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On Nevada's Electric Highway in a Tesla, a Wild West ethos versus a techie future

Chris Erskine, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Travel News

GOLDFIELD, Nev. -- We were taking a smarty-pants car through honky-tonky country -- Reno to Las Vegas. Our route: U.S. 95, Nevada's Electric Highway, a mostly two-lane road that has been peppered with charging stations to meet the growing demand of electric vehicles, or EVs.

Although still a fraction of the market, EV sales are surging, particularly in California, where sales increased 84% in 2018. Nevada, which has seen 40% growth, embraced charging stations after determining the need for them outside urban centers.

In many respects, this is a 440-mile road trip into the future. Yet it's also an escape into the past, through ghost towns and past ancient stores and buckaroo saloons, even crumbling bordellos.

Wyatt Earp once worked these ornery outposts, and the feisty ethos of the American West still roams the gritty lunar landscape.

It's a case of the New West meeting the Old West along a remote route that reminds us of the travel pleasures that make us sing inside: open road, silver vistas and plenty of room to zip around that lumbering RV.

"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair ... ."

 

With photographer Robert Gourley riding shotgun, I was in a pearl-white Tesla Model 3, with a 325-mile range, dual motors and an autopilot feature that redefines what it means to drive -- cerebrally, physically and spiritually.

Does tech drive us? Or do "we drive tech," as one luxe car commercial likes to brag?

We were about to find out. Buckle up and leave the driving to us -- and the cheeky automotive engineers who are messing with something sacred: the great American road trip.

MAN VERSUS CAR

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