The second revolution from Tesla: Putting the adventure back into vacation car travel

With no Tesla Superchargers between Albany, N.Y., and Montreal, Quebec, we stopped at the Basin Harbor Club, a resort on Lake Champlain in Vergennes, Vt. Owners of the Model S will find at least two Tesla Connectors, which charge the all-electric hatchback at the rate of 31 miles per hour, below. 

We had more than three hours to kill before setting off on the final leg of our trip from Hackensack, N.J., to Montreal for the International Jazz Festival.

Grass and soil are hardly the ideal parking surface. While we waited for our Model S to charge, we had lunch and then sat in front of the fire in the resort bar, listening to a player piano. Before we left, we made a reservation to stay at the Basin Harbor Club on our way back to New Jersey after July Fourth.


Owners of the Model S can still tear up the highways on their vacations, speed into service areas and race to the bathroom, their bladders about to burst.

If they have Tesla Superchargers to rely on, that is.

But on our trip from Hackensack, N.J., to Montreal on Saturday, we found only one Supercharger on the most direct route, and it was slower than I expected.

That stop lasted about 90 minutes to add 110 miles of range and have a bowl of soup at the Whole Foods Market in the Colonie Center, a big mall outside Albany, N.Y., with six free Superchargers. 

The Tesla app on my smart phone reported the Supercharger was adding 84 miles an hour, but when I first plugged in the car, the rate of charge was a lot slower, though increasing by the minute.

I had to stop outside Albany, because my Model S 60 has a maximum range of 208 miles and the distance to Montreal from our home is about 360 miles.

Lunch break in Vermont

Our second stop was at the Basin Harbor Club on Lake Champlain in northwest Vermont, where we found a Tesla Connector that charged our car at pretty much the same rate as the 240-volt outlet I had installed in my garage -- 31 miles an hour.

We started our third and final leg to Montreal about three and a half hours later, and had about 30 miles of range left when we pulled into the garage of the Hyatt Regency.

I didn't know at the time, but the Connectors at Basin Harbor are part of a network Tesla calls Destination Charging, where the company partners with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and resorts "to make charging when you arrive at your destination as simple as charging at home."

See: Tesla's Destination Charging Network

The alternative to stopping in Vermont was to drive a circuitous route of Superchargers, going west in New York State, north to Canada's Ontario Province and then east to Montreal -- a driving time of more than 10 hours, and that's without break time.

Our drive was an adventure

Instead, we got to cross a gorgeous cantilevered bridge and drive over some twisting two-lane blacktop in Vermont, where we discovered a beautiful resort that may figure into future vacation plans.

We drove through farmland stretching to the horizon in Vermont and Quebec, a soothing landscape so different from the sea of brake lights we see on our congested, antiquated streets in North Jersey.

In Vermont, we were driving on a two-lane road and saw a white-haired man, who just got off a tractor, ambling to his mailbox, more or less with his back to us.

Then, he turned, flashed a smile and waved. 

And on Route 89 in Vermont, as we headed toward Canada, a Harley-Davidson rider pulled up in the fast lane, turned his head and gave me a thumbs up.

Most annoying?

The most annoying part of the trip wasn't the sluggish Supercharger outside Albany or the detour to reach the Tesla Connectors in Vermont.

It is what Tesla calls Range Assurance, which tries to route you via Superchargers when you enter a destination in the car's navigation system.

When we set out the 135-miles trip to the Colonie Center Superchargers, the Google Maps navigation system kept on sending us to the new one in Newburgh, N.Y., even though we started the trip with a rated range of 210 miles.

After we charged the Model S in Vermont, we couldn't set the Hyatt Regency Montreal as our final destination without repeated warnings there were no Superchargers on our route.

I had to use the Waze app on my phone to navigate to Montreal. 

Rue University in Montreal, not far from our destination, about 13 hours after we set out on Saturday morning. More than four hours of that time was spent charging the Model S.
As we approached Montreal, the sky took on a golden glow.

My lunch at the casual Red Mill Restaurant, part of the Basin Harbor Club in Vermont, included a tasty Lemon Chickpea Soup ($4 for a cup).

My wife had Sriracha Chicken Wings ($10) and Sweet Potato Fries ($2), which proved irresistible.

Red Mill Restaurant at the Basin Harbor Club.

Lake Champlain Bridge connects New York State and Vermont. In Canada, we drove over another Champlain Bridge to the island of Montreal.

We streamed Bob Marley and other reggae stars as we drove north on Route 87 in New York, a stretch of road that has no service areas and no Tesla Superchargers.

I saw three other Model S owners use one of the six Tesla Superchargers in the Colonie Center outside Albany, N.Y., close to the New York State Thruway. You'll see the Superchargers as soon as you turn into the mall's main entrance.

An 8-ounce cup of Portuguese White Bean and Kale Soup was $3.79 at the Whole Foods Market in the Colonie Center.

The Colonie Center uses waterless urinals.

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