Tag Archives: travel

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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East Coast – Day 7-9 Washington D.C. with 2theRedline & Chesapeake Bay

Ready for more? Numb from the excitement of New York City, it was hard to solider on…but, we did. With my interest in bridges, I marveled at some of the engineering that went into some of these in the East. Here we crossed the Delaware Canal Bridge in Delaware. This is the first major concrete segmental cable-bridge built in the northeast. This holds the record for the longest concrete span of 750 feet.

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Into Maryland.

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And finally, Washington D.C.  We dropped off the bags in our hotel and then headed for the National Mall where lies many of the country’s greatest memorials. Occupying about 146 acres, the National Mall is visited by about 24 million visitors a year. Here’s an aerial from wiki:

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The memorials are spread out, and we were pressed for time before the sun set. So, we opted to rent a few bikes. First stop, Washington Monument. This is the tallest stone structure in the world at 555 feet.

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Iwo Jima:

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Lincoln Memorial:

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National Wold War II Memorial: 

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And no visit to ‘D.C. is complete without a spy shot of the White House!

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Into the late evening we still rode around on the pristine pathways.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was our last stop for the night. Chinese takeout, then back to the hotel.

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The next day, it was a great pleasure to meet editor-in-cheif, Sofyan Bey from the “2theRedline” team. 2theRedline is an auto review channel on YouTube which features videos of many late-model vehicles complete with brief model history, test drives and general powertrain specs.

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Sofyan is a proud owner of a 2013 Acura ILX 2.4L 6-speed. As you can imagine, we had to get the TL and ILX together for a few photo ops.

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Sofyan was generous enough to do a review on my TL. This is the first TL 6-speed Sofyan has driven and the first ever for the Channel.

Here’s Sofyan as he sets up his Go-Pro cameras.

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After the cameras were mounted on his ILX, we set off to have lunch. Sofyan led the way as Jouhl and I followed. In the meantime, the TL was being recorded in action.

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Lunch was at Cafe Rio. I highly recommend it

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After lunch, I handed the keys over to Sofyan, and he worked his magic for the final stage of the review. Here’s the end result complete with splattered flies and road grime:

Last stop, a photo op with Rob’s 2012 Honda Civic Si–One of Sofyan’s friends.

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Rob did a masterful job of putting on an Si coupe front end and giving the suspension a moderate lowering. Looks much more aggressive!

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From there, we  parted ways. No time to waste on our end, back on the road again. Several miles down the road, we passed by, “Mechanicsville.” This has to be on the top of my list of most amusing town names.

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Or maybe, “Tysons Corner.” I know my friend, Tyson will get a kick out of that.

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Our stop for the night was Virginia Beach, VA. (That will be on my next post) On the way, we were going to cross something special: The Chesapeak Bay Bridge Tunnel. This is something I’ve been wanting to see for a long time! This structure is 17 miles long from shore to shore and it’s a fixed link from the Chesapeake Bay to Eastern Shore of Virginia. This is one of the world’s largest bridge-tunnel complexes (one out of ten). There are two 1-mile tunnels, two bridges, and nearly 2 miles of causeway (raised sections). Here are a few aerial shots from Google. The breaks in the road are the tunnels underwater.

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Those two tunnels allow for marine traffic to cross the bay uninterrupted. Let’s see how the bridge is!

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Here it is in the distance as we were approaching.

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As I picked up speed, the moderately worn Michelin tires started to make their subtle hum on the concrete surface.

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Before entering the tunnel, there’s a restaurant and gift shop pull off. Wasn’t the best location for a photo op, but it was better than nothing.

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At this point, you get to cross over the road and see the entrance to the first tunnel.

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View from the restaurant.

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Here we go underwater!

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The first exit.

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With speed limits at 55MPH, it only takes an easy 15 mins the cross the entire bridge. As I’m not accustomed to the narrow lanes in tunnels, 55MPH can be quite frightening when meeting on-coming traffic. Thankfully, we made it to the other shore without mishap…then I turned around and drove it again!

That’s all for this post. Stay tuned for the next and final post coming up…

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East Coast – Day 3-4 St. Louis & Louisville

Let’s continue from Oklahoma! Jouhl and I drove on through. Just about every town we passed by, presented their mightiest flag. Perhaps this was because it was close to Memorial Day?

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As we piled on the miles, the landscape started to turn more and more green.

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The Missouri state line.

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First stop in Missouri: Grand Falls outside of Joplin.

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This was an unadvertised attraction and getting there requires taking a few back roads.

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The Missouri Grand Falls is one of many waterfalls on the Missouri River. This one is rather hidden from the public.

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The stop was worth it though!

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Going back to the Interstate…

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Next stop, St. Louis and The Gateway Arch. This 630-foot-high monument is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It’s also Missouri’s tallest accessible building and world’s tallest arch—yes, you can go to the top! This was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. It is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and is an internationally famous symbol of St. Louis.

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Here’s a shot of downtown St. Louis.

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And here’s a shot with the TL.

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More state lines…

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Welcome to Kentucky!

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We made a quick stop in Louisville.

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We entered downtown to see the Wold’s Largest Bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum. This bat stands 120ft tall and weights about 34 tons.

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Here’s the bat. This photo doesn’t give you the sense of scale. You have to go and see for yourself!

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Next on the list was a drive by of one of the most haunted place in America. That is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. This sanatorium opened in 1910 as a hospital to accommodate several tuberculosis patients. In the early 1900s, a massive outbreak of tuberculosis (the “White Plague”) prompted the construction of a new hospital. The hospital closed in 1962. The property is privately-owned with very strict security. Even stopping outside the gate can yield being yelled at from the security intercom. We still made a quick drive by..

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Best we could do.

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A quick google search shows what the building looks like.

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After Kentucky, we blew by Cincinnati, Ohio.

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And then West Virginia!

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And then Pennsylvania…

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There is so much more to share! I’ll be back…stay tuned!

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East Coast – Day 1-2 – Cadillac Ranch

Another grand adventure is currently in the works! Jouhl and I hit the road late afternoon on May 21st for the East Coast. No time to waste…let’s get started!

Here’s the first state line, Texas!

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We stopped at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park to check out the scenery. This is the second largest canyon in the United States and spans roughly 60 miles long with a maximum width of 20 miles. This is regarded as “The Grand Canyon of Texas.”

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Here’s Jouhl taking it all in.

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The canyon’s dramatic geological features, which included the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls, was definitely worth the stop. 

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They recently had a rain storm. Just enough to get the creeks flowing again.

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…and bring some mud to the roadway.

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Next stop along the way was an unusual roadside attraction in Combine City, TX—Just outside of Amarillo. These are old retired combine tractors buried at an angle in a remote farm field. Is this a spoof of Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch? There was no indication of who owns the land. Not even a sign was posted to attract tourists. 

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Had to get the TL positioned just so. I may have to buff out a few twig scuffs.

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Then, it was time to see the real deal…Cadillac Ranch!

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Sadly, you can’t drive up to the half buried Cadillac skeletons. We’d have to pass through the roadside fence to get up close and personal.

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Here they are up close! Several spray-paint cans were lying all over and free for anyone to pick up and tag the cars as they pleased.

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I chose to take this one for a test drive.

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As seen here, these old Cadillacs were covered from top to bottom with paint. Several layers at that.

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Check out how thick this stuff is laid on…

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On wards to Oklahoma…

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This state we pretty much blew right through. More to come so stay tuned!

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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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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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Fresh Detail for the TL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s with just the 85 Compound.

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…and now with the polish stage complete.

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It made such a huge difference!

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

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Almost like a mirror!

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

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Here’s a section of the rear bumper…

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

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

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

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

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Even shows up on the backup camera.

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

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The backup camera was temporarily useless…

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Salton Sea and Bombay Beach, California

Happy New Year to all! Many miles behind the wheel and busy activities have kept me away from the blogging scene of late, but I’m back! This past Christmas I was back in the San Joaquin valley of California to spend time with family and friends.

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It was tons of fun and great to be surrounded by good company. This trip ended up being one of the most memorable for me and a great one to close out 2013. Here are many of my little cousins anxiously awaiting to see what lies beneath the wrapping paper on Christmas Eve.

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Here’s a photo of me, cousin Lola, Grandma “B,” and Nathan. Nathan is a quite a talented guy who has had a hand in the visual effects in many popular movies/shows. Those include, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Smallville, Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Night at the Museum just to name a few. Check out the full list here.

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The TL has been performing great and I’m still learning about new tricks it has to offer. I’m growing more and more comfortable with the navigation system. I only yelled at it twice this trip!

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Indio, CA, has become one of my routine overnight stops to the ‘valley. It’s not what you’d call a halfway point, but I like the location and the surroundings. Here I was driving around downtown at night and just had to nestle in with some of the fancy boys to take a few pix. Behind the TL is a Porsche Boxster and a BMW M5.

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Overall mileage for this past visit to California and back was 2,445. I spent well over 40 hours behind the wheel, but I have to admit, they were all very pleasant. The format of this post will seem a bit scattered, but it’s because I have so much to cover!

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The only hiccup for the TL was a wheel bearing which decided to start singing a melodious song while I cruised at highway speeds. I took the TL to Fresno Acura in Fresno, CA. There I was given the red-carpet service. They diagnosed the problem right away and got me out fast even though I was a “walk-in.”

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Large glass doors leading to the service bay allowed me to view my car being dismantled.

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While the wheel bearing surgery was taking place, I took a look around the lot and showroom.

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In addition to a new 2014 MDX, a few TLs, they had this very tidy TSX Special Edition in Bellanova White Pearl. If the TSX offered a 6-speed manual with the V6, I would have seriously considered that as opposed to the TL. Sadly, the 6-seed is only  available with the 2.4L 4-cylinder.

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After a few hours, she was all ready to go. Warranty fully covered the repair, so I just signed and drove away.IMG_1166

On the way back to the hotel, I hit 30,000 miles! That’s a good 5,554 miles I’ve put on since the purchase date in mid-November.

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The return leg of the trip is the main focus of this post. I made a bold move this trip and did something I’ve been wanting to do for years…like the past 10 years. I made the decision to see my Mom in LA. I had lost contact with her when I was seven years old and haven’t made any attempt since then. That’s a good 20 years! In the end, the visit went very well and I’m glad I did it. Here I am about to exit to Pasadena where I was scheduled to meet her and my three half-brothers.

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Here’s a group photo of all of us. Jerry, me, Mom, Jeffrey and Jonathan. I’m looking forward to keeping ties with them and future visits!

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The next day, I made a slight detour southeast from LA to the Salton Sea and Bombay Beach before heading home. I was already getting a little worn out, but since these sights were just a few hundred miles out of the way, I just couldn’t pass up.

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The Salton Sea is a fascinating geological site. It is regarded as a shallow endorheic rift lake and it’s located in the Imperial and Coachella valleys. It was created in 1905 by a massive flood caused by the Colorado River, and many attempts have been made to make this an exotic desert oasis. Sadly, those attempts have failed, and it shows. Even so, it’s still regarded as a Class I recreational area for fishing, swimming and boating. Believe me, after seeing what I did, I wouldn’t even get my feet wet in the water. It takes up roughly 525 sq miles of the land and like Death Valley, this “sea” is 225ft BELOW sea level!

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With the squawking of the seagulls, pelicans, and the smell of the salty water, I felt like I was right at the Pacific coastline.

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When I looked up the details on the lake, I was really surprised at what I had found: Large quantities of fish die in this oxygen-depleting combination of sun and salt environment. In 1999, nearly 8 million fish died in one day! There also was an article back in 2012 saying a lingering stench in LA air was tied to the rotting fish of the area here. To top that off, many species of birds have been dying of type-C botulism from the consumption of ill fish. What looks like sand on the shore here is actually layers and layers of bones and barnacles of the expired fish. Luckily, the time I was here I didn’t experience any of the odor.

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Here is a photo I snatched from google showing the extent of the problem.

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Despite the aforementioned, there were many birds active on the water. I took out my zoom lens to capture a few in action…

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Most of the stops along the shore looked post-apocolyptic!

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It looked like at one time, someone had big dreams of developing and turning this land into some prime real estate near the water’s edge. Check out those prices…$59K!

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Many predefined lots are surrounded with expired palm trees and weeds.

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Several miles down the road, I came to Bombay Beach. This is regarded as the lowest community in America at 223ft below sea level. (Does this mean I’ve just driven on the lowest paved road in America?) There are many small little communities along the Salton Sea’s coastline, but this one stood out the most. It has to be the most depressing and unwelcoming community I’ve been to. Evidently, Bombay Beach was somebody’s dream of paradise back when the town was established in 1929. However, the rotting smell of decaying fish and birds, constant flooding, and the unpredictable future of the lake made investors leave the scene without turning back. The population as of 2010 is 295 (2010 census).

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Driving through this community gave me a real uneasy feeling. Graffiti, collapsed buildings and many unhappy glaring looks from the few residents who still live here. I felt very unwelcome.

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An example of how many buildings stand today.

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Prime “fixer-upper!”

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The residents built a dike seen here in attempt to keep the overflowing lake from entering the community.

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I found a spot where I could drive up over the dike and I got the shock of the day. This was a dried wasteland of salt-encrusted ruins. It is quite obvious why this part of town was abandoned years ago.

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I used the backup cam to carefully position the TL for this shot.

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As I left the area, I started to drive through the remainder of the community.

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Many instances where you’ll see a perfectly sound structure next to a pile of rubble.

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If any of you have ever seen the movie, The Hills Have Eyes, you’ll know why I just wanted to book it when I saw that title written on a side of a house!

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As much of an adventure as it would be to explore some of these abandoned homes inside and out, there was just too much of an unwelcoming feeling for me to be comfortable doing so. Many homes here had boarded up windows. With temperatures reaching 115˚F consistently during the summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if residents do that to keep the A/C in and heat out.

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After Bombay Beach, I decided it was time to make a straight shot to home. So I hopped on I-8 east towards Arizona where I’d pick up I-10 near Tucson.

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Of course, I had to grab an In-N-Out burger before I crossed the New Mexico border.

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Hope you all enjoyed the trip and my first year of blogging! I’m looking forward to 2014 and all the miles that will come with it. See you then…

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Thanksgiving Drive to California and the Musical Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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I parked on the side and got out to take some close up photos.
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Here you can see the special grooves that were cut.

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

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Let’s see how she sounds!

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

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Here we are visiting after a great dinner.

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

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