How do I even begin to summarize this trip without making it a bajillion words long? The last few days were amazing and I cannot believe I had the chance to go on another trip with Lexus & Heels and Wheels. Heels and Wheels brings together an all female driving event for writers all across the board, so I was with some pretty influential professionals from well-known magazines, and newspapers to bloggers like myself.
I arrived on Wednesday to Brasada Ranch in the small town of Powell Butte, Oregon just outside of Redmond. I had so much fun and I filmed it all — my first video is below, the second will be on my YouTube channel. Yes! Multiple vlogs. Get excited. I’m excited.
Brasada Ranch is a substantial and a gorgeous resort basically plopped in the middle of nowhere. I recall someone saying you’d have to drive to the next town over to purchase groceries if need be. There was horses a plenty, and bunnies hopping freely right in front of us. Perhaps they ate a little too many juniper berries and were getting bold coming up so close to us. I totally wanted to pet them (I didn’t).
Sage bushes were everywhere, it smelled like a spa. Whenever I stepped outside my cabin, I felt the need to whisper, and simply enjoy the mountainous views and high desert scenery and take it in for all its worth. Even more glorious during the evenings. The stars lit up like nothing I’ve seen in ages. There were even families who were staying around us, but not a peep out of any!
Upon arrival, we were situated away and shuttled to our cabins. Some were paired in larger cabins with multiple house-guests, while I was paired with another Canadian writer. Two Canadian pals hanging out in Oregon together, it was great.
Not only were we there for driving, we were also there to learn about the Lexus Eco-Challenge educational program first hand where we did our own mini-eco challenge.
Lexus’ educational partner for the past 10 years, Scholastic, gives middle and high school kids with an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) the opportunity for scholarships and grants and in those 10 years Lexus has given away over 35 million in scholarships and grants. The Eco-Challenge is a rewarding program, and it’s so important that girls see that they can do the same thing that boys can do in the area of STEM. Some winning teams have made it global, and another successful team presented their work, and met with President Obama at the White House!
Both evenings, we had supper overlooking Brasada Ranch with gorgeous sunsets.
The second and final full day of our trip was ‘driving day’. We were to experience the more rugged side of the Lexus brand. Again, a female-focused event and driving Lexus LUVs (Luxury Utility Vehicles) off-road on a dirt course. More specifically the Lexus LX, and GX models.
Since the group was large, there were two driving shifts. I was in the morning one which was an on-road expedition through the scenic highway in Central Oregon, driving through Powell, and along Crooked River. That’s where the RX and NX was taken out.
Guys I can’t contain my excitement. Many of the women there asked me if I ever stopped smiling. I have to say man, I love my life right now. What an incredible experience, and I’m so lucky to have gone. I had a blast.
The women I met, and re-connected with (from Palm Springs) these ladies last week in Oregon. What an inspiring, kind, and absolutely hilarious group. My cheeks hurt from smiling!
From urban driving to off-road trails, Lexus LUVs will provide you with a luxurious ride and full off-roading capabilities. Best of both worlds, and I was ready for it. An afternoon of off-roading in the Lexus LX 570 and Lexus GX 460.
I’d never been off-roading and I didn’t want to Google much of it before attending. I wanted it all to be a bit of a surprise, whether it was on dirt, rocks, or a trail. I had no clue, but I wanted to learn as much as possible about the capabilities of the Lexus vehicles, because for the most part when I’m reviewing cars for a week, I’m going on an adventure with Alfie, and not taking advantage of what the vehicles can do for me. So much technology has gone into these vehicles it’s unreal. From independent axles to the downhill assist (an ABS function) and active traction control.
It’s definitely unnerving when you can’t see where you’re going but that’s where the multi-terrain monitor comes into play. It’s a camera that lets you see what’s in front of you when it’s too steep to see over the hood of the vehicle. My back was tense as I focused on driving and taking in all the information my female driving instructor, Elizabeth was telling me as I was off-roading with her in the passenger seat. Parts of my off-roading adventure momentum was moving us down the hills since my foot was neither on the brake nor the gas pedal. And it’s all due to the ‘crawling control’ feature, which automatically modulates the throttle and brake. I have to tell you, the crawl control feature definitely was an experience in itself due to the noise it was making. Although completely normal, it definitely sounded like something was breaking in the car.
The top of the line LUV is the Lexus LX 570, which is what I had the chance to drive off-road. What I was worried about was bottoming out a lot of the cars. But, to get that ground clearance while off-roading the air suspension can be raised and lowered with the touch of a button. I KNOW! Nuts.
Ok. Side note. Notice the mean-lookin’ (I love it) spindle grille on the front of the Lexus vehicles? Lexus’ parent company, Toyota, before they started building automobiles they were in the Loom business (I have a bit of history with working with Looms too, as I loved working with looms and weaving when was enrolled in a 2 year Textile Studies course “back in the day”) and the looms were the inspiration for the spindle grille.
When we came upon uneven trail (such as ditches — shown in my video below) the Lexus owned it! With a combo of multi-terrain select (select from rock, rock & dirt, mogul, loose rock, or mud & sand) and the articulation of the (doesn’t that make me sound fancy?) axles adjusted to get the vehicle over those bumps and deep holes without issue. It almost looked like the tires were going to pop off. It looked so strange, right?!
Brasada Ranch specifically, is an incredible relaxing place to visit considering you can ski during the mornings on the mountains (Olympic ski teams practice on these mountains!) and play a round of golf once the crispness from the air leaves, and the hot hot sun appears during the afternoon, as this part of Oregon is in the high desert. The amenities there are endless, a gorgeous water-park, cycling, horse back rides, golfing, off-roading in the trails, skiing, you name it.
I’ll probably be back to Oregon again while we’re here in the USA, and I especially appreciate that Brasada Ranch is pet friendly. I saw so many awesome pups trotting about with their owners, and I know Alfie would have a time there too.