I’ve been on the road a week now. I intentionally rushed through California because I know it well and wanted to see other places. I enjoyed visiting several parks in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. These parks included stupendous beauty and also Native American archeological sites including rock art.
The journey has been different than it would have been in a gas burning car. The rhythm of the trip is altered. For the most part, this compromise is not much of a burden.
Driving from Barstow to Arizona was a bit of a challenge. The superchargers are quite far apart and the prevailing traffic is very fast in the California desert. During the stretch between Barstow and Vegas, I almost felt like I was in a video game. I was still in the beginnings of the journey and kept the car full of energy in order to be able to take side detours. For that reason I decided to go through Las Vegas instead of heading over straight to Kingman. The Barstow Kingman stretch is quite long and it was also more than a bit windy. After filling up a regular charge, I found myself always arriving at the next supercharger already in the “red zone” with around 25 miles left.
One of my favorite unexpected finds was driving by the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility near the California Nevada border. I had read about this project but seeing it in person was quite interesting. There are a ton of solar panels around a large tower. All the light is sent to the tower to create steam to power a turbine. What was unexpected for me was the brightness of the light. I could feel it in my eyes even with sunglasses on near the end of the day. I took this photo of the Tesla near the plant. I was quickly shooed away by a guard who indicated that the dirt off the road was private property but she allowed me to quickly snap this photo.
One quickly realizes that to save time it is always easiest and quickest to eat near the superchargers. So I found myself eating from the available choices and not ending up going to the more interesting place I found on the web, which would require a second stop. Many of the superchargers are located near a series of large chain restaurants but often there are realistically not that many other options in some of these places.
Also charging while you sleep is extremely appealing. I did this twice and found that it was not so much charging while you sleep but charging while you check in, get settled and figure out the next activity.
Although both eating and sleeping choices were highly driven by the supercharger locations, in general I did not find this particularly burdensome.
The only one area I really missed was my beloved red rock country. I took the supercharger route through New Mexico and Utah: Gallup, Farmington, Blanding and Moab. I would never have taken this route in an ICE. I would have either driven through Capitol Reef National Park or through Highway 160 and to Monument Valley. Even in late 2015 these routes are going to be a challenge with an electric car as services are few and far between. A back and forth from one of the supercharger stations and some careful RV park research may be possible. I was interested in going to Chaco Canyon too but that really requires a much tougher vehicle. So someday I may return with my 4WD Highlander, at least it is a hybrid.