unnamed-3As I mentioned last month, we took a short vacation break to relax in Silverthorne, Colorado.  What I did not tell you then, is that we did the trip on a zero-emissions way.  We drove our Tesla, stopping at superchargers along the way.  We got the Tesla last May and were anxious to see how it would behave on a long trip.  One word: awesome! But, before I share the details of this trip, let me say that we put a lot of thought in the acquisition of this car, and getting it was part of another “green move”,  the installation of solar panels to power our home. For a couple of months now, the energy of the sun is what fuels most of our appliances and our car.  At the moment, with the air-conditioning on most of the time, the solar panels cannot keep up with all our use, but that shall change later in the year, even considering days of less intense sunlight ahead.


A few interesting bits about the Tesla…

There is no engine. The car is basically a huge battery located underneath (shielded by a strong titanium plate), and computers to control everything. When you open the trunk, either the front or the back, what you see is a huge empty space. Storage galore… 😉

At home, you charge the car in a drier type outlet, and a full charge will take you 8 to 10 hours.  Once the car is fully charged, it displays the potential number of miles you can drive. Ours usually says 262 miles.  That is a number you will never reach, calculated while driving on a flat terrain at a low-speed.  In general, one can count with 170 to 180 miles on a full charge.

Can you drive anywhere in the US? Not quite yet. Supercharger stations are popping up everywhere, but some routes do not have enough of them to cover the distance. For our trip to Silverthorne, we planned on four stops to recharge: Hays & Goodland in Kansas, and Limon & Lone Tree in Colorado.  Silverthorne has a supercharger station in town, so we did not have to worry about finding an outlet in the hotel and charging the car overnight. For a map of available superchargers and predicted new stations within the next year, click here.   By the way, charging the car is free, doesn’t cost a penny. You park, plug, and drive away. Tesla is also building a battery swap station in California, where you will be able to drive in, get a new battery, and drive out, but it won’t be ready until 2015.  Once it’s functional, we intend to drive all the way there, should be a cool trip.



Charging stations were always empty. During our trip, only once we had another Tesla charging on the same station.  Of course, any long trip with a full-electric car cannot be rushed.  It takes at least 30 minutes to charge the battery, up to 45 minutes to fully charge it.  But, you don’t need to stick around waiting. A Tesla app on the cell phone shows exactly where the charging stands.  You can have a coffee, lunch, go for a walk, read a book, or even think about those great experiments waiting for you once vacation time is over… Another thing to keep in mind is that you won’t always need to fully charge the battery,  and that reduces the time to charge quite a bit: the resistance of the battery increases so the final 50 miles take proportionally longer to charge than the first 170 or so. By charging for 20 minutes you will likely have enough juice to reach the next supercharging station, if you are traveling through well-covered regions of the country.  Not the case for us in Kansas, at least not yet.



We were worried about how the car would perform on the mountains. It did amazingly well. We knew that the Tesla has a feature called “regenerative braking“. When you drive with that mode on, every time you take the foot off the accelerator, the battery gets some charge back, as the car converts kinetic energy into chemical energy and sends it back to the battery.  If you like to know more about it, click here.   So, to give you an example, when we drove from Silverthorne to Vail, we covered 30 miles each way, and the battery use was of exactly 60 miles (in other words, 100% efficiency), even though we went way up the hills for part of the drive.  The recovery of charge driving downhill fully compensated the energy used for going up.  The control panel shows the energy efficiency in real-time. Here is a shot of the screen  at the end of our day trip to Vail and back. In other words, the car is a geek’s dream!

But, enough technicality. Colorado is such a wonderful place! Packed with people who love the outdoors, most with that gorgeous reddish tan of the mountains. If the temperature did not drop to obscene 40 F at night, I’d say I was a happy camper. We stayed at a hotel by Lake Dillon, it was perfect for us.  Well, almost perfect.  On the first morning we planned to go for a run around the lake, but that idea was bagged after a few steps. The altitude got us real bad.  Plan B was set in place, and we walked instead, every day at least one hour, often a lot more.  Still panting quite a bit on uphill paths, but who cares?


(click to enlarge)

The first thing we do on our trips is find a local coffee shop. Just a mile from our hotel, we stumbled on the perfect spot. Blue Moon Bakery: great cappuccinos, a huge collection of cakes, tarts, and muffins baked in place.  They have four bakers working full-time.  Take a look at some of the stuff available. It’s a good thing I don’t have a sweet tooth, otherwise I wouldn’t fit in my jeans on the trip back…

Our favorite dinner was at a small sushi spot called Kemosabi Sushi in Frisco, on the other side of Lake Dillon.  Great name, fusion sushi by definition, I suppose.  I went crazy for one of their rolls, the Curtis C: Tempura Anaheim Peppers, Avocado, Cream Cheese, topped with Yellowtail and Cilantro Oil (shown on the right of the photo below).  The place was full, so we sat outside on a slightly chilly evening, but as an unexpected bonus a band was playing at the restaurant next door, and we got to profit from it.  Don’t you love simple pleasures?

sushicomposite(click to enlarge)

In one of the days we drove to Vail, a place I’d heard a lot about, but had never visited. It’s beautiful, but I must say I much prefer the atmosphere and energy of Silverthorne.  Vail is a little too upscale, with endless arrays of expensive shops instead of a more laid-back environment, which I prefer.  Good to visit, and probably great to ski during winter, if you are into that sort of thing.  Brazilians do not particularly look forward to sliding their butts on snow, until they come to a full stop, cold and with no pride left (that summarizes the skiing attempts of my past).


Lunch at Vail on a beautiful sunny day…

After having lunch,  we sat on a bench and did some people-watching, one of my favorite activities. I can sit, watch and dream for hours.  Nearby, a big dog was tied to a pole, evidently waiting for his family having lunch somewhere.  The dog was super friendly, and we got along great.  Can you stand the sweetness of that paw?

But, of course, no trip is perfect without some golf. We played two beautiful golf courses (Raven Club at Three Peaks, and Keystone Ranch), and I had two totally different experiences.  The first day, we were paired with another couple. They were members of that golf course and helped us a lot with tips and advice on how to handle the course. But, I played poorly, and was quite upset about it, feeling like the ugly duckling in the middle of three beautiful swans.  Next day I played so much better, but we were paired with two gentlemen, and I must say they were horrible to play with. Putting it mildly, they very unfriendly.  I guess I learned a big lesson – it’s not how well you play, but the overall experience.  If I had to repeat one of those outings, I would definitely go for the first, but would not let my pathetic performance bother me. Hopefully, the lesson will stick.

I leave you with two short videos of golf swings.  Even if you are not a golfer, I bet you will be able to appreciate them, each in its own unique way.  Phil is a great golfer, having learned the game at a very young age.  If you look at his swing, it’s smooth, his head doesn’t move forward, he keeps it down, and once the swing is over, he looks at the path ahead with that calm confidence of knowing the ball went exactly where he aimed.   Check it out here.

Now, take a look at yours truly, with a click here. Let’s say there’s room for improvement. Not much smoothness, not much transfer of weight from the back to the front foot. But the “best” part is my reaction after I hit, clearly trying to “help the ball” go where I wanted it to go. By the way, both Phil and I did not know we were being taped.  We do that sometimes to each other so that we can check our swing and make adjustments. I’ve been making adjustments for 17 years.  If you are a golfer, please keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you so much.

SelfieVailSelfies, anyone?

All in all, it was a great trip, and we enjoyed each minute of it. However, Phil is trying to convince me to go back this winter. I thought he loved me. Evidently, I was wrong.

 ONE YEAR AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

THREE YEARS AGOPost-workout Breakfast

FOUR YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers


  1. Congratulations, it sounds like you’ve made a couple of very impressive green decisions with the solar panels and car. And what a fun way to test out the car’s performance while enjoying the great scenery.


  2. How can I keep my thoughts to myself? Only by sitting on my fingers. 🙂 I think your car sounds wonderful and it’s FREE to recharge? how can they afford to provide that electricity for nothing? I’m confused. Love that dog!!


    • You know that you can always speak your mind here…. 🙂 My bad golf can take it….

      As to charging for free, that is a brilliant move by Tesla – the goal is to have all charging stations at some point solar powered, so the cost is minimal – from what I heard, at the present time Tesla is not making money, they need to use the profits of selling two Tesla cars to build one supercharging station – and their goal is to increase coverage all over the US. Now, supercharging stations will only be used by people driving long distances, so the regular day to day charge is left for home.

      Elon Musk, the genius behind Tesla is an amazing businessman, and Tesla will certainly profit from the fact that his company SpaceX was just chosen to replace the space shuttle, competing with Boeing and other well-established companies.


  3. I always enjoy your posts, Sally, but this one is especially fine to read. We just went green with a car too; we bought the BMW i3 in July. We live 6 or 7 months of the year on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off of Massachusetts, and it’s the perfect car for this place. There are few gas stations, gas is very expensive, and the speed limit is never higher than 45 mph, anywhere on the island. We get about 90 miles on a full charge, much more than we ever need here. We had a Level 2 charger installed in our driveway and just hook it up overnight. We can also charge it in the garage on household current if need be.

    We love the car! It’s fun to drive, so quiet, and quite a conversation piece wherever we go. I think there is one other i3 on the island now, so people are always coming up to us, asking questions about this odd-looking car.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to Colorado. We drove through that area last spring, stopping in Limon for lunch if I recall. Didn’t notice the super-chargers, but we weren’t in all-electric mode then. In fact, the i3 will stay here on the island since it doesn’t have the range to make it all the way to Colorado from the east coast. Until there are lot more fast chargers, and the batteries improve enough to be practical for long distances, we’ll have to stick to our ICE (internal combustion engine) car for our trips to Colorado.

    We test-drove a Tesla in Telluride last winter. Wow! That rocket ship got us in the mood to go all-electric, but a Tesla is frankly overkill for the island. That baby wants to go blazing-fast!

    I think your golf swing is terrific, at least compared to mine!


    • It seems to me you picked the right car for your situation…. The Tesla drives like a racing car, honest – it is amazing the power of acceleration of the car, if you really want to go fast, it is hard to beat. And it glues to the road as it increases the speed, feels solid. We are super impressed!


  4. Hi Sally, I’m so fascinated by this car and what you are doing with your home! I’ve been talking about getting this type of car and now I’m even more excited about it. For me though, it would be having only one car and I wonder if that might be an issue in not having a “gas” back up car. I’ve never been to Colorado, but I feel like I’ve just traveled along with you and Phil!


  5. This is so cool Sally. I love the details on your Tesla. Fascinating! I’m totally impressed you did this whole trip on battery power. Amazing! You know i just love Colorado. Silverthorne sounds just like our kind of place. And I’m with you – summer and fall visits to CO are much more my thing. I see no point in skiing unless I want to break my leg. 😉 Thank you for posting the pics. You have me in the mood for a road trip now! 🙂


  6. very cool Sally! Tesla is headquartered right around the corner from us in Palo Alto and these electric cars are all the rage here! My boys are completely captivated — personally, they freak me out a bit as a pedestrian because they’re so darn quiet I always get the sense they’re sneaking up on me stealth style – one day I’m going to walk right into one! ;-). Good point about the supercharger stations not being everywhere at this point — planning required. The paw is very sweet indeed (and I’m glad you described it that way as Stella does the paw thing all the time which we’ve been told is a dominance trait 😦 — have you ever known a dominant golden? 😉 ). We do the same thing seeking out coffee shops!! Love it. xx


    • We go to Starbucks as last resort. Peet’s is our favorite as far as bigger coffee shops are concerned, but if we can find a small, artisan type coffee joint, that’s where we go. In some places is it impossible to find anything, but… we do our best, and will drive 5 miles for it, sometimes a little longer.


    • We had to fight hard to instal those at home, as the neighborhood association at first did not like the idea. So Phil did a ton of research and found this company (King Solar, based in Whichita KS) that installs panels made in the US, very attractive and the dimensions could fit our roof perfectly – I think it looks great. The guys from King Solar are amazing, we were impressed by their work and customer service in general. Plus, they are very affordable, as they are trying to compete with bigger companies.


  7. Love your post, Sally. I’m now miserably homesick for Colorado, though.

    You spoiled us with this post. Next time all of us get to come with you. 😉 See what happens when you leave ‘the kids’ at home? Lol

    (My oldest daughter has a GoldenDoodle. They are such affectionate doggies.)

    Thanks for sharing your jaunts. I would not have been a good girl once I saw the pastry case. You and hubby would have had to shop for me while I waited in the car. My zipper and the seams of my britches would have failed me after my feast.



  8. [from a work vac!] Having been a devout greenie since before the term was acknowledged your post gave me the ultimate thrill!!! Thank God this is happening! Many now have solar panels and feel so satisfied but to have and use a Tesla and then teach us about it is phenomenal in my book! Even if your post brought ten people on board of what can be achieved it would be fantabulous!!!!!


    • Thank you so much! As I mentioned in one of the replies, it was a big investment, so let’s say we don’t own the Tesla or the solar panels yet… the bank does! 😉 But it was something Phil dreamed about for a long time and we took a deep breath and went for it.


      • Friday pm in E Australia – this post has really enthused me . . . . to the point of ‘leaving’ matters to be done and looking at the local situation . . . hmm, yes available on order but the price tag, depending on one’s state, is from just below 100K to over 140K in Australian dollars: ipso facto 10% higher in the US!!!!! . . . . sadly, with the lack of recharging stations here as yet, it may have to be placed on the proverbial wishlist 🙂 !


    • Colorado is magical! We now feel more comfortable about driving there, knowing that there will be no problems recharging all the way from our little Manhattan…

      thanks for your sweet comment…. 😉


  9. I have been in Colorado but never in Silverthorne. I visited Ester Park and a couple other cities. I simply fell in love with Colorado’s natural beauty, and also its healthy life style. I noticed that there are a lot of outdoor sports and great produces. I am so glad that you and your husband had a great time!


    • Indeed, a place very fitness-oriented, we loved it! Thinking of spending a longer time there next Summer – so that we can adjust to the altitude and really enjoy outdoors activities to the fullest


    • Definitely worth the trip! You would love running over there, as long as you give yourself some time to adjust to the lower levels of oxygen. A dream of a place, maybe not as warm as I would like it, but… “doable” 😉


    • You lucky lucky baby! Never left Colorado… wow! ENJOY!!!!!

      I have been there before once with a girlfriend for a kayaking trip that almost killed me (honest, no drama here, far from it!) – great place, even if the waters were too rough for my delicate nature


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