I recently had a run-in with the authorities, dear reader. Actually, it wasn’t a negative experience; it was just kind of funny.

  • Car: 2021 Lexus LX 570
  • Location: Hungry Valley OHV Park, Gorman, CA
  • Photog: Peter Nelson (IG + Twitter: @16vPete)
  • Camera: Canon 6D, EF 35-85mm Zoom AF

I was photographing and filming this beautiful 2021 Lexus LX 570 at Hungry Valley OHV Park in Gorman, CA, which has kind of become my home away from home. I was there very early in the morning, as I wanted to avoid any potential crowds, both at the park and on the SoCal freeway system to and from. I also had a lot to do later in the day, so why not take advantage of that beautiful, early morning light?

While photographing from the backseat area, I noticed a park ranger truck pull up behind me. I thought this was kind of odd, what’s so weird about a truck sitting in an open area, off to the side of a trail, in a park that’s meant for off-road driving?

The ranger actually was just making sure I wasn’t camping in an area outside of the designated camping areas. They were quite friendly, and I ended up having a very pleasant/funny conversation with them. I remarked, “I bet it did look a little weird to see a brand-new Lexus just sitting here, off to the side at the base of this climb at eight in the morning.” They replied, “haha, exactly.” They then went on to comment about some of the weird things they encounter out there.

I mentioned I was an automotive journalist, and they thought that was pretty cool. They then asked if I was doing any commercial work, to which I quickly replied with full, truthful backing, “oh no, strictly editorial.” You see, if you do commercial filming out there without the proper permit, it’s a hefty fine. We chatted a bit longer, and I was on my way.

California park rangers are some of the nicest people I’ve ever interacted with. A few years back, while camping up in Idyllwild below Mt. San Jacinto, I got into a lengthy conversation about ’90s Ford Broncos with a park ranger who sported General Burnside facial hair. Rad dude indeed.