Our 5th Roadtrip
to California
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
March 11-16, 2020

Filling up on sunshine in Kettleman City
(Click to enlarge)

On the Ides of March, Tamara's dad completed his 91st orbit around the sun, so we decided to brave running the coronavirus gauntlet and again drive to the greater Sacramento to honor him with the other members of her family. It was a short trip, and one fraught with complications, in that we had to take extra precautions to avoid coming into contact with crowds of people. We also went to great lengths to sanitize our motel rooms with Lysol wipes, and practically ended up with raw hands from washing and using Purell sanitizer on them. Let’s hope all those precautions paid off. So far… we haven't shown any symptoms. Below is the usual diatribe with photos and movies of the trip.

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

We managed to get Correcaminos packed by around 10 o’clock, and departed with 31,725 miles on the odometer, an 80% charge, and 242 miles of range.

We stopped for our first Supercharge in north Las Vegas. This is a rather “seedy” part of town, but Tamara really likes the food that they serve at a nearby “Eat” restaurant.

We’d driven 123.7 miles, at 259 Wh/mi, and still had 95 miles of range left —23 miles less than predicted when we departed nearly 2 hours earlier. Not bad, really, since we had been going 80 mph on the interstate.

I was disgusted to see that a previous Tesla owner had ignorantly dumped trash out at the site, even though a trash can was only a few feet away.

While Tamara picked up her takeout food, I donned my gloves and gathered up the litter in a bag to clean up the site for the next owner.

There! Much better —although I wasn’t able to sweep up all the shredded paper scattered on the ground.

After about 26 minutes, we again had an 80% charge, with 243 miles of range predicted, which cost $6.60.

I couldn’t resist snarking at this truck, labeled “clean energy” while hauling refrigerated methane gas. Clean? When over a 20-year period methane has 104 times the global warming potential of CO2? Who do the fossil fools think they’re kidding with such petrolganda?

After leaving Las Vegas, I recorded this video to describe where we were at and where we were going. You can barely see one of the Ivanpah thermal solar towers in the distance, just over the border to California.

A few more miles down the road, we passed those three solar towers and took this video of them. You can read more about the Ivanpah solar plant at this website.

Our next stop was at the impressive 40-stall Supercharger in Baker, California. Oddly enough, ours was the only Tesla at the site, although one Model S showed up a few minutes after plugging in. Time for a bathroom break with our Lysol wipes.

We arrived with 140 miles of range, having driven 93.9 miles at 243 Wh/mi. That was about 9 fewer miles than predicted when we left Las Vegas, due to headwinds and the 75 mph speed limit on the freeway. I was impressed that the 150 kW Supercharger started charging at 521 mi/hr.

There are now some 50 kW fast chargers with CHAdeMO and CCS plugs adjacent to the Superchargers, and I happened to see one Audi e-tron plugged in there.

What I really appreciate about these particular Superchargers is that they’re powered by two huge canopies of solar panels, thus letting us replenish our battery with zero emissions upstream. I really hope Tesla will soon begin to equip other sites with such arrays.

After 16 minutes, we again had an 80% charge with 243 miles of range, which cost $6.72.

More than two hours later, after driving 136.8 miles at 284 Wh/mi, we plugged in at the Mojave Superchargers, with 67 miles of range remaining. This time, the initial charge rate peaked at 572 mi/hr from 134 kW.

24 minutes later, we again had 243 miles of range with an 80% charge, which cost $12.04. We departed for the last leg of the day toward Bakersfield, where we had reserved a motel room.

The sun was setting through the windshield as we approached the motel at the junction of Stockdale Highway and the I-5 interstate. Our first task upon arriving there was to wipe down the surfaces of the room with our Lysol cloths.

It made me smile to see that, just across the street from the motel, a transport with Tesla Model 3s had stopped to use the facilities at the service station next door.

The next morning, when I got up to take ’Tisa for a walk, Correcaminos was covered with dew from the humidity in the Central Valley. It was the first time I had ever seen how the front cameras automatically warm that area of the windshield to keep the view clear.

Our first stop on the 2nd day was at the Kettleman City Supercharger site, with its 40 stalls and overhead solar canopies, also shown in the photo at the top of the page.

Having driven 149.7 miles at 247 Wh/mi from Mojave, we arrived with 56 miles of range left, but I should mention that a good portion of the charge was lost to Sentry Mode overnight at the motel. The charge rate here was an even higher 586 mi/hr, probably because the battery was now below 20%, which allows faster charging.

We had plugged into one of the 150 kW chargers so that we would have time to visit the restrooms, get a coffee and shop for Tesla swag in the lounge.

It took 25 minutes to restore an 80% charge, at a cost of $12.88. This time, however, the predicted range was 245 miles, 2 miles farther than from the previous Supercharges, probably because of the warmer weather in California.

I took this video to comment on the I-5 traffic, and how the flat terrain in the Central Valley gives a similarly flat graph line of Correcaminos’ energy efficiency.

I happened to spot another transporter from Tesla going in the opposite direction on the other side of the freeway, and barely snapped this photo as it zoomed by.

We arrived at the Gustine Superchargers to find they were all full. Fortunately, only a few seconds later, two Teslas pulled out and we were able to grab a spot at the end of the line.

We’d driven 99.3 miles in almost 2 hours, at 296 Wh/mi, with 113 miles remaining. The charge rate here peaked at an impressive 582 mi/hr.

’Tisa was tired of sitting in the car, so I took her for a walk to visit her “restroom.”

At Gustine, the “Anderson’s Pea Soup” restaurant is right next door.

’Tisa wasn’t very happy to get back in her carseat.

While Tamara visited the restaurant’s restroom, Lysol wipes in hand, I took this selfie while waiting for the 80% charge to finish.

23 minutes later, we again had 245 miles of range, which cost $8.96. We didn’t anticipate needing to charge again until reaching our motel in Roseville, to the northwest of Sacramento.

There was rush hour traffic when we reached Sacramento, and I took this video to comment on how much I really appreciate Autopilot in such conditions. It makes all the difference when stuck in congestion that would otherwise add stress and paranoia to the drive.

After arriving at our motel, and wiping it down, I drove to the nearby Superchargers at the Roseville Galleria. We’d driven 135.8 miles at 281 Wh/mi from Gustine, and still had 62 miles of range left. The initial charge rate when I plugged in was the highest so far: 596 mi/hr.

I noticed at the Supercharger next to me that someone hadn't paid attention to the Tesla proximity warning when pulling into that spot. Ouch!

The 80% charge took 26 minutes, putting 245 miles of range in the battery, costing $12.47.

The following day we visited Tamara’s folks, whose fruit trees were in full blossom.

’Tisa was delighted to be out of the car and explore their backyard to pursue the rabbits and lizards that hide in their bushes.

Although we had only driven nearly 30 miles that day, I decided to top up the battery again that evening. I had noticed new Superchargers across the street from the Galleria and decided to plug in there. Unfortunately, the charge rate was intolerably slow at 237 mi/hr. I therefore unplugged and went back to the Galleria site.

That swap proved much faster, and quickly restored the 80% charge of 245 miles for $6.51.

The following evening, the entire family joined together to have a birthday dinner celebration for Tamara’s dad. We just hoped that her two nieces had managed to survive their flights to Sacramento without other passengers in those airborn “test tubes” contaminating them with coronavirus germs!

A low pressure weather system moved in that night and it started to rain. By the next morning Correcaminos was showing off the colorful palette of its tinted glass roof.

I am always delighted by the reddish oranges highlights of the water drops on that glass.

Curiously, from the inside those drops are colorless and transparent. I guess the hues only appear with reflected light. Go figure!

We decided to only stay two more days before returning home. That night, I again topped up the battery, after driving 27.6 miles around the area, with 163 miles remaining in the battery. The efficiency was only a whopping 327 Wh/mi due to using Sentry Mode and the heater because of the colder rainy weather. You might notice in this photo that there was an alert at the top of the screen that a new upgrade 2020.12 was available to download.

It took a little more than a half hour to finish the 245-mile 80% charge, since the heater was running the entire time, for a cost of $4.06. While charging, I had used my phone’s “hot spot” to download the upgrade, but… the process hung about halfway through and wouldn’t finish. Bummer.

The following evening, I Supercharged for the last time before heading home the next day. We had decided to drive the full way without stopping to minimize the risk of contraction the coronavirus. Oddly enough, the charge rate this time was only a pitiful 206 mi/hr at 48 kW. And the yellow download icon at the top of the screen remained there for the rest of our roadtrip, yet the download still wouldn't budge.

This time, however, I charged to 90%, knowing that the cold weather and Sentry Mode would deplete the resulting 275 miles of range by morning. Of course, with such a slow rate and the fuller charge, it took 46 minutes to finish, costing $8.60.

It was prudent to have charged higher, because by the next morning the battery had just a tad more than 80%. We were surprised to see that the storm had even dumped some snow on the hills between the Central Valley and the coast as we drove back to Gustine.

After driving 136.4 miles at 300 Wh/mi, we arrived back in Gustine with 71 miles of range left. The charging rate looked promising at 549 mi/hr.

28 minutes later, we again had 245 miles from an 80% charge, which cost $12.04.

While driving from Gustine to Kettleman City, we could see a transporter with Teslas up ahead of us, and I had Tamara take this video through the pouring rain as we passed it.

After driving 100 miles for an hour-and-a-half at 325 Wh/mi, with the same number of miles remaining, we again plugged in at Kettleman City, this time to a 250 kW Supercharger. The 649 mi/hr rate was the highest we saw on this roadtrip, yet at only 152 kW/hr, and thus not nearly the highest rate that I have witnessed from one of these v.3 Superchargers. I can only guess that, for some inexplicable reason, the power was cranked down on this unit that day.

Nonetheless, after 25 minutes, we again had a full 245-mile 80% range, costing $10.08. We set our destination to return to Mojave.

The rain continued to pour as we continued down I-5, snug in Correcaminos’ warm cabin. I noticed, however, that the heater was depleting more range than anticipated, and we would arrive in Mojave with only 7% in the battery.

I therefore decided to plug in sooner than planned at the Bakersfield Superchargers en route, after driving 57.4 miles for nearly 1 hour, at 355 Wh/mi, with 153 miles remaining. The display estimated it would take 20 minutes to again top up to 80% at 335 mi/hr from 78 kW.

It actually took 24 minutes, but we now had 245 miles, which cost $6.44, plenty of range to make the climb up the canyons through the Sierra Nevada to Mojave.

En route, I brought up the Trip screen, and was perplexed to see this display. While I could understand it jumping back up with the unplanned charge at Bakersfield, for some reason the grey line had jumped up again several miles later, although our green line continued dropping normally toward our destination. Weird!

When we reached Tehachapi Pass, I took this video of its wind generators celebrating the inclement weather.

After another hour-and-a-half driving 78.9 miles at 334 Wh/mi, we pulled into Mojave with 126 miles left. This time the charging rate was a lowly 291 mi/hr at 68 kW.

In 26 minutes, the 80% charge again predicted 245 miles of range, which cost $8.12. Next stop: Baker.

After leaving Mojave and heading out over the high desert, we left the rains over the mountains behind us.

I always have to chuckle when we pass this sign along I-15. Who gave such a name to that road, and why? Well… this old newscast claims to have the answer.

After driving 137.1 miles in just over 2 hours, at 267 Wh/mi, we returned to the Baker Superchargers with 80 miles of range remaining. The charging rate upon plugging in was a much better 532 mi/hr from 124 kW.

In 24 minutes we again had an 80% charge with a 245 miles range, which cost $10.62. We knew we had one more Supercharge to go before returning home, this time at the south Las Vegas site.

The sun was setting when we passed the Ivanpah solar arrays, so the towers were now dark, although the mirrors were still reflecting the clear skies above.

The last rays of the sunset painted the desert’s horizon as we crossed the border from California to Nevada.

After 86.4 more miles, at 324 Wh/mi, in another hour-and-a-half, we arrived in Las Vegas with 120 miles of range remaining. Here the Supercharger was cranking out 563 mi/hr from 132 kW.

We had our last 80% 245-mile charge after 21 minutes, and headed home.

We pulled into the garage at 11:00 PM. The drive home in 1 day had taken 14 hours, including the Supercharges. The distance driven for the entire roundtrip was 1,555 miles at 290 Wh/mi. The battery still had 63 miles of range at 21%.

Our odometer now totaled 33,280 miles since taking delivery 23 months ago, and our average lifetime efficiency had risen 2 Wh/mi to 242 with this last roadtrip.

In total, we had spent $125.92 for Supercharging on this trip. If we had driven our previous gas car at the current prices at the pump in this region, it would have cost us $273.91. Moreover, I calculate that the Supercharges at sites not powered by solar put 326 lbs. of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere upstream at the power plants. Yet the gas car would have produced 1,904 lbs. both upstream and from its tailpipe. Add to those comparisons that the Model 3 is so much safer and pleasant to drive… er, to be driven in… and what’s not to like?

I can’t say that this was our most enjoyable roadtrip, due to the added stress and worry about the coronavirus pandemic. Still, we are glad that we could honor Tamara’s dad on his 91st birthday, even though the visit was too short. I can say this much: I doubt we would have run the risk and undertaken the journey if we still had a dirty, polluting, irritating gas car. Correcaminos makes running such gauntlets so much more pleasant and relaxing, as it does most of the driving for us, as long as we keep slight turning pressure on the steering wheel so that the system knows that we are alert and paying attention.

One more note if you’re curious: no, the update alert never disappeared, and wouldn’t finish downloading 2020.12, even when reconnecting to our home’s Wi-Fi. I finally submitted a service request, and Tesla reset my display over-the-air with an alert to redownload the 2020.8.1 update that I already had. I did so, and the display is now back to normal. My guess? That there were glitches and bugs with 2020.12, so Tesla decided to pull it —right when Correcaminos had downloaded it only halfway! I’ll be curious to see what happens with the next download.