Tesla Model S - Road Trip to San Luis Obispo
All-electric road trip
from Orange County to San Luis Obispo

For a weekend getaway in April 2014, we planned a trip to San Luis Obispo (SLO) from Orange County using my Model S for my family of four.

After using Superchargers for a road trip last year to San Francisco, planning this one was pretty easy using my Supercharger Table. It was clear a simple 45-minute stop at the Buellton Tesla Supercharger would allow us to comfortably traverse the 450-mile round trip in this all-electric car.

So here's a picture log of the trip in my Model S.

Blue Tesla Model S

Model S OC-SLO Road Trip
Days Charging at
Supercharger   Public
2 1

Cargo Space
We didn't bring enough stuff to take up all the ample cargo space in the Model S. I filled the front trunk, then put the BOB stroller in the back with a few nicknacks. Note large spaces left over to the left and right of the stroller. Why pack more than we need? trunk  frunk
Buellton Supercharger - Northbound
As we traveled, I logged the time, odometer, and range remaining for every event of interest.

TimeEventRange Remaining
12:35 pmDeparted Lunch near Home259
3:30 pmArrived Buellton49
Range/Distance ratio: 1.22
Conditions: Heavy, Friday, LA Traffic

Afternoon traffic in Los Angeles is bad. Friday traffic is bad. Obviously putting the two together is worse.

But the kids (aged 2 and 7) dictate certain parameters: Hitting the road straight from lunch, the earliest we could head out, put the kids to sleep in 15 minutes, and they stayed asleep for the following 90 minutes. Such a pleasure in in such a quiet car!

Battling LA traffic was manageable, and Ventura and Oxnard were better than expected, but more importantly I didn't bother with energy-conserving driving, arriving under my predicted time, three hours.

Like any Supercharger, the Buellton one was easy. Three other Model S' were there, then after we plugged in another arrived, leaving another three stalls available.

The kids were very happy to go have their favorite meals from McDonald's. We visited the restroom, then ordered food, so by the time we sat down to eat, the car already charged for 30 minutes. Then the kids couldn't resist the McDonald's Playplace, then came back to eat, then finally playing around for a long time at the Playplace again.

So all told the kids had us charge for 75 minutes, a half-hour longer than I planned or needed, so we ended up with 260 miles of range in the battery, nearly full and more than originally intended. Cost: $0

TimeEventRange Remaining
4:45 pmDeparted Buellton260
5:43 pmArrived San Luis Obispo182
Range/Distance ratio: 1.3
Conditions: Heavy Rain

Getting to SLO was a little trickier. A nasty storm moved in, but it wasn't anything this electric car couldn't handle. With plenty of charge, I enjoyed the Model S' precision handling while the kids discovered horses and cows in the surrounding farmland.

Buellton Supercharger

Buellton Supercharger McDonald's

Buellton McDonald's Playplace

Visiting Morro Rock and Bay

On Saturday we decided to visit Morro Rock first to take in the natural beauty and to let the kids take out some energy climbing rocks and playing on the sand beach. Then we walked up the Embarcadero of the town of Morro Bay, found a place for lunch, and returned back to the hotel room to take a family nap. We spent dinner at a friend's place in Pismo Beach.

On Sunday, we left the hotel to have breakfast in Avila Beach. What a beautiful morning! We let the kids play on the beach playground for a while, then we drive around Avila for some sightseeing.    trunk

Local Charging
Prior to the trip, I researched a few different local charging stations.

In Morro Bay, while my family shopped, I added 30 miles of range at a station in their Transit Center. Cost: $0

While my family napped in the San Luis Obispo hotel, I charged the car at a station near a Target walking distance from the hotel, then rejoined my sleeping family while it added 50 miles of range. Cost: $0

This extra energy boost was helpful for almost 100 miles of unstructured local travel and sightseeing.

Buellton Supercharger - Southbound
TimeEventRange Remaining
11:35 amDeparted Avila Village149
12:28 pmArrived Buellton75
Range/Distance ratio: 1.27
Conditions: Hills, Speed

I couldn't resist taking my family to a childhood favorite: Pea Soup Andersen's Restaurant. I was working on my second bowl of split pea soup when my car reached 220 miles, enough to get home, including a safety margin. Then the kids played and demanded a few snacks, and when I returned to the car I chatted with another Tesla owner and a Tesla admirer. Cost: $0

TimeEventRange Remaining
1:05 pmEnough Charge to get Home plus Margin220
1:51 pmDepart Buellton271
5:10 pmArrived Home65
Range/Distance ratio: 1.18
Conditions: Traffic, Hills, Speed

Although traffic hampered the drive home, I enjoyed speed when possible because there was no plausible way we would run out of range.

Buellton Supercharger

Tesla Andersen's Split Pea Buellton


Like before, the Model S is a fabulous road trip car. Traveling without the extra engine and transmission noise, creating an low-frequency rumble and roar that shakes one's innards, makes possible a very relaxing driving experience. I no longer experience the fatigue I had in gas cars before.

Both ways, the time to take care of biological needs, such as those of our little humans aged 2 and 7, completely covered the car's necessary charging time and then some: 30 minutes extra northbound and 45 minutes extra southbound. Family time should never be rushed.

Thanks to Tesla Motors and the cities of Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, the cost to refuel on this 550-mile trip was zero, zilch, nada. Sweet!

Where next? Vegas?

Follow Up: Five months after this trip, Tesla Motors brought the Oxnard Supercharger online, making our next trip to San Luis Obispo even easier.

Dean E. Dauger holds a Ph. D. in physics from UCLA, where his group created the first Mac cluster in 1998. Dr. Dauger is the award-winning author in multiple American Institute of Physics' Software Contests and co-authored the original, award-winning Kai's Power Tools image-processing package for Adobe Photoshop. After founding his company, Dauger Research, Inc., its debut product, Pooch, derived from Dr. Dauger's experience using clusters for his physics research, was soon awarded as "most innovative" by IEEE Cluster and continues to revolutionize parallel computing and clusters worldwide with its patented technology.

Back to home

Thanks for having a look!

Copyright © 2014 Dean Dauger.
Made on a Mac