Bloopers: Pedal to the Metal in our Mazda

Daniel and I are only human, and that means that our adventures aren’t always picturesque and perfect. We’ve had many quirky, messy and – frankly – terrifying moments in our travels, too. But all the better to laugh at afterward, of course! This is one of those moments from our travel Bloopers. A near-death encounter in a rental car:


We were spending a mere three days in San Francisco - there was so much we had to fit into our schedule! Thankfully, Daniel’s very good at creating itineraries. And one of the first things on the list? Drive Lombard Street.

Before visiting San Francisco, I actually had never heard of Lombard Street. While going over our itinerary, Daniel told me to google it. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this:

People live on that street? People drive on that street? While talking about it with our tour guide, he told us that “Lombard Street is the second most crooked street in America. Second only to Wall Street.” (Insert laughter here.) So, we thought - hey, when in San Fransisco, do as the San Franciscans do! (Who am I kidding? It’s more like “do as the San Franciscan tourists do.” But Daniel and I are unashamed tourists.) So we took our trusty rental car, Tallie, and we began the ascent up Lombard Street.

There was only one problem … Lombard Street was designed by the property owner, Carl Henry, in an effort to “reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade which was too steep for most vehicles.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.) But the problem came in the form of the other side of the hill: the ascent was straight up. Because of the heavy flow of traffic that wants to drive down Lombard Street, there is only one way to get onto it: you have to start at the bottom of the hill, and climb straight up it. And because there is a stop sign at the top of the hill, the entire line of traffic is start-and-stop, start-and-stop.

A quick picture I snapped inbetween laughter and worrying for my life.
A quick picture I snapped inbetween laughter and worrying for my life.

Even with Daniel’s professional driving skills, the foot off brake/foot on gas/foot off gas/foot on break again movement was hard to master. And with each surge forward, the tires would struggle to grip the concrete. When they finally did find footing, the car would shoot forward a few feet (careful not to hit the car in front!) and then start sliding backward immediately because he had to take his foot off the gas in order to slam it back down onto the brake again. I can barely even use words to explain how terrifying(ly hysterical) this ascent was! It tooks mountains of concentration (and a little bit of giggling) before we made it to the top.

Thankfully, Tallie didn’t seem to be the only car having issues and most drivers seemed to try to give their fellow drivers as much space as possible. However, all of this to say: if you want to drive Lombard Street, just don’t. Plan on walking it instead.

If you'd like to read about another one of our "Best Kind of Adventure," take a look at this post! We get a little too involved with a male bison in Yellowstone National Park.