Archive for the Arizona Category

Hiking “Havasupai” Waterfalls: An 18-Miler into the Grand Canyon

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, National Parks on September 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  207,567

Trip Distance (Drive):  600 Miles

Trip Distance (Hike):  18 Miles

Imagine living in a place so remote that the cold Dr. Pepper you’re about to swig had to come in on a pack mule or be air lifted there by a helicopter.  Given the logistic challenges of sustaining a town so remote, I was surprised such a luxury was even available – let alone refrigerated.  I even got this one at a discount because the can had been damaged during mule transport.

I’m about to introduce you to a community that has thrived in the heart of northern Arizona for hundreds of years.  If you’re lucky, you’ll pick up a hint of 3G cell signal there.  But otherwise, the inhabitants of the village of Supai are about as “low-tech” as you can get in the year 2018.  (See location in the middle of this Google Maps screen shot).

I’ve lived within a few hours of the Grand Canyon my entire life and only been into the (mile-deep) middle of it one time, three years ago when some friends and I did a crazy, 26-mile, “South Rim to North Rim,” hike.  It was time to put the hiking boots back on (or, just my running shoes, in this case) and trek back into one of Arizona’s wonders of the world.

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is surrounded on all sides by the national park, and it’s one of the most difficult to obtain a hiking permit to access.  In fact, twice in the past (2008, and then again earlier this year), I’ve had a permit that has been cancelled or re-scheduled due to flooding in the canyon.  This time, we crossed fingers that our trip would proceed as planned, and it did – for the most part.

Havasupai is a word that means ‘havasu’ (blue-green waters) and ‘pai’ (people).  So the 639 people who live within the 300-square-mile reservation are the people of the blue-green waters.  They are governed by a constitution that was signed in 1939 and led by a seven-member tribal council.

Our party of nine met up at the crack of dawn – actually, a little before it – on Friday morning, September 21.  Getting there was a straightforward trek up Highway 89 from Phoenix, through the Route 66 towns of Seligman and Peach Springs, and then about 68 miles on a paved two-laner to the trailhead parking lot.

Getting all my gear into a backpack was no small challenge, and I had to carefully prioritize which items were critical for the trek.  The 8-mile initial drop into the town of Supai was easy thanks to cool morning temperatures, well-traveled pathways, and primarily downhill grade.  Amenities there were impressive:  A cafe, general store, schoolhouse, and churches were all all present – staffed by natives and welcoming to the estimated 200 tourists who are camping in the area on any given day.

We found the perfect campsite for our party.  It was two more miles down the dirt pathway and located right on the verge of Mooney Falls, which sent crystal blue waters cascading about 200 feet to the canyon below.  Kyle set up a hammock along the river and that ended up being my favorite place to (literally) hang out.  Best of all, we were disconnected entirely at that point from contact with the outside world.

On Saturday, we scaled the cliffside with assistance of chains & ladders to the pools below Mooney Falls.  It was an unforgettable experience in conquering a fear of heights.  The most unnerving thing about making the descent was the fact that over time, the rocks & ladders had worn smooth so grip was limited.  Besides that, the waterfall’s mist kept all footholds nice and slippery with water.  Yikes.

We enjoyed the sights & sounds of Mooney Falls for a couple of hours before making our ascent to camp again.  That afternoon’s highlight was getting a taste of some of the natives’ frybread.  A $12 taco with beans, cheese, and tomatoes was the ultimate afternoon snack and worth every penny to someone who was sick of eating dehydrated meals from tinfoil bags.  Jack opted for the ‘dessert’ version, drizzled in Nutella and caramel.  In fact, he had two, and made me promise not to tell anyone.  Sorry Jack!

Campfires are explicitly outlawed in the Havasupai region, so we told nighttime stores while huddled around the picnic table before calling it a night.

Already a little sore from two days of trudging around in the sand & water, I wasn’t feeling too keen on a roughly 10-mile (uphill) return hike to the parking lot on Sunday morning, so 3 from our party elected to take a helicopter from Supai instead.  It was my first time riding in a helicopter, and I was glad that I did.  The one-way fare for a 7-minute flight was $85 and because of limited seating (only room for 6) and a high volume of people leaving the canyon that day, it took about 4 hours until we actually got onboard.  The views were spectacular.

By the time we got back to our vehicles, the members of our group who’d opted to hike out had already beat us there and left the area.  I played catch-up in my ILX and reunited with Kyle, Jack, and Justin at Roadkill Cafe in Seligman before continuing the rest of the way into Phoenix.

The next time I crack open a Dr. Pepper, I’ll remember this trip with fond thoughts of sand in my shoes and a babbling brook underneath me in a hammock.  Here is a video and a few more photos from our adventure!

Hiking in

Group photo courtesy of mom’s selfie stick

Checking in at the Tourist Office, where we were issued wristbands with our group name & trip dates

Picture perfect postcard perspectives all around

Overlooking Havasu Falls

Another view of Havasu Falls

Caution sign prior to descending to Mooney Falls

View looking upward from the hammock

Havasu Falls

Frybread vendor

Group around the picnic table at our campsite

Group shot

Some of our gear

View from the helicopter ride out

Buy a Car Like You Buy a Snickers: Carvana Vending Machine Tour

Posted in Arizona, PAPA on September 19, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  207,017

It wasn’t long ago (exactly a year, now that I look at it) when I introduced you to Carvana’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona.  A nice facility it was – complete with a “library” study area that felt like it was plucked out of a 19th century Victorian mansion.  Now, Carvana has upped its game even more in the Tempe area, with a vending machine that dispenses cars.  And this one (the company’s 12th) is the largest in the country.  It’s 9 stories tall and has capacity for 34 vehicles.  But unlike that snack machine in the hallway of your undergrad university, you can’t shake it when your purchase gets stuck, and you’ll need a heck of a lot more than just spare change to buy its contents.

Carvana and other similar, 100% online-based car-buying companies have changed the way we think about purchasing a vehicle.  While many oppose the movement saying, “This is one step closer to making used cars an appliance you can buy on Amazon,” is that such a bad thing?  For the many people who want to cut out the salespeople and the negotiation, maybe the convenience is worth the mystery of buying a car without driving it first?  Here I was sampling a 2011 TSX Sport Wagon with detailed inside & outside, 360-degree views.

That’s one heck of a token.

I’ll be the first to say – the Carvana business model appeals to me in concept, but I’m likely not a target customer for this scenario.  Number one, the cars I’m usually hunting for are far too old (and rare) to be in Carvana inventory – even with 10,550 cars on the list.  And number two, a test drive is an absolute must when it comes time to actually pull the trigger on something.

But I admire the effort, and I can’t argue with the fact that our Carvana tour guide said they’re cycling through inventory in the vending machine every two days.  That’s pretty good volume, and it doesn’t even take into consider the vast majority of people who take delivery via flatbed truck at their homes rather than opting for the novelty of a token-dispensed automobile.  And they do have a 7-day, 400-mile, “no questions asked,” return policy.

It was a lot of fun to get up close and personal with the vending machine, including a demo of its operation from within the tower.  Along with a few other members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) I was glad to finally get a glimpse of this cool concept that I’d been watching under construction for the last several months along the Loop 202 freeway.

Word to the wise, though:  It is a greenhouse, and it heats up like one.  If that Silverado were a Snickers, it would have melted already.

New car scent – bottled!

Photo booth as part of our media event.

Thumbs up for the cupcakes & refreshments!

Here are a few other news bits:

My friend Hy who recently hit 130,000 miles on his 1993 Honda Accord SE has now passed the 25-year ownership mark.

We took the car up to the dealership where it had been sold new, on the anniversary of the occasion (September 8).  Congrats, Hy!

After owning my 1992 Integra GS for 4 months, I decided to say hello to the prior / original owner.  She was glad I did.

I finally finished putting my display case together, including some very special Ayrton Senna swag.

Thanks to my friend Charles for this:

Couple of articles for you to peruse, including this great one from Eric Weiner on the nostalgia of 1990s Acuras for Hagerty.

And this piece for ClassicCars.com, which is a variation of what I already posted here on the blog regarding JCCS.

Finally, some used cars you will probably want to consider:

My friend Ira is selling his STUNNING 2002 NSX-T with only 35,000 miles on it.  It’s 1 of 13 in the color combination.  He recently upgraded to a Nouvelle Blue 2017 model (as seen in the background), so the gen 1 is up for grabs.  Check out the link to the consignment shop here.

And we have a special TSX Sport Wagon here:  Owned by one of Acura’s senior executives and well-preserved with only 44,000 original miles.  This is a 2012 “Tech” model in Crystal Black Pearl on black leather, with some upgraded 19″ Honda Factory Performance wheels and a Whispbar roof rack system for you cyclists out there.  Any inquiries, contact me directly and I’ll put you in touch.

There were only around 10,000 TSX Sport Wagons produced – around 8% of 2nd gen TSX production.  Very few are out there in this color combination with such low miles and well kept condition.

Have a great week!  I’m off to the Grand Canyon tomorrow for a hiking adventure, so don’t try to reach me!

‘Justification for Higher Education’: My First Time Driving a Ferrari

Posted in Arizona, NSX, Reader's Ride on August 30, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  111,769

When I was a teenager, my bedroom had its fair share of automotive swag.  The whole room, as I recall, was decked out in the colors red, white, and blue.  I had diecast model car shelves mounted on the walls, going around the perimeter.  And there was a 24×36 poster in a red plastic frame that held especially high significance.  I still have it today:

It shows a southwestern-style home with a tile roof, perched along the oceanfront at sunset.  But in front of the house sits a 5-car garage with some 1989’s best sportscars (though, worth noting here, none of them were Japanese!).  I took the message to heart and set my sights on higher education like the goody-two-shoes I was, and graduated at 25 with a Masters Degree in Business.  It wasn’t until 10 years later that I bought a house with a garage big enough to hold more than 2 cars.  And I certainly didn’t fill it with high-end exotics.  But my own personal dream was achieved.

You’ve met my friend Greg Davis through the blog in a couple of previous posts, including the one about his quirky collection of Japanese Domestic Market, right-hand-drive vehicles.  What I didn’t share in that particular post was a glimpse of some of Greg’s other, more fancy rides.  And now’s the time to go ahead and do that.  My friends Chase and Trey were in town from Oklahoma this past weekend, so I wanted to show them a good time.  The perfect place to find that fun was at Greg’s, where we did a mini road rally in a 1986 Ferrari 328, 1988 Lotus Esprit, 1995 Acura NSX, and 2004 Porsche 911.

We moved the cars from Greg’s storage facility to his home for a re-staging of the “Justification” poster.  The photoshoot itself was fun, but even more so, was the driving enjoyment from that short jaunt between locations.  The Porsche is a Turbo model with only 12,000 original miles.  The driving dynamics are magnificent – with quickly engaging power and firm handling.  The Ferrari was raw sportcar material – no attempts made at creature comforts – in fact, the air conditioning wasn’t working, but I didn’t care.  I quickly acquainted myself with the cabin and soaked in the scenery.  This one had only 6,000 miles on it.  It was incredible.

Clearly I have a thing or two to learn about Italian cars because I inadvertently drove it with the parking brake engaged for a few miles.  Contrary to typical “ratchet it and release it” e-brakes, the handle on this one freely floats to the “off” position but is still activated.  I didn’t realize that.  Luckily, there was no billowing smoke and driving performance didn’t seem impacted or I would have definitely pulled to the sidelines to investigate.  Bill me for the brake job, Greg!

Aside from that tidbit of learning, I found the Ferrari to be easy to figure out.  The shifter operates with a satisfying clunk, the clutch effort was predictable, and the visibility was better than I expected.  Biggest thing to get used to in that car is all the crowd attention!

I did my best to keep Chase and Trey entertained for their 4-day stay, but it was tough to top the dream garage experience.  We hit up a baseball game, did a little hiking, and met up with my friend Vlad for a visit to the Pavilions car show in Scottsdale.

By the way, my green Integra made it back safely & soundly to Phoenix from its Pebble Beach debut this past weekend.  There are a lot of articles coming out on the event.  Here are a few links for you to sample:

Here is a video.  My car makes a cameo a few times including the time-lapse segment at the ending.

Hope you enjoy a few photos and a short video of our Sunday morning adventure at Greg’s Garage!

Hiking Papago Park in Scottsdale

Driving the 911

A few more angles of the dream garage

Brunch at Fez

Click & zoom.  Which Acura did we drive to the hiking trail?

Visiting Vlad’s garage

Night out in Scottsdale

Nosebleeds at the baseball game!  But the view was great.

“Keep it fair.  Keep it Tyson.”

How’s this for mileage mania?  Apparently there’s a 2009 Accord running around California with almost 700,000 miles on it.  More to come on that.

Independence Day Trip to Payson, Arizona & Introduction to Jeff’s 1990 Accord EX

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Reader's Ride, Road Trip on July 7, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  249,324

Trip Distance:  180 Miles

Sometimes it’s nice to just get out of town for a couple of hours – to be independent from the urban grid, listening to Sugar Ray or Chicago, checking out some new terrain.  That’s why on Independence Day, my friend Jack and I hopped into our Acura hatchbacks and headed for the hills.  The small town of Payson is only about 90 minutes away, yet it affords temperatures around 20 degrees cooler than the Phoenix metro area.

Jack’s 2006 RSX took the lead for most of the drive, and I followed him in the Integra GS-R.  We went “non-chain” with our dining selection and seated ourselves at the bar at Pinon Cafe, which has called Payson home for the last 45 years.  It was a little early to be ordering from the lunch menu, so I grabbed a green chili & cheese omelet, with potatoes and wheat toast on the side.  Everything hit the spot.

Payson was bustling with residents preparing for their 4th of July festivities.  We stopped by a nearby park on Main Street and they were setting up for the fireworks launch later in the evening.  Would have been nice to stick around and check out the display, but we hit the road and headed back home.

Every once in a while I get to share with you some exceptional cars.  Here’s one I think you’ll enjoy seeing.  In a recent blog post, I talked about a burgundy (Mulberry, actually) 1990 Honda Accord EX that my friend Jeff was entertaining the idea of selling.  Jeff has decided to keep the car for the time being, but needs a place to store it, so it will be residing in my garage.  He brought the car over earlier in the week.

This car is something truly special:  The first model year for the fourth-generation “CB7” chassis Accord, this 1990 EX was purchased new by Jeff’s mother on September 5, 1990 with 18 miles on it from Scottsdale Honda for around $19,000 out the door.  Over the next 28 years, she cared for it to an incredible extent – literally, spending over $28,000 maintaining it on spare-no-expense dealership services.

Let’s put that into context:  My 2013 ILX turned over 200,000 miles a little over a year ago.  Total spent on maintenance from new to 200,000?  $7,169.  So this Accord has had 4 times that amount spent on it, and still has 64,000 miles to go until the same mileage.

Spreadsheet excerpt including totals at the bottom.  It’s had 8 batteries and 3 timing belts.

Unfortunately, Jeff’s mother passed away earlier this year.  Her pride and joy Accord has just over 136,000 miles on it.  And that’s where we are today, and why Jeff has chosen to allow me to display it on loan in my modest collection for the time being, though it’s deserving of far more.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car preserved to this extent – even many high end exotic supercars don’t enjoy the pampering this car had.  $1,800 alone was spent on periodic details to keep the paint and finishes looking fresh.  The car has a dash mat, car cover, steering wheel cover, anything that could possibly be used to preserve its appearance.  Enjoy the walkaround video below!

Taco Tuesday in the Vigor, Literature Highlight, Gearbox Magazine Podcast Feature

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, Vigor on June 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor): 111,196

Odometer (Million Mile Lexus):  975,453

I know, only 25,000 miles to go on Matt Farah’s old 1996 LS400!  Some of you may remember when I put a couple thousand miles on that car back in October 2015 when it only had 922,000 on the odometer.  My friend Adam ran into the car (well, not literally) in Colorado this weekend at a rally event.  I told him to check and see if my log book entry was still present in the glove compartment, and it was!  I wonder when and where the big event will take place.  Thanks for the update, Adam!

I’m a sucker for Mexican food.  Breakfast burrito in the morning, quesadilla at lunch, and tacos for dinner.  I could do that.  So every Taco Tuesday is a bit of a special day for me.  And check out these beauties I found:

Sometimes we get so focused on traveling beyond home that we forget to appreciate the destinations that are within arm’s reach.  I was just talking the other day with a friend about wanting to do a “staycation” sometime in the near future for those reasons.  For now, I satisfied my literal and figurative cravings for something new by trying a restaurant that opened last year in the lobby of the historic 1928 Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix.

Now dwarfed by modern skyscrapers on all sides, the elaborate San Carlos was once one of Phoenix’s most elaborate and high class destinations for the elites who visited the area.  Some say it’s haunted – and for good reason.  An actress plunged to her death from the rooftop not long after the hotel first opened, and to this day it’s said that her spirit inhabits the premises.  I didn’t go in search of any ghost-hunting.  I went for the tacos – and they were worth it!

I parked my 1994 Vigor about a block east of San Carlos along Monroe & 1st Street for $4 (photo above taken at the top level of the garage) and wandered around the downtown district a little.  “Centrico” is accessed from street level and has a small bar inside along with a few tables.  I seated myself at the bar – as the only person there – and ordered up a set of 4 chicken tinga tacos for $10.  They most definitely hit the spot.

Here are some other updates for the week:  Recently, I was featured by Brian Driggs of Gearbox Magazine on an hour-long Podcast discussing this and that about how he and I got into the automotive hobby and what we are doing with it.  If you want to check out the ramblings, here’s the link!  Thanks Brian for the opportunity.

The Integra GS got some lovin’, including replacement of this discolored passenger sideview mirror with a replacement unit which I got from a friend (off a junkyard car) and had repainted at Fix Auto Phoenix for $96 in the correct Torino Red paint.

This car is looking mighty fine!  From a dinner outing last Friday evening:

Here’s the latest on it from my YouTube channel:

I took the other Integra, my GS-R, up to Flagstaff, Arizona yesterday afternoon to beat the heat.  In just a 2-hour drive, the temperature drops about 20 or more degrees.  The car did great for the 300 or so mile round trip.  I’m at around 248,700 on that one and anxious to see it crest 250,000.

The new 2019 RDX selection was on sale at the local dealer when I stopped by as well.

You all know I’m crazy about car literature.  I can get lost going through my boxes and boxes of car magazines from the 1980s and 1990s.  Below is a pic of envelopes with just a handful of the items.  In all I have 57 pieces of literature or brochures specific to just the Acura Legend.  I also have 151 items of ‘generic’ Acura interest, in about 6 boxes in my laundry room.  Yes it’s all categorized in an Excel spreadsheet too.  Shocker.

I came across a few cool pieces, including an article from February 1992’s Road & Track where six sedans were tested against each other:  Acura Legend LS, Audi 100, Mazda 929, Acura Vigor GS, Lexus ES300, and Mistubishi Diamante LS.  I loved a few phrases in particular about the Legend.

This is the instrument by which the other sedans in this category have been setting their watches… Still the dictionary definition of smooth, refined, and reliable, the new Legend LS remains the benchmark.  Consider a zero-to-60-mph time where the next best competitor is more than a full second slower.  The others begin to close the gap at the quarter-mile mark, but by that time, the big Acura’s powerplant has established itself as the powerhouse of record, without a hint of strain.

Love that!  From a 1994 “New Cars” magazine issue:

Did you know that across the entire model lineup, there were 22 colors offered in 1994?

And I thought this was kind of interesting.  On January 6, 1998 – just a little over 20 years ago – I pulled a Kelley Blue Book valuation of my mom’s then 1993 Legend L sedan with 64,000 miles on it.  Suggested retail was $21,200.

That’s it for the archive preview today.  Few more shots from my Vigor / taco outing:

Hope you’ve had a great weekend!

Saturday Lunch Outing to Cave Creek, Arizona; Garage & Integra Updates

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip on June 19, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  561,449

Odometer (Integra GS):  71,937

After 97 days without rain in Phoenix, the streak was broken last Saturday – on the very day that about 15 friends and I had a group drive planned.  While most car clubs would be devastated by a little bit of moisture in the air, we loved it!

While seated at lunch at the Horny Toad in Cave Creek, Arizona, we peeked outside and saw our variety of vehicles getting drenched.  And a wide variety they were!  From a Toyota iQ to a Mercedes-Benz 500SL, we had all our bases covered.  Roomie James presented us with a vivid blue Kia Stinger.  I rolled in the Integra because, as my daily, it’s usually closest to the ‘exit row’ in the garage and I didn’t mind it getting wet.

Things have been busy here at the Auto Spa.  In anticipation of having the car club folks over, I did some arts & crafts at the local FedEx Office.  I photocopied some of my cars’ window stickers (and made them all a standard size), then laminated them for display on each vehicle.  I’m still missing a sticker for my Integra GS-R but the rest of the cars either have originals or reproductions thanks to help from fellow Acura owners.

I also finally had the chance to hang up an acrylic plaque with the May 2017 article from Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car on the Integra.  I was able to make room for it along the west wall of the garage.

The “new” Integra GS is coming along nicely.  Last week I was able to ditch the clunky, flat-spotted, 17-year-old Goodyear 195-60-14 tires and replaced them with new Falkens at Discount Tire.  It ran about $400 out the door and the car rides 100 times better now.

New floor mats are on order (aftermarket, for now) and a friend helped me source a passenger sideview mirror to replace the existing one since it’s a bit mismatched and has the wrong mirror glass in it (it doesn’t say anything about “Objects In Mirror” and the image is distorted).  Stay tuned!  I dropped off the replacement mirror for paint today.

I spent a few hours last week stripping off the dealer add-on plastic wheel well moldings (and all the tape/glue that they left behind).  Time lapse video still pending.  You’ll see it here on the next blog entry.

Wall art – currently awaiting the next picture to go along with the other 5 on my wall from IDrewYourCar.com.

Hemmings article on display

Window sticker copies!

Also showing off this brochure with my custom aluminum wheelstand my brother made me.

Looking clean after removing the pin stripe and moldings.

Current passenger mirror on the car – mismatched and pieced together with glue I guess?

Lastly – continuing the trend of posting a car here or there when I know of great opportunities, here are a few selections for you today.

If you’re looking to get into the NSX game relatively inexpensively and with a really rare car, check out my friend Todd’s 1996 NSX in Brooklands Green.  It needs some cosmetic TLC but might make a good entry level NSX for someone out there.  The configuration is 1 of only 25 cars produced in its interior & exterior color combo.

Craigslist link here.  Tell Todd I sent ya!

If family sedans are more your thing, you might want my friend Asmar’s 1993 Accord Special Edition with only 50,000 miles on it.  It’s all original minus the tires, so plan on doing a little preventative maintenance.  But the price is right.  He’s located in Seattle.  Message me for details and I’ll put you in touch with him.

And another CB7 Accord, this one a 1990 EX in a stunning burgundy color (“Mulberry Red Pearl,” if you want to get technical).  This one is being offered privately to only qualified buyers as it’s not listed on any sites.  In other words, a “good home” is an absolute must.  Contact me for details.  It’s a 136,000 mile automatic for sale by the original owner, located here in the Phoenix area.

Have a great week!

Southern Utah Weekend: Bryce Canyon National Park & Glen Canyon Dam

Posted in Arizona, Legend, National Parks, Road Trip, Running, Utah on June 5, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  561,413

Trip Distance:  1,070 Miles

Do you know what a hoodoo is?  The name to me sounds a lot like “voodoo,” and according to the Internet, can be used interchangeably with it.  But there’s an alternate definition you may not have heard of.  A hoodoo can also mean a column of weathered rock.  Check out this view of a vast number of hoodoos that I saw on Friday at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.  Now you know!

This past weekend’s 4-day, 1,000-mile road trip took me through Bryce as well as some of Utah’s other scenic wonders.  It was the perfect escape from the day-to-day grind.  I’ve visited Bryce a few times in the past, including when my friend Peter’s TSX rolled 200,000 miles three years ago and a trip to “Hell’s Backbone” in the ILX five years ago.  Still, I can never get tired of seeing that amazing landscape.  I took for granted that I grew up with so many beautiful national parks virtually in my own backyard in southern Utah.

My tried and trusty Legend coupe was the chariot of choice for this backroads adventure, and it delivered perfect reliability as I knew it would.  The idea for this trip came about because two friends were competing in the Bryce Canyon Ultra Marathon – a “50K” (32-mile) trail run that would subject them to some of the region’s most challenging terrain but also some of the most rewarding views.  I think they’re nuts, but then again my own sanity is a little questionable too.

Bryce is one of five national parks in Utah and perhaps one of the least traveled – just the way I like them.  The way we got there was pretty straightforward, with a night in my hometown of St. George on Thursday, and then northbound to Cedar City.  From Cedar, that’s where things got interesting.  We climbed nearly 5,000 feet in elevation on Highway 14 eastbound over the course of 18 miles – windows down, sunroof open, and soaking in the glorious temperatures.

From there, we hooked north on Highway 148 past Cedar Breaks National Monument.  By that time, we were at 10,000 feet in elevation – high enough that even on June 1, we saw snow on the roadside.  Cedar Breaks was awe-inspiring.  We were also delighted that there was next to no traffic.  The road is closed from November through May so it had just recently opened back up for the season – literally, the visitor center opened the very day we were rolling through.

Our destination for the next two nights was Panguitch, Utah – a tiny (2,000-resident) town on Highway 89 and home to the Blue Pine Motel, which has been there since 1901.  While the accommodations weren’t first class, they were definitely warm and inviting.  It’s a family owned atmosphere and a step back in time.  We loved our stay.  My friend and I visited Bryce Canyon later that first afternoon, some 20 minutes away, and soaked in some of the views from Rainbow Point and Sunset Point.  Cars are $35 but we picked up an $80 annual parks pass for admission into any of the National Park units for an entire year.  Seems like a decent value!

Bryce Canyon National Park was established 90 years ago and covers about 55 square miles.  Navigating it is easy since there’s just one main 18-mile-long, north-south road with a loop at the end.  We hiked 1.3 miles round trip on the Navajo Trail loop at Sunset Point before hitting up the restaurant inside the lodge for a delicious bite to eat.

The runners rocked their event, which started and ended in the foothills east of the small town of Hatch on Saturday.  The level of difficulty was pretty extreme, with a 7,000-foot elevation change over the course of the 32 miles, along with high temperatures, rocky or sandy footing, and windblown dust.  Our friends came in at 9 and 10 hours – exhausted but feeling accomplished.  We treated them to Diet Cokes on ice, just as they’d requested.

The small town vibe continued when we made friends with the owner of Cowboy Smokehouse back in Panguitch, who gave us a free order of bacon-wrapped sweet potatoes for our appetizer.  It tasted better than it sounds.

By Sunday morning, it was time to make the trek back home, so my friend and I headed out southbound on Highway 89 under a bright blue sky.  We stopped just once in Utah – for fuel in Kanab – but decided to lollygag a little at the Arizona/Utah state line in Page.  We happened to arrive at the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell just in time for a 10:30 a.m. tour (and it would only cost us $5 each).  Score!  I’ve always wanted to take a dam tour.  It was a dam good time.

For 45 minutes, we were part of a group of 15 people listening to a tour guide teach us about the dam and its history.  We got to ride in two elevators, down a total of over 700 feet to the base of the canyon where the Colorado River runs below.  The dam was completed in 1966 but the lake behind it, Lake Powell, took 16 years to fill up!  Today there are 8 turbines capable of generating 1.32 gigawatts of power.  When I read that on one of the signs, it made me think of Doc Brown’s quote in Back to the Future about needing “1.21 gigawatts.”  Great Scott!

My favorite part of the tour was learning that for 1 year only, traffic did flow over the dam itself.  I asked our tour guide about it because I could see the the faded remnants of a double-yellow line on top of the concrete.  She told us that for just 1 year (1978) traffic was directed across the dam, because construction was taking place on the adjacent bypass bridge.

For lunch, we hit up Fiesta Mexicana in Page, then worked our way to Flagstaff on Highway 89 and connected with Interstate 17 for the final 2 hours of downhill slide into the Phoenix Valley.  If only we could have brought some of the cooler temperatures back home with us!  The oven has been preheated and we are ready to bake here until October or so.  Gotta love it!

Thanks for coming along!

Glen Canyon Dam Tour

Here’s something new for the blog.  I have 3 readers who are selling cars and who contacted me about listing them here.  Does anyone have interest in these?  Let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the sellers.

Brandon’s 1990 Legend L coupe for sale

  • Automatic
  • 155,000 Miles
  • San Diego, CA
  • $ Make Offer

Matt’s 2003 CL-S for sale

  • 6-Speed Manual
  • 255,000 Miles
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • $4,300

Srikanth’s 1991 Legend L sedan for sale

  • Automatic
  • 151,000 Miles
  • Providence, RI
  • $ Make Offer

More trip pics – snow along Highway 148, in June

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Pond near the starting (and finish) line of the 50K race

Hanging with mom at the finish line

Sandy’s Audi Q5 got dirty while my Legend stayed clean back at the motel

Small town talk:  I had to ask someone what “chicken lights” are.

Blue Pine Motel parking

Hanging at Glen Canyon Dam.  Watch your step!

View looking toward the bridge over the Colorado River

That’s a lot of concrete

The dam’s 8 turbines

Not an elevator button you get to see every day

Have a dam good day!