Independence Day Trip to Utah

Odometer (Legend):  522,581


Odometer (ILX):  44,274


Trip Distance:  1,727 Miles


Happy Independence Day!  Lured by cooler temperatures up north, I saddled up in the Acura ILX last Wednesday and set out on a long-distance journey to the motherland of Utah.  Highway 93 northbound from Phoenix was surprisingly quiet for a holiday.


I wasn’t alone, though.  Along for the drive was my friend Matt who works for Nissan / Infiniti at the company’s proving ground just south of Phoenix.  Matt brought a pre-production model 2014 Q50 Sport Hybrid.  The Q50 goes on sale August 5th, but Matt was given special access to this test car for evaluation purposes.


The numbers grew yet again when another friend, Jeremy, hopped in the caravan in St. George, Utah the following morning.


At that point, we had 3 Japanese luxury brands represented.


Jeremy, Matt, and I showed our patriotism on July 4th with colors that were as close to Red, White, and Blue as we could muster:

  • 2006 Lexus IS350 in Matador Red Metallic
  • 2013 Acura ILX 2.4 in Silver Moon Metallic
  • 2014 Infiniti Q50-S Hybrid in Hagane Blue Metallic


These cars, while each one distinct in its approach, all compete against one another in a sport luxury sedan category.  For 200 miles from St. George, Utah to Nephi, Utah, we paced each other on Interstate 15.  Jeremy’s Lexus is powered by a 306-horsepower, 3.5 liter V6 gasoline engine.  It puts power to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission.  Paddle shifters on the steering wheel offer the driver control over which gear is selected.


The Infiniti is the most powerful of the 3 vehicles.  The Q50’s powertrain is referred to as a “Performance Hybrid” system.  Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a 3.5 liter gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor.  Together, those two systems work either in unison or independently to maximize efficiency and power.  Net horsepower is 354 — over 150 more horses than I had at my command while piloting the ILX.


To be fair, the ILX was the only 4-cylinder vehicle in our escapade, and it beats out the other two from a pricing perspective by quite a bit.

  • The Q50 starting price is $36,700 and equipped as a Hybrid with Sport package, comes in closer to $50k
  • Jeremy’s IS350 priced out at $35,440 when it was new
  • The ILX starts out at below $27,000.  My 2.4 liter 6-Speed Premium is $29,200 according to

Specs aside, no doubt we had our fun cruising in tandem along I-15.


Soon, we approached Utah Valley and the unmistakable Rocky Mountain peaks referred to as the start of the Wasatch Front.  These mountains are notorious for Utah’s “greatest snow on earth” during ski season.


My friend Branson borrowed the ILX and he visited some noteworthy landmarks in northern Utah that I thought I’d share:

The “Metaphor” statue along Interstate 80 in deserted western Utah has long perplexed motorists who drive past it.  Created in 1986 by Swedish artist Karl Momen, it stands 87 feet tall and is made of concrete.  It’s also sometimes referred to as the “Tree of Life.”  We simply don’t know much else about its meaning, but if it’s offbeat, you know it gets me excited.


Just 25 miles further west, nearing the Nevada state line, lie the expansive Bonneville Salt Flats.  The flats cover 44,000 acres of public land and are the remnant of an ancient Lake Bonneville which has since evaporated, depositing salt in the area.  Due to the salt flats’ incredibly flat surface, they became a popular place to race vehicles & motorcycles.


The first carriage race was held here in 1911.  According to the information sign on-site, by the 1960’s, jet and rocket powered cars had broken the 600 mph barrier.  The Bonneville Speedway itself is 10 miles long and is home every year to various racing events such as “Speed Week.”


When Branson visited the flats on Sunday morning, they were under water.  During rainy seasons, the area is flooded.


The salt flats are a beautiful place to admire the vast nothingness that exists in remote western Utah.  Unfortunately, due to salt being harvested from the flats, they’re shrinking in size.


Here is a link to some pictures from when I took my Legend there in June 2007.  Eighty miles north of Salt Lake lies my birthplace – Logan, Utah.  It was refreshing to experience temperatures like these, having come from the Arizona fireplace.


I met up with some Honda-fanatic friends.  Ryan is the proud owner of a black Honda S2000.  He took my mom for a drive and she was all grins.


I joined Matt, Ryan, and Tyler for a drive up the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, US Highway 89.


Tyler’s 1990 Prelude Si 4WS 5-speed is in amazing shape and I’ve blogged about it before.


One of the stops while going up the canyon was “Ricks Spring.”  Once thought to be producing water from a deep aquifer, a series of dye tests later revealed that this water outflow from a cave in Logan Canyon actually comes from the Logan River.  The water is extremely clear and chilly.


On Saturday, I attended the Cache Valley Cruise-In car show, a 4th of July tradition for my family.  My brother Bentley’s 1968 Chevy II Nova Super Sport looked phenomenal.  The car is sitting on a fully adjustable coilover suspension and American Racing wheels.  Bentley recently had the brakes upgraded to Wilwood components with cross-drilled and slotted rotors.


This is one mean machine.  It’s powered by a small block 350 cubic inch motor which has been bored to 388 cubic inches.  The registration form for car show entry asked for owners to fill in horsepower ratings.  Bentley wrote in: “Enough.”


The Nova has a 5-speed manual transmission and factory A/C.  I still haven’t driven this thing!


Baby Beckam enjoyed the show as much as the rest of us did.


While I haven’t driven the Nova, I did have a special driving experience while in Logan.  My step-dad Todd owns a 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook sedan.  This baby blue 4-door has a 6 cylinder under the hood.


More importantly for me, it’s equipped with a 3-speed manual, column-shifted transmission.  This was the first time I had the opportunity to drive a “3 on the tree”!  It was quite intuitive once I got the hang of it.  The biggest challenge was remembering that the clutch engagement point was really high, and the brake engagement point was really low.  Fancy footwork is required!


Just when I mastered the art of 3-speed shifting, the car’s gas pedal stuck to the floor and we had to shut the car off and coast into a service station.  Oops!  Thankfully, we got the Plymouth back up and running the following morning.


A phenomenal Cache Valley sunset closed out Saturday night.


On Sunday morning, we were off for more sightseeing.  Golden Spike National Historic Site is a very important landmark among railroad enthusiasts.  It’s located 32 miles west of Interstate 15, near Brigham City, Utah.


Golden Spike is the famous location where, on May 10, 1969, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads came together, completing the very first coast-to-coast, transcontinental railroad.  Golden Spike gets its name from the fact that a spike made of 17.6 carat gold was the last spike to be driven. The actual golden spike is on display in Palo Alto, California.  It was donated to Stanford University in 1892 by its owner, David Hewes.


There’s some fascinating information about the golden spike here.  When the individual teams of railroad workers started getting closer to one another in 1869, they worked feverishly to reach a meeting point.  The Central Pacific team was so productive that they they laid a record-setting 10 miles of track in a single day.


Today, reproduction locomotives are on display at the site.  There are daily 1:00 p.m. demonstrations.


Matt and I set out on our return trip to Arizona and we were met with some adverse weather near Cedar City, Utah.  The Q50 and the ILX were surefooted enough to get us to St. George safely for the evening.


By Monday morning when we completed the final stretch, the sun had peeked out yet again.  I took a couple of “retro” pictures in Fredonia, Arizona at an abandoned service station.  I wish I could have the opportunity to see inside this one.


I doubt this service station ever stocked the 0W20 oil that would be appropriate for my Acura ILX.


Hey, check out that gas mileage!  In the 399.2 miles driven since my last fuel-up in Hurricane, Utah, my ILX has averaged 35.8 miles per gallon.  I bet my friends in the Lexus and Infiniti are jealous now.


Thanks for joining for the trip!

I really like this tribute to Honda engineering that was released a few days ago.  Enjoy!

12 Responses to “Independence Day Trip to Utah”

  1. Yet another most excellent blog post. Right on, Tyson, write on. And ride on!

  2. Oh, and that “Honda Hands” thing? I want each and every one of those miniature items. SO CUTE!

  3. Very cool that Honda Hands is!

    • I agree – very clever. Honda needs to put that ad on TV! Fun to see just how diverse the company is. Would’ve been nice to see a Legend in there somewhere!

  4. Was that RAIN you were driving in? Wow when is the last time the ILX drove in that wet stuff?

    I LOVE that the nova’s horsepower is “enough!” that is an instant classic right there.

    Good stuff as usual Ty. Keep on truckin’.

    • Dave, believe it or not, we did see rain this weekend! It had been at least a few weeks since the ILX got wet. Thankfully, the car was predictable in how it handled the weather. I’m anxious to take the Nova for a spin. You know it’s only a matter of time until I get back up to Utah. It’s my #1 go-to destination. Thanks for reading the blog.

  5. Looked like a great drive this past weekend, Tyson. Your video was perfect with the Ca Plane Pour Moi track. I’m so jealous about the Salt Flats. That’s definitely on my list of places to drive in the Accord. I’ve never been. I had a bit of vintage motoring this weekend too…in the MG. I can’t imagine how driving with a column shifter would be. That service station in Fredonia looks like a scene from “The Hills have Eyes!”

    • Jason, I do highly recommend a visit to the Salt Flats. They’re located just minutes from a gambling town called West Wendover, Nevada. Pop in and throw a few quarters in the slot machine – maybe the winnings will pay your trip’s gas expense! I saw your photo on Instagram, taken behind the wheel of the MG. Look forward to hearing more about your travels. And, I’ll see you next weekend in Colorado!

  6. Yeah, it’s not a movie I want to see again. lol. See you next weekend!

  7. […] Hagane Blue being faithful to itself, there are no two pictures where the color looks alike.…ence-day-trip/ You […]

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