Segment 2: A Litany of Errors

Segment two was Saturday November 7 , Inyokern to Flagstaff, 455 miles.  

The thing about segment two is that I was supposed to pick up my girlfriend at the Flagstaff airport at 5pm, so I had a hard deadline to meet. 

By the words I'm choosing, you can probably guess the punch line by now.  

Error #1: The Time Change

I forgot that Arizona doesn't observe daylight savings time, which cost me an hour. Ouch.  

Error #2: Underestimating Charge Times

Up until Saturday, I had only experienced Superchargers that slammed energy into the car at a whopping three hundred and some odd amps. Based on that, I gave myself a maximum charge time of thirty minutes per stop (of which I had four: Inyokern, Barstow, Needles, Kingman). 

Inyokern was fine and I was feeling good. 

Charging in Inyokern - before a sense of profound doom settled over me. 

Charging in Inyokern - before a sense of profound doom settled over me. 

The Barstow charger, however, was bouncing around between 20 and 75 amps. It was also at Barstow that I got the text from Lindsey: "Don't forget the time change!" 

Well, crap. 

Solar powered Supercharger in Barstow. The stall I pulled into was giving an erratic charge. 

Solar powered Supercharger in Barstow. The stall I pulled into was giving an erratic charge. 

I gave the charger an hour before setting off for Needles with a margin I wasn't excited about but figured would be adequate. 

Into 20mph headwinds. 

Up numerous steep grades.  

Nothing but coyotes and a lack of cell coverage out here. 

Nothing but coyotes and a lack of cell coverage out here. 

I spent a fair bit of the leg to Needles at 50mph attempting to draft behind an RV, being very stressed that I was going to run out of charge in the middle of the desert with no cell service. Which is an example of:

Error #3: Not understanding the relationship between terrain and range

Part of why I was so stressed is because I wasn't exactly sure how much a steep grade for ten miles would effect the range. I also wasn't exceptionally familiar with the road, so I didn't have an exact idea of how long the grades were going to sustain.   

If I'd known that I could expect a 2000ft drop into Needles over the last ten miles, I wouldn't have felt compelled to drop my speed so much. This is something I would have known if I'd spent a little time researching the elevation of my stops.

Error #4: Not giving myself a huge safety factor when trip time actually mattered

The fact is, there were a lot of uncertainties that I had going in, which justified a much larger safety factor than I gave myself. I wouldn't have been the least bit stressed if it didn't matter when I got to Flagstaff - but since I saw my relationship status teetering in the balance, it was not a fun day for me. 

The Needles to Kingman leg is only 60 miles, so I charged quickly and then tore up the steep grade to Kingman. I had another couple thousand feet of elevation to climb and 160 miles to Flagstaff, so I gave it a solid charge before hitting the road again. 

Apparently folks in Kingman, Arizona are excited for the upcoming election. Feel the Bern!!

Apparently folks in Kingman, Arizona are excited for the upcoming election. Feel the Bern!!

Lindsey got a cab to the Airbnb from the airport and was snuggled up reading by the time I pulled in, much chastened over my calculation errors of the day. 

All of the stress of this day this due to my being a rookie Tesla driver. The next time I have to cover 455 miles through desolate desert, on unfamiliar roads, uncertain wind conditions, with an absolutely do-not-be-late condition, I will give myself a much larger span of time to arrive and not be stressed about it.

We stayed in Flagstaff for the next four nights, exploring the area and doing some short day trips. It was good to have down time to reflect on the trip and take the lessons I'd learned to heart. 

I'm only 781 miles into this trip, with 3,000 left to go. This segment didn't go so well, but by the time I pull into DC I will no longer be a rookie Tesla driver.