I spent several days of my cross country and back journey off the grid — as in off the supercharger route. I had no real interest in doing the exact same route up the eastern seaboard. I wanted to visit a friend in Nashville and see a few other places along the way.
Planning this journey took a considerable amount of time. The goal is to be charging the car at night or during the day while visiting somewhere. In the end I came up with the following itinerary from Savannah, GA:
My first stop would be Macon, Georgia. The forum had reported that the unofficially opened supercharger in Macon was working. Plugshare.com indicated a slower charger up the street in case this supercharger was not available. Various other drivers had reported successfully charging there so I was not particularly concerned. The charger is located behind the visitor center. I walked over to the Harriet Tubman museum while the car charged.
Between Macon and Atlanta was a distance of only 101 miles. I visited the Martin Luther King Historical Site and another museum. For charging I decided to try to charge overnight at the Tesla Service Center in Marietta, Georgia. I had called ahead of time to ask about charging and was told the chargers were outside the building. I am glad I arrived during business hours as the outside chargers were all busy when I arrived.
The folks at this service center were very friendly and offered to drop me off at my hotel. I chose the Hampton Inn that was about 1/4 mile away from the service center so that I could walk if necessary. They also picked me up in the morning to take me to my car.
Many service centers have chargers only inside the facility. I will always plan to arrive during business hours.
I had two choices to drive north from Atlanta. I initially planned to drive through Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had found a hotel on a site that listed it as having charging facilities. When I called this independent hotel, they informed me they did not have charging facilities. I also contacted a couple of private Tesla owners on Plugshare.com.
In the end, I decided to go to Birmingham instead which is around 150 miles away. I was interested in the Civil Rights Museum and found a Chargepoint charger located nearby. I could easily charge while visiting the city and sleeping at a nearby hotel. The charge took about 8 hours and was free as was the parking at the McWane science center. I enjoyed my visit to the museum and the art museum. The charging facility was not in the best of neighborhoods, so I did not return to the car in the evening but I saved hotel parking charges.
The next stop was my friend’s house near Nashville Tennessee about 105 miles away. They have a plug very similar to one of the Tesla plugs available for sale. But upon careful examination the plugs did not match exactly! After an unsuccessful trip to Home Depot for a simple adaptor, we drove to a Blink charging station nearby.
It was already 8pm and the charger said it would be complete in over 17 hours. We continued searching on various apps and driving around to a non-existent public utility plug to discover that all charging stations in the immediate area were the same Blink network. A nearby nudist colony had a charging facility.
I decided to leave the Tesla at the Blink station. Luckily the charge did not take a full 17 hours and was more on the order of 15 so I managed to leave for my next destination by mid day the next day.
My next off the grid stop was a campground in Paducah, Kentucky about 180 miles away from my friends house. Plugshare.com indicated that there was an EV friendly campground there. I had wanted to try charging overnight and sleeping in the back of the Tesla. While charging, you cannot run the climate control.
The owners were quite friendly and only charge $10 for an EV whether or not you stay at the facility (price may change for an overnight stay). They have had four Teslas charge there. A motel is about 1/8 of a mile away along with a place where you can buy food. Some of their stations were compatible with my adaptors but several were not.
Waking Up in a RV Park
I set up my Tesla for sleeping and found the car nice and quiet despite the freeway being within a reasonable distance. The RV park was much quieter than a regular campground since almost everyone was within their RV.
The two difficulties I had with sleeping in the RV park was that it was so well lit it interfered with sleeping. The second challenge was the slope of the Tesla with the rear seats down. I bought for the trip a very thick sleeping pad but also needed two other supports in the seam between the seats to be comfortable.
St. Louis, MO
Another 188 miles to my final stop was St. Louis Missouri where I found a hotel that had charging in their garage. I needed to call ahead and reserve the spot. The charge worked nicely as I did not arrive there till late afternoon and was easily finished by the morning. The garage has a valet who insisted he knew how to drive a Tesla. But I had to ask him “Do you know how to unplug one?”
My backup plan was to go to the Tesla St. Louis service center but in the end this was fortunately not necessary.
Going off the grid takes a lot of careful planning and interferes with wanderlust. Waiting for a charge during the day is quite tedious, so in essence I consider myself limited to a driving distance of around 200 miles a day.
The websites that are available to plan are not ideal. None offer the ability to search for charging facilities just at hotels for example. Plugshare.com is the most useful website and their related recargo is the most useful app in general. The Allstays app is nice for the RV parks as you can filter by available amps. I also liked that the app allows you to dial the RV park directly to double check on both availability and EV friendliness.