Tag Archives: arizona

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

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

Douglas, Arizona:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks, Tyson for meeting up!

250,000 Miles and Mogollon, NM

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

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

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

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

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

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Switchbacks galore.

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Lots of deer and elk spotted along the way.

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Arrived!

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

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Check out the difference from 2015…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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James Lee followed in my 6.

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

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

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Following Tyson’s Legend.

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

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

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James Zamora taking in the scenery.

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Our other James doing the same.

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

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

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Entering the Grottoes!

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A rather poor photo of “Balanced Rock”

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos by Tyson:

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Photo by James Lee:

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Tyson’s Legend coupe and the 6.

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

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

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Arizona Drive in some Performance Hondas.

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As much as I love to experience different makes of cars, I always somehow find myself back in a Honda (don’t worry, I didn’t buy another car). I’ve owned 3 in my life so far:

  • 2002 Acura RSX Type-S 6-speed
  • 2004 Honda Accord V6 6-speed
  • 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6-speed

All of them have been memorable to me. Even though my focus generally is now on Mazda, I welcome any opportunity to get a Honda experience. That’s exactly what I got thanks to Tyson (drivetofive) and his good friend and journalists, Mr. Steve Lynch.

I was invited to be a driver in a convoy of Hondas for an article Steve was putting together.  Despite working for 17 years in finance for Mercedes-Benz, Mr. Lynch has a passion for Honda and has even worked for them prior to MB. His 1997 book Arrogance and Accords covers some of his experiences and thoughts on Honda when he was employed there.  He is semi retired now and currently writes for an automotive blog called The Truth About Cars. This is the cover of his book.

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Photo of Steve and his beautiful 2008 Rio Yellow Honda S2000.

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The drive for this event took place on the Catalina Highway which climbs to the summit of Mt. Lemmon, just north of Tucson. Our group consisted of me, Steve, Tyson, Peter Kulikowski, James Lee from 6speedblog, Beau MacDonnell (photographer), and Kelvin Chang.

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This road to the summit of Mt. Lemmon is full of fun twisties and elevation changes perfectly fitting for the cars to be tested. Here are the contenders:

  • 1992 Acura NSX 5-speed owned by Tyson
  • 1993 Acura NSX 5-speed owned by Kelvin
  • 1994 Acura Legend LS Coupe 6-speed owned by Tyson
  • 1994 Acura Legend GS Sedan 6-speed owned by Tyson
  • 2008 Honda S2000 6-speed owned by Steve

Let’s get started! Total travel distance for me was around 1,700 miles. I departed Las Cruces after work to arrive in Phoenix. After the Mt. Lemmon drive, I would head north to Gallup for a family visit and then back home.

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Mazda all washed up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll!

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My drive into the sunset towards the Arizona border. I arrived in Phoenix around 10:30pm.

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The next morning, I took some singles of Tyson’s Acuras (with their corresponding custom plates) we’d be driving. I was in the Legend sedan, Tyson in the Legend coupe and Peter got the NSX.

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Getting the cars out and ready.

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Also in our crowd was a Lexus RC350 press car driven by James. This was our photo/chase car. His full review of the Lexus can be found here.

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Meet and greet before the drive.

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Onwards!

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Pit stop in Picacho, AZ. Is this what Acura lots looked like in the 90s?

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You may have noticed that we picked up an extra NSX along the way. That belongs to Tyson’s friend, Kelvin. He is an avid NSX enthusiast and certainly didn’t want to miss this drive. Though his NSX is one year newer than Tyson’s (’93) it still looks identical.

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Rolling shot of Tyson’s Legend coupe

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Meeting up in Tucson with Steve.

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Our group of Hondas (and the Lexus).

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This is when I could get close and personal with Steve’s S2000. This is my first encounter with the S2000.

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That cozy cockpit is just as I imagined…very driver focused.

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Throughout the day, we all swapped cars and were able to compare and contrast.

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It was hard to pick a favorite in my books, but the NSX came dang close! I must say, this car was intimidating to me at first but in typical Honda tradition, the car instantly felt familiar and easy to drive. Everything feels raw and mechanical. This is a sensation you just can’t find anymore. The black leather seats with monstrous bolsters hold you securely; all controls are simple and easily at reach—this is a driver’s car. The transmission and steering were an absolute joy. The 3.2L V6’s 290 horsepower rating seems rather ho-hum by today’s standards; however, this car is still dang quick and sends a tumultuous rush through the exhaust pipes. Tingling with excitement, I kept finding myself looking for excuses to downshift just to hear that motor howl. The sensations and noises were so orgasmic, you don’t even care about the powertrain figures. Visibility was excellent, ride was decent, you can shift with one finger…this really is the supercar for everyday.

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Amazingly, the NSX feels and is quite a bit lower than the S2000. They both handle like a dream though.

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Nearly everyone agreed that this was the biggest surprise of the group. I had the privilege of accumulating the most miles (around 300miles) on the Sedan. Before first taking the keys, I was expecting a focused boulevard cruiser with cushy-squishy suspension backed by average handing and obnoxious understeer when pushed into the corners. Pleasantly, I was wrong. First off, cruising down the highway was effortless and smooth. The cockpit was roomy and inviting with pillowy soft, yet supportive seats clad in rich feeling leather. The big greenhouse and low dash made for an excellent view out. When it came time to toss this big boy around some corners, I was amazed how composed and level the body remained. The handling was definitely not sports car precise, but it didn’t leave me fearing for my life. The 230 horsepower Type-IIV6 was an absolute gem and hustled the Legend out of corners effortlessly despite packing nearly 147,000 original miles. Brakes were another bonus. Pedalfeel was firm, inspired confidence and gave little nose dive. The clutch was light and each gear change was smooth with very short throws. I was impressed. Here’s Steven taking the Legend sedan around some corners.

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Love this road!

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Lunch stop at the summit.

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Their juicy green chile bacon cheeseburger sure hit the spot!

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Back to the cars! This time I was able to test out the S2000.

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Yup…I want one!

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With 240 horsepower on tap and a raging VTEC waiting to be awakened by a stab at the throttle, this little roadster won me over and has made it to the top of my charts of “must-have” cars to own. As I snuggled in the cockpit for the first time, the whole environment was just as I expected…everything right at your fingertips and driver-focused. Fit and finish was excellent, and knobs and switches moved with a precise, “snick-snick” action. On our mountain road coarse, this roadster kept me grinning. The tight and rather heavy steering always pointed the nose in the right direction with the confidence and assurance you’d expect from a light rear-drive chassis. Speaking of the chassis, Honda really did themselves well here as the all-control-arm suspension kept the 17” Bridgestones sticking like glue in the corners. Brakes were perhaps my favorite of the group. “Go-kart” comes to mind when trying to describe the personality. Here’s a photo of me and Peter coming around a bend.

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Another stop to swap cars again.

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The gang: Tyson, James, Steve, Beau, me, and Peter. The final article of Steve’s can be found here.

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Back to Phoenix! Here’s a photo of Tyson in the NSX. It rolled over 100,000 just on the outskirts of town. His celebratory post is here.

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The next day, I headed northeast towards Gallup. The sun shining and temperatures in the mid 80’s, it was a nice drive. Though I had driven some pretty special cars the day prior, it was nice to get behind the wheel of the Mazda again. Even though this is completely different in personality, it’s still very good fun to drive.

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Thank you all for stopping by and checking out the Hondas. ‘Til next time!

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Drive to Northern Arizona Part I: Antelope Canyon

Sometimes at work I’ll give my eyes a rest from the computer, stare at the U.S. map on my wall and daydream about all the trips I NEED to take.

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Last year, I kept staring at the Arizona/Utah region craving a drive to Monument Valley and a place called Antelope Canyon. I wanted to make at least one of those happen for 2015, and that’s where I was last weekend…to Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. On Friday, I rounded up the gang from the Ouray, CO drive (Alec, Jennifer and Jouhl) and headed for beautiful Arizona. We met up with Tyson Hugie from drivetofive, a few of his friends in Flagstaff and we set off for another epic group drive to Antelope Canyon…the first group drive for the Mazda.

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Total mileage/time: ~1,300miles and 19.75hrs of driving. This is one of the longer weekend jaunts I’ve done, but trust me, it was worth it.

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A little background here: Many must have seen Antelope Canyon before. It occupys the pages of many travel books and is a featured wallpaper/background for many landscape scenes on computers and portable devices. It is a canyon located near Page, AZ in the Navajo reservation and it’s one of many sacred places for the People. The canyon was formed from years from rainwater erosion. This created these picturesque channels and smooth walls that have a flowing look. The name, Antelope Canyon, is the English name from the herds of pronghorn antelope that used to roam freely here. After experiencing this canyon, it is quite clear why the older Navajo considered this place a “spiritual experience.”

Okay, enough with the history lesson. Let’s get to it!

The 6 was fueled the night before and we all were to depart Las Cruces around 7:00am the next morning. The 6 also had recently turned over to 150,000 miles, so it was ready to kill off that even number.

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The morning of our departure, I woke up to the sound of rain outside. So much for getting the 6 all washed up prior to the trip.

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We crammed all our luggage in the trunk.

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First stop, Arizona state line for a group pic. Thanks to the nice couple for taking the photo for us.

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Jennifer returned the favor.

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Back on the road. Jennifer and Alec had a companion in the back.

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Unusual for both New Mexico and Arizona, it rained on us nonstop the whole way. I was very relieved that I had recently installed a fresh set of Continental SportContact tires and OEM wiper blades on the 6.

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Next stop, Phoenix for IKEA and lunch. Phoenix is the nearest city with an IKEA so we decided to take advantage of that.

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Lunch was at Aloha Cafe per Jennifer’s recommendation. Hit the spot perfectly!

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With a little more fooling around while meandering our way to Flagstaff, we got to the hotel before too late. The next day, Tyson and his gang met us at the hotel and we headed off to Page, AZ. (Pictured here: Peter, Tyson, Jennifer, Jouhl, Stephen, Chris, Alec) Two of Tyson’s friends here you might remember: Peter from Death Valley and Chris from White Sands and Sedona.

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Tyson led the way to Page, AZ.

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Quick stop for a few pics.

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This suspension bridge in Cameron, Arizona from 1911 is no longer in service. Get this: in 1937, an overload of sheep damaged it, and it was officially taken out of commission in 1959.

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We arrived in Page, AZ not too longer after and had some time to grab lunch before we went to Antelope Canyon. We chose Fiesta Mexicana which worked perfectly to fill the stomaches before canyon exploring.

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After lunch. it was time to check in for the Antelope Canyon Tours! To gain access to the canyon, tour guides are required.

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Waiting to climb aboard the tour truck.

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Ready! (Pictured: Tyson, Peter, Stephen and Chris)

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I sat near the end and was able to capture a few shots out the back.

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Only a few miles of paved road and then some off-roading!

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Arrived at the mouth of the canyon. Here’s what our tour truck looked like. A nicely lifted Ford F-250 Super Duty with the Triton V-8.

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The mouth of the canyon.

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Once inside, it was hard to find words to describe how enchanting the canyon was. Here’s Jouhl demonstrating how grand it was.

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I will confess, I do edit some of the images I post here on DrivenforDrives. However, none of these have been edited and I’m not what you’d call a pro-photographer. All these photos were taken with my DSLR on auto w/o flash. Goes to show how naturally beaufutl the lighting and shadows accompany the canyon walls.

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Close up of the “flowing” look left by erosion.

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This is the “eye.” It’s a section of the canyon where you look up at an angle to see the natural light peer in through this massive “eye” opening. Pretty neat!

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Photo of Tyson, Jouhl, Me, Jennifer and Alec.

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Just for scale purposes.

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Out tour guide (pictured on the left) was terrific. She gave everyone tips on getting great photos along with a brief history of the canyon and the Navajo people.

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Money shot!

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Complete group shot. (Stephen, Me, Jennifer, Tyson, Jouhl, Alec, Peter and Chris)

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I could happily camp out here for a while.

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Back on the truck to get back to town.

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Utah was only about 10mins from Page. Why not grab a state line pic with Tyson?

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Hungry for more? Stay tuned for Part II of our adventure!

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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:

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After breakfast, we entered the canyon again.

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

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Here’s the Antelope House Overlook.

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

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Next stop, Mummy Cave…

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

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

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

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And, here are the ruins of this rim.

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Looks mighty cozy!

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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.

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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. 

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

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Not much at all…

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the “Code Talkers” bronze memorial which stands about 12 feet tall. (image from http://richardbarron.net/traveller)

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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!

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

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

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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.

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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. 

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

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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. 

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Tyson took the lead on the way up.

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

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

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

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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.

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Last pullout before arriving at the summit.

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Here we are!

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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.

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

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The largest telescope in the world!

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

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

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

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This is looking upward towards the sky.

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

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

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

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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…

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Motion shot with a focus on Paul’s TL.

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

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

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So we set off

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

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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.

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The gift shop was full of little wooden souvenirs.

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

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

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

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

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

That concludes yet another great trip!

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