My buddy James pointed out to me that I had neglected to finish the blog for this trip. He claimed his dad was reading the blog and was wondering whether I made it home.
Spoiler alert: I did.
This is literally the fourth attempt to make this posting, and I got so disgusted with losing it to accidental key presses and bugs in the mobile app that I went about my life relatively rage-free for the past 6 months. But since I'll be taking another driving trip to DC tomorrow, I felt compelled to tie up the loose ends so we can start afresh.
We pick up our story driving downstream on the "transverse colon of America" that is my Supercharger route. Apologies to my fellow Tampans regarding the implication of the logical terminus of this analogy. It seemed rather clever at the time.
As I write this in August in Florida, it is difficult to muster the sense memory of minus 17º fahrenheit weather. I wonder if the local Winn Dixie will let me use their walk-in freezer for a few minutes. Frankly, -17º sounds pretty brisk and refreshing right about now.
Leaving Mitchell, SD, I gave my cousin a call in Milwaukee. I would be able to make it to Milwaukee late in the evening and visit her and her family in the land of my birth for Sunday Brunch. You betcha.
Driving across South Dakota, southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin are about as eventful as you would imagine. There were lots of windmills on the snow-swept plains.
I got to Mauston at dusk and enjoyed a Culvers Butterburger. Because when am I ever going to be able to do that again? Well, it turns out that they are building a Culvers nearby in Pinellas Park, so soon, I guess.
I almost got ICEd in Madison. [as an exercise to the reader, insert your favorite indignant rant here]. I made it to a nice hotel in downtown Milwaukee by 10:00 PM. Not bad.
Milwaukee is kind of off the beaten path regarding superchargers. There is one in Madison and one in Racine. I had used about 30% of my range getting from Madison. I had enough charge to get to Racine, but I wanted a few more miles of range so that I could freak out my cousin with the acceleration on the historic concrete roads of Milwaukee.
The front desk was willing to help, but had no clue about any nearby level 2 chargers. Recargo, which has good maps of electric car charging stations, didn't show anything feasible. So I asked them if there were any regular outlets in the parking garage that I could use. They pointed me to a corner of the garage by the stairs.
Well, not "perfect", but "better than nothing".
Plugging into a household 110v 15 amp outlet is easy, but very disappointing when you've been accustomed to superchargers or even household 240v, 40 amp "dryer" current. Plugging the car in netted me a grand total of 20 miles of range overnight at a rate of 3 MPH of charging. It was enough range to tool around Milwaukee and it was free - so it's hard to complain that much.
Breakfast with my cousin and her family was delightful. We got caught up for the past 15 or so years, and took a ride to the Ancestral Home on Woodlawn Court. This house had been owned by my maternal grandparents. I lived there on and off from my birth through kindergarten. After that, my Aunt and Uncle bought that house, so it was also my cousin's home for roughly the same formative period of her life. She is a few years younger than me.
Whenever I get back to Milwaukee, I like to go see that house, since that where the very first part of my conscious life as a human being were imprinted. I have clear memories of walking to school with my mom and showing off to the kindergarten teacher how smart I was to be able to count to 100.
My dad was a car salesman at the time, and I remember standing on the corner of Blue Mound Road and watching cars pass while we waited at the crosswalk. He would tell me what each one was.
"That's a '62 Buick Skylark. There's a '64 Rambler. There's a brand new Chevy Impala".
As each car passed I would be amazed at his vast knowledge of the subtle difference between grills and hood ornaments to be not only able to name the make and model, but the year! I remember clearly not wanting that time to end and subsequently the hunger to spend that time again. He was always happy to oblige me with that game even when we moved to Texas and ultimately to Florida, but it was never quite as good as the first time.
I just came to the realization that we are both older now than our parents were when we lived in that house, by quite a bit. They say that it is a physical property of the brain where the neuronal "clock speed" slows down with age, causing the sensation of time flowing faster. I see clear evidence of that phenomenon.
By this time in my journey, I was finally ready to have it be done. I left around Milwaukee before noon on what I hoped would turn out to be the penultimate leg of my journey. I made it to Racine, but actually had enough charge to make it to Chicago, so I decided to take a chance.
The Chicago charger was off the beaten path the Tesla Service center, which was in an industrial area. At least I had it all to myself, but I had to pee in the snow, because it was Sunday and the facility was closed. I was able to spell H-A-N-S, in case you're wondering.
In hindsight, I should have charged in Racine, because the amenities were much better there, being in an Outlet mall.
I actually made it to Cleveland, the scene of my humiliation two weeks before. I knew exactly what exit to take to get to the SuperCharger this time. I charged up and spent the night in the Holiday Inn.
The drive from Cleveland to Richmond was longer than I remember. Such is the drive home. Remember that brain thing I talked about earlier? Well, it doesn't seem to work on the micro scale. Driving back was interminable.
At the supercharger in Hagarstown, MD I met a couple from Boston who were heading on a whim out west to try out the supercharger network. I gave them my hints for using the range indicators. I kind of cringed for the guy at the amount of bitching that his wife was spewing about the "long wait" to recharge.
I could have kept going past Richmond, but I was pretty tired and decided that I wanted to have some beer at the Applebees bar near the Glen Allen Supercharger. So I ended up staying at a fancy-schmancy resort nearby, really cheap because, you know, March.
I got a pretty early start for the last leg of my journey - but 's a long slog from Richmond to Tampa. It was dark by the time I hit Savannah, and I still had a good 8 hours of driving and charging left before Tampa. I weighed the pros and cons of just bivouacking there and decided to slog on through. It was midnight before I got to Port Orange for the home stretch on I-4 to Tampa.
The absolute worst part of any long drive is that last 80 miles when you get on the familiar part of the highway that you've traveled dozens of time. Orlando to Tampa is that for me. Jesus, that Zephyrhills sign and I-75 junction is never going to come. Was that Fantasy of Flight? Dude, stop trying to make "Orlampa" happen. It's never going to happen.
I finally rolled into Shadowy Realm Studios by 3:00 AM, surprisingly refreshed.
In summary, it was a fun trip. I really enjoyed it, and I look forward to my next Tesla Road Trip. Coincidentally, that begins tomorrow. My whole impetus for finally finishing up was to clear my karmic stack for the next journey. Mission accomplished.