A summer-long adventure in my Tesla Model 3

Guest Contributor: Jonathan David Harris aka @aPowerTrip

It was late April 2019 when a friend and I arrived at the Glendale Galleria in California to see the new Captain Marvel movie. While my friend took a business call I wandered into the Tesla showroom next door. It was then, for the first time, I encountered a Model 3 up close. I sat in the car and was amazed at the simplicity of Tesla's interior design. It was impressive to see a single touchscreen control nearly all of the car’s features — even the direction of air flow.

Above: At the St. Louis Arch (Source: @aPowerTrip)

After a quick overview of the car, the Tesla specialist showed me a map of all the Supercharger stations located throughout the U.S. He told me, “You can now travel freely around the county with the amount of charging stations available.”

Above: In New Hampshire (Source: @aPowerTrip)

I gazed at the red dots across the Supercharger map and announced, “I know what I’m doing this summer.” It turns out I have a background in video production and technology so an opportunity to put this Tesla Model 3 to the test while taking video and photos all across the country would turn out to be a perfect match. It was decided, I wanted to take a summer-long road trip with my dog without using any gasoline.

Above: Mt. Washington (Source: @aPowerTrip)

I don’t think the specialist believed me any more than my friends or family. When I told everyone I was thinking of taking a summer-long road trip with a Tesla all around the country from Memorial Day to Labor Day, they were in disbelief. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I believed it would happen either. Memorial Day was a month away and I wasn’t even sure I could afford the car. Or the trip.

Above: Times Square NYC (Source: @aPowerTrip)

Over the next week I figured out a plan. If I could sell my car, old production gear, and other items in my house, rent out my home for the summer, and camp in National Parks around the country (rather than spend money in hotels) — I figured... it just might be possible.

Above: Redwood National Park (Source: @aPowerTrip)

So I sold off the gear and my car, gathered some camping essentials that would fit in the Model 3 trunk and frunk, and managed to find someone to sublet my home. Everything fell into place very quickly. Even the car I wanted — a RWD Tesla Model 3, Midnight Silver with long range battery became available for pickup the day after I ordered it. 

Above: Camping at Devil Tower (Source: @aPowerTrip)

There were, however, a few speed bumps in those initial prep weeks. The first sublet tenant bailed last minute and I was worried I wouldn't find a replacement just a few days before my departure. I also found some lumps on my dog Indy which gave me a scare about her health. Indy is a twelve year old terrier I adopted when she was only eight weeks old. She’s named after Indiana Jones, the lead character in my favorite movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Above: Indy sniffs out Chicago (Source: @aPowerTrip)

Indy turned out to be okay and the vet gave us the green light. Financing this last minute adventure was a bit rocky but the Universe sent me the right tenant a day before Memorial Day weekend began. So on May 28th 2019, Indy and I jumped in the car, drove to the Santa Monica Pier and officially started our summer-long adventure with a very rough idea of where we were going.

Above: Brooklyn Bridge (Source: @aPowerTrip)

The plan was to visit National Parks, cross off some bucket list items, visit friends and family, and basically allow the trip to determine our path. In just two months, we’ve put over 12,000 miles on the Model 3 and it wasn't until August 1st that I finally had to pay to charge the car.

Above: Camping in Big Sur (Source: @aPowerTrip)

I was fortunate enough to have two people use my Tesla referral code (Jonathan96658) which gave me 6,000 free miles of Supercharging along the way. The other 6,000 miles of charging came from Tesla's free destination chargers, friends and family allowing us to plug in, and other free public charging spots. I even had a few Quality Inn hotels provide access to their outlets so we could get some extra range in parts of the country that didn’t have ample Superchargers.

Above: Cheers Pub in Boston (Source: @aPowerTrip)

It’s been an incredible journey with many challenges and bumps in the road, but very few have to do with the Tesla Model 3. There was snow, hail, and storms (especially in the Midwest), road closures, Indy temporarily became ill, my car was towed in NYC, and (yes) a few moments of “will I have enough range to get to the next charger?” But that was typically my fault. I was trying to push the limits of the car.

Above: After a hail storm in Yosemite (Source: @aPowerTrip)

There were a few other hiccups along the way. Although the Tesla specialist told me every Supercharger is conveniently located near a place to use a restroom — that isn’t 100% true. Most Superchargers are close to a restaurant (or located near stores) but if you're traveling around the country and need to charge early in the morning or late at night, there can be a surprising lack of options for trash removal, cleaning the windshield, or access to restrooms as everything is usually closed during these off hours. 

Above: Supercharger station late at night (Source: @aPowerTrip)

But these minor issues haven't taken away from the Model 3’s stellar performance. I do not see myself ever going back to a gas operated vehicle. Also, thank you Tesla for Autopilot — it's especially helpful when you're driving over 10 hours in a day. I can’t wait for Tesla's updates to Summon, Autopilot and other refinements that should arrive in the next software update. And, of course, a huge shout out to 'Dog Mode' which keeps Indy safe and cool while I run errands.

Above: In Seattle (Source: @aPowerTrip)

In any event, be sure to look out for lots of videos I’ll be publishing on my YouTube channel when I return from my summer-long road trip. If you already have a Tesla, congrats, but if you're buying or leasing, please use my referral code - Jonathan96658 - which provides me with free charging and will help get me home in September. In the meantime, feel free to follow my ongoing Tesla Model 3 adventures with Indy via @aPowerTrip on Instagram. 



Video: Fox Rochester; Written by: Jonathan David Harris aka @aPowerTrip; Editor's Note: @aPowerTrip follows the author and his dog, Indy, as they travel in his Model 3 across the USA. Harris was determined to stay off the main freeways and explore the country gas-free using Tesla's Superchargers, Destination Charging and plugging into outlets at parks and hotels across the country.