Peter’s 200,000 Mile Celebratory Drive to Bryce Canyon, UT

There are those car guys who try to keep their mileage as low as possible. I’ve seen it turn into a competition before…”who can drive their car the least!” And then, there are those who get satisfaction from watching those digits pile on. I’m one, many in my family are, and so are a lot of my friends. Tyson Hugie from drivetofive takes the cake for achieving multiple odometer rollovers, but many of his friends do enjoy getting up there in miles also. This feature goes to our friend, Peter (you may remember Peter from Antelope Canyon and Death Valley) and his Satin Silver Metallic 2004 Acura TSX. Peter timed it just right to make a group-drive out of his little TSX turning over 200,000 miles.



The destination would be Bryce Canyon, UT.


This massive 36,000 acre park gets close to 1.4 million visitors annually to visit the magnificent giant natural amphitheaters. Further research on this reveal this is actually not a canyon despite the name. It was not formed from erosion of a central stream. Rather, it was formed by “headward” erosion which has to do with an origin moving away from direction of stream flow. The rim at Bryce sits rather high (higher than Zion National Park) at 8-9000 ft.

Attendees for the drive were, Peter, Tyson (drivetofive) and James Lee of Six Speed Blog. They all would be coming from Phoenix. Long drive for me, an afternoon jaunt for Phoenicians. Let’s get started!

The drive was as follows for me:

  • Las Cruces, NM to Grants, NM for the first night
  • Grants, NM to St. George, UT where I’d meet Tyson, Peter and James
  • St. George, UT to Flagstaff, AZ
  • Flagstaff, AZ back to Las Cruces, NM

Total distance was about 2,000 miles.

2015-08-28 09_13_18-Grants, NM to Las Cruces, NM - Google Maps

Before we set off, let me walk you through a little project I did the week prior. I finally decided I had enough of the yellowing, pitted OEM headlights which also had a few electrical issues due to the wire insulation breaking down from age. Instead of springing for a new set of OEM headlights which would be in the neighborhood of $600+, I chose the aftermarket route and went with DEPO for $200. I can’t say installation was a breeze, but I’ve certainly been through worse installs:


A comparison here doesn’t show that big of a difference, but when the sun shines, there is!


Little test drive sans front bumper.


All seemed well, so I put her back together and gave her a nice wash for the trip.



The next day, (of course!) it rained on me on the first leg of the trip. So much for an extensive wash.


Nothing I could do about it but sit back, relax and enjoy the tunes on the Bose 6-disc CD.


Just 20 miles outside of Las Cruces and we got a mini-milestone! IMG_5735

I arrived in Grants, NM for the first night around 10:30pm. The next day called for some fuel before getting deep into the drive.


350 miles into the weekend and already collecting quite a few bugs!



On I-40 towards Gallup, NM and Windowrock, AZ.


The famous Window Rock sitting at the heart of the Navajo Nation Government.


Next stop, Canyon de Chelly just outside of Chinle, AZ.



Then Utah!


Love Southern Utah’s desolate roads with a generous helping of southwest landscape.


Arrived at the second night stay just after dusk.


Tyson and Peter drove up from Phoenix and we happened to arrive spot on at the same time.


Dinner with the gang. Big thanks to Tyson and his Mom (Or MamaTia as she had us call her) for hosting us for the night. James would be joining us later on in a press Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.


Next morning, Tyson shared his view of the front yard.


After a little breakfast, we prepped for a little photo op and then set off for Bryce Canyon.



We didn’t even get any stares from the neighbors. From left to right: Tyson’s 2013 ILX 6-speed, My 2004 Mazda 6 5-speed, MamaTia’s 2010 VW Eos 6-speed, James’ Hyundai Sonata Hybrid CVT, Peter’s 2004 TSX 6-speed.


Speaking of all these ‘speeds, check out Peter’s support here…


Short stop just outside of Cedar City, UT before we entered Hwy 14 East towards Duck Creek Canyon. The elevation was a bit higher than St. George, and we were able to open the windows and allow the cool breezes come in and accompany us for the drive.


This is the spot where the TSX rolled over to 200k!


Perfect spot with great scenery.


Soon we took the Scenic Byway 12 to Bryce.


After entering the park, our first goal was to hike around Sunset Point.


The “Wow!” factor here…



We hiked down to the bottom which took us to a canyon with towering walls. This felt very much like Antelope Canyon.


Happy hikers!


Climbing back up wasn’t quite as thrilling as the decent, but what’s the harm in ridding a few calories?


After making it to the top and catching our breath.


Exhausted, dehydrated and hungry, we all set out for the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge for some lunch. The Lodge dates back to 1924 and was one of 4 built in the Union Pacific Tour. Lunch was spot on what we needed. Next, we drove on toward Rainbow Point, the highest point in Bryce at 9,105ft.


Here it is! Thunder, light rain and eventually some hail made this stop rather quick and we rushed back to our cars for shelter.



We swapped cars back and fourth on the way out of Bryce. I was able to sample the ILX again as well as Peter’s TSX. Both were equally fun to drive and having cool crisp temperatures blow in the open windows was icing on the cake! Here we spotted what looks like the next Hyundai Elantra dressed up in camo. Any time there’s an automotive test mule, we have to stop and investigate!



Taking the ILX on Hwy 89 while Peter and James took my 6 and Tyson in Peter’s TSX.


Since Peter’s TSX is lowered on coilovers, it sure handled like it was on rails! Was definitely a fun car to take a quick spin in. Despite the miles, the TSX felt solid, swift and mechanically sound. Here is our last stop before parting ways. I headed South on 89 towards Flagstaff and the rest headed back on Hwy 14 to St. George for another night at MamaTia’s.


Making my way back to the Arizona border.


Vermillion Cliffs outside of Page, AZ.


Taking 89A. This is definitely one of the most scenic and fun roads I’ve been on. Smooth and virtually free of traffic, I was able to let the 6 stretch its legs.


Fueling at an old-school pump outside of Marble Canyon, AZ.


Stopped for a quick photo at the Navajo Bridge off of 89a where the mighty Colorado River passes through.


Fastforwarding a few hours and I arrived in Flagstaff, AZ for the night. I was beat and slept like a log. The next morning, I awoke early to hit the road for home. The temperature was a crisp 57 degrees.


I grabbed a burrito at the nearby gas station and set off for Sedona, AZ. My route would be going through the Oak Creek Canyon on 89A.


View from a scenic point where one can see the fun curves that await!


Down in the canyon.


Very thankful to be on the road early and no tourists to get in the way.


The town of Sedona was just as beautiful as always.


Quick stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This Catholic church is built right into the buttes of Sedona. It’s free to visit…I highly recommend a stop.


From Sedona, I headed towards I-10 in Pheonix which would continue my journey back to Las Cruces. Only mishap on the entire trip was a pesky check engine light that popped up. This has been intermittent for the past few months and I can’t quite catch the root cause. All is performing nobly in the 6 and the light has always vanished by the next ignition cycle. Mechanic can’t find the cause either. Strange!


Regardless, I arrived back in New Mexico in good time (before dark!)


Ending mileage for the trip was 168,461. 170K is right around the corner…where will I be then?


As always, thank you for coming along and a special congrats goes to Peter and his TSX for the 200k achievement!




Drive to Northern Arizona Part II: Horseshoe Bend

Let’s soldier on with the fun in Northern Arizona. Continuing where we left off at the Utah state line, we headed to enjoy the sunset 4 miles southwest of Page to a place called, “Horseshoe Bend.”


This geological masterpiece is a sharp 180-degree Colorado River meander. Access to this is an easy turn off Hwy 89 to an access road, then a 3/4 mile hike to the overlook. Even the views on the hike were grand.


Arrived! That’s a good 1,000ft drop right there!




Picture of Tyson, Alec, and Stephen.


Picture of Alec who was very excited to venture off on his own and take in the sights.




Photo of Peter on the ledge.


Jouhl taking it all in.


Back at the trailhead, it was time for some puddle pictures! Thanks to Peter for his mean photo skills here.


Quite possibly the best photo I have to date of the Mazda. None of these have been edited…that’s how perfect the lighting was.


Tyson’s ILX was especially ad-worthy.


Next was dinner in Page at Strombolli’s Italian restaurant. It certainly hit the spot.


Since we all were iPhone users, we decided to stack them on the table for kicks. Peter calculated that this stack came close to $5k retail!


Thanks to a suggestion from Tyson, we played a game…a painful game. He suggested,  “Let’s challenge ourselves to leave these phones here for the entire meal and not touch them.” We did and it was harder than it sounds. However, we all had a good old fashioned dinner where we could do the unthinkable…talk to each other. Amazing!

That night we all were exhausted, but very satisfied from the day. We crashed out in the plush Comfort Inn beds. The next morning, Jouhl, Jennifer, Alec and I decided to depart early for hopes of not getting back to Las Cruces too late. It was going to be a long haul. After we grabbed breakfast, packaged, said our good-byes to Tyson, Stephen, Peter and Chris, we came out to this. That’s one frozen Mazda!


Page was a nice crisp 30˚F.


I made sure to pack throughly for this trip. I had tools, jumper cables, first aide kit, flashlights, rags, extra quart of oil, blankets, kitty litter in case we get stuck in snow. Ice scraper? Oops! Forgot that. So, I put my Bank of America card to work again.



Back on the road, and you could see Flagstaff’s San Francisco peaks in the distance.


Pitt stop


Since our route home took us east on I-40, we zipped by the Petrified Forest National Park. Jennifer and Alec had never been.


Hike down to the badlands!



Quick stop for a cheesy pic at a tourist trap off I-40.


We got back to Las Cruces around 11:00PM. Not too bad considering the overall drive was 9.5hrs of just driving. That concludes another grand adventure!

In other news, I’m still in contact with Justin, the new owner of the TL. He has made some personal touches to it which include color matching the front grille and rear trim pieces, adding some OEM aluminum pedals and debadging the rear. He also did a full paint correction and it shows! Keep up the great work, Justin!



Those aluminum pedals look sharp! Something I should have done a long time ago.


That’s all for now, thank you all for coming along!

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.


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.


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.

2015-02-04 13_47_51-Las Cruces, NM to Las Cruces, NM - Google Maps

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.



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.


We crammed all our luggage in the trunk.


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



Jennifer returned the favor.


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


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.


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



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


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.


Tyson led the way to Page, AZ.


Quick stop for a few pics.


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.


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.


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


Waiting to climb aboard the tour truck.


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


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


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


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.


The mouth of the canyon.


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


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.





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


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!


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


Just for scale purposes.


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.


Money shot!



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


I could happily camp out here for a while.


Back on the truck to get back to town.


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


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


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!