California, here we come! (Road trip 2018 – part 3)

Day 4 – Twentynine Palms, CA – Carlsbad, CA

There was pretty much a single item on our itinerary for the day: Legoland. I will freely admit that the road trip idea started as a desire to visit the theme park. Call it daddy’s influence, guilty as charged. When I was little, my family had no means to afford even the tiniest LEGO sets – they were prohibitively expensive for what my parents were making. The first real “hands on” experience came when I was 12 – my father bought us our first set. The magic happened and never left since. Me and my younger brother would spent countless hours applying our creativity to get the best of the limited pieces and would wish for access to other sets, so we can build more advanced structures. You would be amazed what one can come out with given so little. The true power of imagination.
Ironically, as years passed by and priorities have changed,  I don’t have as much much time to “play” with LEGOs anymore. I do buy a Technic set here and there on occasion, to keep that childhood’s spark alive. The ultimate dream was always to visit Legoland one day. Since we were planning a trip to California there was no way I would let this idea go. Other points of attraction were for the family, this one was to satisfy my inner ego :).

There was only one stop needed to charge on the way, at Cabazon supercharger, so the journey was rather uneventful. Good – the sooner we get the mundane out of the way, the better! We were all getting excited to enter the theme park as soon as possible, to beat the crowds. A nice (and unrelated) surprise upon arrival – there are free public charging stations (Level 2), courtesy of ChargePoint.


It was interesting to see some of the latest EV (or PHEV) models from Volvo, Chevrolet and Honda sipping the electrons upon arrival. Yet another example where California dominates in electric vehicle adoption in US – some of these cars are not even available for purchase in other states. Hopefully this will change soon.

Since we were staying at the Legoland hotel we would have an “early bird” advantage (we could enter the resort 1 hour before others). This was helpful in exploring the park without rushing or competing with the crowds for access to individual attractions. Since we were spending the whole day there it helped to get a bit more organized and plan ahead, so we could make the most of the visit.

It was a long day, filled with excitement and joy. I grew even stronger in my admiration to what a global phenomenon LEGO has become – from a simple wooden toy to inspiration for many generations.
The words cannot describe what I’ve experienced – that is not the point anyway, to give an accurate account of what I’ve seen. I also don’t want to spoil the fun by posting any giveaway pictures (where’s the fun in that?). Everyone who has an inner child in them should come and visit at least once in their lifetime, period.

For what it’s worth, here are a few shots of the hotel we stayed in though:

While the one in California will not remove or replace Billund on my bucket list any time soon, it comes really close to fulfilling that dream. I’ve had a blast.

Charging stops:

  • Twentynine Palms, CA (44 miles left; avg 280 Wh/mi; charged to 121 miles)
  • Cabazon, CA (64 miles left; avg 276 Wh/mi; charged to 170 miles)

Continue to Part 4…

California, here we come! (Road trip 2018 – part 2)

Day 2 – Tucumcari, NM – Flagstaff, AZ

We left our hotel early (again), knowing that we will have another long day of driving ahead of us. After about 20 minutes spent at the supercharger in Santa Rosa, NM, we have have continued towards Albuquerque. Most of the journey was uneventful. Being so early in the morning, the only company on the road were trucks, some of them occasionally struggling to climb the next hill. Reaching the city limits provided some thrilling experiences as we were entering a curvy stretch of the freeway while descending at the same time. As a bonus for completing this roller-coaster ride we have seen pretty good energy consumption:


My wife and myself are huge fans of the “Breaking Bad” TV series, so knowing that a lot of the action takes place in and around Albuquerque we had to check out some of the famous spots around the city:

Too bad that the owners of “Walter White’s house” had to put a fence around the property to fend off some of the nastier visitors. We managed to snap a quick picture while doing our best to respect their privacy. So if you plan to visit, be courteous as well.

We haven’t planned on touring the city this time round – we do want to come back to New Mexico to explore more of its beauty, but that will most likely be a trip on its own. After a supercharger session combined with an in-the-car picnic (eating sandwiches prepared earlier) it was time to head for Gallup then (you guessed it – another battery revival stop).

I must say that the scenery gets prettier and prettier as you cross from New Mexico to Arizona. Many people have warned me that it is boring, but I beg to differ. The desert plains, mesas and mountains are definitely beautiful and I was frequently in awe as we drove by. I have downloaded all my footage from the dash cam, so once I find the time to edit I hope to be able to compile a quick time lapse of some of the most interesting vistas – you can be the judge then.

Passing by Holbrook, AZ, gave us a chance to visit some of the Route 66 attractions: the famous Wigwam Motel and Rainbow Rock Shop.

Continuing west, one cannot miss Winslow – another highlight on Route 66. Here you can take it easy while standing on The Corner or check out the tiny church of The Mother Road.

The last few miles before entering Flagstaff greeted us with a surprising change of scenery – the landscape quickly transforms from barren rocky desert into a pine tree forest with the mountains in the background. We could feel the welcomed change of temperature as well – it almost felt like entering an oasis of sorts. Flagstaff itself is a nice little town that we have not had a chance to explore on this trip, unfortunately. Just stayed there for the night. We’ll come back, for sure!

This concludes day 2 of our trip. Over 530 miles and again, zero Teslas spotted on the road (other than a sporadic one or two sighted at superchargers along the way). There was a brand new Model 3 charging at Tucumcari though, a nice surprise. We have also realized that this is the farthest we have been west in any of our cars so far!

Charging stops:

  • Departure: 188 miles of range (rated)
  • Santa Rosa, NM (126 miles left; avg 298 Wh/mi; charged to 190 miles)
  • Albuquerque, NM (58 miles left; avg 277 Wh/mi; charged to 222 miles)
  • Gallup, NM (69 miles left; avg 273 Wh/mi; charged to 159 miles)
  • Holbrook, AZ (61 miles left; avg 304 Wh/mi; charged to 196 miles)
  • Flagstaff, AZ (64 miles left; avg 251 Wh/mi; charged to 210 miles)

Day 3 – Flagstaff, AZ – Twentynine Palms, CA

We left early in the morning again and continued our journey west. First stop over was at Kingman, AZ. Since we missed breakfast at the hotel this would be our “picnic” stop while the car was recharging. The supercharger is located next to Carl’s Junior restaurant – nice, since the one that was close to our house closed its doors and we kind of missed it.

One of the key points on our agenda for the day was to visit Joshua Tree National Park. The shortest route is hardly an option for us (otherwise what’s the point of road tripping!), so we opted for a scenic drive through Route 66 via Sitgreaves Pass). I am no stranger to curvy and dangerous roads, so the windy and narrow road was a far better call than boring major thoroughfare. Besides way better scenery it also serves as a great replacement for morning coffee, as one has to stay alert at all times.

There’s something mystical and timeless about a desolate, desert landscape. If not for the road dividing the vast terrain, one can feel as we were transported back in time, before humans came. It’s a great feeling to be able to pause for a moment, disconnect from a modern day rush and stand there awe-struck …

We stopped briefly at Cool Springs Station in Oatman – another Route 66 attraction and one of the few spots along this path where one can find refreshments. If by any chance you venture here unprepared, this is your chance of redemption.
There was a “gang” of bikers, traveling all the way from Switzerland to enjoy The Road –  the historic route definitely has a special place in the hearts of many people around the world.

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While standing at the Sitgreaves Pass overlook and enjoying the vista of Black Mountains (one can see California, Arizona and Nevada from here, so I’ve heard) I have spotted numerous crosses, which I’ve found rather intriguing. At first I thought that it might be in memory of unlucky souls who veered off-road here, but that’s not the case at all. It just happens that this is a popular spot for scattering the ashes of loved ones – even occasional marriage vows are exchanged here. Interesting twist, for sure.

We have left Oatman and continued towards Needles, CA. Upon crossing the Colorado River we have officially crossed the state border. We were in California now! Yay! Immediately, a shocking surprise:

It makes sense now why EVs are such a popular alternative to gasoline cars here. Speaking of ICE – this was also the first encounter so far where Tesla supercharger stalls were occupied by them. I guess the “30 minutes general parking” sign is an unfortunate compromise. I had to take the last vacant slot, usually reserved for people with disabilities. I made sure I stayed with the vehicle, just in case some needy person showed up.

Ensuring we had enough charge for Joshua Tree National Park and reaching Twentynine Palms after that, we have continued on. Not before my daughter convinced me that it is time for some delicious blizzards from DQ! Oh well, it’s vacations after all. We can watch the sugar intake after we are back 😉

Joshua Tree has always been close to the top of my bucket list and I would not give it up, knowing we are going to be passing by anyway. Featured in numerous movies I have watched since I was a kid (including the cheesy one of the same title in the 90s) and gracing one of my favorite U2’s albums, somehow it was always very appealing to me. I was always strangely attracted to rocky desert landscapes. What makes the Joshua Tree special is the yucca plant from which the park gets its name.

As expected, the desert climate greeted us with 110 F temperature. In no way this would stop me from enjoying the moment and I was quickly embraced in photo taking while taking time to delight in the eternal beauty of nature that I had a privilege to witness with my own eyes. A wise man once said that life is shaped by the moments, this was definitely one of them. What an unforgettable memory…

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After a day full of adventures we have settled in Twentynine Palms for the night. We skipped the supercharger, postponing it till morning. There was plenty of range left to reach the hotel and then some. Plus, with temperatures as high as they were I would not get the optimal charging speed anyway – it was better to do it early in the morning when the weather is (much) cooler.

By the way, if you are visiting and craving for something different than typical road trip food, Fuji Restaurant offers surprisingly good Japanese food. Recommended.

There goes day 3 of the trip. About 380 miles behind us and a complete Tesla desert (pun intended), as we haven’t seen a single one for the whole day (traditionally I am not taking the ones at the chargers into account).

Charging stops:

  • Departure: 210 miles of range (rated)
  • Kingman, AZ (77 miles left; avg 234 Wh/mi; charged to 197 miles)
  • Needles, CA (163 miles left; avg 168 Wh/mi; charged to 225 miles)
  • Twentynine Palms, CA (73 miles left; avg 323 Wh/mi; charged to 124 miles)

Continue to Part 3…

The hype gets real

This was in my mailbox in the afternoon:


While I am holding onto my reservation until we are ready to take a plunge (or have to replace our secondary vehicle – whichever comes first), I decided to take a look at what would the final configuration be like!

Both All-Wheel Drive and Performance options are available now. I will explore both configurations separately.

Model 3 with Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive option


Let’s go with Midnight Silver Metallic (+ $1,000) and 19″ Sport Wheels (+ S1,500):


There’s only one choice of interior (black):


We want Enhanced Autopilot and a promise of Full Self Driving, of course:


The final configuration for All-Wheel Drive version with the features we selected:


It looks like AWD option adds $5,000 to the price of the previously available long-range model. The FSD package also increased in price by $1,000 (now it costs $5,000).

Model 3 with Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive and Performance package

Going back to the initial configuration page, let’s choose the Performance option now:


Adding Performance Upgrade as well:


For those waiting for white interior, it appears that it will be an exclusive to Performance edition, at least for now:


It is also an additional $1,500 expense, so I will stick with standard black interior (not a fan of of light interiors for my cars anyway).


Including EAP + FSD to the mix:


… and the final configuration as selected:


At $78,000 it is a hefty expense (and departure from the promised base $35,000 model), but for performance enthusiasts it will probably be worth the money. To me, this comes rather close to Model S 75D. Granted, you would have shorter range (259 vs 310) and you would “sacrifice” 0.7s to go 0-60 mph (4.2s vs 3.5), but you get much more car for similar price. Maybe I am biased by owning Model S already ;). What do you think? Are you more interested in AWD or would you go all the way and select Performance? Or are you waiting for the more affordable “base” configuration? Feel free to leave your comments.

Thanks for checking in!

California, here we come! (Road trip 2018 – part 1)

Ever since we came back from last year’s trip we have been dying to hit the road again (me in particular). All our previous voyages led us towards the East Coast, so we have decided that it is time to “turn left” from our home in North Texas and head west for a change. Our primary focus would be California, but we knew there would be plenty to see on our way there and back regardless. As usual, I have left the planning and logistics to my Significant Other (she really excels in this kind of tasks, without a doubt!).

Day 1 – Denton, TX – Tucumcari, NM

Knowing that there is going to be a long day ahead, we have left our home with a full charge around 5:30 am. If there was a supercharger in Wichita Falls, TX, we could have shaved off some time and mileage from our drive, but reading on others’ experience traveling through this corridor we didn’t want to take unnecessary chances and decided to go north towards Oklahoma before heading west on I-40. We made a quick stop in Ardmore, OK, to top up before reaching Oklahoma City. Our quiet hopes that the nearby outlet mall’s public restroom would be open were quickly shattered, as the mall was still closed when we arrived. Not to fret, there are other opportunities along the way!

The next charging destination was in Weatherford, OK, but we wanted to check out the Provine Service Station in Hydro first – a historic landmark on Route 66.

There’s a lot of people putting their efforts in preserving what’s left of the Mother Road. I often think that it would be cool if some of the abandoned gas stations and pumps could be converted into vintage-looking chargers for electric vehicles. This could help to revive the historic route by attracting a brand new type of visitors and ensuring that it stays relevant in 21st century. So, if Tesla or anyone out there picks up on my idea I would settle for a humble percent or two from your future revenue stream. There, I just handed a perfect business opportunity to you at an absolute bargain price!

I was always drawn to Route 66, so it is not a surprise that I am eager to check out its attractions along the way. Coincidentally, the superchargers in Weatherford and Shamrock are located along what used to be the famous road before the Interstate took over, so we had opportunities to either revisit or check out new places of interest. One of them was the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK.

If you are a fan of the Cars movie, the Tower Station and U-Drop-Inn Café in Shamrock will definitely look familiar. It’s a great place to check out some Route 66 souvenirs, refresh yourself with a cup of lemon water/coffee, or simply engage in conversation with one of the lovely people that work at this beautifully restored place. Don’t forget to sign the visitor’s book.

Once the Tesla app notified me that we have enough charge to continue, we left for Amarillo, TX. If this is your first visit you might want to check out the Cadillac Ranch or the Big Texan. The latter will challenge you to the famous free 72 oz steak.

Next, we stopped in Adrian, TX – the midpoint of Route 66.

After that, a quick stretch of legs at Visitor Information Center in Glenrio, NM before embarking on the final leg of our first day – to Tucumcari. You’ve probably heard of the Blue Swan Motel, but this little town is full of attractions related to The Road.

The first day of the trip was behind us. We have covered about 545 miles and spotted exactly one Tesla along the road :).


Charging stops:

  • Departure: 236 miles of range (rated)
  • Ardmore, OK (160 miles left upon arrival; avg 274 Wh/mi; charged to 190 miles)
  • Oklahoma City, OK (92 miles left; avg 262 Wh/mi;  charged to 154 miles)
  • Weatherford, OK (83 miles left; avg 327 Wh/mi; charged to 166 miles)
  • Shamrock, TX (52 miles left; avg 327 Wh/mi; charged to 209 miles)
  • Amarillo, TX (92 miles left; avg  334 Wh/mi; charged to 190)
  • Tucumcari, NM (78 miles left; avg 288 Wh/mi)

Continue to Part 2…

Trippin’ in EV – Part V

We always make it a point to visit Asheville Visitor Center whenever we pass by – it’s the quickest way to find out what’s happening around during our stay (and if you’re a first-timer, get some trinkets or other souvenirs ;)). Another good reason would be the convenient parking lot right behind – you can leave your car there and do some walking around historic downtown without stressing out about where to park.

If this is your first time in Asheville, I would highly recommend spending a day touring Biltmore Estate – once home to famous George Vanderbilt and his family, it is one of the largest private residences in United States. Other than the mansion itself, there are plenty of other attractions to chose from, you won’t be disappointed. I hear that the winery is pretty good, too :).

Day 6 – August 3rd, 2017

We have skipped Biltmore this time round and instead focused on checking out downtown. First, we visited Basilica of St Lawrence located just a few blocks away from the visitor center. Praised for its architecture and historic significance as a place of worship it is definitely worth stopping by.


After walking around town for a while we were getting hungry. We decided to give vegetarian food a try. It took us a while to figure out the menu, trying to find something that would sound remotely familiar to our taste buds. After a while we settled for these creative dishes:


It was definitely an experience, but I think we are not going to convert anytime soon. We are grateful though for filling up our hungry stomachs.

Our next endeavor took us to Chocolate Fetish – famous for hand-made confection of chocolate. If you have a sweet tooth (I bet you do!) you should definitely take a tour. If you are still unconvinced, they provide free samples along the way.

If you like arts & crafts, Kress Emporium should add to your satisfaction. A few other places worth checking out:

  • Asheville Bee Charmer – pure honey (literally)
  • Grove Arcade – for your shopping needs
  • Biltmore Village, featuring a unique McDonald’s restaurant – inside you will find a grand piano (you can hear it on occasions, too) and the meals are ordered and brought to your table – not something you are accustomed to when visiting fast food.

Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was the Asheville Pinball Museum. For a small fee you can revive those childhood memories to your heart’s content. Some of the restored machines are available for purchase, too!

This concludes day one of our stay. Time to get back and catch some rest. My only regret: I didn’t charge the car before calling it a day. More on it later, so read on.

Day 7 – August 4th, 2017

Our second day in Asheville was dedicated to visiting some other attractions around Blue Ridge Parkway. First, we would stop at Craggy Gardens (mile post 364).

Asheville-MtMitchellBlue Ridge Parkway between Asheville and Blowing Rock. Image courtesy of Google.

Continuing on the Parkway we would reach Little Switzerland. On top of the beautiful scenery it is also a nice place to stop and take home some of the local craft, or to enjoy home-made food while engaging in conversation with the shop owner.


Next, we drove towards Mount Mitchell – the highest elevation East of the Rockies (6683 with a short hike to the mountain top, 6578 where you park your car). All along the way we have enjoyed a breathtaking vista intertwined with some of the most brilliant human engineering to make the great journey possible. One should definitely spare a thought to the hardship of people who helped to build the Blue Ridge Parkway, so the future generations can enjoy the best that nature has to offer up close.


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Judging by our previous experience on the scenic road I felt confident that regenerative braking will compensate for any ascent that will lie ahead of us, so I have decided to skip a supercharger visit the preceding night. Leaving the parkway then, we had to stop at Canyons Historic Restaurant and Bar in Blowing Rock to charge the car (the restaurant has Tesla HPWC!). This was the first time I have seen the energy bar showing a different color than green:


Too close for my comfort, for sure. We had spend about 1,5 hours there, waiting for the car’s trip planner to advise that we had enough energy to make it back safely to the hotel. Lesson learned!

I have also realized that Canyons is closing its doors to make room for another restaurant. While I haven’t had a chance to chat with the Canyons’ owner (Bart Conway), I’ve read and heard only great stuff about him. I, for one, should be thankful for him providing the Tesla charger (thank you sir)! Hopefully the next restaurant will continue the tradition of providing EV charging for its customers.

Returning to Asheville, we have stopped at the supercharger. Next day (Aug 5th) we were starting our journey back home. We were about to leave the car to check out the mall nearby when we were approached by two older gentlemen that were clearly intrigued by the stalls and a never-before-seen car plugged in. They have not heard much about supercharger, but they were clearly interested in technology and modern inventions. It made for a very pleasant conversation. In exchange for me educating them on Tesla and EVs they offered a number of useful tips for our stay around the area. Too bad we would be leaving the next day, but we can surely use some of that information on our next returning visit.

Number of miles traveled: 220
Number of other Teslas spotted along the way: 0

* * *

This is pretty much it for the inaugural road trip in our Tesla Model S. It would take us another 2 days to get back home. We followed pretty much the same route that brought us here, stopping at the following superchargers along the way:

  • Knoxville, TN
  • Brentwood, TN
  • Jackson, TN (we would explore the train museum and surrounding shops/galeries this time round)
  • Memphis, TN (where we would stay for the night)
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Texarkana, TX
  • Sulphur Springs, TX

Number of miles traveled on this trip (total): 2390
Number of other Teslas spotted along the way (total): 6 (1 at Knoxville and 2 at Memphis on the way back)

Counting the number of fellow Teslas along the way was more of a fun-fact gathering exercise than anything, but it provided an interesting bit of information about how rare these cars still are. Model 3 is about to change it pretty soon!

Needless to say, we had a fantastic experience in the amazing, technologically advanced piece of machinery that Tesla is. The superchargers along the way provided the necessary convenience to make our trip stress-free. As I write this final chapter we are within days of embarking our our next road trip. I will make sure to report on it as well, so stay tuned!

Curious about our epic, 5000-mile-long adventure? Read on…

Trippin’ in EV – Part IV

Day 5 – August 2nd, 2017

After relaxing for two days in Pigeon Forge it was time to get going, as we had quite a busy itinerary waiting for us. We left towards Gatlinburg again to enter Blue Ridge Parkway. If you haven’t experienced this road before I would highly recommend to add it to your “to do” list. Many call it the most scenic road in United States, if not the world. I am not going to dispute that claim, but it is definitely one of our favorite routes. We have covered the whole stretch (over 460 miles) over the years of road tripping, but it is always a good excuse to revisit part of it if our schedule brings us nearby. Such was the case on that day. Our final destination was Asheville in North Carolina. Rather than following the main route (I-40) we have chosen to travel about 125 miles along the scenic route instead.

Blue Ridge Parkway between Pigeon Forge TN and Asheville NC. Image courtesy of Google.

There’s only one piece of advice I can offer when it comes to the Blue Ridge Parkway: don’t rush. Enjoy the moment. The road was designed to travel at low speeds (45 mph maximum limit) in order to enjoy the breathtaking panorama. There are plenty of overlooks on the way, offering great vistas of the Smokey Mountains and the Appalachian region. It doesn’t get much better than this.


The main point on our agenda was the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC. We have spent quite a few hours walking along the exhibits of Cherokee’s rich heritage and culture and there was still more that we could explore. Over 13,000 years of history is presented in brilliant fashion, often accompanied by interactive display and real life scale objects and figures representing day-to-day life of this once great nation. The museum was voted one of the best among Native American ones and it fully deserves that vote. It’s a great education for the whole family, highly recommended.

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Few of the other noteworthy attractions along this stretch of the Parkway include:

In case you are wondering, there was absolutely no range anxiety along the whole journey. While there are some drastic elevation changes, you are mostly travelling at 35-45 mph. You will regain a substantial amount of energy from regenerative braking, too.


If you are really concerned, there is a Destination Charger (8 kW) in Cherokee, just outside the visitor’s center.

After yet another fruitful day we finally arrive in Asheville. Quick check into our hotel and we concluded with a top up at Tesla Supercharger before going for dinner.

Number of miles traveled: 140
Number of other Teslas spotted along the way: 0

Continue to Part V…

Trippin’ in EV – Part III

A few years ago we have visited Custer State Park in South Dakota to check out one of the largest herds of bison that is publicly-owned – truly majestic creatures. One has to respect their size and prowess, especially when when you come close enough. The park management has done an awesome job preserving the area, so the animals can feel at home and roam around freely. If you close your eyes for just a second you would feel as if transported back in time, where bison ruled the hills and grasslands. Except for one small detail – the roaring noise of bikers passing by (not to mention their polluting motors). I felt that these man-made machines don’t belong there, disturbing the peace and serenity of the preserve. Don’t get me wrong – I LIKE bikers, a lot. I get the sense of union and community, the freedom to experience some of the most beautiful roads and trails across the country on two wheels, the wind in the face. That noise though… it is… dated. Wouldn’t it be nice if one could enjoy all that, but without polluting?

Day 3 – August 1st, 2017

One of the most scenic routes that Smoky Mountains have to offer is the Roaring Fork Motor Natural Trail. The name comes from the stream that flows nearby – the Roaring Fork. It is truly a breathtaking experience to be surrounded by a pristine forest, but also to explore some of the history of the early settlers and loggers in the area.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail loops around Gatlinburg, TN. Image courtesy of Google.

After settling in Pigeon Forge, we decided to make it our first escapade for the day. The weather was really nice (mid 50s in the morning, low 60s later during the day), a perfect opportunity to roll down the windows and open the sunroof – which we did. Since there’s no noise from the engine (we turned A/C off, too), we could truly immerse ourselves in the sound of the forest: the trees creaking, moved by the wind, the birds up on the branches, the stream trickling nearby… What a joy! That’s how nature should be experienced: quietly, without leaving any trace or polluting. Yet another benefit and advantage of EV!

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This wasn’t our first visit to Gatlinburg, but we always find something interesting or new to explore. Since we like quirky stuff, why not The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum?

There’s plenty to do in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It doesn’t matter if you are into mountain hiking or prefer Disney-like resort-style vacations. Both places have a lot to offer. It is worth mentioning that not too long before our visit Gatlinburg was devastated by a fire that took lives and destroyed forest and property. It is amazing though how quickly the town was being rebuilt. There was construction everywhere – either replacing a destroyed property or building a new one.

If you would like some tips on what to do when in the area, feel free to drop me a comment. For what it’s worth, there are a few places I’d recommend to anyone visiting the area. In no particular order, here are some of our favorites:

Number of miles traveled: 160
Number of other Teslas spotted along the way: 0

Continue to Part IV…

Trippin’ in EV – Part II

Day 2 (July 31st, 2017): Memphis, TN – Pigeon Forge, TN

Memphis-PigeonForgeMap is courtesy of Google and A Better Route Planner.

Knowing that there will be another long day of driving ahead of us, we have departed Memphis early. Our first “pit stop” was at Jackson, TN. We hadn’t researched much on this town before arriving, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover Casey Jones Village, featuring – among other things – a railway museum and a historic farm.


Our next stop was Loveless Cafe on the outskirts of Nashville, TN. Famous for its home-made biscuits and jams and serving a wide variety of homely food, it became a mandatory stop for us on our journeys East. I will freely admit that I am not a huge fan of corn biscuits, but the ones from Loveless Cafe are exceptional. One could just delight in those alone, always served hot and fresh from the oven. All you need is a spread of butter and some jam to go with it. Yummy!

While we were there, we’ve met a Tesla enthusiast family. I was happy answering all the questions they had and demonstrating features of the car. I haven’t even realized that my girls were almost done shopping for gifts and souvenirs at the store. Time passes by quickly when you talk to other people sharing your passion :).

Continuing on, we had to stop by Tesla Showroom-Service Center in Brentwood, TN and get a full charge, as there won’t be another chance to stop between there and Knoxville.

It should not really count, but thus far this was only the second encounter with another Tesla on the road.
IMG_2481A tricked out Model X P100D outside of Tesla Showroom. Loving this black and white combination!

After relaxing at Tesla’s lounge and enjoying free beverages (Thank you, Tesla!) we have resumed the trip towards Knoxville, TN – our last supercharging stop before the final destination. Yet another convenient location, right next to restaurants and shopping center. We didn’t have to spend much time here since Pigeon Forge was just 30 miles away. It was good to stretch the legs and get some supplies at Target before continuing on.

A side note: it is amazing how quickly Tesla’s supercharging network is expanding. Just a few months after our trip there were at least 2 new locations opened: Dickson and Cookeville. Both of them provide a convenient alternative and help to shorten the charging stops required when traveling along I-40 corridor.

We have concluded our day by reaching The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, TN. It would become our base for the next few days as we explore the area. Other than the quirky idea of experiencing Christmas in July (who wouldn’t enjoy cookies with milk or Santa’s presence!), the hotel also facilitated Tesla Destination Charger which gave us a piece of mind before embarking on our daily excursions. Additional surprise: there was a Model X with Florida plates already charging when we arrived.


Number of miles traveled: 440
Number of other Teslas spotted along the way: 1 (not counting those at Tesla Service Center)

Continue to Part III…

Trippin’ in EV

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since we’ve got Nikola. Over 22,000 miles on the odometer is a testimony to the fact that it is still as fun to drive as when I picked it up. While some of the details might be fading away, I clearly remember the excitement leading to making it happen. The research, the test drive, the approval from my better half and my daughter, the pros/cons debate… finally THE day:


I asked one of my best friends to accompany me to the Tesla Service Center in Dallas, as he was always very supportive of my journey to Tesla ownership. I could not have it any other way, but to share the joy with him (he’s the one taking a quick photo of me trying to put a believable grin on my face, as at that moment I could not come to terms with the fact that it is really happening ;)). He also had an honor of driving it back – not without a fuss though, as he was insisting the honor should be mine. He reluctantly agreed on the notion that I will have plenty of time to enjoy the time behind the wheel after that. I digress though.

Our family has always enjoyed taking road trips. Some people might think that I am crazy when I say that I love to drive, but I really do. Maybe it is because of the fact that I have only gotten my driving license in my 30s (there was no sight of me ever getting a car when I was growing up, then there was no need for it when I moved to Asia), or maybe it is the breathtaking landscape that United States has to offer. Probably both. Our first trip was just few months after I’ve got my driving license – I was invited to a technical conference at Virginia Beach, VA. What a great excuse to drive there!

It should not come as a surprise then that the tradition continues with our model S. Just a week into ownership we have taken it on a maiden voyage to Waco, TX. It’s about 2 hours away from our home, so it gave us a good opportunity to try out the range anxiety (spoiler: there was none) while sweetening the deal with some great pastries on the way: first at the Czech Stop, then at Collin Street Bakery while testing the Supercharger.


On the way back we had found out about one of the (many) benefits of owning an electric vehicle – when the weather is nice (such as early summer in Texas) there’s very little penalty for idling in a stop-and-go traffic. The car has hardly lost any range despite being stuck in the traffic for about 45 minutes. Emissions-free, I might add. A win-win.

We’ve been thinking for a while now about revisiting some of our favorite spots from the previous trips, particularly Tennessee and North Carolina. Encouraged by the Waco excursion it was a quick decision to take Tesla for a real road test. Destination: Asheville, NC!

Day 1 (July 30th, 2017): Denton, TX – Memphis, TN

Denton-MemphisMap is courtesy of Google and A Better Route Planner.

We have traveled this route quite a few times before, so we decided not to stop much between our home base and Memphis. The only stops would be dictated by the need to recharge the car. We knew that we will need some extra time for that, so we left way before dawn. The first stop would be in Sulphur Springs (TX) some 100 miles away.


It’s a small, but lovely town – one that we promised ourselves to come back and explore later (since it is relatively nearby). The management seems to be taking a great care of restoring its buildings and streets to its prime, but also to attract some tourists by keeping the schedule busy with events. The Tesla Supercharger is definitely a great addition, conveniently located just a walking distance from town square. We plugged the car in and went to explore the town center while waiting for it to be recharged. That mirror-covered structure proved to be very handy before continuing on our journey ;).

Since you can see clearly from inside out, I wonder how it works after dark, when the light turns on…

Next stop was Texarcana, TX. Since we were new to the supercharging game we decided to get some extra “juice” on top of what the on-board trip planner was suggesting. We better not take any chances, especially that early into our trip.
IMG_2457The Texarcana Supercharger is conveniently located along I-30, right next to some chain restaurants and a strip mall.

From Texarcana we headed to Little Rock, AR. The Tesla Supercharger is located next to outlet mall. While getting off a freeway we missed the intersection/road that leads to it, so we had to loop back, which cost us few extra miles. No big deal though, since we had plenty of range left. The outlet was still closed when we arrived, but we took some time to wander around. Again, we spent more time than we needed, just to make sure we can arrive with plenty of range left at our final destination.

Finally, we were off to Memphis, TN.


It is a must for us to stop by and have a dinner at Gus’s Fried Chicken. I would highly recommend to anyone to give it a try. It does have a nice kick to it, so be warned 🙂

This concludes the first leg of our trip. We stayed in the city for the night. The supercharger was right behind the hotel where we lodged in. I went to charge the car in the evening, since we would be on our way bright and early next day.

Number of miles traveled: 470
Number of other Teslas spotted along the way: 0

Continue to part II…

EarthX 2018 event

EarthX (formerly Earth Day Dallas) has a tradition of inviting North Texas Tesla Owners to exhibit their cars at the expo. This year was no exception and I was privileged enough to join in. What better way to educate people about the benefits of electric vehicles and promote a future of sustainable transport than letting them experience the cars up close and hear directly from us, the owners.


For many of the visitors it was also the first chance to set a foot in a Tesla. Just seeing the excitement and a big grin on their faces was a big reward in itself.

It’s not just about Teslas – the Fiat 500e featured below, owned by a lovely couple who had to search for it in California, definitely attracted attention of passers by.


The liquid sun pouring from the sky (aka rain) provided some time to check out the exhibition halls, where I found some other cars on display. Most of them were gasoline models, but I’ve spotted a handful of EVs: redesigned Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 or Hyundai Kona*. Of course, I could not resits to take a picture of the gorgeous Model 3 in blue!


* – the one on the display was gasoline powered, unfortunately. Sigh…

Some other noteworthy sightings included:

  • electric bicycles (available for test rides, too)
  • hybrid vehicle that are part of energy provider’s maintenance fleet
  • another hybrid belonging to a logistics company

Events such as this are also a great occasion to meet other EV owners and enthusiasts, to share the knowledge, experience and passion. There’s always a chance to make new friends, too (did I mention the owners of the Fiat?).

Despite the inclement weather I was stoked to see how many people actually showed up. It is truly heart-warming to see the interest in renewable energy, recycling or eco-friendly living. Being a part of this event was definitely a great experience and fun. I haven’t realized how much fun I had answering the questions until I woke up the next morning with a soar throat. Oh, the small sacrifices for a greater good. 🙂