Whiskey Vault

Whiskey Vault
What a great way to spend two and a half hours: the Whiskey Vault in Austin.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

To Drive or Not to Drive: An Auto Journalist's Dilemma

A quick stop on our free day at the Hyundai Kona event to shoot a brewery video.
I'm not the kind of guy who eschews (I used that word to establish my writer bona fides.) driving in favor of flying. I know in my pseudo profession of auto journalist, it is almost blasphemy to utter the word “flying.” We are supposed to love driving above all else, right? Maybe yes, maybe no. For me writing about cars and the auto industry is a job and not a calling. I've managed to stay busy at it for more than 30 years – even making some money along the way – but that's as much due to inertia as anything else. There's a certain amount of comfort in sticking with a thing. I can't bring myself to change gyms. Change careers? Are you kidding!

Although most people I know in my age bracket probably haven't racked up the volume of road miles I have, driving over the years has mostly been simply to get me somewhere. It was cheaper or more convenient to drive than fly. Unlike many of my fellow travelers among the motoring press, when given the choice to drive or fly, I'll fly 98 percent of the time.

Most of us fly once or more each month as we follow the auto manufacturers media vehicle launch events like carnies chasing state-fair midways. It's a traveling roadshow that doesn't offer the choice of driving. It is physically impossible to drive from Cleveland to San Diego and then San Diego to Virginia in the same week between two- or three-day carmaker programs. It's science. It can't be done.

I muse about all of this today because tomorrow I am driving from Greenville, South Carolina to Durham, North Carolina for a Volkswagen program to drive the next Jetta. Roughly a 240-mile exercise, the trip should require less than four hours. Probably about what it would have taken for me to fly Delta from Greenville to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Durham. I had the option to fly; I chose to drive.

A 240-mile slog isn't unreasonable. This one in fact, is virtually all on I-85, which I pick up a mile from my house and runs smack-dab through the middle of Durham. How tough a drive can it be? Yet, I don't look forward to it. In fact, I'm dreading it to some extent.

My thought process when making the drive/fly decision wasn't so much weighing flying time against driving time as it was thinking about the possibilities of having my own wheels in Durham once there.

Since launching my YouTube channel BEER2WHISKEY, I'm always scheming to record a segment in the many different places I travel ostensibly for other reasons. Because my numerous car-intro trips each year are all over the U.S., they are excellent opportunities to shoot a segment in a faraway location I might not otherwise visit. For example, I was recently on the Big Island in Hawaii with Hyundai and shot a brewery video in Kona.

Without even looking to see what breweries might be close by the hotel in which VW is hosting us, I committed to driving instead of flying. Although there is much less to think about when flying to these events because the carmaker whisks us to and from the hotel, dragging my two Pelican cases of gear along on flights is a real pain. The downside is, once I arrive at the hotel, I have to come up with my own transportation to and from the brewery. Driving to Durham means tossing my cases of gear, as well as my rollerboard full of clothing, into the car and not worrying with them again until arriving at the brewery. And, I'll already have my brewery-to-hotel transportation. Easy-peasy.

As it turns out, there are a couple of breweries within blocks of our hotel. Without too much effort, I lined up the Durty Bull Brewing Company for an early afternoon shoot tomorrow. Because I'm covering the Jetta event for a client, it will be like double dipping. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. I like that.

So, despite not being thrilled about driving, it makes sense on a couple of levels. It's not often my decisions make any sense at all; forget about making sense on more than one level.

Roll cameras!