I’ve never written a blog before, but a bunch of people have told me that this is a great story, so here goes.
I’ve been on the Tesla Roadster waiting list for a long long time. I’ve tried hard to not obsess over when the car would finally arrive. A watched pot and all. But on Monday July 27th, we got word from Tesla that the car would be on the truck on Wednesday and would be in our hands as soon as the truck could get it to us. After years of waiting, what was another 5-10 days as the shipping company meanders northward? Much too long apparently. Judy and I started making calls to try to figure out if we could find a truck to get it to us by Friday.
Then late Monday night I had a crazy thought. Why not fly down and drive it back? I started making calls. Was it possible? Could I get everything I needed in time? I called my dad and asked him if he wanted to do the drive back with me, and he was all over it. We made flight reservations for Wednesday morning but didn’t commit because this was late Monday evening, and I wanted to talk with Tesla in the morning to see if it was possible.
Tuesday morning we got confirmation that the car would be ready early in the day Wednesday and we could drive it away with a full charge. I tried to wrap up a little bit of work, then did a little searching on google maps to try to plan a route. I figured I had all evening to plan a route, so I headed out the door to run the necessary errands. The first thing I had to do was take all of the car paperwork and get the necessary licensing done. So I headed to the various government offices to take care of that. I spent the afternoon stuck in traffic shuttling paperwork around.
I borrowed a Roadster Foundry Mobile Charger that day. We had used them the previous weekend in Portland at the drag races when 4 Seattle Tesla’s went down to the National Electric Drag Racing Association’s Wayland Invitational drag racing event. They proved that charging at 40 amps instead of 30 amps can get you topped up and back on the track quicker, and they would sure help a road trip where I would have to stop and charge regularly. At this time I still had not planned any charging stops, I just knew that 40 would charge me a lot faster than 30, so I wanted one.
I got to the shop down in Lacey Washington a little after 4pm, when the techs thought they would have the charging unit done. This was the 3rd one they were building, and they were still documenting the process and trying to figure out a streamlined production process. Unfortunately it took a little longer than was anticipated as they went through the intricate process of putting these units together. I went and got some dinner, brought back some water and brownies and scoped out all the cool lithium batteries and electric parts they had in the shop. At one point I got a little bored and built a shop cart out of a box for them, and then just got right into it and tried to help finish the unit. I cut a piece of heat shrink tubing, held a piece of cable still while they attached this to that, and watched the complex car connector go back together.
I didnt get home til about 10:30 at night, after picking up a little TomTom GPS – my only route planning device. At 6AM I packed my carry on-bag with license plates and a charge cable and headed to the airport.
Total time planning charging stops or route at this time: less than an hour.
At the airport, I was worried that security would have a problem with me lugging 15 pounds of wire onto the plane, but there were no problems, just a hand-check to make sure there were no liquids that the x-ray couldnt see through all that copper. Unfortunately the flight was delayed, which put me 3 hours behind schedule.
Waiting for my flight to land in SF was dad, who had taken a flight from Calgary and was stuck waiting for my plane. On the ground, we grabbed a taxi to Tesla in Menlo Park. We had never been before so we strolled in and started looking around at the mockups and displays and saw a Model-S shape in person for the first time. The Model-S is Tesla’s ~$50k sedan that should be available in 2011.
We found Stephen Smith who along with all the other Tesla folks had been really helpful and great getting us going on our adventure. He had the car charging, waiting for us to arrive.
I got the walk through on the car and I was asked if a TV crew from French TV Channel 6 could interview me. I honestly don’t remember what I said: I’ve wanted an electric car for a long time. I’ve been waiting for my Tesla so long, I couldn’t wait for it to come on a truck. Yes I am really going to drive it to Seattle, and no I haven’t really planned it. I remember I talked about how I had decided 5 or 6 years ago to never buy another car that wasn’t a hybrid, and how a year or so ago I had revised that to never buy another car that burns any gas.
The Tesla store is like a magical fantasyland, so we spent a bunch of time snooping through all the EV goodness that was going on.
But soon we were heading out on our adventure…
Within a mile we passed a gas station, I hope to never stop at again: