I left LA with a full tank of fuel and was heading to Las Vegas for the Holley LS Fest West.
For those of you who don’t know, the Holley LS Fest is a celebration of the Chevy LS (and now LT) engine platforms.
No matter what kind of car you have, you’re welcome at the LS Fest as long as you’ve got an LS or LT engine under your hood.
The drive to Las Vegas from Los Angeles is a lot like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.
This time I got to wait in traffic for an extra 3-hours while a tractor-trailer burned to the ground.
But we finally made it to Las Vegas.
The next morning I met up with my buddy Hondo from Laidback.
I had never been to the LS Fest – and there’s a lot going on.
They’ve got drag racing, autocross, burn outs, dyno testing, drifting and a whole lot more.
And just like in Scottsdale at the Goodguys – there were a lot of the usual suspects there.
Hondo was busy racing his sweet 1970 Blazer so I started out to see the sights.
That’s when my phone rang – it was Terry Lysak – one of my photographer friends.
He’s the guy with the sweet little Ford F-100 with the custom front bumper.
Terry swung by and swooped me up in his golf cart.
It’s always nice when your friends have a golf cart at a car show.
And photographers always know the best spots for a photo-op!!
We got two great days with friends and cars at the LS Fest West.
You can check out some of the fun by clicking this link.
After the awards on Sunday we were on our own.
I fueled up The 55 at the closest 76 station and headed north towards the Valley of Fire State Park.
It had been on my list for years, but I had never been there.
I love how the road snakes around through the background.
Within the Valley of Fire State Park is the Valley of Fire Scenic Byway – a Nevada Scenic Byway.
It’s a great drive.
From the Valley of Fire State Park I went up Saint George, Utah to visit my friends at Speedtech Performance.
Then I was on my way to Zion National Park.
On the way into the southwest entrance of Zion I went through the town of Rockville.
This is the Historic Rockville Bridge
Once you go over the bridge, after a few miles, it takes you into the ghost-town of Grafton.
If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s in “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid” – the movie with Paul Newman & Robert Redford.
This is where they filmed the bicycle scene, and where Robert Redford reportedly fell in love with Utah.
Then I was on my way into Zion National Park and the newly Nationally designated Zion Scenic Byway.
Zion is amazing.
The drive alone is worth the price of admission.
I still haven’t hiked the Angel’s Landing though…
I am not a fan of the rain, but I’ve learned not to curse the storm, but to enjoy the rain.
Whatever Mother Nature throws at you, just keep on rolling with it and you’ll always come out with at least a good story.
From Zion I drove into Mount Carmel Junction and came across this gem.
The Golden Hills Motel.
Mount Carmel is the end of the Zion Scenic Byway, and Mount Carmel is where we turned north onto UT-89.
We followed UT-89 until we got to the intersection of UT-12 just before the town of Panguitch.
Utahs’ Scenic Byway 12 is a Federally designated National Scenic Byway and it’s also an “All-American Road.”
A National Scenic Byway is a road recognized by the United States Department of Transportation for one or more of six “intrinsic qualities” – archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic.
The most scenic byways are designated All-American Roads, which must meet two out of the six intrinsic qualities.
Scenic Byway 12 is Utah’s only All-American Road and it’s one of my favorites.
Just a few miles east of the intersection of 89 & 12, Scenic Byway 12 passes through two short, redrock arch tunnels in Red Canyon.
For 90 years these tunnels have served as the unofficial gateway to Bryce Canyon National Park.
The road was added to the state highway system in 1914, and required tunneling through two rock formations, creating the two short arch tunnels.
Ceremonies to open the newly authorized Bryce Canyon National Park, which was originally called Utah National Park, occurred in front of one of the arches in 1925.
A highway marker at the tunnels reads: “Ever since that momentous celebration the Red Canyon tunnels have served as a magical entrance to Red and Bryce canyons.”
I had never been to Bryce Canyon National Park in the rain.
But even in the rain, it’s still amazing.
I fueled up The 55 in Tropic, UT and continued on Scenic Byway 12.
My favorite part of Scenic Byway 12 is in between Escalante and Grover.
The road winds down into a white canyon and then takes you back up the other side on a narrow razors edge where you get great views of both sides of the canyon.
It’s really incredible.
Scenic Byway 12 ends in Torrey.
A few miles after Torrey is Capitol Reef National Park.
We drove the paved Scenic Drive Road until its end, where we picked up the unpaved Capitol Gorge Road.
Capitol Gorge Road continues for a little over two miles into the Capitol Gorge and ends abruptly at the start of the Golden Throne Trail.
The tiny parking area was completely full, so I couldn’t hike into see the pioneer registry with my own eyes.
I took it super slow driving into and out of Capitol Gorge.
It was an adventure – especially in the rain.
Driving out of Capitol Reef National Park I went through Hanksville and up to Green River where I stopped at Ray’s Tavern for a burger and a beer.
Ray’s has been around since 1943.
It’s family owned and operated and it’s super cool!!
Be sure to stop in for a burger the next time you’re in the area.
From Green River I made a little detour.
Instead of getting back on I-70 I made a left and took Old Highway 6 & 50.
There’s a sign that reads the road isn’t maintained and they’re not joking.
It wasn’t as bad as the dirt road into Capitol Gorge but it was rough so I took it slow.
And I got some gold.
Check out this old railroad bridge
Out in the middle of no where.
A few miles down the road
I lucked out being in the right place at the right time.
And I even got a little rainbow action.
I got back on I-70, headed East into Colorado and spent the night in Fruita.
The next morning I hit Colorado National Monument and Rim Rock Drive.
Rim Rock Drive is 23-miles of amazing scenery right through the heart of Colorado National Monument.
And with my America the Beautiful Park Pass – I got into all of the National Parks & Monuments for “free” on this trip.
If you’re planning on going to more than two National Parks or Monuments, get the pass.
It’ll save you some money – after your third one, you’re “in the money.”
This was my first time at Colorado National Monument.
It won’t be my last.
I left Colorado National Monument and fueled up in Palisade before heading off to drive the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway.
It’s not an All-American Road like Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, but it is a National Scenic Byway.
And like all National Scenic Byways, it’s well worth the drive.
I wasn’t able to drive all the way out to Land’s End because it was still closed for the winter…
The Grand Mesa Scenic Byway ends in Cedaredge, we continued on to Hotchkiss.
From Hotchkiss I started driving to the east entrance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
But my trip got cut short by a mysterious Colorado Flying Log.
As I was coming around a corner, a truck coming the other way threw out a log from its trailer.
I swerved hard right and avoided it as much as I could.
But it still got me.
The Flying Log smashed in my fender, wing-window and B-Pillar.
But somehow, thank goodness, it completely missed me.
I turned around and chased down the red truck.
I caught up to them in Hotchkiss.
They had no idea what had happened.
And luckily enough there was a witness who stopped and said he saw the whole thing.
My interior was covered in glass.
I had glass inside my shirt and on the inside of my sunglasses.
And I had only picked up The 55 not even 2-weeks before – 13 days ago…
After exchanging information and cleaning up some glass, I decided to head back to Pop’s place in Evergreen and save the Black Canyon of the Gunnison North Rim for another time.
I made it through Glenwood Canyon, over Vail Pass and I even took Loveland Pass instead of Eisenhower Tunnel up and over the Continental Divide.
At the bottom of Loveland Pass I stopped and called Pop to ask him what he was doing for dinner.
He told me he’d be ready for dinner by the time I got there.
I had just passed the Golden exit off of I-70 – it’s the left-exit after Idaho Springs – and made the turn going up Floyd Hill.
The 55 downshifted – and when it did – BOOM!!!
The passenger-side rear tire exploded!
I immediately pulled over to the side of the road to access the damage.
I’ve never seen a tire blow apart like this before.
But I am thrilled that Continental Tires stands behind their product.
They sent me two new Extreme Contact DWS06’s and I couldn’t be happier.
Well, to be honest, I’d be a lot happier if my window wasn’t broken and my B-Pillar bashed in.
I’m still waiting to get the estimate on the damage.
So until then, I slapped some duct tape on there to keep the rest of the glass from falling out.
I don’t want it falling out on my way to the C-10 Nationals.
The C-10 Nationals are at the Texas Motor Speedway May 14 & 15.
And even with the damage to The 55 – I’m driving there.
Then I’ll leave Sunday, May 16th and head to Salt Lake City for the Goodguys Great Salt Shootout May 21 – 23.
After the Great Salt Shootout I’ll make my way back to Colorado and hopefully some repairs.
All in all I had a great trip and saw some fantastic sights.
I’m lucky I didn’t get hurt by by the flying log, and I’m lucky the blow-out happened a mile before my exit.
I didn’t want my road-trip to end on the back of a AAA truck.
It could’ve been a whole lot worse.
Stay safe out there – the road can be unforgiving.
I’m Jeff Thisted, and I drive a 55
I left LA with a full tank of fuel and was heading to Las Vegas for the Holley LS Fest West.