Palm Springs, California: Palms to Pines Scenic Byway

Posted in California, ILX, Road Trip on October 26, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,659

531659

Odometer (ILX):  101,384

101384

Trip Distance:  660 Miles

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Life begins at 100,000 miles, right?  Having a now-6-figure mileage readout on the ILX doesn’t change the fact that I still need to get out of town once in awhile.

Half the fun of owning a unique automobile is interacting with other folks who drive the same make and model.  For 10 years now, I’ve attended the annual National Acura Legend Meet which has been held in various cities across America each summer and in the process, I’ve made valuable friendships that endure longer than our Legends ever will.  Now that I’m an Acura NSX owner, I’m also starting to get involved with a similar program called NSXPO.  Last week, it was announced that NSXPO 2015 will be hosted in Palm Springs, California.

nsxpo

nsxpo1

nsxpo2

I was approached by the Director for the 2015 NSXPO about serving as drive coordinator – in other words, about being the guy in charge of the cruise route.  Naturally, if it has anything to do with planning road trips, it’s a good fit for me, so I happily obliged.  In order to scout out the route I’m proposing for NSXPO, I set aside this weekend to do a mock drive.  A friend who’s local to the Palm Springs area, Scott, gave me the idea of California State Route 74 – also known as the “Palms to Pines” Scenic Byway.  The route dates all the way back to 1934 and connects Palm Springs with Banning via a series of thrilling mountain passes and refreshing cooler temperatures.

p2p_sign

My friend Justin and I departed from the Phoenix area on Friday afternoon, just in time to sit in seemingly endless bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 10 westbound out of town.  Once we’d finally freed ourselves from that mess, it was smooth sailing all the way out to our first fuel stop in Palm Desert.

Our gracious hosts Scott & Sandy allowed us the use of a condominium near their home where we checked in prior to exploring the night life of the desert resort city.  The main event came the following day.  After grabbing drinks & breakfast grub at “Koffi” on Palm Canyon Drive, we picked up Scott in the ILX and headed for the hills of the San Bernardino National Forest on Highway 74.

ilx_on_hwy_74

I knew the second that I saw a sign with “Avoid Overheating:  Turn Off A/C Next 11 Miles,” this road was going to get technical and steep very quickly.  To no surprise, the grade required frequent downshifts to 3rd gear as I pointed the ILX through the curves at 45-55 miles per hour and the road wound itself into a knot ahead of us.  I took the opportunity to take a break at a pullout so that we could do a driver swap and briefly admire the view.

I nominated Scott to take some time behind the wheel so that I could better focus on the surroundings and take a few pictures.  The view was incredible.  Soon, we had ascended from an elevation of 440 feet all the way up to about 5,000 feet.  Temperatures had fallen at least 15 degrees, and the landscape had transitioned from desert flora to oak and pine trees.

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True to expectation, I did get a little motion sick as a passenger on the twisty road and I made every effort to overcome that by focusing intently on the vehicle ahead of us as well as pointing an A/C vent directly at my face so I could get some fresh air.  It helped a lot.   We rolled past a water storage reservoir called Hemet Lake to our left, and then soon took a right on Highway 243 which would lead us back to Interstate 10 and complete our loop.

Just 5 miles up the road, we entered the town of Idyllwild which is home to about 4,000 people and is nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains.  This was a perfect chance to get out of the car and wander around in the perfect 72-degree temperatures. We found some open-air dining at a restaurant called Jo’An’s.  The mozzarella sticks, avocado burger, and a Sprite helped settle my stomach greatly.

view

It was time for me to again take the wheel, so we saddled back up and made our way to the northwest via curvy Highway 243.  A number of scenic lookouts gave us the opportunity to enjoy the views of the valley below.  There were dozens of switchbacks as the road stepped down the mountainside and back toward sea level.  I left the ILX in 3rd & 4th gear most of the time to keep from riding the brakes too much.  By the time we arrived back in civilization in the city of Banning, Justin and I (and our stomachs) were both grateful for straight roads.  We did make just one more important stop on the way back to Palm Springs:  Cabazon, right off Interstate 10.

mr_rex_cabazon

The two gigantic dinosaurs at Cabazon are named Mr. Rex and Ms. Dinny.  Created in the 1960’s by portrait artist Claude Bell, these 100- and 150-ton creations have greeted visitors for decades.  “Dinny” the Apatosaurus was created first and stands 45 feet tall.  The T-Rex was built later.  It used to have a slide built into its tail, but that was later filled with concrete.  Claude at one time had wanted to make the dinosaurs’ eyes glow at night and have fire coming from their mouths, but never got around to adding that enhancement before he passed away in 1988.  Today, there’s a small gift shop and museum inside Dinny.

We had a great time exploring Palms to Pines and are extremely grateful to Scott and Sandy for showing us around!  Here are the rest of our pics.

Driving into the sunset on I-10.  Justin, by the way, took the wheel for this stretch.  I taught him how to drive a stick shift just this week!  The ILX is a super easy car to learn on thanks to its light clutch and its hill-holding feature.

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Golf course view from Scott’s backyard in Palm Springs.

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Getting ready to hit the road, Jack.  And don’tcha come back.

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Highway 111 heading toward its junction with Highway 74.

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After ascending a few of the twisties, a scenic lookout gave us an overview of the valley.

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Twisty road below.

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Heading on upward.

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Roadside cafe in Paradise Valley along Highway 74 is a popular destination for motorcyclists.

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Junction with Highway 243, just 5 miles from Idyllwild.

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The curves never stop around here.

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This town was voted “LA’s Best Mountain Getaway.”

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Street parking is sparse but we found a spot to stash the ILX while we walked around.

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Check it out:  Polished Metal Metallic Acura ILX on the far right; my car on the far left.

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Western wear store.

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Dining “al fresco” in the perfect temperatures at Jo’An’s BBQ.

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Lots of people enjoying the outdoors.

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Back on the road again for the descent into Banning.

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Scenic viewpoint parking.

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Short hike to the overlook.

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Smoky the Bear had a few words to say.

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Departing San Bernardino National Forest on Highway 243.

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Slippery when wet.

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Back into the desert we go.

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“Dinny” the 45-foot-tall dinosaur at Cabazon off Interstate 10.

dinny

Thanks for coming along as always!

2014 Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year Competition

Posted in Arizona, Vehicle Reviews on October 20, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,624

531624

Odometer (ILX):  100,290

100290

Ever seen one of these?

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I hadn’t, either.  You’re looking at the brand new 2015 Jeep Renegade: known as a “cute brute” for its compact size, yet capable off-road versatility.  It will be going on sale next spring, but I got a special first-look last Friday at a kick-off event for this year’s Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year program in Chandler, Arizona.  Let’s test-drive some new cars!

Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year was launched in Fall 2004 as a small awards program centered around bringing athletes and automobiles together.  Since then, it’s evolved into an event that attracts over 100 athletes, around 30 vehicles, and even celebrity judges like retired NFL players.  The idea behind the event is that “active” people – runners, bikers, hikers, sports players – require more from their vehicles than the everyday customer.  How well does the vehicle accommodate gear?  That is the type of question used in the evaluations.  The program was held at the Chandler campus of Local Motors, a domestic automaker known for its go-anywhere Rally Fighter automobile.

green_judging

Prior write-ups from my ALV participation are here:

I captained a team of 10 people who were assigned to evaluate the “Green” category of vehicles.  The three vehicles which we cast ballots on were the following:

  • Kia Soul EV
  • Toyota Prius Plug-In
  • Volkswagen Golf TDI

green

Before our test-drives got started, a representative from each of the automakers had the chance to conduct a brief walkaround highlighting the features of their vehicle.  Jessica Peraza representated Toyota, Darryll Harrison came from VW, and James Hope from Kia.  Each of the vehicles in our group represented a very unique foray into alternative fuel industry.

Kia Soul EV

The Soul, not surprisingly, delivers instantaneous torque thanks to its all-electric powertrain.  A 600-pound battery is located in the floorboard of the vehicle, keeping its center of gravity low and helping with handling.  For around $35k, the Soul offers up a 95-mile range when equipped with a full battery charge.  I found some of its features pretty clever, including the fact that there’s a button on the instrument panel for “DRIVER ONLY” which optimizes climate control efficiency when there’s only one occupant in the vehicle.

Toyota Prius

The Prius is a fleet favorite in the Phoenix area, as there are hundreds zooming around the streets at any given time – finished in bright neon green and with Discount Cab labeling all around.  I’ll confess right here and now:  I’ve always “judged” the Prius (and those who drive them).  The car hits its target spot-on, though.  For anyone needing the ultimate in efficiency with plenty of cargo space, its name is the first that comes to many of our minds.  I mashed the accelerator on the Interstate 10 onramp and found power to be surprisingly acceptable.  Around-town, the car simply glides around effortlessly.  The Plug-In model that we tested will run about 10 miles on electric-only before the gas engine kicks in.  Pretty slick!

Volkswagen Golf  (Winner)

The Golf TDI, which won the category, was the definite crowd pleaser.  It offered mpg in the 40’s while still exhibiting some fun-to-drive dynamics.  The model we tested was the $27k “SE” trim level with a 6-speed manual transmission.  Similar to the family of Jettas that I drove recently at a PAPA event, the Golf further shows just how far diesel power has evolved in terms of efficiency and everyday applications.  The power comes on quickly in the low-RPM range, and the Golf handles like a much sportier car, with plenty of grip in the corners.

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Among the 30-someodd other vehicles that I had the opportunity to drive were the Cadillac CTS V-Sport and the Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD.  The Cadillac, at 420 horsepower from its twin-turbo motor, was an absolute riot to drive.  And driving the TLX, of course, made me feel right at home.  It’s dignified when you want it to be, and it’s an engaging fun-to-drive car when the mood dictates, too.  I’ll be reviewing a TLX for a full week in the near future and I’ll share more detailed driving impressions at that time.  The well-loved Acura MDX came out for competition, too.

Here’s a photo album on Facebook with over 100 pictures from our day’s fun.

Urban Category

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Best Value On-Road Category

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Luxury On-Road Category

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Luxury Family Category

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Best Value Family Category

family

Off Road Categories

off_road

ALV Co-Founder Nina Russin kicks things off with a welcome on Saturday morning.

nina_presentation

Athletes take a break from the judging to sit in the shade and tally their ballots.

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Jack, Tyson, Paul.  You might recognize these troublemakers from previous Drive to Five road trips.

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Paul getting settled into the Prius.  It’s a little different driving experience than his 2013 Acura TL SH-AWD.

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GM representative Craig Eppling rode along with me during my spirited test-drive of the powerful Cadillac CTS.

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Thanks for joining for the fun!

ilx_sunset

2013 Acura ILX 2.4: 100,000 Miles Achieved

Posted in ILX, Milestones on October 16, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,618

531618

Odometer (ILX):  100,025

100025

ilx_100k_insta

Monument Valley, Utah

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History Lesson

I’d already been driving my 1994 Acura Legend for 8 years when I started this blog in March, 2011.  I had 467,000 miles on my car and was determined to push it to half a million.  Acura took note of my enthusiasm, and we got in touch with one another.  Amid fanfare and fun, we celebrated the 500,000 milestone together on November 4, 2011 at headquarters in Torrance, California.  Over the next few months, Acura engaged me in part of its launch campaign for an all-new entry model to the lineup called the ILX.  I was privileged to meet the design teams, experience the car before it saw the public eye, and even travel to the assembly plant for an exclusive tour.

The capstone to my involvement with the ILX launch happened when a car that I’d ordered to my specifications was delivered to a local dealership in Tempe, Arizona in early June 2012 and I was presented the key.  The agreement at the time was that I’d blog about the car here, on my site, for a year.  And that I did.  I rolled around on a California license plate with a Honda-owned “fleet” car for over a year.  On November 22, 2013, Acura was sufficiently satisfied with my efforts and had sent me the title to the car.  I registered it in my name on that day, and it already had over 60,000 miles on it at the time.  The rest is history.  I’ve continued daily driving my little ILX ever since.  And, just a little over 28 months after getting the key, I rolled 100,000 miles on the odometer yesterday.

Burr Trail, Utah

burr

Now, about my car itself.  The very first 2013 Acura ILX rolled off the assembly line at Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana assembly plant on April 23, 2012.  I was there that day.  That first ILX, by the way, was a Fathom Blue Pearl 6-speed manual.  My ILX was built a couple of weeks later, in May 2012 according to its VIN sticker in the driver’s door jamb.  It is production #000082, which means it was the 82nd (manual, 6-speed) ILX produced.  If we want to get into even greater detail, it was the 6th “Silver Moon Metallic” ILX 2.4 built.

Grand Coulee Dam, Washington

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My car had a base price of $30,095, but it’s equipped with $5,140.28 in dealership add-ons.  These are as-installed prices from Acura of Tempe, where I got the car, per a recent quote list.

  • All Season Floor Mats:  $147.00
  • Illuminated Door Sill Trim:  $499.00
  • First Aid Kit:  $30.14
  • Trunk Tray:  $123.00
  • 17 Inch Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels:  $1,732.00
  • Decklid Spoiler:  $519.00
  • Front, Side, & Rear Underbody Spoilers:  $1,910.00
  • Rear Bumper Applique:  $101.00
  • Wheel Locks:  $79.28

I’ve since added $885 worth of window tint & 3M Clear Bra, a moonroof visor for $108, and chrome grille inserts specific to the Hybrid model for $67.

I took delivery of the car when Sr. Manager of Digital Marketing, John Watts, handed me the key on June 12, 2012.  The car had 16 miles on the odometer.  Since then, we’ve had quite the wild ride.  I’ll share here just a few of the highlights over the last 100,000 miles.

Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

yellowstone_lake

100,000 Mile Highlights

 Highest & Lowest Elevation Paved Roads in North America

  • Mount Evans, west of Denver, Colorado (14,130 feet) – July 2013
  • Badwater Basin, in Death Valley National Park, California (282 feet below sea level) – July 2014

Yuma, Arizona

yuma_church

National Parks

Kayenta, Arizona

kayenta

Auto Shows

  • Los Angeles International, Los Angeles, California – November 2012 & 2013
  • SEMA, Las Vegas, Nevada – November 2012 & 2013

Inglewood, California

randys_donuts

Random Destinations Large & Small

Carefree, Arizona

carefree_sundial

Memorable Road Trips

  • Winding down Lombard Street, the crookedest street in America, San Francisco – August 2012
  • Driving on the high-speed oval at Nissan’s proving ground in Stanfield, Arizona – September 2012
  • Visiting the ghost towns of Modena and Cisco, Utah – December 2012, February 2013
  • Getting sandblasted at White Sands National Monument in Las Cruces, NM – March 2013
  • Roaming around a copper mining town called “Bagdad, Arizona” – March 2013
  • Getting stuck in the sand at Four Corners National Monument – May 2013
  • Cruising Historic Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman, Arizona – May 2013
  • Exploring the Million Dollar Highway, Colorado Route 550 from Durango to Silverton – May 2013
  • Off-roading on the Apache Trail to Roosevelt Lake, Arizona – June 2013
  • Navigating sandstone landscapes in rural Utah on Hell’s Backbone Road – August 2013
  • Driving Grandma to a family reunion in Spokane, Washington – August 2013
  • Road tripping to Colossal Cave in Tucson, Arizona – September 2013
  • Carving Coronado Trail’s 400+ curves within 100 miles, Arizona – October 2013
  • Hitching a train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale, Arizona – December 2013
  • Visiting the Back to the Future House, Roslyndale, California – March 2014
  • Taking a 3-Acura tandem road trip to Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona – April 2014
  • Traveling 358 miles just to see a roadside attraction called “The Thing” – May 2014
  • Enjoying a father-son road trip on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming – June 2014
  • Time traveling to Tombstone, Arizona in the Wild West – September 2014
  • 3 Castle Visits:  Mystery Castle, Tovrea Castle, and Montezuma’s Castle

White Sands, New Mexico

white_sands

Media Attention

Beartooth Pass, Wyoming/Montana

bears_tooth

 

U.S. States Visited (19 of 50)

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Key Milestone Dates & Locations

  • 10,000 Miles:  Sylmar, California  (8/10/12)
  • 25,000 Miles:  Sedona, Arizona  (1/13/13)
  • 50,000 Miles:  Baker City, Oregon  (8/15/13)
  • 75,000 Miles:  Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona  (4/20/14)
  • 100,000 Miles:  Fort McDowell, Arizona (10/15/14)

San Francisco, California

lombard

Maintenance History

Total Maintenance Cost:  $2,603.31

Key Notes:

  • 15 Oil & Filter Changes (0W20 Oil)
  • 4 Engine Air Filter Replacements
  • 1 Recall (5,392 Miles)
  • 2 Sets of Michelin Pilot MXM4 Tires  (52,327 Miles)
  • 1 Rear Brake Pad Replacement  (96,461 Miles)

Detailed History as Follows (Spreadsheet Screen Capture):

2013_ILX_100k_Maintenance_History

Note that my only non-“routine” maintenance was replacement of a passenger side fog light housing for $120 at around 72,000 miles.  The glass lenses — as well as the foglights’ placement low in the front bumper — make them highly susceptible to cracking.

Drive to Five Milestones

I’ve had so much fun with this website over the years.  Since I started the blog in March 2011, I have posted more than 400 times.  There have been 250,000 views worldwide and around 3,300 comments.  It’s fitting, too, that the blog is on track to hit 100,000 views in the year 2014 alone.  Check out my YouTube Channel for videos of many of my milestones & drives.  I also actively post on Facebook and Instagram.

Modena, Utah

modena_ut_hotel

What’s Next?

It’s business as usual around here for the foreseeable future.  I may scale back the road tripping just a bit to focus on things at home.  Anyone who’s seen the towering weeds in my backyard knows that I’ve been out of town far too much to keep up with my chores.  I’m not planning on making any automotive changes, but I’ll continue to take you along for my adventures and bring you periodic “new car” reviews as vehicles become available in the Phoenix-based press fleet.

Thanks for being a part of the journey!

Four Corners

stuck

Here’s a 100,000 mile roll-over video for your viewing pleasure, as well as a detailed walkaround of my car.  It’s 10 minutes long.

Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car Magazine: November 2014 Feature

Posted in Blog, Legend on October 14, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,614

531614

Odometer (ILX):  99,809

99809

My pride and joy just made the cover of a magazine, and I’m absolutely thrilled.  Some of you may remember when I met up with photographer Jeff Koch from Hemmings earlier this year.  Well, the fruits of Jeff’s labors – and those of his colleague Mark McCourt who put together the written copy – came together in a feature story for the November 2014 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.

My 1994 Acura Legend coupe was featured along with two other cars:  A 1972 Citroen SM and 1984 Volkswagen GTI.  Each vehicle has achieved impressive mileage thanks to diligent care & maintenance over the years.

Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car launched in 2005 with a focus on collector cars built outside the U.S.  Its ‘parent’ publication, Hemmings Motor News, has been around since the mid-1950’s and is widely considered to be one of the core magazines of the collector car industry.  It sells 215,000 copies per month.  Many thanks to Jeff and to Mark for the opportunity to participate in such a cool story.  More here, too, at this Hemmings blog entry.

EDIT 10/15/14:  Per Hemmings policy, I’ve removed the full-resolution versions of the article.  I’m not allowed to post those until the current issue is off the newsstands.  So, check back here in about a month and I’ll have them re-loaded.  For now, feel free to grab a copy at your local magazine retailer or online at the Hemmings website:)

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Cover – Check out the Legend thumbnail pic!

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Page 1

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Page 2

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Page 3

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Page 4

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Cave Creek, Arizona: Sears Kay Ruin Hike & Big Earl’s Greasy Eats

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, ILX, Road Trip on October 12, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,609

531609

Odometer (ILX):  99,625

99625

Trip Distance:  81 Miles

map

Let’s get the heck out of town!  In the matter of a short 3-hour jaunt today, my friends and I squoze (squeezed?) in a scenic drive, a hike, and some great grub.  I’d say this Sunday funday got off to a really nice start.  This morning, my friend Jack, Ian, and Brian stopped by to ride as passengers in the ILX as we headed to the hills northeast of Phoenix, Arizona.  We made our way northbound on Loop 101 and Pima Rd, followed by a turn down Cave Creek Road toward its dirt road terminus.  Our first stop included a history lesson.

sears_kay_sign_2

Sears Kay Ruin has a self-guided hike that we stopped to get a closer look at.  Historians believe this site was occupied between 1050 and 1200 AD by the native Hohokam people.  The place gets its name from a rancher who occupied the area in 1887.  The site at one time was elaborate with 40 rooms or more, but today the walls are weathered and worn down to just a couple of feet high.  From the parking area, the one-mile loop was steep at times but not overly strenuous.  The 360-degree views were worth every drop of sweat.

brian_jack

After the hike, we headed out in the ILX toward the end of the pavement on Cave Creek Road.  The twisties got a little more intense but the pavement was fresh so conditions were right for having a little bit of cornering fun.  The ILX definitely handles differently when I’ve got 3 passengers as opposed to when it’s just me.  I actually prefer how “planted” it feels when there’s a little more weight in the car.

ilx_front

When I see a sign that says “Pavement Ends,” it’s usually more an invitation than a warning.  It only encourages me to keep pressing onward to see what might lie around the next bend.  Further up the dirt road lies Seven Springs Campground was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 and has 25 different sites.  It’s 9 miles 0f narrow gravel road with blind curves at times, but you can bet I’ll be going back to explore its entirety soon.

earls_sign

Our last stop was at a lunch destination with a very odd name:  Big Earl’s Greasy Eats started out as a 1935 Standard Oil gas station in Phoenix but was moved in the 1950’s to its current location in Carefree, Arizona.  Since 2002, it’s operated as a restaurant.  The menu consisted of standard diner-type fare, and I opted for the mushroom & Swiss hamburger accompanied by some sweet potato fries.  All in all, a perfect mini adventure and a nice escape with friends.  Thanks for joining us for the drive!

Parking at Sears Kay trailhead

sears_kay_parking

Information on the Sears Kay history

sears_kay_sign

Some of the ruins.  These have been reinforced over the years.

ruins

Ian, Brian, Tyson

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Jack posted this snazzy pic of me behind the wheel.  Follow him on Instagram!

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Here’s a look at Cave Creek Road, just prior to where it turns to dirt at the north end.

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Menu at Big Earl’s

earls_menu

Parking at Big Earl’s

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Tyson and Jack enjoying the weather in Cave Creek, Arizona

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Patio at Big Earl’s

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Ian strutting his stuff at Big Earl’s

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RNR Auto Blog Review: 1994 Legend Coupe & Sedan

Posted in Blog, Legend on October 8, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,579

531579

Odometer (ILX):  99,300

99300

My buddy Ruben’s at it again!

Take a drive on over to RNR Automotive Blog and check out his recent review & photos of my 1994 Acura Legends.

Link here

This is the third in a series of reviews Ruben has done on my cars:

Thanks again Ruben for the feature!

ruben_legends_pic

Just for kicks today:

You all know how much I love re-creating old pics — as in, staging a shot that’s in the same location, with the same background, with as many of the same conditions as possible.  On my way to Long Beach for JCCS a couple of weeks ago, I stopped in Desert Center for a picture of the ILX at this run-down gas station.

Two days later, my friend Jack happened to be traveling along that same stretch of road and he copied my picture by parking his red 2002 Lexus IS300 in the same spot.  Ha!  Nicely done, Jack.

desert_center_comparison

Southern Utah Trip: 2014 St. George Marathon

Posted in ILX, Road Trip, Utah on October 6, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,574

531574

Odometer (ILX):  99,001

99001

Trip Distance:  878.2 miles

phx_sgu

I traveled around 878 miles this weekend, but 26.2 of those were more painful than all the rest.  For those miles, I traveled by foot.  Well, by New Balance running shoe anyway.  It’s tradition each October to spend a weekend in my hometown and participate in the St. George Marathon which travels along State Route 18 and beautiful Snow Canyon State Park.  Here are write-ups on the previous trips to the St. George Marathons I’ve blogged about.

It seems that with each passing year, my training gets less and less involved, and that definitely held true for the 2014 event.  Having run only a maximum of 6 miles at a time since January, I was poorly prepared for what was to come.

On Saturday morning, a delayed race start (7:00 a.m. instead of 6:45) meant it would be a little warmer on the course for all of us.  The heat, as it turned out, was what really drained my energy.  I had a strong start, but by mile 7 I’d crossed into new distance territory and my body didn’t like it one bit.  My mom blew past me at mile 8, just before we had to tackle this huge hill (she’s pictured in blue shorts here).  I was amazed that we’d even seen each other, considering the fact that we hadn’t started together and there were 7,998 other registered participants!

mom_veyo

At mile 10, I could tell I was overheating and dehydrated.  I took advantage of a downhill at mile 14 to let gravity do some work for me, but the road quickly again leveled out and I told myself I’d never do this again.  A fitting song came on my playlist just then:  “Run, Run, Run” by Vicci Martinez.

It was around mile 16 when I slowed to a walk because I could tell there was a blister on my left foot.  I needed to get my mind off the race for a minute, so I turned my phone off “airplane mode” and checked text messages and emails while I walked.  I’m pretty sure I was the only person on the course reading his monthly HOA newsletter at that moment in time.  An aid station up ahead called to me like an oasis in the desert, and I downed 3 cups of Gatorade and half an orange when I got there.  That gave me enough fuel to pick up the pace again just a bit.

snow_canyon

My grandma was sitting alongside the road at mile 24 in the same place she’s been every year.  She’s definitely my most dedicated fan, and she’d gone to the effort of writing up a poem on posterboard to provide me (and my mom) some motivation.  The last couple miles of the race took us winding through central St. George, with lots of crowd support and fanfare as we neared the finish.  I saved a little energy for one last dash during the last couple of blocks, then came to a stop and felt the extreme sense of relief in knowing that I’d finished.  My cousin Nicki, who’d long-since finished the race, caught my finish on video.  My bright orange shirt was pretty easy to spot.

It wasn’t the ice cream sandwich, the Texas Roadhouse rolls, or the yogurt that I most enjoyed in the fenced-off runner recovery area after the race.  It was the chocolate milk, and I chugged a few cups of it in delight. I ended up with a 4 hour, 43 minute finish time.  This was over 20 minutes slower than my time last year.  Look at how much my pace slowed toward the finish!  Slow poke.

tyson_2014_time

We spent the afternoon relaxing with family.  Here are the rest of the pics from this weekend of fun.

I had the privilege of shuttling my cousin Nicki between Las Vegas, Nevada and St. George, Utah for the race.

tyson_nicki_expo

Unfortunately, the ILX was victim to a hit-and-run in Las Vegas early Friday morning.  I’m still trying to get ahold of my motel’s parking lot surveillance camera tape, but sometime between 1:00 and 7:00 a.m., the back bumper got hit & creased.  Bummer!

bumper3

bumper1

Carbo-loading at Pasta Factory in St. George, the day before the race.

pizza_factory

Ready to rock and roll!

bib

Bonfires at the start line helped keep the chilly wind from making us too uncomfortable.

bonfire

I thought it very fitting when this song came on.

vicci_song

Onward!

descent

Passing a mile marker somewhere.

405

Grandma on the roadside.

tyson_grandma

And her sign:

doce_sign

My friend Kerri was in her front yard cheering on the participants, too.

kerri

Best reward ever?  Chocolate milk at the finish line.

choc_milk

And an ice cream sandwich.

ice_cream

Mom showing off her muscles.  She pulled off a 4-hour finish time.

tyson_tia_finish

Much-needed relaxation.

pool

Hanging with cousins.

nicki_april_tyson

Oh yeah, and those “sport” pedals in the ILX?  I made the mistake of trying to drive barefoot after the race.  Those little rubber nubs lit my blisters on fire every time I pushed in the clutch pedal or brake.  Ouch.  I had to pull over and find my flip flops before continuing on.

pedals

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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