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10 - The Journey Home

Updated: Feb 13, 2022


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bose Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Front driver side three-quarter view of car.

Thanks to the delightfully negligent staff at the dealer, we had to stop at the first supercharger we could find. Unfortunately, despite my repeated requests and reminders, the very competent staff had only charged the car for a couple hours, and it only had about 65 miles of range. At the time, the only non-trickle chargers were at least 10 miles off the beaten path and would make us double back for some watts. Thankfully, there was a charger in Buckeye, but it would be a tenuous one-hour drive, 58 miles away. This was kind of disappointing math because it meant we’d have to go downhill the whole way, with the wind at our backs and the AC off to ensure we made it to Buckeye without me having to push my 5,000-pound sled in the smoldering Arizona sun.


Planning our trip was really easy with the onboard navigation software. The software is designed to optimize your trip by telling you which charging stations to stop at and how long you’ll need to charge at each station. It also tells you how much charge you’ll have remaining at each station and how much battery you’ll have when you get to your destination. We tend to be a little conservative and stay at chargers 10 minutes longer than recommended, just to give us a little buffer. Daily driving mode on my car provides 217 miles of range. If I change it to Trip Mode, the range goes up to 240 miles. That’s anemic by today’s standards, but way better than the 80ish miles of range I got from my 2014 Fiat 500 Electric.



Charging in Buckeye

The trip to Buckeye was nice. I really got a chance to feel out the car. The tragedy of the situation was, I had a 762hp car at my disposal, and I couldn’t use any of it unless I wanted to get a torturous quad workout in the punishing Arizona sun. So we rolled into Buckeye's Tesla Super Charger station with just enough juice to spare me from tearing a quad. The charging station at Buckeye is very cool. There is a Carl’s Junior next to the chargers and a Cracker Barrel a 2-minute walk away. There are a lot of other amenities nearby, all within walking distance.


This little break gave me a chance to learn how to charge the car and the opportunity to play with the different options in the toybox. While I was messing with the menu, I noticed something that stood out right away, the software version on the home screen was over a year and a half old! I took a few minutes and researched how to reset the onboard computers. I wanted to be able to hear the turn signal, stop seeing hieroglyphics, and finally be able to connect my phone via Bluetooth, but it would have to wait. Since I really didn’t know anything about the car, I didn’t want to risk a reboot several hundred miles from home. It would be pretty embarrassing to have my dream car towed home on my first road trip because I inadvertently fried something in the computer.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Buckeye Tesla Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. Front driver view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Buckeye Tesla Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. Front driver view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Buckeye Tesla Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. Left passenger side of car..

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Buckeye Tesla Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. View of main menu on Tesla screen.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Buckeye Tesla Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. View of Tesla Toybox on main screen of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Buckeye Tesla Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. View of Driving submenu on main screen with Ludicrous and Ludicrous Plus modes.

After taking the dog for a walk and playing with the car for a while, we had enough juice to safely make it to the next Super Charger on our journey. We hit the road and embarked on the next 70-mile leg of our trip. Now that we had enough electrons in reserve to play with the throttle a little, I took full advantage of the situation. On several stretches of highway, I took the opportunity to put foot to floor and test the limits of acceleration and speed. I’ve driven many exceptionally powerful cars in the last 20+ years, and this car is the pinnacle. It loses a little torque at higher speeds, partially due to the lack of a transmission, but it’s still very capable above Montana speed limits. Off the line, it’s just a monster, like a thug in a tuxedo. It’s an engineering marvel to sit in such a massive car and have it go from 0-60 in 2.6 seconds. The fact that it hooks up and goes without fishtailing, squealing tires, or producing a mountain of smoke is both wildly disappointing and mind-boggling at the same time.


Asleep at the Wheel

The Telsa gobbled up pavement from Buckeye to Bouse Wash Rest Stop with reckless abandon. I even took the opportunity to try out the Autopilot and learned some important lessons along the way. Setting the Autopilot is very similar to just setting cruise control. You pick your path, double-tap a lever on the steering column, and it engages seamlessly. The most significant two settings to watch out for are the following: distance control, I usually set it at 4 car lengths, and ensuring it’s ready to engage the Autopilot. To ensure it engages properly, you just need to ensure the car is between two lane markers and that the super-smart car has identified the lane markers. If the car doesn’t recognize the lines, they blackout on the display, and if you try to engage the Autopilot, it gives you a no-dice buzz and refuses your request. But, if the markers are white, you’re free to pull the lever and let the car do all the driving work. Well, most of it.


I had the Autopilot on and off for most of the trip and learned it could be a little temperamental. If the Autopilot kicked off or had to override it, it would not allow you to resume Autopilot until you stopped the car and turned it off. This was super inconvenient. There were times I’d override it because the car was going all Christine on us, and I’d have to wait until we stopped again to use Autopilot. Apparently, the car also tends to be a bit suicidal/homicidal. We noticed it was especially negligent near a big rig or other huge truck. The car always seemed to drift towards the center of the big rigs when passing them, so I’d have to override the Autopilot. All it took was an hour of driving with Autopilot, and I could never imagine falling asleep behind the wheel as some people have done. It’s extremely capable, but some apparent flaws stood out, and I would never put my life in it’s hands. It’s worth noting that software updates eliminated that glitch, so you no longer have to turn the car off to try and use Christine mode.


First Photo Shoot

We pulled into the Bouse Wash Rest Stop a bit before sunset to stretch our legs and take a break. It was a great photo op. As I was taking pictures, I really stopped to appreciate the car's design elements. The Model S has become an all-too-familiar design for many people, but it was pretty revolutionary when it first came out. Aesthetically, it’s somewhere between the aggressively curvaceous Maserati and the straightforward assertiveness of an M6. As fantastic as the car is, I always thought it needed a little something extra to really capture the essence of an almost 800hp supercar. Just a little foreshadowing.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bouse Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Front driver side three-quarter view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bouse Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Driver side profile view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bouse Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Front passenger side three-quarter view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bouse Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Front passenger side view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bouse Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Rear passenger side three-quarter view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Bouse Wash Rest Stop in Arizona on a road trip. Chrome steering wheel Tesla emblem.

Charging Into the Unknown

After our little break, it was time to hit the road again and cruise to the next charging station just 40 miles away. The Quartzsite charger sits somewhere between Nowhere and BFE. It sits in the parking lot of another Carl’s Junior, which was well lit and clean. But it can be kind of a creepy spot if no one else is around. We found that to be a frustrating element of many charging stations on long trips. Sometimes the stations are a little too remote for my taste. If you fuel up at a gas station, you’re there for five minutes or so and on your way. So even if you don’t feel safe, that ominous feeling won't last very long. But, if you’re charging an EV to make it to your destination, and you need to charge for an hour, it's slightly different. Sometimes you’re sitting in your car in an empty parking lot, it's pitch-black outside, and no one could hear you scream for miles. Every time you glance around, your brain is projecting Mad Max rejects emerging from every bush and fire hydrant. It can be a little unnerving.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Quartzsite Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. Front driver side three-quarter view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Quartzsite Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. Front view of car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked at Quartzsite Supercharger in Arizona on a road trip. Front view of car.

The Journey Home

After we left Quartzsite, it was clear sailing most of the way home. We stopped once to charge for about 10 minutes, just to make sure we’d make it all the way home. We panicked earlier when we realized we didn’t have a charger at home because I sold the one I used for my Fiat 500e. What doubly concerned us was there was nowhere to buy a charger. After some quick rummaging around in the car at Quartzsite, I realized the car came with a small home/travel charger and some adapters. Thankfully, that charger would be more than capable of keeping us charged up until I could upgrade to an adult-sized charger. When we got home, I plugged the car in, and it looked right at home next to my red and black Triumph and my red and rust Dart. Despite the frustrating issues with the dealer and staring through a chip for 400 miles, it was a great trip. Best of all, the car of my dreams was now tucked safely in the garage.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked in a grage next to a red 1963 Dodge Dart.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked in a grage  and charging next to a 2016 Triumph Street Triple R..

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode parked in a grage next to a red 1963 Dodge Dart and a black and red 2016 Triumph Street Triple R.



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