Up the East Coast with "Open Hearts and Minds" and a Baby in a TESLA!

A GoSeeItPeople Interview with Jayson and Grace Caissie

Wherever you go, leave your heart and mind open to new experiences and endless wonder.
— Jayson and Grace's Travel Philosophy
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We were all a bit skeptical when my cousin Jayson and his wife Grace announced they would be heading on an epic east coast road trip from Florida to Montreal, Canada and back with a 9 month old baby, while traveling in a fully electric vehicle!  I wasn't sure that there would be enough infrastructure to charge their Tesla in the rural northern states, and wondered how traveling with such a young child would work.   We had no reason to worry! Armed with excellent planning tools, a car with GPS to direct them to the nearest TESLA Superchargers, a very easy going baby and their own open hearts and minds, Jayson and Grace and their young daughter had an amazing adventure with very few bumps in the road!  I asked them to share their story with us, and they generously agreed to share their photos and experiences! - Editor, Kathy Klofft

ALL PHOTOS BY JAYSON AND GRACE CAISSIE

 

Charging in Vermont

Charging in Vermont

GSIT: How did you decide on this destination? Why did you want to go? 

J & G : We decided on this destination because my husband has family in Maine and his family heritage is part French/Canadian, so we also wanted to travel to Canada and revisit the city of Montreal to explore what feels like a small version of Europe. On the previous trip (summer of 2014) we drove a 2012 Kia Soul with three adults and the remaining space filled to the brim with luggage to be on the road for a month. This time around we decided to purchase a 2012 Tesla Model S 85 with an ideal range of 280 miles per charge. This allowed us to travel without a cost for fuel as we were using the Tesla Supercharging network throughout our path up the East Coast. 

GSIT: How did you plan your trip? Did you use any websites or special apps? 

J & G:  On all of our trips, we outlined the dates and times of stays and travel time in Outlook. We create meetings in Outlook that are labeled as the following: location, travel time and distance. This sort of planning allows us an opportunity to view an outline of our entire trip. It also gives us a chance to look up points of interests along the way. All of this planning we did, we did before knowing we were going to have a Tesla. On previous trips we used a TomTom to navigate from one location to the next. With the Tesla’s built-in GPS, we were able to put in our destination and the GPS located all of the charging stations along our path, and it also provided an estimated time that we needed to charge to help us reach our next charging station or destination. For this trip we wanted to rely on “modern” travel stays vs. hotel stays. For example, we used airbnb to stay in people’s homes or apartments to allow ourselves the experience. We also found that most airbnb’s were cleaner than some hotels. At locations that we could not find a good airbnb, we relied on Hotels.com which is a subsidiary of Expedia.com.  

 

New technology meets old in Vermont

New technology meets old in Vermont

GSIT: What did you do while you were on this trip? 

J & G: When we were planning the trip with a gas car we thought about the cost of gas and hotels to get from Florida to Virginia and compared it to the cost of the nation’s only Auto Train that travels between Sanford, FL and Lorton, VA. We booked it assuming it would save us money and time. While it did save us time it did not save us much money as we ended up getting to charge for free the remainder of the trip. The train required us to have the car loaded on at 2:30 PM and hang out at the station until 4 PM when it departed. They provided Dinner and Breakfast as part of the train ride and we got off the train at 9 AM. We reserved a Roomette that had a bunk bed in it allowing us to lay down and attempt to sleep during that portion of the trip. 

Once we arrived in Lorton we traveled to Maryland to visit some of Jayson’s friends from college and allow Atlantis to meet their children. Then next stop was Burlington, VT where we got to visit Church Street, the Cabot Annex store, Magic Hat Brewery and the Ben & Jerry’s factory. Those were the main stops but we fit in about 5 smaller local breweries in there too. 

An art installation in Montreal, Canada

An art installation in Montreal, Canada

After Burlington we went to Montreal, Canada. Some people may wonder how it was crossing the border with a 10 month old, it was surprisingly very easy. When our daughter was first born we knew some day soon we would take her out of the country, so it only made sense to get her a passport while doing all the other paperwork that comes along with a newborn. When we got to the border they just looked at the passport and looked at her through the car window and sent us on our way. Montreal was a real treat, as it was fun place to visit other people who spoke another language, stay in our first airbnb, and experience all of what attracts people to this glorious country. I’d also like to add, after many visits to Canada, it was my first time eating the local Quebecois dish, Poutine. 

The Montreal Biosphere was a fascinating place to explore the environment for a couple dedicated to preserving it as owners of a two electric vehicles! Designed by Buckminster Fuller for the 1967 Expo, it's a popular museum dedicated to the environment today.

The Montreal Biosphere was a fascinating place to explore the environment for a couple dedicated to preserving it as owners of a two electric vehicles! Designed by Buckminster Fuller for the 1967 Expo, it's a popular museum dedicated to the environment today.

 

 

GSIT: What surprised you about the places you visited ? Is there a "don't miss it" attraction? 

J & G: Out of all of the places we visited, Helen Georgia was the one stop where you’d want to go to visit a place unlike any other in the United States. It’s no Disney...World or Land, BUT it is worth visiting it at least once in your lifetime. The town of Helen, GA is a made to look like a German town that was built and transformed in the 1960’s.

That’s not even the best part! What made this a fun and memorable stop was the cheap ($5) attraction to go tubing for 2 hours down the river that cuts through the town of Helen. Once you’re done with a day of tubing, it’s nice to grab a bite to eat at Paul’s Margarita Deck, overlooking other tubers as they travel down the river. Every place to stay in the town is also walking distance from anything you’d want to do while you are there. Helen even had ONE public charging station for any (EV) electric vehicle.

Helen GA with it's colorful German Town.

Helen GA with it's colorful German Town.

In addition to visiting Helen, GA my husband and I would also recommend to anyone and at any age, to go visit downtown Asheville in North Carolina. Downtown Asheville was one of those places we just wanted to check out and then we both just fell IN LOVE with it! To sum it up in a nutshell it’s an eclectic and artsy town that has over two dozen breweries, fun shops, and great places to eat.

The Sierra Nevada Brewery, in Asheville, NC with front row parking for EV and hybrid vehicles

The Sierra Nevada Brewery, in Asheville, NC with front row parking for EV and hybrid vehicles

GSIT: What tips would you give for someone who wants to visit? Anything special you should pack? 

J & G: A good rule of thumb when it comes to traveling, at least this is what we found helpful is to remain flexible during your trip because you never know when a hiccup might occur. Always plan out what you want to do before you leave, unless you like to travel with spontaneity in mind then by all means, but, when planning a head it really did help us when pre-booking hotel rooms and airbnb’s. Also it’s crucial to check your finances and expenditures, and to check your bank account daily or every other day.

When it came down to packing for a long road trip, we brought with us a few essential items; a collapsible tote bag for dirty laundry, laundry detergent, and coins for doing laundry and paying tolls. It’s also a good idea to pack an emergency card for all passengers traveling. My husband and I didn’t do this, but after thinking back about our trip, it would have been safe thinking to have if the emergency cards on our phones weren’t able to be activated in the event of a dead or lost cell phone. Other items we packed were a first aid kit, a car safety kit, an all purpose car tool that can shatter windows, cut seat belts, and pop airbags in the event of an emergency if necessary, and we also made sure to pack umbrellas, and rain jackets (which did come in handy during the summer rain). Furthermore, besides packing all of the important essentials, we definitely had to pack car snacks for us and the baby, and just for fun, I had to pack the selfie stick for those tricky family shots when nobody was around. 

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GSIT: You took this trip with a baby in an electric car, in what ways was that challenging, rewarding, what would you do differently, what would you do again and suggest to others doing the same trip? 

J & G: Taking a baby in an electric car was really no different than taking a baby in a gas car. Actually, driving in an electric vehicle was somewhat less challenging and more convenient than a gas vehicle as my husband and I were able stop at regular intervals due to charging. Now, some may think this might be more of a nuisance, but when it came to driving long distances, it was quite the relief to get out of the car and stretch and have a break more often. Gas cars may be able to go longer distances without stopping as frequently compared to EV’s, but when having a young baby in the car and you knew it was time to charge soon, it felt great to have those much needed breaks.

At the same time, those frequent breaks sometimes did make it challenging when it came to the baby falling asleep for naps. As most people know, driving is a great way to put a little one to sleep, but with charging times sometimes taking longer than one would want with a baby, it would also wake her up due to the car no longer moving. However, one of the really nice things about having a Tesla is being able to charge at all of the superchargers, because the superchargers were mostly all located in great locations where you could grab a bite to eat, find a Starbucks or even walk around in a few department stores. By having the Tesla it made us experience more of the places we were stopping at than we normally would have on a trip.

If you are wanting to do a similar trip, whether you’re in a gas car or an EV, I would suggest one parent to ride in the back with the baby and have one parent be the navigator, or take turns with the roles of driver and entertainer. Also having a basket of your child’s favorite books and toys is a huge help! We even scored some awesome Fraggle Rock puppets that were super helpful and fun. But most of all, take lots of pictures and video and enjoy the time creating memories with your family. 

The Caissie Family visiting me on the beach in Maine, where they got engaged at a Fourth of July family cookout three years earlier,  with their new baby daughter!

The Caissie Family visiting me on the beach in Maine, where they got engaged at a Fourth of July family cookout three years earlier,  with their new baby daughter!

Jay and Grace did take and post loads of photos!  All of their family and friends enjoyed seeing their adventures and those of us along the route, especially enjoyed visiting with them and meeting their beautiful baby girl!  I thank them for sharing their adventures!- Kathy

Jayson and Grace

Grace Caissie- I’m 28 years old, and I am a Teacher of students with visual impairments and blindness, also known to some as a TVI. A few of my interests are being a mommy, Japanese culture, eating good food, cosplaying, and going to Disney World often. I was born and raised in Florida where I met my husband who has encouraged me to take on more journeys and adventures with my life. 

Jayson Caissie-I’m 30 years old and I was born in Massachusetts. I moved to Florida when I turned 3, and it’s also where I met my wife. I am a High School technology Teacher and I work with kids in getting them certified in CompTIA A+ certifications in computer hardware and software, for example: Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint). Currently I just received my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, and I plan to further my education by working towards getting my Doctorate. Some of my hobbies and interests include, technology, movies & film, going to breweries, and alternate forms of creating energy, like solar, wind, and electric energy. Right now I’m very passionate about electric vehicles and cutting down on our carbon footprint. For anyone who may read this and is interested in learning more and connecting with other electric vehicle owners, I created a Facebook page called SWFL EV Owners