How do you ferry six friends with a BAC of "bourbon" around Nashville for a four day bachelor party extravaganza? Are you stumped? I was too. So I asked Nissan and they suggested the NV 3500.
The whole gang.
(Full disclosure: Nissan wanted me to drive my friends around in the NV 3500 so badly that they gave it to me with no questions asked. Well almost no questions asked… They did ask me if I knew that driving while intoxicated was a serious legal no-no. I assured them that I would only drive while hungover.)
This is my friend, Gabe. He's getting married to the lovely young woman he has his arms wrapped around in the above photo. Her name is Robyn. Did I mention she's lovely? Because she is. His last wish as a single man was to go eat some hot chicken and see some live music in the great city of Nashville. So off we went.
"Dude, I think that's it," Gabe says to me as we walk towards the valet at BNA.
"Huh? Where?" I ask, stupidly.
"Over there, that massive… thing."
As the valet pulls up, I am filled with panic. How am I going to drive this monstrosity of a motor vehicle in a strange city? Worse, how am I going to drive this behemoth in a strange city with six dudes in various states of inebriation blocking my view out of the rear windows? Gabe sees the fear in my eyes and doubles over with laughter. "Enjoy, bro!" Gabe might not make it home alive.
Climbing in, I'm shocked. This is the nicest commercial van I've ever been in. (Disclosure: I do not spend a lot of time in commercial vans) The seats are leather for fucks sake. All of them. To my utter joy, there's a backup camera and sensors at all four corners to warn me of smaller, weaker objects around me. There are enough cup holders to accommodate the hydration needs of an entire soccer team. And perhaps most importantly, given my non-existent navigational skills, there's a nav unit.
For obvious reasons — the over-consumption of alcohol — I was lucky enough not to spend the whole four days were were in Tennessee behind the wheel of the Nissan. But here's what I did learn about it, mostly while driving the four hour round trip to Jack Daniel's and George Dickel's distilleries.
Jack Daniels is surprisingly pretty for a working distillery.
The NV 3500 drives exactly like a Ford Mustang. Which is to say, it drives like a particularly well-behaved massive truck. Though not as quick as a Mustang, I was told at several points by various people to "slow the fuck down" so I can assure you that both acceleration and top end speed aren't an issue.
Unsurprisingly, the ride is also greatly improved with the addition of weight in the form of drunk people over the rear axle. The resort we were staying in forced us to drive over 5 speed bumps each time we entered or exited. The first few times I crept over them I worried that I would break my spine. Once more people piled in the back, my spine was fine. I didn't ask them what they thought of the ride. Frankly, I didn't care. But from the amount of time they spent semi-conscious in the back seats, I'd say it's pretty good.
George A. Dickel is as small and quirky as Jack Daniel's is large and efficient.
On the highway on our way to Lynchburg, the NV 3500 was a relative joy. Gabe hooked up his iPhone to the stereo and dj'd, the nav bossed me around when I took a wrong turn and Todd yelled at us. Luckily, the rearmost seat is so far away and Todd so pedantic that I found it relatively easy to just tune him out.
After four days, our list of activities in the NV 3500 was impressive. Our gas mileage, not so much. Seriously, the Monroney sticker just says "N/A" where a MPG number should be. Here's what we did:
Jack Daniels uses sugar maple to create its own charcoal. They even use their own whiskey as an accelerant.
Visited Jack Daniel's distillery.
Visited George A. Dickel's distillery.
We went go-karting.
Ever the tinkerer, Colin messed with the rev limiter on his go-kart and dusted us all.
We played mini golf.
We, uh, saw this store.
We paid the band at a honky tonk $20 to make the bachelor sing on stage. The bachelor paid the band the same amount to not be forced to sing on stage. We had a few drinks. The bachelor paid the band at a honky tonk to sing "Sweet Caroline" in front of everyone.
The bachelor was politely removed from said bar mostly because he forgot all the words to "Sweet Caroline."
Ariel proved himself to be the best brother-in-law-to-be of all time after the bachelor got us politely removed from the honky tonk.
We thought we were going to a Rascal Flatts concert and instead showed up drunk at intermission at the Grand Ole Opry where we quite confused by the fact that it was going out live on AM radio.
Colin and I spent an hour of our Saturday night touring the Peacemaker Bus and probing its mechanical innards. We were invited to go help build another one somewhere in rural Tennessee. Though we greatly admired the custom coachwork, we politely declined.
We tried to steal a Canadian couple's limousine outside the Opry and instead of being angry, they gave us a ride downtown and took a prom photo with all of us.
Todd found a traffic cone and yelled at people with it.
Todd fell asleep in his traffic cone.
Noah felt ashamed after ordering $75 worth of McDonald's.
Johnny promised us his hidden talent was "blowing shit up" and proved himself right by putting on a shotgunning performance that only Colin could match.
We ate at Waffle House three times and each time the NV 3500 was the biggest thing in the parking lot.
After four days of bourbon and mischief, we were exhausted, bloated and ready to head home. Each one of us had failed in some way during the trip. But the Nissan never did.
Whatever happened to the happy couple you may ask? They were married this past weekend in the Catskills.
Oh, and we made the groom sing "Sweet Caroline" again. Twice. He still doesn't know the words.