Travel, tranny, tail-gating & towing…

At M&M we work hard but we also like to have a good time and play hard when time and circumstances allow.  Even though we travel all the time one thing we love is a Road Trip – whether for photos, football, food or just to get away we love a good road trip!

This post is about a recent wild and crazy road trip.  How busy can a group of guys who enjoy life and photography be?  Mike G. returned from Indochina on 10/25 arriving LAX at 9:30 PM and then caught a red-eye flight 2 hours later to JFK to arrive at 7 AM on 10/26.  He was met at his gate at JFK by Mike M. who had flown in for Photo Plus as well.  Mike & Mike were met at JFK by Ken W. who had driven out to NYC from Utah.  This is where the fun begins!

10/27 – Photo Plus begins and we find ourselves helping out at the Black Rapid (BR) booth.  Massive crowds and prime opportunity to tell folks why we use Black Rapid straps exclusively.

We split our time at the BR booth and wandering the show while Mike M. and Ron Wyatt tag-teamed a travel photography presentation at the Unique Photo booth.  Highlight of the day was getting a hands-on demo with the NEW Canon 1D-X.  What a beast of an awesome machine.  We all want one.  Enough said!

10/28 – Second day of Photo Plus and more of the same.  BR booth was rocking, Unique Photo presentation was a full-house and Mike G. spent his time working on deals with 2 potential sponsors (stay tuned for announcements).

Are you still reading?  Good.  This is where the fun begins…this afternoon we went with Ron Wyatt to Six Flags (read earlier post).  Awesome time.

10/29 – Snow hits NYC and many flights are cancelled stranding Mike M. on his way out of the city.  He has to stay the night and leaves on 10/30 catching a 7 AM flight.

10/30 Mike M. gets his flight.  Mike G. and Ken head to Philadelphia because they have tickets to the Philly/Dallas Sunday Night Football game.  Pulling off the ramp at Broad Street Mike G. notices a funny sound coming from Ken’s car.  About that time Ken get’s a warning light that his transmission needs service ASAP.  After a few moments the car will not move.  Luckily we were able to pull out-of-the-way and park just across the intersection.

We start looking for an auto repair shop but do you think one is open on Sunday in Philly?  Didn’t find a single one.  4 hours before game time and we have no car, no chance of repair and are now looking for a tow to a local Volvo dealership – the closest one being in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Wow, we find a tow and Mike G. uses his Emerald Club membership with National Car Rental to secure a rental car BUT he has to go to the 30th Street Amtrak Station to pick up the car.  So, Ken heads with the tow truck to the Volvo dealership in Cherry HIll, NJ while Mike G. catches a taxi to National Car Rental in downtown Philly.  Mike G. picks up the rental car and uses the Garmin GPS that Ken had given him to navigate to the Volvo dealership in Cherry Hill.  Sadly, the GPS decides to take a break and not find a signal for nearly 15 minutes so Mike G. is not certain where he is going BUT he heads the direction he thinks he needs to go anyway.  Just as he is crossing the bridge the GPS kicks in and Mike G. is relieved to see that he is heading the right way.

Mike G. arrives at the Volvo dealership and he and Ken transfer all their gear into the rental – a 2011 Ford Explorer Limited.  Ken leaves his car keys and written instruction for the Volvo dealership and then they head back to the Sports Complex.  When they get close they decide to look for parking near the stadium.  Mike G. selects the Social Security Administration (SSA) parking lot just a few blocks down the street from Lincoln Financial Field.  Mistake!

The game sucks for Mike G. since he is a Cowboys fan.  Eagles crushed the Boys.  It was cold and windy to boot.  Mike G. and Ken begin the walk back to the car and upon arrival we see no car – no gear/luggage or anything we came with.  What?  Yes, the rental car was towed – even though there was NOTHING posted in the SSA lot.  Some Philly PD officer decided to ticket us for illegal parking AND then requested a tow.  So, here we are in Philly at midnight with no car, no change of clothes, none of our gear (thousands of dollars worth), and no way to get to Kansas City – 1200 miles away – where we have tickets to the Monday Night Football game between KC and San Diego.

A phone call later and some negotiation AND another taxi ride Mike G. and Ken arrive at the tow lot.  $225 payment and we have the rental car back so we can begin the drive to KC.  Kick-off time is 7:30 PM local.  We have 1200 miles to cover in 18 hours.  Pedal to the metal and we are off…a little irritated, little lighter on cash and not feeling the City of Brotherly Love!

Somewhere along the way Ken gets the call from the Volvo dealership that his tranny is toast.  No simple repair and Volvo will not put a rebuilt tranny in their cars.  Needless to say Ken makes arrangements to put the car to rest and move on.  The S80 served us well on many road trips.

We hit Columbia. MO around 3 PM after a full night and day or driving and were hungry so we found Buckingham’s BBQ and sat down for some chow.  Not bad.  Good sauces and excellent service to go along with the yummy eats.  Pit stop over we hit the road again and headed for Arrowhead Stadium for MNF (Monday Night Football).

The weather and game in KC was much better with KC prevailing in OT against SD.  We have been to a lot of stadiums around the NFL and Arrowhead ranks in our top 3 – 1) Lambeau, 2) Cowboys Stadium, and 3) Arrowhead.  The place was loud and intimate. But the fans were warm and welcoming – even to Mike G. sporting a Cowboys hat and Ken sporting a Packers hat.  Thank you KC for a great game and excellent game experience – for the most part.

Why do we say the most part?  Arrowhead security staff allowed Mike G. to bring his 5D Mark II and a 100-400 lens into the stadium – they checked it and said it was OK.  So Mike G. was shooting throughout the game and capturing some good images.  However, early in the third quarter a security officer came to our seats, pulled Mike G. out and made him walk from row 4 in section 103 (we had awesome seats close to the field) all the way to the concourse just to tell him to put his camera away because people on the field were complaining about the size of his lens.  He was also told if he did not comply the league would take his camera and memory cards.  Mike G. was told that if he wanted to shoot the game with professional gear he needed to contact the league or Chiefs and get field credentials.  Not sure why the NFL OR the photographers on the field would care if a guest is enjoying a game and taking pictures for personal/educational use.  Whatever.

But hey, we met some great folks in KC and were able to help some of them enjoy the game and provide some pics.  A couple we were sitting near was at the game because they were friends of one of the Chargers who had played at The University of Missouri, Andrew Gachkar #59.  These 2 shots are for you guys!  More to come later…

Overall, what a road trip.  This one held in store things that we never experienced before.  But, just like a photographer on assignment we had to remain flexible, improvise, negotiate, and overcome.  If we hadn’t been so tired we may have been angry but we chuckled about our lot and just enjoyed the ride, experiences & games.

Where are we now?  Off to our next adventure…follow us and stay in touch!

Cheers!

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