Posts tagged Driving
Fall Color Tour
The best part of fall is the beautiful colors as the leaves change. Our favorite way to see these changes is by going for a cruise in a convertible. Get one last rental in before the end of the MHCC season and go for a drive through Minnesota. Check out the DNR’s fall color finder to discover the best time and place to view gorgeous fall foliage!
If you need a route to take your freshly rented MHCC convertible, check out this list of roads that are “pure bliss in the fall” or these so called “rainbow routes“. Although it’s still early in the season for southern Minnesota, the northern parts of the state are nearly at 100% color change! Get out and see the best fall has to offer, and don’t forget the pumpkin spice!
While being a photographer isn’t really as glamorous of a job as it looks, it does occasionally have some benefits. For example, I had the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles, California last week for some photoshoots and while I was out there, Mazda USA kindly hooked me up with an all-new 2016 CX-3 to drive while I was out there. Although I would’ve loved a new MX-5 Miata to run through the canyons and to the beach, the CX-3 did a great job of swallowing all of my extraneous camera gear. It even came with the new Mazda Connect system that integrated perfectly with my phone in seconds so I could stream some tunes and read messages from my wife as I drove up the coast, all without having to touch my phone!
With Mazda’s reputation for sporty, fun-to-drive cars, I scheduled an open day into my trip so I’d have time to put the nimble little CX-3 to the test and see if it delivered the “zoom-zoom” experience of other Mazdas. My plan was to leave my friend’s condo in LA around 10:00 AM on Monday morning, drive up the 101 Highway to Santa Barbara for lunch, then take the Highway 154 north, away from the beach and into the hills for a bit before rejoining the 101 via Highway 246 to head back towards the beach at Gaviota State Park. My goal was to end up at Point Concepcion State Marine Reserve, which looked like a beautiful and rocky point that juts out towards the Pacific Ocean. With a solid mix highways, mountain roads, and even a few dirt roads along the way, I knew that the Mazda CX-3 would get a solid workout on this nearly 350 mile round-trip drive.
I waited until LA’s notoriously horrible rush hour traffic subsided before hitting the road on Monday. The drive up to Santa Barbara was surprisingly boring since the 101 Highway doesn’t really follow the coastline at all but once I made it up to Santa Barbara, I found some parking right on the beach and set off to explore a bit. After a quick bite down the road at In-n-Out Burger in nearby Goleta, CA, I backtracked a little bit to get back to Highway 154.
This is a fast, twisty highway that snakes through the hills, offering beautiful views of Santa Barbara and the ocean. While scouting the route the night before, I stumbled upon Painted Cave Road, a little ribbon of tarmac that had a huge concentration of tight, technical corners and didn’t stray too far from the general route I’d laid out for myself. With nothing but time on my hands, I figured I’d give the road a try and see where it took me. I made a quick exit off of 154 and was immediately confronted with an incredibly steep climb up a single-lane serpentine road. The views were breathtaking but I was forced to keep my eyes on the road for fear of careening off the side of the road and down a VERY steep drop.
After rejoining the 154, I continued past the oasis of Lake Cachuma before hopping onto Highway 246 where I drove through the picturesque town of Solvang, a town so proud of their Danish heritage that many of the buildings feature windmills and similar architecture to what you’d see in Copenhagen. Eventually I rejoined the 101 heading south towards Gaviota State Park and the beach. My plan was to arrive at the state park and then immediately hop onto Hollister Beach Road which runs right next to the ocean and looked like it should lead me to – or at least close to – Point Concepcion. Unfortunately, my plan hit a snag when only about a mile down the road I came up to the entrance to a gated community. The gatekeeper rather sternly informed me that road didn’t go through unless I happened to be on his list for the day. As I turned around and headed back towards Gaviota State Park, I pulled up Google Maps on my phone and quickly found another route, one more than an hour out of my way, that looked like it might be promising! I hopped back on the 101, this time heading back to the north and hitched up with Highway 1 which would take me back through the hills along the coast briefly before exiting at Jalama Road. According to Google, this would take me towards Jalama State Beach and onward to Cojo Bay Road, which I’d follow south to eventually get to Point Concepcion. I figured if I didn’t waste too much time, I could get there in time to watch the sunset.
While Jalama Road eventually led me to yet another gated road that I couldn’t traverse, it turned out to be one of the best driving roads I’ve ever encountered. I couldn’t make it to my final destination but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it meant I got to drive back on my new favorite road! It’s a beautiful mix of fast, flowing corners with lots of elevation changes through a mix of hills, meadows, and forests before culminating in an absolutely breathtaking view of the ocean stretched out wide in front of me. By the time I hopped back on Highway 101 and was headed back to LA, the sun was beginning to set. I made it just short of Malibu before I was able to stop for a quick photo-op as the sun set over the horizon. The rest of the drive back to LA was dark and uneventful but the Mazda CX-3 made a great, and comfortable, companion for my 10 hour drive. While the 146-hp SKYACTIV inline-4 provided enough grunt to make it through even the steepest of mountain passes while still returning very respectable fuel economy and the interior, while befitting of a $20,000 subcompact CUV, offered all the features, technology, and comfort that I expected and then some! The CX-3 takes all the things that makes the Mazda3 such an amazing car and adds a little bit extra ground clearance and interior volume. I’d call this one a home-run for Mazda!
This past Saturday Morrie’s Automotive Group held its first Teen Defensive Driving School of the season, teaming up with Gary Curtis and other instructors from Brainerd International Raceway to educate teens on how to better handle their vehicles. Established by Morrie’s last year, the teen driving program teaches teens the necessary driving skills that they simply don’t learn in traditional driver’s ed program. These skills help teens avoid accidents and help them learn what to do when the unavoidable comes their way. The eight hour course exposes teens to potentially dangerous conditions in a controlled, safe environment, building muscle memory brings monumental benefits in the real world.
After setting up a course in the parking lot at Dunwoody Technical College designed to test teens maneuvering, spatial awareness and handling dynamics, Gary walked the students through the dangers of diving, what to look out for on the road, and how to avoid an accident. Once out on the course, the students were given one on one training while parents enjoyed watching their teens from a safe distance. At the end of the day, everyone had a great time and learned some really valuable skills to help them stay safe on the road.
Morrie’s Automotive Group will be hosting more of these events on a monthly basis throughout the summer, however space is filling fast. Follow the link below to learn more about Morrie’s Teen Driving School and to sign-up your teen!
Minnesota winters can make traveling difficult especially during the rush hour commute. Here are a few tips for driving in winter weather conditions.
If you do plan on traveling during a winter storm, make sure you are prepared. Before heading out on the road, remove the snow from all surfaces of your vehicle to ensure visibility while driving. Make sure your gas tank is full to avoid your tank freezing, and fill your tires with air to guarantee traction on snowy road surfaces.
Once on the road, it’s important to slow down, driving too fast is the main cause of accidents when driving in the winter. Make sure to keep your distance; it takes a lot longer to stop your vehicle when the roads are packed with snow and ice. If the driver in front of you has to stop abruptly and you are tailgating, you may cause a collision. This also means that you need to take extra time and precaution when braking and accelerating due to the reduced traction.
Be extra cautious on bridges and entrance or exit ramps, which are most likely to freeze first. Be aware of other drivers around you, remember to give snowplows plenty of room and don’t pass them.
If you do happen to get stuck in the snow, turn your wheels from side to side for added traction. If you get stranded make sure to stay in your car. Prepare in advance by keeping a safety kit in your vehicle. Refer to our earlier blog post for a list of items to carry when traveling during the winter months.
If your vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission, or one of the many automatic transmissions that allows manual gear changes, you can often use your transmission to your advantage. If you’re having a hard time moving or your wheels are spinning, shifting to a higher gear often helps gain traction to get you going. For planned stops, gradually downshifting as you apply the brakes can often slow you down quicker. You can get more vigorous with downshift to avoid an impending accident. In non-accident avoidance scenarios try to be gentle on the transmission, though, since brakes are always cheaper than transmission parts.
Most cars these days are equipped with traction control which does a great job of keeping you on the road and on the intended path of travel. However, there are situations where traction control can hinder your ability to move. If you find yourself stuck and needing to rock the car out of place, try turning off the traction control. Sometimes you need the tires to spin a little bit to get some traction.
Remember to take it slow, and use caution, weather patterns in Minnesota can change quickly. Being prepared and educating yourself on how to drive in the snow can help to make traveling in winter weather conditions easier and less stressful.