Our 4th Roadtrip
to California
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
October 10-24, 2019

Glad to fuel up on that side rather than this side!
(Click to enlarge)

We took our 4th roadtrip to California last month. This trip, unfortunately, proved to be more hassle than holiday. The reason for the trip was to help out with Tamara’s family for a couple of weeks. More specifically, her aging parents require constant monitoring, a responsibility that her younger sister normally shoulders. However, she had to travel to Texas in October, so we volunteered to again drive to the greater Sacramento area to do our part and fulfill that duty. While helping her folks was pleasant enough, and Correcaminos performed flawlessly, the trip itself was fraught with disappointments, primarily because of forest fires and power outages. Below are the usual photos of the trip.

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

Like on our previous trips to CA, our first stop was in Las Vegas, as polluted with smog as ever as we approached.

We plugged in at the Superchargers on Bridger Avenue, as Tamara wanted to get lunch at the “Eat” cafe nearby.

I had charged Correcaminos to 80% for the trip, and we arrived in Las Vegas with 102 miles of range left.

‘Tisa and I waited on the bench outside while Tamara ordered the food to go.

We then headed to Beatty and passed the usual odd desert formations.

Here you can see the stratified layers in the hills near the highway.

The headwinds were intense all the way to Beatty, and I anticipated that they had taken a toll on our energy efficiency when we plugged in.

Sure enough, the Trip graph showed that the efficiency had plotted well below the projected line.

As you can see, although we had driven 118.9 miles, we only had 73 miles of range remaining from the 80% charge in Las Vegas.

Like in Yermo, at Beatty’s Supercharger location there is a shop with row after row of all kinds of candy for sale. We usually buy some sugar-free kinds to snack on while driving.

I took these clips of some Halloween decorations that the candy shop had set up for the holiday. I also added a few seconds at the end of the video that show the howling wind when we were approaching Beatty.

Our next Supercharging stop was in Tonopah, where we stopped for the night in a motel.

There is an information booth next to the Superchargers that I hadn’t visited before.

The next morning we charged Correcaminos to 90%, for we knew the next leg of the journey to Topaz Lake would be a long one.

We headed west across the desert and could see the Sierra Nevada on the horizon.

We also traversed valleys and hills with some oddly shaped rock formations.

We reached Mono Lake, and I immediately surmised that this had to be the place where Clint Eastwood had filmed his Western “High Plains Drifter,” one of my favorite movies. I later looked it up, and… I was right!

We stopped in Lee Vining at Mono Lake, and wandered the main street a bit.

We then decided to get a bite to eat at a coffee shop.

The Sierra Nevada were now looming to the west as we continued driving to Topaz Lake.

The Superchargers at Topaz Lake are labeled as “Gardnerville,” which is the nearest large town.

We were prudent to have charged to 90% in Tonopah, for after driving 202.9 miles we arrived with about a 20% charge remaining.

We had planned on spending another night in a motel at Topaz Lake, and wandered around the area for a bit.

Here ‘Tisa and I are waiting for the Supercharge to finish.

Tamara and I treated outselves to dinner at the restaurant and casino, with a view of Topaz Lake out the window. Poor ‘Tisa had to stay in the car with “Dog Mode” enabled.

When we got back to the room, ‘Tisa was ready to call it a night.

The next day we headed into the Sierra Nevada.

We stopped in Markleeville to visit the shops.

Looks like the townfolk were ready for Halloween with a skeleton cat.

This is when we had our first big disappointment. In the distance we could see smoke from a forest fire.

Indeed, it was so bad that we couldn’t see the mountains on either side of the road. And here we thought that, by taking this longer, slower route, we could enjoy some pristine mountain scenery on this trip! It was not to be.

For the next two weeks we stayed in Tamara’s sister’s home, which at least afforded us some colorful sunsets in the evenings.

We cooked some meals for her parents, and one night I made them my Argentine stew-in-a-pumpkin.

‘Tisa was happy to be at Tamara's folks' home, as it is probably the only other house besides our own where she feels completely comfortable.

We also went out to dinner with them one evening, after going to the movies to see Renée Zellweger’s phenomenal performance in “Judy.”

There were two days during our two-week stay when we were able to take a couple of roadtrips. The first one was to take a tour of the Tesla factory in Fremont.

I was impressed with the dozens of test drive vehicles that they had at the visitor showroom for potential customers.

The factory is huge! I tried to take this panorama shot of the building, but it doesn’t do justice to its immense size.

I had reserved our spots on the tour a couple of weeks earlier. We checked in and got our badges as tour guests. Of course, cameras are not allowed inside the factory, so you’ll just have to trust me that it truly is impressive!

After the tour we plugged in at the 250kW Superchargers adjacent to the visitor center.

As you can see, those units have thinner cables that are liquid cooled.

Oddly enough, however, our charger only cranked out the same power as a 150kW charger. I was disappointed.

Then we encountered another fiasco. An ethanol storage tank at the NuStar refinery in Crocket had exploded, and the authories shut down all the freeways back to Sacramento. We had to take backroads to return to Tamara’s folks’ home, first through Berkeley where her family used to live in this house.

Then we had to join the bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic to Walnut Creek, and from there to Stockton, where we could finally get on Highway 99 back to Sacramento. I blessed Autopilot for getting us through the mess intact. I happened to see two more Model 3s next to us at one point, one with a custom burnt orange color.

We finally arrived at Tamara’s sister’s with 61 miles left in the battery, after 9 1/2 hours of what should have been a mere two-hour drive.

Whenever I needed to charge while in the Sacramento area, I went to the Pallisade Supercharger in Folsom. In the day it was usually packed like this, so I would stop by there in the early mornings before the stalls filled up.

The other roadtrip that we took was to the historic town of Auburn by driving back roads through typical “golden state” fields and pasture.

We also drove through many stretches of wooded areas.

In this view we noticed an impressive suspension bridge higher up in the hills, and realized that this was the bridge we had crossed to attend our niece’s wedding on our first roadtrip in Correcaminos.

A logging truck appeared in front of us as we got closer to Auburn, slowing the traffic, which was a good thing, as I think Californians drive way too fast and dangerously on such narrow, winding roads.

Upon entering Auburn, I snapped this photo of a vintage automobile. Wouldn’t that be a sweet EV conversion!

We also spotted several homes with fun decorations for Halloween.

We found a parking place in the Old Town district, with fun stops and restaurants along the main street.

I had to take a photo of this sign in a window, as I’ve been there, done that, many-a-time with such damned urinary arrow heads!

Here is one of the original mining shacks on that street.

Here is ‘Tisa, checking out all the unfamiliar surroundings and smells.

We decided to get a bite to eat at a coffee shop, and ordered a gourmet latte.

We also shared an open-face meatloaf sandwich on avocado toast that was to die for! Honestly, it was the tastiest meal we had the entire trip.

Auburn has a lot of historic buildings that date from the 19th century…

…when it was a major hub for the California gold rush.

On the return trip, we went through a small town named… “cool.”

We again drove through shady groves.

We also stopped at a park by one of the upper arms of the Folsom reservoir.

The sun was setting that day as we got closer to Tamara’s sister’s house.

After two weeks, ‘Tisa, Tamara, and I were ready to go home. We decided to leave a day early because PG&E had announced that they were going to shut off power to this area of the grid, and we didn’t relish the thought of staying longer without power.

We had hoped that the fires had abated and that we could return home through the Sierra Nevada, but it was not to be. The smoke was still so bad that you couldn’t see the mountains, so we figured we’d just drive down I-5 instead and spend the night in Bakersfield, like on our last roadtrip here. We therefore made our first stop to Supercharge in Manteca.

While I took ‘Tisa for a walk by the Superchargers, Tamara walked over to Tato’s to get us some tacos for lunch.

I charged to 90% this time, so that we’d have enough range to reach Kettleman City without stopping in either Gustine or Harris Ranch.

The sun was setting through the haze as we reached our motel for the night.

The next day we pointed Correcaminos to home, Supercharging at Mojave and then here at Baker, where there are 40 Superchargers powered by the solar canopy.

I was intrigued to see that somebody has installed DC fast chargers with CHAdeMO and CCS connectors next to the Supercharger site, although they were not yet operational and open to the public.

We passed those three thermal solar farms right before crossing the border to Nevada.

We charged at the southern Supercharger site in Las Vegas. An hour later we stopped at a convenience store in Glendale to use the restroom, and I was surprised to see that it now boasted two DC fast chargers for CHAdeMO and CCS. Too bad they didn’t have these when I stopped here on my way to the 2015 Las Vegas NDEW, as I had to use a lowly NEMA TT-30 outlet to keep going in my previous Nissan LEAF.

As we were about to depart for the last leg of the journey, the sun was setting.

In my rear view mirrors, I could see the sky turn deep orange behind us.

We pulled into the garage with 48 miles left from the 80% charge in Las Vegas.

We had driven a total of 2,496 miles on this trip, using an average of 262 Wh-per-mile

Two miles before reaching home, the odometer had crossed the 28K threshold. Our lifetime efficiency had risen 2 Wh to an average of 240 Wh-per-mile. That calculates to about 4.17 miles-per-kWh. Not bad!

As much as I love to drive Correcaminos (or, to be more precises, let it drive me) on roadtrips, I can't say we really enjoyed this one. The fires, the power outages, the horrific detours and congestion put a damper on our fun and enthusiasm. I will also mention that I was suffering through a new “learning curve” with the latest software update from Tesla, because the Autopilot alert to apply slight resistance to the steering wheel would flash on the screen every 10-to-15 seconds instead of the 45 second intervals I was used to. I really hope Tesla will render these alerts more forgiving again, because now they hardly leave enough time to put on or take off sunglasses, take a swallow of water, lower or raise the visor, get something out of the console. Consequently, there was a definite reduction in “relaxed” driving on this trip.

On a positive note, the “fuel” costs from Supercharging totaled $170.54 on this trip. If we’d driven our previous gas car, and paid the prices shown in the photo at the top of this page, we would’ve spent a whopping $527.78 —over 3 times as much!

Let’s hope the next roadtrip I’m planning in January and February to the east coast won’t be so fraught with problems.