While I obviously loved the entire Toyota Grand Slam Road Trip across Florida last week, I have to say that my final day of the tour stood out as my favorite.
For me, there was much intrigue surrounding the 2018 Toyota C-HR; a new vehicle which I had yet to see in person until last week at the event.
On the first day when we were presented with the vehicles, I was immediately drawn to the aqua (radiant green) colored SUV with the white top. As I began walking around it, taking pictures, I realized this was Toyota’s new SUV.
The C-HR, which stands for “compact high rider” (but is also understandably identified as a “cross hatch run”), ultimately became known to me as the “High Roller”. At least, that’s the name several of us automotive writers referred to it as.
As I am regularly loaned vehicles here on my blog throughout the year, I especially look forward to being able to travel in the C-HR with my family. I can already imagine how cool my 7 year-old son will think it is.
Day 3 started off great with the “choose your Toyota and your driving partner for the day” part, where I was instantly invited by Chris Chin to team up with him in the maroon (ruby flare) C-HR. Toyota had provided two C-HRs to help ensure each of us writers had a chance to spend at least half of the day driving one.
Something I learned about myself during the Toyota Grand Slam event was just what a niche my blog is: I am a daddy blogger who happens to write about cars a lot, as my family takes a lot of road trips. Therefore, when I feature new vehicles on my blog, I focus a lot on how much backseat space there is with two child car seats; and also, how much 3rd row seat space there is if an adult sits back there.
In other words, I write about being a parent first and foremost, and therefore, about cars on the side. In contrast, my driving partner Chris Chin (along all the other guys on the trip) are true automotive writers. That’s their main focus.
So as we were driving across the more uninhabited parts of Florida, and we made our way from Cape Coral to Port St. Lucie to see the Yankees play the Mets, he was talking about all kinds of technical stuff that I could barely follow him on; meanwhile, I was just thinking:
“This sure is fun. I like being in the C-HR. I can’t wait for my family to ride in it with me. I wonder where we’ll drive in it? Maybe North Carolina like when we drove the Sienna last fall? Or to Kentucky when we drove the 4Runner last spring?”
My thoughts were interrupted when Chris and I couldn’t help but notice that we were driving down a road surrounded by orange groves on both sides of it. With both of us being focusing heavily on photography in our writing, we decided it would be a sin not to pull over the C-HR for a perfect photo op.
We weren’t breaking any rules. This was a public road with no “private property” or “no trespassing” signs anywhere; no fences or gates.
And we were right: It made for some really cool pictures of the C-HR, in the midst of the orange grove. I particularly focused on some shots of the wheels in the sandy dirt. I felt those pictures really helped match the fun character of the C-HR.
But then, after Chris and I had captured all the shots we needed, we loaded back in the C-HR to continue on our way back on the route. He started the ignition and pushed the gas pedal, but all we heard or felt were the tires spinning.
It took me back to my childhood in the 1980s, when cartoons and movies were constantly warning and preparing me for the inevitable danger of quicksand as an adult.
Chris continued revving the engine and attempting to maneuver us out of the sand and back on the dirt road. It helped that he is truly a professional driver who tests out cars’ power for a living.
Just as I was thinking how I probably needed to get out of the vehicle and help push, the tires made their way onto the dirt road again; as there was barely a distinction between the sand on the dirt in the first place.
It wasn’t much longer until we made our way to Lake Placid, where we stopped for lunch at the Good News Juice and Smoothie Cafe; which conveniently for me on the week of my 5th anniversary of being a vegan, happened to be a vegan-friendly cafe.
Once we arrived in Port St. Lucie, I was definitely in the mood to watch a baseball game. The fact that it happened to be the Yankees playing the Mets made things that much more exciting. It was nothing short of hilarious to hear the zany banter between opposing fans during the entire game.
Plus, it was nice that we had such good seats, right behind the action, and out of the sun. By this 3rd game, I had realized how much I truly enjoy watching baseball. It’s a different mode of thinking; so much different than basketball or football or hockey.
It had been a wonderful action-packed week, but it was time for everything to come to a close. That night all of us guys had a classy Mediterranean feast at Temple Orange, the restaurant there at the Eau Palm Beach Resort in Manalapan where we were staying the final night.
Our server couldn’t help but notice our Toyota name tags, and so he decided to incorporate the Toyota logo into our dessert play. That was so cool.
After a perfect day though, I knew I needed to head back to my room, since I had to leave the hotel at 5:00 AM to catch my flight.
My hotel room was amazing. My balcony faced the ocean. I would love to go back there some day with my wife.
As if I needed to point out the obvious, it was honor to be asked to join the Toyota Grand Slam road trip. Selfishly, it makes me feel good to know that my blog’s SEO is healthy enough to qualify as a social media influencer, to this degree.
I had so much fun. I met great people. And I got to experience an exciting week of adventure and entertainment.
So yeah, my calendar is already marked for next year!
To read all 3 parts of My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Florida Road Trip series, just click on the link below for the ones you haven’t read yet: