Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's 83 degrees when I leave for the San Marcos, Texas supercharger.  There are no signs even slightly hinting at the eminent snowstorm.  Although I did a dry run at putting cables on a few weeks back,  I'm content letting those coils snooze right where they are, in the lower back hold of the trunk.  I figure it will take me 3 nights to make it to Tucson, AZ, but I am highly motivated to get out of Texas in 2 as that's how long I have before the storm hits.

Kitt's GPS has been acting up since being unexpectedly unplugged from her power source, so I give her an attitude adjustment with a reset and make additional route notes in my book while filling up with an extended range.  Kitt wants to take me on a route that's 243 miles, but I've found one that's 226.  I have no idea what the conditions of these back roads are like, but I need the extra range so I decide to go my way, leaving a buffer of 26 miles.  The route is beautiful, peaceful and certainly my preferred blend of asphalt.

I'm making good progress but as it starts to turn to dusk, I notice mountains up ahead..."Oh *&%$" I say to myself, as I know that means just one thing for me, a decrease in range.  Sure enough I watch my 26 mile buffer dwindle to 8.

I typically lose 7 miles of range for every 1,000 feet elevation gain and unbeknownst to me at the time, I'm climbing apx. 2,000 feet to my next charging location in Ozona, TX.  (Since that time, Tesla has released firmware version 6.1 which projects trip usage based on known elevation gain.)

This is the first time I've thought "I'm not going to make it", as I'm loosing range fast.  Thinking I might have a head wind as well, I decide to draft.  

For those who follow Mythbusters, you might remember they did an episode testing if drafting behind a big rig would improve mileage.  Sure enough it did. They found a 11% increase at 100' and a 39% at 10', so I find me the nearest big rig and make like Velcro.   My efficiency improves, the buffer increases and confidence is restored.   I'll make it after all, yippy!... and then I see these flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror.  Ugh.

I pull over and wait for the Highway Patrol officer to approach, silently rehearsing my defense.  He motions for me to roll down the window, and I greet him with "Good Evening Officer".  After pleasantries are exchanged, he informs me that he pulled me over because I was "following too close".  Huh, me?  I now launch into my monologue complete with all electric, range differential, elevation gain, projections, boonies, head wind, limited options and even show him my notebook.  He has a look of befuddlement on his face, asks for my license and says he'll be back.  He returns with "backup", a fellow officer that shares big rig operator narked on me, then proceeds to educate me on stopping distances.  I resist mentioning that I can stop faster than that truck and it comes down to my reaction time, and instead  reply with, "I guess I got a lil over zealous, sorry".  He hands me back my license, says he'll let me off with a warning and seems to genuinely wish me safe travels. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I make it to my first stop, a back lot "RV park" in Ozona, TX. It's late when I arrive and Kitt's turning heads with a group of beer drinking partyers.  I find myself a spot away from the festivities and immediately plug in as I've arrived with 15 miles.  I don't bother making up my bed as I plan to be out as soon as Kitt's full.  I put my cardboard cocoon up, get comfy in the back seat and am up and out by 5 am.

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