Redwoods, Rats & Tarantulas- A Tesla Road Trip

Someone locked the Tesla, but I needed to hurl.  I opened the door and the alarm proceeded to blare.  I’m sure the people in the Model X next to us were very confused as they couldn’t see me.  I then spewed onto the pavement.  Ahhhh, I was starting to feel better.

I wanted to write about our road trip with our Tesla Model Y and what went right and what went wrong.  We traveled to LA for the Automobility LA/The LA Auto Show.  We wanted to make a trip out of it, so we decided that we would drive the PCH north to Monterrey for a small road trip after the show.  We departed Denver and landed at LAX, where we picked up our rental Tesla from Hertz.  We parked up for the night at our hotel, as the Auto Show was the next day.  The show was great this year, you can find out what our favorite EV was here.

We left the Auto Show in the early afternoon and immediately headed North on the PCH, which is when I headed South.  My stomach was in knots and my head felt like Hulk Hogan had smashed it through a table.  Not good.  I proceeded to lie down in the backseat, which ended up being quite comfortable. 

Our first charging stop was in Pismo Beach, I think.  Things were a little foggy.  My travel buddies parked up the Tesla, plugged in, and headed towards the convenience store for some salt & vinegar chips and a drink.  That was the point where I proceeded to lean out the door while the horns were blaring, and vomit. 

I started to feel better, at least for a short while.  We finished up our extremely quick charging at the Tesla Supercharger and headed back north.  Our destination for the night was Morro Bay; a quaint little ocean town with a big rock.  We would find a Level 2 charger in town, park for the night, and be ready to go the next morning.  There was only one problem.  There was no J1772 adaptor.  Looks like there would be no Level 2 charging for us on this trip.

It was dark when we made it to Morro Bay, so when we woke up the next morning, we were greeted with quite an amazing rock in the Bay, the Morro Rock.  I felt so much better from the previous day, and I had regained an appetite, but first, the Rock.  The Morro Rock is a volcanic plug standing 581 feet tall and believed to be 23 million years old.  This is one of the first things seen by the first landing of the Filipinos in the US. Incredible.

After checking out the Morro Rock, we grabbed some breakfast at a local spot, and then it was time to head out to find a charger and get to our final destination, Monterrey.  Tesla makes it so easy to charge.  You plug in your destination, and it will guide you along the way and let you know if you need to charge and for how long. We found our Supercharger and plugged in. We walked over to Starbucks and grabbed a coffee.  By the time we were done with our coffee, the Tesla was at 80% and we were ready to go.  Amazing.  Tesla will also recognize if you are proceeding to a charging destination and precondition the battery.  It’s amazing. 

Part of the PCH was closed, so we had to hook up with the 101.  This took us through endless vineyards past the iconic racetrack, Laguna Seca, and finally to our hotel in Monterrey.  We’d spend a couple days here which consisted of checking out Cannery Row, driving up to Santa Cruz, dropping our jaws in awe of the Redwoods at Henry Cowell State Park, the natural formations at Bridges State Beach, visited a Farmers Market where we purchased fresh strawberries and cookies, and then back down to finish up at Carmel-by-the-Sea to catch a sunset. 

In total, while we were in Monterrey, we had to charge 3 times.  Every time it was incredibly simple.  We had great speeds and just enough time to stretch our legs for a little bit.  The chargers were busy, but we never had to wait for a spot.  It was fantastic to experience the Tesla Supercharger network in action.

I do have one small complaint.  I like physical buttons.  Aside from the turn signals and the stalk for Autosteer, everything is basically done through the touchscreen.  It was rainy on and off in Monterrey and finding the windshield wipers was not the easiest, especially having muscle memory from 20+ years of driving and using the stalk on the right to engage the windshield wipers.  This seemed dangerous at times.

Other than the rain, we enjoyed our time in Monterrey and the surrounding area, but it was time to head home.  We had a late afternoon flight, so we had time to get back to LAX.  We would take the 5 this time, driving through vast farmland.  I’m talking grapes, apples, oranges, almonds, pistachios, etc…  A beautiful part of the country that I’d never seen before.  We topped off the charger the night before, so we made a good distance.  The plan was two charging stops down the 5, and then one closer to LAX before our flight.

With the Tesla’s guidance, our next stop would be Buttonwillow, CA. Right next to another iconic racetrack.  With racecars burning up tires and fuel in the distance, we plugged into what seemed like a brand-new Supercharger network.  There wasn’t much else around except for buildings under construction and what appeared to be an extension of the racetrack.  We wandered around the construction zone and came across a tarantula.  I’d be okay if I never saw another one in the wild. 

We completed our charge and decided to head over to the racetrack just to check it out.  We were greeted by a very nice lady who let us in for free and gave us the scoop on the extension of the racetrack.  Construction had been halted due to Giant Kangaroo Rats, but she expected the extension to be open next year.  We watched a couple of laps until a car caught on fire and then headed out.  Buttonwillow. Racetracks, tarantulas, rats, and charging.  Fascinating place. 

We continued on down the 5 until we were just outside of LA. We decided to charge again while we grabbed some lunch.  My travel buddies ate quite a bit faster than I and I didn’t have time to finish my lunch before we hit 80% and had to get back in the car.  Glad I made my order to go.

Since we picked up the Model Y with 88%, we had to return it with 88%.  Easy, right?  This was where we cut it close.  We found the closest Supercharger to LAX and pulled in. For the first time on this trip, all of the chargers were in use.  We were running short on time.  We ended up having to wait for 15-20 minutes before a charger opened up.  We plugged in and charged to around 90%, hoping that 2% would get us back to Hertz. 

Hertz is a big promoter of renting EVs, and they had a massive inventory of them.  How they don’t have some chargers on site is a little surprising.  This would certainly enhance someone’s EV experience if it was a little more convenient.  We made it back to Hertz with exactly 88%.  We caught the Hertz bus to LAX and caught our flight back to Denver.

Altogether, it was a great experience.  Driving 764 miles in an EV was a breeze.  Tesla really has charging down.  If you haven’t done so, I would highly recommend renting a Tesla for a road trip.  The charging is easy, the autosteer makes it comfortable, and they are no slouch either.  We’ll have to figure out our next road trip. Perhaps the Rivian?

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