Part 2: Navajo Nation Weekend Drive – Canyon de Chelly North Rim

Ready for part 2? Well, let’s get going. On our last day at Canyon de Chelly, Joe and Roger had to take off for Flagstaff, leaving the North Rim for Tyson, Adam, Jouhl and me. Here’s one last group shot from the day before:


After breakfast, we entered the canyon again.


Tyson and Adam took the lead, and we covered some pretty entertaining roads! This caused Tyson to dig out the Go-Pro.


Here’s the Antelope House Overlook.


One more group photo: Tyson, Me, Jouhl, and Adam.



Next stop, Mummy Cave…


Here’s a photo of the same area taken back in 1940 (from the visitor center).



I was able to capture this little hogan several hundred feet below with my zoom lens. Looks like it’s still in use today.


The scenery was slightly different on this end, but just as impressive.


And, here are the ruins of this rim.


Looks mighty cozy!


Each stop along the way, we encounted vendors selling more handcrafted jewelry and some sand paintings. The weather was just as nasty as the day before, so the vendor(s) were comfortably ensconced in their vehicles awaiting customers.


From here, Tyson and Adam headed back towards Phoenix, and Jouhl and I hit the trail for home. Along the way, we’d travel through Window Rock, AZ (The Navajo Nation Capital); and Gallup, NM. Window Rock, or Tségháhoodzání, is a small town of about 3,000 at the 2010 census. Just to name a few, The Navajo Nation Council, Zoological and Botanical Park, and Najavo Nation School District reside here. The name comes from a major local landmark. Can you guess what that is? Yup, a large sandstone rock formation with a hole. 


The area is beautiful, but there wasn’t as much infrastructure as I was expecting.


Not much at all…


And what little there was, it didn’t look very polished.


We made our way to the park to see the actual “window rock.”




Here’s a glimpse of the Nation’s capital.


And here’s the rock. The temperature was quite chilly, so there was no desire to hike to the center of it.


But there’s always time to sneak a car in the foreground.


Here’s the “Code Talkers” bronze memorial which stands about 12 feet tall. (image from


Now we enter Gallup, about 30 miles away. This is the county seat of McKinley County, and has been known for being one of the most patriotic towns in America according to the Best of the Road Contest. With a population of about 25,000, it doesn’t take long to drive through. However, this town is full of history and culture. I grew up near here, and it’s very common to hear different families speaking Navajo, Zuni, or Spanish. When you have that going on in the same room, it sounds pretty neat!



Though it was Sunday, there were quite a few people in downtown. 




There is a strong presence of art in downtown inspired by both the Hispanic and Native culture. 


The famous Route 66 cuts straight through town and has many interesting buildings. One in particular is the El Rancho Hotel built by the brother of D.W. Griffith (film director). This old hotel has seen many famous guests, such as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Jackie Cooper, and Katharine Hepburn just to name a few. I actually have stayed in this hotel before while attending college. The current owners have done a masterful job of keeping the old western charm! When comparing this old photo to how it looks now, it really hasn’t changed much.


I was unable to get any good photos with the TL since they were “slurry-sealing” the parking lot. This photo from Google shows how it looks today. 


If you keep an eye out, you’ll spot these massive pots (I believe Pueblo) randomly throughout town. 


After Gallup, it was time to hit the road straight for home. Despite the wind blasting us from the side and mean dust storms, the TL handled the drive perfectly. 


Here was my ending mileage. 41,143 and counting!


Next goal when in Arizona will be this: Horseshoe Bend. Until next time…


Scenic Drive. — El Paso, TX

This Saturday, I decided to head south for a little morning trip around El Paso, TX. Like many large cities, El Paso has its share of cool things to check out. Even though it’s nestled right next to the Mexican border by Juarez, El Paso remains one of the safest cities in the county (per capita). Also, a population of well over 670,000 residents makes it the 19th largest city in the county. El Paso is quite nice to have nearby. Shops, restaurants and recreational activities are abound. If one gets bored in Las Cruces, it’s very common for them to migrate here for day and/or night fun.


The purpose of this post is to share one of my favorite areas, Scenic Drive. El Paso wraps itself around the Franklin Mountains and Scenic Drive slithers its way up the mountain where gorgeous city views await. Here we go!


The road isn’t a very long stretch. Luckily, there are some nice twisties to break loose on.


Here I am at the south entrance.


More curves!


I few curves are banked in such a way where there is an illusion you’re higher than you really are. (elevation here is probably in the neighborhood of 4,000ft)


Now, for a glimpse of the city…


At the very top, you can park and walk to the edge to take in the views. Juarez, MX sits in the distance here.


Here’s the walk to the edge.


The east view



And the south view where a few coin-operated binoculars are available for use.


On the way back down the mountain, there are several other pullouts.


It was a short drive, but well worth it. Hope you enjoyed!

Grandpa and Dad’s Birthday Bash – Laughlin, NV

Late February and early March a special times in our family as that’s the time when my Dad and Grandpa both celebrate their birthdays. This year was pretty significant as my Grandpa was turning 90! We managed to get a good chunk of the family together for these occasions in Laughlin, NV. Why Laughlin? It’s always been a favorite of my Dad and Grandpa for being alongside the Colorado River and the many attractions that come with it. This was a weekend affair and even though it was going to be a good 1,200+ miles round-trip for me, I surely wasn’t going to miss it.


Laughlin is 90 miles south of Las Vegas on the southernmost tip of Nevada. You cross the Colorado river where it is sprawled out, and you’ll find yourself in Arizona. It is best known for the casino scene, but there are many water recreation activities, fine dining, museums, hiking, fishing and a relatively large outlet mall. There was something for everyone. Laughlin is the third most visited casino destination in Nevada and one of the top five RV destinations.

Here’s what my drive looked like. I took a bit of a detour on the way back through Gallup. Total miles: 1,300+

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I set out Friday morning to make the 10hr drive from Las Cruces to Laughlin. Sun was shining and winds were down…great way to start the drive! I wasn’t on vacation yet though. Before officially setting out, I had to drop off some proposals for work in Deming, NM.


Here’s the municipal building where they were to be delivered.


On the way!



I checked the weather for Laughlin that day and it looked like I was going to something I’ve missed for months…rain!


As I drove further north, the clouds started to form. Here are some neat little stops I made along the way:

Burro Canyon:

Here I took a short pit stop at the Burro Creek Canyon Recreational area near Bagdad. Yes, there is a “Bagdad” in Arizona! That will be worthy of a future blog post.



Nothing, AZ

Next stop along the way was, “Nothing.” Once an unincorporated settlement (founded in 1977) with just four inhabitants, it used to be a gas station, then a pizza place and then a mini-mart. Now, it’s literally just an abandoned wide place in the road.


Here’s when it was a “happening” place.


And here’s how it looks today. This is the only building that remains.


My trip computer estimated that I had “523” miles to empty. Must have been a tail wind since I normally get 430.


Many more miles and rain showers later, I was getting close to the destination.


And I finally arrived in Laughlin!


The venue for the ‘bash was at the Golden Nugget Casino.




That evening, I met up with my Dad and Nena. It was great to catch up and relax after a long day on the road. My Dad being a Laughlin regular (he comes about once a year) showed me around. Most of the rest of the crawl would be rolling in later or early in the morning.



The river walk…



Next morning, breakfast was first on the agenda.


The mighty Colorado River was peaceful in the morning.


The big party was going to be in the late afternoon so I met up with my Grandpa and his friend Kelly to kill a few hours looking around. Here we went to a classic car show in the Riverside Resort.


Here’s Grandpa next to a ’29 Model sports coupe which rolled off the assembly line the same year as his first car, a ’29 2-door sedan.


1970 Dodge “Super Bee”


The classic 1955 Ford T-Bird


This mint 1940 Graham had an amusing license plate. Wonder if I could get a custom one for the TL!


Gorgeous 1954 Corvette


1966 Mustang Convertible


The most impressive for me was this display of Emilio Scotto’s 1980 Honda Gold Wing GL1100. Scotto holds the Guinness record for the world’s longest motorcycle ride. That was a ride that took him around the world. 10 years, 279 countries with a total distance of 457,000 miles, this guy is my hero!


Check out these stats of his adventures:

  • 12 batteries
  • 9 seats
  • 86 tires
  • 250 gallons of oil
  • 13,000 gallons of gas
  • Learned 5 languages
  • 15 tickets (13 of those were in California)
  • 90,000 photographs



I must say, this motivates me to do something grand with the TL!


Here was a really nice pearl blue 1963 Stingray


In addition to the old cars, a lot of antique machines were on display.



More and more family were rolling in for the party later in the day. One of my cousins from San Diego showed up in his recently purchased RLX! This car is impressive in person.


Acura seems to run in our family:

  • 1 TL (me)
  • 2 MDXs
  • 1 RLX
  • 1 CL

I need to get everyone together soon for an Acura photo-shoot!

Dad and me relaxing by the pool


Party time at Saltgrass Steak House!


Between family and friends, a total of 34 people showed up for the big birthday dinner for my Dad and Grandpa. It was an amazing turnout.


I highly recommend the Saltgrass Steakhouse. Mighty tasty!


Here’s my Grandpa with Aunt LaVonne, Dad and Uncle John.


Grandpa with all the great grand kids. It certainly was one terrific night!


Next morning before everyone departed, we had to get a group photo.


This trip goes in my book as one of most memorable. Thank you all for coming along. Until next time…


Weekend Drive to AZ: Kitt Peak and Madera Canyon

Happy Monday! Hope the weekend was great. I have been quite busy with work lately, and haven’t had the time or energy to sit down and compose a decent post here. Well, here I am! I’ve been meaning to share a recent trip to Arizona. I was back in Arizona with my buddies, Tyson and Paul to visit two places that were completely foreign to me: Kitt Peak National Observatory and Madera Canyon. Both were recommended by Tyson and they weren’t a disappointment! This is the first drive with Tyson and Paul since I’ve owned the TL.

The first stop of those two, was Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO). This observatory is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). It was founded in 1958 and it contains the most diverse collection of astronomical observatories on Earth. Not impressed yet? Well, this also contains the world’s largest solar telescope, McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. It also acts as the largest sun dial! The telescope stands 100 feet in the air and 200 feet into the ground. Even though the telescope is over 50 years old, the technology within is still perfectly useable. Kitt Peak is located 56 miles southwest of Tucson, AZ, in the Tohono O’odham Nation and has a Visitor Center open daily to the public. Let’s get started on an “Acura-iffic” adventure!


I took off Friday evening after work and headed to Tucson, AZ. I was on the road for the majority of the time in the dark. Not at all an issue, though. Driving is therapeutic for me and is my way of relaxing. Especially at night.


A little after 9:00 P.M., I arrived at the hotel where Tyson and Paul were. This is what the weekend drive will consist of:

  • Tyson’s Silver 2013 Acura ILX 6MT
  • Paul’s White 2013 Acura TL SH-AWD AT
  • My Black 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT


It was fun to catch up and chat about cars and life in general.

Saturday morning with breakfast in our stomachs and bags packed, we hopped in our Acuras for the adventures that awaited. I got a better idea of what the hotel looked like in the morning light.


Of course, we had to get some photos before departure:




Paul was quick to enter the Kitt Peak address into his 2012 TL GPS, and he lead the way while Tyson and I followed.

I’ve never ventured south of Tucson and honestly, didn’t know how much there was. I assumed nothing but flat desert to Nogales. Boy was I wrong! My Navi showed that we were driving in “unverified territory” and that I should drive carefully.


Here’s the sign at the entrance to Kitt Peak.


From here, it was only 12 miles to the summit where the observatory was.


As we ascended the mountain, we were greeted with great panoramic views. Icing on the cake was a road that became playful with many curves and dips.


Tyson took the lead on the way up.


The air was crisp, sunshine out, and the roads virtually free of traffic. Were we in heaven?


As we came closer to the summit, we could begin the see some of Kitt Peak’s telescopes.


Here’s a photo showcasing Tyson’s Silver Moon Metallic paint complimenting the sleek body style of the ILX.


Side note: I’ve decided that I’m going to leave the enormous Acura “beak” grille alone. Originally, I wanted to paint it black or replace it with the updated 2012 version. However, I’m now thinking of it as that beneficial flaw…like Eva Mendes’s mole.


Last pullout before arriving at the summit.


Here we are!


The visitor center and gift shop is staffed by members of the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. There were many informative displays and demos to keep everyone entertained.






We were scheduled for a 10:00 tour. Here’s Paul and Tyson patiently waiting to be taken to…


The largest telescope in the world!


The skin of the telescope is made of copper and painted white to reflect light and keep the inside temperatures at a consistent range.


The inner workings of the telescope were quite complex (at least to us tourists) and massive!



I’d like to describe what these photos are showcasing, but I’d be just making up gibberish to compensate for ignorance.


This is looking upward towards the sky.


Here’s Paul and Tyson with another telescope in the background.


Our tour guide, Larry was very knowledgeable and through. Thanks, Larry!


After the tour, we hopped in the Acuras and headed for lunch in Green Valley, AZ.


To get to Green Valley, we had to return to Tuscon and then take Interstate 19 south. Interesting thing about this route is you get to see the use of metric units of measurement on the signs. I felt like I was in Canada! Story behind this is the Arizona Deparrment of Transportation (ADOT) created these signs in an attempt to push toward the metric system in the United States. Obviously, we haven’t made the move, but the signs remain. Speed limits are still posted in MPH thankfully.


Lunch was at Olive’s Bistro. Very tasty and I’m confident you wouldn’t be disappointed. Try them out if you’re ever in the area!


After lunch, we all set out on Route 83 toward Madera Canyon…our last leg of the trip.


Madera Canyon lives in the northwest region of the Santa Rita Mountain. It’s not far from Tuscon as it’s only 40 kilometers…I mean, 25 miles. It’s grounds for the outdoor enthusiast with hiking, picnic areas, bird watching and camping. If bird watching is your forte, then you can enjoy as many as 250 different speices here. Tyson, Paul and I wanted to check it out. As we drove nearer the canyon, I was astounded by the amount of greenery that greeted us!




The road wasn’t quite as windy as the route up to Kitt Peak, but it wasn’t any enjoyable. It was great: opening the windows allowed the joyous fresh air to blow in and even though I was in the back of the pack, I had some of the best views…


Motion shot with a focus on Paul’s TL.


The Acuras lined up once again when we reached the recreation area.


Paul, Tyson and I agreed that we should try out the Josephine Saddle trail worth only 2.2 miles.


So we set off


It was quite a steep climb. Tyson took this photo of Paul and I taking a breather.


Due to time (and honestly fatigue) we opted not to complete the entire loop. So, we backtracked. On our drive back through the canyon, we stopped several times for photos and general exploring. I caught this photo of Paul’s TL gracefully coming down the hill near the gift shop.


The gift shop was full of little wooden souvenirs.


There was a dry riverbed next to it which made for some interesting photos.


Tyson came across this in an abandoned lot. Dare I say this is the official first Chevy HHR?


Here’s a group photo: Paul, Me, and Tyson.


Tyson caught a great photo of the TL reflecting the clouds. His GoPro can be seen mounted on my trunk.


Speaking of the GoPro, here’s Tyson’s little montage of our trip:

That concludes yet another great trip!

Fresh Detail for the TL

Happy Thursday! I don’t have any special “throw-back-Thursday” content to share, but I do have some reflections. Literally. It’s amazing how time flies. This January 16th marks the second month of ownership with the TL. With the weather warming up recently and my having some free time, I figured I’d give the exterior a good detail/paint correction. I started with a thorough wash to get the loose dirt and grime off.



After all was dry, I pulled into the garage to survey the condition of the paint. Looks pretty healthy and clean, right?


Wrong! I set up my halogen lights and they revealed just how scratched and bruised the paint had become. Causes? Most of the scratches came with the car when I bought it in November of 2013. A few careless wash jobs from Hoy Fox Acura and my recent trip to Fresno Acura added their fair share. This being the Crystal Black Pearl, every single little nick, scratch and clear coat imperfection will easily show up in direct sunlight or in this case, halogen lights.

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The door handles were in a class of their own for extreme need of detail.


So scuffed and marred that there was virtually no shine to the paint inside the door handle.


So I settled down for the night and a good majority of the next day performing a full detail. My process to correct this was as follows:

  • Wash with Meguiars Wash & Wax
  • Meguiars Clay Bar
  • Meguiars 85 Compound applied with PC (Porter Cable) Green pad
  • Meguiars 205 Polish applied with PC Black pad
  • Meguiars 7 Glaze applied with another PC Black pad
  • Meguiars Carnauba Wax applied with PC Red pad

Most of the chemicals were applied with my Porter Cable rotary buffer used at various RPMs. Let’s see how it all turned out!

With the first step, I opened up a fresh box of Meguiar’s clay bar kit.


I also made sure my pads were clean and dry with numerous clean microfiber clothes for buffing. Doesn’t make sense to spend hours correcting the paint and then adding new scratches by polishing with dirty rags, right?


Here’s the Meguiar’s 85 and 205 products. I’ve been using these for years and the results have been great.


For the final polishing stage, here’s the Glaze which was applied with a new PC black pad.


Sadly, the only wax I had on hand to finish it all off was Meguiar’s Carnauba Wax (red bottle). It’ s decent, but I know there are better waxes out there to give the absolute deepest gloss to the paint.


I started with spraying with paint with lubricator and rubbing the clay bar.


Amazing that even though the TL was just washed, grime was still lingering on the surface.


After the clay, I like to tape off a section to see the results of buffing at various RPMs. It gives a great before and after test.


Here’s with just the 85 Compound.


…and now with the polish stage complete.


It made such a huge difference!



The hood shows the state of my messy and cluttered garage.



Almost like a mirror!



In addition to other little details on the car, I applied some Mother’s Metal Polish to clean up the exhaust tips.


Here’s a section of the rear bumper…




No car detail would be complete without a self pic in the paint.


Day three I took the TL out in the sun to see if I missed any areas.



I also gave some more business to for some LED license plate lights. I think they modernize the area so much. Why Acura insists on using traditional incandescent accessory bulbs on a $40,000+ car is beyond me. Here’s before the install…


And after. So much brighter with a nice white tint.


Even shows up on the backup camera.


To wrap up here, I’ll share a moment when my inner “red-neck” came out. I sold a leftover rear underbody spoiler from the Accord, and I had the challenge to drive it to UPS for shipment. Since Acura doesn’t allow the rear seats to fold down, I just stuffed the box as far in the trunk as it would go, and then taped the trunk down to the box. I then had a rather amusing/white-nuckle drive through town with 4ft of box sticking out with some microfiber rags taped on the edges to warn motorists there’s an idiot transporting something half the length of his car. Hey, it worked!


The backup camera was temporarily useless…


Thanksgiving Drive to California and the Musical Road

As our Thanksgiving holiday approached us this year, my Grandpa invited me to join him and some family and friends in California. His words, “Wanna break in your new car and come out to Cali?” As you can imagine, I jumped at the opportunity. This is the first trip I took with the TL. And it’s a fairly big one slammed into less than a week.

But before I got started, I wanted some insurance. Nothing from State Farm or Allstate, but in the form of a 3M clear-bra. With the front end being in such mint condition, I wanted to keep it that way by adding a pre-cut 3M bra to keep all the little stones and other debris from marring the paint. I also managed to get the headlights done as part of the deal. After I dropped off the car, I got a call from the shop owner who was wondering if I wanted to have the windows tinted as well. He knocked $50 off the price of what the tinting would otherwise cost. I told him, “Go for it!” So now the TL sits with a fresh 3M clear-bra and 35% window tint. I chose 35% since I felt 20 would be too dark on a black car. Here’s when I picked it up after the 3M additions.


My friend Jouhl took me to pick up my car and I was able to get a few pix of the Altima Coupe and my TL together.


Jouhl also got his windows tinted by this shop when he bought the Altima.


As you may have noticed in the above photos, our weather wasn’t very southern New Mexico-like. Overcast and quite chilly for mid-November. The next day, I woke up to a light layer of snow outside! A rarity for our area and especially this time of year. Check out my front tree…it hadn’t even lost its leaves yet. Since I was to leave on my trip in a few days, I decided to utilize the Pathfinder and not let the TL get dirty.


The destination for the trip was Coalinga, CA, where I’d meet the family for Thanksgiving. The rest was going to consist of a few side stops and overall, long enough to where this will have to be shared in a couple of different posts. The entire trip is as follows:

  • Las Cruces to Blythe, CA
  • Blythe, CA to Kettleman City/Coalinga, CA
  • Coalinga, CA to Kingman, AZ and then back to Las Cruces.

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Estimated Total distance/time: 2,032 miles/32 hours.
Here’s the TL before she took me on this long trip to the west. Her home turf. (Since it was originally from LA)


West bound I go toward Phoenix, AZ. As always, gotta stop and let Border Patrol make sure I’m legal.


The drive down I-10 was nice and steady with clear skies.



I throughly enjoyed many of the TL’s amenities along the way. Many amenities I’ve never been exposed to before in a car. Most of which, the bluetooth audio capacity where all I have to do is turn on my iPhone’s blutooth and let the system do the rest to play the music and take calls. I never have to take it out of my pocket. I’m still trying to master the Navigation system and other creature comforts the TL offers. Some things I feel Acura made a tad more complicated than should have been, though.


Several hours on the road and not much changes on the way.


As I rolled through Phoenix, I came upon some bumper-to-bumper traffic which gave me some time to give family a call on the TL’s Bluetooth system.


Several hours later around 10 p.m., I nestled down in the Clarion Inn in Blythe, CA.


As the TL “ticked” itself cool, I was inside to checking in.


Next morning, I hit the road fairly early. Part of the fun of coming to California is seeing many different cars that very rarely set foot in New Mexico. Prime example is this Ferrari 460 Spyder I followed in Indio, CA. The exhaust note was glorious to listen to!


I filled up in Santa Clarita and found that the TL isn’t half bad at gas consumption.


I calculated a 28 MPG of mostly freeway driving of 70-80(ish) MPH.


As I turned to go towards Lancaster, CA, I hit the 26,000 mark!


For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed the straight back roads of California.


I arrived in Lancaster, CA, fairly late in the day just before sunset. I purposely made this side stop to see and drive on the “Civic Musical Road.” This was on my list of things to see in 2013 and I was delighted to find it wasn’t too far off my beaten path. The Civic Musical Road was constructed back in 2008 for a Civic commercial. It was created by cutting grooves across a lane that were strategically placed to produce musical notes as the tires roll over at a steady speed of 55mph. The notes were to mimic the finale of the “William Tell Overture.” Sadly, the section of road was paved over shortly after the commercial was complete due to nearby residents complaining about the noise. The City of Lancaster recreated a section of the road on Avenue “G” where it resides now. Here’s the video of the project from Honda:

As you can imagine, I just HAD to check it out in person. I exited for Avenue “G” off Highway 14.


As I exited the highway, I made a left turn and arrived at the location.


The guys from Top Gear have also been on this road back in Series 19, Episode 2.

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I parked on the side and got out to take some close up photos.

Here you can see the special grooves that were cut.


And here’s the TL about ready to try it out for the first time.


Let’s see how she sounds!

After that nice little stop, I headed straight for Coalinga where my destination was. First night I met with my Grandpa and his friend, Delia. Then the next day we had surrounded ourselves with good company and great food!


Here we are visiting after a great dinner.



Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Part 2 is to come…