(continued from Part I)
Springfield, Mo, to Tahlequah, OK, to El Reno, OK — 400 Miles, about 10 hours
We departed Springfield a little sleep-deprived from the tornado warning adventure but, full of electricity and Double Tree chocolate chip cookies, we headed for our first supercharger stop in Joplin, MO, which is located in the parking lot of a creepy abandoned hotel just off the freeway. Judy and I both were happy that we were visiting in daylight…..I am sure that vampires or worse lurked during the night hours. While we were charging, we were approached by a local man who was curious as to what we were doing there. After confirming he was not a member of the local undead, we explained that we were on a road trip and were charging our Tesla. He then proceeded to explain, in long-winded detail, the history of the creepy hotel. Long story short, it was found to be full of black mold 5 or 6 years ago and the owners decided that it would be less expensive to abandon it rather than remodel and get rid of the mold. Upon hearing the tale, Judy and I immediately hopped into our Tesla, checked that all the windows were closed, and adjusted our climate to Biodefense Mode. (I thought we would never use this feature, but as it turns out it does come in handy when you are parked next to a creepy old abandoned hotel full of black mold.) Once the car was charged to about 80%, we quickly disconnected and headed to Tahlequah, OK.
We made a two-hour side trip to Tahlequah so that I could visit the capital of the Cherokee Nation and update my Cherokee Nation membership card. My family and I are members of the Cherokee Nation and until this trip I had never had a chance to visit its capital. It really was fascinating. We went to the capitol building, where we charged free at one of many J1772 chargers while I updated my card and got a picture ID. We visited some local historical sites, purchased a few t-shirts, and inquired of one of the locals where he thought was the best place in town for lunch. His suggestion sounded like “Salmonella’s.” Now I don’t know about you, but we weren’t crazy enough to go to a restaurant that was named after bacteria that causes intestinal disease. So we tactfully asked him a couple of questions: “Salmonella’s, are you nuts? Is diarrhea on the menu?” Fortunately, he was kind of expecting that response and he clarified, “Not Salmonella’s, Sam and Ella’s. It’s not too far and the food is very good and safe.” So we went to Sam and Ella’s Chicken Place. The ambiance was delightfully rustic, the service great, the food excellent, and we had no subsequent intestinal distress. It is a chicken place, but the pizza is some of the best you will ever eat. In fact, we’d love to designate it as our go-to pizza restaurant, but it is nearly 1,500 miles from our home.
After a great meal at Sam and Ella’s, we headed back to the Tesla Supercharger at the Hard Rock Casino in Catoosa, OK, near Tulsa. We had driven less than 20 miles before we hit the first toll road. (Remember Tollahoma?) Unfortunately, Judy and I had not taken our own advice and we did not have a roll of quarters. The toll was $1.25, but we could only find 2 quarters at the bottom of Judy’s purse. So we threw our two quarters into the basket and then waited, not knowing what to do. After a few seconds the light that controlled the toll lane turned from red to green and we went on our way. There is probably now a warrant out for our apprehension for a toll violation in Oklahoma. Fortunately for us, we had a Cherokee Nation license plate on the front of our car and we have since changed the back plate so they will probably never catch us even if they have a photo of our car. We made it to the casino without having to pay any additional tolls. But this time we went into the casino to get some quarters after we plugged into the Supercharger. You would think that the best place in the world to get quarters would be a casino. Right? Well, not so much. When I went to the cashier and asked for a roll of quarters, she looked at me like I had two heads, neither of which was human. She informed me that she did not have very many quarters, but she could give me some poker chips in exchange for real money. I asked her if the poker chips worked at toll stations. She just smiled and after a few minutes of hard bargaining, agreed to give me $4 in quarters. Luckily, as it turned out, these 16 quarters would get us all the way through the rest of OK. We ended our day by pulling into the destination charger at the Fairfield Inn in El Reno, OK.
El Reno, OK to Albuquerque, NM — 550 miles, about 11 hours
After breakfast, our first stop of the day was the Tesla Supercharger in Shamrock, TX. Shamrock is only about two hours from El Reno, but our bladders needed a bathroom break ASAP. So we used Google Maps to see if there were any bathrooms near the supercharger. In Street View it looked like the supercharger was in the back parking lot of a run-down industrial building and after our experience at the Creepy Black Mold Hotel Supercharger, we weren’t quite sure that we wanted to use their bathroom. But Google Maps showed fast food places a short walk away. However, when we pulled into the supercharger in Shamrock, TX, we got the biggest surprise of our entire trip. It’s located at one of the most interesting historic buildings on Route 66, the Conoco Tower Gas Station and the U Drop Inn Café. This is now our favorite Tesla Supercharger in our entire supercharging experience. The only thing that might make it better would be to replace the antique gas pumps with superchargers. The art deco building was built in 1936 and was one of the first buildings in Shamrock to be built on Route 66. The café was built at the same time as the gas station and got its name from a local schoolboy’s winning entry in a naming contest. Today, the fully restored Conoco Tower Gas Station and the U Drop Inn Café serve as a visitor center, chamber of commerce office, and community center with plenty of mold-free bathrooms. The café is totally refurbished with mannequin waitresses and customers, shiny red vinyl seats, and even coat racks, but it does not serve food. What a wonderful surprise, the kind of surprise that makes long road trips in the USA so amazing. But wait, there’s more.
Our next intended stop was Tucumcari, NM, but just a few miles outside Amarillo, we passed Cadillac Ranch, which is a must-see if you’re traveling on I-40 or Route 66. It is less than a mile off the interstate, a short walk into a field, and it’s a hoot. Only in America will you find 10 Cadillacs standing in a row half buried in the middle of a field, just inviting you to use spray paint to create any graffiti that your imagination can come up with. Spray it on the car or on the surrounding dirt, as some folks were doing. Judy and I can think of no better use for ICE cars, so we joined in the fun: we found some half-used spray cans and added our names, a few improvements to the art work on the cars, took several photos, and then continued our trip to Albuquerque.
As mentioned in the first part of this narrative, the Tucumcari Supercharger is in a hotel parking lot, so we spent as little time there as possible and then headed off to our hotel in Albuquerque, where we arrived in a couple of hours. The hotel did not have a destination charger, but it was adjacent to the Albuquerque Tesla Supercharger, so we plugged in the car, got our room settled, rested for a while and then went to Sadie’s for dinner. No, Sadie is not Judy’s great aunt; Sadie’s is a Mexican restaurant a few miles away that had great tacos and burritos and charming decor. After dinner we retired to our hotel room to prepare for the trip to our next destination– Prescott, AZ.
Albuquerque, NM to Prescott, AZ — 450 miles, about 9 hours
Today’s trip would take us through Gallup and Flagstaff, down Oak Creek Canyon, through Sedona and finally to visit an old friend, Lori, in Prescott, AZ. (At this time in our lives, even our new friends are pretty old.) We stopped for about 30 minutes in Gallup to charge, then another 40 minutes or so to charge and eat lunch in Flagstaff, and then we started the drive down fascinating Oak Creek Canyon into Sedona. As we drove, Judy and I reminisced about a family camping experience we had there 25 years ago when the kids were teenagers. We had stayed at Pine Flat Campground and took side trips to scenic Sedona and Slide Rock State Park. Slide Rock is one of the Travel Channel’s 10 Best Swimming Holes in the United States. In addition to several historical buildings, there is an 80-foot natural waterslide cut into the Sedona red rock by Oak Creek, where we took turns whizzing down the stone chute. It is an absolute wonder and joy on a hot summer day. This trip, as we passed by Slide Rock, we noted that even on this cool October day, there were many people enjoying the slide, and we vowed to go back sometime when it was about 20 degrees warmer. We also recalled another Sedona trip when a hot-air balloon ride treated us to magnificent views of the countryside and the red rock buttes and canyons. We continued on through Sedona and headed toward the Tesla Supercharger in the Village of Oak Creek, about 8 miles south. On the way we stopped at the trail head to Bell Rock, a 4,900-foot, red bell-shaped butte just north of the Village of Oak Creek. If you have the time and are in reasonable shape, you can hike the trail that loops around the butte. I was still sore from the hike down from Sky City, so we passed on the hike and instead, indulged in some ice cream from a shop near the supercharger.
After filling up with electricity and ice cream, we headed out on the last leg of our trip to visit our friend Lori and her partner Rex in Prescott.
When we entered Lori’s driveway we were greeted by Winkie, Lori’s three-legged, one-eyed guard Pug. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner talking about old times and politics. Judy and I only discuss politics with old friends who have the same views as we. (The reason why others are still old friends is because we stay away from political discussions.) Anyway, we had a lovely dinner in Lori’s home that fits beautifully in a natural oak setting and had a restful night’s sleep in her comfy guestroom. The next day we awoke early, early for me, at around 9:00 am and Lorrie took us out to breakfast at Marino’s Burgers across the street from the Yavapai County Courthouse and Courthouse Plaza, where the clock scene in Back to the Future was filmed. (I know, Marino’s Burgers doesn’t sound like a breakfast place, but they serve a yummy breakfast all day long.) After breakfast we walked around the Plaza for a bit and finally decided to really work off all those bacon calories by walking the Prescott Peavine Trail, a flat trail that wanders several miles along Watson Lake, which insinuates itself into the Granite Dells, irregular rounded rock structures formed by wind and water erosion. After about an hour and a half of walking, I sat on a bench and refused to go any farther. So Judy said what she always says when I sit on a bench and refuse to go any further, “Okay, I (we) will pick you up on my (our) way back,” and about an hour later, that’s just what Judy and Lori did. That night Lori and Rex attended a Rotary dinner event, but they suggested what turned out to be the perfect choice for dinner, the Iron Springs Café. Located in a historical train depot, it was small but charming, the service attentive, and the food good, although I can’t remember what we actually had for dinner. The dessert, though, I do remember: peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream–outstanding! The next morning we said our goodbyes to Lori and Rex, and we headed home to Vista.
Prescott, AZ to Home (Vista, CA) — 360 miles, about 8 ½ hours
On the last day of our impossible road trip we just wanted to get home….no side trips. So we drove out of Prescott on our way to Quartzite, AZ, on Interstate 10. Quartzite is well-known for its gem and mineral shows, but all we wanted to do was spend about 20 minutes charging so we could make it the 120 miles west on I-10 through the desert to the Indio Supercharger, where we loitered for 40 minutes charging only because we wanted to go over the mountains to Anza, CA, to get home. We exited the Indio Supercharger and headed west on I-10 to California Hwy. 74, then to California 79, then Interstate 15 South to our home in Vista.
We are always excited to leave on a long road trip and we are always equally excited to return home. But driving a Tesla makes a long trip much more enjoyable than an ICE car. It is much quieter, and the technology and driver assist package is much superior in the Tesla. Every day you arrive much more rested than you would have in an ICE vehicle. You do have to stop every 2 to 3 hours to charge, but you also have to stop to get gas, eat, stretch your legs, and use the restroom in an ICE automobile. Our Tesla Model X Raven Long Range has an EPA rating of 93 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). A comparable ICE seven-passenger luxury SUV, like the Lexus RX, gets an EPA rated 27 miles per gallon (MPG) on premium gasoline. Therefore, looking only at energy use, the Tesla is more than three times more efficient than the Lexus. Judy and I believe, and have proven over and over again, that it is possible to take a long road trip in an electric car, as long as that electric car is a Tesla.
Mark & Judy