Iowa Maryland Trip

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Taking delivery of my Performance Model 3 in September 2018 was the culmination of years of saving and planning. Having no Tesla presence in Iowa, forums like the Model 3 Owners Club have been an invaluable resource. I continued driving my 2004 Honda Civic for years as I considered a Model S and then decided to wait for the Performance Model 3. The past 10 weeks of ownership have been an absolute blast.

Even before I took delivery of my car, I had the idea of doing a long-distance road trip with the Model 3 at some point in the future. When a high school reunion coincided with Thanksgiving, things fell into place very quickly. I looked at flights for our family of four. After spitting my coffee across the table, I discussed driving the Model 3 instead of flying with my wife and I started planning the trip.

I had no experience with supercharging or destination chargers. Other than the initial drive from Kansas City back to Iowa, I have only driven the car locally. I read about long-distance trips and charging on this and other forums. I tested out charging at the closest supercharger. My Tesla account still indicated pay-per-use charging, but I have never been charged.

I used EV Trip Planner, A Better Route Planner and the Go Anywhere Tesla planner to look at charging stops along the way. After we actually got on the road, I discovered that I could just trust the in-car navigation, but a little planning never hurts. I was pleased to find that I could get Supercharger rates of over 400mi/hr at 110+ kW.

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In the time it took 2 kids and 2 adults to use the restroom, stretch our legs and grab a snack, we were ready to head out again--typically about 25 minutes. We took a more leisurely break for lunches.


Our first day was just under 500 miles on the road. We had 3 supercharging stops before stopping overnight at the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, IN where we used one their two Tesla destination chargers.

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*This photo of Potawatomi Inn and Conference Center is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I was worried that the chargers would be occupied, but they were both open the day before Thanksgiving. I called prior to making the reservation and the staff indicated the chargers are first-come, first-served but that they are not typically busy. The Inn is lovely, if a bit dated. I thanked the front-desk staff for offering EV charging stations.

The next day, we left Indiana and headed for an overnight stay at a vacation house with family at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. I had my first chance to use the 120v adapter.

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It was enough to provide about 45 miles of range with overnight temperatures of 20 deg F. After reading about experiences with cold weather, I am pleased to report that I had no problems with frozen door handles. Before leaving Iowa, I sprayed some silicone around the handles and used 'Gummi Pflege Stift' Rubber Care Stick around the trunk/frunk/door trim.

On the third day, we headed across Maryland to the DC suburbs using two more superchargers. For the final destination, I used a JuiceBox Regular Dryer Adapter (NEMA 10-30) for the Mobile Connector at my brother's house in Maryland as he had an accessible outlet next to his garage. At the time I was planning the trip, Tesla's 10-30 adapter was out-of-stock. I was sure to manually lower the charging limit to 24 amps so as to not overload the circuit. The Tesla adapter automatically limits the power while the JuiceBox adapter does not. I combined that with a 25' Conntek NEMA 10-30 extension cord and everything worked out fine for local driving in the DC area.

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Heading home from Maryland to Iowa, we took a slightly more southern route through Indianapolis to avoid some snowy weather. We used 3 superchargers between DC and Indianapolis, stopping at La Quinta Inn which also has 8 Superchargers. Pro-tip--If you stay at this hotel, as for a room that does not face the highway.

We hit some snowy weather outside of Indianapolis on the way home that blocked the forward-facing radar. This disabled cruise control and Autopilot until I cleaned it off with a windshield cleaner at a gas station.
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I wisely used the Supercharger at the La Quinta for a bit before going to bed. In the morning, I wanted to get a little more buffer range and warm the battery and discovered just how much the cold weather limited Supercharging at 9kW:


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Between Indianapolis and Central Iowa, we stopped at another 3 Superchargers.


I used Navigate on Autopilot for most of the trip and found that it greatly reduced driver fatigue.
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Some lessons learned along the way:
  • The car was very comfortable for 2 adults and 2 kids in booster seats.
  • Trust the navigation routing.
  • Don’t plan to charge quickly with a cold-soaked battery.
  • Autopilot is nice for local driving and invaluable on longer trips.
  • Autopilot and TACC won’t work if the nose is covered in snow/ice.
  • We actually appreciated taking a break every 2-2.5 hours.
  • The rear USB ports were great for keeping the tablets charged and the kids happy.
  • The Supercharging stations were all conveniently located although we knew that needing to stop at specific locations would necessarily limit dining choices.
  • Going up mountains really eats into range. So does cold weather.
  • We stopped at 16 Supercharger stations in 7 states over the week of Thanksgiving and never had to wait to charge. I imagine there are some more congested areas in need of more Supercharger stations however.

We made it back to Iowa safely after 2,200+ miles with an even greater appreciation for the car.

The kids loved the car and the trip so much, they even made a cardboard Tesla when we got home!


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