Category Archives: Uncategorized

Playing with Some 6’s in the White Mountains of Arizona

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With consistent toasty temperatures beating down on us New Mexicans in Las Cruces for the past few months, I was certainly looking forward to escaping somewhere a little cooler for the weekend. It was a perfect time to head out of state in search for some fresh countryside and curvy roads. That’s just what I did. Last weekend I grouped with Tyson Hugie (drivetofive), Bradley Kyle and James Lee (six speed blog), and we had a grand time in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona. James brought a 2016 Mazda 6 press car for the ride, and I had a lucky opportunity to take the keys and see how it fared in the mountain roads.

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With sleek “Kodo” design language, a brilliant chassis, and SkyActiv technology to boost those fuel economy figures into the…well, “sky,” the redesigned 3rd generation Mazda6 was an instant hit with journalists and consumers when it was unveiled in 2013. I was a bit surprised when I heard Mazda was already doing a refresh for 2016. This should be a treat to drive on our planned route.

Let’s get to the road trip! My total travel distance was 717 miles. Las Cruces, NM > Globe, AZ > Eagar, AZ > Las Cruces, NM.

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The contenders:

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  • 2013 Acura ILX:  2.4 liter 4-cylinder, 201 horsepower; 6-speed manual
  • 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring:  2.5 liter 4-cylinder, 184 horsepower; 6-speed automatic
  • My 2004 Mazda 6:  3.0 liter V6, 220 horsepower; 5-speed manual

Friday afternoon I headed west to Arizona where I’d spend the night in Globe. Easy sailing the whole way.

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State line!

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Accommodations of choice was the Belle-Aire Motel. Don’t let the rather sketchy broken neon sign fool you…this was actually a pretty nice stop. Room was decent and clean if not the most luxurious. Did I mention it was only $37 a night?!

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I took a little drive through the historic district of Globe after hours. The quiet town is very picturesque at night and during the day. These photos aren’t my best work. My DSLR was left at home.

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The next morning, I was able to find a nice high point in the town for a photo.

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From Globe, I headed west on Hwy 60 to the small town of Superior where I’d meet with Tyson, Bradley and James.

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They arrived. And here’s James’ ride for the weekend…a 2016 6 bathed in Sonic Silver Metallic.

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The new updates to the 6 really show well in person. If you think it looks slick in photos, it’s much better in the flesh.

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Snack and restroom stop in Globe (backtracking a little for me). Here are a pair of 6’s and an ILX.

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Bradley, James and me comparing and contrasting headlight designs.

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We swapped cars afterwards, and I was in the new 6. Tyson and Bradley took my car and James was in the ILX.

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On to the hills!

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We took Hwy 77 North that would go through a very scenic area of Arizona: The Salt River Canyon in the the Tonto National Forest.

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This canyon is been referred to as a “mini” Grand Canyon. This canyon can be driven from rim to rim and comes with lots of fun curves that requires a focused driver and a taught, athletic chassis. 6% grades will greet you in some areas, so you’d better check those brakes! Perfect opportunity to put this 6 through its paces.

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Photo stop at a lookout point.

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First Impressions on the new 6:

As I settled myself into the driver’s seat, I felt like I just stepped into a $40-50,000 car…BMW anyone? The stitched leather treatments on the dash and splashes of high gloss silver and piano black really make the cabin inviting. One feels cocooned, yet has a commanding view of the road. 6ft plus adults should try before buying though, as the low-slung roof can make headroom a bit tight. Seat comfort is excellent and among the best I’ve experienced. Aggressive bolsters held me in place nicely.

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The driving experience impressed with a few minor reservations. A snob like myself keeps wanting more power from that 2.5L motor. The 184 Horsepower rating just doesn’t do the excellent chassis and slick styling any justice. Power delivery is a little soft at lower RPM and off-the-line. Throw a turbo or V6 option into the lineup, and I’d seriously consider being the first in line at the dealer. For regular sane folks though, this engine should be perfectly fine. Modest power is backed by excellent fuel economy and nice raspy noises emitting from the dual exhaust. Quietness is up there with the best of them if not quite as hushed a Camry or Passat.

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Perhaps the biggest improvement by far is the infotainment system. Placing the volume knob on the center console took some getting used to, but it soon became familiar and very easy to use. Overall, the interior gets an A+ from me.

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Console command center.

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At the base of the canyon lies a rest area along the river’s edge. We made this a pit stop for a few photos. You can see the new bridge run parallel to the old bridge constructed back in 1934. Gotta love those old bridges!

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Old abandoned bridge.

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Taking in the sights.

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This time we swapped cars again and I took the ILX. Tyson and Bradley in the new 6 and James in mine.

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Tyson’s ILX is still as solid as a rock even with 130,000 miles and lots of off-roading adventures. He recently celebrated its 3-year anniversary. When Tyson first took delivery, it only had 16 miles on the ODO. My first time behind the wheel was back in 2013 at White Sands. It only had 31,000 miles on it then!

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It sure loves these back roads!

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Lunch in Show Low, AZ

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After lunch, we car swapped again and we were back in our respective rides. James wanted to test out the new 6 on our next leg of the drive to Eagar, AZ.

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Another stop near Crescent Lake.

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A good looking trio!

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The new 6 compared to mine is quite a lot bigger and has a much more aggressive stance. After taking this new Mazda to the twisty back roads of our journey, it was immediately apparent that this car had some hidden engineering magic striking a magical balance between ride and handling. Though the electric steering is a bit numb compared to traditional hydraulic units, it still is the best in the class. The suspension kept body roll in check and hid the front drive characteristics quite well. It made my old 2004 model feel a little flabby. This Mazda is definitely one of the best handling front drive cars out there. Well done, Mazda. The brakes were excellent and inspired confidence.

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After a few hours of more playing on the back roads, we arrive relatively early in Eagar, AZ…just in time to catch the new Jurassic World movie in their historic El Rio theater. I highly recommend this.

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The cinema…

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We all climbed into the new 6 for our evening running around. Check out those LEDs!

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After the movie, it was time to grab some grub at Trail Riders Restaurant.

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Next day, we caught some continental breakfast at the hotel and then parted ways. I headed towards home via Hwy 180, and the rest of the gang went back towards Phoenix.  Stay tuned as I share a nice pit stop on my way back through New Mexico. Thanks for coming along!

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The 6 is Back!

As you gathered from the title, the 6 is repaired and back on the road! Only a few days before Christmas, I got a call from Borman Autoplex Body Shop informing me that the car was ready to be picked up. It was certainly an early Christmas present to me. They only had to replace the aforementioned rear upper control arm and give it an alignment. To my amazement, the shop foreman told me that the front wasn’t misaligned one bit despite the curb impact. Here she is ready to be driven home.

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Looking at the repaired area. They rubbed off the scrapes on the wheel to inspect for structural damage. None was there, thankfully.

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Suspension is sitting as it should now.

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The next day, I was able to look it over more closely.

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The impound info from the first tow (the night of the accident).

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I informed Borman to not worry about the light body damage. With some polish, my rotary buffer and a bit of muscle, I’m sure I can get 90% of this off.

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I am quite ashamed that I haven’t had the time nor has the weather been cooperative to do anything cosmetic to the 6. The paint has been awaiting a good detail, the headlights are still in a foggy state and the few dents I have stare at me everytime I walk to my car. I’m anxious to get it all polished up. Until then though, I did the unthinkable and ran it through an auto car wash. I had been getting over a cold and exposing myself to the elements with chilled water didn’t seem that smart. So, drive thru car wash it is!

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I would NEVER do this if I had the paint swirl free, but at this point it really didn’t matter.

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And what did I do next? Hit the road to something musical! Stay tuned for my post Christmas trip.

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Thanksgiving Drive to California – Returning back to Las Cruces

It’s Black Friday and I’m to start my trip back to New Mexico! Normally, I don’t engage in the shopping rush, but for some reason this day, I felt left out. I had a great breakfast with my Grandpa and Delia and then we parted ways. He and Delia stayed in California for a few extra days while I needed to get back for work.

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I headed south on I-5 toward Bakersfield. The roads were extremely quiet for this time of day. Guess everyone was either at home recuperating from overindulgence or in the stores “saving” money. Either way, I virtually had the road to myself.

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Gas prices certainly were much better compared to what they had been in the summer, (over 4.59/gal!) but if I lived here, I would have to really tone down the driving.

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Here I am going through Bakersfield.

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Hwy 58 through Bakersfield was also quiet. It’s sad to see that many areas of California are starting to show the state’s low funding. Many shrubs and trees along the roadside are dead or in need of care. The general highway infrastructure is becoming a little run down too.

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Here I start heading up the mountain towards Tehachapi Pass.

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I turned off the highway to drive a section of the Tehachapi Loop. This small scenic loop dates back to 1876 and was built originally to accompany the Southern Pacific railway down from the Mojave plateau to the San Joaquin Valley. There isn’t much there now except for a few farms. Made for some great fun behind the wheel, and I was able to enjoy the golden rolling hills California is known for.

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The TL surprised me with its grip and stability in the corners. Despite having a curb weight of nearly 4,000lbs, the chassis and light steering worked very well with the AWD system to give sense of security and make the whole car feel much lighter than the specs would suggest.

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Pretty soon the road narrowed enough to where there weren’t any lines.

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Around this area, it is very common to spot these cool railroad tunnels piercing through the middle of the Tehachapi Mountain Range.

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Seeing these beehives put me in the mood for some honey!

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I stopped here to get out and enjoy some of the leftover fall colors before the winter temps take them away.

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Here is the official spot where my cover photo was taken. I thought this best illustrated the kind of country the TL was made for.

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After playing around in the hills for a bit, I set up the TL’s built-in GPS to take me straight towards Barstow, CA, where I’d get lunch. However, it got me lost! Either it’s useless in this area or I made a mistake programming in the destination. I don’t think I was supposed to “continue on this road for 42miles!”

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After I got back on track, I thought I’d try and see if I could take a peek at the Hyundai Proving Ground in California City, CA. It was on my way anyway. To my surprise, it was right off the highway! I was in high hopes that I could see some cool prototypes or at least a glimpse of the track.

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However, further down the driveway I was instructed not to enter.

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So here’s the best I could do with GoogleEarth:

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Most of day’s drive was through the hottest desert in North America – Mojave Desert. Thankfully, I came through at the right time of year when the temperatures are as mild as those in Las Cruces. There isn’t much here. Literally.

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That day I made it to Kingman, AZ, where I spent the night to recuperate. The following day, I drove through a small town of Ashfork, AZ. If you have large flagstone pavers in your yard or know of anyone who has them, chances are they came from this place…”The Flagstone Capital of the World.”

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Almost seems like endless piles of ‘stones were lining the road waiting to be shipped off.

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There are so many neat things to photograph on the old Route 66. Here’s an old barber shop called DeSoto’s Salon. Sadly, it’s closed now.

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After Ashfork, I hopped on Hwy 89 south towards Prescott.

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I took a bit of a detour after Prescott. I decided to take the TL up to Jerome to see how she handled the curves. I came here earlier in the year with my friend Tyson on an Arizona drive.

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On the northern slopes of the mountains, there still was some snow lurking.

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Here’s a view from the eastern side of Jerome. The little mining town was crawling with tourists, and I was unable to find any parking to get some good photos.

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The TL drove over the curvy Hwy 89 very well and I’d say it’s probably the best handing car I’ve owned to date. However, I still have a few more back roads to drive before I can make a solid conclusion about the dynamics.

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When I got to Phoenix, I met briefly with my friend Tyson and Paul at In-N-Out Burger. Tyson was traveling back from Utah and he just happened to enter Phoenix the same time I did.

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As always, we needed to line up our Acuras for some pix!

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From there, I pretty much drove straight through to home. I hit 28,000 miles right before getting into the Las Cruces city limits!

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It was quite a day and a great trip. A big thanks to all who followed me on this. Until next time…

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When it all started…(2nd Edition)

Happy Thanksgiving! Well, let’s get started on this new journey and new direction my blog will take. I have yet to change my subtitle, “Life with my 7th Generation Accord” to something more pertinent to the TL. A new cover photo is in order as well. I call this post, “When it all started…(2nd Edition)” since my story of purchasing the Accord was, “When it all started...” I wanted to keep things a little consistent. So, here’s how it all started with the TL:

It’s November 16th, 2013 and my friend Jouhl came along with me to fly to Sherman Oaks, CA (in the LA area) to pick up my TL at Center Acura. I’ve searched for days online to find the perfect fourth generation TL equipped with a 6-speed manual. There were very few in the entire country and even fewer within my southwest region. A statistic I read showed that only 8% of TLs were manufactured with a manual. (Makes you wonder why Acura even bothered) In the midst of my search, I found only two with a 6-speed manual in California. None in Arizona, New Mexico or Colorado. Only one was listed in Texas, however that car had been run pretty hard. For the two in California, one was a Certified Pre-Owned example with 24,440 miles from the Sherman Oaks Acura dealership. The other was heavily modified with 50,000 miles by a Buick dealer. Even though the price was much higher than I planed on, I chose to target the Certified Pre-Owned one. Here’s the American Airline ticket for the flight we were to board for 5:40am.

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But disaster! We overslept and despite a rushed drive to the airport in El Paso, we missed the flight. We had two options from there. Catch a 7:30 flight to Dallas where there would be a two hour layover and then take another to LA, or wait until 12:40pm for the next direct flight to LA. I chose the 12:40 one. I had my doubts in my decision, but it worked out in the end. So, we kicked back for about 6hrs at the El Paso International airport.

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I was anxious since flying gives me the hebe-jebes, and I was worried that someone over in Sherman Oaks could walk into the dealership and still buy the TL if they had the cash. I also was uneasy about choosing this car that I hadn’t seen in person. I only had photos to go by online and what the sales guy told me. I wasn’t bound to this car as I didn’t put a deposit down or electronically sign any papers, but I really didn’t want this trip and money to be wasted.

Surprisingly, those 6hours didn’t seem that long and we eventually were aboard and off in the air!

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Most of the entertainment on the flight was observing the birds-eye view of the landscape.

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We landed in LA around 1:40pm. Quite a bit behind schedule, but we finally made it nevertheless. I was still anxious since we basically were dropped in the midst of one of the largest cities in the county, and we had no transportation and no understanding of the area.

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Jouhl suggested we get a snack and drink at Starbucks before challenging anything else. It calmed me down quite a bit.

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I debated on renting a car, taking a cab or using the airport shuttle to get to the dealership that was 20 miles away in Sherman Oaks. We ended up choosing the airport shuttle for cost, and putting faith in the prospect I’d be driving off the lot in my new car. I used my phone to help the driver with the address and location of the dealership.

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We arrived! I felt a little more relaxed since we were there. I snapped this rather crummy photo while walking. Jouhl was already ready to charge into the dealership.

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Once inside I met up with Fred, the salesperson, who I had been in contact with days before heading out from New Mexico. He kindly pulled the TL out from the back for me to look over. Once I laid my eyes on it, I knew it was the one! Glad I made the move. Except for a small dent on the roof, this was one mint example that had been used very lightly. It had all the keys, original tires, owner’s manuals, and a clean 1 owner CarFax report. It was originally leased and serviced from Center Acura. This was quite a difference from when I purchased my Accord. Then I was planning out all that I’d have to repair and upgrade. Not this time…

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After a test drive, bartering, and signing all the papers, the keys were officially handed to me four hours later!

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Here’s one Fred took of Jouhl and I.

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The mileage when I officially took the keys was at 24,446. This is the lowest mileage vehicle I’ve ever purchased!

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From there, we immediately wanted to start the trail back to New Mexico. From LA to Las Cruces would be a total of 778 miles and 11 hours. Despite feeling quite weary, we drove that same night a few hours due east to a hotel in Indio, CA where we would spend the night. From there it would be a straight shot to home.

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I woke up the next morning and had quite a treat to see when looked out the window.

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Here, I stopped just outside of Blythe, CA for the first fill up for the TL. With an estimated EPA rating of 19MPG city and 27MPG highway, I was going to have to just accept the fact that this would be a little more thirsty than either my Accord or RSX I used to have. At this fill up, I calculated 27MPG. Not bad considering it includes some driving in LA traffic. It gave me hope I may be able to achieve 30 if I do some steady highway driving with the cruise control on.

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While filling up, it gave me some time to walk around and survey the car up close and personal.

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I kept the receipt for the first fill up.

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We stopped briefly in Phoenix where me met up with my friend Tyson so he could see the TL and we could take some pix before sunset. Good to be a part of the Acura family again. Here’s a photo of Tyson’s friend, Paul with his gorgeous 2013 TL SH-AWD.

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We then called Tyson over to be a part of the group photo. His Silver Moon ILX sure looks sleek at dusk.

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Photoed here: Paul with his 2013 TL SH-AWD, Tyson with 2013 ILX, and my 2010 TL. All we needed to complete the picture is someone in a TSX.

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One of my favorite details to Paul’s ride is this white sticker of Grumpy Cat. Love it!

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If you look closely, you can see his custom plate that finishes off the sticker nicely!

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From there, Jouhl and I pretty much made a straight shot to home. From Phoenix, it was 6hrs to Las Cruces.

After getting home around 1:30am, Charlie had to inspect and approve my purchase. (no lifting of legs was allowed though)

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And that’s how I obtained ownership of the TL. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

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Meet the new member of the family!

As much as I love cars and getting behind the wheel of different models, I’ve started to grow tired of shopping for that “right” car. This has been going on now for a few months. Here was the goal: I wanted to get into an upscale sedan with sporting potential. The offerings in my price range were quite nice, however I’m down right picky and I ended up choosing a car that would prove to be a little difficult to find. So what did I choose? Read on.

There are many great offerings out there in the upscale sedan category. Here are a few I was able to try out and my thoughts:

2006 Audi A4 Quattro – Superb balance between sport and comfort ride quality and a lot of features for the money. The particular example I drove had just over 100,000 miles and it still felt solid. Gripes: the turbocharged 4-cylinder was a little gruff and had quite a bit of turbo-lag. Also, I ultimately wanted to stay away from anything German. I drove this example just to see how it felt. As much as I love the engineering and build quality German autos provide, I can’t fathom the repair costs and potential spotty reliably.

2008 Acura TL Type-S – Hugely a favorite of mine for the longest time and this one is actually the reason I decided to make the move to a upscale sport sedan. This car had a lot of great qualities and out performed the others listed here in many areas. I was pretty much set on getting this as the Accord replacement. However, there was one characteristic of this car that changed my mind when I drove it for the first time. This chassis with the RL’s 286HP 3.5L V6 made for appalling torque steer and a general “squirmy-feeling” front end. I can’t blame it with the front drive format, however it wasn’t for me.

2010 Infinit G37 Sedan – This thing was a beast! The 3.7L V6 was very muscular and probably one of the quickest cars I’ve ever driven. The suspension and handling were great and the rear-wheel-drive chassis sure felt nice after being in front-drive configurations for so long. The styling was actually very elegant and looked much better in person than in photos. However, the car overall felt like it was a little rough around the edges in terms of build quality and refinement. The V6 constantly groaned and growled, and the interior, while tastefully designed, had some questionable plastics and fitment issues. Some panels and trim pieces seemed like they were assembled with flimsy clips and a prayer. I see these are small little, nit-pikcy things. However, two big things were deciding factors for making this a NO-GO. The seats were hard and uncomfortable (for my stature at least) and the manual gearbox and clutch were downright impossible to shift smoothly. Also, many hours pouring over the forums reveiled that many owners complained about pre-mature clutch and transmission failures on these.

The Final Choice:

So what did I get? Well, I knew I wanted a manual with a V6 and based on reviews and my own experience behind the wheel, something from the Honda/Acura brand would be the best choice. So here she is: my very own fourth generation 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6-speed!

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I am ecstatic to share my experiences and travels with this new member of the family. More is to come of how I acquired this new ride.

Bye-bye, Accord

Well folks, I have officially done it! The Accord has been posted and sold as of last Monday. I was quite sad to see it go. However, that means I can get down to real business and search for that perfect replacement. I’ve been wanting to get into something with 4-doors and a more upscale feel for a while now. Don’t get me wrong, the Accord had plenty of luxury touches enough to satisfy the needs of most. However, I’m hard to please in the automotive world. I’ll be sharing my test drive experiences and what models I’ve been looking at later on. I’m excited for what’s to come, and I look forward to sharing that with you as well as the future travels. Meanwhile, here’s some of the last photos I took of the Accord:

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And as of October 21st, 2013, I performed the official key handoff to the new owner, Jason (same as my name). He was excited to get behind the wheel of his first V6 6-speed. I hope he enjoys the Accord as much as I did! Big thanks to all who have shared the experiences of the Accord with me.

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So what’s next? Well thanks to my grandpa, I am able to borrow the old 1995 Nissan Pathfinder SE while I search for my next ride. He says I can use it was long as I need. Thanks Grandpa!

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However, I couldn’t just hop in and start driving down the road. The upper coolant hose had to be replaced for it was about ready to burst. It was discovered about three months ago, and then it hadn’t been driven since.

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Since the hose was about 18 years old, I guess it’s allowed to retire.

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New curved hose ready to go in!

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Old hose off…here’s a close up that shows the state of the old hose.

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Only 5mins of labor and it’s in and ready to roll.

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As mentioned before, the Pathfinder hadn’t been started for a long while. When my grandpa discovered the leaky hose, he parked it and didn’t see a point in trying to fix it then since he was about to leave on a lengthy trip to Arkansas. So, after the new hose was put in, it was time to crank her up for the first time in three months. At this time, it was about 28˙F so this was a good example of a cold, dry start. Let’s see what she’ll do.

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She’s alive! As can be seen here, the tachometer doesn’t work. That’s next on my list of things to tinker with.

It hasn’t been driven much since my last feature back in March. Only 376 miles!

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Good to be back on the road again.

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On my way back to Las Cruces, I stopped along the Rio Grande River outside of Belen NM to catch some nice fall colors.

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Not really a challenging offroad course, but it was fun nevertheless.

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Until next time…

Weekend Trip to AZ: Coronado Trail

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I figured with about 7,000 highway miles on my nearly new Pirelli tires, it was time to put them to the ultimate test. Race track? Nope. Burnouts. Forget it. A scenic mountain road with more than 400 curves stretching over 100 miles in the midst of Fall? That hits the spot! That would be the Coronado Trail located in eastern Arizona and it was recommended to me by my buddy Tyson. It’s also known as the mighty Hwy 191 and even was called the “Devil’s Highway” back when it was US 666.  It’s been a cherished route for motorcycle rallies, sports car events and those who want a fun drive for the weekend…as we did. Tyson, a few of his buddies, and I met up last weekend to see what the Trail has to offer. Total distance: 600+ miles.

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I set out Friday afternoon to meet Tyson and his friend Paul in Springerville, AZ where we’d spend the night and be ready for the trail early Saturday morning. Traffic was sparse on I-25 north and I constantly had to fight the urge to speed.

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About 140 miles up the road to Socorro and I was to turn off on Hwy 60 east towards Arizona.

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The rather narrow two lane road had little traffic too and was eerily smooth. The sunset before me was just icing on the cake. It was a relaxing drive. Here you can see one of the large satellites from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). This huge field of 27 independent antennae (each are about 82ft in diameter!) is a radio astronomy observatory located on the Plains of San Agustin. Since daylight was quickly vanishing, I decided to not stop to see it. That will have to wait for another trip. (hint)

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At about 8:40pm, I arrived in Springerville at our hotel. Tyson and his friend Paul arrived about an hour later. Good to see the ILX with the Accord again!

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The next morning we woke up to freezing temperatures which left our cars covered in a thin layer of frost.

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This is only the third time the Accord has ever been subjected to frost since I’ve owned it. Tyson’s ILX’s windshield was clear since it was parked facing the hotel. I made the mistake of backing in the night before. No biggie—I grabbed an old microfiber towel from the trunk to clean off the frost. Us desert folk aren’t used to this kind of thing. I’m not even sure if I could still find my ice scrapper I bought a while back when I resided in Flagstaff, AZ.

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After a quick bite at the hotel’s continental breakfast, we filled up before setting off. The Coronado Trail doesn’t have any facilities along the way so we decided to play it safe. Just so happened we pulled into this Conoco while a Satin Silver Metallic second generation TL was gassing up. Looked cool with three silver Hondas filling up together.

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Two more of Tyson’s friends were staying at another hotel down the road. We met up with them so they could join us for the drive. Matt and Mike were the owner’s of this beautiful grey 2012 VW GTI.

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And we’re off! Tyson lead the way and I followed. Crisp morning breeze, clear skies and a smooth road—it was a great way to start the day.

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Sadly, most of the way I was focused on driving and wasn’t able to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. This is as close to showing how beautiful the drive was.

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First stop for an official photoshoot was about 20 miles down the road at the Hannagman Meadow Lodge.

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We parked our three cars facing the morning sun.

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I kneeled down to capture the awesome looking alloys the GTI wears.

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The cabins at the lodge date back as far as the 1920s. We were lucky enough to get a quick tour.

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Call me freaky, the thing I could get excited about in a place like this is the fresh woodsy smell.

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As we soldered on, the road had some really nice switchbacks. Many had abrupt elevation changes in mid corner. Was lots of fun! There are few pullouts along the way, but when you happen to chance upon one, the views are very rewarding.

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A really nice couple on their way to Tucson took a group photo for us. From left to right: Me, Tyson, Paul, Matt and Mike.

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The Accord was performing pretty well, but the touring-tuned suspension was no match against Tyson’s ILX and the GTI. To compensate, I did have enough low-end grunt from the J30 V6 to pull out of the corners with haste. That saved me from slowing down the others. By this point, we were about half way through the Trail. However, this sign showed us that the fun wasn’t over.

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After attacking more curves, we stopped again to let our brakes cool and take in more views.

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From here, I let Tyson take the wheel of the Accord. He mentioned the power delivery varied greatly through the RPM ranges than in the ILX. Even though he wasn’t familiar with the car, he instantly mastered the clutch and transmission.

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I rode shotgun in the Accord as we followed everyone else. This was the second time I’ve ever ridden as a passenger in the Accord! I’m sure if I had spent the majority of the drive as a passenger, I’d be carsick.

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At our last pitstop of the Trail, we were able to see a nice overview of the road we were traveling. However, the photo here doesn’t convey just how challenging some of the turns were. This sure would have been a great road for rear-wheel drive.

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We then entered the Morenci copper mine. This is the largest copper mining operation in North America and is rumored to be the second largest in the world.

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This was to be our last photoshoot together before we headed into Clifton to grab some lunch.

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From a young age, I’ve always loved big dump/haul trucks. Thank Tonka for that! I noticed that there were several of these monsters driving around the mine. I had to swap to my zoom lens to capture some close up shots of them. These appeared to be Catapillar Haul trucks which can carry anywhere from 40-100 tons!

This is a photo of one of my last Tonka trucks from my childhood.

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And here’s the real thing…

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Check out the scale here. That’s a full-sized Dodge Ram and Ford Econoline to the right.

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As we entered Clifton, it soon became apparent that most of the town feels deserted. Here we are exploring the main st. Most of the architecture is original.

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By then, we all had developed quite an appetite. We pulled up to PJ’s Restaurant which serves both American and Mexican food. I enjoyed my “PJ’s Yummy Burger” which is a glorified philly cheese steak sandwich. A few others elected to try their Mexican. I think we all were satisfied in the end.

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After lunch we set off in different directions to home. Tyson and the boys headed back to their home turf, Phoenix. I headed East back to Las Cruces. I stopped at the New Mexico border for a few last shots for the day.

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Then late in the evening, I could see the city limits of Las Cruces. It was a relief to know my bed as just minutes away. I was beat.

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However, by the time I got home and examined the bugs on the front end, I knew I just had to dig up what little energy I had left and wash them off. Thanks for coming along for the ride…hope you enjoyed it.

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One more thing. You know how sometimes a movie or really good book ends with a cliffhanger? Well here’s mine: This will be the LAST trip I will take with the Accord. I’ve actually decided to abandon all my goals and put it on the market. Will share more of that later!

Subtle Upgrades

Well, summer is sadly over and I haven’t been traveling as much and therefore, not too much to report. However, I’d like to share some of the progress that’s been going on with the Accord. Last week, I installed some 06-07 Accord coupe skirts, finally! This has been the plan for a while now, but I couldn’t find these parts in any local junkyards to snatch and repaint for cheap. So, I bit the bullet and bought some new one’s from Honda. As always, they came shipped in a sturdy box with the Honda logo proudly stamped on the corners.

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They were really well wrapped. Nothing quite beats opening up new OEM parts which are pretty much guaranteed to fit perfect the first time.

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And so the removal of the old rocker panels took place. Here’s a comparison of the updated panels verses the old 04-05 style. The clips all were in the same locations. It was a direct swap which didn’t even break a sweat.

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Here’s the comparison. I love the subtle change!

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The skirts came painted from the factory in Alabaster Silver Metallic. Since these were a part from 2006-2007, there was no option to have them painted in the Satin Silver Metallic I have. That color was discontinued in 2005. Thankfully, it is very hard to spot the difference.

Here I gave the Accord and my roomate’s newly purchased Ocean Grey Metallic Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5S both washes.

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I have to admit, if I were more in a Nissan frame of mind, I would seriously consider the Altima coupe V6 to own. It’s certainly a sharp looking car.

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Here’s some front end shots…

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All was well with the cars until the next day when I hopped in the Accord to go to work and I discovered the blower motor wasn’t working at all. The HVAC display would still work and the fan would respond to my inputs digitally, but I didn’t feel any air coming through the vents. This was the pesky little blower motor resister that had failed on me. The first official failed part on the Accord under my ownership. Being in Las Cruces with temps still in the high 90s, I wanted to get this fixed pronto. I ordered a new resister from Honda and it arrived within 2 days.

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Amazing to think this tiny little thing is all I needed to enjoy some cool A/C again. Installation was simple and didn’t take too long.

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I was thankful this was a simple fix. I’m now back on the road and I’m happy to report that she’s running a full 10 out of 10! 140,000 mile mark is fast approaching.

When it all started…

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The journey begins August 20th 2012 when I spotted this 2004 Silver Accord Coupe V6-6spd. I had been casually looking for a 7th generation Accord Coupe for a few weeks as I was getting tired of my 2002 Acura RSX-Type-s. It was getting to the point of being just too fatiguing to drive on a daily bases. Some may call me an avid Honda fan, but I actually am open to many makes of cars to own. The Accord just happened to be a perfect fit for me. Sort of a grown up RSX. When I spotted this sun-damaged Accord Coupe, I knew it had potential and with a little elbow grease, it could shine. I looked locally and at other dealerships and even neighboring towns 60-100 miles away and I wasn’t able to find any V6 Accord Coupes I wanted. Long story short, I didn’t pay even close to this dealership’s asking price of $10,500. It had 101,000 miles on the odometer. I was happy with my purchase. Stay tuned for updates…

Welcome!

Here I am finally getting into the world of blogging in December 2012! I was inspired a few months ago by another car guy’s blog about his journey to 500,000 miles in his Acura Legend Coupe, (www.drivetofive.wordpress.com). I was intrigued and figured I can do the same with my newly purchased 2004 Honda Accord Coupe V6-6spd. If anything, I wanted to be able to share my ownership experiences and travels behind the wheel of my Accord. Stay tuned as I begin the timeline of my life with my Honda.