Peter’s 200,000 Mile Celebratory Drive to Bryce Canyon, UT

There are those car guys who try to keep their mileage as low as possible. I’ve seen it turn into a competition before…”who can drive their car the least!” And then, there are those who get satisfaction from watching those digits pile on. I’m one, many in my family are, and so are a lot of my friends. Tyson Hugie from drivetofive takes the cake for achieving multiple odometer rollovers, but many of his friends do enjoy getting up there in miles also. This feature goes to our friend, Peter (you may remember Peter from Antelope Canyon and Death Valley) and his Satin Silver Metallic 2004 Acura TSX. Peter timed it just right to make a group-drive out of his little TSX turning over 200,000 miles.

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The destination would be Bryce Canyon, UT.

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This massive 36,000 acre park gets close to 1.4 million visitors annually to visit the magnificent giant natural amphitheaters. Further research on this reveal this is actually not a canyon despite the name. It was not formed from erosion of a central stream. Rather, it was formed by “headward” erosion which has to do with an origin moving away from direction of stream flow. The rim at Bryce sits rather high (higher than Zion National Park) at 8-9000 ft.

Attendees for the drive were, Peter, Tyson (drivetofive) and James Lee of Six Speed Blog. They all would be coming from Phoenix. Long drive for me, an afternoon jaunt for Phoenicians. Let’s get started!

The drive was as follows for me:

  • Las Cruces, NM to Grants, NM for the first night
  • Grants, NM to St. George, UT where I’d meet Tyson, Peter and James
  • St. George, UT to Flagstaff, AZ
  • Flagstaff, AZ back to Las Cruces, NM

Total distance was about 2,000 miles.

2015-08-28 09_13_18-Grants, NM to Las Cruces, NM - Google Maps

Before we set off, let me walk you through a little project I did the week prior. I finally decided I had enough of the yellowing, pitted OEM headlights which also had a few electrical issues due to the wire insulation breaking down from age. Instead of springing for a new set of OEM headlights which would be in the neighborhood of $600+, I chose the aftermarket route and went with DEPO for $200. I can’t say installation was a breeze, but I’ve certainly been through worse installs:

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A comparison here doesn’t show that big of a difference, but when the sun shines, there is!

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Little test drive sans front bumper.

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All seemed well, so I put her back together and gave her a nice wash for the trip.

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The next day, (of course!) it rained on me on the first leg of the trip. So much for an extensive wash.

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Nothing I could do about it but sit back, relax and enjoy the tunes on the Bose 6-disc CD.

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Just 20 miles outside of Las Cruces and we got a mini-milestone! IMG_5735

I arrived in Grants, NM for the first night around 10:30pm. The next day called for some fuel before getting deep into the drive.

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350 miles into the weekend and already collecting quite a few bugs!

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On I-40 towards Gallup, NM and Windowrock, AZ.

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The famous Window Rock sitting at the heart of the Navajo Nation Government.

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Next stop, Canyon de Chelly just outside of Chinle, AZ.

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Then Utah!

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Love Southern Utah’s desolate roads with a generous helping of southwest landscape.

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Arrived at the second night stay just after dusk.

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Tyson and Peter drove up from Phoenix and we happened to arrive spot on at the same time.

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Dinner with the gang. Big thanks to Tyson and his Mom (Or MamaTia as she had us call her) for hosting us for the night. James would be joining us later on in a press Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

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Next morning, Tyson shared his view of the front yard.

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After a little breakfast, we prepped for a little photo op and then set off for Bryce Canyon.

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We didn’t even get any stares from the neighbors. From left to right: Tyson’s 2013 ILX 6-speed, My 2004 Mazda 6 5-speed, MamaTia’s 2010 VW Eos 6-speed, James’ Hyundai Sonata Hybrid CVT, Peter’s 2004 TSX 6-speed.

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Speaking of all these ‘speeds, check out Peter’s support here…

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Short stop just outside of Cedar City, UT before we entered Hwy 14 East towards Duck Creek Canyon. The elevation was a bit higher than St. George, and we were able to open the windows and allow the cool breezes come in and accompany us for the drive.

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This is the spot where the TSX rolled over to 200k!

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Perfect spot with great scenery.

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Soon we took the Scenic Byway 12 to Bryce.

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After entering the park, our first goal was to hike around Sunset Point.

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The “Wow!” factor here…

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We hiked down to the bottom which took us to a canyon with towering walls. This felt very much like Antelope Canyon.

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Happy hikers!

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Climbing back up wasn’t quite as thrilling as the decent, but what’s the harm in ridding a few calories?

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After making it to the top and catching our breath.

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Exhausted, dehydrated and hungry, we all set out for the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge for some lunch. The Lodge dates back to 1924 and was one of 4 built in the Union Pacific Tour. Lunch was spot on what we needed. Next, we drove on toward Rainbow Point, the highest point in Bryce at 9,105ft.

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Here it is! Thunder, light rain and eventually some hail made this stop rather quick and we rushed back to our cars for shelter.

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We swapped cars back and fourth on the way out of Bryce. I was able to sample the ILX again as well as Peter’s TSX. Both were equally fun to drive and having cool crisp temperatures blow in the open windows was icing on the cake! Here we spotted what looks like the next Hyundai Elantra dressed up in camo. Any time there’s an automotive test mule, we have to stop and investigate!

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Taking the ILX on Hwy 89 while Peter and James took my 6 and Tyson in Peter’s TSX.

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Since Peter’s TSX is lowered on coilovers, it sure handled like it was on rails! Was definitely a fun car to take a quick spin in. Despite the miles, the TSX felt solid, swift and mechanically sound. Here is our last stop before parting ways. I headed South on 89 towards Flagstaff and the rest headed back on Hwy 14 to St. George for another night at MamaTia’s.

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Making my way back to the Arizona border.

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Vermillion Cliffs outside of Page, AZ.

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Taking 89A. This is definitely one of the most scenic and fun roads I’ve been on. Smooth and virtually free of traffic, I was able to let the 6 stretch its legs.

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Fueling at an old-school pump outside of Marble Canyon, AZ.

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Stopped for a quick photo at the Navajo Bridge off of 89a where the mighty Colorado River passes through.

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Fastforwarding a few hours and I arrived in Flagstaff, AZ for the night. I was beat and slept like a log. The next morning, I awoke early to hit the road for home. The temperature was a crisp 57 degrees.

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I grabbed a burrito at the nearby gas station and set off for Sedona, AZ. My route would be going through the Oak Creek Canyon on 89A.

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View from a scenic point where one can see the fun curves that await!

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Down in the canyon.

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Very thankful to be on the road early and no tourists to get in the way.

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The town of Sedona was just as beautiful as always.

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Quick stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This Catholic church is built right into the buttes of Sedona. It’s free to visit…I highly recommend a stop.

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From Sedona, I headed towards I-10 in Pheonix which would continue my journey back to Las Cruces. Only mishap on the entire trip was a pesky check engine light that popped up. This has been intermittent for the past few months and I can’t quite catch the root cause. All is performing nobly in the 6 and the light has always vanished by the next ignition cycle. Mechanic can’t find the cause either. Strange!

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Regardless, I arrived back in New Mexico in good time (before dark!)

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Ending mileage for the trip was 168,461. 170K is right around the corner…where will I be then?

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As always, thank you for coming along and a special congrats goes to Peter and his TSX for the 200k achievement!

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Peter’s 200,000 Mile Celebratory Drive to Bryce Canyon, UT

  1. Nate says:

    Great write up! And Holy 6s on the odometer there.

  2. tysonhugie says:

    First of all, I’m so impressed you were able to come up with all these pics without having access to your SLR camera! Sorry I still have that on the dresser in my bedroom, but it will be getting safely hand-delivered to you in the next couple of weeks! I am embarrassed to see the photo of my ILX dashboard with the orange Hostess cupcake container sitting right there. Haha, I always have too much garbage flying around in the car when I’m on an extended road trip. These are great pics. I enjoyed seeing what you did on your journey after you split off from us. Marble Canyon & Vermillion Cliffs are some of my favorite areas. Glad you stopped to get a closer look at the Navajo Bridge. Nice write-up!

    • pawela says:

      Thanks Tyson and also great suggestion taking that 89A through Vermillion and Marble Canyon. Loved all of it and the time of day was perfect! No worries on the cupcake…you should see my passenger seat when I go solo…junk food, camera, car chargers, maps, wrappers and a few crumbs. Did the best I could with iPhone pix, but when I get the SLR back, I may swap a few out. Thanks for taking care of it for me. See you in a few weeks!

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