Days of not sleeping, long hours creating videos, working with teachers, the pressures of competition… All of it coming down to the final 12 hours of the Chevy Road Trip Challenge between the ten teams from across the United States and Canada heading towards Austin, TX to win the mystery prize from Chevrolet.
We woke up in Texarkana, AR and headed to breakfast in the hotel lobby, where a few other teams were also consuming their morning meal. Pleasantries were exchanged and small talk ensued as the players began to plan for the ensuing day. The previous evening had brought us the list of the day’s remaining challenges and an edict to be in Austin, TX by 6:30pm. The challenges to be completed were to make a gift for another team; fulfill a random act of kindness for a stranger, without using money; and create an adventure using OnStar.
We took off for Austin without any clear ideas in mind for the challenges. We were driving towards Dallas, TX when Rob suddenly saw a sign and pulled off the exit. He pointed out that the sign said Paris, and he wondered if there was an Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX as well. A quick call to OnStar and a change of course was made to see the largest Eiffel Tower in the United States, complete with cowboy hat. A bit of time was spent there creating our videos, taking some pictures and then it was back on the road to edit videos. Biana drove as I edited the Paris videos in the front seat, and Rob and Patrice crafted the other challenges from the back. In honor of this trip, Rob had cut his hair and donated it to Locks For Love, which was the perfect gift to a child that involved no money.
Quick editing and work throughout the car occupied us as we drove through Texas, but realized our car’s wifi was just too slow to get everything uploaded in time for the deadlines, so we detoured to Starbucks to make use of the high speed wifi to get our final video loaded. With time nigh and barely enough time to reach Austin by 6:30pm, we hit the road again. Unfortunately, we decided we really did not have enough time to properly do anything for another team, so our solution for the final challenge was to create a gift basket for whichever team wins.
As we reached Austin, and had a slight mix up to the location of which hotel we were supposed to go to, we finally reached Austin, TX and headed to the Chevy party for the conclusion of the Road Trip. Competition aside, we finally got to spend time carousing with the other teams, bonding over our communal trials and tribulations, and cementing friendships that had begun virtually and moved into the real world. As we drank and partied, we were told that the final deadline had been extended until noon the following day. A tad chagrinned that we had all rushed to finish when given additional time, those of us in attendance decided we would rather let our challenges stand as they were and begin our SXSW experience rather than fret over any more Road Trip creations.
Day 5 – The Results
As the teams dispersed across Austin, we mixed in and out of contact, trying to spend time with our new friends and begin interacting with the SXSW events. Many of us met up in the evening, where the word of the winners trickled out. Team Autofollow from Toronto had won, with Team CBus from Columbus taking home second place. The mystery prizes revealed as passes to SXSW 2012 with second place taking home aftermarket OnStar units. Now that the winners and prizes were revealed, we could all move on and enjoy the SXSW interactive conference.
There were many issues with the Chevy SXSW Road Trip, from timing issues to the scoring of the challenges themselves, but in the end, it doesn’t matter to me. Regardless of any issues that occurred with the Chevy SXSW Challenge, I got to see parts of America I had never seen before and met some amazing people. Not only did I meet people from all across North America, but I’m now proud to call them my friends as well. I hope that the end of SXSW is only the beginning of our relationships and that we continue to these amazing friendships that have begun thanks to Chevy. And much love to my teammates Rob, Patrice and Biana, who are great people and teammates, and if I am to spend four days in a car with anyone, I can’t imagine anyone else I would want to spend it with.