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Tesla Model 3 road trip charging
Illegally charging at a Nema 14-50 outlet at the gazebo at Waterfront Park in Bayfield, Wisconsin (Sept 2, 2020).

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Driving My Tesla Model 3 On The Back Roads Of Northern Wisconsin & The Upper Peninsula Of Michigan

If you look the Supercharger map, there are no chargers near our lake house in Three Lakes Wisconsin. However, there are 5 chargers within the conservative 200 mile range of our Tesla Model 3 Long Range. The distances are: Wausau 61, Green Bay 138, Oshkosh 149, Eau Claire 185 (Wisconsin) and Duluth (Minnesota) 197 miles. 200 miles is, practically speaking, our range with charging to only 80 or 90% and a bike rack and bike on the back. When I travel, I don’t try to stretch any travel segment beyond 200 miles. These chargers are the easy gateway to long-distance travel to Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and all points east, west, and south. Also, going northeast, we have two brand-new Superchargers: Marquette on Lake Superior and Escanaba on Lake Michigan.

Due north also works with the 200 mile range of our Model 3. You can make the 174 mile round trip to the endless beach on Lake Superior at Ontonagon and get home without a problem. (See photo of Mary, daughter, and granddaughters at Ontonagon on the beach in August 2020.)

Wife Mary with daughter and granddaughters at Lake Superior Endless Beach.

On the way home, our Tesla Model 3 notified us that one of our tires had low pressure and was going down fast. On the back roads there wasn’t a single gas station on our route. Fortunately, we were directed to an air hose at a fire station in a small town. The tire was still losing pressure fast, so we had to stop one more time in a bigger town to make it home. Now I carry, in my frunk, an electric air pump powered by the “cigarette” outlet in the center council. I also plan to carry a plug and glue kit that was recommended by one of my readers. Since the car has no spare tire, it’s best to take every possible precaution.

Going to the Northwest in the Michigan Upper Peninsula there is nothing. You can reach the wonderful tourist town of Bayfield and Madeline Island as well as Houghton and Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula, but you can’t get back without charging.

Bayfield is 151 miles from Three Lakes, so we definitely need a charge to return home. There is a Supercharger in Duluth, 85 miles to the west, which still requires a small amount of charging and adds 130 miles to the return trip. The only option is level 2 charging in Bayfield.

The huge problem with level 2 chargers is that you need one in a location where you can usefully spend several hours! A charger in a parking garage in the middle of a unexceptional town like Houghton is pretty much useless. Five hours on a L2 charger at 28 mph only nets you ~140 miles. The L2 chargers need to be collocated with an interesting place: A beach, restaurants, a shopping district, tourist shopping, or most usefully the hotel or place where you will spend the night. The only public charger in Bayfield that meets that criteria is the Tesla destination charger at the Bayfield. The Bayfield Inn takes pets, so that makes it an option for our family. But it implies that you have time for an overnight stay and the $230 price for a room. If you are carrying a bike, you can take the car to a charger up to ~5 miles from your location and easily bike back.

For a day trip, with some ingenuity, you we found a L2 charger right in downtown Bayfield where we can charge for the 4 or 5 hours we need to get home. We spent our time enjoyably eating lunch on the upper deck of the Bayfield Inn, enjoying the numerous books stores, antique stores, and art galleries while picking up some delicious whitefish fillets and whitefish dip at one of a couple fish markets. 

The Pickled Herring Bar in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

But where to charge? Nothing shows up on the ChargePoint app. It turns out that if you call the city Chamber of Commerce office at 715-779-3335, you can arrange for them to move their electric utility vehicle and run your electric vehicle EVSE cable to a Nema 14-50 outlet between their two buildings. There are other options in Bayfield for Nema 14-50 outlets. There is one at the gazebo in the park on the waterfront (see photo 2020). I left my 20 ft ultra-heavy-duty 220 V 50 A extension cable at home, so I had to drive my car up over the curb to reach the outlet. I got a $20 parking ticket, which I wrote off as the charging fee. 

Illegally charging at a Nema 14-50 outlet at the Gazebo at the Waterfront Park in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

There is also a 220 V outlet at the Madeline Island Ferry Terminal normally used for charging boats, but you need special permission from them to use it and they have to change the adapter to Nema 14-50. I brought my mountain e-bike on the tray carrier on my Model 3, so I spent my time touring the town and the surrounding countryside.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a tougher problem. There are L2 chargers in Houghton, which is not particularly interesting, but none 48 miles to the north in Copper Harbor on the tip of the Peninsula, where you would like to spend an afternoon on the beach. Your only choice is to charge at the Fort Wilkens State Park, which has 8 special RV campsites that have the 220V 50 Amp Nema 14-50 outlets which campers use for the biggest RVs. These can also can be used to charge an EV. However, those campsites are in high demand, so you need to make reservations well ahead and rent the campsite for the day for $29. The previous camper must be out by 10:00 AM so if you arrive on time, you can get in 7 hours of charging before you may want to leave for home at 5:00 PM.

If Tesla would add Superchargers in Bayfield and Houghton or one near Watersmeet, that would make easy Tesla driving possible for the whole Michigan Upper Peninsula.

Wife Mary and dog Zuni lounging on a Lake Superior Beach near Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Mary on beach watching Sadie and Max near Bayfield.

Mary looking at a gull in a wood carver’s shop near Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Fritz and Zuni and the Tesla Model 3.

If any of these articles have been helpful to you in your decision to buy a Tesla, please use Fritz’s referral link to receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles with the purchase and delivery of your new Tesla car https://ts.la/arthur73734

 
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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.

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