Today turned out to be double the journey I had originally planned as I ended up cramming two day’s worth of driving into one. This will have the effect of shortening the overall trip home by one day, but also make for two very long hard back to back days.
But I’m not complaining! I’m driving an NSX across the country and seeing totally cool stuff!
I left Las Vegas this morning a little disappointed. I had hoped to get a nice shot of the car with the strip in the background, but there was just no good place to take the photo. You can’t stop on Las Vegas Boulevard because of traffic, and if the car is in the hotel valet area you can’t get much of a shot, so we just don’t have one…
So, I took off on my way to the Grand Canyon and the first stop was Hoover Dam. Now I’ve been to the dam in 2000, so I really only wanted to stop for the photo op, but I was really glad that I got to go before 9/11. They have instituted a lot of new security and it was impossible to get a shot of the car with the front side of the dam. Instead we get the back.
Notice how low the water level is in the lake! Very scary, and probably due to global warming.
The car continued to attract copious quantities of attention today. For example, while I was at the dam getting the shot 4 groups of people stopped to talk to me about it.
- A Japanese group of 4 men in suits stopped to admire and photograph it.
- 4 college aged guys in a Mustang GT came over to check it out.
- A traveling group of three middle-aged folks (I think from Mexico) wanted to talk all about it.
- One guy in his 60’s just stood there admiring it while observing and listening to all the other folks.
Once you clear the mountains 93 straightens out and begins a 50 mile gradual climb to about 4,000 feet. It’s long, straight and vacant. At one point I had a little group of sports cars that kind of piled up around me and we all got into impromptu formation and pushed it up to about 90mph for at least 30 miles.
When I hit I-40 east it really started to feel like Arizona. The landscape changed to long rolling hills sparsely covered in prairie grasses with small native brush – all surrounded by small mountains and mesas.
The roads I was on today were seriously remote. For much of the day I was without any cellular coverage at all, and you would drive for 20 or more miles at a stretch without seeing gas stations, restaurants or any other place to stop.
After about 5 hours (around 1pm) I made it to the Grand Canyon. I paid my $25! entrance fee and then proceeded to walk and drive all around the southern rim of the canyon. There is a reason this is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world…
When I first arrived at the rim, I had a problem because you couldn’t get your car anywhere near enough to get a photo. So, I drove around the park for about 20 minutes until I found this resort. I parked out front and ran in to ask the concierge where I might be able to get a shot, and after getting directions when I went outside there was a group of 10-15 people standing around the car. One lady asked me what it was, and then I had to give a mini-lecture to all these folks in their retirement years. They all seemed pretty affluent and one guy seemed very, very interested….
Incidentally, I never knew this but the top of the Grand Canyon sits at over 7,000 feet elevation! I had to take it easy up there (even though I walked a few miles) because the air is a bit thin and I ran out of breath very quickly. So, after spending about three hours there I decided that there wasn’t much else to do, because I wasn’t committed enough – and didn’t have the time – to hike anywhere.
With nothing else to do and the fact that the day was still young I decided to go ahead and make the drive on to Santa Fe, NM. The 6 hour drive begins with a 50 mile stint east on US-180 to Flagstaff, AZ. The only road I’ve ever been on that was this remote was coming back from Carlsbad Caverns into Texas.
There were signs that warned of deer crossing “Next 50 Miles”, there was no fencing, phone, or electric wires, and needless to say, no cell coverage, gas stations or food along the way. This road is really remote for about 40 miles.
Although it was getting dark, the drive on 180 was quite beautiful, taking me up through the mountains at over 8,000 feet and even winding around a magnificent snow capped mountain about half way to Flagstaff.
One final little shocking note about the car. Although I was driving up and down hundreds of miles of mountains today ranging from 2,000 – 8,000 feet, I averaged 30 miles per gallon! I kept the cruise control set at 82 for the vast majority of those miles (75mph speed limit) although sometimes I was pushing it up to 90 for long stretches (Probably ran 100 miles at that speed). Oh yeah, when you see the “curve ahead” signs that tell you to slow down to 50MPH, if you’re in an NSX you can ignore those. They are just plain silly.
Tomorrow I plan to sleep a little late and then hit some of the art shops in Santa Fe. After a few hours I’ll start the long journey back to Dallas and probably arrive early Wed. morning. Unless something really interesting happens tomorrow that warrants a post, this is likely the end of the saga to bring the NSX home.
(Go back to Part 1 or Part 2)