I’ve worked in both female dominated fields (education, travel) and male dominated fields (software, technology) and I have a clear preference. THE DUDES WIN.
Yep. Men are easier to work with and easier to work for. They tell it like it us and don’t really like to deal with emotion from women. On one hand, that can make them total jerks. On the other hand, it can teach you to get tough in the workplace. When working in those male-dominated fields, those few females that worked together had one rule: Never let them see you cry.
Here I am a decade later working in this world I’m in (I’m still not sure what to call it – blogging? writing? social media?) and I find that I’m once again surrounded primarily by women. Even though I’m an independent contractor, I still work for and with a lot of women and it’s not always easy. Women can be catty, gossipy, and bitchy.
But they can also be wonderfully supportive and women in automotive media are a prime example.
For the past few years, I’ve been invited to attend the Heels & Wheels Event which is held every two years, exclusively for women in automotive media. Since this is my third event, it’s more like a reunion with really cool cars and really good friends.
So if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend an automotive event, especially with awesome women, take a look behind the scenes at the latest Heels & Wheels Event. It’s not all glamorous but it’s (mostly) all fun.
The Three Day Itinerary
For most automotive trips, you’ve got three days. One day out, one day to drive, and one day back. It’s exhausting. You can plan on an early morning to get out to the west coast and a late night to get back to the east coast. Being tired and exhausted from travel is just part of the deal.
We’re picked up at the airport and on the way to the hotel, I’m always gawking and taking in my surroundings. And I’m almost immediately reminded of how strong the car culture is in LA. You’ll find Lamborghinis (this guy seriously drove down the street while we were having lunch) and Teslas but you’ll also see iconic cars. I was kind of tickled by this mint condition Datsun pick up truck.
We arrive in Santa Monica at our hotel and I’m immediately greeted by two pretty amazing things.
- This fantastic fig tree. It’s supposedly the oldest one in southern California at 140 years old. It’s huge. HUGE. YUGE, even.
- A celebrity sighting! As soon as I got out, someone walked by me that definitely looked famous. I asked the hotel staff and they informed me that they don’t even pay attention to celebrities anymore because they see them all the time. But I think I saw Brooke Burke.
Once I got over the tree and the celebrity, I checked into my room at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel. Not only was the bed so comfortable and the view amazing, but the food they served was delicious at every meal.
After checking in, it was time to reunite with my friends Kristin and Dawn. With the help of the concierge, we headed up to the retail district, about a block from the hotel to find a good place for lunch. We were able to walk through a farmer’s market and a very colorful (in more ways than one) block.
At this point, I hadn’t had breakfast (except the airline cookie) and hadn’t had lunch. And it was 1:30 pm Pacific time. That means it was 4:30 pm my time and this girl was HANGRY. When Kristin and Dawn suggested a salad place for lunch, I tried to seem excited. I was really hoping for anything OTHER than a light healthy salad.
But this is California and salads are different here. And this kale, tofu, beet, sweet potato, mushroom salad bowl was so delicious, I finished every last bit and felt good about my lunch. I think I could actually be healthy if I lived in California.
Also, sorry Kristin and Dawn if I was crabby!
After I had been properly fueled, I ventured off on my own with a bit more free time and thought that since I was so close to the ocean, I might as well check it out. To get there, you have to walk down many many steps and cross the Pacific Coast Highway.
This concrete walkway was built in 1935 so I stepped gingerly across the highway and safely made it to the ocean.
But because I was solo, there wasn’t an easy way to get a picture of myself at the beach unless I wanted to do a selfie. At my age, I don’t really need that many close-ups! So I propped my phone on a bench, posed for the camera amidst a few weird stares, and got proof that I was at the Pacific!
On to the EVENT!
This is where we got to meet new friends and old. We hugged and talked. We traded war stories. Reminisced about crazy trips and conferences and drives that we shared together. This is really the best part of this event!
We had a few drinks and enjoyed some wine and listened Christine Overstreet, the event founder, kickoff the program. She not only shared everything we needed to know about the driving event the next day but she also shared one of her favorite things with us – a “Minimergency Kit” from Pinch Provisions. It literally contained any emergency item you could need. And I needed some!
I don’t have many pictures from the evening though. Because we were too busy with actual human interaction. What isn’t pictured is me putting my phone away, putting my bathing suit on, and heading to the hot tub. Several of us met there each night to talk. No pictures or tweets or Instagram or anything. Just connecting with real people.
A hot tub and a comfortable bed is the perfect way to end a long travel day because we were up bright and early the next day for our drive day. We started with a presentation from Hagerty who not only insures classic cars but has a cool program called DriveShare that allows you to rent classic cars.
Then we went out to tour all of the vehicles that were available to drive. It’s literally like being a kid in a candy store. It you want to see all of the ridiculously awesome vehicles we had to drive, check out my driving recap from the event.
That’s when I grabbed Amelia, the yin to my yang. Or maybe just the yang to my yang. When we’re driving partners, magic happens and we have the video to prove it.
We drove all day. Met for dinner and drinks, traded stories from the day (they included a naked man walking down the PCH), hit the hot tub again, and got up the next day to do it all again. But we had an expiration date because we were all flying out that day.
As we were out driving around, we were typically the subject of many stares. Because we were women and because we were driving some pretty amazing cars. But when we weren’t the subject of attention, we were looking at what was around us and we spotted this BMW incognito. Maybe an X1?
We stopped for one grand photo and a reminder of how cars and women not only go together but go together well.