Category Archives: Ramblings

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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New Acquisition: 2004 Mazda 6 i 5spd

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Sometime in late 2002, I was a Junior in high school and I got my December, 2002 issue of Car in Driver in the mail. I saw this article of a replacement for the Mazda 626…the Mazda 6. My eyes popped, and I remember thinking, “That’s a Mazda?!”

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I never really paid much attention to Mazda prior to this article. My dad at that time had a trusty 1986 B2000 pickup 5spd with 184,000 miles, and that was about all I knew and cared about regarding Mazda. The original NA Miata wasn’t even on my radar at the time. The styling of this new 6 just took my breath away, and I shared this with my grandpa joking that this should be our next car. I never would have thought that 15 years later, I’d have two of these in my garage. Yes, I am now an owner of two 2004 Mazda 6’s.

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This Mazda 6 “i” (“i” being the 2.3L 4cyl model) used to belong to my grandfather and it’s a car that I nagged him to get ever since that Car and Driver article. It’s been a pretty special car to us, and I am so thankful to take the keys, and keep it in the family.

Here’s a little history:

Before this 6 was purchased new in 2004, my grandparents drove a 2000 Ford Taurus which was not quite as satisfying a daily driver as they’d originally hoped. It was problematic, handled like a boat, and the interior felt like it was held together with Elmer’s glue and hope. One free weekend came, and I suggested to my grandpa that we should “just go look” at one of those new Mazda 6’s and there happened to be a nice one with a manual in Farmington, NM, only 120 miles away from home. Finding one with a manual was tough at this time, so this was a rarity…especially in New Mexico. Grandma and grandpa agreed surprisingly, and we made a day trip of it. I remember walking into the dealership with grandpa and being approached by a friendly sales guy, Dean, and he directed us to this Pebble Ash Metallic 6 i 5spd on the showroom floor. It was loaded to the gills with the Sport package which means 17-inch wheels, electroluminescent gauges, titanium colored switch panels, fog lights, sport cladding, and oval exhaust tips. It also had the Comfort package, which included heated seats and exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, a power sunroof, a Bose audio package, homelink, and side and curtain airbags.

We instantly fell in love with this car at first sight. Despite not being a car person, even grandma did. She especially liked it for the sunroof. The whole “running the numbers” feeler process took place and soon we made an agreement on a price–yeah, we came to just look. Before signing the papers, grandpa and I happened to glance over to the back lot and saw a Blazing Copper Metallic Mazda 6 V6 being unloaded off of a shipping truck. Grandma could sense we showed interest and immediately gave us that look, “Don’t even think about it.” Metallic orange wasn’t her first choice in color, so Pebble Ash it was. We drove the 6 home with just 668 miles on the clock, somewhat high miles for a new car, but we were having too much fun to care. Today, it has 186,600 miles and 95% of those were all grandpa.

This has been a special car to all of us. It’s been one of my grandpa’s all time favorite cars he’s owned. It’s the car that rescued me when I crashed my Nissan Sentra. It’s the car that dropped me off for college, the car that took my grandma to hospice where I last saw her. It’s the car that grandpa and I took on a 9,000+ mile drive to the east coast and Quebec when I graduated college. It was a therapeutic drive for both of us after grandma passed away. It’s been coast to coast, border to border several times. And do you know how many times grandpa had to open the hood? Zero. Unscheduled repairs? Zero. The only finicky issue was a thermostat misbehaving intermittently at about 150,000 miles. Everything else has been absolutely bullet proof. Even the clutch and brake pads are original.

Grandpa has now handed the keys to me, and I plan to keep the legacy going. Grandma is still with us in spirit, and I know she’s still enjoying the trips from the passenger seat.

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Here’s a little chronological photo stream of the history of the Pebble Ash 6:

The day we picked her up from Performance Mazda in Farmngton, NM. Unfortunately, there no longer is a Mazda dealer in Farmington.

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Pulled it out of the garage for some photos the next day. First order of business was taking off that front plate bracket.

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Only 789 miles after arriving home.

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First road trip was a 300 mile drive to El Morro National Monument and the Large Array near Socorro, NM.

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Back when I tried rockin’ over sized sneakers, baggy clothes and “anti-glare computer” glasses. *cringe*

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Soon we displayed grandpa’s POW plate and his 91st Bomb Group frame.

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Tucked away in the garage next to my stock RSX at that time.

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Grandma and the 6 at Williams, AZ.

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Outside Modesto, CA

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Oatman Pass, AZ

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Arches National Park, UT

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Getting chilled in Colorado

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Rescuing me after crashing my Nissan Sentra.

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Testing out the traction control during one of those heavy snows. So much snow slid off the roof, we couldn’t get into the garage.

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Northern Rockies in British Columbia

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Gettysburg, VA

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Oregon

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Montreal in Québec

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Louisiana

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Texas

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South Dakota

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Washington State

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Newlyweds: Grandpa and Delia outside of Colinga, CA. We were very pleased Grandpa met Delia. They keep each other young, giggling all the way. Note grandpa is wearing the same hat as in the day we bought the 6 new!

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There was rarely a time when the front end wasn’t covered in a few layers of bugs. Grandpa is quite the traveler.

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Mileage when I first took ownership.

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First time bringing her home to Las Cruces and meeting the grey 6 stable-mate.

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Remember those OEM chrome alloys I had on the grey 6? I felt they were more fitting for this color.

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Custom “5SPD” plate.

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Interior is still minty fresh!

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Aside from a few OEM accessory add-ons (sunroof visor, those chrome alloys, rear chrome trunk trim), I plan to keep this car stock and as original as possible. It’s never had any body or paint work done, and the rubber and plastics are still like new from living in the garage. The grey 6 will still accumulate most of the daily miles, but I’m excited to bring aboard another steed to join us on future adventures. Stay tuned as I have the first drive with this car coming up!

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Three Year Anniversary and 100,000 Miles

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Hey All,

Several months have past since my last update…for shame! Well, today I actually had a few free minutes at work to get out a short little post here. Yesterday (November 7, 2017) marked the third year of owning the 6, and I couldn’t let that go too far without a post to celebrate the occasion! Who would have thought that I’d keep this a freakin’ three years?!! I did say in my one year post that I have enjoyed every mile. To date, I still feel the same.  She’s still not the prettiest, fastest, and not exactly dripping with the latest tech, but this rickety little 6 just keeps on purring regardless of what gets thrown at it.

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Well, somewhat. This past year hasn’t exactly been the cheapest, nor the most trouble free if I’m honest. Here’s a list some rather costly maintenance items and repairs which far exceed the value of the car:

  • Early January, 2017: Fuel system cleaning, OEM O2 sensor, spark plugs, valve cover gasket, coolant and manual transmission fluid flush | $1,200
  • Late January, 2017: OEM Alternator replacement | $975
  • June, 2017: OEM Fuel pump replacement | ~$500 w/ a DIY install
  • July, 2017: Front passenger OEM control arm | $950
  • August, 2017: Alignment | $80
  • September, 2017: OEM coil replacement | $75 w/ DIY install
  • October, 2017: New front rotors and pad | $725

That’s a total of around $4,505! That alternator was the most painful as it was my first official breakdown. Thankfully, AAA was there very quickly to save my butt.

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Just for fun, I ran a Kelly Blue Book value check for a dealer trade-in (don’t worry, I’m not even entertaining that idea). I was quite shocked! The Private Party value wasn’t much better. The mileage really makes a dent in the value.

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With that said, I plan to make that high mileage even higher. As of today, I  achieved a pretty significant milestone: 238,954 miles. Why does that matter? That’s exactly 100,000 miles since the day I drove this car home from Phoenix back in 2014!

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Think I should go for another 100,000? We shall see. I haven’t done as much traveling this year as I wanted to (partly from home renovations and just a heavy load at work), but I do get out once in a while. Here are a few photos outlining the past year:

Hauling whatever would fit for those home remodeling jobs.

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Actually have been using the 6 quite a bit in job related functions.

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Road trip with Dad to California

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Finally got to see by buddy, Tyson, and his new digs in Phoenix.

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Gila Wilderness

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Lots of random exploring around Doña Ana County where I live.

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I performed a major interior detail and refresh for the first time since the Alaska trip last year. New headliner is finally completed as well.

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Two big road trips did happen, however I won’t spill the beans just yet. They will have to be their own post.

Cosmetic Updates:

The 6 had a bit of an identity crisis of late thanks to me. I recently grabbed a set of OEM chrome accessory wheels off of eBay for a decent price and decided to try them out.

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I ended up not liking them, so back went the faded stock ones. I also decided to try out the OEM sport grille again to give the front end a little refresh.

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…and finally, I performed a complete badge removal. That included the little “V6” emblems as well as the “Mazda6” in the back. So far, I’m pretty happy with the results. What do you all think? This could be the updated look for the next few years…or more?

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Oh, and one more thing…I added a new custom vanity New Mexico plate!

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That’s all for now. 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 Planning

Lots in store for a big drive my buddy Tyson and I have been planning for almost a year now. To recap, we will be making a drive this May to Fairbanks, Alaska and back again in a smidge over two weeks. Check out the proposed route…that’s about 138 hrs with my butt in the driver’s seat or nearly 8,200 miles of road time.

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I have had a lot of time to think about what sort of disasters I could prepare for and I bet I have not covered them all. However, here’s what I have done for the 6:

  • New hydraulics for the clutch
  • New Thermostat which already had a slight leak
  • New drive belt
  • New battery (I have no idea how old the current one is, and I’m definitely not going to find out on this drive)
  • A full-sized spare wheel
  • New oil pan gasket which led to a new oil pan
  • A few annoying rattles hunted down and fixed

This week, my odometer rolled over 190,000 miles and I predict I may be at 193,000 by the departure date.

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People quick on math will see that I just might hit 200,000 miles on this trip. That’s the highest mileage car ever within my immediate family.

Tires are good: The Continentals even with 40,000 miles on them seem to have sufficient tread and they are just over a year old. The A/C isn’t the greatest, but I think I’ll just go with it since most of the driving will be highway, and I doubt there will be many scorching heat waves in Alaska.

I’m not going to go crazy with social media on this as this trip is more like a 30th birthday present to myself. However, I will be documenting highlights of the journey on here and on Instagram under hashtag, #mazda6alaska. Keep an eye out for Tyson’s Acura ILX coverage with his #ILXalaska as well!