Exploring Napa Valley in the All New Nissan Leaf

Travel writing was once my passion.

Lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when one’s immune system attacks the body’s tissue and organs, took that joy away from me. Not because I am no longer able to enjoy traveling, but when you are on assignment, sometimes there is an itinerary that needs to be strictly followed. Which means an agenda that is jam-packed with activities from sunup to sundown. For me, someone that is plagued by this unfortunate illness, it gets tough to keep going with the rest of the group. Don’t get me wrong, it is a blessing to be able to travel the world to share my experiences with readers like you, but I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to experience an all-ladies one of a kind tailored event hosted by Nissan. Not only was I going to get to experience Napa Valley and its wineries, but I was also going to be able to drive the all-new Nissan Leaf which was featured in Ava Duvernay’s “A Wrinkle In Time!”

Exciting indeed but of course, I had my reservations. Would I be able to drive the distance? Would my hands be in pain from holding the steering wheel too long? What about my legs – would they cramp up from accelerating then braking through the hills? My biggest fear stood about 20-feet tall and was staring me in my face. If I let down my hosts by not being able to enjoy the full experience, then what? Not being able to drive the Nissan Leaf and enjoying sunny California weighed heavily on me. But I was determined to see it through.

Day of Arrival

The ride from the airport to my accommodations at the Yountville Resort & Spa in Yountville was a pleasant one. The one-hour drive allowed time to get to know a few of the ladies that would be joining along on the weekend trip. Upon arrival to the resort, we were welcomed by the Nissan team and escorted to our rooms to have the opportunity to freshen up before our evening welcome reception/dinner.

Can I just take the opportunity to tell you that if you ever decide to visit Napa Valley, this resort is the one to call home for a few days? The resort vibe is complete serenity! The vast rooms offer plush bedding, a seating area to enjoy your coffee (or in my case, wine) while snuggling up to the warmth of the fireplace in your resort supplied robe and slippers. Also, the bath amenities the resort offers for the best bath experience in the oversized spa tub

Our welcome reception was nothing short of amazing. To be surrounded by a diverse group of women with impressive resumes ranging from top bloggers in the US to documentary filmmakers, I was blessed to be in the presence of some fantastic women.

And then it happened, self-doubt crept in. These beautiful women with such impressive resumes, I started asking myself what I was doing there.

Day 2

After breakfast and a presentation by Nissan, I got to hear about and all of the amazing things the company is doing to empower young ladies in STEM. Once our hosts went over the details of the all-new Nissan Leaf, it was time to make our drive to our first vineyard of the day, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, named after the famed director of “The Godfather” trilogy. As I familiarized myself with the necessary features of the Leaf, that worry still loomed in the back of my mind. However, about 10 minutes into the drive, all that worry floated into thin air. I let the windows down and let the high-tech features of the Nissan Leaf assist me with my driving.

The Leaf’s innovative “e-pedal” technology changed everything I knew about driving. Being from Houston, I’m used to bumper-to-bumper traffic and repeating the practice of gas-brake-repeat. The e-pedal function uses the motor to slow the car down instead of having to use the brake. In other words, if you want to slow down, all you have to do is let go of the accelerator. Imagine that!

The Leaf’s heated seats soothed my body, which was in slight pain due to inflammation. Also, my hands tend to get a bit arthritic as well so do you know how excited I was to learn that the vehicle also has a heated steering wheel? A heated steering wheel! The heat radiating to my hands brought all the comfort in the world. It alleviated the pain and let me enjoy one of the most amazing drives I’ve had in a long time. And just like that, my driving time was done. We arrived at the beautiful Francis Ford Coppola Winery, took in the views and then headed off to our next destination, Peju Province Winery.

It was at this winery that we got to see first-hand the Nissan Leaf vehicles that were designed specifically for the “A Wrinkle in Time” in partnership with Disney. Yes, I touched the same spot on the custom-made Leaf that Oprah Winfrey laid her hands on. We may as well be BFFs now.

Accomplished Women. Food. Wine. Laughter. That is what my day consisted of. As if it couldn’t get any better, that evening we were treated to the premiere of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Without giving away any spoilers, this film was everything I didn’t know I needed. That night, I replayed the film in my mind and its message of girl power, getting rid of self-doubt, and learning how to accept a compliment without deflecting. So, if you still haven’t seen the film, please do your self a favor and do so.

Heading back to Houston, I reflected on my journey. How I’ve come to appreciate the world despite my illness and that for once, the universe decided to craft physical relaxation around what ails me. I no longer felt the doubt of being unable to complete a trip. No longer did I continuously think I had been arrested by my illness when I was supposed to be relaxing and taking in a new experience. Letting others assist me finally allowed me to let someone else take the wheel and let me be myself. Surrounded by these talented, gorgeous women also showed that I did have worth and purpose, that in my way, I’m a peer of theirs and accepting and receptive of all of the love given towards me.

A trip to Napa Valley was supposed to be the new Nissan Leaf. Instead, it became a trip of my self-discovery and finding power when doubt seemed always to cripple me. So thank you to the wonderful women of Nissan and thank you to the desiners and creators of the Nissan Leaf. Everytime I drive now, I dream of ways to try to beat down the oil and gas industry of this great state because I desperately need the 100% electric Nissan Leaf in my life!

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