Category Archives: Travels

Taking the 6 to New Heights: 14,000 ft+ in Colorado Part II

Welcome to Part II of the Colorado Drive. Let’s begin:

The next day we made our way to Pikes Peak, just 30 miles west of Colorado Springs. First stop along the way was Garden of the Gods. This public park just west of Colorado Springs offers nice views with hiking and Segway tour accommodations. Since we wanted to be mindful of the time, we chose to just drive through.

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Wait. Did we stumble upon another planet? More amazing views.

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Cheesy photo by “balanced rock” in the park.

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Pikes Peak:

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Now let’s get to the good stuff. Making our way to Pikes Peak highway was an easy drive. Upon arrival at the tollgate, a rather lengthy line of cars were awaiting their turn to pay the entry fee to continue onward. It wasn’t the cheapest at $30 ($15 per person), but trust me…all was worth it. Pikes Peak is regarded as the most visited mountain in North America, and only second in the world next to Japan’s Mt. Fuji. At 14,115 ft above sea level, this is the 31st highest peak out of the 54 in Colorado. The Pikes Peak Highway from the base to the summit climbs 7,400 ft over just over 12 miles!

Four major events take place on this mountain each year, Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Pikes Peak Challenge and the AdAmAn Club New Year’s Fireworks display. Best part for me is simply enjoying the views and crossing off another bucket list item.

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Making our way up to the summit. We are now beginning the 7,400 ft climb. THIS GETS STEEP!

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…and steeper (at timberline here)

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…and steeper! (now at alpine level) It’s certainly an odd feeling being nearly eye-level with the clouds.

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Nah, you don’t need no stinkin’ guardrails here. Some areas you would fall to certain death if you got a little careless with driving.

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Some views midway.

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The views were quite intoxicating, and most curves were perfectly banked for some decent fun.

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Mostly though, we just took our time at a steady pace. After a little under an hour which included many photo stops, we made it!

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We checked out The Summit House which was the only facility at the summit. Stuffed full of endless souvenirs and a small cafe, you could get lost in there for quite some time. A small burger and milk shake sure hit the spot and I did manage to buy a few items.

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Outside the Summit House, you’re free to walk around with no barriers, fencing or other obstructions and take in the scenery.

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When it was time to start the descend, I was surprised that 1 – 2nd gear and 4,000 rpms were all I could use to comfortably control the speed. Rain started to come down which made me even more cautious.

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Midway down the mountain, there was a mandatory brake check where a nice lady actually checked each vehicle’s rotors and pads with a temperature gauge. If your brakes were too toasty, you have to pull aside to let them cool before proceeding. This was serious stuff here. Luckily, we sailed on by with no issue.

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That covers it! Apologies I couldn’t offer up some more excitement in the mix. Saying “Two dudes drive an old Mazda up two mountains without incident” doesn’t exactly make for an exciting read. However, if you stuck around long enough to read this, I thank you for joining the ride. Until next time…

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Taking the 6 to New Heights: 14,000 ft+ in Colorado Part I

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Sometimes past drives are so memorable that I just need to get back for another go. I’ve had this goal for many places I’ve visited, but one that tops the list was Mt. Evans in Colorado…the highest paved road in North America.

I actually didn’t plan this much in advance. It was more of a last minute trip idea, and not going to be a blog post until I decided to throw in one more stop, Pikes Peak! This trip happened in early August of this year, so the weather was just right…cool temps with light spots of rain. My buddy, James Zamora, and I decided that a four-day weekend was in order to escape the humid heat of the desert in search of those cooler temps.

You may remember my first drive to Mt. Evans in 2013 with James and Tyson from drivetofive. I drove my 2004 Honda Accord Coupe V6 6spd then and never forgot the experience. We planned to visit Pikes Peak as well, but it was closed for a bike event. Mercifully, it was open this time so I couldn’t pass it up. Now, let’s give my Mazda 6 that same Mt. Evans experience and see how the 230,000 mile motor handles 14,000+ ft above sea level…twice! While Mt. Evans soars to 14,211 ft, Pikes Peak isn’t that far behind at 14,112 ft. More importantly, how would I handle those heights since I’ve not been in the best shape lately. Let’s find out!

Total drive time: 22hrs
Total miles: 1,451

Starting day: Picked up James Z. from Socorro, NM and we headed out on I-25. With multiple clouds multiplying in the sky, it was sure to be a beautiful day. We planned it by spending the night in Denver, attack Mt. Evans Saturday and Pikes Peak the following day near Colorado Springs. Let’s get going…

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Getting into Colorado with a gentle mist in the air. Note this was the time I was trying out those chrome alloys!

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Oh, what’s this? A national park along the way? It’s the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and we both had never been. Time to rectify that.

 

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Checkout those menacing clouds!

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A rather underrated National Park, the Grand Sand Dunes lives in southern Colorado and is known for being the tallest sand dunes in North America. Being at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, it offers some of the most majestic scenery around Southern Colorado. I highly recommend a stop to just let your feet sink into the sand.

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We continued onward to Denver for the night. Hotel of choice was the Hyatt Business center which had the best rates on the south end of town.

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The following day gave us bright and sunny weather for the drive to Mt. Evans. I was thrilled to be once again driving this highest paved road in North America. Lots of switchbacks with no shoulders or no guardrails await!

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Didn’t take long to get up into alpine country.

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Stop at Summit Lake, just 5.5 miles from the top of Mt. Evans.

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Thanks to James for helping out with the photography. This selfie mirror shot is starting to become a tradition.

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Made it to the top! Parking was a little tricky since there were quite a few tourists at this time of year. The little 6 charged up the mountain without incident.

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Summit sign.

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Views for days!

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And it wouldn’t be a 14,000 ft+ experience without spotting the occasional big horned sheep and mountain goat!

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Heading back down. Luckily, we didn’t suffer any ill effects of the altitude aside from a very slight headache I felt coming on. This could also have been my lack of water intake that day, though.

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We wrapped up the day with an easy drive to Colorado Springs for the night. Stay tuned for Part II of Pikes Peak!

 

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Phoenix, AZ and Training in Las Vegas, NV

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Greetings! Summer is here in Las Cruces, NM and the heat is definitely on. 100s all week and into the next. I don’t mind at all as it’s just part of the summer experience.

Speaking of heat, I recently was asked to attend a training in Las Vegas, NV for work. Road trip while getting paid? You bet! Flying was offered as an option, but I chose the longer, driving route. While it was quite warm in Las Cruces, it was dang HOT on this trip. First stop was in Phoenix, AZ (about half way) where I had 5-star accommodations at my buddy’s (Tyson’s) place. From Phoenix, it was an easy 4.5hr drive to Las Vegas. Phoenix was around 110 degrees where ‘Vegas was ONLY 109!

Total drive: 1,400 miles and ~22hrs of windshield time. Here’s the montage of the journey. Enjoy!

Gas stop in Lordsburg, NM

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Arrival at Tyson’s place in Phoenix. Even though he was away in Utah at that particular time, he generously allowed me to stay at his new place (purchased last June).

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A few photos while exploring the area. (This one is for you, Tyson!)

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Inverted pyramid building in central Phoenix.

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I snuck into Tyson’s newly renovated garage to grab a few photos. This garage accommodates a whopping five cars, and is a showroom for his complete (sans an SLX) 90s Acura collection. So clean, you can eat off the floor!

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Next day I hit the road for ‘Vegas.

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Quick stop at Nothing, AZ. My second time here.

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Crossing the mighty Colorado River into Nevada!

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Arriving in ‘Vegas.

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My conference and two night stay was in Caesar’s Palace on the strip.

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Checking in…accommodations weren’t bad at all.

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A little exploring since I had the evening to myself. No gambling for me, though.

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The fountains at Bellagio..

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It didn’t take long before I was pooped. Since the conference started early the following morning, I hit the hay while the rest of the Strip hustled and bustled throughout the night.

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The following two days of training was here at Caesar’s conference tower.

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My last night at Caesar’s, I discovered a TV in the bathroom mirror?

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Return trip back home, and one more stop at Tyson’s. I gave his gorgeous 2007 Kinetic Blue 6-spd TL Type-s a quick drive. At 97,000 miles, it felt as though it just left the showroom. Someday, I might just have to grab one of these in black.

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Before heading out for Las Cruces, I started a new tradition by having significant folks who have ridden or driven the 6 in the past sign the trunk lid with a silver sharpie. Tyson and James Lee of sixspeedblog.com happily started us off.

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Interstate 10 all the way home, and I hit some nice cool rain along the way.

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About 30 miles from the New Mexico border, AZ Highway Patrol pulled me over for my window tint being too dark. Luckily I just got a warning, but I’m still puzzled by the stop considering I don’t reside in Arizona!

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Back in Las Cruces and thanks to the rain, I was able to turn off the A/C for the first time in months.

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That concludes the drive. Thanks for stopping by!

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Enjoying 2017 and A 2nd Year Anniversary

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Happy Easter! After a nearly 8 month hiatus, I wanted to check in. Apologies my blog efforts have slowly died down the past year. Things have been good with life, though. Career in full swing, on track and home renovations still coming along. These have been consuming most of my time and therefore I have not put any priority to this blog. I’ve missed sharing many milestones and adventures with you. I certainly needed a holiday weekend like this to keep me away from work, traveling or hammering dry wall so I could sit down and shoot out a much needed post. I’ll get right to it:

Recently, (rather, November 7th, 2016) the 6’s second year anniversary passed by. That means, it’s now the car that I’ve owned for the longest since my 2002 RSX Type-S. Here’s how things have been holding up with the 6 since the last anniversary:

  • Total miles covered in 2016: 37,458 miles
  • Miles on the ODO on the anniversary date: 214,057
  • Total states driven in: 11
  • Provences visited: 3
  • 8 oil changes
  • 0 Breakdowns (in 2016)
  • Longest road trip: Las Cruces, NM to Arctic Circle, AK (~8,900 miles)
  • Maintenance cost: ~1,000

The 6 is running great, but there are a few issues I will be addressing in the coming months. The suspension is feeling a little tired, and the passenger lower control arm is occasionally making some obnoxious moaning noises when cold. Now that it’s getting warmer, I might be able to avoid any pricey repairs until this Fall. My DIY headliner fix didn’t hold that well, and the fabric is starting to sag again. That will need a professional job. During my home renovating escapades, I managed to break one of the back seat fold-down handles while loading stuff and a careless bump with a 2×4 broke a chunk off of my tail light. Also, a careless motorist lightly scuffed my driver’s door after the New Year, but that will be addressed soon with a good exterior detail…which is due this Spring. Currently, the 6 is sitting at 225,804 miles and continues to be my daily driver.

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I don’t plan to retire this car anytime soon. Despite being MIA for so long here, I’ve still been on the open road racking up the miles. Here are a few adventures to share:

Ouray, Colorado trip with Dad:

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Wilcox, AZ with Tyson and James. We had a blast sliding around the Wilcox Playa (Dry Lake Bed)!

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Yup, I’m the idiot who decided to tryout a “figure eight” with the window open. I’m still cleaning sand out!

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Another trip with Dad to California. We captured the “terrific twos” along the way!

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Serious Dad with the hands at “10 and 2”

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Kingston, CA

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Grand Canyon, AZ:

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Occasionally, I will have an urge to go explore around the Organ Mountains Monument here in Las Cruces after work. It’s a good place to clear the mind.

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I replaced the passenger headlight for the THIRD time. Bouncing around the roads to Alaska last summer did a number on the internal wiring harness. I hope this third time ends up being the charm.

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Sadly, in February this year, the 6 left me stranded for the first time due to a failed alternator. About a week in the shop for parts and $1,000 later, the OEM replacement got me back on the road. It didn’t take me long to learn Mazda OEM parts are quite expensive and take a while to get here in New Mexico. For this particular job, and the labor (which was the majority of the final bill) involved removing part of the front suspension to access the dang alternator.

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That pretty much catches you all up! I don’t have any solid plans for this summer yet, but don’t worry, I will be sharing the journey’s with you. Thanks for stopping by!

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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 Day 12-13: Seattle & Pacific Northwest

Day (12 & 13) Miles:  878 |  Total Trip Miles: 7,186

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We are back in the U.S., and today I was able to relax a bit. Even though I’m still a few thousand miles from home, it feels like we are making great progress on getting back. I’m combining two days into one post again for avoiding the risk of boring you.

We left our comfortable Motel 6 accommodations in Cache Creek, BC and headed south for the border! By quickly glancing at the map, I assumed it would be a drive just like the last few days. But, no! To my surprise, there were endless mountain ranges, curvy smooth roads, roaring rivers, tunnels, and clear blue skies. Awww…it was almost orgasmic!

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After all this, we made a quick stop in Abbotsford, BC to visit with Pam (or “nsxpam” on Instagram). Yup, that means she has an Acura NSX from 1991, and also a sweet 2006 TSX. A true Honda fan and a great host.

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She even packed us some yummy salads for the road. Thanks, Pam!

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From Abbotsford, it was only 20 or so minutes to the border crossing into the U.S. CBP officer was very friendly and “gently” recommended that I clean off my plate as their cameras couldn’t read it..haha!

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Last night, we spent the night in Seattle where I visited with an aunt and uncle. Tyson met up with some of his family and friends also. My dinner date was in downtown Seattle at Elephant & Castle, and it sure was great to catch up. Stupid me forgot to get a group photo, so these family members will have to remain anonymous until next time.

Today, Tyson and I had a hardy breakfast at the local IHOP before setting off. Only this time, we would set off on different routes, so the remainder of this trip will be just me. (It’s been great, Tyson!!!) Tyson headed east on I-90 towards Idaho and Utah where I went a more Pacific Northwest route down through Oregon and California.

I made a rather odd route through Long Beach, WA; Astoria, OR; Lincoln City, OR; and finally tonight I am in Eugene, OR.  Since I was in this part of the country, I just HAD to give the Washington and Oregon coasts a quick drive-by before settling in on I-5 south. Tomorrow, that’s where I’ll be for at least half of the day and I’ll catch Hwy 99 south in Sacramento, CA. My plans are simple: I’ll stop when I get tired. Thanks for following along…here’s a chronological flow of photos for you all.

Following Tyson in some of those fun British Columbia tunnels!

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Last Canadian gas stop

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We spotted a rare Mazdaspeed 6…so that’s what my tail lights used to look like?

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Coming into Washington!

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Downtown Seattle on my way to dinner (and trying to find parking)

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Dinner spot

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Following day first stop at Long Beach, WA. According to their visitor center, this sign is false…it’s not the world’s longest beach. However, it is the longest DRIVABLE beach in the world…does that count?

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Views from the cockpit.

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6 playing in the Pacific waters…

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Driving into some heavy greenery!

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Lunch stop in Astoria, OR at a place called, Ship Inn. Simple salad and clam chowder is exactly what I was craving.

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Views of Astoria, OR. I love this little town so much!

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Oregon Coast views.

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Exposing the 6 to a little rain forest action.

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Drift Creek Covered Bridge from 1914 near Otis, OR.

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And a closing photo of a rather embarrassing front end. I can’t even…

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See you all later!

2016 Alaska Drive Day 11: Cache Creek, British Columbia

Day Miles:  546 |  Total Trip Miles: 6,308

Welcome to our last full day in British Columbia. We moved away from the mountain ranges to more hilly countryside with lush fields of green and rivers. Very pretty all around especially since we had sunshine and blue skies nearly all day. The roads felt familiar as we had nice wide shoulders and smooth pavement all the way. No more frost heaves! Tonight we are in Cache Creek, BC which is not terribly far from the border. This is going to be a really short and simple post as we didn’t stop that much along the way. Here’s a quick summary with photos:

We left our motel in New Hazelton, BC early enough that I had a heck of a time seeing out my bug-splattered windshield. I couldn’t wait for the next stop to get that taken care of. Tyson noticed that the nightly rain showers had taken some of my precious Alaskan mud away…NOOO!!!!! Tyson and I had hoped to preserve the amount of filth on our cars to bring back home as a sort of trophy.

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Quick stop at Houston, BC to observe the World’s Largest Fly Rod!

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“Let me give ‘er a try!”

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Since neither of us bothered with breakfast today, lunch came sooner than later in Vanderhoof, BC. We chose J & S Restaurant for a local taste.

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I had the salad bar and Tyson and I tried a new dish to us…poutine. It’s nothing more than fries with gravy and cheese, but it was dang good! I could definitely get used to this in the States!

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We connected with Hwy 97 south in Prince George, BC. Pretty little town here, and I tried by best to capture the scene as you descend from the hill.

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A little more road construction.

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Gas stop in Quesnel, BC at the Super Save Gas.

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We pulled up and were pleasantly surprised to find it was a full service station…just like what you get in Oregon and New Jersey! Here’s my windshield getting a full service with a smile.

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Much of the views we had today.

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Tomorrow, we shall be in Seattle, WA…back in the lower 48! Thanks for coming along…

2016 Alaska Drive Day 9-10: On the Road Back

Day (9 & 10) Miles:  1,316 |  Total Trip Miles: 5,762

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We have begun the drive back. I’m combining days 9 and 10 for there isn’t a lot of content I was able to compile. Day 9, we backtracked to the Yukon Territory and stayed the night in Teslin. The drive was uneventful and still contained a lot of road construction stretches and minor delays. Mercifully, the views kept us occupied for the times we’d have to wait (sometimes 15 minutes) for the pilot vehicle to guide us through.

We made our usual gas stops every two hours or so just for an excuse to take a breather and/or restroom stops. Our route took us back through Kluane National Park and Recreational Area for a few photos. (Featured photo is from here as well)

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Lunch was in Haines Junction, YT at this odd looking little joint called Kluane Park Inn. As we sat down, the menu had items from veil to fried rice to burgers and even spaghetti and meatballs. This made us a little suspicious of the food quality. I ordered the “Deluxe Burger” and to my surprise, it and the french fries were top notch!

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Watch out, Tyson! Heading out after lunch, a grizzly decided to frolic across the road in front of Tyson’s ILX.

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Continuing on to our night’s stop was a steady pace. I was able to set the cruise control, lean back and enjoy the ride to Teslin, YT. We arrived late and slept at the same joint we stayed in on the way up…that’s how much we liked it! I took a walk around in the evening (11pm, actually) for a few photos of the area. The bridge looked grand when illuminated by the setting sun.

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Now for today (Day 10), we left the Alaska Highway and joined the Cassiar Highway (37) south towards British Columbia. Before we got on the Cassiar Highway, some snow managed to find its way down!

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This is about as cold as I’ve seen on the entire trip. 36 degrees Fahrenheit

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Once on Cassiar, it made for a great change in scenery. We were able to enjoy endless Cassiar mountain ranges, green foliage and numerous wild flowers on the roadside. A few curves were also thrown in as a bonus.

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Road conditions were generally very good overall, and traffic was light. Rain accompanied the travels today, but I didn’t mind.

There weren’t exactly a plethora of dining choices for lunch. When the time came for the grumbles to emerge in our stomachs, our best choice was a small deli inside of a Petro Canada in Dease Lake, British Columbia. A simple grilled ham and cheese hit the spot…or maybe I was just really hungry?

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Quick stop to stretch our legs.

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Gas stop in “Bell II”

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We probably encountered more wildlife on this route than the entire trip! Between Tyson and I, we spotted a total of 4 bears and two moose! Luckily, all out of harm’s way. Tonight, we are settling down in New Hazelton, British Columbia. I am beat, and will be ready to replenish for the next day! See you then…

 

2016 Alaska Drive Day 7-8: A Day in Fairbanks and the Arctic Circle

Day 7

Day Miles: ~10

It’s the evening of May 25, 2016 in Fairbanks, and Tyson and I are blogging and filing photos from the trip. We had planned for the next day to just hang out in Fairbanks to catch our breath, and take a break from 10-12 hr days in the car. I happened to notice on our MilePost map that the Arctic Circle runs pretty close to where we were…right on the Dalton Highway which we have already saved for another time.

More digging through Google, and I found that there is an official marker for the Arctic Circle off the Highway. This is when my excitement level creeps up, and I map out how long it would take to get there. Turned out to be 5 hrs (one way), 190 miles over very questionable road conditions. I causally mentioned it to Tyson to test his interest level. We ended up agreeing it would be cool, but fr another time. That was that.

The next day, we took it slow and easy in Fairbanks. We ate a hardy breakfast at the Denny’s next door (which happens to be the Northern most Denny’s!) and we ran a few errands.

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We stopped to see a piece of the famous Trans-Alaskan Oil Pipeline System. This thing runs 800 miles and has carried over 17 billion barrels of oil.

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Next, I took the 6 into Kendall Mazda/Kia to get the oil changed and a general inspection. I admit, a big part of me just wanted to say I got an oil change in Alaska. 🙂 I left the 6 there and rode with Tyson for a bit. We stopped at the Honda dealer in town to see the accommodations, a restaurant called The Cookie Jar featured on Diners Drive-Ins & Dives, and then headed back to the hotel for more laptop time. Wasn’t much later I got a call from Kendall recommending I “winterize” the 6. Haha! That meant adding a block heater, special low temp coolant and a battery upgrade. I don’t think that will be needed back home, so I declined. Otherwise, the 6 was ready.

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That evening, the subject of the Arctic Circle came up again. Tyson revealed he was about 40% convinced to go and spend the extra day. I was at 85%. We kept weighing the pros and cons. There also was a big factor of our cars not making it. The sensible thing to do would be to pass and save for another time. However, we are not sensible. The decision was finally made early the morning of Day 8.

Day 8

Day Miles:  391 |  Total Trip Miles: 4,446

We freaking drove to the Arctic Circle! I am in disbelief we actually did this.

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Besides losing a day of travel, our other reason for possibly ditching this idea was our uncertainty of how our cars would handle the road. How many flat tires could we expect? Would rough conditions shake our cars apart? Would there be so much mud we’e risk getting stuck or sliding off? On the tires, Tyson was well prepared with a donut spare, full sized spare and even another tire. I only had a full sized spare. If I got one flat, I’d better pray long and hard that I wouldn’t get another. Both our low-slung sports sedans have their bellys only inches off the ground and the low profile tires don’t do much to cushion big blows. In the end, our hunger for adventure outweighed the risks, and we went for it.We left our hotel room in Fairbanks around 6am, gassed up in Fox, AK (just 8 miles north) and headed for the Dalton Highway!

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This highway is pretty remarkable for road trippers. Named after James W. Dalton, this 420 mile road begins at the Elliott Highway, (north of Fairbanks) and ends near the Arctic Ocean at Deadhorse, AK. Historically, it was built as the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System supply road. It’s been featured on several episodes of Ice Road Truckers and it’s not what you’d call a cruise. When ice and snow aren’t present, you have to face broken pavement, severe frost heaves, massive potholes, mud, sharp rocks and gravel. Numerous cars go wrecked and don’t return home. Even on our drive, we noticed a few past crashes that looked like they weren’t going to be cleaned up anytime soon. 

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Entering the Dalton Highway

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Numerous occasions, signs instructed to always keep lights on for safety.

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The Dalton Highway in all its glory!

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First distance sign we came to. 60 miles away! Another 300 and you’ve got yourself Deadhorse.

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The first half of the Dalton drive looked like this. We assumed it had been recently graded as the surface was smoother than many of the paved roads we’ve experienced on this trip.

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Topping off our tanks in Yukon River Camp. Only one gas pump was available with a price of $5.49/gallon. In this remote location, we didn’t care.

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The arctic landscape. From here, the roads did get a little dicey in some areas that required constant attention.

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This sign caught me at a specific stressful moment avoiding frost heaves and potholes…my response, “No sh#t, Sherlock!”

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Arrived!

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Just in time: A tour van pulled up as we were getting ready to depart.

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More views for the soul.

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On our way back, we stopped at the BLM visitor’s center (more like cabin) and got certificates acknowledging our achievements of getting to the ‘Circle.

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Felt like a kid with his first report card to hang on the fridge!

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Photo on the way back. We managed to get a few more layers of mud on the cars. Just what we wanted to show that we meant business in Alaska!

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Back at the hotel and “Holy Muddy Cars, Batman!” How does this make my detailing buddies feel? 😀

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Tomorrow we will be heading back towards the lower 48. Yukon is on our radar for the next night. This will mostly be backtracking, but I will be back with fresh content soon after!

2016 Alaska Drive Day 6: Fairbanks, AK

Day Miles: 701  |  Total Trip Miles: 4,055

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We made it! It’s been a long time coming and I’m still pinching myself to make sure this isn’t a dream…we are in Fairbanks, Alaska. Getting here was quite a drive full of (more) beautiful scenery, frost heaved lumpy roads and mud. So much to share, so let’s get to it:

We left Teslin, Yukon fully rested from the comfortable accommodations. It was already raining by the time we left, and it continued to do so for the majority of the morning. Tyson and I just flipped on the wipers, cranked up the tunes and cruised on. We both were determined to get to the Alaska border sooner than later so there was no time to waste. After a pit stop in Whitehorse, YT for gas, the scenery became awe-inspiring. The drive on Hwy 1 took us by the edge of Kluane Lake National Park, and this is where the good stuff started. Massive snow-capped mountains surrounded a gorgeous lake with roaring waves crashing on the shores.

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Further up the road, the sun came out to play, and this made for some good photos:

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It wasn’t much later that we made it to the Alaska state line. I thanked the 6 with a solid few whacks on the roof for being such a noble steed. The ILX got its praise too for the flawless service. praise with excitement, we soldiered on to Tok, AK where we had a scrumptious lunch at a place called Fast Eddy’s. That fueled us well enough to drive the additional 200 miles to Fairbanks where we are for the night. Our schedule from here on is very flexible, and some planning will be in play. Until then, look for more Alaska fun in the next few days…

6 is getting her good dose of grime.

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Quick roadside photo op.

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Dirt road section where we got to splash through mud puddles like crazy!

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My first grizzly bear sighting.

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Lots of road construction today.

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Let me in! U.S. Customs…got the passport ready!

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Lunch at Fast Eddy’s in Tok, AK

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Alaska Highway/Fairbanks sign

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Side profile pic while waiting for the pilot car to guide us through construction.

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The official end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction, AK.

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There was also a weathered wooden sign describing the history of the highway:

This highway was constructed during World War II as a military supply route for interior Alaska Military and Airfields in 1942.  7 Army regiments and 42 contractors and public roads administrators working from Delta Junction South and Dawson Creek North completed it when they met at Soldiers’ Summit at Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory in November 1942.  At the peak of construction, 77 contractors employed 15,000 men and 11,000 pieces of road-building equipment.  The total construction cost for 1,422 miles was $115,000,000.

A stop at North Pole (No, I’m not pulling your leg here!) to visit Santa’s house.

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Checking in our Super 8 Motel room. It’s about 8:30pm here and look how much light there still is! Sunset is supposed to happen at 11:30pm according to my weather app. Sometime in late June there will be a 24 hour period of full sun. How crazy is that?

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That about covers it all. Thanks again for riding along!