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Tesla Model 3 - 1,400-Mile Emissions-Free Road Trip

Orange County, California, to Reno, Nevada, via Hwy. 395, and return via Hwy. 101

For Reno's 2021 Hot August Nights 5,000+-vehicle classic car show and Virginia & Truckee Railroad steam train ride.

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Photos above from former trips. 
Left, The '56 Chevy I sold for the down payment on the Tesla Model 3
Right, Virginia & Truckee R.R.'s steam locomotive No. 29.

Report 18 by Carl Morrison, August, 2021
Comments welcomed at: or in "Comments"  below the Facebook report.

For the best viewing, enlarge this report the full width of your computer screen.

This is my 18th report on our 15-month-old 2020 Tesla 3 Standard Range Plus, rear wheel drive, posted at  In this report, I cover: 

    1.  Introduction to this "
Paul Clifford Memorial Hot August Nights Trip"

    2.  Driving a Tesla Model 3 fully-electric car about 500 miles following Hwy. 395 from Orange County, California, to Reno, Nevada, for Hot August Nights

    3.  Visiting Virginia & Truckee Railroad for 2 rides from Virginia City to Gold Hill a 35-minute round trip- behind Steam Locomotive No. 29 - one ride in a passenger caboose and one ride in the steam locomotive's cab.

    4.  Tesla Model 3 trip from Sparks, Nevada, to Orange County,  California, via I-80 and Hwy. 101, over 600 miles.

Paul Clifford Memorial Hot August Nights Trip

Since Paul, Fred and I went to Hot August Nights for several years together, driving a Tesla X and our own classic cars before that, and since Paul passed away from COVID this year, we're calling this trip the Paul Clifford Memorial Trip.

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Above left, Paul and I drove coast to coast following Hwy. 50 in our Chevy's in 2004, here leaving the west coast.
Above right, Paul was always a laugh. Here at a Tesla Supercharger in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

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Above left, Paul at the Lone Pine, California, Tesla Supercharger.
Above right, Paul driving my 1956 Chevy in the Reno Hot August Nights Cruise, 2019.

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Above left, Paul driving his pickup up Hwy. 395 to Hot August Nights with Fred navigating.
Above right, Paul crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on our cross country trip, 2004.

Paul, riding into the sunset, returning from Laughlin, California, Classic Chevy Show.  Photo edited by his son, Jon.

Driving a Tesla Model 3 fully-electric car nearly 500 miles following Hwy. 395

Many folks think you cannot drive a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) on a 1,000-mile trip because of the long charging times involved.  However, they evidently do not know about Teslas and their Supercharger Network.  Our 2020 Model 3 has a range of 250 miles and since charging times at Tesla Superchargers are the shortest if you charge between 20% and 80% of the battery capacity we charged at a little over 100 miles of driving.  Just like an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, you don't run it out of gas before your add fuel.  Our charging stops averaged 20 - 30 minutes a stop and often we were not ready to go when the car said it was ready to go to the next stop.

Tesla has, in the onboard computer, the ability to tell you where to charge and for how long.  Many BEV owners like an independent software called, A Better Route Planner (ABRP).  ABRP has you enter the type of vehicle you are driving (so it knows the range), the weight of the passenger, what % you want in the battery when you arrive at a Supercharger (I like a buffer of 20%), and then it calculates current traffic, and weather, and tells you where to stop for charging.  Both the Tesla computer and ABRP also tells you the power of that Supercharger ( 72 kW, 150 kW, or the newest 250 kW), what restrooms are nearby, what restaurants are nearby, and sometimes businesses near the Supercharger.

A sample of Tesla's computer information about the next Supercharger. 

(Click on any photo for a larger image.)

You can set the next Supercharger as your destination and it will pre-condition your battery for the quickest charging when you get there and give you step-by-step directions how to find the Supercharger...none have tall signs like gas stations.

 A Better Routeplanner's start up Hwy. 395 on the left. (We skipped Bishop's Supercharger.)

   ABRP says that I am to start with 90% State of Charge (SOC).  At home I charge at 3.5 cents per mile.  Weather is listed at the time you create the plan, headwind, temperature, cloudiness.
    I am to drive 1 hr. 7 min. (62 miles) to the Hesperia Supercharger.  I will have 41% still left in the battery and am to charge to 67% taking 12 kWh of energy costing $3.37.
    You can see that other stops to charge will be Inyokern, Lone Pine (where we can walk to McDonald's for lunch). And Bishop  (which we skipped).

Above is the rest of the chargers and our destination.

ABRP also compiles the information into a compact table with many statistics.

    I found the $28 for fuel for the 494 miles inspirational!  At home I pay 3 cents a mile to charge.  On the fast DC Superchargers, ABRP predicts I will only pay 5.7 cents per mile.

    Also, the Superchargers, Arrival and Departure State of Charge, How long to charge (note always less than 20 minutes) and distance and time to the next charge stop.

    With 21% left in the battery at the hotel that gives me time to roam around before parking for the night.  The Nugget has 4 Tesla Destination Chargers we can plug into overnight that are "free" for hotel guests.  The Atlantis hotel in nearby Reno has a full Supercharging station.  The Grand Sierra Resort also has Destination Chargers in their parking lot, not in a structure, so it is easy to pull up and charge while looking at the classic cars at the hotel.

    When I get home, I can go to my account and see all the charges, the money involved, the date of the charges, and it will be interesting how well ABRP predicted the journey.


    In ABRP, by clicking the globe to the right of the blue Supercharger name, the computer opens the Tesla listing of that Supercharger.   
    The circle shows the power of the Supercharger and how many chargers are open (green).
    Note also all the amenities that are listed (blue icons) in the ABRP site for each Supercharger. Left to right:  Food, Coffee, Hotels, Businesses, Theaters,  Schools, Wineries, etc.

Individual Charging Costs at each stop for the 1,404 mile round trip (Trip starts at bottom, so read bottom up):



A Better Route Planner
estimated $28 for the trip to Reno, but it was actually $39.92.

ABRP estimated $43 for charging to get home and it was actually $60.76.  That calculates to $ .07 per mile.

Our average charging time for the 12 stops for charging was 28 minutes (kept on separate spreadsheet on the trip).  28 minutes was usually not enough time to complete the other duties during the stop such as restroom, eating, etc.

Total kWh charged was 314 for the 1,404 miles which is 4.5 miles per kWh at an average cost of $ .38 per kWh. 

Another way to look at it is, "How far can you go in a Tesla Model 3 for $100?"  Answer:  About 1,400 miles.

Driving a Tesla Model 3 fully-electric car about 500 miles following Hwy. 395 from Orange County, California, to Reno, Nevada, for Hot August Nights Classic Car and Music Show.

Those of you who have driven California Highway 395 know it is high desert, much of it two-lane, many semi-trucks, passing lanes on big  hills and those sticks added in the middle since 2019.  Although not very close at this point, I-15 is the upgrade for 395.

Inyokern Tesla Supercharger.  Even though there are only 4 chargers, we've never had to wait.

Since I named our Tesla "Big Red", I had to buy a bottle in the store and put it on the car for a photo.

Sky still smokeless from California fires as we arrived in Lone Pine for a charge.

They have added more chargers behind the Movie Museum.  One Tesla had 3 bicycles on the back, but I did not get a photo of it.

Still no smoke north of Lone Pine.   In Lone Pine, we had lunch at a McDonald's which took longer than to charge the car for 100 miles to skip Bishop and make it to Mammoth Lakes Supercharger.

We stopped at a rest stop and noticed this Chevy Volt charging at a state- installed charger.  His sign said he was a shuttle with a cage on the back for luggage, I presume.  He had a sun shield in the windshield, so he probably had been there a while.

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(click either photo above to see a larger copy)
I could not tell much from the readout on the station, but did notice the credit card slot .   It said 48 minutes to charge another 15% and it must be a level 2 (like my garage charger) to give only 29 kW max.

Sierra Mtns. north of Bishop, California

At the pull-through Superchargers in Mammoth, we spotted this surfer towing a portapotty!  I wanted to ask if this was a Tesla option!

Mono Lake

We saw several instances of forest fires that had come very close to the highway.

Back of the California agricultural inspection station at the Nevada border and nearby Gardnervile, NV charging Supercharger.

Gardnerville, NV, Supercharger with nearby gas prices while we charged for $6.08 to get us to Sparks, NV.

No question about masks in Nevada.

First I had seen such a vehicle, perhaps here for the fires.

Must have been a light-weight haul because he hit the speed limit quickly and did not slow down for hills.

Free charging for guests at the Nugget Hotel in Sparks where we spent 2 nights.  Four Tesla Destination Chargers.  Once one stall was ICEd.

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Our room at The Nugget Hotel in Sparks, NV.  They asked, "Upper or lower floor".  We said lower, and got 11th floor!  There are 25 floors.

View from our 11th floor room.  The casino is under I-80, so we could walk to Victoria St. for the cruise and In-N-Out on the far right.

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Some cars in the Sparks Wednesday night cruise.

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Left, Sparks vintage paddy wagon with our Nugget hotel in the background.

Thursday morning we went to the Swap Meet and this car area in the arena for cars for sale. 
About 1/4 of what had been here in 2019.  It appeared they were socially distanced, but the A/C was worth a rest here.

Reno closes off Virginia Street downtown, and side streets, so you can see many classic cars on a stroll.

From the Media Report:

This is the 34th year of Hot August Nights, the world's largest classic car event.
  • More than 5,500 registered classic vehicles attend the event
  • It is open to all 1979 or older classic vehicles, including pickup trucks, vintage trailers and emergency vehicles.
  • Participants are from 41 states and 3 countries - Norway, New Zealand, and Canada.
  • 500 volunteers help with the event
  • Average spend per person is $1,514
  • Primary age group is 25-65+ (we are part of the "+")

About the same amount of cars in downtown Reno as in 2019, with no show in 2020 because of COVID.

The original RENO sign is about a block away, so I got a couple of photos of our Tesla Model 3 under it.



There is always entertainment at  outdoor stages and at casinos around Sparks and Reno during Hot August Nights.  We like to go to Baldini's Casino for food and it was advertised that Brian Andrews would be there as Elvis, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and many more Rock-N-Roll Legends.       As we walked in, I heard his impersonation of Elvis and took a photo before ordering our dinner.

For the Thursday evening cruise down Virginia St. we like to take our chairs to the Truckee River Bridge where this sculpture is located in a riverside park.

Don't know if you noticed above, but there was a homeless person below the "B" in "Believe".  Lots of those folks in gambling town.

Looking north waiting for the parade of classic cars to begin at 7 pm.

Fred waiting for the parade on the Truckee River Bridge.

First cars in the cruise.


On Friday we like to park at the Atlantis and walk across the street to the convention center where MAG has an indoor area where you can view vehicles coming on the auction block that day, plus some static displays.  The Atlantis has a large area of show cars in their lot as well.

Motorsport Auction Group  (MAG) is a collector car auction featuring muscle cars, street rods, classic cars, vintage cars, and leading automobile products.

Sometimes there are cars at the auction that you want to do a photo essay on.


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All vehicles have a window tag (click the tag above for a larger version)

Having driven a Tesla to Hot August Nights, I was very surprised to see this Tesla S as the only Electric Vehicle in the auction among thousands of gasoline vehicles.


2017 Tesla Model S P100D AWD (I would like to know what it sold for, if you can find out, let me know.)

(click the photo above to see a larger copy)

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(click the photos above to see a larger copy)

1954 Chevy convertible pickup

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1933 4-cylinder Austin American next to a raised GMC

1937 Ford


Unrestored Chevy Pickup

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Danica Patrick's No. 10 transporter was for sale.  It shows how all transporters are built inside with the car on top and the portable garage on the bottom.

Original trunk in back.  Eventually built into modern cars.

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My aunt Eunice had a car like this and she would take her dad,  2 sisters and my brother and me to town to a movie, and leave Grandpa at the Chatter Box bar while we went to the movie.

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 1953 Dodge "Pilot House" Pickup.  Pilot House because of all the windows in the cab.  I liked the wood racks.

In high school, my Grandpa hired me to plow some fields for him on a tractor like this.

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The Dodge Bothers had a Jewish Star in their early logo.

Since this was the Paul Clifford Memorial Run, I remembered that Paul had a pickup similar to this.

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(click the photos above to see a larger copy)

1960 VW 23-window  Fred says you can put more windows in the top nowadays if you have less than 23.

Historic Reno Fire equipment display.  These photos are for my friend Gary Hess.

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(click the photos above and below to see a larger copy)

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1956 Ford

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(click the photos above and below to see a larger copy)

Some military vehicles on display.  These photos are for Fred Schlumpf who was my co-pilot on this trip.

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The banter of the auctioneer could be heard throughout the convention center.  The auction was taking place in one large room.

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While the crowd (bidders in front) watch the car on the platform, a large screen shows the car with the current bid.

After some bidding, the cars are driven off to the right and, if not sold, returned to the staging area.

Some restoration companies bring samples to advertise their business.

I liked this vendor's neon signs, still in their crates.  This one was labeled Camaro Grill.



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Other neon at this booth.

Still parked at the Atlantis, we took the sky bridge over Virginia Avenue to their lot of show cars.

Fred checking out all the pickups

Nice car cover allowing viewers to still see the car - but too thin of a cover for general use.

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I liked the dual side mount tires on both front fenders.

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A good design for Oldsmobile.

A '40s Plymouth with all the accessories available.

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Surfers liked woodies because they were cheap, but restored they are top dollar.

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"Bright work"  Chief Pontiac on the left.  1930s lady on the right.

First time I had seen a brightwork '56 Chevy hood ornament used on an engine of a '56 Chevy.

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One of a Kind

1935 Buick Model 68C with dual side mounts

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Pre-war automobiles have the best brightwork.

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Terraplane had a unique hood ornament

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1935 Buick with dual side mounts


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Right, believe it or not, a self portrait in the back of a  vendor's van.

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First time I've seen part of a matching hubcap used on a steering wheel!  Also note the gearshift knob, and is that a record player?

At the Nugget Hotel in Sparks, there are 4 Tesla Destination chargers for use at no extra cost to guests.  Destination chargers charge at about 25 miles of charge per hour, so you would probably plug in overnight.  Unlike Tesla Superchargers which charge between 200 and 400 miles of charge in an hour.

With hundreds of guests in the two 25 floor towers, we always had at least one charger to use, and only once in the two nights was a gas vehicle parked in the charger spots.  Since the hotel does not advertise these chargers to my knowledge, perhaps that is why we always found one available. 

A favorite burger place in SoCal is In-N-Out and there is one in Sparks and one on S. Virginia St. in Reno, so we got our burger fix there.  A fellow walked out with a Tesla hat and we talked for a while.  His son works for Tesla east of Sparks, and owns a Model 3.  This fellow, who has moved out from Ohio, plans a Tesla purchase soon.

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After two nights in the Nugget in Sparks,we drove west on I-80, through the smoke from northern California fires to Fred's brother's home in Homewood, California on Lake Tahoe.

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Usually beautiful scenery shrouded in smoke on our one-hour drive from Reno to Homewood, CA.

California inspection station at the Nevada border.

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Squaw Valley Olympic village near Lake Tahoe.  I took a self-portrait from the passenger seat.

With Tesla's included Basic AutoPilot, the car will stay in the lane and cruise at a set speed, slowing down if the vehicle in front of you slows down. This  gives the driver time to do tasks that require both hands, such as open a drink bottle, or take a photo, or reach in the back for something without veering out of your lane.

When  Fred was driving he began to get a right leg cramp.  I had him put the car into Traffic Aware Cruise portion of AutoPilot  (One click down on the right stalk) allowing him to move his leg and get some relief. TAC keeps the speed you set it, but slows down if the vehicle in front of you is slower.  On city streets the Tesla will stop and when the next vehicle starts up to go through a light, the Tesla will start as well.

Our destination in Homewood, California on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe City Supercharger.  First car was a Model 3 with gold brightwork, second car is our Big Red.

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A short walk to the right of the Tahoe City, CA, Supercharger is an excellent park overlooking Lake Tahoe.

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Twelve-foot bear and cubs made of 200,000 pennies with Fred as a size indicator.

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By Tim Hauserman

A walk along Tahoe City’s lake front bluff has a new and surprising addition at the Heritage Plaza. A huge 5700 pound bear statue covered in 200,000 pennies…yes, pennies. The twelve foot tall grizzly bear and cubs called Ursa Mater was built by the artist team known as “Mr and Mrs. Ferguson” for Burning Man in 2017 and came to Tahoe City this summer. It will remain in town until July 31,2019.

The sculpture was created out of foam, layered in concrete stucco and then covered with pennies which were attached vertically into the stucco to give the appearance of hair. It took 12 artists four months to complete the work.

Robert and Lisa Ferguson are regular Burning Man attendees who met and married at Burning Man. Many of their ideas popped up while returning from Black Rock Desert, and a few years ago an after burn thought of Lisa’s was to use pennies to show the texture of fur on an animal art work. Ursa Mater is their third use of pennies in a sculpture. There was another bear and a goose. And then this year they also completed an eagle that has pennies, nickels and quarters for feathers.

The Penny Bear came to Tahoe City via the assistance of Tahoe Public Art, as well as through the efforts of a number of local Tahoe burners who were impressed with the bear when they saw her at Burning Man. The project was originally created through a grant from the Burning Man Arts organization and hundreds of dollars of pennies were donated to the project by the artists friends.

Pick a nice sunny day and wander down to the Heritage Plaza in the center of Tahoe City. There the mamma bear and her cubs sit proudly in the midst of a grassy circle surrounded by walkways. Behind the bear, Lake Tahoe can be seen filtered through the trees. I found it interesting to walk around the bear several times to catch her from all directions, and of course to get up close to see the intricate detail of the individual pennies attached to the sculpture. Bring a lunch and enjoy the sunshine and quietly thank the artists and those interested in art that have brought this bear to Tahoe City. It can’t help but make you smile.

  Filed Under: Lake Tahoe information tagged With: Heritage Plaza in Tahoe City, Tahoe City


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From the Supercharger in Tahoe City due west, we found the Front Street Station Pizza place.

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Inside they had some vintage train photos and out back was a patio on the Truckee for waiting for your order of pizza.

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The Truckee invites skinny dippers who find it too cold to stay in very long.

Virginia & Truckee Railroad

One day we drove the Tesla over to Virginia City, Nevada, to ride the Virginia & Truckee Railroad's Steam Train Excursion to Gold Hill.

That part of the trip I have posted on the site and a link is and another link is at the end of this report

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In that report I have some photos from Virginia City, Nevada, as well.

Tesla Model 3 trip from Sparks, Nevada, to Orange county,  California, via I-80 and Hwy. 101, over 600 miles.

Sunday we headed back to Orange County via Hwy. 101.  Again, we had plenty of Superchargers to chose from even though it was not an Interstate.
We skipped the Greenfield charger and stopped at Oxnard for our last charge, then at an In-N-Out and made it home safely.

We headed west on I-80 from Tahoe City, then Hwy. 99 south  crossing Hwy. 50.  Of course the Hwy. 50 sign reminded me of the trip Coast to Coast with Paul in 2004 when we followed Hwy. 50 all the way to Ocean City, Maryland.  I drove our 1956 Chevy and Paul drove his '57 Chevy convertible.

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You can always tell what vegetable is in season when you drive Hwy. 99 through California's Central Valley "Salad Bowl of America".  August is tomatoes.
At the Hollister Tesla Supercharger and adjoining Casey de Fruta Chevron Store, there is a great display of antique trucks and farm equipment.

Casa de Fruta RV Orchard Resort's small train runs past the Tesla Supercharger as well.

Many pieces of retired farm machinery line the road behind the Hollister Supercharger.

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Familiar names in the farm and orchard equipment fields.

At the San Luis Obispo Tesla Supercharger the only thing worth a photo was the dirtiest and most damaged Tesla I've ever seen.

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A unique thing at the San Luis Obispo Supercharger, at the Madonna Inn, they have the chargers labeled as to 150W and 250W. 
The right photo shows how drivers hang the cord of non-working stations.


The chargers are next to the Madonna Inn's gas station, which is now closed.  At least one charger is pull-in type.

A repeat of the charging cost for the 1,404 mile trip.  Double click to enlarge.

We stopped at the Oxnard Supercharger along Hwy. 101 for our final charge.  We had supper at In-N-Out in Camarillo then drove on around the north side of Los Angeles on Hwy.s 134 and 210 then drove south on Hwy. 57 to our home.  We concluded that next Hot August Nights we would just return via Hwy. 395.
We found that there are more Tesla Superchargers than wed needed on both non -Interstate California Hwys. 395 and 101. 

Thank you for reading this report.  Links to the Virginia & Truckee Railroad portion below as well as links to other TeslaTouring reports.

My Referral Number is  Just click the URL to the left to go to the site, start a free account, and it will explain the benefits of using a referral number:



Link to my Virginia & Truckee Railroad Report:

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