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lois and helene take a road trip

Thelma and Louise

When my friend, Helene, and I decided we were going to drive up to the Entertainment and New Media Network conference in Anaheim together, I knew we needed a car to match this very special event.

You never see someone pull up to the Red Carpet in some boring, non-descript car, right? So how could we show up in a mom car – especially when we were probably going to be the oldest attendees there? We had to make a splash. We had to be red hot.

I turned to my friend, Josh, who said he had the perfect car for us. And when the 2014 Mazda3 s Grand Touring 5-Door was delivered to my driveway – in Soul Red Metallic, no less – I just smiled.

Mazda - Lois and Helene

Helene and I felt so empowered and confident in this beauty, we joked we were Thelma and Louise, packing up the car and heading out on our adventure. FYI, if you’re wondering about the fifth door, it’s what they’re calling the hatchback which, unfortunately, was only big enough to store Helene’s (admittedly humongous) suitcase.

I drove the first leg of the trip, feeling good about the Mazda’s blind spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting system, rear cross traffic alert and forward obstruction warning. These safety features are likely to become standard in all cars as the baby boomers get older because once you drive with them, it’s hard to drive without them.

Mazda rear camera

One of the features I could do without is the 7” touch-screen display, which was a little too in-your-face for me. It takes such a prominent position in the car, I kept wanting to push it down. I also wasn’t crazy about the Active Driving Display – a clear little screen above the dashboard that projects your speed in an almost holographic fashion. They may be very high tech but I found both of these features very distracting.

Mazda active driving display

Our ride itself, though, was smooth and quiet, and we programmed the navigation system even though I already knew the way to Laguna Beach, where we were planning to stop for lunch and a little shopping. The Sirius XM radio assured we had music for the whole trip since I had forgotten my iPod in all the excitement.

Because the Mazda is so lithe, we were able to score a prime parking spot in crowded Laguna. After a couple of relaxing hours eating and browsing the stores and galleries, we settled back into the comfy car and Helene took the wheel.

Helene in Mazda

We were having a nice drive when suddenly we found ourselves at a Stop sign next to an unnerving sign warning, “Steep grade. Use low gear.” We looked in front of us and freaked out. There was nothing there except space. We actually had to lean forward to see any kind of ground. This was the stuff of Olympic skiers’ dreams – the kind of terrain extreme athletes don’t even bother going down because it’s easier to just jump. What was it doing in Laguna Beach??? And why didn’t they warn us a couple of blocks back?

“Oh my God!” gasped Helene. I tried to stay in Zen mode to keep her calm but my eyes were huge and my heart was beating out of my chest. There were so many cars behind us, there was no way we could turn back. We were going to have to go down that hill.

Why in the world had we ever mentioned Thelma and Louise? Was this our Grand Canyon moment? Did we not remember how that turned out for them?

I offered Helene these words of wisdom: “Just go really slow.” What could I have possibly thought she was going to do? Floor it?

Helene gritted her teeth, clutched the steering wheel and inched us safely down the hill. She did an amazing job, and the Mazda handled beautifully. We will forever be grateful we were in that car.

As an aside, when I got home after the conference (with more than half a tank of gas left, thank you very much), I Googled “steep hill in Laguna” to find out exactly where it was and make sure I never ended up there again. Here’s what I found, although it doesn’t remotely capture how terrifying the ride down was for us.

I’d like to say that was the end of our drama but once we got on the freeway, we were met with piles of clothes that Helene had to maneuver her way around, miles of stop-and-go traffic, and confusing exits that forced her to cross over six lanes. Through it all, the Mazda stayed in control, signaling when it was safe to make her moves and directing us to our destination.

Mazda nav system

By the time we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, we were exhausted. Worst of all, no one saw us make our grand entrance in our sexy Mazda and the car sat in the parking lot for four days.

We had a great time at the conference, though, mingling with entertainment and travel industry professionals and even hobnobbing with a couple of celebrities.

I can’t swear the car was responsible for the fantastic weekend we had but I’m pretty sure if Thelma and Louise had been driving a Mazda3, their story could have had a happy ending, too.

Mazda at Hyatt


  1. You two are so cute. I wish I’d been in town so I could have stopped by and said hello to two of my favorite bloggers!

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I wish I could find a stronger verb than “love” to express how I feel about this post — and you — and the Mazda. I had the best, best time on this adventure with you!! Let’s do it again. Next week?

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      I’m ready! You are an awesome person, friend — and driver! Ooh, maybe we can do another road trip in Dayton, Ohio when we’re there for Erma! Oh, Josh …

  3. Happy. Jealous. Thrilled. Jealous. Funny. Jealous. Daring. Jealous.

    You get the idea. You guys rock, and I love the car. BTW, who got Brad Pitt?

    Glad you had a great time!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      There’s always room in the car for you, my friend! Somehow we forgot all about Brad Pitt in the midst of our adventure. Next time, for sure!

  4. Jessica Ballard says:

    I Loved reading this. Thanks so much for coming. It was so fun meeting and hanging out with you ladies.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thanks, Jessica! Loved meeting you and that was, hands-down, the best conference we’ve been to. Can’t wait for next year!

  5. My dad has that car and I think he may love it more than he loves my mother HAHAHA!!

    You guys are awesome by the way!

  6. Now THIS is an exceptional auto review! Love the story of your adventure. And it’s great to hear that you, too, find such high-tech instrumentation a distraction rather than a necessity.

    Such fun!

  7. looks like you had a fabulous road trip!! and the conference was one i’d have liked to attend

  8. LOVE this and so freaking cute!!!! The pictures show how great it was.

  9. Sounds like a fun trip and that is one very pretty car too!

  10. This is a cute post, LOVE THE CAR! Looks like you two had some fun too!

  11. Sounds Like You Had A Great Road Trip And The Mazda Is A Sharp Looking Car With Great Features!!

  12. Great post! That hill was pretty steep 🙂 There is a hill in Silverlake area of LA that is like that on both sides with only a few feet at the pinnacle. My buddy literally ramped his old Impala like Dukes of Hazzard. It was awesome! (sorry Mom :)) I’m glad you ladies enjoyed the Mazda3. I thought it would match since you are cute, little, and full of energy and style!

  13. Looks like you guys had a great road trip in the Mazda 3. Fun car with great features. I love the shade of red!

  14. LOL! Thelma and Louise is my favorite! 🙂

  15. Gabby Homemaker says:

    What a cute car! I see why those screens would in the way and annoying, but after seeing all the commercials, it’s hard to think they’re not awesome. I really love that you were honest about them being a pain, though, because unless you truly test it, you wouldn’t know.

  16. Very fun post. Good job!

  17. Sounds like you had a fun adventure. We always had Mazdas when i was growing up. They’re great cars.

  18. Amy Desrosiers says:

    This is a gorgeous car and the color is beautiful too!

  19. First off, I love how you told this story and the helpful review of this car’s features! Second, driving in places like this can definitely be nerve-wracking so my palms feel a bit sweaty just reading about it. That’s quite a hill – I’ve been to Laguna but not down that street!

  20. What fun! Wish I was there. Sounds like you had a blast.

  21. We have a 2007 Mazda CX-7, and love it, but this model looks awesome! I love all the new features.

  22. Sounds a fun trip! I love all the bells and whistles this car offers, love the color too!

  23. Holy crap, that hill is nuts! I would have been freaking out in a car that I wasn’t used to driving. Glad this one handled!

  24. Oh wow, that is quite the adventure and excitement! At least you had a sleek car to maneuver you through it all – Thelma and Louise for sure (a movie I will never tire of) 😉

  25. Now that’s a sharp looking car! You made a great choice! And that hill is crazy, OMGosh!

  26. Loving the color of that Mazda! Those extra features sound awesome.

  27. sounds like you guys had quite the adventure… thanks for taking us on that adventure with the new Mazda! That’s one of the cars I had my eye on.

  28. OMG! This is great! And I hate that I missed the car Lol. It was great to meet to as well.

  29. What a great way to cruise in that beautiful car. Looks like weather works well for a day like this! Great memories!

  30. Love this, Lois! The video was awesome….yikes! I can understand how you felt. You and Thelma were very brave! Freeway driving in LA area is always scary to me. Loved your humor and and the Mazda info explaining the new features. Fun read!

  31. Looks like you two had a great trip. I love the Mazda, it looks sharp!

  32. What a great car and so stylish. Way to go, ladies!

  33. You are setting a new standard in auto reviews. I really enjoyed it and you both look great in the car!

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