Bienvenidos a Ecuador!
I know well what you mean about the 35 from Quito to Canar and Ingapirca. Of course I continued on to Cuenca where I live but most of the trip was at night so I can't such much about the scenery. But I concur with your observation regarding quality of the highway. It is certainly no Interstate but it is every bit as good as US Highway standards for two lane major road. I chuckle at your comment regarding traffic in Guayaquil, it is pretty crazy to say the least. Hopefully you will be able to take in Salinas as well as Loja on your trip. Or the next one:)