Utah Scenic Byway 12, Goodguys Del Mar, Madonna’s of the Trail and a Broken Valve Spring.

I left Colorado and headed west to the Goodguys Pacific Coast Autocross Shootout in Del Mar, CA.
Instead of driving Interstate 70 again, I decided to take another route.
From Denver I took 285 west towards Buena Vista.
I’m gonna drive up and over Cottonwood Pass – now the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in North America at 12,126 feet above sea level.
Cottonwood Pass was paved in 2019 and took the title of: “The highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in North America.”
Up until then it was Independence Pass – 12,095

Independence Pass is in between Leadville and Aspen.
Now it’s Number 2.
The 3rd highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in North America is Loveland Pass – 11,990.

We had #2 & #3 now we needed #1.
We had also driven up and over the highest continuously paved road in North America:
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park – 12,183.

We’ve driven up to the summit of Pikes Peak – 14,115.

And we’ve driven up to the top of the highest paved road in North America:
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway – 14,130

Now we were driving up and over the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in North America – Cottonwood Pass – 12,126.

I think that’s some pretty good stuff for a 67 year old car.
From Cottonwood Pass we continued on to Crested Butte.
The aspens were changing colors and I had heard that Kebler Pass had the largest aspen groves in the world, so I got on Gunnison County Road 12 and headed for Kebler Pass.
The aspens were indeed full of gold – it was amazing!!
Gunnison County Road 12 was also amazing – amazingly bad.
I didn’t realize that Gunnison County Road 12 up and over Kebler Pass is 31 miles of dirt road.
Oh yeah… about three miles of it are paved off and on.
The 55 took a beating.
But… it was built to be driven!
Here’s a video of my drive over the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in North America and Kebler Pass.
When Gunnison County Road 12 ended at a “T” in the road, we took a left onto the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway and drove through Paonia, Hotchkiss and Delta where we hopped on Highway 50.
In Grand Junction we fueled up and continued west to Green River where we spent the night at the sleepy Hollow Motel.

The next morning after fueling up again we took Interstate 70 west.
At exit 149 we got on Utah State Route 24 and headed south to Hanksville.
We passed Goblin Valley State Park and continued on 24 past Hanksville to Capitol Reef National Park where I bought another America the Beautiful park pass.

They’re $80.
So if you go to three National Parks you’re in the money.
I’ve been to 31 of the 63 National Parks and I get an America the Beautiful park pass every year.
Just before the town of Torrey we made a left onto Utah Scenic Byway 12 – Utah’s only All-American Road.
Utah Scenic Byway 12 is one of my favorite drives ever.
It’s got beautiful scenery, breathtaking views, and it’s a great driving road.
My favorite part is this ridge…
Picture yourself driving down a two-lane blacktop, through a green forrest when all of a sudden the trees on the left disappear to reveal an amazing white canyon.
Then the trees reappear on the left and disappear on the right to reveal another amazing white canyon.
The trees surround you once again.
Then…
The trees on both sides disappear to reveal your driving on a narrow ridge surrounded by a miniature white Grand Canyon.
You continue to drive on the exposed razors-edge while the road twists and turns and before you know it you’re headed down into the canyon.
It’s an amazing drive!!
Here’s a link to a video I took if you’re interested – Utah Scenic Byway 12 – an All-American Road
While we were there we drove through Bryce Canyon National Park.

Just before the end of Utah Scenic Byway 12 are the Red Canyon Arches.

They’re over 100 years old and are known as the “Gateway to Bryce Canyon.”

Utah Scenic Byway 12 ends at UT 89 just south of Panguitch.
From there I took 89 south towards Zion National Park.
At Mt. Carmel Junction I made a right and got on UT Highway 9 – the Zion Scenic Byway – Utah’s newest National Scenic Byway.
Here’s a video I made of my drive through the Zion Scenic Byway.
With Zion complete – I got three National Parks in one day on my brand new America the Beautiful National Parks Pass so I’m already in the money!
From Zion I drove straight to the Gold Coast in Las Vegas for some Ping Pang Pong goodness.
One order of Potstickers, one order of Kung Pao Chicken, two Sapporos and I’ll be asleep in 45 minutes.
The next morning was cold and so I hit the road early.
I made it to Huntington Beach in time for The Great Wesley Allison to grab this shot of The 55.

Amazing.
It’s the new screen saver on my computer.
From Huntington Beach I drove south for the Goodguys Pacific Coast Autocross Shootout in Del Mar.
You know I like wagons.
Pat Sheely showed up in his new bad-ass Falcon station wagon.

It’s a 2017 Ford GT350 with a purple Ford Falcon station wagon body on it.
This thing rips and the 5.0 Voodoo engine sounds amazing!!
And… Check out the car in the background – it’s Frankie Trutanic’s nasty Buick Regal.
Yeah… a Buick Regal.
It’s got a 427 Dart block with a Whipple supercharger up top, dry-sump lubrication, Speedtech Performance suspension and a sequential gear-box.
And Frankie drives it like a rented mule!!
It’s always fun at the Goodguys autocross!

Here’s the Goodguys Pacific Coast Autocross Shootout video.
After Del Mar I drove over to Upland and my 10th Madonna of the Trail.

It’s right on the National Old Trails Road / Route 66 and Euclid Blvd. hidden in plain sight on the center island.
I should’ve stopped by the Cucamonga Service Station but I knew it wasn’t open and I couldn’t get a picture so I hopped on the 210 and headed east towards Interstate 15.
I boogied down Interstate 15 non-stop all the way to Kingman, AZ.
But when I pulled off the Interstate I could tell immediately The 55 wasn’t running right.
So instead of taking pictures or video I parked and had pizza and beer at the Rickety Cricket.
Really good pizza and cold, tasty beer.
You know how sometimes when your cars not running right if you shut it off and start it up again the problem goes away?
Well that didn’t happen.
The next morning I called around and someone referred me to Holden’s Auto Service.
These guys are awesome!!
They took me right in, offered me an Egg McMuffin and after I explained to them what was going on they put The 55 up on a lift.
After a few minutes they showed me this:

A broken valve-spring.
Great…
No one in Kingman had a valve-spring for it but Jayson the mechanic was rebuilding his Camaro’s LS3 at home and had a set so he texted his wife to bring them in for me.
He replaced my broken valve-spring with one of his own just to get me on my way back home.
How awesome is that?!?
There are still good, honest people in this world.
Businesses like this restore my faith in humanity.
Once I got back out on the road I drove to Flagstaff where I stopped for fuel and then pressed on to Albuquerque where I saw my 11th Madonna of the Trail.

There are 12 Madonna’s of the Trail along the National Old Trails Road.
The only one I haven’t been to is the one in Bethesda, Maryland.
In my opinion that one belongs in Cumberland, Maryland not Bethesda, because the National Old Trails Road used to be called the Cumberland Road because it started in Cumberland.
Makes sense right?
Anyways – here’s my The Madonnas of the Trail in CA & NM video.
From Albuquerque I drove back to Colorado and replaced all of the valve-springs just to be safe.
Now I’ve got 15 back-up valve springs in the back of The 55… just in case.
Now we’ve gotta ready for the last road-trip of the season.
We’ll be going from Colorado to SEMA to the Goodguys Autumn Get-Together in Pleasanton, CA to the Goodguys season finale in Scottsdale, AZ.
Thanks for coming along for the ride with me in The 55.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
I’m looking forward to seeing you out on the road!!
#idrivea55




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