Monday, September 16, 2013

Coast to Coast in a Tesla

It was a Saturday afternoon and the recommended KOA and AAA RV parks around Pittsburgh, PA and Morgantown, WV were occupied that night. Since he and his writer were in a more densely populated part of the country, Arnie decided to call up, a website recommended by the Tesla post-sales guy in Portland.  Arnie was skeptical after his experience in Richland, Washington.

Arnie targeted Morgantown, West Virginia given the range available in the Model S Battery. PlugShare listed the Morgantown Farmer’s Market, a Mitsubishi dealer and two Nissan dealers. They pulled into Morgantown at 11 pm with a ten-mile range. The Tesla drove up and down the roller coaster streets of the drunken collegiate mountain town and across a river. Ignoring Miss Navigation System he found the “single free charger” under the newly constructed Farmer’s Market pavilion.

With a seven-mile charge remaining Arnie plugged in, and high-fived his writer. They found a charger with less than ten miles to go yet again. It was immediately after Reggie sighed that he noticed a sign on a column which supported the pavilion: “Permit Parking Only. All Other Vehicles Will Be Towed at the Owners Expense.” No wonder the lot was empty.

As they searched the car for warm clothes, Arnie allowed his Tesla to charge to a 15-mile range. They decided to first locate another charger, and then find a hotel. University Mitsubishi was a two or three mile drive through town. They avoided the college lushes mingling in the intersections and took a road that paralleled the river. The dealership was at the foot of a steep incline. They circled the large lot that also included Toyota and BMW dealers and discovered the charging station outside the showroom. It functioned.

With an eleven-mile range Arnie saw a sign for the Morgantown Hotel near the car dealer. The dingy joint’s parking lot was full—likely with folks attending West Virginia University’s football game that afternoon. Reggie rang the bell to no answer, so Arnie backtracked a mile and a half to a hotel they passed on the drive from the Farmer’s Market—but that hotel was booked—no rooms with two beds. The fellow at the desk recommended they travel back towards University Motors and up the steep hill to the Ramada. 

The Tesla was tiring again. Like the 395 miles they drove from Greenfield, Indiana that morning, midnight was in the rear view mirror. Why do they torture me so? The steep hill was dark…seven miles…and windy…six miles…and elusive…five miles…Arnie turned into the dark Ramada driveway, noticed a hill and pulled a U-turn…four miles. Through the traffic light was a Comfort Inn. Arnie parked.

The woman at the desk relieved the boys with a room with two full beds—but there was a second problem to solve.

“Here’s a question you probably don’t get too often,” Arnie said. “Do you have a place I could charge my car?”

The woman hesitated. “Hmmm…we don’t have any outdoor plugs. We should have a charger, I suppose. Guess we haven’t caught up yet.”

Turns out, the woman’s husband was a cab driver. She gave Arnie his number so he could meet him at the University Motors hook-up. “He’s over in Cheat Lake now, but he can be there in about twenty minutes.”

They checked in. Reggie went to the room. Arnie pressed his luck with his four-mile range car Battery.

Reggie was brushing his teeth in his boxers when the phone rang in the hotel room. This can’t be good. Frantically, he rinsed his brush and ran to the phone—but his mouth was full of pasty water. He ran back to the bathroom, spit, and returned to the phone.


No answer.

Did Arnie make it? The battery must have died. Damn, I missed a story.

He crawled under the sheets and read his cowgirl novel. A half hour later Arnie keyed into the room waking his writer from a sleep.

“Arnie…you okay?”

“Yeah, why?”


From Morgantown Arnie and Reggie were within a day’s drive from their goal: to drive the all-electric Tesla coast-to-coast. Before flying to Portland to acquire the vehicle, Arnie had a Tesla 100-amp charger installed in his garage. The day was Sunday. Arnie’s favorite football club, the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, was to play their home opener that afternoon. What better place to layover as the Tesla charged but Arnie's home? 

They didn’t quite have the range to make it directly to his home in Owing Mills, Maryland, so they visited one final campground for some quick voltage—the Hagerstown Antietam Battlefield KOA. When they arrived in Owing Mills, Arnie’s daughter Alaine greeted them with a smile and two large pizzas. The Ravens flipped a 6-0 third quarter deficit to the Cleveland Browns into a 13-6 victory.

Tesla Motors installed another supercharger in Wilmington, Delaware. Instead of charging overnight, Arnie decided to juice the battery there on the way to the coast.

On the phone during the supercharge, Arnie arranged a visit with his cousin Carla in Middletown--a town along the route to Rehoboth Beach. Over coffee and brownies Arnie and Reggie told stories of their adventure. Arnie drove Carla and her wide-eyed son Niko around the block in his new toy. Niko, this is an example of an interjection. Reggie helped the sixth-grader with his English homework.

At 11:45 pm Arnie and Reggie checked into the Atlantis Inn at Rehoboth Beach with a 158-mile range on the Tesla. They drove 383.6 miles that final day, for a total of 3862.4 miles coast-to-coast. They used 1,251.3 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy, with an average energy of 324 Wh/mi (watts per mile).

The next morning—after twelve consecutive days on the road in the Tesla—Arnie watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Congratulations, Arnie! Here's to a job well done.”

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