Category Archives: Mileage Track

Zoom-to-200: 15 Years and 200,000 Miles

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Let’s take a little trip back in time: It’s 2004 – Shrek 2 is making 919.8 million in the box office, Usher’s, “Yeah!” is the top song; and George W. Bush is re-elected president. I’m in my second year of college and grandma and grandpa want to buy a new car. A full detailed story of that is here. We purchased a new Mazda 6 “i” 5-speed in Pebble Ash Metallic on August 3, 2004. This was in Farmington, NM at Performance Mazda/Mitsubishi/Suzuki. Fast forward 15 years to this day (8/3/04 – 8/3/19), and I take this car back to the same dealer where I also roll 200,000 miles.

I realize cars achieve 200,000 miles everyday, and it doesn’t necessarily warrant a big fuss. But wait, this might catch your attention: Our Mazda 6 has achieved this milestone with the original motor, transmission, clutch and even the original brakes. Yes, those brake pads are the same ones that left the factory in 2004. There have been no unscheduled repairs and all the body panels are original…even the headlight lenses. Good proof here that anyone who doubts high mileage cars can do this with regular maintenance and care. Don’t be afraid. We are in a new era where planned obsolescence hasn’t fully reached cars yet. At least mainstream cars.

Let’s get on with the milestone. This event took careful planning. Trying to get to 200,000 miles on a specific day is harder than you’d think. Regardless, I was up for the challenge. I marketed this little event, #zoomto200.

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I was able to have a few friends accompany me on this milestone, Tyson and James. With a little coordinating, we agreed to meet in Farmington, NM the weekend of August 3rd.

My route took an easy 6 hours. Tyson and James had a little more ground to cover coming from Phoenix, AZ.

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Prior to my departure from Las Cruces, NM, I applied this product called, Track Armour which is essentially a temporary clear bra to protect the front end from bugs, stones and other debris. Since I had a good 400+ miles to cover and didn’t want to worry about washing, I thought this would be a good solution to ensure the 6 arrived somewhat clean.

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On the road again!

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Mileage at 199,519.

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Knowing that I’d have a surplus of miles, I chose to go the long way via Highway 371. Stop of fuel, snacks, then proceeded onward.

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Highway 371 is about as lonely as you can get in New Mexico.

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I arrived later that evening in Farmington right at 199,900 miles. Oof! That isn’t going to cut it since the milestone was the next morning.

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Doubt anyone with even a modicum of common sense would do this, but I turned around and headed in the opposite direction to burn miles. It was nearing 10 pm by this time. The blurry quality of this photo reflects my determination to get those miles close to what I needed.

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Finally, I got to where I needed and came back to the hotel for the night where Tyson and James arrived shortly after.

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I removed the Track Armour and was very pleased with the protection it provided even with a few rain showers.

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The next morning after hitting the continental breakfast buffet, we headed straight to the dealership for the big event. The dealer stopped carrying Mazda and was renamed in 2010 to Hi Country Mitsubishi/Kia, but the building and lot remains the same as it was in 2004.

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To keep the nostalgia going, I installed the temp tag from 2004.

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And here we go…200,000 miles!

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Next on the agenda was to recreate the ramp photo. Compare 2004 to 2019…

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Very minor changes such as removal of the front plate bracket, OEM spoiler added as well as the chrome accessory wheels. Everything else remains the same on this car.

Here’s a vlog post of Tyson’s that sums up the experience.

Next, we headed back south on 371 to explore the “Bisti / De-Na-Zin” Wilderness, just 30 miles from Farmington. This rolling landscape of badlands features some desolate, very unusual scenery. Perfect for a little nature adventure.

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In interest in preserving my 6, I parked it at the entrance and hitched a ride with James in his press Toyota Highlander as we attacked the rutted dirt roads leading into the badlands.

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Tyson’s ILX in its other natural habitat.

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Better plan to bring snacks and water, because there aren’t any facilities out here.

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Group shot of James, me and Tyson.

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Another successful road trip in the books. My garage floor update is coming up next!

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Douglas, AZ; Mogollon, NM; and a Quarter Million Mile Milestone

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Happy Friday! Hope you all are enjoying the warmer weather. Here in Las Cruces, NM, we have been consistently in the triple digits with no sign of relief in the near future. Nothing else to do but embrace it, I guess. Since I’ve been MIA for a while, I have a few adventures to catch up on:

Douglas, Arizona:

Back in late May, I made a day trip to meet up for lunch with my friend, Tyson. Despite living nearly 400 miles apart, we traditionally have met at a midpoint for day trips. This time, it was the small border town of Douglas, AZ.

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At just over 16,000 residents, this town sits along the border of Mexico and is one of the more popular international crossings in this area. Incorporated in 1905, the town got its name from James Douglas, a mining pioneer. The most significant landmark the town offers is the Gadsden Hotel. Built in 1907, then destroyed by a fire, it was rebuilt in 1929 and most of what you see today has been preserved from then.

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This was the perfect meeting point for lunch. I met Tyson here in the 6 while he was driving his tried and true ’92 Integra GS-R. Both of our cars are well over 200,000 miles, but neither of us questioned bringing them to a small town hundreds of miles from any major service facilities.

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Stepping inside the hotel, we were greeted with an elaborate interior. Detailed woodwork, massive stained glass murals, marble for days, and a grand staircase sitting at the base of a towering foyer make you feel like you’re in something very special.

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Lunch was at the hotel restaurant, Casa Segovia. We dang near had the place to ourselves and was given the red-carpet treatment from the staff. Chicken Enchiladas Verde hit the spot.

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After lunch, we did our usual exploring with a few car photos.

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Thanks, Tyson for meeting up!

250,000 Miles and Mogollon, NM

Since the Douglas meet with Tyson, we had entertained the idea of doing another drive where both our cars would turnover 250,000 miles at the same time. His Integra was only a few thousand miles behind the 6 in reaching that milestone. However, both of our busy schedules didn’t allow for that, so maybe at another milestone later.

I took advantage of a work related assignment in Silver City and drove north from there into the Gila wilderness to get the 6 to 250,000. The historic ghost town of Mogollon was exactly the distance I needed (~240 miles). This makes my second visit to Mogollon as I first visited the town back in 2015.

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Misty rain, cloud cover and virtually no traffic was just what the doctor ordered! A major relief from several consecutive days of 100+°F.

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The winding road leading up to Mogollon turns into a single lane. Watch out around those blind corners!

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My dog Charlie accompanied me on this drive, and we would make occasional pit stops to stretch his legs.

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Switchbacks galore.

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Lots of deer and elk spotted along the way.

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Arrived!

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Lots of infrastructure improvements have been made since my last visit. To prevent flooding from future storm events, NMDOT improved the roadway significantly with a large channel and other drainage facilities.

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Check out the difference from 2015…

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Most of the town was closed so I didn’t stay long. Back to my mission and on the way back down the mountain, it happened…

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Quarter million miles, baby! Complete with matching trip odo reading.

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Thanks for coming along for the ride. Until next time!

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What’s New…

“Oh, you’re still alive?” I’m pretty sure that’s what a lot of you are thinking while reading this. Yes, things are well, and I have been slacking again on the blog updates. I have had a few drafts lined up, but never got the time to finish.

While summer is winding down for a lot of folks, it seems like it’s just kicking into high gear for me. That means, lots of home improvement projects and also many summer projects at work. Sadly, that’s where the majority of my energy and attention has been since Alaska. Even so, here’s a few little photos to keep us going…

Still piling on the miles from bouncing between New Mexico cities.

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Weekend drive to Cloudcroft with James Zamora to escape the summer heat.

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Oh, and the dogs got to ride along too.

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Amazing that Cloudcroft, NM (just 70 miles from Las Cruces) is about 30 degrees cooler!

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Home improvement projects galore.

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My sister and brother-in-law recently drove from Las Cruces to Tuscon, AZ to pick up their very first Acura…a super clean 2nd owner 2006 TSX. Big thanks to Tyson (drivetofive) for helping us find this gem!

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Check out that minty fresh interior. With 128,000 miles on the ODO, it was sure treated very gently.

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And it wasn’t long before I had to call upon it to save the 6 from a dead battery.

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Who needs a truck for those trips to the hardware store? 10ft boards fit just fine!

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As do 12ft ladders…with a little duct tape to secure the trunk lid.

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Boring update, I know. I hope to bring some good content soon. See you around!

2016 Alaska Drive Day 14-16: 200,000 Miles & Final Wrap-up

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Guess what? We have a milestone on our hands regarding the 6. She passed 200,000 miles just outside Barstow, California on June 3, 2016! It’s been just under two years of ownership, and I didn’t expect to reach this milestone this soon. Woo-hoo!

Well, we are here to wrap up the longest and one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on. I am home, and the Alaska drive is officially completed. I’m amazed that Tyson and I had been able to accomplish this in just over two weeks driving the entire time ourselves. We came pretty darn close to truck driver status there! I want to thank Tyson for helping make it such a smooth and easy trip. My drive time was a little longer than his due to my starting location, and my desire to travel home a different route.

The 6 was sweet the whole way and didn’t miss a beat. The biggest maintenance item was simply keeping a close eye on the oil level and adding as needed. I completed nearly 9,000 miles and I added a total of 4qts of oil. This is nothing new to me. I did have an issue with the air conditioner that’s explained below, but no other maladies to report. Overall, not too shabby. Tyson’s ILX did even better: it sailed through without having its hood opened once or even an oil change! Here’s some trip stats:

  • States Visited: 9
  • Territories Visited: 3
  • Total Miles covered: 8,936 miles
  • Total Hours in the driver’s seat: ~149 hours (!)
  • Total Gallons of Fuel: 299.7 (Includes Canadian conversion to gallons)
  • Total Fuel Cost: $856 (Includes Canadian conversion)
  • Breakdowns: 0
  • Unscheduled Maintenance Stops: 1 (A/C)
  • Flat tires: 0

The drive back since Eugene, OR was not exactly what you’d call leisurely. I had tunnel vision, and pushed a little further each day to get back. Mostly because I’m impatient, and because I’ve been over this route many times in the past.

I left Eugene, OR and traveled south on I-5 and switched over to Hwy 99 in Sacramento. From there, I stopped for the night in Turlock, CA. I originally was going to see my aunt, however she was out of town. As I approached California, the temperatures increased significantly from the crisp Canadian and Alaskan 50s and 60s. I had previously discovered in Seattle that my  A/C was pushing out hot air, but I didn’t want to bother with it then. I just figured I’d  tough it out until I got home. Many people endure the heat without A/C…how hard could it be? Maybe, I’m too spoiled, or maybe just a plain wimp…I couldn’t take it. Opening the windows on the freeway is not only extremely noisy, it just turbocharged hot air into my face which got tiring fast. Sticky black leather seats don’t help much either. So, I bit the bullet and pulled into Yreka, CA’s Auto Zone to pick up an A/C recharge kit. I didn’t know anything about the process, but I was determined to give it a try. Mercifully, it ended up taking 10 minutes or work, and voila! Cold air! I will never again take it for granted.

The next stop from Turlock, CA was my good old faithful town of Flagstaff, AZ. That day was 14 hours long, and I felt it. I did a visit with James Zamora in Socorro, NM, and I arrived at my house Sunday evening. I was very pleased to be back and to take out the luggage for the last time. Before we get to my photo feed below, let me share a video of my drive on Sunset Beach in Oregon from Day 13. This is something I forgot to include in my last post:

Thank you all for coming along on the epic drive. See you next time!

Drive through northern California on I-5.

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A lot of sightings of triple duty semis!

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Mt. Shasta, a potentially active volcano, viewpoint.

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Couldn’t resist capturing this “Woof Waste” station at a rest stop.

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Central California’s blooming oleanders in the medians. Sure spices up the scenery!

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The hottest observed temperature on the trip in Turlock, CA. The coldest was in British Columbia at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

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A quick A/C recharge that actually worked! Good reviews on A/C Pro paid off.

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Slight bypass off the main road on Tehachapi Loop road.

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Views from the loop road.

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My 200,000 mile milestone!

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Capturing the moment with quick walk around.

Getting back into New Mexico.

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While in Socorro, NM, I spotted a 6 just like mine for sale. V6 5-spd too!

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Home at last! That little MGB in the garage will come out to play on this blog soon.

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In closing, Tyson created a montage of our top events. It’s well worth the look!

 

2016 Alaska Drive Starts…Now!

After months of planning and dreaming, the day finally is here where I start the drive to Alaska. Aside from a few forest fires in Alberta and one off the Alaska Highway, there shouldn’t be many issues along the way. I will be going solo in my 6 and Tyson will be as well in his 2013 Acura ILX. As usual, we both will be posting updates along the way via Instagram. Even though it’s just me, I managed to fill my trunk up practically to the rim…the term pack-rat definitely is valid here!

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Big item that HAD to come along was a full-sized spare wheel borrowed from Grandpa’s Mazda6. This will replace the sad little factory donut spare which was already flat.  Can’t be too prepared!

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Beginning mileage as I set off…

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And here’s a few shots of a quick detail before the trip.

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Take a good look here because it won’t be staying clean for long. A nice thick layer of grime awaits. First stop tonight will be St. George, UT. It’s a good 11hr drive for me. Other nightly stops are tentative and I will report back as wifi availability permits. See you around or maybe out there on the road!

2016 Alaska Drive Planning

Lots in store for a big drive my buddy Tyson and I have been planning for almost a year now. To recap, we will be making a drive this May to Fairbanks, Alaska and back again in a smidge over two weeks. Check out the proposed route…that’s about 138 hrs with my butt in the driver’s seat or nearly 8,200 miles of road time.

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I have had a lot of time to think about what sort of disasters I could prepare for and I bet I have not covered them all. However, here’s what I have done for the 6:

  • New hydraulics for the clutch
  • New Thermostat which already had a slight leak
  • New drive belt
  • New battery (I have no idea how old the current one is, and I’m definitely not going to find out on this drive)
  • A full-sized spare wheel
  • New oil pan gasket which led to a new oil pan
  • A few annoying rattles hunted down and fixed

This week, my odometer rolled over 190,000 miles and I predict I may be at 193,000 by the departure date.

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People quick on math will see that I just might hit 200,000 miles on this trip. That’s the highest mileage car ever within my immediate family.

Tires are good: The Continentals even with 40,000 miles on them seem to have sufficient tread and they are just over a year old. The A/C isn’t the greatest, but I think I’ll just go with it since most of the driving will be highway, and I doubt there will be many scorching heat waves in Alaska.

I’m not going to go crazy with social media on this as this trip is more like a 30th birthday present to myself. However, I will be documenting highlights of the journey on here and on Instagram under hashtag, #mazda6alaska. Keep an eye out for Tyson’s Acura ILX coverage with his #ILXalaska as well!

 

California Drive Part I: Salton Sea and Bombay Beach

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Nope, I haven’t forgotten about you all. It has been that busy time of year for work and other life events just keep me away from sitting down and focusing on getting out a fresh post or even a blog-worthy drive. I’m long overdue an update and I’m pleased to say, things are going well as far as I can see for the 6.

From the last post’s worry over the low oil pressure, I’m wondering if we got a false reading from the mechanic. I’m currently sitting at 188,500 miles and haven’t had any signs of engine fatigue. The oil light will come and go, but I’m almost dead set on blaming the oil pressure sensor. I recently took it in for a 185k oil change and a general overall inspection. Other than a drive belt starting to show signs of wear, she came out with a clean bill of health.

So with that said, let’s get on another road trip! This time, it’s sunny Southern California, and actually the first time I’ve taken the 6 to The Golden State.

I was to join fellow road trippers from Phoenix, Tyson and James Lee. Destination? Salton Sea and a few other wacky, off-beat destinations.

Total drive time for me: 19.25hrs or 1,300 miles.

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I gave the 6 a much-needed wash after a few drives around some dusty construction projects for work.

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You may remember my last visit to Salton Sea back in December of 2014. Although not much as changed, it still is quite an unforgettable place. A real treat was getting to see Tyson’s and James’ reaction for it being their first time. I started off from Las Cruces on a Friday morning and made my way west on I-10 towards Arizona. I took my time and made the longish 600+mile drive to our overnight stop in Indio, CA slow and steady. Tyson caught a glimpse of my progress via the Find My Friends app and recommended I take the Phoenix bypass to avoid the rush hour. So glad I did.

I crossed the California state line right before sunset.

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As I drove into the gorgeous sunset, my mind would constantly wander and meditate. This is my happy place. Eagle-eyed readers may spot that my check engine light came back (or, “Chuck” as I’ve named it). This has proven to be a harmless code that goes away once I get off the highway.

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Tyson got a good head start and arrived in Indio, CA first. I came in about an hour later and then James a little after. Even though it was about 9:30ish, we hit up dinner at Mario’s Italian Cafe. Good food. Good company.

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After a pretty decent sleep in our shared room at the Indio Motel 6, we departed fairly early for the adventures of the day. Tyson caught a shot of me doing some pre-flight checks and topping off some oil. Fellow Mazda 6 V6 owners will relate.

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We grabbed breakfast at the local Denny’s and then headed south on Hwy 111. This highway hugged the east edge of the Salton Sea for much of the journey. First stop on the drive was the International Banana Museum.

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Sadly, it was closed at our time of arrival so, no banana content for us.

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The next stop was the Salton Sea’s North Shore Beach & Yacht club. Sounds snazzy, right? It wasn’t so much in person. The Yacht club was no more than a basic community center and gym for the locals. The North Shore Beach only had one good element…great backdrop for a photo op!

Here are the cars on this drive…

From left to right: My 2004 Mazda 6 V6 5spd, Tyson’s 2013 Acura 2.4L ILX 6-spd and James’ press vehicle of the week…a slick looking 2016 Chevy Malibu 2.0L turbo.

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Groupie shot a few miles down the road in front of the Rec Area sign.

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We continued on Hwy 111 to Bombay Beach which took an easy 25 or so miles. Our drive consisted of smooth asphalt with gentle dips which made for great fun. Good thing I had an empty stomach. Tyson commented over our walkie-talkies that it would be a blast if we were allowed to drive the stretch…”some” miles over the speed limit.

Here we arrived at America’s lowest elevation community…Bombay Beach, CA. With just over 290 residents (2010 census), there isn’t much infrastructure here. People had great aspirations for this place back in 1929 when the town was developed. Sadly, the ever changing eco system of the ‘Sea and a few good floods had driven many people away. The smell left us wrinkling our noses too.

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Several abandoned homes remain. Tyson backed his ILX up to this house to declare it his new retirement project.

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Looks cozy, Tyson!

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Here it was back in 2014. It hasn’t aged well.

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We drove up over a large dike surrounding the town and came to the salt-encrusted ruins that used to be the resort side of the town.

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This ended up being a great spot for some more photography. James captured some sweet shots of his press Malibu (sixspeedblog) and Tyson and I rummaged around a bit.

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New to the area since my last visit was a neat little wooden boat on some stands. Tyson quickly got comfortable on it.

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Glimpse from below.

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Here’s how the shores of the Salton Sea look today. Basically a wasteland of dead fish and birds that didn’t survive the changing waters. Most likely the source of the area’s musty smell. Nice place for some sunbathing, eh?

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Here are a few DLSR photos of the day…

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Before leaving the town, we stopped for a refreshing drink at the official Bombay Market.

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It’s a small place with maybe 5 aisles of fairly bare shelves carrying only the essentials. The smell of the market was definitely in need of a few Glade Plug-Ins. Even so, that drink was refreshing.

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I have quite a bit more coming. Stay tuned!

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Nursing the 6 to 200k

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an opportunity to close out 2015 on a good note. 2016 is looking quite good on my end. Big events are scheduled to happen:

  • A 7,500 mile drive from Las Cruces, NM to Fairbanks, AK (Yup! That’s Alaska!)
  • The 6 might hit 200,000 miles
  • I should have a big chunk of bills paid off and ready live in the black
  • My car stable might grow a bit (updates will come)

The biggest event of the year is a drive I have been planning to Alaska in mid-May. A starting point in Las Cruces all the way to Fairbanks should be good for around 7,500 miles. My buddy Tyson (drivetofive) and I had been planning this for some time now. We also have a few other road trippers that might join. (Let’s do this, Josh!) More updates on this will come as we get closer to departure.

My other items listed aren’t quite as exciting, but they are pretty big for me. Finances are projected to get well sorted out (this was the main reason why I said bye-bye to the TL) and I have another car to share with you all. That’s yet to be revealed.

Now, let’s get to some of the news that’s not quite as positive. You may have noticed that I used the word, “might” in my 6 achieving 200,000 miles. I have an issue which I’m trying to sort out that could lead to the demise of the 6 or possibly a rather hefty repair bill. Check out the warming light that greeted me last month:

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Yup, that’s a low oil pressure warning light. No ill symptoms have come from it and it only comes on when I’m idling with the engine good and warm. Blimp the throttle, and it goes away. An oil pressure test revealed that I’m at 10psi at idle and that’s dangerously low. I have not been able to tell if my oil pump is the culprit, clogged up oil pickup tubes, or if my inner rings are just worn.  I have not made any decisions yet.

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As of now, I’m still daily driving it. 180,000 miles and it seems strong. No smoking, good power and no odd noises have developed. As long as the revs are above 1,000, the oil pressure is good. I shall bring updates as time goes on. Despite this, I’m looking forward to the new year and I’m going to do what I can to nurse this car to 200k on the original motor. See you in a bit!

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[Edited]

I also have a quick update on my old Acura TL. It’s still cruising around in Dallas, TX by the third owner, Justin. Currently, the TL has about 68,000 miles on the clock and is being regularly pampered and appreciated. Thanks for the photos, Justin. Hope you keep on enjoying!

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One Year Anniversary with the 2004 Mazda 6

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This past Saturday (November 7, 2015) marked my one year anniversary with the 6. It doesn’t seem like it’s been long enough, but who can argue with the calendar? It was this day that I drove my 2004 Mazda 6 home from Phoenix, AZ where it had lived for several years. It succeeded my beloved 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD and it has been my daily driver ever since. I still remember discovering the Craigslist ad while on my lunch break at work.2014-10-31 08_26_16-2004 Mazda 6 Manual 5speed -Well Take Care Of3

I posted of my experience of bringing it home last year and since then, I’ve accumulated 34,535 miles. Without hesitancy, I can say I’ve enjoyed every mile. The 6 isn’t the quickest, quietest nor the most luxurious car I’ve owned, but I can confidently say it’s been the most fun. Yes, my RSX and TL were up there in the fun factor (and they got significantly better numbers on the skidpad), but there is just some sort of crazy witchcraft going on in the suspension and steering of the 6 that makes driving this car addictive yet not tiring day to day. Vague enough for you? The struts/shocks remain original as does the clutch and transmission. Let’s see how far they can go!

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Here are a few fun facts:

  • 34,535 miles covered
  • 1 recall (Tekla airbag…not yet addressed)
  • 1 accident (repaired)
  • 3 major wear & tear repairs
  • Total cost of maintenance, repair and modifications: ~$2,300
  • 4 states visited
  • 7 Oil changes with roughly 5K mile intervals
  • Total breakdowns: 0
  • Total unexpected trips to the dealer: 0
  • Longest distance traveled in one day: 750 miles from Page, AZ to Las Cruces, NM.
  • Longest trip: 2,100 miles round trip Bryce Canyon National Park.
  • 1 Major hail storm survived

My future plans for it:

  • Powdercoat OEM wheels
  • HID retrofit
  • Bose Sound System Upgrade

Here’s a photo from November, 2014 when I picked it up in Phoenix. My buddy Tyson Hugie generously stored the car at his place until I could get it.

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How she stands today.

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Warning: photo overload coming up!
Here are some memorable moments from the past year: 

Tijeras, NM Musical Road

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Antelope Canyon, AZ / UT

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Mogollon, NM

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Mt. Taylor in northern NM

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Acoma (Sky City), NM

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Million Mile Lexus Drive (Chiricahua)

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My favorite modifications: 

Chrome “mustache” grille

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Smoked side markers

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New headlamps

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Leather interior swap and MazdaSpeed 6 aluminum pedal covers

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Heaviest load: 11 bags of 50lb landscape mulch

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And here are some mileage milestones…

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Today, she currently sits at 175,800 miles and is still rolling smooth and strong. That said, this is not a minty showroom example. There are a few known issues that will need sorting out soon. I have an annoying check engine light that likes to come on and go out for no apparent reason, the headliner is in need of reupholstering, and I have a little timing chain cover oil leak that drips on the manifold thus giving off a lovely burning oil aroma. I also suspect I’ll have to get the A/C recharged next season as it just doesn’t quite have that cold kick it should. I want to be brushing icicles off my nose.

Aside from all of that, I wouldn’t hesitate to drive this across the country and back again. So, what’s next? This 6 was originally supposed to be a temporary ride while I got finances in order, but I just got too attached to the dang thing that I guess I’ll keep it for another year or two and see what comes then. 200,000 miles is right around the corner! I’ll see you then…

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A Drive in a Million Mile Lexus in Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument

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I have yet to experience owning a truly high-mile car (the current 174,000 miles on the Mazda doesn’t count to me). A worn out car with multiple hundreds of thousands of miles is far more impressive to me than a shiny flamboyant Italian hypercar that will fetch multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d love a chance to get up and personal with one. I’m constantly grazing the web finding new stories of high-mile cars and their owners’ stories. Many of you may have heard of: Irv Gordon’s 3 million mile Volvo,  “MillionMileJoe” LoCicero’s Honda Accord, and Hugh Pennington’s Chevy Silverado. Those are just to name a few. Fun stuff for me.

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon an interesting story of a 1996 Lexus LS400 that had a whopping 897,000 miles on it. It was newly purchased by Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire.  Matt bought this Florida-owned LS400 for two main reasons: those crazy miles and to relive a special time in his life when he owned a similar car. To be honest, I never heard of The Smoking Tire or Matt Farah, but thanks to this car, my interest grew. Since then, I’ve been following their stories and challenges posted online.

10 months have gone by and he has been passing the keys of the LS400 around to journalists all over the west coast in an attempt to get this baby up to the 1 million mile mark. Therefore, it’s called #millionmilelexus. So far, multiple journalists have piled on about 25,000 miles.

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I read the story and then that was it…read on to the next story. Not my buddy Tyson Hugie. He saw this as an opportunity to reach out to Matt directly and request to use the old girl for a few days in Arizona. Matt obliged, and I got a special invitation to join Tyson and a few other friends to drive to the Chiricahua National Monument where they’d be testing out the Lexus. It’s about 250 miles or 4.5hrs from Las Cruces…here we go!

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Departure time was 9am on Saturday, and I brought my friend James Zamora along for the ride. We were to meet in Wilcox, AZ with Tyson, James Lee, Jack and Chandler for lunch. I got the 6 all cleaned up for the drive.

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This was our meeting point for lunch…”The Dining Car.” Half of the restaurant is actually a train car!

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My meal of choice was a massive bacon cheese burger with fries. Hit the spot nicely.

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After lunch, it was time to chat over the cars. We had four in total:

  • “MillionMileLexus” 1996 Lexus LS400 – 4-speed auto (921,000 miles)
  • 1994 Acura Legend Coupe LS – 6spd manual (538,000 miles)
  • 2004 Mazda 6 S V6 – 5spd manual (174,000 miles)
  • 2000 Toyota Tacoma SR5 – 5spd manual (230,000 miles)

That’s roughly 1,863,000 miles between all of us!

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I was able to get behind the wheel of the Lexus for the first leg of the trip to Chiricahua from Wilcox.

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Tyson continued in his Legend and James Lee took the keys to my 6. Jack and Chandler were in their Tacoma.

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Turning the key of the Lexus to awaken the well traveled, 4.0L (FAA approved) 260HP V8 emitted very little noise. It’s more of a refined hum. No ticking, knocking…not even a puff of smoke. That’s impressive. The idle was still as smooth as silk.

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It was a good 40 miles on Hwy 186 to Chiricahua National Monument. Looking past all the cosmetically worn interior bits, I found the A/C ice cold, every gadget worked, and the ride was comfortable…maybe too comfortable. The tired suspension didn’t take too kindly to dips and abrupt slope changes in some of the corners. Gusty winds didn’t help much either. This contributed to me tightening the grip on the steering wheel. But, what do you expect…it’s got 921,000 miles!

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As long as any corners didn’t sneak up on me, the driving experience was relaxed and effortless. The steering felt tight and I didn’t detect any wheel wobble or vibration whatsoever.

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James Lee followed in my 6.

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Arrived at the monument sign. James Lee and I both agreed that this Lexus could still work great as an interstate cruiser. An odd characteristic pointed out by James Lee is the driver’s seat gives and bounces in addition to the suspension. Therefore, you get the sensation of double suspension travel?

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Driving into the park and we were greeted with some impressive scenery. The Chiricahua National Monument consists of 18 square miles of vertical rock formations. These are believed to be the remains of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. The monument is far less-traveled than many of Arizona’s other natural wonders. Location partly to blame? Perhaps. It’s also just one of those National Monuments that goes unmentioned. We swapped cars again at this point.

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Following Tyson’s Legend.

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Here we parked at the “Massai Point,” being the final roundabout of the park.22488854542_5dd0438c3d_o

The afternoon was full of grand scenery, hiking and photo opportunities. Here we are hiking to the “Grotto” on the Echo Canyon Trail. The grotto was probably my favorite point where you get to climb through the rhyolite rocks.

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James Zamora taking in the scenery.

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Our other James doing the same.

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Jack employing the useful “selfie stick” for some group shots.

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From left to right: Chandler, Tyson, Jack, James Zamora, Jason, James Lee

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Entering the Grottoes!

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A rather poor photo of “Balanced Rock”

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As the sun started to set, it was time to direct our attention back to the cars for some photos.

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I got to drive the Legend coupe a bit and observed that Tyson is nearing 540,000 miles! Keep on rollin’!

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Now in better lighting conditions, I was able to easily see that the Lexus hadn’t made it this far without a few bruises along the way. Consider them badges of honor…

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Everything the driver touches is worn…shift knob, steering wheel, and elbow rests. However, the interior is not half bad for the age.

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Jack and Chandler hiked a bit more on their own while the rest of us dug out the media equipment and drove the park for some photos and video.

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Photos by Tyson:

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Photo by James Lee:

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Tyson’s Legend coupe and the 6.

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A few shots with the Tacoma. (First image courtesy of James Lee)

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As darkness fell, it was time to head back to Wilcox for the night. The last worthy photo of the trip was a quick shot in front of an abandoned Chevrolet dealer before we all headed back to our respective cities. Tyson was to return the Lexus to Matt the following Monday. Thank you all for coming along for the ride. Join me in wishing the #millionmilelexus well, and that it reaches Matt’s goal of 1 million miles. Until next time…

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