ILX Drive to Southern Utah: Grandpa’s Birthday

Odometer (ILX):  66,553

66553

Trip Distance:  421 Miles

map_to_sgu

tyson_grandpa_doce

It had been too long since I stretched my highway legs for a good 5+ hour drive so I decided to hop in the ILX after work and head north to my hometown in St. George, Utah.  This time I decided to take the “back” way – instead of opting for a route that consisted of mostly split highways, I drove through the mountain passes and canyons of Highway 89, northeast of the Grand Canyon.  It was a relaxing 6.5 hours on the road.

Driving, for me, is an incredibly therapeutic activity.  It’s an opportunity to clear the head and forget about the stresses of life.  Friday was an insane workday at CVS Caremark.  I got into the office at 7:00 a.m. and didn’t even step up from the chair at my workstation to stretch until almost 11:30.  By the time I got into the ILX around 4 p.m., my nerves were on end.  I set my cell phone on the passenger seat, face down so I wouldn’t see any alerts.  I plugged in my iPod 80 gig, took off my shoes, and picked up a grande caramel frappaccino from Starbucks at the drive-through.  Things were looking better already.  For the rest of the evening, it was just me, the ILX, and the open road.

flagstaff_sign

Interstate 17 climbed aggressively toward about 7,000 feet in elevation and the temperature sank to the high 30s as I gained altitude.  By the time I got to Flagstaff, I’d witnessed a spectacular sunset in 15 shades of red, purple, and dark blue.  There was snow on the sides of the road but the lanes of travels were clear and dry.  North of Flag is when I got off the beaten interstate path and headed north toward Page, Arizona on Highway 89.  With each passing mile, I saw fewer cars on the road.  Soon I was able to drive for many miles at a time with my high beams on.  I rolled open the moonroof to see the stars overhead – more clearly than I’d ever seen them in the city.

hwy_89_night

I drove through the Navajo Nation and pondered what a hardy people they are, having endured a way of life in small towns with few of life’s luxuries.  Nearing the junction of highways 89 and 89A, a blinding light shone ahead of me.  “Bright oncoming HID headlights,” I thought.  Soon it became apparent that the light was not a car.  “Wow, someone has really bright yard lighting.”  And finally, I approached the light and realized I had come up on a massive road closure with a generator driving three high-power lights.  This was where Highway 89 was detoured due to this massive buckle in the pavement.  Heading left on 89A, the road got more narrow and curvy.  Nevertheless, I set my cruise control at 65 miles per hour and firmly planted both hands on the wheel.

At one point after climbing in elevation to 7,921 feet at Jacob Lake, Arizona, I pulled over on a scenic overlook and shut off the car and its headlights.  I rolled down my windows.  The moonlight illuminated everything around me in a glow, and the only sound I could hear was the wind rustling the trees.  I loved the momentary feeling of solitude and peace.  This was a good night to be on the road.  I arrived at my brother’s place in St. George at 11:03 p.m. – right on target from what I’d told him earlier in the day.

Today, I had the privilege of shuttling my grandpa, grandma, and aunt to lunch at the home of the best tater tots in town – Larsen’s Frostop.  This drive-in has been a key landmark on St. George Boulevard since 1965.  We had some burgers, tots, and desserts in the company of some other family members in honor of my grandpa’s 83rd birthday, coming up on Monday.

Here is a 30-second video slideshow from our lunch.  Thanks Aunt Jodi for putting it together!

Northbound Interstate 17

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Pit stop along the roadside near Camp Verde

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“This Surface is Never Regularly Maintained” – spotted on a sign near one of the interstate’s offramps

primitive_road_sign

A year ago, Highway 89 near Page, Arizona collapsed and looked like this

sinkhole_arizona_hwy_89_2

Today, it’s still not yet repaired.  Traffic is detoured a long way around.  Here’s a photo at the road closure.

road_closure_on_hwy_89

Niece Vivienne will be 3 in April.  She’s full of energy.

viv_with_ilx

Lunch bunch en route to one of my favorite burger places

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Grandpa was riding shotgun

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My brother Bentley and his family met up with us.  His black Audi Q7 S-Line 3.0 liter supercharged was looking pretty clean.

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Let’s eat!

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Grandpa peeking in the window.

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A grilled cheese here is only $1!  We opted for a couple of Prince Burgers.

gpa_ordering

Chow time.

frostop

And back to Gpa’s Avalon Abode.  He’s got a white 2000 and a silver 2006 in the stable.

ilx_with_avalons

It was a great day with family!  Thanks for joining!

Did anybody catch this 1996 Lexus LS400 on Ebay with a mind-boggling 897,000 miles on it?  As of right now, bids are at $1,150 with a couple days left in the auction.

ls400

896977

Description as follows:

This vehicle has a CarFax and Odometer both stating 896,977 miles.  The vehicle, when I got it, needed the driver’s seat recovered and the paint was sunburned.  The seat has been recovered and the car has been painted.  This is an original Rust-Free Florida car.  The rest of the car is original and in good condition as the pictures show.  The only option on the car which doesn’t work is the factory radio.  It has a factory sunroof.  The car drives like a good 100,000 mile car would.  The car had no rust on it before it was painted.  This car has no motor noise, and it doesn’t smoke. The transmission shifts properly.  The CarFax, again, shows no accidents and actual miles.

Pretty sweet!  That car has averaged nearly 50,000 miles per year over its 18 years.

Catch the rest of my Utah trip sometime this coming week!

8 Responses to “ILX Drive to Southern Utah: Grandpa’s Birthday”

  1. Catch up to that Lexus, Tyson!

    Happy Birthday to your Grandpa.

  2. Another great weekend. It’s always a good time when Tyson shows up. Beware the spy shot, however! 🙂

  3. Happy birthday to your Grandpa! Looks like a good time. I want a burger now! And I just happened to see that Lexus not too long ago. Looks like in great shape for those miles. Your Legend can easily beat that though.

    • Haha, I don’t know if my Legend will ever get to 897k at the rate I’m putting miles on the ILX, but you never know. Thanks for the b-day wishes for grandpa. The burgers at Frostop are pretty phenomenal. Someday, we should take a drive to southern Utah so I can show you around my hometown.

  4. Happy Birthday Grandpa! Those small food joints are the BEST finds most of the time.

    • Definitely agree with you there, Dave. The burgers at Frostop are definitely quality. I didn’t have a big enough appetite but I wish I had gotten one of their shakes too. I need to get back to XXX Rootbeer one of these years!

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