Category: travel

  • Lessons Learned from Owning a Tesla

    In November of 2022, I picked up my 2023 Model 3 from the local Tesla Service Center. I was ecstatic to finally own an EV, and it also happened to be the first car I bought brand new. After a year and a half of ownership and upkeep, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’ll be upfront and say that while it hasn’t all been roses along the way, 99.9% of the time I’m impressed and happy with the vehicle.

    Cold Weather

    The Tesla Model 3 was not designed with PNW winter climate conditions in mind. The frameless window gets stuck when snow/ice forms at the base, and can cause damage to the door if you try to force it open. The solution is to defrost your car, which can take a while if it’s been sitting in snow for a while. Supercharging is much slower in the extreme cold, and there’s no fix outside of navigating to the charger so your car can precondition. Even then, charging is painfully slow.

    On the plus side, the heater is extremely efficient, the heated steering wheel and seats are amazing in the cold, and the car handles like a dream on ice considering it’s a RWD vehicle.

    That said, I can’t imagine the pain of owning an EV in the mid-west winters.


    I’ve brought my car in twice, once when I was forced off the road by another driver and hit the curb, and once when I noticed vibration above 65 mph. Both times, the initial estimate is a few hundred dollars, but quickly ballooned into the low 4 digit range. The first time I was without my car for a month because they were waiting on a specific part to be made for this repair, as all the parts in production were slated for new cars. The worst part of this was that they did not have a loaner vehicle for me at that time. Fortunately I still had my second car, but if I hadn’t I’d have been SOL and riding the bus. The second time, I was able to get a loaner M3, which came with Full Self Driving so that was cool.

    Tax Rebates, Price Drops

    I can’t sugar coat it, I took a massive L ordering my M3 when I did. Less than two months after taking possession of the car, the $7500 tax break was made available, but I missed the boat. Tesla also dropped the price on the M3 significantly in 2023. Nothing more to say, other than to warn potential buyers: wait for a deal. I went full retail, and I’ll never make that mistake again.

    Road Trips

    The battery percentage estimate works amazingly well on road trips (Eastern Washington to Seattle/Portland is my most common trip). I usually arrive within 1 percentage point of the estimated battery life. This is because I stay to the speed limit, or maybe 5 over on long road trips. I noticed that going more than 10 over the limit significantly reduced my range. So I’m of the opinion that most people complaining about range estimates are speeding. It would be nice to have an option in the OS to tell the car “hey, I may be travelling this much over the speed limit, please calculate my range based on that information”.

    I’ve been immensely pleased with the 10/15 minute “top off” stops at superchargers along the way. You can stay longer to pad your range, but really you don’t need to.


    I’m 6’5″ (1.95m for the rest of the world) and I fit quite well. I’m not slender by any means, and I feel very comfortable in the seats. I have lots of head room, and everything is within easy reach.

    Would I do it again?

    Aside from waiting for a price drop/tax break, I’d make the same decision again. The M3 standard is plenty fast, fun to drive, and quite entertaining thanks to the streaming services available when parked/charging. I love that Spotify and Apple’s Podcast apps are now baked in, and the autopilot is just second to none. I still won’t shell out for advanced autopilot or full self driving. In the future, I’ve got my eye on the Model X, and may splurge for FSD when I get one.

  • It’s taken less than 2 weeks of ownership to experience a fundamental shift about personal vehicles. Electric is the way to go for most, with few excuses. I can understand making exceptions for having to tow heavy loads or needing a utility vehicle for work (using it on the job site, not simply commuting). For the typical commuter, town runabout, or even the long road trip however, I can see no reason to not utilize modern electric vehicles.

    Fuel is an expensive pollutant, requiring in most vehicles an engine with hundreds of moving parts (pistons, cams, transmission gears, pumps) to burn fuel and gain only about 20% of the potential energy stored in fuel. 80% is lost, and that doesn’t factor in the energy required to convert oil to gasoline and the energy then required to transport it from refineries to gas pumps. Electric cars have an efficiency of 80% after factoring losses to AC to DC back to tri-phase AC. This alone makes electric vehicles 4 times as efficient as internal combustion engine vehicles. Electricity can be produced in a multitude of fashions, from hydroelectric, to wind, to solar, to nuclear. Notable exceptions like Chernobyl aside, nuclear is a clean and safe way to produce electricity.

    A common detraction about electric vehicles is that they will become an untenable strain on the electric grid. This infrastructure, already in place for at home charging, is augmented by charging stations at destinations as well as Super Charger destinations along common long trip routes. Strain on the grid can be alleviated by scheduling cars at home to recharge during off-peak hours, such as between 11pm and 6am in most cities. Further alleviation can come in the form of home solar panels, such as the Tesla Solar Roof, which after seeing recently I think would be a lovely addition to any home.

    When it comes to cost, there’s no getting around it. Teslas are expensive, and even considered luxury vehicles. I’m not going to assert any differently. However, there are 6 options from the list below that fall under $30K after tax credits, with the Nissan Leaf S falling just under $21K. With the average price of a new sedan being $23K, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that a consumer looking for a new car shouldn’t consider electric.

    Credit to Inside EVs for this list

    Noise pollution is another area where EVs surge ahead of ICE vehicles. After driving an EV, already I detest hearing loud exhaust clearly designed to amplify rather than muffle. Performance vehicles can now be whisper quiet thanks to electric.

    What about road trips, you say? Thanks to an ever-growing network of Super Chargers, and L2 charging stations around the US, chances are your closest charger is only a mile or two away. Sites like Plug Share allow for travelers to find charging stations, and Tesla’s in car navigation allows for planning to charge en route. I would also encourage people to consider taking the train or flying for trips, as these options are typically less damaging to the environment.

    You will save on maintenance as well. Regular oil changes, radiator flushes, and fluid checks are a thing of the past when driving electric. In fact, Teslas only have a scheduled fluid maintenance for checking and changing the brake fluid every two years.

    I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life. I have always traveled from point A to B in a front or rear wheel drive car, without needing all wheel drive. I’ve owned two Camaros, which I’ve managed to drive successfully in the snow and ice as well. I have owned a Tahoe, and I did not notice a huge advantage to driving a truck with 4WD over a sedan or coupe. Given EV’s superior traction control, even driving on the ice with a Tesla has been a breeze, and I have the rear wheel drive model. Get the right tires for the conditions you drive in. A rear wheel drive car with good all season tires will beat an all wheel drive vehicle with balding snow tires every time.

    I would like to offer the notion that we should re-evaluate how we perceive cars. They’re a vehicle to carry passengers from place to place, nothing more. They don’t need to be large, they don’t need to be lifted, and they certainly don’t need to have massive wheels. They’ve become a part of culture, and that makes change all the more difficult. People see cars as a part of their personality, an extension of themselves, when, pragmatically, that’s simply not the case. They’re a tool to do a job, and they should do that job as efficiently as possible.

    I look at ICE commuter vehicles as relics now, to be replaced by EVs at some point (2035 if legislators have their way). There are problems to solve, such as sourcing enough rare metals to construct current generation batteries, and how we can recycle and reuse components from those batteries for the next generation of vehicles. I’ll leave you with this perspective. ICE technology has had over 100 years to reach where it’s currently at, improvements continue to be marginal at best. EV technology is only 15 years old, and improvements over that short time have been staggering. We’re only just beginning to see what potential EVs have to offer society.

  • I just got back from a long weekend in Portland, one of my favorite cities. I drove around downtown twice that week, Friday and Saturday night, picking up takeout food both times. Both times, all I saw were a few individuals holding up signs. I also saw a few boarded up windows, as well as lots of posters and graffiti. I blame social and mainstream media for blowing the Portland protests way out of proportion.

    I stayed with a good friend of mine, and enjoyed takeout sushi from San Sai, walked to Flavor spot and enjoyed a breakfast taco (eggs, bacon, ham, and maple glaze all folded inside a Belgian waffle) twice, and enjoyed takeout Thai from Luc Lac. Normally I’d prefer to dine in, but with COVID concerns it seems prudent to grab takeout and go.

    Saturday we drove out to Tillamook bay, and hiked around the peninsula. You start on the bay side, and around the tip of the peninsula the ocean comes into view. It was windy as hell, and sunny. I got so burned that my skin is flaking, and that was with sunscreen. The drive from Portland to Tillamook is really something. This nice twisty two lane road through a shaded forest. It would be the perfect motorcycle ride to kill an afternoon.

    Things were pretty normal. The only danger to my life was when I almost got smoked by a semi truck going around a corner along the Columbia River.


  • I went on a hike this beautiful Memorial Day weekend up to the Rocks of Sharon, a famous hiking destination in the Spokane area. Instead of starting from Iller Creek on the North face of the Dishman Hills, I opted to start at the Stevens Creek trailhead. It’s closer for me, coming from the West of Spokane, and it’s a shorter, albeit much steeper, hike up to the top.

    The heat map of my hiker shows that, compared to walking out at the end, my pace was pretty reserved for the hike up. The trip was well worth it though, I had a fantastic time climbing up. I took a break halfway there to rehydrate and have snack, then picked the pace right back up.

    I crossed two dozen hikers coming down or hiking to different destinations, and passed a handful of people on the way up. There was a crew of mountain climbers at “Big Rock”, about half a dozen of them, scaling the rock face. At the top, several people were perched on different rocks, and after a few minutes, so was I.

    Going up to the Rocks of Sharon is my favorite hike in the area. Sure, Palisades Park offers a better view of Spokane, as does Edwidge-Woldson Park, but getting up to the Rocks of Sharon provides a stunning view to the South Plains.

    That, and access to both Isler Creek and Stevens Creek is drive in only, and the hike up is fairly demanding, so you’re surrounded mostly by people who are serious about getting a good hike in for the day.

    Stevens Creek trail leads you up a hill that is adjacent to “Tower Mountain”. I talked to some bikers while resting, and they said they put in on the South Hill. I didn’t ask them where, and I’m kicking myself because it would save me an extra 15 minutes of driving each way if there’s a South Hill entrance to the Iller Creek / Stevens Creek area.

    All in all, I killed two hours getting to the top, taking a good look around, hiking a bit of the ridge trail, and getting back down.

    It’s a solid hike for an afternoon, and can easily be made into a day trip just by continuing to hike more of the Iller Creek trails.