Yule Tide Ride
(Click to enlarge)
Our 9th Roadtrip
to California
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
December 21-29, 2022

Once again, we decided to undertake a roadtrip to the Sacramento area to celebrate the holidays with Tamara’s aging parents. Truth be told, it was not a very festive trip, precisely because it is sad to see her parents growing so feeble, weak, and confused, but also because of the drive itself. I will state right up front that I am growing increasingly frustrated with Tesla’s erratic quirks when using Enhanced Autopilot. We experienced two inexplicable “phantom braking” events, and at least a dozen instances of ping-ponging with auto lane change. These unpredictable bugs scare Tamara so badly that she was tense and stressed while on the highways. They weren’t as frightening for me, since I maintain control of the car, but I was nonetheless feeling increasingly irked at having to intervene. I eventually made it a habit of verbally warning Tamara before changing lanes so that she could look up, brace herself, and hold on in case another ping-pong swerve were to occurr.

Okay… having dispatched those irritations, below is the usual annotated album of our trip.

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

Here is an introduction video for this holiday trip.

Moxie knew that we had a long journey ahead of us, as she had observed us packing our suitcases for a couple of days.

When we drove through Las Vegas, the pollution was so bad that we could barely see the downtown area.

After leaving Las Vegas, I explain where we're heading next.

Luckily, there were few Teslas plugged in at the Primm Superchargers. That was not the case on the return trip!

Moxie and I waited in the car while it charged and Tamara visited the restroom.

Our next Supercharge was in Barstow at a new site that continues to expand.

When we descended to Bakersfield for the night the sun was setting through fog.

The next morning, Correcaminos was covered in mist from all the fog.

After Supercharging near our motel, we set the navigation to take us to the new Supercharger in Firebaugh.

I again explain where we are on this leg of the trip.

At the top of the page is a photo after plugging in at Firebaugh. To be honest, we were not happy with this location. Yes, there were plenty of stalls, but the most direct road into the site was blocked, the area was way too crowded, and you had to line up behind dozens of other drivers just to visit the restrooms. We won’t be stopping there again!

Our next charging stop was in Manteca, a site we had visited many times in the past. We eventually arrived in Lincoln, where Tamara's parents live, and I drove a couple of blocks to their local Supercharger to top up the battery. Oddly, even though the site claimed to have 250kW chargers, they were no faster than the 150kW versions.

Moxie was glad to arrive and greet Tamara's father, who will turn 94 in just a couple of months.

She was also glad to go to bed, as the last two days on the road had been tiring for all of us.

The next morning Moxie was her happy self, although I was still fairly exhausted.

The day dawned foggy, as you can see when I took Moxie for a walk by the community golf course.

Here we have recovered enough to take a smiling selfie.

Later than afternoon, Tamara's niece Haley and her husband Charlie arrived. Not long after that, we were joined by Tamara’s sister Lisa and her husband Dean.

We had pre-ordered a full Christmas dinner from a local supermarket and now had to get it all ready for our Christmas feast.

It was quite a spread: way more food than needed.

Here we all are, ready to toast the Christmas celebration.

And here is a good portrait of Tamara, Lisa, and their parents.

Two days later, Tamara's other niece Dana and her boyfriend Nate arrived from Oregon to also visit the family.

They got to open their presents, and later that evening we went out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with the two nieces and their partners.

With the Christmas holiday behind us, the next day we started to retrace our tiretracks home.

We stopped to charge in Patterson, which was not nearly as large as the Firebaugh site, but much more convenient and comfortable.

I had to roll my eyes upon seeing this truck's rear end. Who do the Kochs think they're kidding with such petrolganda?

Our next charge was in Kettleman City.

We ordered a couple of Café Mochas in the Tesla coffee shop.

We again spent the night in the motel in Bakersfield, and the next day drove through Tehachapi and Mojave to reach Barstow.

That Supercharger site was as packed as ever, and I hope Tesla completes the expansion in the near future.

Here's another truck that elicited my derision. Does the owner also support "American pollution"?

This is the energy efficiency graph when we arrived in Primm. This time we were lucky to find a stall to plug-in.

This next graph plots our energy use when arriving in Las Vegas where we had dinner at the Lazy Dog restaurant with my granddaughter Emelyse and her boyfriend Shuhan. I now recriminate myself for not taking a photo of us all in the restaurant. Derp!

Because practically all the Superchargers in Las Vegas were full, I decided to then just keep driving to Mesquite, NV, and plug in there.

This is the energy graph when we arrived in Mesquite.

And here is the "trip" screen, showing that we had driven 1,477 miles so far on this roadtrip, and would likely top 1,500 when we pulled in the garage nearly an hour later.

According to my logs, we spent $183.17 at Superchargers on this trip, or about 12.2¢ per mile. This is more than twice what it cost us on our first roadtrip to visit Tamara’s family, which is proof positive that fueling an electric car is becoming more expensive. Still, given the gas prices we saw in CA, we would have spent at least $388 at the pump if we’d driven our previous Subaru instead, more than double what the trip actually cost us when plugging in. As for energy efficiency, the trip screen above shows that we’d averaged 291 Wh/mi, i.e., 3.44 miles-per-kWh, a little less than the EPA rating of 3.85 for our 2018 Model 3 LR RWD.

We’ll see what the next roadtrip to CA is like in the future. It wouldn’t surprise us if we have to undertake it before too many weeks or months have passed, given the age of Tamara’s folks. But who knows? Perhaps we’ll have a different EV by then, one that doesn’t ping-pong or phantom brake, as there are several models from other automakers that are starting to give Tesla a run for its money.