Tag Archives: TL

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.”

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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.

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

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Picture of Tyson, Alec, and Stephen.

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

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Photo of Peter on the ledge.

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Jouhl taking it all in.

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

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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.

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Tyson’s ILX was especially ad-worthy.

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

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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!

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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!

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Page was a nice crisp 30˚F.

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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.

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

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Pitt stop

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

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Hike down to the badlands!

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

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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!

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

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

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The End of Chapter 2 – 2010 Acura TL

First note, consider my 2004 Satin Silver Accord Coupe 6spd as “Chapter 1.”

Well, looks like my blog here is going to change gears again. If you’ve enjoyed any of my ramblings that put a spotlight on the TL, I’m sad to say it’s come to end. As of October 22, 2014, I have listed the TL available for a new owner. Why, you ask? What it boils down to is money. With a recent home purchase and other responsibilities, I just wasn’t comfortable swinging another 4-5 years of car payments. My joys behind the wheel wearing the big “A” were outmatched by the financial burden.

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Fast forward exactly one month, and I find a buyer from Dallas, TX — Justin. An avid Honda fan, Justin was in the same boat as me last year with a search for a 4th generation TL 6-speed. He flew 600+ miles out to El Paso, TX (nearest international airport to me) and spent a good part of the day closely inspecting the TL to see if it suited his needs. In the end, we officially shook hands in agreement to the sale, and he is now the new owner. He is having it shipped out next week.

It’s been a good run with the TL, and as I write this (while wiping a few tears away), I can’t help but remember what a great traveling companion it has been:

The key hand-off and beginning mileage – Los Angeles, California

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Musical Road – Lancaster, California

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Salton Sea – California

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Canyon De Chelly – Chinle, Arizona

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White Sands National Monument – New Mexico

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Gila National Forest – New Mexico

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Cadillac Ranch – Near Amarillo, Texas

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New York City – New York

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Redline Productions Test Drive the TL – Washington D.C.

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Chesapeake Bay – Virginia

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Caddo Lake (Swamplands) – Texas

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Death Valley – California

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Ouray – Colorado

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Very Large Array – New Mexico

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Large(st?) Rattle Snake – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Odd trails covered: (no pavement here) 

Cibola National Forest – New Mexico

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Doña Ana County – New Mexico

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Somewhere north of Ouray, Colorado

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“20 Mule Team” road in Death Valley – California

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Driving on bedrock at the Malpais – Near Grants, New Mexico

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Driving on a Mesa in the Bisti Wilderness – New Mexico

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Most Challenging Cargo: 

12′ siding for the house. This utilized the trunk “pass through” and extended practically the entire length of the car!

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Lawn mower and weed wacker:

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10′ Ladder with painter’s tape to keep the trunk tied down:

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Accord front lip:

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Ending mileage at the date of sale (November 22, 2014). That’s 35,462 miles covered!

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Amazing only one year has passed, and the TL has taken me to all these fantastic destinations and then some. I do hope it’s able to give Justin the same amount of joy it has given me. Farewell, my friend. Farewell.

Now, the show isn’t over here on Driven for Drives. I’m still going to be on the open road and sharing the big highlights as I go along. For the next chapter here, the car in the spotlight is surprisingly something non-Honda. Can you guess what it is?

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Stay tuned for “When it all Started – Part III”

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Drive to the Switzterland of America — Part II

Let’s begin our travels back home! We did things a little different and took photos of the welcome sign as we departed. Couldn’t when we first entered Ouray as it was too dark.

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Then back down the Million Dollar Highway. This sign just reminds motorists of the dangers (and fun) that they are about in counter.

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Here’s one of my favorite shots of the highway Jouhl managed to capture out the windshield.

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That tunnel there is slanted like to keep avalanches from taking out the road. According to my Dad who does a heck of a lot more research into things than I do, the Million Dollar Highway is one of America’s most expensive roads to maintain.

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The prior night, I was googling a bit and found the ghost town of Ironton to be only a short distance from Ouray. It was a stop we just had to take and much to my surprise, this was a true ghost town where there was no supervision nor was it commercialized in any way. Just some old buildings hidden off the beaten path. This town has an interesting history per Wiki:

“Ironton (aka Copper Glen) was built on flatter ground than surrounding towns. Settled in 1883, within three weeks three hundred buildings were being built. It was a staging area for supplies coming from Ouray. Ironton was a major transportation junction between Red Mountain Town and Ouray in addition to having some of its own mines. Ironton had a peak population of over 1000 and had two trains arriving daily from Silverton. There were many chain stores from the nearby cities of Ouray and Silverton. The town lived into the first part of the 20th century but slowly faded as mining operations declined. The final resident of the town, Milton Larson, died in the mid-1960s. The town site is still occasionally visited by tourists.

Access to Ironton was simple. A narrow road covered in leaves off Hwy 550 takes you to the site. The weather was cold and misty…just the perfect atmosphere for some exploring.

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Here we are.

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Believe it or not, I’ve seen worse bathrooms.

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Most of us split and explored our own buildings. Here’s Jennifer coming down from one of the second floors.

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Alec and I braved the darkness of the second story of this rickety old house.

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Jouhl decided to wait for us at the entrance.

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Nearly all the buildings were structurally sound enough to walk through. Some were quite creepy!

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As usual, wandering around randomly ended up following the Red Mountain Creek for short distance.

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After our toes and fingers couldn’t take the cold any more, we hopped back in the TL and started for home. Last stop before hitting the Interstate, we stopped by Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness just south of Farmington, NM.  This 45,000-acre area is a desolate area of steeply eroded bad lands managed by BLM. “Bisti” comes from the word “Bistahí, which means “among the adobe formations.”

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A 10 mile road layered with corse gravel and bumpy turns made for a rather exhausting ride. I felt for the TL’s shocks. Rumor has it that the Navajo Tribe has gone to great lengths to keep the Bisti and nearby Chaco Canyon remote and not terribly easy to access. This is to minimize the amount of people entering and disturbing the land.

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I didn’t exactly take a defined path to this view point. The AWD system handled the sand just fine though.

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This sure felt like a different planet.

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Despite the wind gusts of 50mph, we set out for some photos and exploring. IMG_6966

Then it was time to run!

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Alec was going crazy taking pictures in every angle he could.

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The Bisti was once a riverine delta that was west of the shore of an ancient sea. This sea covered much of New Mexico 70 million years ago. The waters of this sea washed a lot of sediment upon the shore and then swamps and the occasional pond bordering the stream left behind these large buildups of organic material and odd formations. Amazing!

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There’s only so much wind you can take. We soon hustled back to the TL and began our journey home. That’s a wrap for this trip…thank you all for joining us for this grand adventure. More in store for you very soon!

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Drive to The Switzerland of America — Ouray, Colorado Part I

Nothing beats a nice weekend getaway. Especially when you’re growing bored of the sunny, dry climate of southern New Mexico and want to see some cool fall colors. So, friends Jouhl, Jennifer and Alec all climbed into the TL and joined me in one of my bucket-list destinations: Ouray, Colorado. Let the miles pile on!

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Nestled in the San Juan mountains north of Durango, Ouray was once a silver and gold mining town. Population isn’t much…just about 1,000 according to the 2010 census. It was named after Chief Ouray of the Utes, a Native American tribe and it’s best known for the extensive scenery that’s gorgeous in all seasons.

Total miles: ~1,200

Our round trip was as follows:

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Got the TL all washed up and ready to roll.

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From left to right: Jouhl, Jennifer and Alec. Jennifer and Alec had never been to Colorado so this was going to be quite a treat for them.

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Gas stop in Los Lunas before going through Albuquerque.

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First official stop was in Aztec, NM where we’d check out the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Contrary to the name, these were built and inhabited by the Pueblo Indians. The dwellings date back to 11th century and most are in their original, unrestored state.

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Always have to prep the cameras!

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One of the coolest parts is we actually get to explore within the ruins. Here’s Jouhl crouching down to enter the small doorway.

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Here’s an overview of the ruins. Looks like a video game.

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No time to waste. Back on the road towards Colorado. Clouds formed and threw a few rain drops our way. Just enough to get the TL nice and spotty.

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Stateline!

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Almost immediately, we started to see the fall colors. Man, I miss seeing this!

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The long, winding US 550 took us past the small mining town of Silverton, CO. And when I say small, I mean it as there are a total of 530 residents here. (2010 census) It was raining pretty good by now, so we opted to just take a short drive through instead of getting out and walking around. (Well, I did have to sneak out for a quick photo of the TL.

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Now, one of the best parts of the trip is about to begin. We now were on the “Million Dollar Highway.” Many refer to this as one of America’s greatest driving roads for its scenery and smooth twisty nature. In fact, it was so twisty that I didn’t have many opportunities to pull off for photos.

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This is one of the money shots of the trip. The temperature was dropping pretty quickly to the low 40s, so jackets were in order. The rain kept coming down, but in moderation. It was such a grand experience.

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As we ascended in elevation, we could see the rain was turning into snow at the surrounding peaks. Here’s a cool “selfie” Jouhl took of us.

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Darkness was approaching and this was the last photo of the drive today.

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We got into Ouray fairly late around 8pm and we wasted no time to grab some dinner. Our place of choice, The Outlaws.

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Folks were friendly, restaurant very hospitable, and atmosphere inviting. Food however, was disappointing. Regardless, we had fun.

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The next day was going to be full of outdoor fun. Here’s a shot of the hotel where we stayed. We caught the end of the tourism season, and the hotel was actually going to shut down for winter the following day. Yup, we were a few of the last guests of 2014.

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View from the front door.

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After a quick breakfast in the lobby, I wanted to drive around and see what we couldn’t the night before. Here’s downtown Ouray.

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Most of my “short-drive-around-town” moments end up taking half the day and in some of the most remote and interesting places. Today was no exception and luckily the gang loved it.

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I found this cool looking road leading into the forest.

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I just kept going and going. The fall colors were so beautiful.

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The road came to an end (well at least for us in the low slung TL). A higher vehicle could easily cross the creek and keep on going.

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We got out and just randomly walked around exploring the area. No joke here: this is where I was meant to be.

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Yup, that’s one happy Jason.

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We found a hiking trail, and ran with that for a while. The moss covered rocks caught my attention.

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After a few hours, it was time to head back to town. “BACK TO THA CHOPPA!”

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This is another of my favorite shots.

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Wait, did I make a wrong turn? How did I drive to Switzerland?

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The road back down the mountain had an awesome view of the town.

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Next on my list was Box Canyon Falls.

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The canyon was formed by the vicious rushing waters of Canyon Creek. Over time, they formed a deep and narrow box canyon.

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Here we are walking to the falls.

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The falls were actually somewhat hidden, but they sure made a lot of noise and mist.

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Next we checked out the Perimeter Trail which leads to some more breathtaking views of the town. This is scariest and most dangerous part that has taken lives. You hike along a narrow trail carved into the side of the cliff with only a cable to hang on to.

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The views…

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Now on to browsing the shops!

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Ouray locals claim they are the Jeep capital of the world. Not sure how accurate that is, but there were indeed a lot of Jeeps around. Many locals will even rent out their Jeeps. Never seen that before.

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Then we settled down in the Irish Pub for dinner. Our bodies were sore, tired and hungry. The food really hit the spot. My burger had bacon mixed in the patty and to make an already great burger better, Jennifer order some Guinness based BBQ sauce. Oh man, meat lovers rejoice!

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More to come! Stay tuned for Part II…

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East Coast – Wrap Up – Beaches and Swamps

Let’s get our East Coast trip wrapped up. First though, I wanted to recap a bit on the TL. She has been a noble companion throughout the entire trip. This has been by far the most comfortable vehicle I’ve traveled in and the climate control system easily kept the high humidity and scorching temps at bay. The 6-speed manual and clutch were very easy to operate even in the midst of New York City traffic, and the ebony black leather seats offered the necessary support for long stretches. However, all cars have their faults. The gas mileage is nothing to shout about. I averaged about 24-26MPG on the trip on 91/93 octane. That’s about 4MPG less than the V6 Accord I had and 11MPG less than my old RSX. The trunk isn’t quite as capacious as the Accord either, and the TL mysteriously needed 2 quarts of oil during the span of the trip. Road noise is definitely on the louder side too. However, I am overall very pleased with the TL and would definitely recommend one. I will plan to do a full “unofficial” review of it later on.

The miles keep piling on. From the start of the trip, here’s where it stood.

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And this was the ending mileage (and the nice toasty temps of Las Cruces):

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Now, on with the last bit of the East Coast trip: I find it amazing how diverse our country is in climate and landscape. On the west coast, we have instances of beaches with rain forests. On the east coast, we have beaches and swamps. Sometimes those are within a few short miles of each other. Let’s see what that’s like.

From Washington D.C., we stopped in Virginia Beach. The biggest attraction there were the multi-story hotels towering over the beach. With a population of over 437,000, this is the most populous city in Virginia and the 39th most populous in the county. The city sits on the edge of the longest “pleasure beach” in the world. Here’s an aerial from Google.

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The vicious weaves of the Atlantic crashing against the shores was a real treat to experience. The Atlantic seems to be a little more aggressive than the Pacific.

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A storm was trying to roll in at this time, so many tourists were scrambling to get to the comfort of their hotel rooms. Therefore the beach was quite empty.

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Here was a massive statue of the mythological Greek god, Triton— the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, messenger of the sea.

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I found this amusing: as we walked the streets into the night, there were many signs like this. Is this a strict “no-cussing” policy?

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The next day was a real treat. On the way to South Carolina, I wanted to stop and see my first ever swamp. That would be the Great Dismal Swamps near Norfolk. This marshy land takes about 1,000,000 acres stretching from Norfolk, VA to Edenton, NC. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is the largest of its kind and was created in 1973 when the Union Camp Corporation of Franklin, Virginia, donated 49,100 acres of land after centuries of logging and other human activities devastated the swamp’s ecosystems. The name comes from the days when people often referred to swamps or morass as “dismal.” “Dismal” because of the inhospitable snake-infested, mosquito-swarming place it was (and still is).

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The long, skinny, dirt road took us deeper and deeper into a heavily wooded area.

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It was desolate and a little spooky at this time. So many creaks, groans, chirps and buzzes were coming from all the wildlife that were observing our encroachment on their land.

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This area looks like where water logging had once taken place years ago.

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At the end of the road, we reached the lake.

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I dare you to take a swim in this nice black, marshy water!

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On we go!

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The TL got a generous helping of dust to accompany the thousands of miles of tarmac grime. This photo looked quite fitting to showcase the SH-AWD

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One of the hiking trails had this amusing sign posted. “Those Darn Mosquitoes!”

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The boardwalk leading back further into the deep woods.

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We saw this bench off to the side with what looked like chew marks. Was this a victim of a bear or deer?

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Throughout this entire drive, only one other car was seen. Otherwise, the swamp lands was all ours!

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From there, our trail towards New Mexico was basically hitting the road hard on I-85 and I-20. Here’s some state lines…South Carolina.

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Georgia.

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Alabama.

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Mississippi.

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Another amusing town name to go on my list: welcome to the town of, “Chunky!”

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Louisiana.

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Throughout our entire trip, the weather was very cooperative. Louisiana was the only state where we actually got some rain!

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Still marveling at the green landscape.

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Last stop before New Mexico…Texas!

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Our last way point for the trip was Caddo Lake in eastern Texas. This lake/wetland covers about 25,400 acres and is located on the border between Marion County in Texas and western Caddo Parish in Louisiana.  The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo.  This wetland features the largest Cypress forest in the world! Let’s see what it’s like. 

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Here’s the entrance to the park.

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Even though it was about 5:00 in the afternoon, the heavy vegetation blocked out most of the sunlight. Time to flick on the lights.

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Road leading up to the lake was smooth and still wet from a recent rain shower.

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And here’s what we got to feast our eyes on. Wow! Now when you talk about swamps, this looks like the real deal.

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Jouhl was impressed too.

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A very friendly park ranger I spoke with told me there were many resident alligators here. Unfortunately, none were spotted as they were very shy and were masters of hiding.

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How’d you like to take a swim in this?

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This was the only good spot in the park to show proof that the TL had driven through swamp lands.

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Guess what folks? That concludes my East Coast trip. I hope you enjoyed coming along. I look forward to sharing my next big grand adventure with you all. Until then, have fun fellow #roadtrippers!

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Preview: Tour of the East

Hello all! I’m on the road again and this is another big one!

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My friend Jouhl and I are starting another tour…this time to the East! Check out the tentative route of ~5,000 miles. I had to zoom out to give the sense of scale. Can we do this in only 12 days? Stay tuned!

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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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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.

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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!

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

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Here I am at the south entrance.

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More curves!

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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)

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Now, for a glimpse of the city…

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

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Here’s the walk to the edge.

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The east view

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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On the way!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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And I finally arrived in Laughlin!

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

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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.

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The river walk…

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Next morning, breakfast was first on the agenda.

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The mighty Colorado River was peaceful in the morning.

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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.

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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.

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1970 Dodge “Super Bee”

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The classic 1955 Ford T-Bird

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

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Gorgeous 1954 Corvette

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1966 Mustang Convertible

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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!

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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

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

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Here was a really nice pearl blue 1963 Stingray

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

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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.

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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

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Party time at Saltgrass Steak House!

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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.

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I highly recommend the Saltgrass Steakhouse. Mighty tasty!

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

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

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

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