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First Tesla Model S Long Distance Trip: Portland to Seattle and Back.

October 17, 2016

Was a great trip! Had some “range anxiety,” but not due to Tesla. I started off with a 100% charge from the house and flew up I-5 North towards Seattle. Was a very quiet and comfortable ride. Autopilot did most of the work for me.

I had to take over from Autopilot about 8 times over the entire trip on the I-5 when I was in the right hand lane and an exit was coming up. The car really wanted to split the width of the lane and aim for the exit sign planted firmly in the middle. I’d move the steering wheel to the left to get back firmly into my freeway lane, disengaging autopilot. It seems to handle ignoring exits much better if there was a car either directly in front of me or in the lane to my left just ahead of my bumper. If there was no traffic near me it wanted to drift right with the widening roadway for the exit to the point it was over too far and I had to correct.

The Supercharger at Centralia, WA was nothing short of AWESOME!!! Who knew? I connected for 30 minutes while grabbing a quick lunch with the family there at the Denny’s next door. On the way home we hit McDonald’s for another 30 minutes. To quick charge that quickly was perfect. Was also a great location as we needed to stretch our legs and hit the restrooms anyways.

I stopped in Bremerton, WA for the night and stayed at the Hampton Inn, which is at the Seattle Ferry station. Underground hosts 4 OpConnect charging spots (both Level 1 and 2). The plan was to get free parking and a full charge while I spent the night in the hotel upstairs. Worthless… They didn’t work. One had a screen that was frozen as the computer inside couldn’t mount its filesystem. The other would never send power to either the Level 1 or Level 2 circuits. I was on the phone with OpConnect support and they finally admitted they had a hardware problem with their network. I noticed on that somebody back in April had mentioned that they didn’t work back then as well.

It was here I learned how different OpConnect is from Blink Network. OpConnect, even ignoring their errors, has a very bad iOS app that has minimal functionality. You cannot even report and issue with one of their chargers. Blink, on the other hand saved the day. The app is full featured and I found a number of Blink Network stations in Bremerton. I finally settled on the one located at a Walgreen’s. They had 2 CHAdeMO quick chargers and 2 Level 2s. Their iOS app works. Their chargers worked. That said, I didn’t get a full charge, but just enough to get me back to Centralia after some local driving. I’m thinking a CHAdeMO adaptor is something worth having in the trunk and will order one later today…

Heading home I made it to Centralia with about 11% to spare and charged up quickly for the rest of the trip to Portland. I made it home with about 14% to spare.

In all it was a great trip. The drive was amazingly smooth and comfortable. Autopilot was awesome (except at a handful of exits) and it made me love my Telsa Model S even more. OpConnect? They are on my crap list. Blink? Proved to be awesome. Biggest lesson learned? Just like gas stations, have a plan B and C when it comes to charging options. My plan B at Bremerton was impromptu and after 9:00 PM, which added to my stress. Had I simply asked myself beforehand, “…and what happens if OpConnect is a bust?” I would have had a very smooth trip.


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