, we were usually not ready to stop charging and drive on because our other activities at the stop took us more time than the charging.

After the trip, you can go to your account history and get a summary of all your Supercharger activity:

With most recent at the top, you will see the cost on the right (not shown above) and each stop can be expanded to show your arrival state-of-charge, how much you charged, and what your charge was when you left.  As you also see above, the time and date of the charge.

My Referral Number is  Just click the URL to the left to go to the site that will explain the benefits of using a referral number:


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