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Rediscovering the Thrill of Driving

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This adventure was hosted by Mazda #DrivingMatters Click here to check out our friends stories of our adventures …

Driving was my first love. From the moment I passed my driver’s test and took to the road alone, it felt as if the entire world was opened up to me. I didn’t need a destination; driving was the destination. A trip to the store for a gallon of milk would turn into a 2-hour adventure.

At some point, as most things do, that love started to fade. The change was gradual and unnoticeable. Driving became a chore. Ferrying the kids around to their ever increasing number of events, driving my wife to the airport. Every trip came with a sense of loathing.

That really hit home this year. When my wife and kids asked if we could jump in the car and go to Tennessee for a few days, all I could think of was there was no way I was going to sit in a car for 8 hours. What would the younger me think of this stodgy old man that I had become?

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A few weeks ago, Mazda USA invited me to join them for a few days camping in Joshua Tree National Park and to drive a few of their new line-up around the California desert. To be perfectly honest, the camping appealed to me more than the driving.

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Most of my companions were seasoned travel bloggers who have been on many of these adventures, As this was my first, I asked during breakfast if anyone would mind if I took off alone for the first day. I tend to be impetuous and prone to not following maps. I grabbed the keys to a Mazda CX-5 and headed out. Although the CX-5 is a smaller SUV, I was quite comfortable given I am 6’5″.

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Our hosts provided with maps that would take us by a few roadside attractions. After visiting the first two, I programmed the GPS to take me to the Route 66 museum. Turns out, the museum was closed. It’s only open on the weekend.

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Now I had a dilemma. I still had quite a few hours of daylight and quite a long distance to the next attraction. Then I remembered a sign a few miles back to Big Bear, a mountain lake and resort town. Being impulsive, I turned around and headed back to Route 18.

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The drive up the mountain was fun, but I still drove it at my usual casual pace. In less than 30 minutes I had ascended over 4,000 feet, and the desert gave way to mountains, trees, and snow. After spending a couple of hours exploring Big Bear, it was time to head back down.

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About five minutes into the drive down, something happened. I popped the transmission into manual and tore down the mountain. I was laughing and literally said “Wheeeeee!!” as I drove. Picture this, a man in his mid-fifties, driving down a mountain; laughing and screaming like a kid on a roller coaster. This was not merely transportation in getting from point A to point B. This was a man and a car becoming one and it was thrilling.

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Yes, the camping was excellent. Joshua Tree is one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen. Yes, the people I met were amazing, and I hope friends for life, please click the link at the top of this article to read their stories. But I will forever be in Mazda’s debt for reminding me that driving does matter.

  • We’re Off To Joshua Tree!

    We’re off to Joshua Tree! The good folks at Mazda USA are sponsoring taking us campi…
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