2012 Mazda 3: Royal Road, With Fleas
June 01, 2012
Last week, I wondered whether our Mazda 3 was a car fit for a long road trip. After driving it to and from a driving event called Heels and Wheels this week, I've concluded that it's excellent company for a quick 200-mile round-trip journey.
Our Mazda 3 is maneuverable, energetic and comfortable. The controls are within easy, intuitive reach, whether for climate control or radio/satellite nav. There's power enough to pass, and enough acceleration to keep a good speed up the long, slow hills that Interstate 5 presents between San Diego, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. People drive 80 to 85 here, when the CHP isn't around.
It was too early in the morning to realize it Thursday morning, but my drive took me along El Camino Real: the King's Highway. This backbone of the California transportation system had its beginnings in the1700s as a footpath connecting the missions, running from San Diego to Sonoma. Portions of it live on in U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 5. My parents took me to every blessed mission when I was kid. I loved them all in their crumbling, gessoed glory.
My favorite part of this drive, on and off El Camino Real, is through Camp Pendleton, where young Marines blast along the road on motorcycles or Chargers or Camaros, dressed in camo and hell bent for speed. Every time I pass Las Pulgas Road, I wonder who decided to name a place in honor of fleas. I used to think it was the Marines. Now I know it was the missionaries.
I flick the accelerator, and a splash of sun parts the clouds. Just another couple hours until Im home.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @10,205 miles