I’ve had a ton of rental cars over the last few weeks but this week I’m cruising around in the Buick Envision AWD. The cross over is typical of most American cars made in 2018 that I’ve driven. Overall I like them as rental cars more than I like the imports like the Nissans or Toyotas. A difference that I find between the Buick Envision and my normal Chevy Envoy AWD is how much gas the Buick guzzles. It’s only Wednesday and I think I have to fill up the tank before I even head back to Detroit. I don’t think I’ve been pushing the car too hard but I will admit that the engine revs a little high and downshifts an awful lot when I’m just cruising on the highway trying to pass someone (slowly mind you).
Surprisingly, the Dodge Challenger that I had a couple weeks ago gets better mileage than the Envision and that had a high powered V6 in it if not a V8. I was able to last the entire week and return the car without having to fill up. I think the Buick is supposed to be the higher end model of the Chevy that I normally roll around in but truthfully I’d save the money and get the Chevy if I had to buy one of them. Fortunately, I’m not in the market for a new car. My Honda Accord is still working just fine and I still haven’t hit 15,000 miles after owning it for the last 4 years.
The issue I now have is that I’m going to have to fill up my rental car here at my client site, drive 2 hours all the way to Detroit and get charged again for gas by Hertz. At least now I know I’m not going to get the Buick Envision again if I see it in the lot. The great part about having Presidents Circle is that I can try out a ton of cars (mostly American) so that I know what car I would potentially consider buying for the family if the time ever arises.
Last weeks car was also quite disappointing too and also ate gas but not at the rate of the Envision. The Toyota Highlander AWD XLE had a really tiny trunk with the third row up. The most disappointing feature of all was that it didn’t have Apple CarPlay and it was as 2018 model too. I’m glad that I live in FL, I don’t have to buy any of the AWD vehicles. I think my wife’s XTerra was probably one of the better 4×4 cars I’ve driven even though it was weak. At least I could choose if it was going to be a 4×2 or a 4×4 to improve gas mileage rather than having it on all the time. I think the one on the Envision is adaptive but I’m too lazy to look it up. Besides, the next choice for a car is the wife’s, but it will be replacing my car most likely since I really want to keep the van. I just need to keep the van going for a little longer, maybe until 200K miles if possible. Just a little TLC should keep it moving so I can avoid these weak engined gas guzzling clunkers they’re coming out with.
I’ve been doing this consulting thing for quite a while and yesterday was hands down the worst travel day. I currently go to Michigan for work. That alone is a pain in the ass but the way home is worse.
My travel home is supposed to be:
- Drive 2 hours from client site to airport
- Take flight from Detroit to Charlotte
- Wait in Charlotte for an hour to catch connecting flight
- Drive 30 minutes home
This week was a little different:
- Drove 2 hours from client site to airport
- Flight delayed 30 minutes, ate dinner at airport (a personal travel sin, I try not to eat before I fly)
- Get upgrade on flight to Charlotte (it’s a CRJ 900 so the plane is tiny)
- Start flying to Charlotte as usual, but on approach to land we encountered a rain storm
- Plane has wheels down and is on final approach (I swear we are under 500 feet), suddenly plane starts to ascend again and head north (wtf moment)
- Captain says there is a ground stop in Charlotte and we need to pick up fuel in Wilmington DE (shit that sucks)
- Refuel twice because the tower tells the captain we have to approach Charlotte from the west which delays us about an hour
- Check the connecting flight and it’s delayed half an hour but will leave without me
- Call American and ask for rebooking but I’m told I have to do it at the airport (another wtf moment)
- Finally make it to Charlotte but my Miami flight is gone, rebooked myself on a Fort Lauderdale flight (I didn’t want to fly home at 2PM)
- Call some hotels but everything is booked so for the first time in my life I’m sleeping in an airport terminal (I didn’t really sleep, more like cat naps over a 5 hour period)
- Fly to FLL (2 hours) and Uber it to my appointment that I couldn’t miss (30 minutes)
- Take a second Uber all the way to Miami to get my car (30 minutes)
- Drive all the way home while listening to a conference call (30 minutes)
And that’s how my Thursday and Friday has gone so far. I’m kind of a zombie but I can function to a certain degree. I’ll definitely go to bed early to catch up. I’ll be trying the Chicago route next week, let’s see if that’s better than flying to Charlotte. What I really need is for them to bring back the direct flight on Thursday evenings. I refuse to stay an extra night and fly home Friday morning.
I received a DJI Spark for my birthday this summer and it’s so fun to fly. It’s really small and it works with my iPhone but my wife got me the controller that makes it so much easier to fly. The Spark matches the color of my motorcycle which is pretty awesome.
I’ve only been flying the Spark near my house but there is enough open space that I won’t hit anyone. The pictures in this post were taken with the Spark while I was flying at around 200 feet up. I haven’t gone all crazy with it, the battery only lasts 10 minutes but it’s a pretty satisfying flight. The feature that I haven’t tried using is the hand gestures. Apparently you can have the Spark follow you, take pictures, and take off from your hand. There isn’t enough room behind my house to try it but when I get to a big park I’ll give it a go there.
The most useful accessory has been the cable that links my iPhone to the remote. It lets me fly the Spark farther than trying to use just the WiFi and makes connecting to the drone way faster. The biggest gripe I have is trying to connect to the Spark via WiFi. It doesn’t seem to work and I can’t get the navigation updates which I need to fly it safely. I’ve used Sport mode a couple of times but it really drains the battery quickly and cuts down on my flight time. I’ve also tried to make sure I can always see the drone while flying. I can go pretty far with it but it’s more for safety and I don’t want to lose it.
I want to take the drone with me to Colorado this spring and take some mountain pictures and some video. I think a factor that will make it a little risky is the wind since I’ll be in the mountains. I’ve flown the drone in decently gusty wind in FL but I was nervous about hitting a tree but the Spark is really stable and compensates well. I need to get a good carrying case and some extra batteries so I can fly it for a bit longer and to practice but this is definitely an awesome gift.