Tesla Model S - Scotts Bluff
Scotts Bluff Model S
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Days Charging at
Destination   Supercharger
0 1
Covered Wagon Motel
After a continental breakfast at this Motel, we packed and checked out to head south on highway 85.

The highway was

Covered Wagon Inn

The landscape was a simple rolling plain of grasslands with grazing livestock for miles to see. This was Wyoming's share of the Great Plains.

It wasn't long until we crossed into Nebraska, the first time for any of us. In Morrill we stopped briefly for a train crossing. Soon we saw signs telling us we were following the Oregon Trail.

Lusk Supercharger

Covered Wagon Inn Room 5

Nebraska Train Crossing

Scotts Bluff National Monument
TimeEventRange Remaining
9:27 amDeparted Lusk237
11:08 amArrived Scotts Bluff141
Range/Distance ratio: 1.04
Conditions: Great Plains highway, 81°F

Scotts Bluff South

Scotts Bluff Sign
Driving the Oregon Trail using a 21st-century electric car

We felt we didn't have enough time to earn Junior Ranger badges. We explored the Visitors Center and learned how the Oregon Trail, the real one not the game, passed right through this Monument.

Oregon Trail through Scotts Bluff

Then we drove to the summit of Scotts Bluff to take a scenic walks on both the north and south ends, taking pictures as we enjoyed the view. See image at the top of the page.

Scotts Bluff Top

This bluff is quite prominent, jutting up from the plains for miles around, which was quite helpful to those early settlers driving their covered wagons across lands seems to look the same in all directions.

Chimney Rock, Nebraska
Another landmark to guide those settlers along the Oregon Trail is Chimney Rock. It became a symbol of the great western migration.

Historic pictures of this site were posted back at the Scotts Bluff Visitors Center. We could just make it out from the summit of Scotts Bluff. It was notable how it has eroded since the pictures a century ago. I'm glad we got a chance to see it before it erodes completely.

We were trying to make a dinner date, so we simply viewed it from the lot. We were also seeing on the news major thunderstorms moving into eastern Colorado, right by our route this afternoon.

Custer Supercharger
Sidney Supercharger
TimeEventRange Remaining
12:20 pmDeparted Scotts Bluff135
1:47 pmArrived Sidney Supercharger46
Range/Distance ratio: 1.48
Conditions: Stormy, rain

On our drive to Sidney, the thunderstorms were clearly moving in. We were behind schedule for lunch, which we had at the Perkins. Mine was the only Tesla around.

Cost to Charge: $0

Sidney Supercharger

We kept a careful eye on the news, including the Severe Thunderstorm Watch the NOAA issued. Fortunately our route shouldn't take us through the worst of it, but storm systems rarely contain themselves to hard boundaries.
Entering Colorado Thunderstorms in Colorado

South of Sidney, we clearly encountered heavy rain. We were excited to see lightning in the distance to the south of our southwest route to Brush. This wasn't exactly the way I wanted to reenter Colorado, but the weather is the weather.

Brush Supercharger
TimeEventRange Remaining
2:39 pmDeparted Sidney214
3:55 pmArrived Brush Supercharger113
Range/Distance ratio: 1.29
Conditions: Stormy, 64°F

When we arrived at the Brush Supercharger, we pulled up, in the heavy rain. Mine was the only Tesla. I plugged in while we prepared for a mad dash to the Shell market so we could all use the restroom.

Brush Supercharger

But it was all boarded up and without power and without a sign saying "Closed". Two trucks full of hay were huddled under the station's canopy. The Supercharger was charging fine. So I drove my family to the Wendy's across the street so they'll be comfortable using the restrooms and getting snacks and drinks, then I returned to the Supercharger to charge, and ran back with my umbrella to the Wendy's. Who would've thought we would have major thunderstorms in August?

Once we settled down we learned that a tornado hit here in July. The Supercharger was restored quickly, but the entire Shell facility was still inoperable. People ask if chargers go offline, but it never occurred to us that the gas station's amenities would be shut down. With no sign of reconstruction, it was unclear if it would ever be repaired or simply demolished. I later found excellent commentary on PlugShare for this Supercharger:

Dystopian Brush Supercharger
"Foreshadowing a dystopian future where gas stations are abandoned and decrepit
with only Superchargers left."

A tornado in July and thunder and lightning and heavy rain today in August made for a rare combination of two weather events that disrupted our addressing our human needs. Nonetheless the Tesla technology kept chugging right along.

Cost to Charge: $0

Once we were ready to depart, I rushed back to the car so I could pick up my family. Although the posted speed limit was high, I did not drive too fast because of the heavy rain. However many of the locals drove much faster, especially those that drive the big pickup trucks prevalent in this area. They think they are invincible.

On our way to Denver, traffic backed up near Wiggins, slowing to a crawl. First we saw the emergency vehicles. When we passed by the cause, I felt I recognized the Dodge Ram that was overturned speed by me earlier at least 10 mph faster than the speed limit. Apparently the 19-year-old driver caused his 18-year-old brother to be ejected from the big truck as it flipped. Driver flips Dodge Ram
The accident site after the rain

South of Denver
We drove more carefully towards Denver. Once in downtown, we encountered traffic just like any other major city, but the Broncos game going on made it worse.

TimeEventRange Remaining
4:29 pmDeparted Brush198
6:56 pmArrived South of Denver52
Range/Distance ratio: 1.28
Conditions: Major rainstorm, thunder and lightning, causing major traffic accident, Downtown traffic due to Broncos game

Our destination tonight was a friends' house in a southern suburb of Denver. They fixed dinner and were waiting for us, so we did everything we could not to be late, but tornado damage and major thunderstorms and accidents and Bronco-game traffic were in our way.

Laundry Charging Model S

The day before leaving home I replaced the plug on the same charging adapter I constructed for our May 2013 San Francisco road trip to charge at Grandma's house with a NEMA 14-30 after our friends emailed a picture of their dryer plug and wall outlet. I made sure I brought it with me specifically for charging this evening.

Cost to Charge: $0

While the car charged, we enjoyed the company at dinner, shared our adventures thus far, played, then watched the movie The Greatest Showman before settling for the night. The weather made for a rougher day of driving, the roughest since the Blue Cut Fire, but the car and the Superchargers did everything right, and I was thankful my family could spend time with our friends near Denver.

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.

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