Let me begin by stating that as this very moment, I am downing as much water as humanly possible. 4 hours in a convertible in heat ranging from mid-80s to 106 degrees is rather draining. And silly. But at the wheel of a Mercedes Benz SLK250 and the views that the San Bernardino National Forest offer, it’s excusable that I got caught up in the moment. But let’s rewind.
In Los Angeles for work, and with friends at the Auto Club Speedway for the IndyCar season finale, I extended my trip by 2 days so I could catch the race. In need of a rental car, I booked the average option through Hertz and made my way to LAX to make the pick up. I arrived, thought a convertible might be fun, asked, and was then offered this Mercedes for an extra $50 a day. I took it , because I wanted to make the most of this weekend.
I then sat in the parking lot for almost 30 minutes trying to figure how to pop the top, use the controls and so on. I felt ridiculous (and still do), driving this this thing. I then drove east to Fontana, California scared I would crash, or spin or something. However, I made it safely. And with a smile.
I then headed to the race track, thought about snapping photos of really fast cars, but decided to take photos of the sunset instead.
Now to today. Up and at ’em, raring to go and with no plans whatsoever. I looked at a map and picked San Bernardino as a destination. Armed with sunglasses, a banana, some water and my trusty Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and 18-55m lens, I headed for the mountains in a pretty cool car.
The car sits very low the ground and latches onto the surface. Around corners the tires feel like bubble gum. I felt like I needed driving gloves. Steve McQueen’s Persol sunglasses. Some sort of scarf. Sunscreen. And a dog like Muttley.
I drove and drove and drove and drove, stopping from time to time when a good view presented itself. Often, I was so caught up in hearing the sound of the car, feeling the acceleration and swaying through corners, that I must have missed great photo opportunities. When you press on the pedal, it sounds like an acceleration symphony. Torque, horsepower, rear wheel drive, oh my.
But every now and then, I did catch a glimpse of something breathtaking.
The photography part was great. The air felt so fresh and clean and pure. The road dipped, curved, dropped, rose and seemed to melt in the sun. It wasn’t just a photography excursion, it was a real driving trip.
I’m back at the race track now. I might even take some photos of something racing related. But who knows. Tomorrow at 4am, I drive back to LAX and return this car I have no business driving.
Thank you Mercedes Benz and Hertz for letting me give you money.
It was worth it.