My family goes on a lot of road trips. A lot. I swear, on these trips, the bald spot on the top of my head grows twice as big and my hair turns grayer. But I do love road trips, even with the fighting in the back seat, the frequent bathroom breaks, and nonstop chatter about Minecraft, Fortnite, or whatever the next big time-suck is that captures my kids’ attention.
All of my road trips involve family vacations. There is one road trip that I have desperately wanted to take, but it didn’t lend itself to a family road trip. I have wanted to visit all of the distilleries along the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. I actually visited the Maker’s Mark Distillery after veering off course from a Civil Rights Road Trip with the kids a few years ago, and while the oldest one found it interesting, I wanted to dive deeper into the whiskey-making process. And I also wanted to taste a bit more bourbon. Of course, in order to do that, I would need to share driving duties with someone. So when I decided to make this dream a reality, I asked my brother-in-law Joshua to come along and photograph the trip. He was as excited about the trip as I was. He is a lover of all things spirits and I am a lover of all things bourbon. As the head bartender at the Royalton Hotel, and Shape Magazine’s Sexiest Bartender (I love bringing that up), he has become an expert on mixology. In contrast, I am not an expert. I know what I like to drink and it starts with “bourb” and ends with “on”. That is the extent of my expertise.
Let’s talk about my brother-in-law. We didn’t have a say in becoming family. When I asked his sister to marry me, I gave little thought to the family that would accompany her. I was in love and she was at the top of my mind. It wasn’t long before I realized what I had gotten myself into. Her family meals were one long debate and almost every conversation was loud and passionate, if loving — much different than what I was used to. But I found in my brothers-in-law people who appreciated mischief as much as I did. Guys who loved a good laugh, even at our own expense. Having brothers-in-law like that made it an easy transition into the family.
Now, almost 17 years later, I look at my brothers-in-law not as guys I was forced to accept as family, but as actual brothers. Maybe even more. We are also close friends. So, when I wanted to put together a trip to the Bourbon Trail, there wasn’t another person who I would rather have had along for the ride.
Now in order to have an epic road trip, you need an epic car. And I couldn’t take the family car, because well, just because I’m leaving the house for a week doesn’t mean things stop moving. Plus, the three car seats in the back would have really killed the vibe we were going for. We looked over our options and one car stood out above all the rest. The Kia Stinger. If you’re not familiar with the Kia Stinger GT, it’s Kia’s newest addition to its line of great cars. The Stinger GT is Kia’s answer to the American Sports Car. And it is tremendous. After driving the Kia Stinger around for a week, I can honestly say it is the most fun car I have ever driven. And with a 3.3L Twin Turbo V6 engine, 365 horsepower at 6,000 RPM, 8-speed automatic transmission, and 15 thumping speakers, how could it not be? Also, the seats can be adjusted to be firm or soft and are equipped with cooling or heating technology. And I can’t leave out my favorite part, the directions and speed limit appear on the window, so you never have to look down. Which came in extra handy since Joshua and I both have a terrible sense of direction. I get asked all the time what my favorite part of the trip was, and every time I answer, “Driving the Stinger.”
The love for the car was immediate. We pulled out of New York City at 5:30 in the morning and were wide awake, not because of the coffee or adrenaline of what lay ahead of us, but because the car was awesome to drive. I started out driving the first leg of the trip and in no time, we were singing loudly to tunes and coming up with hilarious video concepts we never got around to shooting. All before sunrise.
Since drinking and driving is never okay, we took turns being the designated driver; whomever was driving spit out the samples after tasting. This would shock no one who has ever spent time with Joshua and me, but as we toured the distilleries, we realized that we could taste more bourbon if we shared. In many distilleries, you are allowed 3 or 4 tastings, but there are more options than that. I’ll also admit that on occasion we ate off one another’s plates at dinner.
Our close bond may not be ordinary, but it has made life better for my family. It is great to have someone like Joshua for my kids to look up to and have around. I’m sure there will be a time when one of my kids needs advice and will not want to get it from a parent. Joshua will likely be that go-to-guy. He’s watched my kids grow up and has been an integral part of our family’s life. He’s also been a part of mine. Nobody understands the struggle I have with my career and family as much as he does. After all, I’m married to his sister.
Check back soon to read about our road trip, a Bourbon Trail itinerary, more about the Kia Stinger, and my thoughts on why companies should work with Influencers. All coming soon.
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Disclaimer: Kia supplied the Stinger, but we supplied the story.
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