Weekend Roady: Wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah

Posted in Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip, Utah on April 20, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  123,150

123150

Odometer (Legend):  533,182

533182

Trip Distance: 1,454 Miles

scottsdale_to_slc

11:10 p.m., Saturday night.  Intersection of 600 West and 100 South.  Dark alleyway near the train tracks.  It felt like a horror movie in the making already.

I took the driver’s seat of the ILX, pushed in the clutch, and punched the “START” button.  Something seemed off.  The exhaust sound – it was louder than I’d anticipated.  My ears were drawn to the back of the car.  Slowly I turned around to look over my right shoulder.  Glistening in the moonlight were hundreds of pieces of broken glass, and wide open to the outside air was my right rear window – or what used to be my window.  I’d just been a victim of vandalism.

ilx_window_broken

Back outside the car (with it still running and headlights now turned on), I walked around to assess any potential body damage, but didn’t find any.  My next thought – was anything missing?  I reached for the trunk release button and opened it up.  My laptop computer and suitcase were still in there.  At this point, a microscopic feeling of relief crept in.  I debated about calling the police right then and there – but, what good was a police report going to do in a city 700 miles from home?  I already knew I’d be out of pocket a few hundred bucks for a new window regardless.

It wasn’t until I got a few blocks away, sitting at a stop light on West Temple, that the thought dawned on me:  MY WORK LAPTOP.  I had two computers in the car.  The second one had been sitting on the floor in its black bag behind the passenger seat of the car.  Gone.  At that point, mind racing, I did dial 9-1-1.  The operator calmly told me I’d need to submit the police report online.  So, instead of continuing on to have a good time with my friends, I went back to where I was staying and got on the SLC PD website to fulfill that action immediately.  What a night.

i15_signs

The rest of the weekend more than made up for that horrible incident, but I will forever remember the night of April 18th and the 10-hour return drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix with no right rear window the following day.  Thankfully for most of that stretch, I was on Interstate 15 southbound with its 80 mph posted speed limits so it went by quickly.

My 1,400-mile weekend trip’s purpose was to attend the wedding reception of my cousin Kelsee who got hitched at the Salt Lake City Mormon temple.  Along the way, I made a bunch of special visits that broke up the trip and made it memorable.  The first place I had to check out was the teeny town of Holden, Utah off Interstate 15.  I knew Holden wasn’t going to be of any great size when I saw the “NO SERVICES” sign attached to the exit sign on the offramp.

holden_exit

Sure enough, it’s a quaint farm town with a couple of boarded up stores and probably a higher population of livestock than human beings.  The town was established in 1855 as a Mormon pioneer settlement.  A sign at the entrance to town states the following about the people of this community:

Residents of Holden still radiate the enduring qualities bequeathed them by their hardy pioneering ancestors:  thrift, perseverance, and a strong, abiding love of God.

My friend Chandler grew up in this community and just happened to be there, so I paid a visit to him and his family.  They certainly do radiate those qualities!

woods_market_holden

tyson_jack_chandler

At Chandler’s recommendation, I again pulled off the interstate in Scipio, Utah about 15 miles further north on the interstate.  Originally settled in 1859, Scipio has never really ‘boomed’ but rather lingered in the population range from 300 to 500 people in the last 150 years.  Today, the main street – “State” – has an antique store that still looks to be in business.  A couple of other buildings are most decidedly NOT in business.  I positioned the ILX in front of a couple abandoned gas stations for pictures.  Those old pumps are my favorite.

ilx_scipio_garage

After lunch with my dad & stepmom in Salt Lake, I visited my friend Branson and rode around his neighborhood at a whopping 10 miles per hour on a Yamaha golf cart. I also took a peek at Branson’s 164,000-mile 1995 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  He takes great care of it.  Branson and I originally met through a Legend enthusiast forum in 2003.

ilx_legend

Branson and I decided to take his nieces and nephew for a mini road trip in the ILX to Herriman, about 7 miles away.  There, we checked out a 2,800-square-foot home that was built in 2011 and modeled after the feature home in the 2009 Pixar movie “UP.”  However, unlike the home in UP, this one didn’t levitate with balloons!  It sure did stand out, though, amidst all the monochromatic, cookie cutter homes surrounding it.

Here’s what the Pixar movie house looks like:

up_house

And the real deal:

up_hous

My cousin’s wedding reception was a top-notch affair at the Ivy House on 600 East in downtown Salt Lake.  It was great to reconnect with friends and family members there.

tyson_kelsee

The randomest thing of all was when I ran into my grandparents at a gas station in Beaver, Utah on the way home.  I ended up following grandpa’s white 2000 Toyota Avalon the rest of the way to their home in St. George, about 100 miles away.

grandma_grandpa

As for a conclusion to the dramatic opening story:  My employer issued me a new laptop computer within 2 hours of my workday today, and my ILX goes in tomorrow morning for a $349 rear window replacement at Safelite so all will be well soon.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!  A few more pictures are below.

Chandler’s family’s backyard with garden in Holden, Utah

farm

Entrance sign to Holden at the north end of town on Main Street

ilx_in_holden

Antique store on State Street in Scipio, Utah

scipio_antique_store

Sign back to Interstate 15 from State Street

scipio_sign

Another abandoned service station in Scipio

ilx_scipio_gas_station

Location of that service station – intersection of State & Center

state_center_scipio

Loved this old pump

gas_pump

Lunch with dad & stepmom (and friend Jeremy) in Salt Lake at Cheesecake Factory

cheesecake_lunch

Shot of the “UP” house in Herriman

ilx_up_house

Love the Wasatch Mountains!  It was a perfect weather day.

slc_mountains

Springtime is in full swing in downtown Salt Lake.  Here I was parked just outside the Ivy House reception center.

ilx_on_street

Fueling up next to mom & Todd in their 2010 Volkswagen EOS in Nephi, Utah

ilx_eos

1992 Acura NSX – 100,000 Miles Achieved

Posted in ILX, Maintenance, Milestones, NSX on April 16, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,180

533180

Odometer (ILX):  121,438

121438

nsx_100k

I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting time or place for my 1992 Acura NSX to turn over its first 100,000 miles.

i10_rolling_nsx

My friends and I were just finishing up an exhilarating run up southern Arizona’s Mount Lemmon, last Friday, April 10th.  As the NSX odometer’s numbers crept steadily upward like digits on a Vegas slot machine in slow-motion, I watched as the “1” started peeking its way up from below.  Digital odometers will never be as fun as those old “rolling” kind!

Followed closely by my Legend coupe (driven by Peter) and Legend sedan (driven by Jason), we turned west on Pecos Road from Interstate 10 as we came into the south end of the Phoenix area.  Just 5 miles later, I had to pull over to the shoulder for this short video clip:

I’m a historian in every sense, so if you’ll bear with me I’ll share a little about my NSX and its life since its February 1992 date of manufacture in Japan.  I’m the fourth owner of this NSX.  The first owner made his purchase on September 29, 1992 and had the car for almost 5 years.  The second had it for only a year.  The third owner had it for over 13 years, and then I came along. I first test-drove the car on Sunday, December 11, 2011 while my friend Matt and I were in the Bay Area for a Metallica concert.  It had 80,441 miles on it.

80441

Love at first sight?

tyson_with_nsx_2011

The following Saturday, December 17th, I flew back to San Jose and sealed the deal with a certified check and a handshake.  The car had 10 more miles on it by then, and I drove away at 80,451 as the new proud owner.  My first fuel stop was at Gas N’ Go on Blossom Hill Road in San Jose.  I paid $3.65/gallon for 12 gallons of Premium and went on my way.  Yes, I saved that receipt.

tyson_in_nsx

I listened to the Top Gun soundtrack on cassette tape (it came with the car) for a good portion of the 721-mile drive home.

top_gun_soundtrack

I’m still in contact with all 3 prior owners. In fact, shortly after I bought the car, I snail-mailed some current pictures to its original owner, William, and he responded gratefully with the following comments:

That is indeed my NSX.  I really was interested in owning one from the time they came out, but the feeding frenzy drove the prices out of reason.  I drove it on the weekends and sometimes on Friday to work.  I was racing Formula cars at Laguna Seca at the time, so I drove it to Monterey once a month and parked it with the Ferraris, the Porsches, and the occasional Lambo that the other racers would bring.

Its second owner, Gary, also had some fun at the very same track:

I did manage to race that car on an open track day at Monterey’s Laguna Seca racetrack and I guarantee that the weakest part of the car was the driver!  How many cars have you had that can be driven through traffic jams and then spend the day racing around the track at 8000 RPM, and then step back in for a wonderful return home trip.  Most of the other participants had to trailer their cars to the track and have all the spares they felt they needed to keep the car going. Two Corvettes had such brake failures that the ran into hay bales at the end of the long straight.

The day before the track day I managed to spin the car four spins while trying to enter a curving onramp near my home.  Mostly because I needed to replace the Yokohama tires that really wear out too quickly and with bad grip at the rear the car really starts acting more Porsche-like and hard to handle.  New Dunlops were perfect timing for the next day on the track and never again spun out the back end.

Up until that the day I picked the car up, it had lived 100% of its life in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I bought the car as a 30th birthday present to myself in December 2011 and brought it to its new home in Arizona.  Since then it’s been with me on a number of adventures.  Here’s a lengthy post where I shared a bunch of those.

nsx_left

What does it cost to own and operate one of these old cars?  As mentioned, I took delivery at 80,451 miles.  Today, the car has 100,060.  So, I’ve put on 19,609 miles and I’ve spent $2,347.14 keeping it on the road.  That means it’s cost me 8 cents per mile.  Keep in mind that we’re of course excluding the cost of fuel, registration, insurance, and emissions testing.  This is strictly a maintenance cost.

nsx_records

Unlike on my Legend coupe, I don’t have “all-inclusive” records back to new on this car, but I do have quite a chunk of paperwork in a 3-ring binder that I’ve taken the time to log and that I continue to track on an ongoing basis.  Here’s what I have record of on this car since it was brand new:

  • 18 oil changes (I currently use Castrol GTX 10W30)
  • 4 batteries
  • 1 timing belt & water pump change (Jan 2011 @ 78,239 mi)

Aside from that, there have been various other repairs over the years.  The big ticket items were a $1,700 repair due to a “snap ring” issue (common a certain subset / production run of these cars) at 37,000 miles and a $2,500 repair at 65,000 miles that included mostly brake work.  Total maintenance cost on record (remember, I’m certain that I don’t have a piece of paper for everything that’s ever been done to the car) for 100,060 miles and 22 years of service is $16,498.55.  That comes out to 6 cents per mile over its entire lifetime.

Here’s my detailed spreadsheet if anyone is interested in the nitty gritty.

23428

79906

99448

The car currently has a few maintenance needs which I’ll be addressing prior to the NSXPO event in Palm Springs this October.

  • Passenger rear inner CV boot leaking
  • Oil pan gasket leaking
  • ABS pump accumulator faulty

I’m lucky to have the country’s premier NSX service & repair facility right here in my own backyard.  Science of Speed in Chandler, Arizona has made a name for itself as the place to have NSX service or upgrades performed.  Every time I’ve been into the shop, there are at least a half-dozen NSXs up on the lifts getting something done to them.

On the topic of milestones and maintenance:

The ILX drove 9,015 miles in the little over two months’ time between February 3rd and April 11th.  It went in on Saturday for an oil change, tire rotation, and replacement of the alternator belt — a $275 service at Acura of Tempe.  It sure is nice being able to go three times as far on an oil change in the ILX than I was used to doing in my Legend.

I took a quick shot of “old” and “new” ILXs on my way out.  You can see the subtle differences in the rear bumper and the taillights between the 2013 and the 2016 models.

ilx_old_new

Cheers!

Cruising Arizona’s “Catalina Highway” in 5 Performance Hondas

Posted in Arizona, Legend, NSX, Road Trip on April 12, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  533,178

533178

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  146,723

146723

Odometer (ILX):  121,263

121263

Odometer (NSX):  100,060

100060

Trip Distance:  307 Miles

scottsdale_to_summerhaven

Remember when car keys keys looked like this?

old_keys

Honda Heaven.  That’s what I experienced on Friday.

coupe_lineup

Most days at the office, I’m trudging through incoming email volume from 150-250 messages during my 9-hours at my desk.  But every once in awhile, an escape from that harsh reality is just what the doctor ordered.  Accompanied by 6 car-enthusiast friends (including James from Six Speed Blog and Jason from Driven for Drives), I headed for the sunny mountain roads of southern Arizona in search of what I’d call “automotive therapy.”  Three hundred miles later, I wore a grin of contentment that clearly reassured me:  that drive was totally what I needed.

steve_lynch

Our special guest on this particular excursion was author Steve Lynch, pictured above.  I first met Steve through a group of automotive journalists called Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) a number of months ago.  He and I attended a roundtable discussion at the Phoenix Art Museum that centered around “how to write a book.”  As it turns out, Steve is an expert on such matters as he is a published author.  His 1997 book Arrogance and Accords details some of the inner dealings at Honda during the early 1990s when he was employed there.  He later went on to spend 17 years working in Finance for Mercedes-Benz and currently writes for an automotive blog called The Truth About Cars.

arrogance_cover

Naturally, when I saw Steve pull up to a later PAPA event in his eye-catching Rio Yellow 2008 Honda S2000, I had to pick his brain a little more.  We ended up deciding to coordinate a drive/story.  And that’s what you’re here to see today.

view

The Catalina Highway which ascends Mount Lemmon just north of Tucson, Arizona is one of my favorite stretches of highway and I’ve talked about it a few times in the past on this blog, including August 2012 after I’d recently taken delivery of the ILX, and November 2013 when I took a 2014 Acura RLX there to review it.  The thirty miles from the base of the highway near Tanque Verde Road to the summit at Summerhaven are full of twists and turns, and it’s only fitting that we equipped ourselves with automobiles that were up to the task.  Here were our contenders for our Friday fun-day:

  • 1992 Acura NSX 5-speed
  • 1993 Acura NSX 5-speed
  • 1994 Acura Legend LS Coupe 6-speed
  • 1994 Acura Legend GS Sedan 6-speed
  • 2008 Honda S2000 6-speed

Departing from the Phoenix area, the first 100+ miles of our drive were relatively mundane interstate commuting on Loop 101, Loop 202, and Interstate 10.  I led the pack in the Legend coupe and set the pace for our 4-car caravan.  After dealing with some heavy construction traffic on Grant Road in Tucson, we finally made it to our meeting spot with Steve who was already snapping pictures.

Steve had scoped out the drive route to Summerhaven beforehand – even going so far as to plan out a few potential stopping points along the way.  The first was at Seven Cataracts, about halfway up – a dramatic overlook of the valley below with ample parking space which we had entirely to ourselves.  The higher in elevation we got, the more pronounced the smell of fresh pine trees became.  The temperatures and light breeze as we got to 6,000 and 7,000 feet made it the perfect weather for windows-down (or top down!) weather.  We rowed our 5 manual-gearbox Honda & Acura cars to the 8,200-foot summit and then paused for a patio lunch session at a restaurant called Sawmill.

cruising

From there, it was time to play what we liked to call “musical cars.”  Keys got tossed around.  We looped back to Seven Cataracts as a way to give people the chance to car-swap and experience the other vehicles on the roster.  While slow-moving traffic did at times slow our pace and we were mindful of the need to watch for bicyclists and the local sheriff, we still had enough chances to let our engines breathe at higher RPM and give our suspensions a workout.  At the end of the day, we nodded our heads in agreement that there was certainly no “best” car of the bunch.  Each one had its merits and its drawbacks.  But there are certainly things that stood out from my driving impressions that I’ll share (and similarly, Jason and Steve will also be posting on their respective sites).

nsx

  • The 1992 NSX is what I can best describe as a “raw” driving experience.  There’s no power steering so it’s heavy at slower speeds but undeniably direct and responsive once you get rolling.  Body roll is nearly non-existent and there is nothing quite like hearing the roar of VTEC from behind your head when climbing the grades.  It’s a challenge to get in & out of the low car without a bit of a strain.  This car rolled 100,000 miles on the way back to Phoenix later in the afternoon.  You’ll see a feature story on that soon.

kelvin_nsx

  • Kelvin’s 1993 NSX is mechanically identical to my 1992 but has a different shift knob which I loved and a performance exhaust system that really gave the 270-horsepower 3.0 motor a nice growl.  Kelvin’s got me thinking about exhaust systems now!  At 144,000 miles, the car still drove as tightly as mine does at 100,000.

lineup1

  • The 1994 Legend coupe must still have a few of its original elderly 230 horses alive, because the car was still able to easily pull itself up to the summit without a ton of downshifting.  It’s a torquey motor and still sounds and acts healthy.  The suspension on the car is original (and very noticeably so).  While the ride is comfortable and quiet, the amount of body roll is excessive and the car exhibits understeer extreme when pushed in the corners.  Steering feels overly assisted for a performance driving environment.

sedan

  • My 1994 Legend sedan was only driven 278 miles from last July to December.  It sits in a storage garage and comes out once every few weeks for a walk around the block.  This 300-mile drive was good for the car, I’m sure.  I noticed a light puff of blue smoke when Jason fired it up at the beginning of the day – I suspect there is a valve stem issue brewing.  But that Legend sedan became an all-day crowd pleaser.  Everyone talked about how comfy the seats were and how smooth the clutch and gearbox were.  The car is equipped with a Stromung exhaust system that Jason said did “drone” on the interstate a bit, but was fun to have on the mountain roads.

s2k_back

  • Steve’s 2008 S2000 was just as fun as could be.  From the moment I hit that START button on the dashboard I knew there were good times ahead.  Despite having the smallest motor in the group – only a 4-cylinder – it had 7 more horsepower than the Legends.  Handling is light and the car can be “tossed” in any direction effortlessly.  It’s a riot to let the motor rev into the higher range.  Finally, there is simply no substitute for the feel of a top-down convertible on a perfect springtime day.  I loved every second of it.

The takeaway from all of this – and something I think that Steve will convey in his upcoming article – is that these cars embody how it’s possible to inject a fun-to-drive demeanor and a healthy dose of performance into a car that is still comfortable enough to drive every day.  Honda has always been good at this.  Still, we all agreed, the company has been in a bit of a rut in this regard.  Sure – the new NSX will hit the sales floors later this year, but most of us will probably never afford one.  And the newly-announced Civic Type R will make a nice machine.  But where is today’s Acura Legend coupe or today’s Acura RSX?  Give me a fun-to-drive luxury sports coupe that is actually within financial reason.  That’s all I’m asking.  And to the Honda corporate folks who I know follow my blog, that’s my plea.

all

Many thanks to my awesome friends for coming along on this trip, and especially to Beau from The Shutter Co for sharing his professional photography skills.  It’s thanks to him that we got most of the great shots featured herein.

Kelvin & Tyson – dressed for the occasion with our matching Formula Red twins

kelvin_tyson

The 2015 Lexus RC350 was driven by James and acted as our photo/chase car.  Thanks for bringing it!

pre_drive

Rolling shot of the Legend coupe

coupe_rolling

Pit stop at Seven Cataracts

group_right_rear

Steve’s S2000 was blinding in the sunlight.

steve_s2k

Nothing like seeing two Acura NSXs in your sideview mirror.

s2k_mirror

Lineup at one of the lookouts

lineup_front

Jason seemed to enjoy his time behind the wheel

jason_nsx

James and Tyson at lunch

james_tyson_lunch

Making our descent

nsx_mirror

Mile marker near Windy Point lookout on Catalina Highway

summerhaven_sign

Heading out again, this time as a passenger in the S2000

nsx_back

Following my Legend sedan back down the hill

following_sedan

Legend sedan

sedan_front

Stretching our legs along the roadside

group_pitstop

Met up with Zac of Baker Brothers Garage back in Tucson

zac_tyson_beau

Group shot.  Kelvin had already departed but this was everyone else!

group

Tyson, James, Steve, Beau, Jason, and Peter.  Thanks guys!

Easter Weekend Road Trip: Family Shuttle to Palm Springs, California

Posted in California, ILX, Road Trip on April 6, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,850

532850

Odometer (ILX):  120,919

120919

Trip Distance:  1,619 Miles

overall_map

I got home from work this afternoon and found a package in the mailbox addressed to “The Road Trip King.”

aqra_plate

Thanks, Alex, for sharing that awesome “AQRA” Illinois Route 66 plate!  I have some of the coolest friends!

tia_tyson_doce_jodi

As much as I enjoy my solo time on the open road, I always welcome the chance to have a road trip companion (or three).  This time, my car transported some very important cargo, including my mom, my grandmother, and my aunt.

hwy_89_north

My overall drive consisted of four roughly 400-mile-each stretches of road: Phoenix to St. George, Utah; St. George to Joshua Tree, California; Palm Springs to St. George; and then returning home to Phoenix.  It seems that Palm Springs has been on my frequent destination list lately.  I was just there a couple of months ago for a visit to Thermal Raceway as part of our NSXPO 2015 planning activities.  This time, the purpose of our trip was to attend a surprise birthday party for my grandma’s brother, Reo.  The first part of my journey was the drive up Highway 89 from Flagstaff on Thursday night.

group_in_car

By midday on Friday, I’d picked up my 3 fellow road trippers and we hit the highway, headed for southern California by way of Las Vegas, Nevada.  As soon as we exited at Nipton Road on Interstate 15 southbound after crossing into the California state line, I knew we were in for a roller coaster ride. For the next 75 or so miles, the Morning Star Mine Road took us through the Mojave National Preserve (the same route a friend and I took last November).

ilx_in_mojave_desert

While the desert was a beautiful place to be, it’s also a very rugged and dangerous environment to be because of the extreme weather and remote location. Luckily the temperatures were friendly to us. Road conditions, however, were less than optimal. There were potholes the size of manhole covers and at least 6-8” deep. We definitely smacked a few of those at 55-65 miles per hour and felt the impact.

kelso_sign

kelso_post_office

After we had driven through the desolate towns of Cima, Kelso, and Amboy, we started closing in on the community of Twentynine Palms, named for the trees found there by Colonel Henry Washington in 1852 while completing a survey of the area.  Aunt Jodi piped up from the backseat. “Look, there’s one of those homestead shacks I was telling you guys about!” Sure enough, it was time for a history lesson and a prime opportunity for a pit stop.

tyson_mojave_homestead

As it turns out, in this “Wonder Valley” region of the Mojave Desert, there are hundreds of teeny homes that dot the landscape.  And by teeny, I mean they’re typically no larger than a one-room, 12-foot-long rectangle.  These structures started springing up around 1938 when a homestead act was put into place, granting up to 5 acres of land to settlers in exchange for just being willing to build a structure on the property. Very few of them have endured the test of time. In fact, probably 9 out of 10 have crumbled to nothing more than a few walls and a caved-in rooftop. Here’s a very interesting article from 2004 in the Los Angeles Times about the history and fate of some of these homes.  We stopped to get an inside look at one of them.

tyson_outhouse

Our evening was spent watching the sunset from the second-floor balcony of the High Desert Lodge on Twentynine Palms Highway after a delicious chicken enchilada dinner at Mi Casita Nueva Mexican Restaurant down the road.

The next morning, we had places to go and people to see.  Right off the bat, a special occasion took place on Highway 62 through Morongo Valley:  My ILX rolled 120,000 miles.

We took Indian Canyon Road on into Palm Springs for a hearty breakfast at “Bit of Country.”  After a quick visit to friends Scott & Sandy, it was time for the grand event:  My grandma’s brother Reo’s surprise 85th birthday party.  All of our time in the car was made worthwhile in the space of just this one-minute video clip:

After enjoying several hours of food, family, and friends, it was time to set sail yet again.  For the return leg of the trip, instead of going through the Mojave Preserve we opted to take interstates 10, 210, 215, and 15, which would take us a bit longer distance-wise but would probably be just as fast as the back roads.

The last stop on our adventure was in a teeny town on the outskirts of Death Valley National Park called Baker, California.  There’s not much to see in Baker aside from its 134-foot-tall thermometer — the largest in the world.  The thermometer’s height is symbolic of the record 134-degree Fahrenheit temperature recorded in nearby Death Valley in 1913.  The structure was built in 1991 and restored in 2014.

baker_thermometer

What makes the Baker thermometer even more special to me was that it was the first place I ever did a “photoshoot” of my 1994 Legend coupe on the day that I bought it: March 26, 2003.

baker2

Sunday morning’s Easter egg hunt with the kids was a hoot, and after that it was back to the road for my return leg to Phoenix.

Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend as much as I did!

mojave_road

Climbing out of one of the homestead houses in Wonder Valley

tyson_leaving_mojave_shack

Morning in Joshua Tree, California

joshua_tree_morning

Arrival at the birthday party

birthday_welcome

Nephew Rex doing some Easter egg hunting

rex_egg_basket

Road Trip to Dallas Part 2: “Maple & Motor” Legend Lunch

Posted in Legend, Reader's Ride on April 2, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,846

532846

Odometer (ILX):  119,147

119147

maple_motor_map

Among the many highlights of my 2,205-mile drive to Dallas, Texas and back this past weekend, I wanted to devote a special blog entry to an event that was especially fun for me.

group3

Having been a part of the online “Acura geek” community for over a decade now, I’ve done my fair share of networking.  Today, I have car-enthusiast friends in every major city in the country.  When I started putting together my plans to visit Texas, one of the first things I did was reach out to a few folks there to see if they’d be interested in meeting up.  Turns out, they were.  And they did.

TJ drove all the way from Houston for our lunch meet-up, and Marc came from Austin.  Each of them had a 3+ hour one-way drive.  Now that’s dedication!  Our venue of choice was a renowned burger joint on Maple Avenue in Dallas called Maple & Motor.  It’s a former gas station which was turned into a restaurant and it has received multiple awards including a feature on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives.  Its motto is “Low Class Cool.”

maple_motor

Seating was tight and the lunchtime crowd was bustling, but we were able to find a table fairly quickly for our party of 7 while we enjoyed a few minutes of car talk and delicious tater tots.  Pictured here from left to right are Marc, Tyson, Lance (Escalade), Scott (GS350), Blake, and TJ.  Yes, we let a couple non-Legend people join us because they’re still fans.  And thanks to Amanda for taking the picture.

group

tots_burger

Here’s a little about the Acuras in our party.  First off, this is Blake’s 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  It was the first Milano Red LS coupe 6-speed on the production line that year.  His car was the 805th Legend coupe built overall for the 1994 model year, and rolled off the line just 27 cars before mine.

blake_coupe

It’s nearly broken in at just over 1/4 million miles on the odometer, but you wouldn’t know it by taking a test drive.  During my short spin around the block, I was impressed with its pick-up.

blake_odo

This powerplant is 3.5 liter V6 with a performance air intake system and other upgrades.  Blake has installed a custom Stromung exhaust system which gives the car a nice growl.

blake_motor

This showroom-fresh example is Marc’s Granada Black 1994 LS Automatic with special options like the OEM gold grille/emblems, chrome wheels, and spoiler.

marc_coupe

Marc recently snagged this gem from a California dealership and had it shipped sight-unseen to Texas.  He has no regrets, and it’s a stunning example.  It has traveled just 128,000 miles since new.  I took a drive in this one, too, and it felt like going back in time two decades.  It even smells great.

marc_odo

Not to mention that leather interior.

marc_interior

Thanks, Marc and Blake for the test-drive opportunities!

marc_blake_tyson

I look forward to seeing all of these people at this year’s National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) in Houston this coming September.

group2

My friend Randy didn’t make it to the Maple & Motor meet-up, but we caught up later over a Whataburger shake just up the road.

randy_tyson

When the trip was all said and done, I had a lot of bugs to show for it.

bugs

Thanks again for being a part of the adventure!

Road Trip to Dallas Part 1: Ten Roadside Attractions

Posted in ILX, New Mexico, Road Trip on March 31, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,825

532825

Odometer (ILX):  119,076

119076

Trip Distance:  2,205 Miles

scottsdale_dallas

Howdy.  First of all, let’s cut to the chase and get acquainted with the native language of Texas before we go there.  “Y’all” is used when addressing 2-3 people.  “ALL y’all” is in reference to a larger group.  The tricky part is when y’all becomes possessive.  Example:  “Is that y’all’s car?”  See, I don’t even know if I’m comfortable using that many apostrophes in one phrase.

For a couple of months now, some friends and I had been planning on a Texas trip.  From the beginning, I had always told them, “I’m driving.  I’ll see you guys there.”  I resisted multiple pushes to book a flight.  It’s not that I have any problem with getting on a plane, but for me, the journey is as much of a vacation as a destination.  Thirty hours in a car sounds like a pretty good time to me.  And you’re reading this because you probably agree.

The last time I was in Dallas was September 2013 for some diesel truck races with my dad & brothers.  However, I cheated that time and took a flight to/from on Southwest Airlines.  Aside from that, I’ve been through the DFW area a number of times on my cross-country adventures, and it’s a fun place to make a stop.

texas

(that picture pulled from my State Lines post)

I departed last Wednesday after work and headed as far as Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Jason of Driven for Drives welcomed me and my ILX with red-carpet treatment for our overnight stay at his place off Interstate 25.  The next morning, it was off to the races.  I had places to go and people to see.  Motivation for the drive was provided by a limited-edition Starbucks “Birthday Cake” frappaccino (thanks to my friend Jim for the travel tip!) which I picked up at the location on George Dieter Road in El Paso.

Over the next 10 or so hours, I watched West Texas fly by in all its grandeur.  My life became a country song:  I was surrounded by boots, spurs, pickup trucks, and blue jeans.  When I rolled into the Pecos, Texas “Stripes” gas station on Interstate 20 (only part of which had actual concrete pavement) around mid-morning, I took a look around me and felt a little out of my element.  Everyone in line at the Subway inside had on flannel except for a woman with 1980’s hair and polka dot leggings.  Culture shock.

speed_limit

I zoomed back onto the interstate via the “feeder” (frontage road) and re-set the cruise control at 83 miles per hour.  Most of that area has an 80 mph limit which helps the miles go a little more quickly.  The problem with maintaining that speed in an Acura ILX is that the engine is whirring at nearly 4,000 RPM even in 6th gear.  Luckily I had 15,605 amazing songs on my iPod to drown out the motor noise.

arrival_dallas

By dusk I had entered into the western end of the 7-million-resident Dallas – Fort Worth “Metroplex” and its maze of under-construction freeways.  My friends welcomed me with a collective roll of the eyes.  Was it really worth all that time in the car?  They asked me.  To keep things easy and share some of my trip highlights, I’ll itemize my list here and you can judge for yourself whether you blame me for driving.

After 2,205 miles, I can confidently say it’s a trip I’d make again and again.  Hope you enjoy taking a passenger seat to some of these neat attractions, and thanks as always for coming along.

1)  Odessa:  World’s Largest Jackrabbit

In 1932, the teeny Texas town of Odessa became home to the world’s first jackrabbit roping competition.  During the town’s annual rodeo, Grace Hendricks roped a rabbit from horseback in 5 seconds and won.  The jackrabbit roping competition was met by outcries from animal lovers and was discontinued until 1977 when a second competition was held.  After that, the Humane Society put a stop to things with a court order.  Today, an 8-foot-tall rabbit stands at the Chamber of Commerce on 8th Street.

ilx_jackrabbit

2)  Odessa:  Replica Stonehenge

Just a few miles away from the rabbit statue, I entered the campus to the University of Texas, Permian Basin.  We’re all probably familiar with the “original” landmark Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, but this one was erected only 11 years ago.  Most of the slabs on display here are 19 feet tall and weigh up to 20 tons each.  The layout of the stones is accurate to the real Stonehenge, but the sizes are a little bit smaller.  Pictured in the far background is a Home Depot.  This is definitely not England.

tyson_at_stonehenge

3)  Colorado City:  Radio Station Microphone Sign

There’s a radio station called KVMC that’s been broadcasting since the 1940s.  A couple of decades later, someone took a picket fence and made a piece of artwork out of it, creating a giant replica of the original microphone.  It still stands today in front of the radio station along the frontage road to Interstate 20.

kvmc_sign

4)  Abilene:  World’s Largest Paper Airplane

On 1st Street in Abilene at the Sparhawk Art Gallery / Bed & Breakfast, there’s a 30-foot-long version of a paper F15 aircraft.  This one, however, actually appears to be made of wood.  When I pulled into the narrow Sparhawk parking lot, I immediately spotted the aircraft toward the back and rolled there for a few photographs.

When my work there was through, I started to drive away and a woman came running out of the small building with something in her hand – a “regular sized” paper airplane.  I rolled down my passenger window, thinking perhaps I was getting in trouble for taking pictures on private property.  “Here!” she said.  “You have to take this with you!” and she handed me the paper airplane.  Soon, a man named Donovan came out too.  I got out of the car to talk to both of them, and Donovan handed me a second airplane.  He had folded both of them.  “They don’t fly well, but I only used one sheet of paper each, and a tiny drop of glue.”

paper_airplane_2

tyson_donovan

5)  Abilene:  Dino Bob & the Slug Bug

This work of art dates back to the late 1980s when artist Bob Wade perched a Volkswagen Beetle on top of a garage, with a dinosaur nibbling on it.  The dinosaur and VW were moved in 2007 to their current location where they oversee a facility for children’s literature.

dino_abilene

6)  Abilene:  World’s Largest Buffalo Skull

Here’s another fun landmark not far from Dino Bob.  Sculpted in 2012 by artist Joe Barrington, this buffalo skull measures 26 feet across and weighs 2 tons.  The eye sockets are big enough to crawl through.  I resisted the temptation to try that out.  This is located at a visitor center called “Frontier Texas.”

buffalo

7)  Fort Worth:  U.S. Bureau of Engraving & Printing

This is one of only two places in the country where paper money gets printed (the other is in Washington, DC).  Photos here are scarce – in fact, I got yelled at by someone in the lobby of the Security building for even taking this picture of the sign from the road.   Before we were allowed inside, all cell phones had to be left inside our car.  But the inner workings of this building are fascinating!  We took a 45-minute self-guided tour on an elevated catwalk that actually overlooks the factory floor, its machines, and the production staff.  I paid $22.50 for an uncut sheet of four $2 bills at the gift shop.  How about a few fun facts?

  • The estimated life span of a $1 bill is 5.9 years
  • The estimated life span of a $100 bill is 15 years
  • There have been no bills printed in denominations greater than $100 since 1969
  • Each production day, the facility I visited prints $17 million in currency per hour
  • “Paper” money is actually mostly cotton and part linen

Now you know!

bep

8)  Fort Worth:  Fort Worth Stock Yards

Here, a 206-acre area that used to house a huge livestock market is now a historic district that retains its Wild West heritage with saloons, rodeo grounds, and souvenir shops.  Originally inhabited in the 1860s, Fort Worth Stock Yards officially opened up in 1890 and became a historic district in 1976.  My friends and I enjoyed wandering around and exploring the pedestrian-friendly blocks.  We had delicious lunch including bottled IBC Root Beer at a restaurant called Star Cafe.

fort_worth_stock_yards

9)  Fort Worth:  Water Gardens

The Water Gardens are located right in downtown and have been there since 1974.  Within the 4-acre park, there are several different water features including an “aerating” pool and a “meditation” pool.  My favorite feature was the Active Pool which is a terraced waterfall that steps down 38 feet below ground level.  Visitors can step down into the base of the waterfall next to a pool at the bottom.  The roaring sound from within the center is amazing.  I took a short video to show the experience.  I panned around from inside the waterfall, then recorded going up the steps to exit, then did a pan of the overall facility.  This particular pool was redesigned from 2005-2007 after 4 people died there.  It is now 7 feet more shallow than it used to be.

10)  Irving:  Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant

This is the home of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in Irving.  Perfectly visible from Highway 482, we pulled off the road quickly here to get a picture of these massive tanks designed to resemble soda cans.

kyle_tyson_dp

Texas and its people were most welcoming, and I can’t wait to go back again.  The drive would be worth it even if just for the food:  Tillman’s Roadhouse in the Bishop Arts District on 7th Street gets high ranks from me.  First of all, the mac & cheese with bacon is amazing, and secondly:  YOU CAN COOK S’MORES AT YOUR TABLE!  They bring miniature stoves out along with a variety of marshmallows, some chocolate squares, and poker sticks.  What a way to do dessert!

Please enjoy the rest of the pics if you’d like.

I-10 eastbound, passing Picacho Peak in Arizona

picacho

Overnight stay with Jason and a look at our recent March-April 2015 feature in Arizona Driver

tyson_jason_magazine

Drive Friendly – The Texas Way

welcome_TX

Interstate 10 through El Paso, Texas

el_paso

“Happy Birthday” Frappaccino at Starbucks in El Paso (yes, it has pink whipped cream)

bux

Old school maps.  That’s how I roll.

map

Those mountains are in Mexico.

mexico

This is how close I was to the international border (blue dot).

border

I-10 / I-20 split.  From here, I headed toward Dallas.

20_10_split

Stonehenge in Odessa

ilx_stonehenge

Lots of water towers!  This one, in Big Spring.

big_spring_water_tank

Crumbling building in Colorado City, Texas – and a dually pickup truck that is a perfect representation of the “typical” west Texas automobile of choice.

co_city

Paper airplane from Donovan at the Sparhawk Art Gallery in Abilene.

paper_airplane

Getting closer!

weatherford

Hotel for the first two nights:  Omni.

omni_hotel

View of central Dallas from the 22nd floor of the Omni hotel.

view_from_omni

Brunch with friends in Oakcliff area.

brunch

$22.50 worth of money!  I think the Bureau of Engraving & Printing ripped me off.

8_dollars

Roadside scene in Fort Worth, Texas near the Stock Yards.

gmc

Check out those bar stools!  Scott, Tyson, Kyle, showing some skin & booty.

saloon

Lunch spot.

star_cafe

Entering the Active Pool at the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

water_gardens_3

Hanging out near the pool.

tyson_water_gardens

“Only in Texas” will you see a banner like this at the entrance to your hotel.

cattle_raisers

Dinner at Tillman’s Roadhouse

IMG_4821

Hotel for night 3:  Aloft in Las Colinas area of Irving, Texas

aloft

93 octane!  Didn’t feel too bad paying $2.64 for the rich stuff.

93_octane

Definition of an easy drive:  Next turn in 633 miles!

gps

Sunrise in my rearview mirror departing the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex on Sunday morning.

morning

Homeward trek to the I-10 / I-20 split again.

sat_elp

Fuel & stretch stop in Van Horn, Texas.  Home of the Sands Motel.  My favorite part of the sign was the spray-painted “American Owned” comment along the bottom.

van_horn_sands_motel

Entering the Land of Enchantment:  New Mexico.

nm_entrance

RealTime Racing Driver Peter Cunningham

Posted in Blog, TLX on March 24, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,818

532818

Odometer (ILX):  116,671

116671

tlx

Let’s talk about some pedal-to-the-metal, high-revving adventures today.  With all the hundreds of thousands of miles I’ve traveled, I consider myself a seasoned driver, but certainly not when it comes to racing.  My younger brother Payton is the race driver for the H&S Motorsports team in Utah, but I don’t stand a chance at matching his skills.  (Here’s a short clip from about a year ago when his Ford Lightning got into the 8-second range in the quarter mile dragstrip).

My race experience, on the other hand, has been limited to just a few events, including the following which stand out in my mind:

  • Autocross race in the Legend at NALM 2009 in Springfield, Missouri (photo below where it looks like my car might roll over)
  • Bonneville 100 (100-mile, 105 mph) open-road race in rural Nevada in 2007 & 2008
  • Those handful of times I took my 1989 Prelude on the 1/4 mile strip at the old airport at age 17

merichard

autocross_2

Some people just seem to have a gift for high-speed driving.  One of those is seasoned race veteran Peter Cunningham, who over the course of his 28-year racing career has taken home nearly 100 professional race wins across 12 different North American road racing series.

cunningham

Peter’s race history goes back to when he founded a company called RealTime Racing in 1987.  RealTime is based in Saukville, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee.  Since those early days, American Honda and the Acura Division have partnered with RealTime for performance driving events.  Peter has raced in such cars as a 1992 Integra GS-R and even a Honda Civic 4WD Wagon.

realtime_integra

cunningham_1990

Today, Peter and his relatively new colleague driver Ryan Eversley, continue to pilot the RealTime team to wins year after year.  RealTime has amassed nearly 6,000 followers on Facebook and Peter’s Acura TLX “GT” has shown up at multiple Auto Shows, including its original debut (which I attended) in January 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.  I most recently checked the car out at the Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) last September in Long Beach, California.  Thumbs up!

tyson_with_peter

Last night, I met up with Peter as well as his Team Manager, Nathan Bonneau, who happened to be visiting the Phoenix area for a Bridgestone Tire event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.  We grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant called Roy’s in Chandler and visited for a couple of hours about the latest happenings with RealTime.

nathan_peter_tyson

Peter also showed me photos a few of his latest Honda & Acura acquisitions.  Just a few weeks ago, I helped him scope out a local mint-condition 1990 Acura Legend LS Coupe with only 36,000 miles on it.  That car has now made its way into Peter’s collection in Wisconsin.

90LS

RealTime’s full race schedule is posted here.  Later this week, he and his crew are off to St. Petersburg Florida for the Grand Prix event there.  Good luck to them and I’ll stay tuned for the results!  Peter gave me a couple of RealTime posters as well as a T-shirt that I’ll proudly be wearing in support.

scottsdale_to_dallas

Coming up next:  A 2,132-mile, 5-day road trip to Dallas, Texas that starts tomorrow.  I probably won’t be doing any blogging on-the-fly (or, on-the-drive, in this case).  But I’m planning on sharing a few highlights on my Instagram as the trip progresses.

See you soon.

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