Wednesday started out with a lovely continental breakfast overlooking the hotel pool. Fortunately, I was reunited with both my camera and a jacket that I'd left in one of the vehicles the previous day.
We paired up again to take the Ford Escapes about 30 minutes outside of town to Disney's Golden Oak Ranch. I got to drive again - this time in one of the hybrids. It didn't have quite the pickup of the non-hybrid I'd driven the day before, but later I noticed that the first one I'd driven had a V-6, which explained the difference.
The ranch was the shooting location for one of Ford's Contestant 51 short films that they do in conjunction with "On the Lot." The idea is that a young director named Colin Padden (played by actor Steven Siddell, who reminds me of a young Dana Carvey) didn't quite make the cut for "On the Lot," but decides to take the show's weekly theme and make his own films anyway.
What we saw of the ranch included a Western town facade, complete with a short length of railroad tracks and a picturesque pond with a dock. We spent the morning and early afternoon watching the production crew film three different scenes, including one in which a stunt driver races into town and stops with a dramatic partial spin-out. We got to share the crew's craft services lunch (there were hints that the food was a notch above the usual fare because we were there), and talk to the executive producer and cast.
Once we got back to the hotel, we had just enough time to wash off a little of the ranch grit before we were off on a photo road rally. I teamed up with Megan and Liz and ended up driving the same silvery-blue Escape Hybrid I'd taken that morning. The route included a trip into the hills for a photo with the Hollywood sign in the background, a twisty trip down Mulholland Drive to a scenic overlook of L.A., a stop on Rodeo drive for a photo with the Via Rodeo sign, a chili dog at Pink's Hot Dogs, and, finally, a walk down Hollywood Boulevard past Grauman's Chinese Theatre after we'd returned the SUV to the hotel lot.
I took lots of photos and I'll put them up on Flickr as soon as I've had the opportunity to address some of my photographic incompetence in Photoshop. The idea is that we'll put all of our photos on our own blogs for judging, but I haven't decided if I'm going to officially enter because of my long-standing policy of not putting photos of myself or anything including my real name on this blog.
The rally took longer than anyone had anticipated, but we had time to change clothes and freshen up before it was time to walk across the street for dinner at Vert. The meal was lovely, but I couldn't eat the whole thing after the huge chili dog I'd had a few hours earlier.
Because I had adjusted to the local time since the previous day, I made it to the poolside cocktail party at the hotel after dinner. It was nice to have one last chance to talk to the other bloggers, and the Ford and Hill & Knowlton reps.
I finally turned in around 1:30 a.m. Frankly, I don't know how I managed to stay up so long.
So that's the basic outline of the events. Tomorrow I'll add a few details to some of the activities and try to sum up the experience.