Million Dollar Highway Day 3: Chinle to Scottsdale

Daily Distance:  287 Miles


Almost home!  Welcome to Part III of my trip write-up about my Memorial Day 2013 travels to southwestern Colorado in the Acura ILX, totaling nearly 1,300 miles over the 3-day weekend.

Monday morning, I took my time getting up and about at my hotel in Chinle, Arizona (pronounced chin-lee).  The name itself is derived from a Navajo term that means “flowing out,” since this location is where the water comes out of the adjacent canyon. One point of notable historical significance is that Chinle was the location of the 1864 peace conference between the Navajo people and Kit Carson that ended the war between the Navajo tribe and the United States.

These old phone booths are an indication of just how behind the times this community is.  It all appeared pretty run-down during my brief drive through.


Just a little bit out of town on Highway 191, I saw a small one-lane dirt road leading off to the east.  As I got closer, I noticed that the sign said this road would lead to the town’s cemetery.  Since it was Memorial Day, I saw it fitting that I should go.

Notice, the south side of the sign said “Cemetery.”


And the north side of the sign spelled it “Cemetary.”  This sign was clearly confused.


Here’s what the road looked like.  It seemed to lead off into the middle of nowhere.  I was careful not to take things too quickly in my ILX and road conditions were pretty good considering it was a dirt path.


Probably 2 miles down the road, I got to the location of the cemetery.  There is a dirt mound for each gravesite, but at this point I’m not clear on whether that means the bodies are buried above ground or below.


I took a few minutes to pay my respects.


I can see why the Navajo nation has selected this place for its graveyard.  It is very remote, secluded, and quiet.  There was a very peaceful feeling about it.


Back on my way I go.


Loved this picture which captures the lines of the ILX in front of a picturesque background.


The only other picture I took on the way home was at a (closed / abandoned) trading post called Bita Hochee.


In the 730 miles since I reset the car on Sunday morning, the ILX achieved 38.6 miles per gallon.


Here’s a 5-minute, 40-second video which captures the entire 25-mile drive from Silverton to Ouray, Colorado in a speed that’ll give you motion sickness if you watch the screen too closely.  Watch at your own risk!

ANDDD, after all of that, I’d say it was time for a car wash.


I decided an at-home wash job was not going to suffice, so I spent $2 at the local coin-op car high-pressure station.





Squeaky clean.


I took a few moments to wipe down the interior and all-weather floor mats, too.


It cleans up pretty nicely for having about 40,000 miles on it already.  This week I also made an upgrade to the license plate lighting.  At left is the new LED bulb; on the right is the stock bulb.  The car definitely now has a more upscale look to it at night.


Thought I’d share this messy page from my day planner.  This started out as my list of “to-see” driving destinations for 2013.  Notice how many of them I’ve already crossed off.  And the list continues to grow.


Thanks for coming along!

15 Responses to “Million Dollar Highway Day 3: Chinle to Scottsdale”

  1. Great 3 parter, love the video and some great stills as well.

    • Thanks Terry! I’m sure the scenery in your part of Canada is every bit as picturesque. If you get the chance to snag a photo of your TSX in front of a nice background, I’d love to feature it sometime. Thanks for following all 3 parts of the trip!

  2. Okay, I’m not gonna lie – watching the video, when you first take that first sharp corner I was like WHOOOOOAAAAAA !!! Out loud. Another thing I noticed is that the black (tar?) crack patches almost makes the video look like an old movie shot on film. (the flickering of the dark patch lines in the road)

    Nice passing also there Speed Racer!

    • “I noticed is that the black (tar?) crack patches”
      On the road…

      • Dave, I noticed the same thing about the patches of tar! When I view the “raw” footage, it’s a lot better quality than what the YouTube version ended up looking like. I have lot of fun plans in store for that GoPro video. Let me know if you have any soundtrack recommendations. I’m thinking about maybe having a monthly Drive to Five video update with the Legends and the ILX – just a 3-5 minute clip with some driving and mileage updates so people can actually be part of the experience.

  3. I just now watched that 5:40 video (on an empty stomach). My favorite parts? Chasing down the motorcycles and when you stopped and got out of the car to take a photograph. Your choice of songs to accompany the vid was superb. Tyson, you truly are a Legend in your own right. Happy trails/stretches of road ahead.

    • Hope you didn’t lose your lunch (breakfast) while watching the film. It’s long but I wanted to make sure that all 25 miles of the Silverton-to-Ouray road were captured. Glad you were able to be a part of the adventure. I should have let you take the wheel for a few miles. See you in a couple of weeks!

  4. Tyson, looks like a nice relaxing trip home. I hope those grave sites in Chinle are just a little extra dirt on top…or for an aesthetic purpose. Either way the landscape looked really neat! The camera setup seems like it’s working great. Can’t wait to see some curvy roads filmed. That should test one’s ability to keep motion sickness down. J/K

    Next time I come home with a mass of bug innards on my car, I think I’ll do what you did and opt for the local pressure washer. Smart.

    • Jason, I think you’re right – the mounds of dirt are just markers of sorts. I was glad to see that all the site locations had been decorated with flowers already for Memorial Day when I passed by. On the pressure washer trick, I actually cheated a bit. I scrubbed the front end of the car with sponges at home and THEN went to the pressure wash. The car needed it badly.

  5. Great video, Tyson!

    BTW, you can use the GoPro CineForm Studio software to drop frames to speed up the video, then use Microsoft Live Movie Maker to add effects/music, and export to an 1080p .wmv file for uploading to YouTube. It will result in a much higher quality video.

    • Kelvin, thanks for that tip! I really appreciate your feedback on getting up to speed with this GoPro. I will download the CineForm Studio software and use that trick on my next video. Thanks for reading the blog! 🙂

  6. Wow. That is some road on that video.

    I do have a special Drivetofive request (my first by the way) 🙂

    Is it possible at a future date to create an alternate version of the video? Can you remix the moving car scenes at the same speed and mix in one of my all time favorite road songs?

    The song is “I can’t drive 55” by Sammy Hagar.

    That is a Spectacular road and it seems that your are going at INDY 500 speeds with your car handling like it is on rails. Incredible scenery. I will drive that road within the next several years. Thanks for posting the video.

    • Carlos, that sounds like something I could figure out. So you want the same stretch of road, same speed, just with a different song to it? And you’re right – it’s FAST. In fact, faster than Indy 500. The video is sped up 8x. So if I was going 55 mph, on screen it looks like I was going 440 mph.

  7. Navajos traditionally do not visit the dead, although some modern ones do. Signs and roads are meant to be confusing in case one of the dead decides to visit the family, which always brings bad luck. In traditional ceremonies, the family walks to the cemetery, then walks out backwards covering their tracks to make sure the dead do not follow them back. Probably the bad road conditions relate to these traditions.

    • Hey Jef, thank you for that insight! It makes perfect sense now as to why the cemetery would have been tucked away on a fairly rough dirt road. It did appear that the flower arrangements were “fresh” in a sense, so this particular group of Indians must not be too averse to visiting their dead. It was a neat experience to explore their community for a short time.

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