To travel for work again. That was a goal fulfilled.
Consider what I have gone through since the beginning of May. Or, as I discovered through this site, a couple of months before then. One would expect to recover from expending kidney stones in a couple of weeks. But, I am discovering that the complications from that event extended this by well over a month because my immune system decided to go haywire letting things go beyond my control.
As I mentioned before, I had to sacrifice two big media opportunities over the past couple of months. The Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally would have involved 10-plus hours of driving both ways, plus additional drives on the two days at Road America. My body was not in the right condition to do all of that.
Then, there was a road trip story that would have taken me to Omaha for another publication I write for. I was still reeling from several complications, including some physical weakness caused by a variation in blood pressure. Nonetheless, I ended up postponing the story and the trip, rescheduling it for next month.
I saw some improvement through the end of June. It was a good sign, but I was royally upset that I had to miss another great opportunity because of my health. I was beyond determined to not let another opportunity slip by again.
It was time to test myself, my health, and the improvements that occurred because I sacrificed so much in my career not to deliver the work you have followed for so long.
That opportunity came in the form of a regional drive by Hyundai to introduce their new 2020 Palisade mid-sized three-row SUV to the MAMA membership. Prior to this event, I interacted with my regional Hyundai communications representative about the video Josh Dvorak of FlecsMedia made for V&R at the Chicago Auto Show of this same vehicle. That topic of this drive came up and I figured I would go.
The invitation was formally accepted last month. It became a rallying point to show that I am healthy enough to travel and participate in this arena again.
That came on Wednesday, July 10. I was nervous, but I was excited. Sleep is never my friend when it comes to doing things like this. I woke up knowing that I prepaid my off-airport parking spot near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I was not ready for the lines going through Transportation Security Administration's security stations. My mind was on how I would manage up in the air and once I'm on the ground in Chicago.
One thing I have to say about TSA is that they do their job. But, how in the heck did their screening machine detect something on my butt? I took out all of my items from my pants. And…sorry, I could say something here, but I know I have a diverse audience. My apologies…
My flight to Midway Airport was on a Delta Connection Bombardier CRJ-700. I paid for an upgrade to Comfort Plus, which was to give me some more legroom. My exact seat – 4B – was a compromise situation, which there was no bulkhead separating First Class from the rest of us and that the aisle had a dogleg since the seats went from 2-1 to 2-2. I did a lot of shoulder and leg maneuvers during the flight. Not to mention my passengers – they weren't screaming children or anything. Just dudes I got not-so-cool vibes from.
I was feeling good, regardless of the TSA and my fellow passengers on the MSP to MDW flight. I was walking fine. I followed the instructions to retrieve my self-driving Lyft/Uber…let me explain this one.
Normally, I would either get a ride to the hotel or to the venue. I had budgeted for an app-based ride-hailing service to take me from and to the airport. Instead, Hyundai had a 2019 Ioniq PHEV Limited waiting for me at an off-airport parking lot. Instead of relaxing to the hotel in Oakbrook Terrace, I drove across into the Western Burbs. Not that it was a bad thing…
I arrived at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook, across from Oakbrook Center. It was an older suburban hotel, which was fine for the night. They had some teething issues, such as computer issues at the front desk. When I checked out the next morning, the hotel had those issues resolved. A good thing in my book.
My energy was up after I checked in to the hotel. I wanted to do some shopping. I ventured out to both Oakbrook Center and Yorktown Center in nearby Lombard, only to find that the Chicagoland area was experiencing the hottest day so far this summer. The thermometer hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I was not prepared for being outside in that heat, which gave me a few microseconds of concern for my health.
As I was wrapping up my excursion in the Western Burbs, I ran into a Peri-Peri chicken place in Villa Park. If you follow me on social media, you know I have a penchant for Nando's, the South African-based restaurant chain that offers awesome Mozambican-Portuguese chicken. This place, called Porto, had a different vibe. It was good enough for a much-needed culinary respite from the usual food adventures back in the Twin Cities.
A decent night's sleep at the Marriott yielded an even better day. The event I was looking forward to began with reconnections with colleagues and Hyundai's communications team at their regional sales office – just down the street from our hotel.
This was a poignant moment, as I have not seen a lot of my colleagues since February or even longer. Some of them knew what I went through health-wise and have been supportive of the situation I went through these past two months. The overall feeling was the sense that I have returned into the MAMA membership with my place reserved at the table again.
Our regional drive event destination was Starved Rock State Park near Ottawa, Illinois. We took our fleet of 2020 Palisades on some Interstates and side roads en route to this amazing location along the Illinois River. Lunch was at the Lodge, which was part of the initial build-out of the park during the 1930s.
On the drive back, I was able to catch up with my colleague Robby DeGraff of Auto Pacific and Hooniverse (among other ventures – past and present – too numerous to recall), as we meandered our way from the park onto the Interstate and Tollway system back to Oakbrook Terrace. There was a lot of information exchange and ideas that were sparked inside of our 2020 Palisade Limited.
Then, that was it. I drove the Ioniq back to Midway Airport for my flight home. Another Delta CRJ-700 to fly back to MSP. Another packed flight, this time in Main Cabin, and another Hyundai to drive…home.
This business trip was full of good times, great colleagues/friends, and improved health, stamina, and endurance. What better medicine can one take for this to happen?
I should talk about the 2020 Palisade, right? Well, it's really good. The power from the 3.8-liter V6 is superb, as are the drive modes connected to the 8-speed automatic and the HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. The space is very good for three rows, with excellent access for children (and some adults) in the far back. The Limited offers more technology, luxury, quality, and quiet than the SEL (and, yes, we drove both versions). It has to be said that for $47,495, the Palisade Limited is worth considering. Rather, just buy it!
I will be discussing more on the 2020 Hyundai Palisade (and the 2019 Ioniq PHEV and that other Hyundai on the home side of the trip) in the other outlets I wrote for soon.
In all, I needed this. Not just driving a vehicle that should be available at showrooms right now. It is about getting back into the swing of travel again. It is about testing my health and ensuring that I am healing and headed towards the right trajectory. I felt really good at every stop along the way.
Maybe I am overly optimistic, but I know what I have to do. Stay in control of my health so I do not get sidelined for some complication or another bout of some health issue or another. Besides, you want to continue reading my stuff, follow my social media, and support what I do for the long run – right?
That is truly all that matters right now.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicles, travel, and logistics provided by Hyundai Motor America
All Photos by Randy Stern