Biggest Road Trip Nine: Kyushu to Hokkaido (BRT9)

Day One Minus Two

Things are falling into place for the next road trip, my longest in Japan yet. I've driven round trip San Diego-northern Washington State and Central Florida-Los Angeles, but this will be my first venture by car farther north than Nagano in Japan.  The only reservation I have is for my car's 2-year check at the service center in Totsuka, Yokohama on Monday. I plan to sleep mostly in my car with occasional breaks at a hotel or hot springs when the mood and timing strike. A couple of weeks ago I ordered or went shopping for these things. 

Tesla Models S sleeping set: air mattresses, sleeping bag, pillow and mat.

Tesla Models S sleeping set: air mattresses, sleeping bag, pillow and mat.

I got a pair of Coleman air mattresses that snap together (4 cm each), a Coleman sleeping bag, a pillow and a mat (think Aladdin's magic carpet). Model S owners know that there is a 5 cm difference in level between the back of the car and the back seats when they're folded down. I've rolled and folded that mat to level things a bit.  

Unscrew the valves to fill them up. Close to stay full. Problem is getting the air out after.

Unscrew the valves to fill them up. Close to stay full. Problem is getting the air out after.

 The air mattresses have a cool design because they self-inflate. That may mean I'll have a hard time getting the air back out, but I have room for them if not. Here's the set up on paper (literally on paper tatami mats ;-) ):

Everything laid out beforehand

Everything laid out beforehand

And here it is in the car: 

The Tesla Model S mobile bed system

The Tesla Model S mobile bed system

I'll be testing this out tonight at home to see if any bugs need to be worked out. Good night.  

Day One Minus One 

Last night, I used the camper mode that some owners use to keep Model S up and running enough to keep the cabin's climate comfortable. To enable camper mode, sit in the driver's seat, push on the brake, put the car in neutral, and set your parking brake from the main screen. If you live in a country where you can control your lights, turn them off. Set your climate to the temperature and fan speed you like for sleeping. Get out of the car, take your fob with you and climb in the back. Close all the doors and slide up to the front to touch the lock button on the main screeen. You're now locked safely in your car with a running climate system. 

I used 18 C and 9 for the fan; it was a bit cool and too much wind. I'll try 19 and 5-6 next time. I stayed in the car for about 5 hours, and the set up worked fine. The air mattresses are a bit slick, and the back seats are higher than the trunk floor, so I tended to slide a bit when I did a roll. ;-) I'll work on my technique. 

Day One 

I'll start out in about an hour. My ultimate goal is to get to the Sapporo Snow Festival around February 6th. 

Kumamoto to Sapporo: 28 hours of driving, plus charging, sightseeing and sleeping

Kumamoto to Sapporo: 28 hours of driving, plus charging, sightseeing and sleeping

Today's goal is the service area (SA) at Hamamatsu: full facilities and a Supercharger with four stalls. I'll sleep in the car. 

Leg one: Kumamoto to Hamamatsu SA and Supercharger

Leg one: Kumamoto to Hamamatsu SA and Supercharger

I range charged this morning to 381 km, the lowest I've charged to so far. I've been charging in a short range for the past month, so that may the reason. I can usually drive to Miyajima on a full charge, but this morning it looked like it would be cutting it close.

381: my lowest range charge yet

381: my lowest range charge yet

I haven't written about the new Trip feature yet (not new to many owners, but Japan got it just last month with the 8.0 release); Trip adds another layer of information to help us plan drives. Mine said I would have 6% left at Miyajima. 

The new (to Japan) Trip feature predicts state of charge (SOC) upon arrival.  

The new (to Japan) Trip feature predicts state of charge (SOC) upon arrival.  

I hit rain around Tosu junction, and my usage increased. I drove for three hours and saw it was getting close. I usually can get better than the numbers, but the rain and cold weather took their toll. I drove for three hours and saw it was getting close. I usually can get better than the numbers, but the rain and cold weather took their toll.

Predicted SOC dropped to 4%. I can usually raise that number.  

Predicted SOC dropped to 4%. I can usually raise that number.  

I stopped at the Sue PA on the way to scoop the Superchargers there; it was cold and raining too hard to explore any. I've stopped at Sabagawa to fill up and will head to the Kurashiki Supercharger. I had a break in the rain from Sabagawa to Kurashiki. I plugged in at the Supercharger and crossed the street to the Coco's family restaurant. Dining and restroom breaks are about all one can do during a Supercharger stay. There are photos of the area in posts past if you want to see. 

I decided to try for Osaka instead of Kobe. That turned out to be a mistake because of the Sunday traffic. I sat in an hour of traffic and moved about 3 km. I was pretty sleepy at Osaka, so I napped for the 50 minutes for 90% of charge. Traffic was light all the way to Hamamatsu.  

It rained all night at Hamamatsu. They've blocked the behind-scenes-access from the Superchargers to the facilities, so I had to walk around to get inside. I got in late, so I decided to charge, eat, and sleep in the driver's seat. I checked out the showers. They are located inside the Driver's Spot next to the convenience store; if you blink, you'll miss them. I ate a couple of rice balls and drank some juice. After the charge was done, I moved the car all the way to the end of the employees' parking; it's very quiet there. Since I planned to get up early, I didn't put up the shades on my windows. I just put my hat over my eyes to block out the parking area lights. I slept well.

Day Two

Day Two's goal: Hamamatsu SA to Tokyo, with a stop at the Yokohama service center in Totsuka

Day Two's goal: Hamamatsu SA to Tokyo, with a stop at the Yokohama service center in Totsuka

 I woke up on my own a bit before 6. I moved the car closer to the SA and went inside with my backpack. I talked with the lady at the Driver's Spot, and she handed me a locker key. A 10-minute shower is ¥200--bring your own shampoo, towel, etc. I got a bread thingy and something to drink and enjoyed them at a rare time when not many people were around. I didn't take many photos yesterday because of the rain, but here's a shot from this morning. 

Foggy morning at the Hamamatsu SA

Foggy morning at the Hamamatsu SA

It was pretty foggy this morning when I left. I was expecting a 50 kph speed limit, but it was 80 (it's usually 100). I wasn't worried because Tesla's Autopilot includes radar--very handy! I left around 7, and by the time I got to the Mt. Fuji area, the sun was out. The drive was uneventful until I got about 4 km from the Totsuka SvC. Someone cut me off and I missed a turn, so I was 15 minutes late. They weren't quite ready for me, so it wasn't a problem to be late. My car is getting its two-year check up at the moment, and I'm updating my blog at a Starbucks next to Totsuka station. 

The service center folks lent me a brown P85 with AP hardware. I was surprised that it was installed because its VIN is more than 16k earlier than mine which was built at the end of October, 2014. I just drove it to the station to get some sustenance, but it's a good-looking car. 

Brown P85 loaner: great weather today, so I opened up the panoramic roof.  I hung out at Totsuka station while they worked on my car. When they were finished, they washed my car and hooked it up to their Supercharger. No problems found. They topped off fluids and air, aligned my wheels, checked my brakes, and tightened all that needed it. Thanks Totsuka!  The drive into Tokyo was uneventful. I ended up at a Mexican restaurant near Hiroo named after a town in San Diego: La Jolla. Food was good, but too salty. I drank about a liter of water after going there. 

Brown P85 loaner: great weather today, so I opened up the panoramic roof.  I hung out at Totsuka station while they worked on my car. When they were finished, they washed my car and hooked it up to their Supercharger. No problems found. They topped off fluids and air, aligned my wheels, checked my brakes, and tightened all that needed it. Thanks Totsuka! 

The drive into Tokyo was uneventful. I ended up at a Mexican restaurant near Hiroo named after a town in San Diego: La Jolla. Food was good, but too salty. I drank about a liter of water after going there. 

Burrito, taco, enchilada combination

Burrito, taco, enchilada combination

After two days of driving and little sleep, I was tired. I slept like a bambino. 

Day Three 

Tokyo to the Takasaki, Gunma Supercharger

Tokyo to the Takasaki, Gunma Supercharger

Today's goals were two: get my tenth Supercharger and start the drive north. I started out with a breakfast at the Good Morning Cafe. 

Waffles, an egg, salad and bacon for breakfast

Waffles, an egg, salad and bacon for breakfast

The drive getting out of Tokyo was filled with heavy traffic and tailgating drivers. Once I got on the highway that goes to Niigata, things smoothed out. The highway lanes were wide and there are three each way. After about an hour, I started to see snow in the mountains. The Takasaki Supercharger (did I mention it's my tenth?! ;-) ) is about three minutes from the highway interchange. As with the other newly installed Superchargers, this one has six stalls. I understand that Tesla will try for a minimum of six to prepare for future growth. There's a michi no eki  (rest stop) about 200 meters away. I cheated and stayed in my car during the charge because it was cold and windy. Then I drove over to use the facilities. 

Takasaki, Gunma Supercharger--six stalls! 

Takasaki, Gunma Supercharger--six stalls! 

 While I charged, I checked the weather and my maps to decide where to end up tonight. My only plan is to see the Sapporo Snow Festival starting February 6th, so I'm winging the rest. I've decided to do the longer drives on nice weather days, and I'm looking for laundry facilities every couple of days. The weather to Morioka is nice for the next couple of days, and it's going to snow in Aomori on Thursday. I couldn't find any SA with a coin laundry, and I'm passing the Nikko area on the way to Sendai. 

Takasaki to Nikko, Tochigi

Takasaki to Nikko, Tochigi

You might notice that both of today's legs have taken me off the route from Day One. Right now I'm just about done with laundry, and I've used the time to update my blog. I'll get some dinner and get up early to explore Nikko a bit--ancient shrine!   The guy managing the coin laundry recommended a kushiage  (batter-fried stuff on a stick; who doesn't love that?!) place nearby. After I finished with the laundry, I went out to find it. It should have been near a ramen shop and across from a convenience store. The only places it could have been were quite dark and had no signs. I tried a chain izakaya/robatayaki   (use of those names seem to be regional). It was the worst food I've eaten in Japan; I couldn't even finish it. When I got back, I went to the onsen  (hot baths) at the hotel and got warmed up. Sleep was easy last night. 

Day Four 

Nikko, Tochigi to Morioka, Iwate, via Sendai, Miyagi: I'm getting Japanese Superchargers 11 and 12 today. 😃

Nikko, Tochigi to Morioka, Iwate, via Sendai, Miyagi: I'm getting Japanese Superchargers 11 and 12 today. 😃

I woke up early, drank some Starbucks VIA and headed out. The hotel wanted ¥2,000 for all-you-can-eat breakfast; I decided to eat later. When I got to the car it was...

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outside. I had pre-heated it, but shut it off when I got in because of the hot shower I took to warm up. My goal in Nikko was to go see the  shrine at Toshogu. I'll let Wikipedia tell you the details, but it's a shrine dedicated to the first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Here are some photos from this morning. 

The main entrance: ¥1,300 for the shrine and look in the 12 gods dedicated to the 12 animals from the Chinese calendar (year of the cock this year)

The main entrance: ¥1,300 for the shrine and look in the 12 gods dedicated to the 12 animals from the Chinese calendar (year of the cock this year)

A shot of the 3 warehouses (too wide of an angle to get all 3

A shot of the 3 warehouses (too wide of an angle to get all 3

The building for the 3 monkeys

The building for the 3 monkeys

One of the sculptures of the 3 monkeys

One of the sculptures of the 3 monkeys

Outside the gate to the inner shrine: ceremony under way

Outside the gate to the inner shrine: ceremony under way

Ancient Uber

Ancient Uber

Charms and sake for sale--I have an all-around good luck charm from another shrine in my car.  

Charms and sake for sale--I have an all-around good luck charm from another shrine in my car.  

I spent about 90 minutes walking around the shrine and saw the outside of the one next door. I set the navi for the Sendai Supercharger and saw I needed some power to make. I was also hungry, so I used my EVsmart app (works in Japan only) to look for both. There was an Aeon mall about 10 km away, so I set the navi there. It took me through some farmers' roads, and once I had to do a Bat Turn. Once there I plugged in and found only Mac appetizing.

50 kW CHAdeMO at Aeon mall near Nikko

50 kW CHAdeMO at Aeon mall near Nikko

After 30 minutes, the Trip tab in the car showed 6% remaining in Sendai. If I couldn't improve that percentage, I would need 10-15 minutes. I got it up to 14%, but got hit with some strong headwinds, and it went down to 8%. I stopped at a SA just past the Aizu-Wakamatsu interchange and south of Fukushima (sorry missed the name). 

I got 15 minutes of CHAdeMO here. Beautiful, cold day

I got 15 minutes of CHAdeMO here. Beautiful, cold day

Sorry, I couldn't read the name of the mountain. That's the view from behind where my car charged.

Sorry, I couldn't read the name of the mountain. That's the view from behind where my car charged.

The drive was very nice. The weather was clear and the colors vibrant. I was starting to see more snow up high. It stayed like that to Sendai and some time beyond. 

First time to see a Supercharger stall ICE'd (a gas car parked in an EV spot) in Japan  

First time to see a Supercharger stall ICE'd (a gas car parked in an EV spot) in Japan  

The Sendai Supercharger is located in the underground parking of a hotel which is next to an outlet mall. I got 45 minutes to 90% (I had arrived with 19%. While I charged, I stretched my legs, caught up with my internet chores and planned my next move. Before I left, I picked up a full set of JAF (think AAA) maps of all the highways. Many rest stops have a hotel, but none on the Tohoku highway showed one. My plan was to stop at a bigger SA and ask at the information booth. The only information I could find was playing out on a video screen, and it wasn't giving up hotel info. I drove through two more, but no cigar. 

Right about that time, the skies darkened up and it began to rain a bit. That all turned into more rain, colder temperatures, and finally, full on snow. The wife and I talked on the phone while I drove, and she offered to get me a room (where I'm slowly adding the day's content (sorry if you RSSing and getting my slow update notices (I got two loads of laundry in tonight after dinner.) 

Anyway, the temperature was hovering between -1 and 3, the snow wasn't sticking, and the locals were hauling ass. I stayed in the left lane for the most part as I build up some slightly forgotten skills (if you knew about the Lake Tahoe return run Thankgiving Sunday, 1975...) I got to Morioka smoothly and plugged in; only needed about 40 minutes. That is my last Supercharger run until the return trip. 

My first Supercharger with snow. They need to plow back a bit more. I had to stretch the cable to get it in. 

My first Supercharger with snow. They need to plow back a bit more. I had to stretch the cable to get it in. 

First time have the front frozen. About 45 into the snow, the Autopilot shutdown and no TACC. Te radar had ice on it, rendering it useless. 

First time have the front frozen. About 45 into the snow, the Autopilot shutdown and no TACC. Te radar had ice on it, rendering it useless. 

Checked to the hotel, my car wouldn't fit in their parking machine, so I had to go down the street and parking in a parking structure, for an extra charge. 😭 Went to eat; did MUCH better this time. Came back and took over the coin laundry. All set for the next several days. Here I am and about to fall over. Things should get more interesting tomorrow, but I won't say now. Let's leave it as a surprise. Good night! 

Day Five

 

Downtown Morioka, -4 C atm

Downtown Morioka, -4 C atm

Had the hotel breakfast--not many choices, but it was all healthy. I'll pack up and make the slippery walk to the car. Here's the first goal today: 

Morioka, Iwate to the ferry terminal in Aomori, one of two ferry routes to Hokkaido

Morioka, Iwate to the ferry terminal in Aomori, one of two ferry routes to Hokkaido

I got in the car, pre-warmed and toasty, down the street from the hotel. Even though it was in a covered garage, it was cold. 

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This was my first morning drive in sub-freezing temperatures, so I took it easy. The highway speed limit was 50 kph the entire way to Aomori. During the entire trip I saw 0 drivers at that speed. For the first 15 minutes everyone on the road was passing me. I sped up a bit as I got more confidence and got tired of trucks cutting me off and spraying my car.

Between that spray and the occasional flurry of snow falling and blowing off trees, both the car's sensors and radar unit got covered. About 45 minutes on the highway and the Autosteer function stopped; 30 minutes later the TACC shut down. The former wasn't a problem because there were some clumps of snow and potholes to dodge; I was taking control of steering every so often anyway. I missed TACC because of the way it keeps my speed steady. I have to say here that the car (with the Michelin X-ICE tires) has performed FAR beyond my expectations. I'm driving a rear wheel drive P85+, but it feels like an all wheel drive car. Just fantastic! Just imagine what the dual drivers experience. 

I had Supercharged for the last time northbound, so my new plan is to keep the car charged over 50% or so. I took a break to charge here.  

50 kW CHAdeMO in the snow

50 kW CHAdeMO in the snow

This stop is the only time my wheels slipped so far. The snow in front of the charger was about 15 cm thick and unplowed. I had to rock the car a bit to back in. While the car charged, I knocked off some of the snow around the wheel wells and cleaned off the sensors and radar. All systems were back until they got covered again. I took one more break and saw much more snow on the ground. 

Rest stop snow

Rest stop snow

I got to the Aomori ferry terminal and parked my car in the line. There were only 3 other cars. The rest of the vehicles on this ship are trucks. There was an electronic booth to buy a ticket, but I wanted to get out of my car to stretch my legs and assess what my car looked like. The thing to do for tickets is take your car registration, so they can charge you for the size of your car (and the number of passengers, if any). A one-way ticket is ¥16460 for a MS and a driver to go to Hakodate, Hokkaido. 

The bottom of my car was covered in snow and ice. 

The front-left side after the drive to Aomori

The front-left side after the drive to Aomori

The car (after some work with a plastic shovel) and the ferry

The car (after some work with a plastic shovel) and the ferry

I bought a small shovel at a local DIY store before I left in case I got stuck in snow somewhere. I used it to knock off as much as I could, hoping the paint will stay nice. I waited in the car for about 20 minutes; they loaded most of the trucks, then the cars.

Aomori to Hakodate by ferry

Aomori to Hakodate by ferry

I'm currently crossing the Tsuragu Straits in that big ol' ferry you see above. Not only is it probably the biggest ship I've ridden on, it's also beautiful inside. Here are selected photos from inside. 

Escalators on a ferry! 

Escalators on a ferry! 

Elevators on a ferry! 

Elevators on a ferry! 

Kids' playroom! 

Kids' playroom! 

Vending machines! This is the only food available. BYOB (bring your own bento) 

Vending machines! This is the only food available. BYOB (bring your own bento) 

Seating on the sides--chairs either have magnets holding them down or are chained to the deck.  

Seating on the sides--chairs either have magnets holding them down or are chained to the deck.  

Bunk beds for catching a nap

Bunk beds for catching a nap

Sample layout of one of the decks

Sample layout of one of the decks

The wind is blowing hard, and I see rough seas, but I can barely feel any swaying. Tonight is a nice Hakodate hotel with the Number One rated breakfast in Japan. 😎

At the end of the ferry journey, all drivers head back to their vehicles; we are not allowed to stay in them during the voyage. I got into a pre-toasty car and was told to back up 50 meters; I've never had to back up so far. It wasn't a big deal, just a strange maneuver. It turns out I had to make a sharp left to the ramp down.  

On to the tarmac at Hakodate, snow was everywhere! The drive to the hotel was uneventful. I parked in about 10 cm of fresh snow with hard pack underneath. Checked in and went in search of food. To celebrate making it to Hokkaido, I treated myself to a delicious fillet dinner. After dinner, I went up to the hot springs to decompress. They have seven baths (one is cold), and I got in five of the hot ones. I almost fell when I took a wrong turn in the dim light (I usually skip the glasses when I bathe). 😁 There were many big, uneven rocks that I thought denoted a pathway. The rocks were loose and moved when I stepped on them. Be careful out there!

 Day Six 

 This morning, the hotel had a bag of coffee beans and a hand-cranked grinder waiting for me. Yummy!

Complementary coffee beans, grinder and two kinds of popcorn.  

Complementary coffee beans, grinder and two kinds of popcorn.  

I got ready and went down to the breakfast buffet. The server who seated me was also one of my servers from the night before. I greeted her with a "long time, no see!" and got a laugh out of her. There were far too many choices to eat the all, so I got selective. Here's my first tray. 

Tray One for breakfast

Tray One for breakfast

I went healthy and picked mostly Japanese items. That tamagoyaki (grilled egg) was the best I've ever had and the salmon was rich and flavorful. I went back and got a couple of kinds of yogurt. It was indeed a great breakfast, but I've had others here just as good or better. Guests only can eat here; apparently, the breakfast is just too popular.

I took a shot of the car from an angle I had never seen before. 

The Red Rocket is much bigger than I thought! 

The Red Rocket is much bigger than I thought! 

There is a fort and and viewpoint up from the hotel, but I couldn't see them when I left. After seeing the 30+ car pileup around Sapporo the night before on the news, I decided to skip it. Here are some shots before I left. 

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I headed out late morning with ½ a battery charge. Since the highways south of the Tohoku area have SA/PA every 20-30 km with CHAdeMO, I really hadn't thought that this are would be a problem. When I drove in the night before, there were no J1772 around the hotel. I just planned to make a day of it driving, checking out the scenery and charging. Here's a shot of the highway chargers courtesy of the EVsmart app. 

EVsmart app zoomed out to show only highway chargers  

EVsmart app zoomed out to show only highway chargers  

I needed to get off the highway somewhere before that first SA south of Sapporo. Zooming in EVsmart gives more detail. I decided to try for the first Nissan dealer I passed, then again when it was needed, perhaps, Muroran. Here's my planned route for the day. 

Day six trip to Sapporo  

Day six trip to Sapporo  

 I drove for about 45 minutes on surface streets, until the first Nissan dealer. I missed the sign for the CHAdeMO, so I pulled around the back to ask where it was. Once I learned its location, I drove back towards the front side. I needed to drive back to the right on a Main Street, kind of making a very wide U-turn. At the street, to my left was a center divider, so I moved right to miss it and drove over, wait for it, a curb. 

I approached from the left (it's below on a hill) and missed seeing this curb. 

I approached from the left (it's below on a hill) and missed seeing this curb. 

There was traffic coming from both sides so I missed seeing this curb as I moved up. The car made contact after both the front and rear wheels went over the curb. I see no damage to the battery or even the front; I believe contact was made at the lift points. I did, however, scrape the right side of the diffuser enough to break it off. 

Diffuser, right side, broken

Diffuser, right side, broken

I thought it best to report here the bad with the good. Total user error, but having run it through my head several times, I could see it happening again. 

I plugged into the 44 kW Nissan CHAdeMO, paid my ¥540, got 30 minutes of 20 KW (the skinny Nissan chargers are throttled for Tesla), did my best to clean up the mess with the diffuser, and contacted Tesla about repairs. They are going to take care of me on my return trip, but my error guarantees I won't make the Supercharger opening ceremony in Fukuoka on the 10th. I'm perhaps more disappointed about that than the diffuser. 😳

I stopped at a DIY shop before the highway and bought a roll of duct tape. I've run a long piece from the diffuser to under the bumper to help keep any wind stress. Be careful out there.  

 Much of the highway you see north of Hakodate is one lane each way with passing lanes here and there. I think there was one SA with a gas station. The rest were PA with toilets and a drink machine or two. I pulled off the highway at Muroran looking for a Nissan dealer's CHAdeMO. The roads were confusing with signs pointing to route #37 that ended up taking me across a long bridge going the wrong way. I had to do a couple of U-turns to get going on the road into town.

I backed into the CHAdeMO at a Nissan dealer and was immediately met by a salesperson with wide eyes and tons of questions. I showed him and a few others the car, then the staff ushered me in the store and served me a drink and asked me a lot about the Tesla. I charged for an hour, enough to get to the first SA with a CHAdeMO. I want to thanks to  札幌日産自動車 室蘭中島店 for taking care of me so well! 👍🏼

The rest of the drive was in the dark, but the roads were clearer and the speed limit was 100. I charged at Wattsu SA for an hour just in case I couldn't get a spot to charge in Sapporo. I drove to the Tokyo Dome Hotel where I explained that there was a charger around the corner where I hoped to park overnight. They let me park long enough to check in and take my stuff to my room. I drove around the block to find the parking with one J1772 and plugged in for the night. I topped off to 90% overnight and paid the (pricey!) ¥2,000 for parking. 

Day six overnight parking

Day six overnight parking

I went to a recently-opened izakaya. The food was good, but portions were designed for large groups. I got boneless chicken wings and a salad, and that's all I could eat. Those are the highlights from day six. 

Day Seven 

Saturday morning I got up early and went to the hotel's Japanese restaurant for breakfast. The plan I had at the Tokyo Dome Hotel included either Japanese or buffet (some of both of Japanese and Western) breakfasts. 

Notable were the tamagoyaki, the grilled salmon, the soup (with more salmon), and the yummy thing on the top left that I can never remember its name).

Notable were the tamagoyaki, the grilled salmon, the soup (with more salmon), and the yummy thing on the top left that I can never remember its name).

Some time into breakfast, my Tesla app notified me that my P85+ was done charging. I went back to my room and grabbed my laundry. I went up a floor and found the one washer open. I had about a load and a half, but figured if there was only one machine, I had better get it done. While those clothes all washed, I went to the parking lot around the corner to retrieve my car. I paid the pricy ¥2,000, thinking the hotel should have some EV charging spots (that request and one for more washing machines went into my comments) and moved my car to the hotel parking (guest pay ¥1,000 a night). Here's a shot around the time I went to get the car.

Some cities, like Sapporo, still have street cars.

Some cities, like Sapporo, still have street cars.

I went back and fiddled with laundry for the next hour and a half and met a Canadian wrestler with the stage name of Davy Boy Smith Jr. (type davy b in your google to see him on top) who was also surprised at the laundry set up. He was very nice, and I ended up putting his load in the dryer and comping him. It was nice meeting you Davy! 

I was tired from the trip, so I decided to have an easy day. I spent some time in my room and even took a nap. I had seen my first view of the Sapporo Snow Festival from the restaurant.

The Japanese Self-Defense Force putting the final touches on a sculpture.

The Japanese Self-Defense Force putting the final touches on a sculpture.

My hotel was next to Odori Park, where all the sculptured ice and snow is. I went out and walked around the areas I could get into. Here are some selected shots from that walk.

Snowy Arc de Triomphe

Snowy Arc de Triomphe

Taiwan building or built by a Taiwanese team or both (couldn't tell from the info there)

Taiwan building or built by a Taiwanese team or both (couldn't tell from the info there)

Train and friends

Train and friends

It was my free day, so I decided to check out this thing called craft beer. Sapporo is noted for its beer community, so I used Mr. google to check it out. I found this place: Beer Cellar Sapporo.

Current draft selections are well marked. I believe all are from Oregon.

Current draft selections are well marked. I believe all are from Oregon.

Beer Cellar Sapporo features beers and ciders from the U.S. state of Oregon. Since I'm mostly used to what I can get out of a can or a bottle here in Kyushu, I took Tom the barkeep's suggestion of four flights (samples).

Four flights of Oregon craft beers

Four flights of Oregon craft beers

Of the four I had, I liked the Mosaic Eruption IPA the best, so I had a small of that after. I also enjoyed an open face sandwich and some meat and cheese. 

Assorted meat

Assorted meat

Assorted cheese

Assorted cheese

I finished up with an IPA from the Beer Cellar Sapporo's extensive bottled selection: Off Leash.

Off Leash IPA

Off Leash IPA

Beer Cellar Sapporo's great selection of beer and cider

Beer Cellar Sapporo's great selection of beer and cider

I ended up staying almost four hours there. Tom, on the left, is from Oregon, and Mr. Aoki, the owner is from Tochigi. They were very nice to me and held my hand as I explored some of Oregon's yummy craft brews. Thanks!

Tom, Mr. Aoki, and another staff member

Tom, Mr. Aoki, and another staff member

Day seven was a good one.

Day Eight 

This morning I tried the breakfast buffet and ate mostly Western food (plus natto). I went back to my room and updated this post (way behind, but still plugging away). I had charged to 90% the night before last, so all was ready for today. I checked out of the Tokyo Dome Hotel and headed down to Chitose airport to pick up Jr. who was joining me for the Sapporo Snow Festival. The drive down, about an hour, was uneventful and smooth. I had some time there to add to this post, but the free airport wifi wasn't cooperating, so I used my 4G. We bought some Hokkaido exclusive White Black Thunder bars to take back as souvenirs. The drive back to Sapporo was equally smooth, and we headed to the Royton Sapporo for the night. I reserved there because my EVsmart app showed a CHAdeMO and two J1772 in the underground parking lot. I plugged in for the night and left the setting at 90%.

Royton Sapporo Hotel charge setup: CHAdeMO and two J1772s

Royton Sapporo Hotel charge setup: CHAdeMO and two J1772s

We decompressed a bit in the room before heading out to dinner. The view from the 19th floor in downtown Sapporo was quite nice. This photo has a view of the Sapporo Winter Olympics ski jump site (look at the sun, and move slightly towards 4 o'clock; it's a longer white patch.)

 On the way to eat, we walked through Odori Park to see some of the ice and snow sculptures. Here are some photos.

All-ice sculpture

All-ice sculpture

Pooh San

Pooh San

Many of the international sculptures were still being put together the night before. This one is Finland's.

Many of the international sculptures were still being put together the night before. This one is Finland's.

Crab is one of the specialties in Hokkaido, so we arranged to have dinner at on of the recommended restaurants. It was a feast that neither of could get all the way through. The potatoes and rice and the end went mostly uneaten, but everything we ate was absolutely delicious! 

Sashimi

Sashimi

Asparagus cooked in butter! This was incredible!

Asparagus cooked in butter! This was incredible!

Two kinds of crab. yummy!

Two kinds of crab. yummy!

Grilled salmon!

Grilled salmon!

We were so full after the above, we could only taste the potatoes and rice dish. We did manage to find space for the vanilla ice cream, though.

In Japan, after people have been out eating and drinking, they will often have ramen shime (a bowl of ramen to finish off the night). Sushi is a possibility, too. In Sapporo, however, the finish is often parfait shime, so we headed out to find a place that serves it. The first place we found recommended was serving the kind we were looking for, so we headed to a another branch of the shop. We had to wait about ten minutes, but they called us on the phone when our table was ready. Here is what we had.

Sapporo parfait shime

Sapporo parfait shime

On the way back to the hotel, we walked through the pre-festival festival. Assuming, because of the festival crowds, we may not get some of the shots we saw this evening, we did our best to capture what we saw. Here are some highlights.

This sculpture had a Greek theme

This sculpture had a Greek theme

Taiwan theme, ice sculpture?

Taiwan theme, ice sculpture?

The Arc de Triomphe, sponsored by the Japan (horse) Racing Association...

The Arc de Triomphe, sponsored by the Japan (horse) Racing Association...

This one looked great!

This one looked great!

Star Wars, perhaps the most popular one?

Star Wars, perhaps the most popular one?

Day Nine

The next morning, we headed down for a quick all-you-can-eat breakfast. The Super Bowl was playing, so we wanted to catch the halftime show with Lady Gaga. I enjoyed watching her play her hits in front of a large crowd. We checked out and headed to the car with a 90% charge. I love those hotels with J1772 charging setups.

There is another site about 10 km from the main one at Odori Park, so we drove out there to check it out. I have to say once we got there, we could find no place to park our car. The venue itself was closed to public parking. The nearby airport had a sign saying parking was for those using the airport only. The two workers we asked directed us either to the airport parking or back to the venue. We needed up parking in a strip mall parking and walking. We stayed only about an hour, so hopefully we caused little disruption; there were plenty of open spots. I would like to see this taken care of in the future.

There was an indoor section for the youngsters, and the outside had something for everyone. Here are some selected shots from the time we spent there.

Kids' area inside

Kids' area inside

Smaller slide for the smaller ones

Smaller slide for the smaller ones

Ride a raft behind a snowmobile

Ride a raft behind a snowmobile

Big slide for the big kids

Big slide for the big kids

Forest of snowmen (the Japanese versions usually have two parts, not three)

Forest of snowmen (the Japanese versions usually have two parts, not three)

Blocks of ice for this slide; no tube necessary

Blocks of ice for this slide; no tube necessary

We had crab the night before, so today's goal was to eat Genghis Khan, or the Japanese version of Mongolian BBQ. We found a place with parking, so went there on the way back to Odori Park.

All the fixings for a Mongolian BBQ with two kinds of lamb

All the fixings for a Mongolian BBQ with two kinds of lamb

Put the veggies around the side first, add the entire pot of sauce, then put one kind of meat in the middle.

Put the veggies around the side first, add the entire pot of sauce, then put one kind of meat in the middle.

We tried to get into the first parking place I used two nights before, but it was full. I finally drove back to the Royton Sapporo and plugged in. We walked to the Former Hokkaido Government building, made of red brick. It is an impressive place.

The back of the former Hokkaido government building

The back of the former Hokkaido government building

The former Hokkaido government building from the front

The former Hokkaido government building from the front

From there we walked back to Odori Park to see the places that weren't open to the public before the festival started. They had a ski/snowboard slope set up, and we watched some of the practice runs.

Moguls: he's upside-down!

Moguls: he's upside-down!

I think the best shots of the rest were already seen above. We went back to the hotel to get the car and stopped by the front desk to pay for parking. I told the staff that we stayed the night before and came back to get a bit more charge. They gave us those four or so hours for free; thank you Royton Sapporo!

Our first stop on the way back was the other side of the Wattsu SA. There they have a 50 kW CHAdeMO and a restaurant. It was Sunday night, and they close at 7 o'clock. We got there just before 7, and I had their soup curry, another specialty in Hokkaido. We drove the four plus hours back to the ferry terminal at Hakodate, bought tickets and waited to load on to the ferry. I knew I wanted some good sleep, so I paid an extra ¥5,000 or so for a room. It was way nicer than I thought it would be.

An upgrade on accommodations for the ride back

An upgrade on accommodations for the ride back

I had a solid three hours of sleep in this room, so it was worth the extra money.

Day Ten

We arrived in Aomori with about 90 km of charge. The first highway CHAdeMO was about 55 km from where we were, but I didn't want to cut it too close in the freezing weather. The first place I tried was a Lawson convenience store, but I could not get it to start up. I drove to a Family Mart which was a bit slow, but I added a comfortable buffer to the battery (and got a needed cup of coffee). 

There was a lot of ice around Aomori at 5 o-clock in the morning; I was siding all over, but the car was not!

There was a lot of ice around Aomori at 5 o-clock in the morning; I was siding all over, but the car was not!

We stopped at the first SA with a CHAdeMO and added enough to get to Morioka and a 30% buffer. The drive was pleasant, but there was a lot of snow on the ground and, at times, falling pretty hard.

Road conditions from Aomori to Morioka

Road conditions from Aomori to Morioka

We arrived in Morioka after 8 o'clock and looked for a place to eat. The Morioka Supercharger is in a parking lot of a Tsutaya bookstore. There is a bakery connected to it, so we went to try it.

Yummy bread at the Morioka Supercharger! The coffee was good, too.

Yummy bread at the Morioka Supercharger! The coffee was good, too.

Here's a daytime shot of the Morioka Supercharger. The snow could be plowed a bit more. I had to really pull to get the cold cable to cooperate.

Daytime shot of the Morioka SC

Daytime shot of the Morioka SC

From there we drove to the Sendai SC. The temperature warmed a bit, but it was snowing pretty hard when we got to Sendai. From there, I set the navi to the Palace hotel in Tokyo. We can't drive all the way there without CHAdeMO,, but I like to set our goals. I wasn't paying attention, but the navi routed us on the west coast route. I assumed it chose this route because of the weather in the mountains and all the snow that was coming down.

Astute Japan-watchers will wonder whether we drove past the nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima. Yes, we did. About 10 km from the site, I started to see signs displaying the local radiation levels. I have never wanted to keep moving so badly before. Here's the output at the closest point to the plant.

3.6 micro sieverts/hr at the closest point; that car was in my way...

3.6 micro sieverts/hr at the closest point; that car was in my way...

We cleared the area as quickly as possible, and took a break for a charge. We stopped once more for food (the CHAdeMO was being used)

Fried oysters (top) and fried chicken for dinner

Fried oysters (top) and fried chicken for dinner

and once so I could take a 10-minute nap to recharge. We arrived at the Palace Hotel Supercharger around 7:30 and, after I apologized for bringing such a dirty car, handed the valet my fob for a charge. I got a great night's sleep this night; ready to make the second-half drive home.

Day Eleven

I made it to the Yokohama service center in Totsuka around 11 o'clock, and the team there quickly figured out how to repair my busted diffuser. They cut off the left side as well, straightened both sides out, then used a kind of bond to put them all back together. Doing it this way saved me ¥50,000. Thank you so much, guys! My car was absolutely filthy after the drive north; it was covered with both dirt and salt. The staff there cleaned up my car, and I was on my way home again.

Side shot of my car

Side shot of my car

The rear

The rear

I drove to the Hamamatsu SC in Shizuoka. I saw Mt. Fuji from Yokohama, so I thought I might be able to to see it as I got closer in Fuji. As usual, clouds moved in and covered the top half or so. I keep hoping. Instead of driving to Kobe/Osaka for the next charge, I went a bit more west to charge and the new Gifu Hashima Supercharger. I make mistakes driving through Nagoya about 50% of the time. Check out this cloverleaf in Nagoya, and perhaps you'll understand.

Changing highways can be a nightmare; this one gave me trouble.

Changing highways can be a nightmare; this one gave me trouble.

There are four stalls at the Gifu Hashima Supercharger. It is located in a large shopping center. You should be able to find something around to eat while you charge. By the time I used the facilities, my car was ready.

Four stalls with the cool paint job

Four stalls with the cool paint job

That charge gave me 13 Japanese Superchargers, 100% of the SC available. Yay me!

From there, I drove to the Kobe SC with a cup of coffee. A few minutes after I started my charge, another Model S pulled in. I noticed it was a right-hand drive car. We said hello, and after he finished, he came over and told me it was a four-year-old import from the U.S. Since the charge ports are the same, it works fine here. Very, very cool to see.

From Kobe to Kurashiki was smooth, except for the truckers. Late night drives can be stressful on the remote highways in Japan. Truckers like to pull out in front of cars quite a bit, and it happened at least 10 times between Kurashiki and home. Autopilot handles such events very well; I rarely have to take over. I stopped in my usual spot—Sabagawa to charge enough to get home (I added a 23% buffer). The new (for Japan, new) Trip function shows exactly what I did to get home.

Top left is the charge from Kurashiki; middle is Sabagawa CHAdeMO; left side is estimate home.

Top left is the charge from Kurashiki; middle is Sabagawa CHAdeMO; left side is estimate home.

I got home around 8:30 in the morning, tired, but extremely satisfied with the trip, and most importantly, with the car. Want to drive in the snow in Model S? Put on some snow tires, and enjoy the ride.

I left at 44,642 km; arrived in Sapporo at 47,237; and got home at 49,776 for a total of 5,134 km.