Phoenix, AZ and Training in Las Vegas, NV

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Greetings! Summer is here in Las Cruces, NM and the heat is definitely on. 100s all week and into the next. I don’t mind at all as it’s just part of the summer experience.

Speaking of heat, I recently was asked to attend a training in Las Vegas, NV for work. Road trip while getting paid? You bet! Flying was offered as an option, but I chose the longer, driving route. While it was quite warm in Las Cruces, it was dang HOT on this trip. First stop was in Phoenix, AZ (about half way) where I had 5-star accommodations at my buddy’s (Tyson’s) place. From Phoenix, it was an easy 4.5hr drive to Las Vegas. Phoenix was around 110 degrees where ‘Vegas was ONLY 109!

Total drive: 1,400 miles and ~22hrs of windshield time. Here’s the montage of the journey. Enjoy!

Gas stop in Lordsburg, NM

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Arrival at Tyson’s place in Phoenix. Even though he was away in Utah at that particular time, he generously allowed me to stay at his new place (purchased last June).

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A few photos while exploring the area. (This one is for you, Tyson!)

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Inverted pyramid building in central Phoenix.

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I snuck into Tyson’s newly renovated garage to grab a few photos. This garage accommodates a whopping five cars, and is a showroom for his complete (sans an SLX) 90s Acura collection. So clean, you can eat off the floor!

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Next day I hit the road for ‘Vegas.

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Quick stop at Nothing, AZ. My second time here.

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Crossing the mighty Colorado River into Nevada!

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Arriving in ‘Vegas.

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My conference and two night stay was in Caesar’s Palace on the strip.

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Checking in…accommodations weren’t bad at all.

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A little exploring since I had the evening to myself. No gambling for me, though.

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The fountains at Bellagio..

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It didn’t take long before I was pooped. Since the conference started early the following morning, I hit the hay while the rest of the Strip hustled and bustled throughout the night.

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The following two days of training was here at Caesar’s conference tower.

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My last night at Caesar’s, I discovered a TV in the bathroom mirror?

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Return trip back home, and one more stop at Tyson’s. I gave his gorgeous 2007 Kinetic Blue 6-spd TL Type-s a quick drive. At 97,000 miles, it felt as though it just left the showroom. Someday, I might just have to grab one of these in black.

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Before heading out for Las Cruces, I started a new tradition by having significant folks who have ridden or driven the 6 in the past sign the trunk lid with a silver sharpie. Tyson and James Lee of sixspeedblog.com happily started us off.

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Interstate 10 all the way home, and I hit some nice cool rain along the way.

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About 30 miles from the New Mexico border, AZ Highway Patrol pulled me over for my window tint being too dark. Luckily I just got a warning, but I’m still puzzled by the stop considering I don’t reside in Arizona!

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Back in Las Cruces and thanks to the rain, I was able to turn off the A/C for the first time in months.

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That concludes the drive. Thanks for stopping by!

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Enjoying 2017 and A 2nd Year Anniversary

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Happy Easter! After a nearly 8 month hiatus, I wanted to check in. Apologies my blog efforts have slowly died down the past year. Things have been good with life, though. Career in full swing, on track and home renovations still coming along. These have been consuming most of my time and therefore I have not put any priority to this blog. I’ve missed sharing many milestones and adventures with you. I certainly needed a holiday weekend like this to keep me away from work, traveling or hammering dry wall so I could sit down and shoot out a much needed post. I’ll get right to it:

Recently, (rather, November 7th, 2016) the 6’s second year anniversary passed by. That means, it’s now the car that I’ve owned for the longest since my 2002 RSX Type-S. Here’s how things have been holding up with the 6 since the last anniversary:

  • Total miles covered in 2016: 37,458 miles
  • Miles on the ODO on the anniversary date: 214,057
  • Total states driven in: 11
  • Provences visited: 3
  • 8 oil changes
  • 0 Breakdowns (in 2016)
  • Longest road trip: Las Cruces, NM to Arctic Circle, AK (~8,900 miles)
  • Maintenance cost: ~1,000

The 6 is running great, but there are a few issues I will be addressing in the coming months. The suspension is feeling a little tired, and the passenger lower control arm is occasionally making some obnoxious moaning noises when cold. Now that it’s getting warmer, I might be able to avoid any pricey repairs until this Fall. My DIY headliner fix didn’t hold that well, and the fabric is starting to sag again. That will need a professional job. During my home renovating escapades, I managed to break one of the back seat fold-down handles while loading stuff and a careless bump with a 2×4 broke a chunk off of my tail light. Also, a careless motorist lightly scuffed my driver’s door after the New Year, but that will be addressed soon with a good exterior detail…which is due this Spring. Currently, the 6 is sitting at 225,804 miles and continues to be my daily driver.

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I don’t plan to retire this car anytime soon. Despite being MIA for so long here, I’ve still been on the open road racking up the miles. Here are a few adventures to share:

Ouray, Colorado trip with Dad:

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Wilcox, AZ with Tyson and James. We had a blast sliding around the Wilcox Playa (Dry Lake Bed)!

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Yup, I’m the idiot who decided to tryout a “figure eight” with the window open. I’m still cleaning sand out!

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Another trip with Dad to California. We captured the “terrific twos” along the way!

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Serious Dad with the hands at “10 and 2”

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Kingston, CA

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Grand Canyon, AZ:

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Occasionally, I will have an urge to go explore around the Organ Mountains Monument here in Las Cruces after work. It’s a good place to clear the mind.

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I replaced the passenger headlight for the THIRD time. Bouncing around the roads to Alaska last summer did a number on the internal wiring harness. I hope this third time ends up being the charm.

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Sadly, in February this year, the 6 left me stranded for the first time due to a failed alternator. About a week in the shop for parts and $1,000 later, the OEM replacement got me back on the road. It didn’t take me long to learn Mazda OEM parts are quite expensive and take a while to get here in New Mexico. For this particular job, and the labor (which was the majority of the final bill) involved removing part of the front suspension to access the dang alternator.

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That pretty much catches you all up! I don’t have any solid plans for this summer yet, but don’t worry, I will be sharing the journey’s with you. Thanks for stopping by!

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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…