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Saturday
Oct032015

First Road Trip in our Tesla

We’ve been tootling around in our Model S85D Tesla for about five months and 6,000 miles now but all of it within a hundred miles of home. Time for a longer trip — to the wineries of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

Around 10 in the morn we left Point Roberts (an exclave in Washington State) for the Okanagan, a near-desert area of British Columbia that just happens to be one of the best wine regions in North America. Yeah, it really is. It shares features with the equally fine terroirs of the Washington-Oregon Columbia Valley and has many geological and ecological features in common with California’s Napa Valley.

We decided to take Route 20 through the Washington State Cascade mountains and then head north at Twisp to our hotel in Osoyoos. It’s much longer than the direct route through Canada but there are good reasons why it’s called the most beautiful highway in the state.

We crossed the border heading north, drove over the top of Boundary Bay, headed south and crossed it again at Blaine. When you live in Point Roberts it’s two border crossings to get to the rest of Washington State. We then drove south to the Tesla SuperCharger in Burlington. We had lunch and returned to the car, now topped off at 274 rated miles on the battery and headed east. We soon began having our first twinges of a new psychological disorder that comes with owning an EV (electric vehicle): “Range Anxiety.”

Since the climbing parts were draining the battery startlingly quickly (my tendency to push it didn’t help). The Plugshare app on my phone said there was a Level 2 charger at a camp site in Winthrop, WA. Winthrop turned out to be a delightful surprise, a most interesting museum and a town designed to emulate an 19th century village with classically quaint wooden storefronts and hand-painted signs.

We did the museum, walked around a bit, chatted with some locals and pulled out with an additional 70 miles on the battery and diminished anxieties.

After another series of long, battery-draining climbs (cause I couldn’t restrain myself, the car is just too much fun to drive on these kinds of roads) we hit the crest of the Cascades with the meter reading 134. No problem since we were only about 80 miles from the hotel — with its EV charger in the garage. We then experienced one of those cool Tesla moments. Gravity became our new best friend. Some 17 miles later we leveled out and now had 148 in the “tank.” Try doing that in an ICE (internal combustion engine) car.

We spent the next four days hitting up wineries along the Okanagan valley. We were delighted to discover that many of them had installed EV chargers, most of them Tesla-made 80 amp units. We had a real treat when, on our way back (for the trip home we took the Canadian route along Highway 3), we stopped at the Clos du Soleil winery in Keremos, BC.

We backed into the spot where the Tesla charger was and the owner and three employees came running out, hooting and whooping. We broke their cherry, so to speak. Ours was the first Tesla to use their charger and we became instant celebrities. The owner called their PR guy who arrived — with camera — and put together a piece for their website. It may be there by now. Take a look. We spent an hour there, bought a couple bottles of their surprisingly good whites and talked Tesla and grapes.

Next stop was Hope, BC where Tesla has a well-placed SC just off the TranCanada. We had a late lunch at a classic “yes, ma’am, we’ve been here fer some fiffy years now” diner, returned to a fully loaded battery and made it back to Point Roberts with lots of electrons left, some very good feelings about Teslas (damn, are they just freakin’ built for mountains!) and a frunck full of excellent wines.

If any EV drivers haven’t downloaded the Plugshare app, you need to. We were a bit worried about this trip since it was taking us out of “Tesla-land” but the number of independent businesses and organizations that have installed chargers is growing and all of them are listing themselves on Plugshare. Not all are Tesla-made but most are Level 2 that gives you close to 60 miles worth in an hour and every one we used was at a business that was just delighted to have us visit and use their facilities. The future is upon us and it is going to be wonderful fun. All chargers were free and we saved somewhere between $170 and $200 over what an ICE would have cost in gasoline.

BTW, for reasons that strain credulity, the right-wing crazies have got their knickers in a twist over Tesla. I’d touched on this in an earlier blog post. I’ll do so again because Tesla’s introduction of its new Model X has caused many a brain to explode.

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