Fourth Roadtrip
to Telluride
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
June 28 - July 8, 2023

Bugged… but Plugged!
(Click to enlarge)

Tamara has a good friend and former colleague in the Netherlands, Hedy Stegge, who wanted to come visit us for a vacation this summer. To show her the many wonders of our area of the country, Tamara proposed that we take her to visit my sister in Telluride, the fourth time we’ve driven there, and en route we could show her Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Durango, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Colorado National Monument. EV aficionados are always interested in the stats from such roadtrips, and here are some of the key results from this trip:

Miles driven: 1,687
kWh used: 403
Average mi/kWh: 4.19
Supercharges: 12
Average cost per charge: $11.51
Average cost per kWh: 34.26¢
Total cost: $138.08

I was pleased to see that, despite having three occupants and our doggy, plus all the suitcases, bags, cooler, and food, we managed to achieve ever better energy efficiency on this trip (4.19 mi/kWh) than last year (3.96 mi/kWh). On the other hand, it is clear that Supercharger rates keep rising. Yes, our Model 3 still costs less than if we’d kept our previous Subaru, but most newer ICE vehicles are more fuel efficient than in the past. For example, while in Telluride, we saw that my brother-in-law, Bob, had purchased a new Toyota Venza hybrid. Comparing its EPA rating (39 mpg) with our results above shows that we saved only about 3¢ per mile less than his hybrid:

In my post on our last roadtrip to California, I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the deteriorating behavior of Tesla’s driver assistance features. Sadly, I can only report that those problems have grown even worse with the latest sofware updates.

During this trip we experienced dozens of instances of phantom braking —on interstates, highways, backroads, and city streets. Twice we saw red steering wheel alerts for no apparent reason. The car would swerve disconcertingly when passing on- and off-ramps. It would ping-pong between lanes when trying to move into an adjacent one, even though there was nothing behind, in front, or to the side. Adhering to the posted speed limits was like a random crap shoot. Sometimes it would read and display the speed limit signs, other times it would ignore them. There were times when it would adjust the car’s speed accordingly, but other times it would remain at a slower or faster speed than what the new sign displayed —a sure fire invitation to get a speeding ticket! There were instances when I had to disengage Autopilot and steer myself to go the posted speed limit (say, 65 mph), because the system doesn’t allow driving faster the 5 mph over the speed limit displayed on the car’s touchscreen (say, a false 35 mph!). Oddly, it now slows down all by itself when approaching roundabouts, yield signs, stop signs, and red lights —even though I do not have such features enabled in Enhanced Autopilot. On two separate occasions the navigation took us on wild goose chases around in circles before finally directing us to our designated destinations.

How to explain such unpredictable behavior? Are features of the FSD programming now creeping into EAP? Or is all this because Tesla has disabled radar and proximity sensors, trying to rely exclusively on “Tesla Vision” cameras —which simply do not suffice? Our friend from the Netherlands was often startled by these quirks and would ask me if I had hit the brakes or had swerved the wheel when they happened. All I could tell her was… no, the car’s autopilot was behaving erratically, but I tried to reassure her that I was paying close attention to intervene and correct those errors when they occurred. It was, as you can imagine, not a very relaxing trip for any of us as a result. I really am fed up with Tesla’s ADA system, let alone its vaporware FSD promises. I want my original EAP back that came with the car over 5 years ago! I thus can’t wait to transition to a different, safer EV in the future.

Okay. Enough of my grumbling rant. Below are some of the enjoyable parts of our trip, with the usual annotated photos and movies.

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

I charged Correcaminos to 100% before we left, knowing that we might need the extra miles to reach Page, AZ. As the display shows, after 5 years and 70K miles, the battery is now at about 94% capacity.

This is what the energy efficiency graph projected for the initial leg of the trip.

We stopped en Kanab, UT, so that Tamara and Hedy could do a bit of shopping in the tourist stores.

We then had lunch on the patio of a French Restaurant where Tamara and I had dined on our trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

On the road again, I had Tamara record this video from the back seat to explain where we were going.

I bet that, for Hedy, seeing the rock formations in our Southwestern Desert was like being on a different planet compared to the Netherlands.

As we approached Page, we stopped at a viewpoint overlooking Lake Powell.

This is one of the vistas we could see from that viewpoint.

We then stopped at Glen Canyon dam, to see how low Lake Powell had dropped during the climate change exacerbated drought that has lasted for more than a decade.

In this photo you can see the reservoir behind the dam and the green Colorado River that it disgorges from its power plant which then runs through the Grand Canyon.

When I plugged into the Supercharger in Page, AZ, we had about 73 miles of range left in the battery. We'd driven 174 miles, so the theoretical range from the 100% charge that morning was 247 miles —not 291— due to using air conditioning, sentry mode and dog mode while stopped, and the heavy load in the vehicle.

Here is Correcaminos plugged in at the Superchargers. I only charged to 90%, figuring that I'd charge it higher the next morning for the longest leg of the trip.

Early the next day I continued charging to 100%, but this time the predicted miles were lower, since the battery was cold.

We continued driving from Page to Monument valley, seeing more formations.

This one was particularly impressive because it had a distinctive dark coloar, rather than the usual red rock sandstone in the area.

As we approached Monument Valley, I narrated an update of our journey.

Here is Moxie, posing in front of the formations at the turn off for Monument Valley.

The pinnacle really are impressive, standing so tall and isolated bove the flat plain.

Yet another photo of our "little girl" from a different angle.

This photo shows me, Tamara, and Moxie with three of the formations in the background.

And of course, Moxie needed her own portrait with those pinnacles.

On the other side of Monument we stopped at the viewpoint that is famous for when Forrest Gump ran through the valley.

We then drove through Mexican Hat and Bluff. Can you guess why the latter town has that name?

Farther along, we saw this unique outcropping of multiple layers of colored sandstone.

After driving 202 miles, we arrived at the Superchargers in Blanding, with 62 miles left in the battery —23 miles less than the predicted range that morning.

We plugged in and I set the charge to reach only 80% this time. As you can tell, these are among some of the first Superchargers that Tesla installed, with a slower rate than the newer models.

The good news is that they are powered my solar panels at the Blanding Visitor Center.

It is a nice location, with a museum, bathrooms, a park, and picnic area where we had lunch.

The 80% charge was more than enough to reach the Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park where we would spend the night.

The Lodge provides two EV chargers, and later that evening I plugged in to one of them to recharge to 80% by morning.

When I returned the next day to unplug, I was delighted to see a Nissan LEAF plugged into the Clipper Creek EVSE. Given the current frustrations with Tesla’s driver assistance softare, I really miss my LEAF!

Here are the two EV chargers that the Lodge provides: the Clipper Creek EVSE with a J1772 plug, and the other a Tesla HPWC with its NACS plug.

That morning we drove to the Ancestral Pueblo ruins of Cliff Palace.

Hedy and I had reserved tickets for a tour of the site, and really enjoyed the ranger's presentation of what we were seeing.

Here is a round tower in the ruins.

And here is a square tower farther along.

This is a photo looking back at the pathway we had walking through the site.

Later that afternoon we also took a tour of Balcony House, which was more difficult to access, as we had to climb a very tall ladder to enter the site.

I was amazed that the site had wooden beams still intact, perhaps used for balconies, hence the name of the ruins.

This is a typical Kiva in the ruins. Originally they had roofs and were likely used for housing and ceremonial gatherings, with a fire pit and ventilation shafts to circulate the air.

The next day, I drove Tamara and Hedy to Durango, to take the steam engine train to Silverton, high in the San Juan mountains.

The steam engine was practically an antique, still functioning for this tourist attraction.

I took this video of the steam billowing out of it before they departed, followed by another clip of when they arrived back in Durango later that afternoon.

After staying another night in Mesa Verde and again charging the car, we drove to Telluride to my sister Wendy’s house.

Wendy and Bob live in a pristine setting in Mountain Village, not far from the downtown area of Telluride.

As you can see, they are surrounded by impressive peaks that rival those in the Alps.

After driving 90 miles from Mesa Verde, we arrived at the Superchargers in Mountain Village with 109 miles remaining in the battery.

Here we are in the gondola from Mountain Village to downtown Telluride, also known as the "gondogola," because they allow dogs in some of the cars.

From the downtown area we could see Bridal Veil Falls. Next to it you can see the Smuggler-Union Hydroelectric Plant, the oldest one still in use in this country. It produces about 2,000 MWh of electricity per year, sufficient to power about 2,000 homes.

Here is a short video of the falls.

My sister Wendy is a professional equestrian and she took us out to the El Prado horse ranch where she stables her steeds and gives riding lessons in the summers.

Moxie was ready to be the driver of this buckboard at the ranch.

The San Miguel River in Telluride was quite swollen from the deep snowpack they received last winter.

One day while there we drove to the town of Ouray, nicknamed the "Switzerland of America."

We had dinner there that evening in the Outlaw restaurant.

Here is a wonderful view of the San Juan mountains while driving between Ouray and Telluride.

Back at the ranch again, we enjoyed a picnic at a rest stop along the side of the main road.

This is a shot of the El Prado ranch, with the San Juan Mountains in the background.

Bob took a riding lesson from Wendy that day, and here they are grooming the horses.

I thought this was a fitting logo for the ranch!

After thanking Wendy and Bob for their generous hospitality, we drove to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park near Montrose.

Here I am with Moxie at the edge of the precipice.

The canyon really is unique. There are spots in which it is deeper than it is wide. You can see the Gunnison River running through it down below.

And here is a wider angle of the canyon, with the river cascading through its narrow edges.

Looking in the opposite direction, you can see Montrose in the distance.

I'm sure our Model 3 is not the first Tesla to visit this National Park.

We then took a road near the entrance to the park that descended down to the river where the canyon starts. It is just as impressive from below as it is from the rim.

After leaving the Black Canyon, we returned to Montrose where I plugged into the new Superchargers there.

I was curious to see two ChargePoint fast chargers in the same parking lot, but —alas!— their screens indicated that they were currently not in operation. Tsk. It’s a widespread malady of DCFC stations that really needs to be remedied as soon as possible if we’re going to effectively transition to electric vehicles. There is one bit of good news, however. Many automakers and charge providers have committed to adopt NACS plugs and connectors so that other EVs can use the more widespread and reliable Superchargers in the future.

We stopped to have a late lunch (early dinner?) at the Camp Robber Mexican Restaurant in Montrose.

We then drove to Grand Junction to spend the night, and the next morning I plugged in at the Superchargers not far from our motel. Since we were here last summer, Rivian had also installed some of its "Adventure" fast chargers, and I was delighted to see an R1S plugged in there.

I charged to the usual 80%, which predicted 232 miles of range, hopefully enough to tour Colorado National Monument and then drive to Green River, UT.

The Monument boasts numerous canyons, carved out by the Colorado River eons ago near Grand Junction.

Tamara and I pose with one of the canyons and Grand Junction in the background.

While Tamara and Hedy took photos at another turnout, I took this selfie of me and Moxie in the car.

These “Coke Ovens” in the Monument were certainly unique formations.

Of course, I had to take a photo of Moxie in front of those formations.

This tower is named for John Otto, who founded the Monument and was the first person to climb to the top of it.

A shot of Correcaminos overlooking the Monument.

And here is a closer look at the canyon beyond.

After leaving the Monument, we drove to Green River to spend the night.

I plugged into the Superchargers right next to our motel, with 70 miles of range left in the battery, but decided to charge to 90%, suspecting that we might need the extra miles to make it to Richfield the next day.

Moxie was happy to check in to the motel, as this had been a long, bewildering trip for her.

We made it to Richfield just find the next day. Since this was our last Supercharge before returning home, I decided to again charge to 100%. However, I interrupted it at 98% rather than wait even longer for the much slower rate of 22kW to finish charging.

We drove through Zion National Park on the way home, and I took this photo of Moxie in front of Checkerboard Mesa. I've now got quite a collection of her travels and might post a webpage dedicated just to her tourism.

It proved prudent to charge to 98%, since we arrived home in the "orange" zone of 57 miles left in the battery. I posted and calculated the final stats for our roadtrip at the top of the page.

It was a truly memorable vacation —despite the erratic behavior of Correcaminos’ driver assistance programming. We had originally planned to also visit Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon, but decided that we had seen more than enough for one roadtrip. I’m sure that Hedy appreciated visiting and seeing all these wonders in this corner of the world, and we’re glad that we could share them with her. We’ll likely take her to also see Kolob Canyons, Cedar Breaks, and Brian Head before she finally boards the plane to return to the Netherlands, and I’ll upload another post of that day trip.