Acura Drive to the Valley of Death

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit for the title of this post, but I was excited to share such a grand trip with you all. That grand trip was an 1800-mile drive to Death Valley National Park with my friends, Tyson Hugie from DrivetoFive, Sofyan Bey from 2theRedline and Tyson’s friend Peter Kulikowski. Death Valley is a desert valley in the eastern portion of California’s Mojave Desert. This is the lowest, driest and hottest area in North America. We had this trip planned for some time now and wanted give our Acuras a good run for their money. Mine especially considering it’s the middle of July, and I’m rocking Crystal Black Pearl over black leather. Good combo for an area known to have temperatures soaring well over 100˙F in the summer months. The record high in July 1913 was a scorching 134˙F! Within the park, we visited Badwater Basin (this is the lowest point in North America at 282ft BELOW sea level), Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells. Get ready, this is going to be a hot one!

However, before we get started with this grand adventure, let’s back up a few weeks to a few little updates on the TL:

I officially hit 50,000 miles on July 1st. Only half way now to the big 100K!

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After coming home from my East Coast trip, I found my custom plate in the mail which I had been waiting for about 3 months!

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In New Mexico, our plates are rather bright. I had two choices: the Centennial bright green or this traditional New Mexico yellow. I obviously went the traditional route.

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Now, let’s get a move on with the trip. Before setting out Friday afternoon from work, one of my favorite co-workers left me a farewell “sticky” which made my day.

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I had the TL all washed up and packed.

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My general prep for the trip was making sure I had sufficient water. Side note: the sunroof is the ONLY surface I will set anything on. Otherwise, I don’t want to face the scratches on the paint that would arise.

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As the miles piled on, the day was ending. I had the privilege of being able to drive into the colorful, Arizona sunset. This is my favorite time of day to drive.

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I drove to Kingman, AZ and got a good night’s rest for the adventures that awaited the next day. The modest Travelodge allowed for parking right in front.

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Next day, I made my first stop in Las Vegas, NV where I’d meet up with Tyson, Sofyan and Peter.

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Nevada Stateline…

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Another great pull out to view the mighty Lake Mead.

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After a few hours rolling down Hwy 93, I approached ‘Vegas!

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I met the boys in the Excalibur Hotel

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Here I am next to Peter, Tyson and Sofyan.

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We wasted no time and hopped in our Acuras and Tyson led the way to Death Valley. It was an easy 125 miles from Las Vegas. As usual, he was in his 2013 ILX 6-speed.

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We made a quick stop in an abandoned Nevada town for a few pix.

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Next on the list, Furnace Creek in Death Valley.

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We’ve arrived!

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The heat was certainly a surprise. At this time, the TL had a reading of 110˙F.

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This sign says it all.

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Here’s the sign notifiying us that we achieved sea level. Next stop in the Park, Furnace Creek.

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I got the shock of my life when Tyson showed us the norm gas prices in Furnace Creek. If I had the need to fill up, that would be a nice round $100 for premium. Ouch!

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Lunch was at a simple yet tasty cafe called the Corkscrew. Luckily, they had good air conditioning to relieve us of the heat.

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We stopped in the National Park’s Visitor Center. Here I am in front of their large thermometer reading 116!

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First sign you see when you walk in the doors.

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After that stop, we swapped cars and I took the reins of the ILX for while Tyson led the way in my TL to Badwater Basin. Always a cool feeling when I see my own car driving in front of me.

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Here we are.

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So, what is Badwater Basin? It’s the lowest elevation point in North America. That’s a good 282 feet below sea level. The gound was crusty and hard from the dried salt deposits.

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Another danger sign of the extreme heat. It said that walking after 10:00am was not recommended.

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So, here we go! It’s only 2-3pm in the afternoon.

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After we felt like we got a good dose of heat, we all swapped the keys again. This time, Sofyan took the wheel of the TL while Peter was in the ILX.

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Now off to a scenic dirt road recommended by Tyson. We were determined to bring some Death Valley dirt back home on our cars. This is “20 Mule Team Canyon” trail. This was just 2.7 miles of heaven!

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It was so much fun, we drove this route twice! Peter and Sofyan got to try the TL on both runs.

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Thanks to Tyson for capturing this great angle of the TL.

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As you can see by my face, this road was one of the highlights of the Park.

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Now, back on the road to the next stop…

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Last stop before leaving the park was Stovepipe Wells. As we parked and exited our Acuras, there was a soft purr of a diesel nearby. Not a diesel I’ve ever heard before. As I look to the side to investigate, I see these mysterious-looking GM trucks parked off to the side. I’ve never seen them before. What are they? Let’s have a look…

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Upon further examination, we all concluded these were the 2016 GMC Canyon trucks in pre-production testing in the heat of the valley. So, there’s a teaser for you. We might have a diesel offering of the next Canyon.

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Peter took the wheel of the TL as we headed out of the park to the hotel for the evening.

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Night’s stay was on the California/Nevada border in the village of Amargosa Valley.

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The next day, we grabbed a photo at the giant cow that was by the hotel.

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After we parted ways in Kingman, I took I-40 back to New Mexico where I’d stop by my grandpa’s house for the next night. Here’s on the way to Flagstaff, AZ. 70˙F was sure a welcome compared to the heat of Death Valley.

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Normal stop at my old stomping grounds to see what the area looks like. It’s been 8 years now since I’ve resided here!

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Pit stop for a few sunset photos.

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Smoke in the sky from a nearby forest fire gave the sun a nice red glow.

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I got to New Mexico around 9pm.

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My grandpa is on vacation for about 3 months in Canada so it was a goal of mine to check up on his house and mail. Remember my grandpa’s stable? The next day, I took a few of his cars out for a quick drive to run some oil through and clean away any cobwebs. Here’s the old ’87 F-250 Diesel prowling the back roads of northern New Mexico. I love this thing.

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This is called “6 mile canyon road.” Looks smooth here, but it’s not very car friendly as you get further into the “bush.”

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Also, got the ’74 MGB out to run around a little. This hadn’t been started in about 6 months.

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I always like to challenge myself and the TL. How about borrowing a gas lawn mower and weed wacker? Snug, but it fit!

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And that concludes the Death Valley trip. Here’s my ending mileage. Thanks all for coming along!

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9 thoughts on “Acura Drive to the Valley of Death

  1. tysonhugie says:

    This here was a phenomenal post! Brought back memories of our day in the inferno. It’s always to fun to see your perspective on the trips we’ve taken. Love that your coworker left you a post-it note! Hope you send him/her a link to the blog entry, too. You got some really great pictures along the way. My jaw dropped at the sunset pic from eastern AZ on the day that we parted ways in Kingman. Very, very nice. Looked like you had some fun with grandpa’s fleet. That truck is the definition of “Built Ford Tough,” and the MG looks like a blast to tool around in. Keep up the great articles! We need another drive soon.

    • tysonhugie says:

      By the way, I would have never guessed that you could squeeze a lawnmower into the trunk of a TL. Haha

    • pawela says:

      Thanks, Tyson! It was a great drive. Been pretty busy and took a while to get the post up. I dropped a link to my blog to my coworker. Too bad I could only take those sunset pix with my phone as my DSLR was dead. Still came out pretty nice though. I most likely will be going up to visit grandpa’s fleet here in the next few weeks and I’ll share more with you. I’m cranking up the creative gears for our next adventure…maybe something with saltwater. 🙂

  2. Russell Saffer says:

    So Jason, personalized license places, huh? Just so you know the Acura has had personalized plates before…..well sort of. I have been the proud owner of the California license plate…RD HZRD. Yes that is what it means. I have had these plates for over 30 years. It has been on every car I have had until I drove a SAAB 95 some years ago. In getting the SAAB (my second) I made a joke with the DMV person who was helping set my plates on my new car….wouldn’t it be funny if I could get SAB STRY. It turned out that license plate was available. So I put the RD HZRD plates on my wife’s car and got SAB STRY for the Saab, If I didn’t switch the plate to another car I owned I would have to give up RD HZRD. This way I got to keep them both license plates. Well…..the SAAB lease was up and so I really didn’t need the SAB STRY plates anymore. But, now I have a new problem. My wife will not give the RD HZRD plates back. So to this day she still has the RD HZRD plates on her car. Since I now drive a Cadillac ATS I couldn’t let the license plate war go on any longer at home. The wife has the RD HZRD license plate (Note my e-mail address.) so the Cadillac ATS has the California license plate BDILLAC. (Black Cadillac.) Not as funny as RD HZRD. I wanted to get something like PIMP MBL or PIMP CPA. but I didn;t think California would let me have it. Who knows, one day I might get the RD HZRD plates back from the wife. In the meantime I get to have some fun finding a license plate for each car.

    BTW – Odometer on the Cadillac is still less than 8000 miles. You have put nearly 30000 miles on the Acura in the same amount of time I have had the Cadillac.

    • pawela says:

      Russell,
      I was thrilled when I saw you had another story to share. I might just have to get “RD HZRD” on my next New Mexico plate in your honor. It would be fitting as New Mexico drivers are…let’s just say entertaining to watch. I was unable to get all that creative when it came time to order a new plate for the TL. Obviously, I just went the simplest route. I tend to really like plates with as few characters as possible. There is an Aston Martin I’ve seen in my town that has “00.” He was lucky to snatch that one up. And believe it or not, there is a New Mexico plate, “1” somewhere in Albuquerque. I’ve seen it on a Chrysler Town & Country. Your SAB STRY was very clever. I’ve never driven a Saab, but it’s on my list of things to do. I like the BDILLAC plate you have now.

      Sounds like the Cadillac is getting a gentler treatment than the TL. I usually throw on about 40,000 miles a year on a car. Last year I completed 45,000 miles on my Accord.

      Good to hear from you. Keep the stories/thoughts coming!

  3. […] Jouhl, Stephen, Chris, Alec) Two of Tyson’s friends here you might remember: Peter from Death Valley and Chris from White Sands and […]

  4. […] up there in miles also. This feature goes to Peter (you may remember Peter from Antelope Canyon and Death Valley) and his Satin Silver 2004 Acura TSX. Peter timed it just right to make a group-drive out of his […]

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