I had a friend tell me that it seems my blog often touches on the experiences of driving automobiles. When I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago I called it “The Way I See It”. Not the most original title I’ll admit but it did offer me a wide berth in terms of subjects. As a lifelong marketer I am fascinated by human behavior and human motivation, not only as it pertains to why people buy or don’t, but how people come to their own view of things.
This winter I worked nearly 3,000 miles away from my regular office. My wife and I drove across the country (yes both ways), and put on 7,000 miles on our leased sedan (no plug here). I wrote about the trip out west in a post entitled, “A Portable professional life” . But that was before I spent 6 ½ weeks away from the NYC office.
Overall the driving was easy and predictable. Google Maps continually proves itself to be a worthy additional co-pilot and the only thing worse for wear is my back which 10 days after returning is still a little twitchy. My productivity was similar and my attitude vastly improved because the weather was better and I love the experience of being in new places and having different and ever-changing views. I am also very conscious that I am fortunate enough to be able to work remotely (I have a very understanding business partner), as most people do not have the choice.
Once ensconced in the desert of California I quickly fell into a routine that time-wise was not all that different from what I do when I am home. Working on east coast time was less of problem than I’d imagined and having hours of non-work daylight to burn in winter was something I’d never experienced as a professional. I was WAY more physically active, slept well or better than at home, and was generally happier in winter than I’ve been in while. Clearly I’m not a skier any more and winter in the northeast has little utility if you don’t participate much in winter sports.
On the drive back east we listened to Ray Dalio’s book Principles which has a focus on corporate “Idea Meritocracy”, but also stresses that doing things that are unfamiliar and difficult are paramount in helping human beings continue to learn and grow. As predictable as driving has become with the reliability of automobiles and the advent of GPS maps, there’s still some daily uncertainty when you are on a 3,000+ mile drive. Like when should we stop for gas? (Since we got close to running out of gas at one point driving through an Indian reservation). Where should we stop? (Hotel Tonight is a useful app when things are unplanned). Is that truck going to hit us? (This happened more often and supports the reason for self-driving trucks that don’t do stupid people things).
Some drive highlights:
Marfa, TX where we were not lucky enough to see the Marfa lights but did see the International Space Station race right overhead on a frigid late January evening.
On the drive west we drove through Texas Hill Country and its wineries, which before I did not know even existed. More than 50 wineries are along the road west of Austin deep in the heart of Texas. We rolled through in the early morning and regrettably did not sample any of them.
On the return trip we stopped in Santa Fe, NM never having been there before and were surprised at how the high desert altitude (7,200 ft.) affected us at first. A pretty little artsy town we had a great meal from a renowned chef out of Mexico City who has been there for more than twenty-five years.
There were many other nice moments particularly in the early morning drives as sunrise over the highway no matter where you are has a promising feel. Since we drove for longer days on the return trip (750 miles per day back, only 500 per day on the way out), working was more difficult and I was more about responding to people than initiating things with people, which is not my norm.
I can give you a short list of reasons why you should consider driving across, around and all over the United States.
- It’s BIG and BEAUTIFUL! The Mandarin name for the United States is ‘Mei Guo’ which means ‘Beautiful Country’. It’s both flattering and correct. There’s so much open space in the United States. You have to see it to appreciate it.
- Experiencing new places and having the ability to stop when you want and change your plan at the last moment is energizing and sometimes very rewarding.
- Do it now. Road trips with self-driving cars will not be the same. For us the journey truly was its own reward.
Disrupt thyself. You might be surprised and glad you did.