Barstow Superchargers are now… made in the shade
(Click to enlarge)
Our 11th Roadtrip
to California
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
December 21-27

Another Yuletide Season was upon us, and —as usual— Tamara’s family again wanted us to join them for the holidays. Her parents have now aged to the point that they need help on nearly a daily basis, so we volunteered to fill that role so that their regular caregiver could also have time off with her family. Truth be told, I wasn’t looking forward to this trip, and it would be the 11th time that we have driven these roads and freeways to the Sacramento area. It has become a long, tiresome trip for us, but… I’m sure it won’t be the last. I just wish I could relinquish this Model 3 and get a different EV for the future. Nonetheless, I’ll spare readers my comments about the car itself until the end and let them enjoy the few photos and movies below.

NOTE: You can click on the following photos to enlarge them, and the movies to play them.

Moxie was ready for the holidays, but I can't say she was thrilled to put on her Santa outfit.

We overpacked the car with our usual suitcases, Christmas presents, food and drinks, and departed on Winter Solstice —the shortest day of the year.

This is my usual introductory video, explaining where we are going.

Shortly thereafter we crossed the border into Nevada at Mesquite.

We then drove to a new Supercharger at the south end of Las Vegas, where we could plug in without waiting. Yay! To add to the festive mood, I donned my Santa hat.

Here is the energy readout when we arrived. You can see that we'd driven 146 miles, with 69 miles left, from our 80% charge at home.

This new site boasts numerous v3 Superchargers that initiate a session with blistering speeds. In this case, 254kW at 1,063 miles-per-hour. Of course, the charging curve them dwindles steadily to about 50kW near an 80% charge.

Driving further south toward Barstow, we passed the usual odd formations on the hillsides.

As we approached Barstow the sun was already setting on the shortest day of the year.

Here's the readout when we reached the Superchargers in Barstow.

The site is huge, with not only v3 Superchargers, but also a huge row of Urban models to accommodate shoppers at the nearby mall. I was impressed that, since I'd last been here, they had erected solar canopies over the site, shown better in the photo at the top of the page.

Our next stop was in Mojave, and as we approached we saw that the wind turbines on the hillsides were flashing red lights, nearly sychronized, almost as though intended as a Christmas decoration.

After charging in Mojave, we arrived at our motel with 144 miles left in the battery.

Moxie was delighted to finally get out of the car and settle into the motel room.

The next morning we kept driving to reach I-5 and Kettleman City. In the video I comment on the inexplicable alarms we'd experienced so far in the car. I then observe that there is a car carrier in front of us with a Tesla on the back. When we passed it, we saw that it had a second one of the front. Used Teslas that owners have traded in…?

Sure enough, we soon ran across another car carrier with a third Tesla on the back.

Of course, like on our many trips on I-5, we saw carriers loaded down with Teslas being shipped from the Fremont factory. Oddly, we also saw such carriers heading toward the factory. Perhaps delivering models from the Austin facility in Texas?

We stopped to charge at Santa Nella, which boasted numerous Superchargers.

Moreover, there were a few Rivian chargers in that location. Tamara likes the look of those Rivians, as they seem to be more comfortable vehicles than our Model 3.

The location is at the Mission de Oro, an impressive, inviting hotel with several shops, restaurants, and —more crucial for a Supercharger site— clean, nice restrooms.

When we arrived at Tamara's folks' house, I again donned my Santa hat to wish them a ho-ho-ho holiday season.

Moxie has been here so many times that she feels completely at home.

Here she is getting snuggles and pets from Tamara's dad.

When she rejoined me on the couch, I transferred the hat to her with her smiley face.

We had dinner with her folks that evening and soon retired to bed.

The next day, they sent me to the grocery store to pick up a few items for Christmas. While there I spotted a really nice Mustang Mach-E that must belong to someone's grandmother according to the license plate.

That evening, we took Tamara's folks to their favorite Mexican restaurant, to savor its Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine. I had the best fajitas there that we've ever tasted.

The next evening, Tamara's sister invited us to join with her and her daughters and their husbands for a Christmas Eve meal. En route, we saw a spectacular sunset over Sacramento.

It was great to see her sister and her family.

On Christmas Day we all joined together again to exchange and open presents.

We then gathered around the dining table for our holiday feast.

The next evening I happened to snap a photo of the full moon that would accompany us on our journey home the next day.

Back on I-5, I spotted a Lees-ure Lite camping trailer like mine, except it was the shorter, narrower version with thinner wheels.

This was the display after driving from Santa Nella to Kettleman City to recharge.

There is a second Supercharger site at Kettleman City which I had never seen, so we drove to it and saw two Cybertrucks plugged in there.

I also wanted to check out the Electrify America charging site there, which was packed with a variety of other EV models.

I was pleased to see an Ioniq 5 SEL there.

There were also three Mustang Mach-E, one Rivian R1T, a Kia EV6, a Chevy Bolt EUV, and what I assume is a Volvo C40 Recharge. Nice!

Most unfortunately, two of the charging stations were inoperable, a common malady among 3rd-party DCFC providers. They really need to up their game!

When we plugged in at Mojave, the energy display seemed to have freaked out.

Back in Baker, it was again functioning normally.

We then plugged in at Primm, the only time we upped the charge to 90% so we could make it home without stopping again.

And here is the final display for the trip when we pulled into the garage. We had driven a total of 1,567 miles, and I will calculate the other stats in a table below for those interested.

Miles driven: 1,567
kWh used: 430
Average mi/kWh: 3.64
Supercharges: 13
Total cost: $169.23
Average cost per charge: $13.02
Average cost per kWh: 39.36¢
Average time per charge: 19 minutes

This was a shorter trip than usual to visit Tamara’s family, but we had to get home so she could start working on her online courses for next semester. As I commented in the third video above, we didn’t experience as many phantom braking events this time —but they still happened. Even worse, three loud red steering wheel alarms went off, warning me to take immediate control of the car. Why? No idea. There was nothing in front, to the side, or in back of us. I had my hands applying torque to the steering wheel, and was paying attention to the road. There were not even any construction dividers, signs, or cones that would trigger such warnings. It’s a mystery, but one that scared us to death and only intensifies my desire to ditch this Tesla and switch to a different EV —despite the less reliable charging stations at DCFC sites. Hopefully that disadvantage will diminish as J3400 adapters and connectors start to proliferate this year so that any and all EVs can use Superchargers. Let’s hope it will happen sooner rather than later!