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Before I had kids, I spent a lot of time alone in my car. I would drive down long desert roads with my cassette tapes blasting. Whether it was my pickup truck with a bench seat, my two seater that would shake if I went too fast, or the beat up car I drove across country, I was happy. I loved going fast and not being 100-percent-sure where I was going.

Now I drive a mom car – slowly – in Los Angeles traffic. I’m rarely alone. And I always know where I’m going. I still like driving, but it’s a different experience. That’s why it was so fun to drive a cherry red 2016 Mazda3 hatchback from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park. I was a guest of Mazda and #MenWhoBlog and part of the experience was packing up the car and heading out on the open road.

On the Road to Joshua Tree

At a rest stop between the Cabazon Outlets and Joshua Tree National Park.

The Mazda 3 was definitely not a mom car (although it would fine with small children). It was fast and zippy and a joy to drive. Even though Mazda was providing a tent, sleeping bag and food, I packed everything I could think of in the car for the two day camping trip (and one day at a hotel!).

There was still room in the back of the car after I packed my giant suitcase, pillow, water, first aid kit, laptop bag, sleeping bag, etc.

I started out in West Los Angeles in stop and go traffic for what seemed like forever. The car was great in stop and go as well as on long stretches where I was actually able to go the speed limit. The Mazda3 got good gas mileage and was smooth and quiet.

One of the things I was concerned about before the drive was going all of the way out there in a smaller car. I’m used to driving an SUV and being one of the bigger cars on the road. The Mazda3 didn’t feel too small and I wasn’t worried about the size once I started driving. In fact, I didn’t think really think about it. There was too much to see.

Mazda in Joshua Tree National park

After being stuck in traffic and then driving for long stretches, I felt really good by the time I got to the campground. I didn’t have any back issues that I can sometimes have after driving for a long time (we take a lot of road trips as a family). The Mazda3 was very comfortable.

My only complaint about the car is that I felt that it wasn’t easy to connect my phone to the car or operate the GPS. It was more complicated than it needed to be, in my opinion. Once I figured it out, it was easy to operate.

All in all, I loved driving the Mazda3 and I was sad to give it back. It was one of those times that I wished I had a second car so I could drive around at night listening to cassettes (I mean Spotify).

Disclosure: I was given a car to drive for a week, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a small stipend for the trip out to Joshua Tree. All opinions are my own. 

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