Saturday, December 10, 2016
I started this blog about 3 1/2 years ago, to journal about a road trip with my father, age 90 at the time. He turned 94 a few days ago and we’re on another road trip, to visit the World War II Museum in New Orleans. On the way, we’ll visit a few more museums as well as friends and family.
When we left early this morning (before sunrise,) our car registered two degrees below zero. Even for Minnesota, this is brutally cold. I would be more excited about heading south right now, but New Orleans is relatively cold as well, with a projected high temperature of about 54, better than freezing anyway.
We are taking our Tesla Model X on its first road trip, and I’m trying to not feel too anxious about making it to the next charger. Normal range for our vehicle is about 250 miles per full charge, but with the cold weather it seems to be closer to 200 miles. Generally, that’s enough to get us from supercharger to supercharger, but we are going through some supercharger deserts along the way. Fortunately, there are many other low charge options that we can access if necessary.
If you aren’t familiar with Tesla’s Superchargers and their network, here’s a short primer. Tesla has over 3,600 Superchargers in the US so far, and is adding more daily. As a Tesla owner, we can use these facilities at no cost, and achieve a full charge in 45 minutes or less, depending on how far the battery has been drained. In addition to the superchargers, there are another 3,700 destination chargers – hotels or restaurants with slower chargers – that allow the traveler to “top off” as needed between superchargers. Superchargers are primarily located along the major interstates, i.e., I80, but there are still some wastelands, especially Arkansas, West Virginia, and North Dakota.
We ran into snow in southern Minnesota, accompanied by some wind. Saw several vehicles in the ditch in Iowa. Every winter, drivers have to relearn how to drive on snow and ice. Maybe they think it will be different this year!
As we entered Iowa, we saw a sign proclaiming the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, which is one of 49 federally designated heritage areas in the country, which are all affiliated with the National Parks Service. I was not aware of this before today. The area covers most of the northern and eastern parts of Iowa, and celebrates the heritage of American farming and agriculture. Among their many projects is an oral video history including stories from century farms, dairy and crop operations and elevator operations.
After a long day of driving, and stopping to charge the car, we reached Kansas City with its balmy temperature of 39 degrees. We definitely pushed the limits on the Tesla, but now we have a better understanding of its capabilities. It’s amazingly comfortable – no car butt even after 500 miles.