Major PDR and Other Updates

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Hi All. I’m checking in here and kicking away the tumbleweeds that have accumulated in my absence. I’m still chugging along at work and home projects. Lots of improvements on both cars have been ongoing as well. I’ve focused a lot of attention on the 6i to get it as close to showroom fresh as I can within financial reason. Well, financial reason may be a bit too conservative. I think obsessive may come to your mind.

First off, I scored a brand new OEM factory painted spoiler which dressed up the rear of the “i” a bit. Most 6’s with the sport package of this era came with a spoiler, however there was a spoiler-delete option which we had here. That’s never been to my liking, so this fixed that.

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Next, you may have noticed that I don’t show many photos of the driver’s side on here and on my Instagram. That’s been on purpose as there was some rather significant damage to the driver’s door which didn’t show well in photos. The damage was there when I acquired the car and it looks like someone had baked directly into the door. I believe this happened on one of my grandpa’s voyages. Though most of the scuffs and paint damage buffed away, we were left with many dimples and stretched sheet metal. Here’s what I’m referring to:

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Even though this light color hides the damage in direct sunlight, my OCD kept nagging me to fix it. I explored many options such as your traditional body shop process of re-skinning, painting and blending or purchasing a replacement door and having it painted. Either of those options most likely wouldn’t yield the results I’d be looking for though. I intend to keep this car as original as possible. I even considered buying this local 6, swapping doors, and reselling.

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Even if the paint matched perfectly, I’d have the issue of the black window and belt line trim mismatched from both cars being in different environments for the last 14 years. So, my last hope was contacting my tried and true PDR (paintless dent removal) go-to, Dent Specialties of El Paso, TX. For well over 10 years, I’ve been taking my cars to their lead tech (or “wizard” as he should be called), Eric. If you’re ever in the area, pay them a visit!

After some coordination over text, I decided the best action plan would be to take the door off and leave it with Eric for a week.

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Ready for transport. It BARELY fit in the trunk of the gray 6!

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This challenging project was showcased on their social media.

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After a week, it was done, and here’s the magic he was able to perform. His 20 hours of work gave some really impressive results!

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I was so stoked. Pictures don’t do this justice, but here are a few before and afters:

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So, that made for another successful fix for the “i”. A few months later, I returned to Eric to have the remaining door dings removed from the entire body.

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Next, I tightened up some panel gaps on the passenger side (pardon the filth).

Before:

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After:

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Oh, we aren’t done yet! Next, I stripped off the old faded window tint and had my tint guys install some fresh 20% film.

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The factory painted door handles’ clear coat was starting to fail, so I will replace these as well.

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Now, the final touches. I’ve been wrapping up the mini restoration process by giving every single nook and cranny a good cleaning and detailing.

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I’m currently finishing up a complete paint correction/restoration. The process consists of a clay bar cleaning, compounding on the bad areas, two-stage polish, then sealer.

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Some of the results:

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The product of choice has been Wolfgang. I find their products very easy to apply and tend to yield a nice deep gloss.

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When I’m finished with the entire car, I’ll top coat with this $70 Wolfgang Fuzion carnauba wax to give the greatest depth and make the metallic flake pop. This won’t be a concours-level paint restoration, but a huge improvement.

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It’s been a rather expensive project. When the “i” is complete, I’ll be sure to post some high resolution photos. I also didn’t forget about the gray “s”. I swapped out the troublesome aftermarket Depo headlights for some black bezel OEM 2006 Mazda 6 headlights. What’s this, the fourth time I’ve replaced these?

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I feel like these work better with my dark/smoked theme.

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The last mod is a gloss black window trim to replace the faded and cracked factory vinyl.

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While we’re on the subject of the gray 6, this month is actually the fourth-year anniversary of ownership. How does time fly by so quickly?! I’ll compile some data to share in a future post on that. I think I’ve bored you all with enough photos for now. Catch you all later!

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

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

Douglas, Arizona:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks, Tyson for meeting up!

250,000 Miles and Mogollon, NM

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

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

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

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

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

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Switchbacks galore.

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Lots of deer and elk spotted along the way.

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Arrived!

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

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Check out the difference from 2015…

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

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

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

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Refreshed Wheels and Other Updates

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Happy Saturday! Time for another update on the 6’s.

A mini-milestone was achieved a few weeks ago (245,000 miles) for the “S.” Luckily, no major maintenance or repair items are on the list. The “i” hasn’t seen the road much in the past few months as it sits just under 190,000 miles. The identity crisis for the “S” still continues as I put the “chrome mustache” grille back on for the sake of keeping it recognizable for what little press/social media exposure it’s had.

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The appearance changes haven’t stopped there, though. I’ve been hoarding some Mazdaspeed 6 parts for a while, and among them were some nice stainless steel kick plates. I swapped those for the stock black plates.

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I also finally did a refresh on the factory wheels which is something I’ve been wanting to do since day one. I took a little time off work to run a spare set of OEM wheels I had to Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists in El Paso, TX. That was only a 55 mile drive one way…not bad for a “quick” errand.

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I could have had the wheels reconditioned to the original silver, but I wanted to add a little pizzazz. The “S” is far from being original (or stock), so what harm could come from a few more mild mods? I was brave and chose a dark hyper silver powder coat. I left the wheels overnight and returned pleasantly surprised the next day to get them mounted. Whoa!! Why haven’t I done this sooner? I was in love with the new look.

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Before: The original wheels were certainly overdue a new look. Most of the clear coat was worn away and dogs have peed on these more times than the fire-hydrant down the street. I’d like to mention that all the curb rash was from the previous owners. 🙂

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After:

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Leaving in style.

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The new finish goes lovely with the Steel Grey Metallic.

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To complete the package, I gave the “S” a good wash, clay bar and paint sealer.

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I pulled both 6’s out for a quick photo op. Since my local friends and family don’t drive a manual, it’s tricky getting both cars out for photos. Plenty of stares from the neighbors and traffic as usual.

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May not be everyone’s taste, but I like the chrome and hyper silver combo.

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In other news, my Dad and Grandpa’s birthdays fell on two consecutive weekends. Why not make the 600+ mile (each) drive for both? So I did. I took the “S” for both occasions. The first weekend was Dad’s. Sadly, my phone died while visiting Dad, so no photos were available.

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Grandpa’s weekend was next, and we had quite a gathering for him at a nearby casino. Some 35+ people attended.

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Pictured here: Friends Nancy and Matt with Grandpa in the middle. Grandpa is 94 years old now and still going strong. He’s unstoppable and even recently purchased himself a clean 1-owner 2013 Mazda 3 Sport.

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How many 94 year olds do you know who still daily drive a manual?

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I also visited the magicians at Dent Specialties of El Paso to get a few dings taken care of.

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They were amused by my trunk liner and actually posted a photo of it on their Instagram account!

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That about covers it for now. I’m starting to run out of space here on the free WordPress account and I may have only enough for one more post before purchasing a domain. I’ll give updates on that when the time comes. Cheers!

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Hawaii Part II

Welcome to Part II:

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make time to visit the famous Pearl Harbor Monument which was situated right here in Honolulu. Apparently, it’s one of the most visited National Monuments in the US and ticket sales are limited each day. Tickets were sold out on the only afternoon I could have seen it. No worries though, there was plenty to still explore. We decided we had enough of the big city and wanted to see the inland and north shores of Oahu. So, I rented a 2016 CR-V for the day, and we set out.

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After several Uber uses, it sure was nice to be behind the wheel again and having more control over the destination and stopping points.

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The first stop was to the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park located on the windward side Oahu. Here we would visit a 1968 replica of the 11th-century Phoenix Hall of the Byodo-In Buddhist temple. James and I both share an interest in Japanese culture, so this was a must.

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The Byodo-In Buddhist temple was quite impressive in person. It was established in 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. It’s currently a non-practicing Buddhist temple and welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty.

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Back on the road driving along the north shore. It was a nice change to see some local life rather than the tourist-packed areas of Honolulu.

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Getting some beach time near Turtle Bay.

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Some more Hawaiian grub at Haleiwa Bowls. I had a Acai Smoothie and James got the Hapa Bowl.

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One thing that blew my mind is how we circled the majority of the island in such a short amount of time. Before long, we were back in the outskirts of Honolulu. Of course, we got back right at the peak of rush hour traffic.

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Some views of the skyscrapers.

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The last day on the island was more relaxed filled with good food, beach time and general relaxing. I couldn’t shake a nagging feeling of sadness though knowing this was the last day. This is a rare thing for me. Normally I’m itching to get back home. Lunch was one of my favorite meals of the trip at Marukame Udon.

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I opted for the curry flavored udon with an egg and tempura shrimp.

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Moving on to check out the small Waikiki Aquarium…

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As evening set in, we wandered around a bit to soak up the last of the night life.

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Dinner was at a local chain called, Zippy’s. I had another try at Loco Moco… I loved it that much!

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Dessert was some shaved ice from a local stand.

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James and I stumbled upon a hula show!

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That covers the last of the trip. As I write this, I’m actually sad to bring this to an end as I absolutely loved my time in Hawaii. The people, the culture, food and scenery made for a spectacular experience and I will be back in due time. Mahalo, Hawaii, it was fun!

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Hawaii Part I

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Aloha! It’s been a while since I’ve taken a legitimate multi-day trip to get a break from reality. Fortunately, I got quite a sweet deal offered to me: My buddy James Zamora had to travel to a Honolulu conference for work that would last for about a week. He could bring a guest where a good chunk of the expenses would be taken care of. The main cost out of pocket would be the airfare and any miscellaneous entertainment. When this offer was put on the table, I took it in a heartbeat!

To be honest, Hawaii was never at the top of my list of must-see places. Mainly for the cost and the lengthy flight required to get there. There was also the sad realization that I would not be able to drive my own car unless I was prepared to spend the hefty $1,000+ cost (one-way!) of shipping it over. However, I did need to get out there sooner than later since Hawaii is one of three states I had yet to see (other two being Florida and Maine). Let’s get to it!

Flight arrangements worked out quite well. Our first leg was from Albuquerque, NM to Phoenix, AZ, then Phoenix to Honolulu. Total flight time was around 11hrs including a few short delays. It was the longest I’ve been on a plane, but I managed.

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Boarding the American Airline flight to the island of Oahu, HI.

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Mercifully, all seats had their own entertainment units with free movies, live TV and some games.

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Being the odd guy I am, I chose to leave it on the GPS so I could monitor the flight stats. I resorted to Netflix on my phone for shows, music and movies.

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After what seemed like eternity, we finally arrived at Honolulu, Oahu. Oahu is the third largest island of Hawaii and houses about two-thirds of the state’s population. Most of this population in concentrated in Honolulu, the state capitol, which has a metro area population of well over 950,000. It’s the most remote city of its size in the world. We were to stay at Waikiki Beach, an iconic beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu, at the Marriott Hotel at Waikiki Beach.

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Views from the hotel room.

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Some evening exploring on the beach. Weather was perfect at a steady 60-70°F the entire time we were there.

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Dinner for the first night was at Rainbow Drive-In. I opted for the Loco Moco which was a delicious mixture of gravy, over beef pattys and rice. Top that with eggs and a side of Hawaiian macaroni salad and you have one satisfying meal.

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The next day while James was attending his conferences, I took the opportunity to see what trouble I could get into. I’m normally not a big breakfast person, but I needed to try a Hawaii exclusive McDonald’s spam, rice and eggs meal. With the soy sauce packet, it wasn’t too bad!

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Looking around the beaches and downtown areas.

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Checkout this banyan tree. Some of these are historical and one in particular at the Moana Hotel reaches over 75ft and is 114 years old.

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First challenge: I wanted to get some good hiking in while in Hawaii. Though I was on the most urbanized and developed island, there still was a wealth of hiking opportunities. First stop was the Koko Head Crater trail. Koko Head is a dormant volcano which last erupted 35,000 years ago. The trail is made up of stairs…lots and lots of stairs. Old railroad ties mount to the side of the hillside which lead to an old military lookout pillbox bunker used in WWII. The railway (now the ‘stairs’) was used to haul cargo and supplies to the top. All the reviews I could find online said this was one challenging hike. Accepted! I took an Uber (12 miles from Waikiki) over to the trail head and was pleasantly surprised how steep it looked from the bottom.

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Photos don’t do this justice. This is about 1,048 steps and an elevation climb of 1,200ft.

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A good portion of the trail was open like this just waiting to break a few ankles or legs.

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This had to be by far the toughest hike I’ve attempted, but I made it to the top. With high humidity and relatively warm temperatures, I stopped to rest on several occasions. However, the views from the top were well worth it!

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View of the old bunker.

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View of Waikiki in the distance.

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Headed back down wasn’t easy either. Trying to maintain balance on tired legs, and the constant pounding on my knees took a lot out of me.

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Once I rested after the hike, I went back to Waikiki to take in the waves. My legs were sore and trembling from the strain, but the day was not over. I’m not much of a water guy, so I left the surfing to other other tourists. Oddly enough, I ran into some nice folks who where from Los Lunas, NM…that’s only about 200 miles from my home! Small world.

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Second challenge: James was able to sneak away early from his conference and we went to Hanauma Bay there we’d get our first experience of snorkeling! Hanauma is located along the southeast coast Oahu in the Hawaii Kai, not too far from Koko Crater.

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Renting the gear was a reasonable $25 and we dove in. I hadn’t been in the water since my teenage years, and I discovered my swimming skills were a bit rusty at best.

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So with that limitation discovered, I didn’t venture too far from the beach. The clean water offered some cool fish encounters.

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Later in the evening, I got my steps in on my Fitbit (19,000 total for the day) as we wandered around various farmers markets and shops in Waikiki. Of course, we had to sample some of the local food and beverages around.

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I was tempted to buy this as a gag gift!

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Speaking of coconuts…

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Some fresh paella.

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Creamy Japanese Ramen.

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Fresh fruit cup.

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This is mighty condensed, but hope you get a flavor of the fun. That covers Part I of this trip. Stay tuned for Part II in a few days!

 

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A New Year and Drive to Marfa, TX

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Happy New Year!

While we all get back in the swing of things after the holidays, I needed to sit down and reflect a little on 2017. It’s been a good year.

Here’s a quick little review:

  • Total Miles Covered: 32,490 or 23,300 (6 “S”), 9,190 (6 “i”)
  • Number of Journeys: Only Seven 😦
  • Most Memorable Drive: Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans, CO
  • Best Observed Fuel Economy: 36mpg in the “i” from Las Cruces to Albuquerque
  • Worst Observed Fuel Economy: 23mpg in the “s” in hard driving to Utah with a headwind
  • Blog stats: I’m not posting any here as my lack of attention to the blog last year gave laughable stats. Let’s just leave that up to your imagination.

To finish off 2017, I wanted to get out on the road for day’s adventure. When looking at the map and general radius around Las Cruces, I didn’t see anything that appealed to me. Lots of, “been there, done that.” So, I looked a little further and my eye kept going to west Texas. There isn’t much to west Texas aside from El Paso and a few odd attractions such as Prada Marfa along Highway 90 (about 40 miles north of Marfa, TX). If I went there, that would be about a 500 mile journey all together just to take a few photos and the only car I had available to me was the grey “S” which has a broken clutch pedal assembly and misbehaving radiator fan (the “i” was currently getting some general maintenance items addressed). There would be long stretches of road where cell reception would be spotty at best. It would be stupid to go that far in a day. So, I went.

Prada Marfa:

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I’m generally not one to make a big deal out of art nor am I interested in fashion. I’m sure that’s evident from photos you’ve seen of me on here. I do like sculptures and any sort of installations that make you tilt your head in curiosity. Therefore, Prada Marfa fit the bill for me. It is considered a sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset and it’s been around since 2005. Designed to resemble a miniature Prada store, there are actual Prada merchandise displayed through the large glass windows. Prada allowed Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada trademark for this work.

There were a few struggles. I couldn’t find any information on land usage, but TxDOT first assumed this to be like a bill board and deemed it illegal as it didn’t fit permit regulations. After much coordination and bickering, it is now reclassified as a museum/exhibit and this exempts the structure from any signage laws.

Let’s get going! Here leaving from Las Cruces at exactly 9:42am.

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I set out for the 10 hour drive where I knew I was getting myself into some long, dull freeway driving on I-10. Here’s the Texas state line.

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To cope with the endless freeway, I streamed some Podcasts on my phone, turned on the seat heaters, set the cruise and settled in for the long haul.

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Texas 80mph speed limits did help speed things up a bit.

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5th Gear, 86 mph, and my little V6 was happily buzzing away at 3,600 rpm.

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Getting to Van Horn, TX. This is where you turn off on Highway 90 south to Marfa. I was surprised that even on a narrow two-lane road, the speed limit was 75mph. Thank you, Texas!

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I had no idea where Prada Marfa would be along this route. I just let the miles go by until I stumbled upon it. 36 steady miles later, I found it. It wasn’t hard to miss a big box sticking up in the middle of the flat, grassy plains.

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Voila!

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“Store front” looks pretty legit!

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Peering inside while fighting persistent reflections to see the displayed handbags and shoes.

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Around back, it looks like folks are starting a trend of adding padlocks to the fence. Much like the “love-locks” that are found on bridges in Europe.

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Prada Marfa isn’t the only oddity to pop up in this area. Further down the road is an installation called, Target Marathon just outside of Marathon, TX. As this was close to 100 miles south, I chose to save this for another time.

(Image Credit to http://texashighways.com)

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Another oddity, there used to be a 40-foot-tall neon playboy bunny at or near the Prada location. It had to be taken down due to TxDOT regulations and legal issues, but that would have been quite a treat to see back then!

(Images credit: http://austin.culturemap.com)

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Marfa, TX:

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Mission was accomplished with Prada, but since I was this close to Marfa, I had to go the extra 40 miles to see it. Marfa is the county seat of Presidio County and has a population of just 1,981 (2010 Census). It’s a fun and wacky town and is observed as a center of minimalist art. The biggest attractions are Building 98, the Chinati Foundation, and every conspiracy theorist’s favorite, the Marfa lights.

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The Presidio County Court House

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Stopping by the Chinati Foundation to view some contemporary art.

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To finish off my visit, I made one last stop for lunch at Mando’s Restaurant and Bar.

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I ordered the “Combo #3” which had a fried chile renello, beef taco and three enchiladas. This was the first plate I received, and I was too distracted on my phone to realize this wasn’t the entire meal.

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After I scarfed down this plate, I was about ready to leave when they presented the second portion. I didn’t realize they served in different plates. Now, that’s what I’m talking about!

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Heading home, I stopped to take a few evening shots of the 6.

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While fueling at the end of the trip, I spotted something you don’t see very often in the States…A Peugeot! I had to look it up and this was called a “Partner Tepee”. One of the perks of living so close to the Mexican border is you see quite a few cool cars not sold here.

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I made it home safe and sound despite pushing my luck with the 6. I have an oem clutch pedal assembly and radiator fan module ordered, but I was told it would be several weeks to get as they are a special order. Ah, the joys of owning a lower production, well worn 14 year old car. Someday soon though, the “s” will be fixed up good as new. Stay safe out there, friends and enjoy 2018!

 

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Made it to the Moon

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Okay, I admit it. That was click-bait. I’m not on the moon today, but at just under 240,000 miles, the 6 “S” has covered an equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon. If we’re getting technical here, I’m actually about 800 miles over that. Once I hit 240,000 miles, which should happen this weekend, that will equate to 9.6 times around the earth. Not bad. However, not as impressive as other high milers around, so I have some driving to do in the coming years. 300k is the next target.

December is already here and I like it. I like the rush of the holiday season in both personal experiences and at work. I won’t have much time for traveling this month, but I do have some nice plans shortly after the New Year. Hint: “Aloha!”

Various improvements for the 6’s are planned, but since it’s a little chilly this time of year, I probably won’t get around to them anytime soon. Before the cold weather hit this week, I made sure to give both 6’s thorough washes. Here are a few Fall photos from Thanksgiving…

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The “i” got a little personal touch by my grandpa when I visited a few weeks ago. I had him sign the dashboard with a silver Sharpie to add a little character. It takes a special signature for me to allow conspicuous permanent ink on any of my cars. Only seemed fitting to have grandpa’s on here.

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Also did a full leather conditioning

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Speaking of silver Sharpies, my inner trunk lid on the “S” is starting to populate nicely with listings of memorable drives and signatures of significant people who have driven or ridden in the 6. It’s starting to look a little hippie, and I love it!

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That captures the important highlights of late. See you next time…

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