Our First Supercharging
Roadtrip to California
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
June 17-28, 2018

Moonrise over the Nevada desert
(Click to enlarge)

For several months we knew that we needed to attend the wedding of Tamara’s niece in the greater Sacramento area in June. Truth be told, that is one of the reasons why we decided to just go ahead and order a first production Model 3 rather than wait for the AWD model and other pending options. For too many years I have loathed having to rent a gasmobile to take such roadtrips, simply because our 2012 Nissan LEAF’s limited range was only practical for everyday commuting. Now that we had Correcaminos, with an EPA range of 310 miles, we were genuinely excited to visit family in California for the first time without a polluting tailpipe. The following photos and video clips chronicle the odyssey.

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

This movie serves as an introduction when we left home and drove the first leg of the journey to the Superchargers in Las Vegas. It shows the watts-per-mile when cresting the summit of the Beaver Mountains, and again after descending the road to Arizona.

This is the total range displayed on the Tesla app that morning after charging the battery to 90%.

As you can see on the touchscreen, we had driven 120.5 miles to reach Las Vegas, and still had 154 miles of range left in the battery. The 75 mph freeway speed and a strong headwind had taken a toll on energy efficiency, but the Supercharger projected that it would take 25 minutes to recharge to 80%.

The original Superchargers in Las Vegas are in a fairly dingy parking garage. While Correcaminos charged, we went to find a bathroom and get some lunch a couple of blocks away. That took longer than 25 minutes, so I used the Tesla app to raise the charging limit to 90% and give us more time.

When we returned, the battery now had 278 miles of range, more than enough to reach the next stop along our intended route in Beatty, Nevada.

As we were approaching Beatty, we saw striking geological layers on the nearby mountains.

The black, gray, pink, white, brown strata were certainly unique.

In this clip I comment on the above terrain. We then plug in at the Superchargers and I show how the charging rate keeps climbing higher and faster on the touchscreen.

This is the display upon arriving at the Beatty Superchargers. You can see that we’d driven 118.8 more miles, using 302 watts-per-mile to climb to a higher elevation.

We were the only Tesla when we arrived, although a Model S later showed up right before we unplugged.

The state of Nevada and NVEnergy had also installed a combination CHAdeMO and CCS fast charger and a dual L2 EVSE at this location, as part of their plan to complete an “Electric Highway” between Reno and Las Vegas.

I commented in the video how the charging rate kept rising higher and faster. I took this screen shot from the Tesla app showing one of the highest readouts: an astounding 474 miles-per-hour!

‘Tisa was glad to take a break and stretch her legs during the short break.

Also while waiting, we decided to extend Correcaminos’ lightning cable, and plug in another one from home, so that we could charge our iPhones and iPads while en route. I had hoped to already have the Jeda wireless pad that I ordered weeks ago for this trip, but... that hope was in vain.

Our next stop was in Tonopah, and once again ours was the only Tesla at the Superchargers. This statue is at the Supercharger rest area, apparently providing a nice perch for birds on the brim of the lady’s hat.

And this plaque describes who those people were, and how Tonopah got started.

As the sun started to sink lower, we drove the last leg of our journey for the day to Hawthorne.

We had reserved a room in Hawthorne —obviously not at a 5-star hotel.

Hawthorne is a small, strange town, where the military has stored innumerable bunkers of unused bombs and missles, but... the sunset was colorful!

We recharged at the Hawthorne Superchargers the next morning, and then drove to Topaz Lake to plug in again. Oddly, the fee for this connection has yet to show up on my Tesla account. I suspect it is because the telematics in the Model 3 had zero bars of reception, so Tesla likewise is probably unable to monitor the site.

We finally arrived at the foothills to the Sierra Nevada, and in this video we cross over the summit between Gardnerville and Lake Tahoe. You will see that Correcaminos’ autopilot handles the winding curves without a glitch.

We plugged in at the Stateline Superchargers in South Lake Tahoe, located in the parking garage at the Hard Rock Cafe.

We were amused to see that Correcaminos’ twin was also plugged in there.

This clip shows various scenes when we left Lake Tahoe, and started down the canyon on Highway 50 as it descends toward the greater Sacramento area. Again, autopilot handled the curves and traffic with aplomb.

Upon arrival, we checked into our motel, only about one mile from the Tesla Store in Rocklin. The next morning I drove there to recharge.

The store boasts 18 Superchargers, 13 of which were already occupied when I pulled in.

As you can see, several Model S were also having breakfast that morning. Later, a Tesla employee told me that this center delivers all the cars to both this area of California and to Reno, Nevada.

Indeed, there were many spanking new Teslas in the lot, still covered in their protective plastic.

In fact, while I was there, two transporters were unloading even more Teslas. This one was carrying three Model 3, two Model S, and one Model X.

The second truck had already unloaded some of its Teslas, but still had one of each model on the top tier.

I took this short video to show the last Model S unloaded from the carrier.

As I mentioned above, the main purpose of our trip was to attend the wedding of Tamara’s niece. Here are the bride and groom, Haley and Charlie.

We also felt a need to help out Tamara’s aging parents during our visit, and here they are at the wedding.

Besides visiting family, we managed to spend a few moments of true vacation time. Here we stopped at an outdoor cafe in El Dorado Hills for dinner.

The setting at the cafe was stunning as the sun set over the adjacent river.

I wanted to mention that I finally got to sample an “Impossible” Burger at the in-laws’ Country Club. Although expensive, it was delicious and as close to “meat” as I’d ever tasted. I sure hope the restaurants in our area will start to offer them soon.

On another morning, looking up through Correcaminos’ glass roof while at the Rocklin Superchargers, I was tickled to glimpse the reflection of the tiny Tesla logo.

That morning I noticed that at least 30 Model 3 had been unloaded, and were being prepped for delivery. Half of them were the same Midnight Silver Metallic as ours, obviously a very popular color. In the rear of the lot were a half-dozen tightly covered in plastic, and I wondered if these were AWD Performance models, still under wraps until the 3rd Quarter deliveries.

While driving on the Sacramento freeways, I found that autopilot was even more useful in crowded, congested, stop-and-go traffic than on winding canyon roads. This was the first time that we had seen so many cars all around us on the touchscreen display, enabled by the last software update.

We didn’t bother to stop at Topaz Lake on the way home, and also decided to take a more direct route to Utah to avoid stopping in Beatty and Las Vegas. We therefore charged to nearly 100% in Tonopah, since we knew from Plugshare that the only place to add a few miles of range after that was at an auto shop in Panaca, Nevada —from a lowly J1772 EVSE.

On one stretch of highway across the desert, we drove by a reflective solar farm with its brightly lit tower.

I attempt to describe that solar farm in this short video.

As you can see, the highways across the Nevada desert offer little scenery —or curves! Autopilot’s steering assist really does assist in such instances, except when occasionally a strong gust of wind from the side will cause the car to swerve enough to disengage it.

At dusk, we were fortunate to see a spectacular moonrise over the desert. I pulled over to snap the picture of Correcaminos under that moon at the top of the page.

Night had fallen by the time we reached Caliente, Nevada, where there is an impressive vintage railroad station, now apparently a museum.

We made it to Panaca, and located the auto shop with the J1772 EVSE to plug in. I could access the service because I have a ChargePoint card from the many times I have plugged in during National Drive Electric Week in Las Vegas. At present, using ChargePoint’s stations is free, but that grace period with the state of Nevada will expire in the next couple of years.

There was also a dual fast charger there. I wish Tesla had already updated the Model 3’s software to use its CHAdeMO adapter, as it would have made a huge difference when adding a few miles to the battery there.

As it is, we only managed to add 25 miles after nearly an hour, but we calculated that we now had more than enough to arrive home. You can see in this display that, when we pulled into the garage shortly after midnight, there were only 29 miles of range left. If we hadn’t stopped in Panaca, we would have been cutting it very close, indeed.

Our roadtrip to California was the first time we’d used Superchargers, and we were very impressed with how quickly and easily one can recharge to drive long distances. Yes, the wait time is longer than at a gas pump, but not at all intolerable. By the time you’ve taken a bathroom break, walked the dog, refilled your water bottle, the car is ready to continue your journey.

“Saving money” has never been my motivation when investing in electric vehicles and rooftop solar, as I simply know it is the right thing to do for the greater good on this planet. Nonetheless, according to my calculator, if we’d kept our old Subaru, it would have cost us $359.06 for gasoline to drive the 1,847 miles on this roadtrip. Supercharging instead cost us... $82.94. I’ll take it!

I am absolutely delighted with how Correcaminos performed on this journey and cannot imagine ever going back to driving a gasmobile again.