50 States in Model S

Lita Elbertson had never seen a lake before she decided join her friend Michael Fritts on an epic cross-country tour of the United States. In fact, the Hawaii resident hadn’t even seen a duck. Or a Model S. 

There are probably more straightforward ways to make contact with a duck, but few are more fun than driving a premium electric sedan to every state in the United States. That’s what Elbertson and Fritts, a Model S owner from Upstate New York, set out to do late this summer. 

While Fritts took inspiration for the trip from the Harley Davidson “ABC’s of Touring” contest, Elbertson took responsibility for planning the route, which she built around Tesla’s Supercharger network with stops at friends’ places factored in. They would eventually complete a 48-state route in 32 days before Fritts dropped off Elbertson in Washington and continued on to Alaska alone. In the next few weeks, he’ll ship the car to Hawaii and cross the 50th state off the list. 

Elbertson simply loves to travel, but for Fritts the trip was a way to demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicles. Earlier in the year, he drove solo from New York to Miami and back without taking his wallet. He charged the car for free at Superchargers all the way and packed his meals, so he didn’t need to spend a penny. For this adventure, he carried a miniature oil can, which he plans to leave in Hawaii at the conclusion of his route as a memento of a fading era. “This trip symbolizes the transition from fossil fuel to electric transportation,” Fritts says.

Fritts has long been interested in technology – as a 10-year-old, he wrote a paper about maglev trains – and, as an ex-trucker, he’s used to long-haul travel. In 1991, he drove from San Francisco to Hamilton, NY, in a 1977 Chevrolet LUV pickup that he bought from a friend for $500. The trip took him 57 hours. Since retiring from truck driving after surviving an aneurism, he invested his savings in Tesla stock because he believed in the future of electric mobility and was impressed by CEO Elon Musk’s business track record. He later sold the stock to buy a Model S, sight unseen. 

The Model S performed wonderfully on his tour of the country, Fritts says. “The car was fantastic. It runs the same as it did the day I got it – and I’ve put 40,000 miles on it.” 

Elbertson’s first impressions of Model S were also positive. “The car’s really fast and comfortable, which made it really easy,” says Elbertson. “A lot of the time we had planned to stop and stay the night but instead we just kept going.”

More than a few ducks and lakes made an appearance during the trip – Vermont served up plenty of both – and the mountains of Colorado and Utah were scenic highlights. For Elbertson, New Orleans, Chicago, and New York City were the best cities. But there was one clear standout on the road. 

“The fact that we were able to drive 11,500 miles without spending a cent on gas or oil or putting a single emission in the air was amazing,” Elbertson says. “I’m still shocked that we did that.”. 

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