The final segment of my New York-to-Florida electric-car road trip, made possible through Tesla's new network of Supercharger stations along the East Coast, provided what I'd come for--time spent with old comrades--but it started gloomy.

The grueling 380-mile day was brightened  by the kindness of friends. It began with the sound of a frigid rain on the roof of Robin and Rosie's place in Ormond Beach. ( I keep outrunning the Polar Vortex, but then it keeps catching up.)

MORE: Tesla Model S: NY-To-FL Trip, Days 1-2: From Home To South Carolina

The Model S, plugged into a 120-Volt household outlet in Robin's garage, picked up 35 miles overnight. That brings its available range up to 211 miles this morning--barely enough for the 180-mile run down to Stuart. That's where Steve--my childhood best buddy and former next-door neighbor on the White River back in Indiana--has settled.

By great good fortune, both Robin and Steve live about 20 miles from the last two Florida Superchargers on the East Coast chain, in Port Orange and Port St.Lucie.

The plan is to charge at Port St. Lucie on the way to Steve's, picking up enough charge to continue 25 miles to his house, then return  to the Port Orange Supercharger, about 25 miles short of  Robin's place on the way back--a leg of about 185 miles.

MORE: Tesla Model S: NY-To-FL Trip, Day 3, South Carolina To Florida

(Sure, I could charge to full and get back to Robin's house, but then I'd miss the Port Orange Supercharger. Gotta try 'em all, right?)

2013 Tesla Model S at Supercharger station on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S at Supercharger station on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]

It's 43 degrees when I pull out of Robin's driveway. That means that at 75 mph, actual range will be 10 to 20 percent less than the rated range, so I initially set the cruise control for 70. But the temperature rapidly rises as  the Vortex recedes in the rear-view mirror.

Within an hour, the mercury has risen past 60, and I bump the speed up to the normal 75. I arrive at the Port St. Lucie Supercharger with a cushion of 27 miles, after averaging a sparkling 310 Wh/mi.

In a hurry to get to Steve's house, I  charge the minimum I figure I'll need to get back to Port Orange--about 210 miles.

I arrive to a welcome from  Steve, his visiting bratty little brother Randy (now 60 years old, for God's sake), and our cross-river pal Sam, who followed Steve's Florida migration.

We plug the Model S into Steve's 120-Volt garage outlet (every kWh counts), and sit around all afternoon talking cars, boats, and our various infirmities.

It's a grand old time.

Randy Siebert, Sam Astley, Steve Siebert, Dave Noland on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]

Randy Siebert, Sam Astley, Steve Siebert, Dave Noland on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]

But all too soon, it's time to depart--heading back north on the first short piece of the return trip, retracing my East Coast route.

As I drive away from Steve's place, the rain is coming down hard.

Rolling north on I-95 amid clouds of spray, I note with concern that the energy consumption is running inexplicably high--near 350 Wh/mi, instead of the 310 I chalked up on the way down. This despite a warmish 60-degree temperature and the lower 60-to-65-mph speeds dictated by the rain.

2013 Tesla Model S at Supercharger station on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S at Supercharger station on NY-to-FL road trip [photo: David Noland]

What's going on here? At this rate, it will be touch and go whether I make Port Orange.

I can only assume it's the rain--and, ominously, the  forecast calls for rain, heavy at times, all the way back to Robin's.

Playing it safe, I decide to stop once again at Port St. Lucie, now just a few miles ahead, for a quick top-off.  I add 50 miles, which I figure is enough to get me all the way to Robin's without the planned stop at Port Orange.

I'm wrong. The rain keeps coming,  the energy consumption meter hovers around 350, and my cushion for getting to Robin's is rapidly disappearing. Worse yet,  the temperature begins to plummet as I re-enter the Vortex.

So I stop at Port Orange after all, for what may be the quickest Supercharger stop on record: 9 minutes, during which I pick up the 30 miles I need to get me comfortably back to Robin's.

It's been a grueling day, nearly 400 miles, much of it through the rain and dark and interlaced with construction zones.

But the Model S was supremely comfortable, quiet, and, with its Internet connection and splendid sound system, nicely diverting.

Best of all, I've accomplished my mission: I escaped the Polar Vortex, navigated the entire New York-to-Florida Supercharger system ... and got to hang out with two old friends.

Time to head for home.

_______________________________________________

Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.