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Our first road trip in the Tesla Model S.

On Monday March 26th, we had business in Fresno, approximately 70 miles from our home in Mariposa and the need to visit our 2nd home in Pollock Pines, 200 miles north of Fresno, where we needed pickup some items that had been inadvertently left there on a previous trip.   We decided to do the trip in our new Tesla Model S, even though it meant driving about 500 miles roundtrip in a single day in order to be home for meetings and appointments the next day.  Fortunately the Tesla Supercharger in Folsom was the key to making this trip not only possible but very convenient.

We anticipated that for the first leg of the journey, we needed to drive 63 miles to Northern Fresno, run errands around town, and then drive 184 miles to Folsom where we could visit the Supercharger.  We left Mariposa with a max charge, 271 miles of rated range, which we calculated would give us about 20 miles of range to spare, especially since during the first leg of the tip we would lose 3,200 ft of elevation and therefore perhaps gain another 20 miles of rated range.

We got to Northern Fresno with 223 of rated range left and after errands and lunch we left town at about 2 PM for Folsom with 215 miles of rated range and a calculated 184 mile distance to the Folsom Supercharger.  We had the Range mode on and used the AC sparingly as it was high 70s outside.

Rosemarie drove and her goal was to keep the average projected range shown in the Energy screen at or above the rated range shown below the speedometer/ wattmeter.  I was watching both these numbers and compared them to the remaining distance to the Supercharger shown in the Navigation window.

Rosemarie was able to drive at 67 to 74 mph, averaging 70, and maintain the projected miles at or above the rated miles, and we managed to keep our 30 mile buffer until we got near Sacramento, as which point she picked the speed a bit and got to the Supercharger with 14 miles of range remaining.  Although this seems like cutting it close, we really had no range anxiety as the energy usage was very predictable and we could speed up or slow down as required to keep a safe number of miles in the bank.  It would, of course, be very nice if the software would automatically do the math and compare projected and rated range with each other and the distance remaining to the destination and especially if it took elevation into account.   Even better would be a smart cruise control that would automatically adjust the speed as necessary to achieve the desired range. 

Folsom Supercharger

Luckily, when we got there, there was an empty bay at the Folsom Supercharger. Although it was only about 35 miles from Folsom to our house in Pollock Pines, we needed to gain 3,500 feet in elevation, visit the house and get back down to Folsom, so a 100-mile plus charge seemed wise.  We spent what seemed like a very quick 20 minutes charging at 270 mph to bring our rated range up to 122.   It was no problem passing the time, as there were other interesting Tesla Model S owners with which to chat

We got to Pollock Pines with 77 miles or range remaining, tested the recently installed NEMA 14-50 and added 8 miles of range in the time we were there, picked up the missing items and headed back down the hill.  

We returned to the Folsom Supercharger with 69 miles of range remaining at about 8:30 at night.  We plugged in and were soon charging at 300 mph as we ate a quick dinner at the nearby Casa Ramos restaurant. 

Forty-five minutes later we were on our way home to Mariposa with 248 miles of rated range.  We headed back for highway 99, but partway down 50, we decided to follow the Navigation software’s advice and take the Jackson Highway to Highway 49 and Mariposa. 

Driving Highway 49 is a treat anytime, as it goes through many historic foothill communities and some very scenic views, during the daytime at least.   The southern part of the journey however, between Jamestown/Sonora and Mariposa, can be a bit challenging.   I would not recommend driving this area for the first time after midnight, which is when we hit one of the most interesting stretches as can been seen in the rather poor photo to the right.   Fortunately Rosemarie knows this road well as we have driven it at least 100 times in the process of living in Pollock Pines and building a home in Mariposa.  We completed this homeward segment of the trip, about 150 miles, with no drama, and arrived with 42 miles to spare after regaining 3700 ft elevation from Folsom, as our house is at 3,800 ft. 

The car was awesome the whole trip and we could have easily driven over 500 miles with minimal time spent charging, thanks to the Folsom Superchargers being located near a decent restaurant.  We really did not spend more time waiting for a charge than we used to spend waiting for gas at Costco.  When got home tired, but with the Tesla grin.

Total trip: 486 miles.  Average energy usage: 323 watts/mile