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October 2006 Business Travel - Limited Articulation

Posted in Features on October 1, 2006
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As you read this, the Labor Day weekend is upon us, traditionally marking the end of the summer holiday season when folks head back to work, or back to school, or otherwise return to their everyday routines after a season of recreation. For us, though, September barely marks the halfway point of a hectic half-year of travel that starts each spring at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab and doesn't wind down until the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in November.

Here's one FW editor's work schedule for a typical two-month summer period: Out of the office for a week of trail carnage at Top Truck Challenge in Hollister, then back in the office for a week before hopping a plane for Africa to trail-test some new Jeeps. Gone six days, then back in the office for six days before heading to Central America to cover a four-day Land Rover event. Then it's back in the office for a week before leaving to cover a three-day Jeep seminar in Philadelphia. Back to the office for four days, then off to Oregon for a three-day Ford ride-and-drive. Back in the office for 10 whole days (woo-hoo!) before hopping a plane to Indianapolis to spend a week at Real Truck Club Challenge in Attica. Total miles: Somewhere around 30 grand, by our reckoning. Number of antacids consumed: A couple dozen, give or take. Jet lag: Priceless ... and darn near constant.

Living out of a suitcase, as anyone who's ever done it knows, can be a sleepless grind of long lines at airports, lumpy hotel beds, missed wake-up calls, and often cold and inedible food. Our kids seem to have grown 6 inches every time we see them again, and our wives or girlfriends start asking, "Who is this stranger?" every time we return from a lengthy absence. Even our dog looks at us quizzically when we offer up a game of fetch. The lawn always seems to need mowing, the bills are always stacked like cordwood on our desks, and our vehicle projects never seem to get finished. We're always playing catch-up to make up for lost time.

On the other hand, being on the road so much helps to break up the monotony of the work week-we seldom spend more than a few days at a time chained to our office PCs, which is a big attraction for guys like us who like to get off the beaten path whenever we can. Travel also affords a lot of spontaneous surprises, and not a few laughs-like waking up one night to find a tree frog in your bed, or a two-ton hippo peering into your tent. And eventually, there comes that sublime and transcendent moment-whether we're trail-riding with friends on a sunny day in Pritchett Canyon, or hobnobbing with corporate bigwigs in Detroit, or 'wheeling some brand-new Wrangler JKs deep in the African bush, surrounded by ancient wildlife amidst primeval forest land-when we realize that we're actually getting paid to do this ... and then we remind ourselves that we really do have some of the greatest jobs around. It's an electrifying feeling, and we savor it as long as we can, even after we've returned to the usual office drudgery weeks later.

Speaking of electrifying experiences, this month's issue covers one of the most terrifying-to-many-but frankly, one of the easiest-to-work-with-systems in your truck: The electrical system. That morass of wiring under your hood may seem intimidating, but the basic principles of it are pretty easy to grasp, and the methods to improve it are mostly simple and straightforward. For now, though, we've got more travel plans to make-the new-for-'07 SUVs are showing up on our doorstep, our Four Wheeler of Year test is only three weeks away, and we still have no idea where we're going this year. Stay tuned-this oughta be an interesting road trip.
-Douglas McColloch

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