Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah: Peter’s 200,000-Mile TSX Party
Odometer (Legend): 534,427
Odometer (ILX): 138,509
Trip Distance: 1,112 Miles
On any given week, I would guess I receive about a dozen “odometer” related pictures from friends and family. Recently, a few of those were Ruben’s Honda Pilot hitting 180,180 miles with 90 degrees on the outside temp, Ian’s Volkswagen Jetta GLI hitting 33,333 miles with 111 degrees on the temp, and Ivan’s Acura RL hitting 270,000 miles. Have I trained these people or what? Someday I’m going to compile all of the submissions into a massive blog post in order of mileage.
I think the Mac-Daddy of all odometer achievers has to be Alex from Florida who has sent me next two. What are the chances he could pull both of these off in his Scion xB?
- 78 miles per hour
- 87 degrees
- 78,887 miles on the odometer
- 28 miles per hour
- 82 degrees
- 82,228 miles on the odometer
Clearly these took some pre-planning! Alex is the man.
Special recognition goes out to Josh from Idaho who captioned this odo shot with “Counting. Like a Boss.” His 2005 Acura TSX recently rolled the 456,789-mile mark with 123 on the trip meter. Nicely done, Josh.
Speaking of TSX milestones, today’s feature is right along those lines. We’re here to talk about my friend Peter’s 2004 Acura TSX 6-speed that passed the 200,000 mile mark on a weekend road trip in south-central Utah.
Named for Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce who settled in the remote area in 1874, Bryce Canyon was named a national park 1928. It receives about 1.4 million visitors annually and covers about 36,000 acres. Despite its name, Bryce is in fact not a “canyon” because it wasn’t formed from erosion from a central stream. Rather, it was formed by “headward” erosion which has to do with an origin moving away from direction of stream flow. Can the geologists in the blog-reading audience please chime in and explain this to those of us who are clueless?
Peter picked Bryce as the destination of choice for his 200k celebratory road trip. The first leg of our trip was to St. George, Utah where we’d be meeting up with seasoned road-tripper Jason from Las Cruces, New Mexico (Driven for Drives) and also joined by James Lee of Six Speed Blog. Peter and I departed from north Phoenix in the early afternoon on Friday in two silver Acura sedans: his TSX and my ILX.
Our timing was sheer perfection, as Peter & I arrived at my mom’s place just minutes before Jason got there (Jason had started his 8-hour driving day out in Grants, New Mexico). Mom had lasagna, salad, and fruit ready for us to satisfy our appetites. It wasn’t until about 4 hours later that James arrived in a 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid which he was road-testing for the week. Mom had to get in on the action by pulling her 2010 Volkswagen EOS into the mix for our 5-car photoshoot on Saturday morning.
We set sail northbound a few minutes later in 3 sport sedans: The ILX, the TSX, and the 6. We had about a 130-mile one-way drive to the entrance to Bryce Canyon ahead of us.
Thanks to the elevation gain from St. George to Cedar City, the temperature dipped down out of the 90’s – a great reprieve to those of us who’ve been enduring triple digits since May. By the time we headed east on Highway 14 toward Duck Creek, Peter only had 10 miles left to spare until the big 200,000 mile mark. We knew already that the road would not have much of a shoulder to pull over on, but we decided to press on and see where the milestone would happen anyway.
Peter kept me posted via walkie-talkie as his TSX crept closer to the rollover, and we pulled over just briefly for a few shots at the exact location where it happened. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer backdrop!
200,000 on the dot:
The happy owner!
It was time to rip through the gears and continue our ascent. Once we finished climbing Cedar Mountain, we’d arrived at a little over 8,500 feet and the temperature was a brisk 69 degrees. You’d better believe I had all 4 windows down and the moonroof open to savor every second of that environment. After some enthusiastic twists & turns in Highway 14, we stopped briefly for a bathroom break at Duck Creek Village. The place was crawling with off-road enthusiasts and at least a hundred ATVs lined the main street with shops & a small cafe.
From there, we connected with Highway 89 and headed north for about 25 minutes until arriving at Scenic Byway 12, one of Utah’s most famous stretches of road. We started seeing frequent signs about Bryce Canyon so we knew we were getting close. There were two small tunnels along the way. We opted to take all 3 cars into the park @ $30 each which was kind of a poor financial move, considering the 4 of us could have easily piled into one vehicle. But for the sake of completing the road trip, we all wanted to have our own cars inside Bryce Canyon for any potential photo-ops.
I summoned everyone for a pow-wow in the Visitor Center parking lot so we could pull out our maps and figure out the next stops. I proposed a visit to Sunset Point just a little bit down the road. As soon as we found parking there, we walked out to the edge of the cliff and beheld a huge expanse of red rock formations for as far as the eye could see. It was stunning to say the least.
The sandstone towers are called “hoodoos” and were formed by years and years of erosion. That erosion is, in fact, still actively taking place. The National Park Service recommends making follow-up visits to the park because the terrain can change in just a short matter of time. I noticed a trailhead that said there was a 1.3 mile loop we could take. We all had a pretty good amount of energy to burn off from sitting in the cars for the last couple of hours, so we headed down into the canyon on the tight switchbacks that descended at steep elevation. The base of the canyon reminded me a little of Antelope Canyon due to its sheer walls and cooler temperatures.
Here you can see a piece of a trail weaving down into the depths of the canyon.
The not-so-fun part was climbing back out of the canyon, as it took only a few minutes to realize the grade was steeper than it looked, and we hadn’t packed any water with us. We definitely broke a sweat. Thankfully, we were just a 2-minute drive away from the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge and its restaurant. The Lodge was completed in 1924 and is a National Historic Landmark. It was one of 4 lodges built in the Union Pacific Loop Tour. I sampled the Grand Canyon Club and it was delicious.
From our dining table, we could see a thunderstorm brewing outdoors and within a few minutes, it was pouring rain outside. The open windows brought in a breeze of fresh mountain air and it was better than any scent Glade has ever produced! We didn’t even care that the rain would put a damper on the rest of our park visit. We decided to check out Rainbow Point, the highest point in the park at 9,105 feet. The road through Bryce extends for another 15 miles south beyond the Lodge, and we took it to its end.
Thunderstorms are serious business in Bryce Canyon. Lightning strikes have claimed the lives of four visitors in the last 23 years! Rain (and even a little bit of hail – in August!) kept us from venturing too far out at this viewpoint, but we did enjoy a couple minutes from this area. Kind of like Clark Griswold at the Grand Canyon.
We did a little car-key switcheroo after that, and I drove both Jason’s 6 and Peter’s TSX. The Mazda, at 167,000 miles, drove as smoothly as could be. I enjoyed the V6 power and the 5-speed transmission. Peter’s TSX is a sport-tuned masterpiece: The gearbox has a short-throw shifter making gear changes extremely quick and precise. Handling has been enhanced thanks to a professionally lowered suspension. The car drove tightly despite its 200,113 miles!
Jason split ways from us at the Highway 89 / Highway 14 interchange, and Peter, James, and I went back up over Duck Creek on Cedar Mountain in a torrential downpour. Road conditions got so dicey I had to slow way down and keep the wipers on full-blast. Oh, and my wiper blades on the ILX SUCK! They’re the originals – and Peter pointed out to me earlier in the day that the rubber has become totally detached. I’m adding that to the list of things to address in this week’s “B1” maintenance service appointment.
Back in St. George, it was time to spice things up a bit so we took mom’s red EOS to dinner. I decided to show the guys my favorite pizza joint in town: Pizza Factory. It did not disappoint! And the following morning, we headed out in the TSX, ILX, and Sonata for Phoenix by way of Las Vegas on our return drive.
Thanks to all who made this fun weekend adventure possible, and a huge CONGRATS to Peter on passing the 200,000 mile mark. Here’s to many more! Video of a few weekend highlights here:
The rest of my photos are here. First, my Lunchables.
Peter in the sideview mirror.
I have Jason & James “tracked,” location-wise, so I was able to see where they were.
Dinner at mom’s place on Friday night in St. George.
Location of Peter’s 200,000 mile mark
Duck Creek Village along Highway 14, east of Cedar City
Peter’s TSX wears two of these stickers proudly!
Red Canyon, just east of the Highway 89 / Highway 12 junction
Your truly – acting as tour guide
Peter and James making their way down the trail
Sweaty hikers but feeling pretty accomplished
Obligatory warning about not falling off the edge of the cliff
Warning sign at eastern entrance to Highway 14 which would take us up Cedar Mountain
Silver sedans after driving through the massive mountain thunderstorm
Back in blue sky country, headed to dinner in the EOS
James took a spy shot of this 2016 ILX passing me on Highway 93 on the way back to PHX
Thanks for joining!