A Tesla Christmas

In my first blog I said that our year spent homeless and living out of our car wasn’t really going to be a full year, but “more on that later”. Well, it’s later.  So here’s more.

The idea of driving around anywhere you want to go and living out of a tent is, let’s face it, pretty sweet. To a first approximation. A second approximation includes musings on urinating into a bucket and tenting in the snow. So no.

Thus, a short pause in our traveling lifestyle, a lacuna, a parenthetical aside in our wanderings. But not in our old home in Pocatello, ‘cuz that one’s on the market and full of renters.

Here we are in Kalispell, Montana. “Why not the southwest?”, you might reasonably ask. Tomorrow’s forecast is for 19 below F, so I might reasonably ask also. And the answer is “because we’d have to pay for the southwest”. The Kalispell is free. Laura’s mother has a house in Kalispell and her husband has a house in Berkeley. They are snowbirds and in past winters she’s rented her house out, sometimes with good results and sometimes bad. Like the time they found their couch and all the bedrooms on airbnb. Guy was making a killing. I don’t know why she shut him down, I’d’a just demanded a cut. Oh well, works for us, ‘cuz she decided she’d rather have us live there for free than take her chances with another random. So here we are, in a temporary sort of permanence. A ‘real house’, which is nice in a way that one doesn’t appreciate, really, if one hasn’t lived in a tent for 6 months. So try the tent sometime. It’ll make you more appreciative.

Not that we’ve stayed or plan to stay here ALL Winter. We’re Gypsies now. We arrived the last week of October, did the Halloween thing


and then left for 3 weeks, heading to California and eventually, unplanned, down to Tucson, along the way arriving at the Kingman supercharger with ONE mile left on the battery.  More on that later. 10 days after arriving back in Kalispell we went on a 2 week trip to Indiana. California and Tucson were quite nice, no trouble camping but we didn’t even try on the Indiana trip. It was hotels the whole way there and the whole way back.

Here is Hwy 1 along the California coast, and the view out the windshield along I-70 through Kansas:

20141119_095219 IMG_20141221_150912_288

Which brings us to the point of the story. How do you drive from Kalispell to anywhere in an all-electric car without staying in an RV park overnight to charge? Which you’re not going to do in the Winter in a tent. For previous trips, including overnighting October 26th, we’d stayed at the Wagonhammer RV Park just north of Salmon Idaho, a nice 1/2 way point between the HighPowerWallCharger in Pocatello and the in-laws’ in Kalispell. We can make it from Wagonhammer to Kalispell, just barely, on one charge (“Just barely” means “Drive slowly and don’t run the heater”), but when we fired up the central screen on the morning of the 27th we saw, to our great delight, a new supercharger in MISSOULA! Thank you Elon! Thank you thank you thank you! Wagonhammer to Missoula to Kalispell is a no brainer easy drive with a supercharger! So we burned down the road with the heater on full power. So sweet. But a supercharger in Missoula doesn’t get you to Pocatello, that’s still a road too far. But that’s not the direction we were heading for the November 3rd trip, ‘cuz that one had us going to California. We charged in Missoula, spent the night in Spokane indoors at a friend’s house, then subsequent nights were also all indoors: motel, friend, friend, family, family, and then we were at Big Sur (on the California Coast)


and the tent was fun and comfy (California is so cush). We were able to tent from there on until we got back into Utah, then it was another motel. Oh, by the way, here’s a tip. Don’t take your car through the carwash when it’s going to be parked at 22 degrees overnight. You remember that video Tesla shows of the iced-over car handles extending and blowing the ice to smithereens like it’s nothin’? (See Youtube Video at 2:20) Yeah, it really does that. Impressive. Now you’ve got handles, but you aren’t going to pull the door open if the car is that iced up. What you can do is pull open the hatch and crawl up into the driver’s seat.

     Here’s Tucson.  Can you see the horned owl flying?  Low and on the left side:


By the time we’d done Tucson and were back in Pocatello Elon had gifted us yet another Montana supercharger, this one in Bozeman. With careful husbanding of battery power (slow and cold), it is possible to get to Bozeman from Poky with a single charge. We did it. Then Bozeman to Missoula, then back to Kalispell, all on superchargers, YAY! Superchargers are the bomb.

For the trip to Indiana – did I tell you about that? We finally found a good home for our two Siamese cats, and when someone tells you ‘I’ll take your adult cats’, you don’t wait for good weather, you just go. Here’s cat in car:


So it was off to Indiana in the middle of Winter. For the trip to Indiana, 10 days later (it’s now December 5th), Elon had gifted us once again, this time in Butte. It IS possible to get from Butte, MT to the Pocatello HPWC on a full charge, though it’s a bit of a squeaker. At least it can be done when it’s at least 40 degrees out. You remember Laura’s blog about winter driving and how extreme cold will jack with your range? No? Go read it. Anyway, it was 40 degrees and we made it. Only just. And then superchargers all the way (Pocatello to Nephi’s a bit of a squeaker, too. Drive slow. Be cold). She did mention in her blog that I’d forgotten the charge cord and we didn’t realize it until we really needed it east of Kansas City, right? Yeah, I thought she did. Ya’ ever have your blood run cold? If not, you could try re-creating the 12 seconds between realizing you’d left the charge cord in MT and telling your wife about it in Missouri. Bit of consternation composing the next sentence out of my mouth, let me tell you.

The trip to Indiana necessarily involved taking the southern route, down to I-70 then east, onna’ counta’ having to pick up the cats from where we’d warehoused them in Poky. But the trip back was wide open and in fact the northern route, I-90, made more sense once we’d dropped by to see my elderly mother in Iowa. Except that the superchargers peter out at Rapid City. That’s when we put a supercharger in Sheridan WY on our Christmas wish list. Every morning we’d check the NAV system. Rapid City to Sheridan would be a close call, but we’ve gotten used to those. Then Sheridan to Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Missoula, and Kalispell. Easy. Sheridan would really open up I-90, practically coast to coast. Only no Sheridan. So back along I-70 and up to Poky. Along the way we got to talking, where else would there be a supercharger for our wish list? That question got pretty definitively answered driving up I-15 from Pocatello to Butte at 17 degrees. ‘Member how I said going the other way was a squeaker at 40 degrees? B to P is a little downhill – 876 feet to be exact. This makes a real difference when you’re squeakin’. So P to B may not be possible at all at 40, being uphill. Haven’t tried it. Have only tried it at 17 and that’s a no. So having topped up in Idaho Falls at an interminably slow J1772 connector (Which was free, so we’ve got that going for us, I guess) we arrived in Butte with 6 miles on the battery and a supercharger in Dillon on our wish list. Dillon is only 57 miles south of Butte, 1/2 as far apart as most other supercharger distances along the interstates in flyover country. Not without precedent, though – The Green River supercharger to the one in Moab is 52 miles (We have got to spend more time in Moab and environs this Spring). There’s one planned for Idaho Falls, 142 miles south of Dillon, and that’s a bit farther than average, but do-able on a full charge even considering the route crosses the continental divide twice. And often enough the temps along there are sub zero so that’d make it sporty in the Winter. So Dillon, because there’s not much else ‘tween the two. It’s a whole lot of Big Sky Country if you don’t count Lima, Spencer, or Humphery. And you wouldn’t. I mean, Humphrey’s for sale, for gawd’s sake, all of it. Has been for years. Lima’s kind of cute, with its one somewhat scraggly motel with the signs in the bathrooms that say, “Hunters: PLEASE don’t clean your rifles with the bath towels!”

2015-01-01 14_55_59-Lima, Mt 59739 - Google Maps

So Dillon got moved to the top of our wish list.

On Dec 23rd, @TeslaLiving tweeted out a New Supercharger in LIMA!!! We were dancing around for joy! We pulled up the map for ourselves and it wasn’t there. Lima, Ohio had one. What a lump of coal.

Maybe next year.