Just got back from my first trip in my Tesla Model 3. I was a bit nervous, but mostly because my first trip also included my in-laws riding with us. I get along with them great but I knew if the car became a burden during the trip, it wouldn’t just be me affected or me and my wife, but all of us. Two of which didn’t care about the mission or vision of electric vehicles; they just wanna go on vacation and have fun. (to be fair… so did I.) We went from our home to Gatlinburg and back. It’s right at 239 miles one way with a rough overall elevation change of 917ft.

About Teddy

Teddy is the name of our Long Range All Wheel Drive Tesla Model 3. We have 19” Sport Wheels, Enhanced AutoPilot, and Full Self Driving. Due to us using a friends referral code, we have free supercharging into next year.

SC 1

Day 1: To the Mountains Frodo!

Overview We took off in clear, crisp weather and drove a few hours until we need a restroom break. Not sure why you always start off a trip by eating, but it sure ensures you’ll need a break. We put in our destination address in Gatlinburg, and it suggested that we’d need to hit the Knoxville supercharger to ensure we had all the charge we’d need to get there. We made it to Crossville (about 2 hours) before needing a break. We got 2019.8.5 right before we left. I didn’t realize we’d need to enable the Navigate on AutoPilot No Confirmation setting before the trip. Even so, we have 0 aborted lane changes, and 0 weird two or three step lane changes. (that’s what I call it when it starts the lane change, changes its mind, then completes it after all.) I did enable the No Confirmation NoA at our break and then we were off to the supercharger.

We rolled up to supercharger with about 20 percent left, and I never got nervous about making it. Everything was so smooth, and No Confirmation NoA was just amazing. I had 0 aborted lane changes, and 0 stepped lane changes. I was just stunned at how much easier this trip was.

Leg 1

The Knoxville Supercharger was located just off the interstate in a mall. We hooked up Teddy and off we went to get some food at the O’Charleys that was right beside the supercharger. I upped the charge level to trip level (100%). We didn’t adjust anything about our meal. We just ate, and went back to the car. (To be fair, I did check the stats IOS app about 100 times during the meal, but I didn’t tell them to slow down or take longer or anything.) It took us about 50 minutes or so eat, and that got us back to 95% charged.

SC 1

Now it was time to finish off the trip to the cabin. It was also perfect via NoA until we got to the little roads that I had to drive on that go up into the mountains. We had a cabin that was perched pretty high up on the side of a mountain. The car handled wonderfully on the way up the narrow, twisty, steep roads heading up to the cabin.

Leg 2 The View

I tried charging using the outside 120v outlets at the cabin, and this didn’t work. It seems like the porch outlets were just not working at all. Oh well. Once the whole family got there, it was time to get back down the mountain to get some grub and supplies.

Supply Run

Back to the cabin and call it a day!

Day 2: What if we just chill and grill?

I got up and wanted coffee, and thought about using one of the destination chargers. The Inn at Christmas Place has a Tesla destination charger and is across the street from Starbucks and Mellow Mushroom… Pizza and Coffee make for a happy geek. Anyway, down the mountain I went. I spent roughly an hour reading and sipping on my coffee. Then went back up the mountain to join the family.

Coffee and Electrons

So this charging trip only netted me about 5% battery after you take out the up and down on the mountain, and this kinda… bleh. The destination chargers are just like the Tesla home wall chargers so while they are faster than a level 2 charger, they are nowhere near a supercharger’s capabilities. This is fine, you just need to consider that when you are making plans. (keep reading to day 3 for more one destination chargers). If I were going to spend more time near this charger or stay the Inn, this would have been totally epic!

So after rejoining the family, they decided it would be a good day to grill. They were right. We made another supply run, and that completed the day.

Supply Run #2

Now, I decided I would try charging at the cabin again. I had brought a nice outdoor extension cord and ran from an inside outlet out the front door to the car. I got about 8% in 6.5 hours. So this would work for nice overnight charges, but it’s not effective at all for short durations, and 100% matched my expectations.

Cabin Charge

That ended the day and here is our overview map.

Day 2 overview

Day 3: Let’s get out of this pine box!

On Day 3, we decided we would go roam around The Island and go to the track for some go-cart racing, putt putt golf and arcade gaming. This was awesome because The Island is where another destination charger is located. (I didn’t prompt the family to go here, it’s just a popular shop, eat and drink spot.) Down the mountain again…

Day 3 Outing

When you get to The Island you go to the Margaritaville hotel valet and ask them to use the chargers. They can park it for you or you can park yourself… I drove it myself. :P The parking is closer to all the shops at The Island than the normal parking lot, and it’s easy to get into and out of. We stayed at the island for quite a while, and the charging was great!

Day 3 Charging

We got a significant charge in here, and this is the real power of the destination chargers. They are where you want to go already, and surrounded by things you likely will spend some time at. We walked around all the shops, did a moonshine tasting, and grabbed a snack at the Timberwood Grill. The whole time we had fun Teddy was getting an electron high. Now off to the Track and dinner!

Day 3 fun

And back up the mountain…

Day 3 home

That ended the day and here is our overview map.

Day 3 Overview

Day 4: Teddy goes west… I mean shopping… okay both

Now it was time to go home, but hitting up the Tanger outlets on the way. But first… breakfast at the Old Mill Restaurant. About 10 pounds heavier it was time to walk it off at the outlet.

Day 4 Shopping

Tanger has some free level 2 chargers that are in great shape, and we hooked Teddy up while we shopped.

Day 4 Charging

This was also awesome. We shopped for quite a while; dipping in and out of shops throughout the outlets. We arrived back at a nearly fully charged Teddy. Okay, time to drive home.

Day 4 leg 1

Several times on the way home I checked to see if we could make it all the way, and Teddy thought we would make it with 18% battery. We had one two step lane change, and in Teddy’s defense, it was overcast and in a curve. We also had a phantom breaking event right at an overpass shadow. I’ve had this happen a few times, and I reacted fairly quickly to fix it. However, events like these did cause my in-laws to respond in a confused and mildly-shocked manner, and that makes total sense. I mean… these events do feel super random if you aren’t driving. Ultimately, we decided to stop at the Cookeville supercharger for a break and some food. The Cookeville supercharger is also in a shopping area, but not as close to the interstate. It was easy to get to, and there was quite a bit of food nearby. We just walked to Sonic for a quick bite, and left Teddy to charge.

Day 4 SC

High on tater tots and electrons, we took off towards home.

Day 4 Leg 2

We had 0 bad lane changes or other random events on the way home.

Day 4 Overview

Final Thoughts

This first trip was way more comfortable than I expected and I was the cause of the worry far more than the car. After the second day, I quit worrying about the car at all. Truth be told, I should have known better after reading other’s trip reviews. However, it hard to truly grasp things until you’ve experienced them first hand. No Confirmation NoA is a game changer, and it makes every part of driving feel more comfortable on the interstate. It’s better at lane changes than ever before and if this is a sign of where the future is headed… holy cow is life about to get awesome.

Charging is more natural than I expected on the road. Superchargers were at great places for us, and provided a welcome break in the trip. If you wanna “power through” it’s likely not going to make you happy, but I’m about enjoying the journey to the vacation as well. I asked our in-laws how they felt about it, and they didn’t feel it got in the way at all. They didn’t seem to be bothered and enjoyed the food breaks as well.

Charging in Gatlinburg (Pigeon Forge) is pretty easy with several Level 2 and destination chargers. Gatlinburg proper has a much lighter selection of chargers, and the state park is very VERY barren when it comes to charging. Our trip won’t be your trip so you’re milage may vary.

I’d love to do a trip about twice this long… and hopefully, I’ll get to soon.