Last Friday morning after fully charging the Tesla S in the garage overnight at the ranch in Calistoga/Napa Valley, my wife and I headed down Silverado Trail, then took Hwy 12 over the hill from Napa to Sonoma, driving past spectacular wineries and the Sonoma Racetrack, where I was able to take the Tesla S for a spin a couple of weeks ago on a open drivers afternoon. Wow! We headed down the 101 through Marin, and picked up a Starbucks latte in Mill Valley. We’d driven 65 miles and the charge is still at 75% or so. Then we were off, over the Waldo Grade, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I’ll have to say, the San Francisco Bay looked gorgeous on a sunny California morning. We headed through the Presidio and down dreaded 19th Avenue and picked up the 280 heading south to the 85 and then 101 south of San Jose. We waved as we passed Sand Hill Road and the Tesla Store where we picked up the Tesla S on El Camino in Menlo Park a month or so ago.
Yes, the 280 is one of the most beautiful freeways in the world, and it is even better traveling in the front seat of the Tesla S, with all the controls, status, and navigation on the center touchscreen. About an hour later we rolled into Gilroy, where we stopped at the Tesla Supercharging Station at the Outlets, at 155 miles, and topped the tank, so to speak, and picked up a refill coffee and snacks at the local Starbucks there. About 20 minutes later we on the road again, headed south on the 101. Santa Barbara and the beaches here we come.
We made a late lunch stop in San Luis Obispo, at the Firestone Grill, where we had the best Tri-Tip BBQ sandwiches ever. Thanks Yelp! What a great drive so far. We headed off, and drove into the Santa Maria area, ignoring our urge to do a little Merlot tasting, “Sideways” style on the way. Finally, we got to Santa Barbara, after driving alone the coast, and picked up our kids in Isla Vista, where the twins have apartments near the beach. We headed over to Lookout Beach where the views and surf were great and the ChargePoint 208V charging station gave us a boost at $0.45 per hour. We had driven 247 miles since supercharging in Gilroy, and still had about 60 miles range left. With the boost we had over 100 miles of range and could wander around town the Saturday with no worries. Using the Tesla adapter, we plugged in at the ChargePoint station, walked around, and had some wine and cheese with the kids on the beach and planned the weekend. Two hours later that evening we dropped the kids off, checked into the Hyatt, across the road from the beach and parked the Tesla S in the hotel lot.
We spent Saturday and Sunday morning on the beach, shopping, and dining with the kids at their favorite places. Saturday evening we parked the Tesla S in one of the City of Santa Barbara lots close by where we could charge it up fully over night. They are literally all over town. On Sunday, with the Tesla S all charged up, we headed back to Calistoga about noon, stopping back in Gilroy for a supercharger refill, an In-N-Out burger and fries, and then we were back on the road. We took the short less scenic route from there, up the 880 through Santa Clara, Oakland and the 80 past Berkeley to Vallejo, where we headed up 12 to Napa, and then the Calistoga Trail back home to the ranch. Our Tesla S was snuggly back in the garage charging so I would be ready to hit the office first thing Monday, at 8 PM PDT.
What a great weekend, had a fantastic drive, spent quality time with the kids, and spent less than $50 charging the car in Santa Barbara. No gas pumps, no range anxiety, just pleasure. To finish off a wonderful weekend, we sat by the pool at the ranch and watched the sunset over the western hills sipping a tasty Trefethen Chardonnay. Ahhh! California. With battery swap and more charging stations coming, this scenario will only get better. Can’t wait for next year when I can do the drive from Calistoga to my buddy’s house to do some world class fly fishing on the Henry’s Fork and Madison rivers near West Yellowstone, and supercharge or swap all the way there. By then, he should have taken delivery on his Tesla S, and will have charging up at the cabin on the river.
Postlog: There are so many critics saying the ability to travel driving an EV is limited, and range anxiety is killing market expansion. Personally, I think we have moved past the first tipping point, as travelling from most anywhere in the Bay area to Southern California, Las Vegas, or Reno is a reality now, regardless of whether you are driving a Tesla S taking advantage of the growing supercharger network, or a Nissan Leaf, using one of the 12,000 ChargePoint stations across the nation. I’m really pleased to see this happening, and as charging and distributed battery storage are combined with growing renewable energy resources on the power grid, the EV industry will cross the chasm from early adopters, to the mainstream, much like other disruptive new technologies.
As a final comment, two weekends ago, I went to Home Depot in San Rafael, CA to pick up a Nest thermostat (another story) and I got back to the car and ended up chatting with a 2013 red Porsche 911 owner and a new Lexus SUV owner, who were parked there, both were thinking about getting a Tesla in the near future. Later that day, I talked to four or five vendors at a local Novato, CA art fair, and all wanted to get Tesla Gen III’s or Tesla X’s when they reach the market. Something is definitely happening here! What it is becoming clear!