What’s New…

“Oh, you’re still alive?” I’m pretty sure that’s what a lot of you are thinking while reading this. Yes, things are well, and I have been slacking again on the blog updates. I have had a few drafts lined up, but never got the time to finish.

While summer is winding down for a lot of folks, it seems like it’s just kicking into high gear for me. That means, lots of home improvement projects and also many summer projects at work. Sadly, that’s where the majority of my energy and attention has been since Alaska. Even so, here’s a few little photos to keep us going…

Still piling on the miles from bouncing between New Mexico cities.

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Weekend drive to Cloudcroft with James Zamora to escape the summer heat.

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Oh, and the dogs got to ride along too.

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Amazing that Cloudcroft, NM (just 70 miles from Las Cruces) is about 30 degrees cooler!

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Home improvement projects galore.

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My sister and brother-in-law recently drove from Las Cruces to Tuscon, AZ to pick up their very first Acura…a super clean 2nd owner 2006 TSX. Big thanks to Tyson (drivetofive) for helping us find this gem!

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Check out that minty fresh interior. With 128,000 miles on the ODO, it was sure treated very gently.

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And it wasn’t long before I had to call upon it to save the 6 from a dead battery.

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Who needs a truck for those trips to the hardware store? 10ft boards fit just fine!

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As do 12ft ladders…with a little duct tape to secure the trunk lid.

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Boring update, I know. I hope to bring some good content soon. See you around!

Post Alaska

I never thought I’d be saying this, but it’s been nice the past few days not being on the road. Who would have thought? Things are back to normal around here. Back to work and daily routines. Las Cruces summer temperatures are here, and consistently over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m still catching up around the house from the trip. Lawn is well over a few inches high, house cooling system still needs tweaking, small leak under the kitchen sink, and other various needed improvements are nagging at me. Despite all of this, it’s nice to be home for a bit.

I gave the 6 some much needed TLC after the wild drive Tyson and I just completed. My 8,360 mile journey sure took a toll on my paint. I spent a good two hours giving it a good wash, and although visually it looks better, closer inspection reveals that it will need a full detail soon. I started by giving it a good pressure wash at a nearby car wash. This is conveniently located a few blocks from my house. 27268305830_c7ae5bdd30_z

Even though it’s just a rinse, I took a good 5-10 minutes going over everything to get the big chunks off.

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Now back at the house for the actual wash. I only use my own soap and equipment when rubbing the paint. Doesn’t look much better, does it? Looks like I’m a slob and went without a wash for a few years.

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Two-bucket method with cheap buckets and my foamer.

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I gave a few good foam baths to loosen up as much grime as possible before introducing the sponge. After that, I went for it and cleaned until dusk.

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The end result. There’s a lot of grit attached to the paint as it feels like sandpaper when running your hand over it. That will need a clay bar. Also, the paint sealer I applied in March seems to be completely gone. No water is beading, and the paint just feels “dry.” I definitely will have to set aside some time to give it a good recovery. The 6 still drives wonderfully, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on another trip worth multiple thousands of miles in desolate country.

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Might take a while though as I don’t work well in the heat. Check out our forecast!

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Despite the wear on the 6’s finish, I would take another trip like Alaska in a heartbeat. Just give me a few months to financially recoup. I thank you all again for coming along with us. See you all on the next drive!

2016 Alaska Drive Day 14-16: 200,000 Miles & Final Wrap-up

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Guess what? We have a milestone on our hands regarding the 6. She passed 200,000 miles just outside Barstow, California on June 3, 2016! It’s been just under two years of ownership, and I didn’t expect to reach this milestone this soon. Woo-hoo!

Well, we are here to wrap up the longest and one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on. I am home, and the Alaska drive is officially completed. I’m amazed that Tyson and I had been able to accomplish this in just over two weeks driving the entire time ourselves. We came pretty darn close to truck driver status there! I want to thank Tyson for helping make it such a smooth and easy trip. My drive time was a little longer than his due to my starting location, and my desire to travel home a different route.

The 6 was sweet the whole way and didn’t miss a beat. The biggest maintenance item was simply keeping a close eye on the oil level and adding as needed. I completed nearly 9,000 miles and I added a total of 4qts of oil. This is nothing new to me. I did have an issue with the air conditioner that’s explained below, but no other maladies to report. Overall, not too shabby. Tyson’s ILX did even better: it sailed through without having its hood opened once or even an oil change! Here’s some trip stats:

  • States Visited: 9
  • Territories Visited: 3
  • Total Miles covered: 8,936 miles
  • Total Hours in the driver’s seat: ~149 hours (!)
  • Total Gallons of Fuel: 299.7 (Includes Canadian conversion to gallons)
  • Total Fuel Cost: $856 (Includes Canadian conversion)
  • Breakdowns: 0
  • Unscheduled Maintenance Stops: 1 (A/C)
  • Flat tires: 0

The drive back since Eugene, OR was not exactly what you’d call leisurely. I had tunnel vision, and pushed a little further each day to get back. Mostly because I’m impatient, and because I’ve been over this route many times in the past.

I left Eugene, OR and traveled south on I-5 and switched over to Hwy 99 in Sacramento. From there, I stopped for the night in Turlock, CA. I originally was going to see my aunt, however she was out of town. As I approached California, the temperatures increased significantly from the crisp Canadian and Alaskan 50s and 60s. I had previously discovered in Seattle that my  A/C was pushing out hot air, but I didn’t want to bother with it then. I just figured I’d  tough it out until I got home. Many people endure the heat without A/C…how hard could it be? Maybe, I’m too spoiled, or maybe just a plain wimp…I couldn’t take it. Opening the windows on the freeway is not only extremely noisy, it just turbocharged hot air into my face which got tiring fast. Sticky black leather seats don’t help much either. So, I bit the bullet and pulled into Yreka, CA’s Auto Zone to pick up an A/C recharge kit. I didn’t know anything about the process, but I was determined to give it a try. Mercifully, it ended up taking 10 minutes or work, and voila! Cold air! I will never again take it for granted.

The next stop from Turlock, CA was my good old faithful town of Flagstaff, AZ. That day was 14 hours long, and I felt it. I did a visit with James Zamora in Socorro, NM, and I arrived at my house Sunday evening. I was very pleased to be back and to take out the luggage for the last time. Before we get to my photo feed below, let me share a video of my drive on Sunset Beach in Oregon from Day 13. This is something I forgot to include in my last post:

Thank you all for coming along on the epic drive. See you next time!

Drive through northern California on I-5.

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A lot of sightings of triple duty semis!

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Mt. Shasta, a potentially active volcano, viewpoint.

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Couldn’t resist capturing this “Woof Waste” station at a rest stop.

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Central California’s blooming oleanders in the medians. Sure spices up the scenery!

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The hottest observed temperature on the trip in Turlock, CA. The coldest was in British Columbia at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

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A quick A/C recharge that actually worked! Good reviews on A/C Pro paid off.

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Slight bypass off the main road on Tehachapi Loop road.

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Views from the loop road.

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My 200,000 mile milestone!

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Capturing the moment with quick walk around.

Getting back into New Mexico.

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While in Socorro, NM, I spotted a 6 just like mine for sale. V6 5-spd too!

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Home at last! That little MGB in the garage will come out to play on this blog soon.

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In closing, Tyson created a montage of our top events. It’s well worth the look!

 

2016 Alaska Drive Day 12-13: Seattle & Pacific Northwest

Day (12 & 13) Miles:  878 |  Total Trip Miles: 7,186

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We are back in the U.S., and today I was able to relax a bit. Even though I’m still a few thousand miles from home, it feels like we are making great progress on getting back. I’m combining two days into one post again for avoiding the risk of boring you.

We left our comfortable Motel 6 accommodations in Cache Creek, BC and headed south for the border! By quickly glancing at the map, I assumed it would be a drive just like the last few days. But, no! To my surprise, there were endless mountain ranges, curvy smooth roads, roaring rivers, tunnels, and clear blue skies. Awww…it was almost orgasmic!

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After all this, we made a quick stop in Abbotsford, BC to visit with Pam (or “nsxpam” on Instagram). Yup, that means she has an Acura NSX from 1991, and also a sweet 2006 TSX. A true Honda fan and a great host.

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She even packed us some yummy salads for the road. Thanks, Pam!

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From Abbotsford, it was only 20 or so minutes to the border crossing into the U.S. CBP officer was very friendly and “gently” recommended that I clean off my plate as their cameras couldn’t read it..haha!

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Last night, we spent the night in Seattle where I visited with an aunt and uncle. Tyson met up with some of his family and friends also. My dinner date was in downtown Seattle at Elephant & Castle, and it sure was great to catch up. Stupid me forgot to get a group photo, so these family members will have to remain anonymous until next time.

Today, Tyson and I had a hardy breakfast at the local IHOP before setting off. Only this time, we would set off on different routes, so the remainder of this trip will be just me. (It’s been great, Tyson!!!) Tyson headed east on I-90 towards Idaho and Utah where I went a more Pacific Northwest route down through Oregon and California.

I made a rather odd route through Long Beach, WA; Astoria, OR; Lincoln City, OR; and finally tonight I am in Eugene, OR.  Since I was in this part of the country, I just HAD to give the Washington and Oregon coasts a quick drive-by before settling in on I-5 south. Tomorrow, that’s where I’ll be for at least half of the day and I’ll catch Hwy 99 south in Sacramento, CA. My plans are simple: I’ll stop when I get tired. Thanks for following along…here’s a chronological flow of photos for you all.

Following Tyson in some of those fun British Columbia tunnels!

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Last Canadian gas stop

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We spotted a rare Mazdaspeed 6…so that’s what my tail lights used to look like?

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Coming into Washington!

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Downtown Seattle on my way to dinner (and trying to find parking)

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Dinner spot

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Following day first stop at Long Beach, WA. According to their visitor center, this sign is false…it’s not the world’s longest beach. However, it is the longest DRIVABLE beach in the world…does that count?

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Views from the cockpit.

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6 playing in the Pacific waters…

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Driving into some heavy greenery!

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Lunch stop in Astoria, OR at a place called, Ship Inn. Simple salad and clam chowder is exactly what I was craving.

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Views of Astoria, OR. I love this little town so much!

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Oregon Coast views.

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Exposing the 6 to a little rain forest action.

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Drift Creek Covered Bridge from 1914 near Otis, OR.

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And a closing photo of a rather embarrassing front end. I can’t even…

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See you all later!

2016 Alaska Drive Day 11: Cache Creek, British Columbia

Day Miles:  546 |  Total Trip Miles: 6,308

Welcome to our last full day in British Columbia. We moved away from the mountain ranges to more hilly countryside with lush fields of green and rivers. Very pretty all around especially since we had sunshine and blue skies nearly all day. The roads felt familiar as we had nice wide shoulders and smooth pavement all the way. No more frost heaves! Tonight we are in Cache Creek, BC which is not terribly far from the border. This is going to be a really short and simple post as we didn’t stop that much along the way. Here’s a quick summary with photos:

We left our motel in New Hazelton, BC early enough that I had a heck of a time seeing out my bug-splattered windshield. I couldn’t wait for the next stop to get that taken care of. Tyson noticed that the nightly rain showers had taken some of my precious Alaskan mud away…NOOO!!!!! Tyson and I had hoped to preserve the amount of filth on our cars to bring back home as a sort of trophy.

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Quick stop at Houston, BC to observe the World’s Largest Fly Rod!

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“Let me give ‘er a try!”

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Since neither of us bothered with breakfast today, lunch came sooner than later in Vanderhoof, BC. We chose J & S Restaurant for a local taste.

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I had the salad bar and Tyson and I tried a new dish to us…poutine. It’s nothing more than fries with gravy and cheese, but it was dang good! I could definitely get used to this in the States!

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We connected with Hwy 97 south in Prince George, BC. Pretty little town here, and I tried by best to capture the scene as you descend from the hill.

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A little more road construction.

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Gas stop in Quesnel, BC at the Super Save Gas.

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We pulled up and were pleasantly surprised to find it was a full service station…just like what you get in Oregon and New Jersey! Here’s my windshield getting a full service with a smile.

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Much of the views we had today.

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Tomorrow, we shall be in Seattle, WA…back in the lower 48! Thanks for coming along…

2016 Alaska Drive Day 9-10: On the Road Back

Day (9 & 10) Miles:  1,316 |  Total Trip Miles: 5,762

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We have begun the drive back. I’m combining days 9 and 10 for there isn’t a lot of content I was able to compile. Day 9, we backtracked to the Yukon Territory and stayed the night in Teslin. The drive was uneventful and still contained a lot of road construction stretches and minor delays. Mercifully, the views kept us occupied for the times we’d have to wait (sometimes 15 minutes) for the pilot vehicle to guide us through.

We made our usual gas stops every two hours or so just for an excuse to take a breather and/or restroom stops. Our route took us back through Kluane National Park and Recreational Area for a few photos. (Featured photo is from here as well)

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Lunch was in Haines Junction, YT at this odd looking little joint called Kluane Park Inn. As we sat down, the menu had items from veil to fried rice to burgers and even spaghetti and meatballs. This made us a little suspicious of the food quality. I ordered the “Deluxe Burger” and to my surprise, it and the french fries were top notch!

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Watch out, Tyson! Heading out after lunch, a grizzly decided to frolic across the road in front of Tyson’s ILX.

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Continuing on to our night’s stop was a steady pace. I was able to set the cruise control, lean back and enjoy the ride to Teslin, YT. We arrived late and slept at the same joint we stayed in on the way up…that’s how much we liked it! I took a walk around in the evening (11pm, actually) for a few photos of the area. The bridge looked grand when illuminated by the setting sun.

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Now for today (Day 10), we left the Alaska Highway and joined the Cassiar Highway (37) south towards British Columbia. Before we got on the Cassiar Highway, some snow managed to find its way down!

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This is about as cold as I’ve seen on the entire trip. 36 degrees Fahrenheit

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Once on Cassiar, it made for a great change in scenery. We were able to enjoy endless Cassiar mountain ranges, green foliage and numerous wild flowers on the roadside. A few curves were also thrown in as a bonus.

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Road conditions were generally very good overall, and traffic was light. Rain accompanied the travels today, but I didn’t mind.

There weren’t exactly a plethora of dining choices for lunch. When the time came for the grumbles to emerge in our stomachs, our best choice was a small deli inside of a Petro Canada in Dease Lake, British Columbia. A simple grilled ham and cheese hit the spot…or maybe I was just really hungry?

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Quick stop to stretch our legs.

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Gas stop in “Bell II”

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We probably encountered more wildlife on this route than the entire trip! Between Tyson and I, we spotted a total of 4 bears and two moose! Luckily, all out of harm’s way. Tonight, we are settling down in New Hazelton, British Columbia. I am beat, and will be ready to replenish for the next day! See you then…

 

2016 Alaska Drive Day 7-8: A Day in Fairbanks and the Arctic Circle

Day 7

Day Miles: ~10

It’s the evening of May 25, 2016 in Fairbanks, and Tyson and I are blogging and filing photos from the trip. We had planned for the next day to just hang out in Fairbanks to catch our breath, and take a break from 10-12 hr days in the car. I happened to notice on our MilePost map that the Arctic Circle runs pretty close to where we were…right on the Dalton Highway which we have already saved for another time.

More digging through Google, and I found that there is an official marker for the Arctic Circle off the Highway. This is when my excitement level creeps up, and I map out how long it would take to get there. Turned out to be 5 hrs (one way), 190 miles over very questionable road conditions. I causally mentioned it to Tyson to test his interest level. We ended up agreeing it would be cool, but fr another time. That was that.

The next day, we took it slow and easy in Fairbanks. We ate a hardy breakfast at the Denny’s next door (which happens to be the Northern most Denny’s!) and we ran a few errands.

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We stopped to see a piece of the famous Trans-Alaskan Oil Pipeline System. This thing runs 800 miles and has carried over 17 billion barrels of oil.

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Next, I took the 6 into Kendall Mazda/Kia to get the oil changed and a general inspection. I admit, a big part of me just wanted to say I got an oil change in Alaska. 🙂 I left the 6 there and rode with Tyson for a bit. We stopped at the Honda dealer in town to see the accommodations, a restaurant called The Cookie Jar featured on Diners Drive-Ins & Dives, and then headed back to the hotel for more laptop time. Wasn’t much later I got a call from Kendall recommending I “winterize” the 6. Haha! That meant adding a block heater, special low temp coolant and a battery upgrade. I don’t think that will be needed back home, so I declined. Otherwise, the 6 was ready.

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That evening, the subject of the Arctic Circle came up again. Tyson revealed he was about 40% convinced to go and spend the extra day. I was at 85%. We kept weighing the pros and cons. There also was a big factor of our cars not making it. The sensible thing to do would be to pass and save for another time. However, we are not sensible. The decision was finally made early the morning of Day 8.

Day 8

Day Miles:  391 |  Total Trip Miles: 4,446

We freaking drove to the Arctic Circle! I am in disbelief we actually did this.

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Besides losing a day of travel, our other reason for possibly ditching this idea was our uncertainty of how our cars would handle the road. How many flat tires could we expect? Would rough conditions shake our cars apart? Would there be so much mud we’e risk getting stuck or sliding off? On the tires, Tyson was well prepared with a donut spare, full sized spare and even another tire. I only had a full sized spare. If I got one flat, I’d better pray long and hard that I wouldn’t get another. Both our low-slung sports sedans have their bellys only inches off the ground and the low profile tires don’t do much to cushion big blows. In the end, our hunger for adventure outweighed the risks, and we went for it.We left our hotel room in Fairbanks around 6am, gassed up in Fox, AK (just 8 miles north) and headed for the Dalton Highway!

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This highway is pretty remarkable for road trippers. Named after James W. Dalton, this 420 mile road begins at the Elliott Highway, (north of Fairbanks) and ends near the Arctic Ocean at Deadhorse, AK. Historically, it was built as the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System supply road. It’s been featured on several episodes of Ice Road Truckers and it’s not what you’d call a cruise. When ice and snow aren’t present, you have to face broken pavement, severe frost heaves, massive potholes, mud, sharp rocks and gravel. Numerous cars go wrecked and don’t return home. Even on our drive, we noticed a few past crashes that looked like they weren’t going to be cleaned up anytime soon. 

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Entering the Dalton Highway

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Numerous occasions, signs instructed to always keep lights on for safety.

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The Dalton Highway in all its glory!

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First distance sign we came to. 60 miles away! Another 300 and you’ve got yourself Deadhorse.

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The first half of the Dalton drive looked like this. We assumed it had been recently graded as the surface was smoother than many of the paved roads we’ve experienced on this trip.

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Topping off our tanks in Yukon River Camp. Only one gas pump was available with a price of $5.49/gallon. In this remote location, we didn’t care.

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The arctic landscape. From here, the roads did get a little dicey in some areas that required constant attention.

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This sign caught me at a specific stressful moment avoiding frost heaves and potholes…my response, “No sh#t, Sherlock!”

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Arrived!

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Just in time: A tour van pulled up as we were getting ready to depart.

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More views for the soul.

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On our way back, we stopped at the BLM visitor’s center (more like cabin) and got certificates acknowledging our achievements of getting to the ‘Circle.

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Felt like a kid with his first report card to hang on the fridge!

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Photo on the way back. We managed to get a few more layers of mud on the cars. Just what we wanted to show that we meant business in Alaska!

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Back at the hotel and “Holy Muddy Cars, Batman!” How does this make my detailing buddies feel? 😀

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Tomorrow we will be heading back towards the lower 48. Yukon is on our radar for the next night. This will mostly be backtracking, but I will be back with fresh content soon after!