Friday, April 21, 2006


The Story Behind Zzyzx Road & More...

I've decided to devulge this blog title's secret origin.

It all started on a trip down to San Diego from Provo, Utah.

I recently purchased a 1995 Mazda 626. I purchased the vehicle to provide a reliable way to install security systems for the summer. Little did I know, the transmission failed shortly after the acquistion. I took it to a transmission repair shop, called Action Transmission based in Provo. Great guys, they did their best.

Mazda 626 1995
After leaving in a convoy, my friends in another car, we reached St George. The car was getting great gas mileage, which was a pleasant surprise. Although I stopped in the carpark outside of Target. I settled "Lemon" on a slight downward slope. After eating and readying ourselves for hopefully the last leg of the journey, I punched it into reverse.

The reverse didn't work. The engine hissed, like a little Vespa scooter with less guts, in neutral. That was the first time the transmission let me know it was defintely going to hell without remorse.

Let's read another buyers review of the Mazda 626 1995 LX:
"I purchased a 1995 Mazda 626 a few years ago and it gave me nothing but trouble. The transmission was replaced 3 times before 25,000 miles, all three times it would lose drive until the engine hit about 3,000-3,500 rpm's then it would kick in and spin..."
Sound's so familiar....

Anyways, after some work pushing it out of the 5 degree downward slope, we finally get back on the freeway. We started heading to Las Vegas nervous as a 16-year-old on his first date.

Eventually we made it through Vegas, headed past Baker, and then the fated road...

I called Alan who were by now, out of sight.

"Pull over at the next exit," I requested.

"What's the matter?" Alan queried.

"My car is freaking me out now!"

"Ok, we're pulling off on Zzyzx Road..." Alan said.


"Z Z Y Z X Road"

"What the hell is that?!"

"It's the name of the road."

"No kidding... huh. Ok."

About 5 minutes later I crept on to the ZZYZX Road exit, pulling along side the 92 Saturn.

"My car is the biggest piece of crap - EVER!"

"Let's just keep plowing and see how far it makes."


We made it to San Diego at 3 a.m. (Yes, this was when Fenton was in town at the Hyatt), after not being able to contact Fenton, we left for Oceanside. The traffic on I-5 was gridlocked, with Lemon barely moving along. I was nervous about the five lanes, that could trap me in the middle lane, if the transmission died. Lemon almost broke down on an off-ramp after taking the wrong direction to head to Rancho Bernardo (we're I was to live). The off-ramp I got off on Del Mar Heights road which might have been the steepest road in San Diego. Not good for a failing transmission.

I turned around headed back down the I-5 getting off at Jacob Dekema Fwy, then exiting on Sorrento Valley Road which turned into Mira Mesa Blvd.... All with the far sighted goal to make it to Rancho Bernardo, which I thought was "somewhere near Mira Mesa."

After evading a meltdown on the busiest freeway in the United States (eg. The 5), I travelled along Mira Mesa Blvd during out of school rush. I went under the I-15, and thought to myself, I know the I-15 goes to Ranch Bernardo... A guy cut me off, so I couldn't get on the on-ramp, then I was forced along the road about 1/4 of a mile to Scripps Ranch Blvd.

Lemon was fully struggling now, and barely had power to even go up a 5 degree incline. It went around the corner (Scripps Ranch Blvd) and died next to a corner strip mall.

I know what you're thinking and YES. The same suburb that the Top Gun Naval base is at.

The off-ramp, till break down, a TRUE miracle...

Hi, my name is Steve Reiss. I am a writer/photographer based in Orange County, CA. I write and post at and

I am working on a self-funded project about what I call the "Zzyzx Phenomena" (i.e., all things Zzyzx).

I am looking for fellow desert explorers interested in contributing to this project.

Contributions would be short essays describing what Zzyzx means to you, how you developed an interest in Zzyzx, or any other Zzyzx anecdotes. Also, interesting photos taken in the Zzyzx area are also welcome. Please also tell me your city and state. Let's see from how far away Zzyzx is known.

Note that any submissions shall be considered to include your approval of my printing or publishing your submission, in whole or part, with (i.e., name, city/state) or without (i.e., "anonymous") attribution, without compensation, and in any form. If you want to limit your submission to "anonymous" attribution, please let me know.

Contributions should be sent to

See you roaming the desert,
Steve Reiss
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