Before reading below, for background, see “Minnesota To D.C. Carbon Free — Intro” and “Minnesota To D.C. Carbon Free — The Tesla Road Trip Plan.”
Originally published on Medium.
by Leonardo Rapallin
We did it. We drove 1,140 miles (1,835 kilometers) powered only by electricity! We started out last Friday afternoon at 3:30 PM, stopped for the night in Schaumburg, IL, and arrived at our hotel in Washington D.C. at 11:30 PM on Saturday night. We spent 19 hours and 20 minutes in the car and 4 hours at stops for lunch, dinners, and some quick errands.
The morning started with a problem. The charger at our hotel didn’t work, so when we piled into the car in the morning, we found it uncharged. Luckily, we found a Supercharger just 3 miles away, so we quickly charged the car while drinking a cappuccino from a nearby coffeeshop. This is probably the first lesson: don’t rely on hotel chargers. Not only did the charger not work, but two of the three spots dedicated to electric cars were occupied by non-electric cars in the morning. We applaud the Hilton Homewood Suites initiative in offering this service, but we also became aware that there are some challenges yet to be overcome.
The second lesson is that Superchargers work really well! On that day, we stopped 5 times, and every time, the car was recharged at lightning speed. At lunch and dinner, the car was ready faster than the time it took us to order, eat, and use the restroom. The Superchargers always had good availability, but a couple of times, we found only 1 stall left open. As more electric cars become available, the infrastructure of Superchargers needs to grow and also the convenience of their location. Some were super convenient, while others were 5–10 minutes away from the highway. Overall, though, this kind of trip is now possible and the time it took us was comparable with what it would take with a normal car. Considering that 8 years ago the Supercharger network didn’t exist, it is pretty incredible how fast things can change.
On a different note, we confirmed what everyone already knew — the Midwest is really, really flat — but we found that it features a lot of beautiful farmland scenery. It took us getting to Pennsylvania and across the Appalachian range to see a change in scenery.
The driving was smooth, and we are more convinced than ever that Autopilot makes the drive much more relaxing. Fede went 180 degrees on Autopilot. Yesterday, the first time using it, he was really nervous. Today, he was a lot more comfortable. The problem is that he is Italian, and he likes to talk using his hands to emphasize his points, even when both Autopilot and co-pilot (me) keep reminding him to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel. You get the picture…
The girls were troopers once again. They spent time playing games, enjoying their iPad and, for most of the time, making headway on the license plate game. We have now found 35 license plates from across the United States, as well as a bonus license plate from Ontario, Canada. So we are still missing 15 states, including the elusive Hawaii and Alaska.
We are all tired, but very happy and relieved to be in the nation’s capital. Sunday and Monday we will split our time between participating in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby conference and some sightseeing. Tuesday morning we will meet with our elected officials and head home in the afternoon. More to come!
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