“West Rim” 17-Mile Hike at Zion National Park in Southern Utah

Posted in Hikes, TL, Utah on September 18, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,721

Odometer (TL):  101,487

Trip Distance:  900 Miles

For some reason it’s always two days after a hike when the worst cramping and soreness start.  My friend Kyle described the contortions he had to make when getting out of the car last night:  “I twisted out of the car like a geriatric.”  And he’s only 32!  A 17-mile, 8-hour-long hike can really give your leg muscles a run for their money.  I paid for it on my end, too.  But it was worth it.

Having grown up about 45 minutes from Zion, in St. George, Utah, I’ve spent plenty of time in the park but it never seems to get old.  This specific trail – the “West Rim” – was new to me and gave a never-before-seen perspective on some of the park’s 229 square miles of beauty.  Some 4.2 million people visit the park each year, but I’d dare say that most of them don’t attempt a one-day hike as ambitious as the one that we did.

Once again my mountainman (mountainwoman?) of a mother, Tia, reigned athletically supreme as she led our pack of 7 adventurous hikers on a quest through the southern Utah backcountry.  Though technically a downhill hike for its majority, the West Rim trail had its fair share of grades — enough that I guzzled down about 6 bottled waters over the course of the day.  I liked how with each water I finished, my backpack got a little bit lighter to carry.

The terrain on the West Rim took us through many different types of trails:  Wooded forest, singletrack pathway through a field, shale rock, cliffside on sandstone, and a lot in between.  All the while, we were afforded some of the best views that money can’t buy.   Luckily for us, even the weather was prime – with our start temperatures at the Lava Point Campground around 50 degrees and the finish in the low 70s.

We found a consistent pace and alternated who got to lead the pack.  I usually preferred to stay toward the back of the lineup, and wherever space allowed, we usually walked two abreast so we could carry on conversations with one another.  At one point, Kyle and Sandy broke away for an ‘optional’ one-mile out & back side trip to “Angel’s Landing” – a spectacular viewpoint atop a 1,500-foot-tall sandstone cliff to the canyon below.  I’d already seen it, and by the time we got to that decision point, we were already 14 miles into our 17-miler, so I opted to rest my legs.

By the time we finally were within eyesight of “The Grotto,” where a shuttle bus would pick us up and take us to the visitor center to get my stepdad Todd’s truck, we broke into a jog because we were so excited, and because it felt easier on the quads and knees than taking a slower walk.  No pain, no gain!  We finished strong.  And we celebrated:

We were grateful for the chance to refuel our bodies later that evening.  Kyle and Rob and I decided to consume as many carbs as we could, so we paid a visit to an Italian place on Tabernacle Street in St. George called Cappeletti’s.  The lasagna was top-notch.  True to tradition, mom fixed us a breakfast of hotcakes the following morning pre-departure.  There’s nothing like a drizzle of maple syrup to undo all the calorie-burning we’d done the day prior!

Here is a 3-minute video, along with some photos of our weekend!

TL at Sunset in Kingman, Arizona on the way to St. George Thursday night

Mom had left us goody bags

Taking my brother’s 1968 Chevy II Nova SS to lunch.  It has a 525-horsepower “LS3” V8 and 6-speed manual transmission.

Outdoor dining at 25 Main.

Now taking a ride in my other brother’s 700+ horsepower Lexus IS300.  What a beast.

I dictated a shopping list to my 6-year-old niece.  Can you decipher this?

It says:  hamburger, pita bread, trail mix, and water.

Morning of the hike!  Aunt Jodi dropped us off at the trailhead.

Six bumps on a log

 

Starting out at a brisk pace

Taking a breather and eating some snacks

Following a few signs toward the destination – with mom in the lead

Approaching “Scout Overlook” near Angel’s Landing

Panoramic views.  See the road at the bottom of the canyon?

Side trail to Angel’s Landing

Headed on down

Dinner spot that evening

Lasagna!!

Departing mom’s on Sunday morning after breakfast

Riding in the backseat of my own car

Side note – I checked on the model car project!

Quick Introduction: “Carvana” Headquarters in Tempe, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, PAPA on September 14, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  240,067

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a vending machine eat your quarters!  If you’re like me, you might have an unlucky relationship with them.  One Phoenix-based company called Carvana has made buying a used vehicle a lot like buying a Snickers.  (Photo credit:  Carvana)

The Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) received an invitation from Director of Communications Amy O’Hara to get a behind-the-scenes look at Carvana on Wednesday, September 6th at the company’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona.

Carvana came about as part of DriveTime, but was spun off and currently operates as a standalone company.

The idea?  Simply put – to make car buying “not suck.”  Give people back their Saturdays, take away the stress and haggling, and ultimately, give people the power to make a vehicle purchase online as simply as they’d make a purchase on Amazon.com.  So far, it’s working.  Launched in 2013, Carvana now has over 7,000 cars in inventory, has expanded to 36 markets and 6 vending machines, and has been ranked in the top 5 on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies.

The car buying process starts with a simple online search application where customers can narrow down their selections and find a vehicle that fits their needs.  From there, the financing (in-house), purchase, and even trade-in can be done online.  When the new vehicle is delivered, the trade-in gets picked up.  Seriously it’s a one-stop-shop operation.  Delivery can also be via one of the 6 vending machines (our closest here in Phoenix is Dallas) and Carvana offers $200 toward the outbound flight of the buyer if they elect to fly in and drive home.

Putting to rest any concerns about satisfaction, Carvana allows buyers a seven day, money-back guarantee so they can drive the vehicle they’ve purchased and find out if it really fits with their lifestyle.  Just for kicks, I searched for an Acura RLX.  There are 3 available.  Amy told us that buyers save on average $1,400 compared to Kelley Blue Book Retail values.

Amy showed our group around the Carvana headquarters overlooking the Rio Salado area.  It’s a large, modern, and open floorplan completed just a few months ago to house the roughly 600 colleagues who work there.  Employee perks are pretty sweet, too.  Among the neat features were a pickleball court, multiple refreshment areas (fully stocked!), and even a “library” equipped with comfortable leather couch and a secret bar that hides behind a rolling bookcase.  “When can I move in?” I felt like asking.  (Sorry, no photos of those special areas were allowed).

Carvana takes great pride in the people who it employs and who it serves.  There are two separate walls in the facility that are plastered in Polaroid-like images of happy customers taking delivery of their vehicles, and another wall dedicated exclusively to moms.  That’s right, a mom wall, showing photos of Carvana employees’ mothers taking delivery of their cars as well.  It truly does feel like a family atmosphere rather than an office or workplace.

Here’s a 30-second video showing a little about how the vending machine experiences goes.

To someone like me who has never purchased a vehicle “sight unseen” the thought of carrying out a complete automotive purchase process online is a little unsettling, but after seeing all the buyer protection in place and learning of the thousands of satisfied customers Carvana has picked up in its mere 4 years, maybe the company is on to something!  Many thanks to the Carvana team, and specifically to Amy, for letting PAPA pay a visit!

(Oh, and since we already asked:  No – you can’t shake the vending machine and get a free car, sorry)

 

NSXPO 2017 – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Posted in NSX, NSXPO on September 11, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,713

Odometer (NSX):  108,654

Trip Distance:

  • 2,912 Miles (Southwest Airlines)
  • 120 Miles (Chevy Spark Rental)

I had a family reunion this past weekend.  My “car club” family, that is.  For the third year in a row, I attended the annual gathering of Acura NSX owners & fans called NSXPO.  In 2015, the event was in Palm Springs.  In 2016, it was in Orlando.  And this year, it was in the Milwaukee area.  While I would have loved to have driven my car the 1,800 or so miles from Phoenix, I opted rather to take a redeye flight and rent a powder blue Chevy Spark for a few days.  It got the job done.

Hosting this year’s event was a team led by RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham, a seasoned and highly awarded race driver and the newly-appointed President of the NSX Club of America (NSXCA).   RealTime’s operations have always been based out of Wisconsin, which is convenient since one of the nation’s premier racetracks is located about an hour north of Milwaukee.  It’s called Road America and goes by the title “America’s National Park of Speed.”  Now after 60 years, the 4-mile course is home to over 400 performance driving events annually.

It seems that with each year, the size and scope of NSXPO expand.  Now covering 4 full days and two half-days, the event drew participants from across the United States as well as internationally.  Many drove great distances to attend.  Schedule wise, I missed out on the Road America events on Wednesday & Thursday, but made it to some special tours on Friday and the Concours d’ Elegance on Saturday.  Best of all, I reconnected with over 40 friends, all while enjoying great weather & food.

Thanks to a late evening dust storm at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, my delayed flight to MKE caused me to arrive at the large Osthoff Resort at a pretty crazy hour:  4:04 in the morning.  I found the suite I was sharing with my friend Jhae and crashed out for a few hours.  Venues for Friday’s activities were laid out in a logistically favorable order – working our way south with our first stop at RealTime Racing in Saukville.

Lunch was picnic-style in the town of Mequon on the western shores of Lake Michigan, a body of water so large it felt like we were perched along the ocean.

From there, we made our way to the RealTime Collection Hall, established in July 2016 and now extensively stocked in vintage and collectible Honda & Acura automobiles and memorabilia.  My heart of course is partial to the two Acura Legends in the collection, but perhaps my favorite car now is the 1981 Honda Accord Limousine which was stretched 42″ and comes complete with a Betamax video cassette player and two telephones.

Check those amenities!

Capping off the night in style and class, we took over the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown.  The architecturally distinct and ultra modern building made a picturesque backdrop for the 100+ NSXs lined up along the front driveway.  We enjoyed a banquet style feast inside from 5 different food stations while a silent auction was going on.

My rental car didn’t even get moved on Saturday, which was nice.  Our activities centered around the Osthoff Resort.  Catching up on sleep from the prior late night, I didn’t creep out of bed until nearly noon – just in time to grab a burger & brat along the banks of Elkhart Lake and wander out onto the dock.  I ran into Acura President Jon Ikeda and Acura NSX Project Leader Ted Klaus while checking out the cars parked on the lawn for the Concours d’ Elegance (Jon is at right here).

Around 4:00, fellow Arizonan Jhae Pfenning and I helped coordinate a drive around the historic race loop that was once a professional race circuit on public roads before the construction of Road America.  Cocktail hour started at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Libelle Ballroom, and dinner kicked off an hour later.  I enjoyed sitting among a few Wisconsin locals at my table.  David Hobbs, British race driver and NBC sports commentator, addressed the congregation while we dined.  It was announced that the 2018 NSXPO date and location will be September 27 through October 1, in the San Francisco area.

My departure day was Sunday, but I squeezed in a visit with a few local friends before hitting the airways.  First was my friend Michael who drove his family all the way up from Chicago (about a 2 hr drive) to have lunch with me in Glendale.  It was great to reconnect with him (and his Vortex Blue TSX).  And the next was with Ryan who’s local to Milwaukee and who I’ve known “online” for a couple of years but hadn’t met in person.  He brought his red TL out for the occasion.  Thanks Mike and Ryan!

Mike’s TSX

Ryan’s TL

My 3.5 hour flight home was made shorter by the fact that I was seated next to friend and colleague Chris Willson.  Chris runs a Chandler, Arizona-based NSX & S2000 performance facility called Science of Speed and holds a leadership role as Treasurer with the NSXCA.  We touched down in Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday to a brisk 100 degrees.  Home, sweet (hot), home.

My hat goes off to the NSXPO 2017 planning committee for the countless hours of effort invested in pulling off what truly was a “September to remember.”

A 6-minute video and some additional photos follow!

Leaving the Integra at PHX airport East Economy lot (4 days of parking cost me $44 – ouch)

Dashboard of my Chevy Spark LT.  I rolled 26,000 on that thing.  This was my 2:08 a.m. arrival.

I found Waldo!  Waldo, Wisconsin that is (population 503).

Peter addressing the group at RealTime

Such a colorful weekend

Couple of imposters in our midst…

With Craig who drove all the way from California in his 57,000-mile NSX

Complimentary colors

RealTime Collection Hall (RTCH) with TLX-GT

Honda Heaven

Photo with Peter, May Lee, Chris Willson at RTCH

NSX lineup at Milwaukee Art Museum

NSXs for days!

Okay, sure!

Peter C and John Watts, from Acura

Morning view on Saturday from the balcony of my room at the Osthoff

Very special (and rare, 1 of 2) 1998 NSX Zanardi Prototype

Hand-controlled 2017 NSX

Check that stick shift lever!  It actually controls the throttle & brake

Anybody hungry?  Brownies for lunch.

Dock extending into Elkhart Lake

Text from Peter when I dropped him a note thanking him for the hospitality.

Rolling 240,000 on the Integra on my way home from the airport

Labor Day Weekend 2017 – Palm Springs, California Trip & TL 100,000 Milestone

Posted in California, Road Trip, TL on September 5, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,713

Odometer (TL):  100,468

Trip Distance:  542 Miles

Cue the confetti.  We have another 100,000-miler in the house!

It’s rare for me to own a car with “only” an odometer reading of 5 digits.  In fact, the lowest mileage car I’ve ever owned aside from my 2013 ILX that I got new, was my 1994 Legend coupe that had 95,000 miles on it when purchased in 2003.  That car has come out of hiding a few times in recent days, and several of you have asked why I haven’t posted any updates.  Check out this sunset last night at the Phoenix Financial Center 19-story building on Central Avenue.

The Legend is still trucking along, and the building itself is legendary in its own way.  Constructed in 1964, it was designed to look like a computer punchcard.  My favorite story about its construction is that (Legend has it!) there is a time capsule within the building that was supposed to have been removed in 2012 which has never been found.  We’re now 5 years beyond that date!  I’d be tearing the place apart to find it.  Here’s the story of what I did this Labor Day Weekend.

Nestled at the eastern base of the 10,000-foot-tall San Jacinto Mountains, there’s a city in Southern California that’s made a name for itself as a popular weekend destination.  Palm Springs is home to 44,000 people and some of the best mid-century architecture in the country.  I’d be crazy to not take advantage of a 3-day holiday weekend, and it seemed like a perfect destination.  On Friday afternoon, a friend and I hit the highway and headed westbound to see what the city could offer us.

Luckily for me, my 2007 Acura TL was about to pass a pretty big milestone.  It took the car 10 years to rack up 100,000 miles.  I had to pull over about 30 miles east of Quartzsite, near the Arizona-California state line to celebrate and capture the occasion on video.

We rolled into the Hard Rock Hotel on Indian Canyon Road and valet parked the TL before going out on the town.

The next day was primarily spent lounging next to the pool, despite the fact that it was 104 degrees outside and we had little shade to work with.  One of Palm Spring’s roadside wonders is the “pink door house,” so we made sure to stop there on the way back to Phoenix on Sunday morning.  Bubble gum pink, it sure is.

More pics below from the weekend’s shenanigans.  Coming up later this week:  A flight to Milwaukee for this year’s “NSXPO” annual Acura NSX meet-up.  No, sadly, I won’t be driving out there.  But I’ll at least enjoy whatever festivities I can from the comfort (or discomfort?) of a rental car.

Roadside stop in Quartzsite with my copilot

Palm Springs in all its glory, set against the San Jacinto peaks

Our hotel for 2 nights

Best coffee (ahem, “koffi”) shop in town!  They have 3 locations.

The frozen white mocha hit the spot.

Other news:  I got to check out & drive my friend Daniel’s 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec last week!  It wasn’t my first time behind the wheel of such a car (see Maryland trip) but I greatly enjoyed a more thorough test drive.

Daniel’s car accelerates, handles, and looks like a true sports sedan.

I must say I don’t mind it one bit!  Give it a clutch pedal and I’m sold!

Another shot of the Legend + PSC building last night.

Road trip to Tucson & back today with coworker Amanda for work.

Lastly, remember how some Hondas of old had “5 speed” badging like this?

A friend told me about these $9.99 Amazon emblems that say “6 speed.”  I got one.  As a joke, I promise.  I’m not going to install this permanently!  But I thought it would be funny to mock up with Scotch tape for a picture.

The TL needed a quick pic too!

Have a great week!

1-Year Home Ownership Anniversary: Car Wash Partaaay!

Posted in Arizona on August 28, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,447

Odometer (Integra):  239,932

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since I bought what cars.com Editor Aaron Bragman called a “garage-mahal.”  It was Friday, August 26, 2016 when I closed on my new property in Phoenix and it’s been an awesome ownership experience for these first 12 months.  In order to celebrate the anniversary, I invited a handful of friends over for a car wash party.  I’m accustomed to such parties – I had one at my old place in Scottsdale back in May 2016, and prior to that in July 2013.

Special guests for the weekend of festivities included my friend Brad who spent two days with us mid-roadtrip from Chicago, and Stephen who flew in from Seattle.  Neither one was prepared for Phoenix’s 110-degree Saturday heat but I made sure to keep everyone as hydrated as possible.  My garage setup worked out perfectly to host a total of 20 people who washed 8 vehicles. I pulled my cars out into the backyard which opened up the entire garage for ‘indoor’ / shaded washing and detailing.

One of the show stoppers was my friend Saifonh’s jet black 1998 Mercedes-Benz SL500.   We had a wide variety of cars in attendance, though including one of my faves:  A first generation Lexus LX450 SUV.   We did Brad a favor of cleaning off the bugs he’d collected driving out from Illinois.  Thanks to Brad, my Honda lawnmower got its first oil change, and thanks to Peter, it got washed.  We take our Honda care & maintenance seriously around here!

Peter also picked up a few pizzas for lunch so we could keep the crowd fed and happy.  Roommate James got back to the house from off-roading in his press car flavor of the week:  A Ford F-150 Raptor that looked ready to terrorize the neighborhood.  He parked it in the middle of the front lawn so it could be the center of attention.

Later in the evening, a few of us went over to the Scottsdale Pavilions car show.  I introduced Brad and Stephen to one of Arizona’s wonders:  A water fountain in Fountain Hills that for about a decade (when, it was built, in 1970) was the tallest in the world at 560 feet (or, 3 times the height of Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park).

Here is a hodge-podge 3-minute video, along with a few pics!

Thursday evening dinner on the patio at Hula’s on Central Avenue

Picking up Stephen at Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor airport

Giving Anthony’s Subaru Legacy a bath

My friend James’ 2007 TL-S 6-speed in Moroccan Red Pearl was a stunner

More attention for Brad’s Chicago-based 2004 Accord EX 5-speed

James’ TL and mine, nose to nose

Sunset on Saturday at the Pavilions car show

My GS-R arriving Pavs, driven by Anthony and Jon

She looked good rolling past!

Sunday brunch with some of the gang

Stopping by Fountain Hills to check out the main attraction.  It erupts (is that a thing?) every hour, on the hour, for 15 minutes.

About to say farewell to my out-of-staters.  Thanks for the visit!

Monterey, California: ARX-05 Racecar & 2018 Acura RLX Debuts at The Quail Motorsports Gathering

Posted in California, Car Show, RLX on August 20, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,418

Odometer (Sonata Rental):  12,000

“Car Week” in Monterey, California is kind of a big deal.  A lot of automotive enthusiasts have heard of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  Don’t you dare call it just a “car show,” because its organizers are that confident it’s much, much more than that.  The event, which started in 1950, draws some 15,000 spectators annually who come to see some of the finest collector vehicles in the world.  When you consider that ticket prices are $375 a pop, it comes out to a $5.6 million event.  “Big smoke,” in the words of my grandpa.  This ain’t your everyday cars & coffee. And it’s for a good cause, too.  The proceeds from the event benefit United Way and other charitable organizations.

What many don’t know is that there are dozens of other automotive events in the Monterey Bay area of the Central California coastline the same week as Pebble.  My friend Rob and I flew out to attend two very special activities.  One of those was “The Quail” Motorsports Gathering, held at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club with its lush green lawns and clubhouse facilities.  Acura is a major sponsor at The Quail and I first attended this event in 2016, wide-eyed and awestruck at the quality and class that it exudes.

Once again I was given the opportunity to attend The Quail, but this time with an added extra bonus.  True to Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” slogan, the company has become increasingly active in racing and motorsports.  On Thursday morning bright and early, my friend Rob and I flew from Phoenix to San Jose, then hit up the beach in Santa Cruz since we had a little bit of time to kill.

We checked into our ‘tiny house’ AirBNB rental in nearby Soquel up a scenic, windy canyon road.  The house was far out of reach from any cell phone signal, which was actually kind of nice!  After a wardrobe change, we made our way to the Carmel Valley Lodge in Carmel for an exclusive debut.

Announced in early July, in partnership with Penske, a new “Daytona Prototype International” (DPi) racecar will make its first race at the Rolex 24 in Daytona, Florida in January.  Named the ARX-05, the racecar is powered by a 3.5 liter, twin-turbo V6 engine (fundamentally similar to that which powers other Acura models today).  Acura pulled the sheets off the car to a group of enthusiasts (including me) on Thursday night.

In attendance were stakeholders from both Acura and Penske, as well as a few celebrities sprinkled in:  While everyone else was in sport coats and neckties, Jay Leno came down the entryway stairs in his typical head-to-toe denim fashion.  Comedian Adam Carolla, actor Jesse Metcalfe, and Motor Trend’s Johnny Lieberman were also making their rounds through the crowd.  I enjoyed the chance to reconnect with friends who were there from the NSX Club of America and other Acura enthusiast communities.  And the ARX-05?  Absolutely stunning!

Acura’s head of PR, Matt Sloustcher, at right here in the blue.

On Friday, we made our way to The Quail.  The 50-mile drive down Highway 1 from our tiny house in Soquel to Quail Lodge took us over two hours, thanks to traffic from Friday commuters + car show people like us.  At least the instructions were clearly laid out:  We needed to stash our Hyundai Sonata rental car in “sponsor city” car lot, check in for our credentials, and then ride a shuttle bus to the entrance.

We made it to the Acura booth just in the nick of time for the press conference at 11:20 a.m.  First on the stage was Matt of Acura Public Relations, pictured above.  Then Art St Cyr, President of Honda Performance Development, introduced the ARX-05 to the crowd and turned the time over to Roger Penske for a few closing remarks.

Rob, Ira, and I made the rounds to experience some of the cuisine and beverages at the 5 food pavilions.  Each one was regionally themed (Beverly Hills, Carmel Valley, China, Italy, and France).  My favorite was the fried rice at the China booth.  We got ice cream for dessert at Infiniti’s display.  There was no shortage of buffet-style dining at this event!  That’s probably one of the reasons why each of the 3,000 tickets go for $600 a piece.  Champagne and caviar?  Right this way, please!  Notice, too, the restrooms are called “water closets.”

There was a ride-and-drive station set up on the outskirts of the grounds where people would sign up in advance to drive the NSX and other Acura models.  Acura’s RLX, debuting for the 2014 model year, was the successor to the RL, which was the successor to the Legend, so naturally it holds a special place in my heart.  Sales success has not been great historically, but with some enhancements for the 2018 mid-cycle refresh, it might just gain some relevance in the marketplace.  The RLX puts a total of 377 horses to the ground via all-wheel drive in the upgraded trim level.  From a design perspective, it now more closely resembles its smaller TLX sibling.  My favorite view is the rear.

In the evening, Rob and I met up with my friends Scott & Sandy for dining at a Mexican place in Carmel:  A fun, walkable town along the coastline.  Saturday’s flight back to Phoenix came around midday and I was delighted that our travels toward the San Jose airport took us through some very scenic and curvy backroads.  Now, if only I’d had a car better than a Sonata rental to experience them in!  Many thanks to Acura for the invitation to participate in this weekend’s activities!   More photos and a short video follow.

Airport bound in the 1994 Vigor GS!

Beachfront view while we ate lunch at Picnic Basket in Santa Cruz

Headed up the canyon road to our place in Soquel

Kicking back!

Evening arrival at Carmel Valley Lodge

By this time we had met up with my Oregonian friend, Ira (at right)

Sharing some remarks on the newly-redesigned 2018 RLX

Friends from the NSX Club of America – with a great photo bomb by Acura President, Jon Ikeda

Chris, Ira, May, Tyson – NSXCA Members

Jhae Pfenning and Peter Cunningham – a couple heroes of mine!

And the one and only Jesse Metcalfe, as seen in Desperate Housewives

Rob and I looked like a couple of church missionaries in our dress attire and bland midsize sedan

The Quail entrance.  That grass is real!  Totally immaculate.

Having ice cream from Infiniti

One of the only Hondas I saw there:  An S800 roadster

NSXCA group again

Come right on in!

More scenery

Dinner friends Scott & Sandy in Carmel

Saying goodbye to the tiny house in Soquel before flying back to Arizona

Logan, Utah Weekend Trip: Family History, Tasty Food, & Great Roads

Posted in Road Trip, TL, Utah on August 16, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,414

Odometer (TL):  99,872

Trip Distance:  1,700 Miles

Merrill Vernon Hansen was my great-grandfather.  Born September 18, 1902, he would have been turning 115 years old next month, but he passed away before I was even 4 years old.  About the only thing I remember of him was when he’d stick his big finger in my face and say, “Are you grandma’s boy?”

Merrill was a man who I wish I had gotten to know better – along with so many of my other ancestors.  But one of the highlights of the past weekend in my home state of Utah was thumbing through a few of his books where he’d written messages inside the covers.  One such example was this page from his Holy Bible.  He was 21 years old and getting ready to depart for the “Eastern States Mission” for his church when he wrote this down on Friday, February 29th, 1924.  Not a bad penman!

Grandpa Hansen had a lot of preparations to do at that time.  A week and a half later on Wednesday, March 12th, he would be departing for New York City and spending the next two years of his live giving voluntary service, with very limited contact with family and friends back home in Utah.  So on March 7th, he bought shaving cream for 35 cents.  On March 8th, he got a haircut for a quarter.  And that same day, he bought flowers for his mother as well as for his girlfriend Della – who later became my great-grandmother.  Guess they did the trick.  Here was his expense ledger.

It was later in his life when Merrill opened up what we believe to be Cache Valley’s first automotive service station.  I talked about that here a few years ago.  He lived a long and prosperous life until his passing in 1985.

I was glad to learn a little more about Grandpa Hansen thanks to a weekend road trip up north.  In the 4 months I’ve had my 2007 TL, the poor thing has been stashed away in the garage for a good chunk of that time.  I decided to change all that – in a big way – by taking a 4-state, 1,700 mile journey to visit friends & family.

I had a special guest along for a good chunk of this ride:  My 87-year-old grandmother (and Merrill’s daughter), affectionately known to our family as “Lamb,” took the passenger seat for a time.  With a bad left hip and a frail build, she’s used to being transported in vehicles with higher step-in height, like her PT Cruiser or dad’s MDX.  So when she sunk into the cockpit of my car, she said, “In these sedans, you just disappear.”

I’d only driven a mile or two northbound on Highway 89 in Logan Utah with her and had to pull over one more time – grandma hadn’t fastened her seat belt so the car was warning me with its repetitive beep.  We got that taken care of.  We completed our shopping trip to Kohl’s for some bath towels and a lunch date at Cache Valley’s best pizza joint, called Fredrico’s.  Grandma is the most savvy shopper I’ve met:  We got $36 worth of merchandise for $2.71 thanks to her gift card mailer and some clever couponing.  Score!

Rewinding to the start of the trip, I experienced one of Arizona’s famous “monsoon” thunderstorms on Highway 93 between Wikieup and Kingman – drenching me enough that visibility was next to nothing and I became grateful for fresh wiper blades and grippy Michelin Pilot tires.  By sunset, I rolled through Las Vegas and then had only two hours left until my nightly stop at mom’s place in southwestern Utah.

After a workday in St. George, I motored 4 more hours north.  The TL makes a long-haul drive pretty effortless, thanks to its torquey V6 and low revs in 6th gear.  The sound system – I’ve said this before but it deserves another mention – is absolutely rocking.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Celine Dion “Us” blasting through an ELS Surround Sound System.  Most of Interstate 15 is set at 80 miles per hour speed limits so the farmland passes by with ease and quickness.

My friend Branson and I did dinner that evening in Salt Lake at one of my absolute favorite (though very “chain”) restaurants:  Texas Roadhouse.  I’ve known Branson for 14 years now.  We initially connected – this won’t surprise any of my readers – through the car community since at the time we were both driving Acura Legends.  His current Legend coupe, in fact, inspired my selection for the TL’s license plate, so it seemed appropriate that we lined the two cars up side by side for pictures.

Finally, on Saturday morning I hit northern Utah and southern Idaho.  My friend Ryan (guess what – met him through his old Legend, too!) introduced me to his current collection of Audis.  He has 6 cars and in that sense he “speaks my language” as a car hoarder myself.

I also had the opportunity that afternoon to visit the campus of Utah State University – born in 1888, and later, the institution that granted me a Bachelor’s degree in 2005.  The Business facilities have vastly improved since my time on campus but it was fun to roam around some of the same pathways and corridors I hadn’t seen in 12 years.

Dad took me and my niece Vivienne for an ATV ride a few miles up Providence Canyon near his home and we got to check out a couple of waterfalls.  He whipped up homemade tacos and we dined al fresco on his back deck in Providence overlooking the valley below.  The sunset across the Wellsville Mountains always seems a bit like a postcard.

The reason for the trip overall came on Sunday morning, when I transported grandma to Kaysville near Salt Lake City for a church service.  My 21-year-old cousin, Cache, just returned last week from his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.  His mission assignment geographically centered around Anaheim, California.  A congregation of about 200 people, including friends, family (like me), and other “ward” members gathered in the chapel to hear Cache address the crowd.  He recounted some interesting stories and words of wisdom.

Cache’s experience was a lot like mine:  I spent the years 2001-2003 in southern California on a similar mission.  Here my assigned “companion” and I were riding a tandem bike in September 2001.

These were some of the children in a family we taught in the community of Ramona.

Cache’s mom, my aunt Shelly, hosted an open house with enough food to feed everyone (times two) and then I hit the open road to continue my long southward trek home.

It was convenient for me to spend another night in St. George and visit a few more family members on my way.  I opted to take the more scenic way home via Fredonia and Flagstaff, Arizona as opposed to going through Las Vegas again.  It was a good choice:  Open roads, stunning scenery, and a to-go lunch of a chicken salad sandwich from grandma.

Hope you enjoyed being a part of this journey!

Branson doesn’t like the camera!  Here he was taking the TL for a spin.

Those rolls at Texas Roadhouse, though!

Odometer on Branson’s coupe.  He’s had it since around 120,000.

Garlic bread, dripping in butter, from Fredrico’s in Logan.

The home in Logan where I lived until I was about 13.

With grandma, and my brother Payton, at a family member’s gravesite.

Someone likes Buicks!

Figured I might as well cross off a state for the TL since I was only a few miles away.

It was around that time that it rolled 99,000 with Ryan at the wheel.

Ryan knew about a scale that we could drive onto at a nearby manufacturing plant.  We hopped out of the car.

The TL weighs 3,540 pounds without us in it.

Saturday night vibes – having gelato from Zeppe’s Italian Ice.

Scooter race!

Another page from Grandpa Hansen’s Bible.

How many choices do you need?  Maverik in Washington, Utah.  First time I’ve ever seen 88 octane “Clear Gas Ethanol-Free.”  I just went with Premium 91.

Jacob Lake, Arizona

Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona

My favorite piece of road.  This straddles the UT-AZ state line.