Day Trip: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, National Parks, Road Trip on November 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  209,416

Trip Distance:  260 Miles

“Where should we meet up on Saturday?”

“Why?”

“Just so I can do a little mapping on times and distances.”

“So Why?”

That’s how a planning conversation about this trip could have gone.  Because, of all the places our group could have picked to rendezvous before venturing into the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, we picked the town of Why, Arizona.  And the term “town” is used very loosely, since it’s home to only about 100 people.  And, as we discovered, its only restaurant (Granny Mac’s Kitchen) is closed on Saturday – the one day of the week that we’d be visiting.  Guess we’ll have to sample Granny’s culinary creations on a future trip.

I’ve visited Why before – about 5 years ago, actually, and discussed a little about how its name came to be.  The intersection of State Routes 85 and 86 originally created a Y shape, but for safety reasons were later transformed to meet at a T.  It was here in Why, at the Why Not Travel Store where James Lee of Six Speed Blog and I awaited arrival of Jason from Driven for Drives.  In addition to snacks and drinks (though I was disappointed the nacho cheese machine was out of cheese), the Why Not store also sells Mexican automobile insurance policies for travelers who are on their way south of the border.  A liability-only policy runs $35 per day and “full coverage” rates vary.

We didn’t stick around long, because we had turf to cover a little south of Why.  Tucked into the far southern reaches of Arizona – literally, touching the international border with Mexico, is a special place that is remote in geography and picturesque in landscape.  Even now, when Arizona’s weather is at its prime and tourism should be at its peak, we had the park largely to ourselves.  Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was established 81 years ago in 1937 and sees just over 1/4 million visitors per year.  By comparison, another of Arizona’s parks, the Grand Canyon, sees about 7 million visitors per year.  I much prefer visiting the lesser-traveled park units.

Now with 3 cars in tandem – my ILX, James’ tester Corolla hatchback, and Jason’s Mazda 6, we visited the Kris Eggle Visitor Center.  It was named for a 29-year-old border patrol agent who was killed in the line of duty in 2002 by a Mexican drug smuggler.  The dangers of being so close to the border are very real, and even today, visitors are encouraged to travel in groups and only visit during the day.

A 15-minute overview film taught a little about the terrain and its history.  I noticed that a pair of hikers inquired with the park ranger about getting a token for completing one of the hikes, and later learned that any visitor who hikes 5 or more miles in the monument is eligible.  We also saw a 7 or 8-year-old take a “ranger oath” with his right arm extended.  Traditions like that make visits to the parks memorable.

The Ajo Mountain Trail was the main attraction for us, and despite the fact that it was rugged and unpaved for most of the 21-mile loop, we knew we had to check it out.  Per-car admission was $20 but to me it was worth it to be able to say I’ve “been there, done that.”  I led the way and kicked up a pretty good cloud of dust for my followers while we stayed in touch by walkie-talkies.  The trail extends eastward to the foothills and curves up to a panoramic lookout over the terrain.  The Sonoran Desert, we had learned earlier in the film at the visitor center, is notoriously one of the most “green” types of deserts, and even in summer displays a wide variety of plant life.  One of those plants, the Organ Pipe Cactus for which the monument was named, is native to the area and highly prevalent.

Since amenities immediately near the visitor center were few, we decided to back-track to the town of Ajo for a bite to eat at Agave Grill before splitting ways for the evening.  James gave his hamburger a little more pizzazz by adding avocado, bacon, and a fried egg.  Jason and I couldn’t help but play copy-cat and order the same thing.  The owner of the restaurant later came out to let us know how much the kitchen staff had enjoyed putting together our custom-ordered burger creations.

But the next time I visit, it’ll be on a non-Saturday so I can see if Granny Mac’s food compares.

Signage indicating proximity to Mexico.  Here’s where we headed south from Gila Bend on Highway 85.

Cab of an old pickup truck made into a fountain – with music playing from inside it!

Coyotes on the loose!

Your one-stop shop:

Jason received this text on his phone as we neared the border (though we didn’t cross it!)

Need a place to store your car?  Or your gun?  While in Mexico…

From the Why Not Travel Store:  “If you need a penny, take one.  If you need two, get a job!”

Interior of the OPCNM Visitor Center

Jason making some purchases

Headed out on the Ajo Mountain Road

Not a great place to have low clearance and low-pro tires!

Quick break near a summit on the trail.

Check the size of that saguaro cactus.

“Double arch”

Dinner spot at Agave Grill in Ajo, Arizona

The burger that wasn’t even on the menu.  We’ll call it, “James’ Juicy Creation.”

Hope you enjoyed coming along!

Mountain Bridges Classic Car Show 2018 – Mesa Arizona; Other Updates

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, NSX on November 8, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  564,623

Eenie, meenie, miney, mo, that’s exactly how I ended up picking which car to take to a ‘Cars & Coffee’ event last Saturday morning in North Scottsdale.  But apparently, I made the right choice, because I happened to pick the Vigor which led me to make a new friend who has the same model.  I coincidentally ended up near Gavin who drives a 1992 GS model in Rosewood Brown.  It’s an automatic with only 126,000 miles on it and he purchased it just a few months ago.  It was nice to have dual representation for such quirky cars, especially in a venue that attracts mostly high-end exotics.

It’s definitely car show season now.  While in some parts of the country, people are tucking their sportscars into hibernation and plugging them into the wall with battery tenders, here in Arizona it’s time to bring them outdoors and enjoy the primo weather.  This past Saturday, I attended the Mountain Bridges Classic Car Show in Mesa, Arizona, which I learned about through my friend Greg.  Now in its 9th year, the MBCCS is largely dominated by 1950s & 1960s American hot rods & muscle cars, but we decided to spice up the roster with a few cars from Japan.  Greg took his newly-acquired 1983 Honda City Turbo II, Hy took his 1993 Honda Accord SE, and I took my 1992 Acura NSX.

It was great to spend a couple of hours admiring some of the other sheetmetal including an exceptionally rare and clean 1988 BMW M3 “Evo 2” owned by a guy named Brian.  It was stunning for 30 years old.  I had some pork brisket from the food truck on-site and enjoyed engaging in commentary with some of the other attendees.

Here’s a short video from the show.

The other cars have had their own time in the limelight in recent weeks, too.  The Legend coupe made an 800-mile trip to southern Utah for a 7th birthday celebration for my nephew.  I met up with “Honda Pro” Jason Richmond while there, who was in the area in advance of the week-long SEMA automotive aftermarket show in Las Vegas the first week of November.  Here’s a photo from Pioneer Park in St. George – one of my favorite places to take car photos thanks to its scenic one-lane loop.

With the man himself, Honda Pro Jason.  He has amassed over 110,000 Instagram followers (and equally sky-high reach on other social venues) thanks to his work over the years as a Honda brand ambassador.  It was nice to connect with him & his family for a few minutes.

Speaking of my own Hondas, The 1990 Accord EX and 1993 Accord SE got historic tags, and I’ve already since sold the 1993.

I also burned a 16-song disc with the Billboard top hits, in descending order from 1990.  It will stay in the CD changer of the 1990 EX to enjoy each time I drive it.  These are some of the songs on it:

  • Hold On – Wilson Phillips
  • It Must Have Been Love – Roxette
  • Nothing Compares – Sinead O’Connor
  • Poison – Bell Biv DeVoe
  • Vogue – Madonna

These were a few photos from the craigslist for-sale ad for the 1993, which in typical Tyson fashion, went into great detail about the car’s ownership and maintenance history, despite the fact that I didn’t own it for very long.  I was able to get ahold of information about detailed maintenance services performed at the AutoNation Honda dealership in Tucson, including a timing belt just 4 years ago at 282,000.

I sold the car with 302,200 on the odometer.  It still ran and drove great, and passed emissions test requirements with flying colors.

Maintenance binder and dealer brochure – because, duh!  My asking price was $1,200 and I took $800.

Another shot from Cars & Coffee

More pics from the Mountain Bridges Car Show:

Interior of Greg’s City

With Hy and his 1993 Accord SE

Separated by 1 model year:

Following Greg’s City out.

Cruising the Legend coupe near the Strip in Las Vegas.  (Bellagio in the background)

Scenery in St. George.

A visit from my friend Kevin from GA.  Hi Kevin, if you read this!

Visit from my friend Matt from UT.  I know he’ll see this one!  Thanks for stopping by!

Group dinner with my friend Nick visiting from TX.  It’s been a busy few weeks!

Quick trip to Tucson in the Legend GS

Photo from 2003 with the Legend coupe at a Burger King in Utah.

Same location (okay, one spot over) 15 years later in 2018.  The main thing I noticed was that the pay phone at the corner of the building is now gone.  I love re-creations.

Have a great rest of the week!  Stay tuned for a drive this Saturday to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona.  I’ve been itching to get out of town and explore something new.

NSX Visitors, TLX Video, & a Gas Station Called The Thumb

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, TLX, Vehicle Reviews on October 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  72,211

You know when you’re at Chili’s and someone orders chicken fajitas that come out from the kitchen steaming sizzling and evoke interest from jealous onlookers at other tables?  That’s called the “fajita effect,” at least according to my friend John who was visiting from North Carolina this past week.  John was one of a few of my friends who joined for an evening at one of the American middle class’s favorite chain restaurants.  Since John was in his red 2000 NSX, my house that night looked a bit like an Acura dealership.  The other cars you see here are a loaner 2018 TLX, my friend Jack’s 2006 RSX, and my 2013 ILX.  Another friend commented, “All your exes (X’s) are home.”

John was in the middle of a monumental 8,000-mile road trip from coast to coast, and back.  He started out in NC around September 10 and made his way to San Francisco, California in time to participate in this year’s NSXPO.  From there, he spent additional time roaming around California, working his way south to spend time in Joshua Tree National Park before starting his eastbound return trip, which is what brought him through Phoenix.  He ended up staying 3 nights at my place and I was happy to have him around.

Joining the party was Trent Streeter from Tucson who you met in a recent AcuraConnected article, who drives a beautiful 1992 NSX in Berlina Black.  I made space in the garage for both to park indoors while they were at my house, and I must say I enjoyed having some nice looking eye candy in there!

We attended a Cars & Coffee event in Chandler, along with several other NSXs.

My NSX is running & driving in tip-top shape thanks to some extensive preventive maintenance performed at Acura of Tempe.  Here are the items that were addressed:  Replace timing belt, water pump, tensioners, cam sensor, outer belts, replace valve cover gaskets and cam seals, replace VTEC solenoid seals, replace coolant hoses, replace rear brake pads, resurface rear brake rotors.

While all of this was being done, I roamed around in a loaner 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD.  I enjoyed it a lot – especially its all-wheel-drive and confidence-inspiring handling during a couple of unusually rainy days here in Phoenix.  I put together a 10-minute video showing some of the highlights.  I took the car to a couple of important destinations.

One was a gas station & restaurant called The Thumb in Scottsdale which has been featured on TV (Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives).  They have great BBQ – I went with the pork brisket breakfast tacos, which sound like an odd combination, but trust me – it works.  They also sell race gas (95 octane).  I did not fill up the TLX with that.

The other destination was a historically significant home on 2nd Street in Phoenix near my office.  It was the site of 2 murders in 1931 by a woman named Winnie Ruth Judd.  She gained national notoriety not just for the fact that she killed her two roommates over a love affair, but because she later dismembered their bodies and mailed them in luggage via train to Los Angeles with intent of dumping the bodies into the ocean.  She spent most of the rest of her life in & out of insane asylums and court rooms, but lived to the ripe old age of 93.  I saw a film about her at a cool spot called FilmBar.

This purple home is where Winnie’s crime was committed.  Today, 87 years later, it’s surrounded by high rise condominiums.  It’s the only original home left on the entire block.

Here’s FilmBar where I saw the flick.

Here’s the video I put together on the TLX.

Another interior shot of The Thumb; this one features the fish tank.

Delicious breakfast tacos + potato salad on the side.

Racing fuel sold here!

Trent’s custom NSX interior.

Tyson, Trent, John

John gave me a silver NSX to add to my collection of memorabilia.

I got the 1994 Legend GS out for a bit of fun in the sun.

Special shout-out to my friend Rick from Rick’s Audi Double YouTube channel for sharing some logo stickers with me.  If you’re into car detailing and have even the slightest obsessive-compulsive disorder, you’ll definitely want to subscribe.

The 1990 Honda Accord EX got some mechanical loving this week with a $1,200 timing belt & water pump service at Hon-Man in Tempe.  The car’s prior timing belt was 10 years old and due for replacement for a time-based interval.  It is running & driving perfectly.

For those who haven’t had enough YouTube yet, I have 2 more videos for you to check out.  The first was put together by my friend Dom when I let him drive my NSX back in September at NSXPO.

In this next one regarding Acura’s return to Precision Crafted Performance, I make an appearance at around 6:40 in.

Fast Car Friday: 2018 Southwest Lifestyle Media Drive in Chandler, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on October 21, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,683

Every once in a while, I get to feast on an automotive sampler platter by driving a dozen or more new cars in a single day.  Sounds like a pretty awesome way to see where the auto industry is going, right?  This past Friday, I participated in the Southwest Lifestyle Media Drive in Chandler, Arizona at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

The available offerings came from a wide array of configurations:  A 104-horsepower Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid and a 797-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye are at vastly different ends of the performance spectrum, but both of them played a strong game as contenders in this unique “vehicle of the year” program.

The Southwest Lifestyle event builds on a former event called the Active Lifestyle Vehicle (ALV) of the Year that was 14 years running.  ALV Co-Founder Nina Russin stepped away after her many years of success, and journalist Becky Antioco took the reins to reinvent it as something fresh and new.  The result was a 1-day program hosted at the Bondurant Racing School facility where about 20 journalists put 17 vehicles through their paces and ultimately cast ballots to name top winners in 5 categories.  Here were the final results:

  • Car of the Year – Best Value:  2019 Kia Forte EX
  • Car of the Year – Performance / Luxury:  2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye
  • SUV/CUV of the Year – Best Value:  2019 Subaru Ascent
  • SUV/CUV of the Year – Luxury:  2018 Lexus LX570
  • Truck of the Year:  2019 RAM 1500 Longhorn

SLMD kicked off on Thursday evening with a reception at the Sheraton Grand Resort, giving local journalists the chance to interact with representatives from the auto manufacturers in a casual setting with food & beverages.  Friday’s activities started early, with a lineup of fully spit-shined new cars ready to pound the pavement by the time registration got underway at 8:00 a.m.

Both on- and off-road drive routes were made available – the latter subjecting the trucks & SUVs to a pretty gnarly series of terrain challenges that were custom-built for the event by Bondurant staff.  Scott Brown from Fiat-Chrysler was proud of how the company’s latest Wrangler “JL” made light work of those obstacles.  It was a very competitive playing field all around, and ultimately the Subaru took top honors.  Journalists may have been swayed by the fact that it has 19 cup holders.

For the on-road portion, a 20-minute drive route gave journalists the chance to subject vehicles to both city & highway driving environments, thanks to easy access to the Interstate 10 onramp and traffic-free surface streets in the near vicinity.  This playground was where I first experienced that nearly-800-horsepower Hellcat as well as the new, limited-edition 480-horsepower Ford Mustang Bullitt.

The Mustang’s release coincides with the famous Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt” which was released 50 years ago exactly, and the model plays homage to that heritage and history.  According to Sam Schembari-Negroni from Ford, engineers even modeled the car’s exhaust note after the original.  I found the car an awesome all-around package – especially its slick-shifting 6-speed manual.

Rounding out the lineup were an assortment of other trucks, SUVs, and passenger cars – each selected for the event because of the characteristics that make them great vehicles for folks living in the southwest.  In about 4 hours’ drive time – broken up by a delicious BBQ lunch sponsored by Fiat-Chrysler, I had the opportunity to drive 12 of the 17 vehicles, and I can say with a certainty that I’m excited about the direction things are going in the auto industry and it’s a great time to be a driver and enthusiast.

I thank the Southwest Lifestyle Media event directors as well as the automakers for the opportunity to participate!

New Kia Forte

With Natalie Kumaratne from Honda and James Lee from Six Speed Blog, at the opening reception

Our host facility for Friday’s fun

Event Directory Becky gives us a welcome & instructions

Test-driving a Honda Pilot Elite

The Volkswagen Alltrack, left, was 1 of 3 vehicles in the event with a manual transmission, which I was glad to see.  The Infiniti QX50, at right, was a nice family cruiser.

This was some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had.

My pick was a “burnt ends” combo platter with cole slaw on the side.

Winner in the luxo-SUV category was this big Lexus

Scott Brown, right, explains some of the features of the new “JL” Wrangler Sahara.

Weekly Digest: A Marathon, Some Accords, & NSXPO Follow-Up

Posted in Accord, Milestones, NSX, Reader's Ride, Running, Vigor on October 10, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,679

Odometer (Accord):  302,093

I have all sorts of news to catch up on here but I’ll keep the message short & sweet so the photos can tell the story.  There have been a lot of articles coming out on the recent NSXPO in San Francisco, but I’m particularly pleased with how this one came together.  I wrote a short piece on a father & son from Tucson, Arizona who both own NSXs.  It’s here on AcuraConnected.

I took the ILX to southern Utah over the weekend and competed in my 12th St. George marathon.  For about the first half of the 26-miler, it rained.  Adding to the struggle, my meager 3 miles of training didn’t amount to adequate preparation (shocker!) and my pace-per-mile reflected that.  In all it took me nearly 5.5 hours to finish, but my mom was there waiting for me at the finish proudly.

The ILX rolled 208,000 on the way to Utah Thursday evening.

My niece and nephews made a great cheering squad at about mile 25 when I passed by them (slowly).

Mom sat this one out but spent the day volunteering instead.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some ‘car fun,’ including a visit from my friend Michael who has a Fathom Blue ILX.

A couple of fourth-generation Honda Accords made their way to the house (for short- or long-term, not yet known) but I’m doing a bit of work on each one and enjoying getting to know the platform.  This particularly nice one is from a one-owner history right here in the Phoenix area.  While showing over 136,000 on the odometer, it easily looks like a car with < 50,000 miles on it.

Plus, what’s not to love about those automatic seatbelts.  Just like the ones in my two Integras.

This Mulberry Pearl car was featured on my YouTube a couple of months ago and I was shocked how quickly the video took off.  It’s now been viewed over 50,000 times and commented on over 700 times.  People have a lot of love for these old Accords!

The second Accord is this 1993 SE with 302,000 miles on it.  While it runs and drives well and has a very solid background & maintenance history, it does need some cosmetic and mechanical help so I’ll be putting some effort into it as time permits.

My friend Brad and his roommate Richard from Chicago stopped by.  Brad, sorry to post this one with your eyes shut!  But glad you were able to make a fly-by visit in Phoenix on the tail end of your 2,000-mile national park tour!  By the way, our weather cleared up right after you left.

I visited Acura of Tempe yesterday to drop off my NSX for a new timing belt & water pump, and took the time to admire my friend Leon’s 2001 Integra Type-R which is on display in the showroom.  You’ll recognize Leon’s car from JCCS 2018 in Long Beach recently.

My loaner while the NSX was in for service was this new TLX V6 SH-AWD with only 2,000 miles on it.  Do you like it?

I thought this article was a worthwhile read on a guy who hit 600,000 miles on his Accord, if you get time to check it out.

Finally, here are some cool ads someone sent me for the Vigor.  Acura’s marketing agency back in the day really had some skill.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

Bay Area Road Trip! “NSXPO” 2018 in San Francisco, California

Posted in California, NSX, NSXPO, Road Trip on October 2, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  113,388

Trip Distance:  1,600 Miles

(Photo Credit:  Eric Iwasaki)

Someone told me the other day in a text message, “You must really like cars if you’re traveling to see them.”  Well, yeah!  You just can’t attempt to explain an automotive obsession to someone who doesn’t understand it.  And that’s okay.

I was a participant a few days ago at this year’s largest gathering of Acura NSX owners in the country, deemed NSXPO and started in the late 1990s.  NSXPO is like NALM (the National Acura Legend Meet) but on a much larger (and more expensive) scale.  While NALM registration for this year’s Colorado Springs event was $90, NSXPO cost $400 – and neither of those, of course, included other expenses associated with the trip:  Fuel, lodging, most meals, and other incidentals.  This is a spendy hobby, but I can think of no more rewarding way to invest in a good time.

NSXPO reached capacity and sold out in just a matter of days after registration went live this past May – a full 4 months in advance of the event itself.  This marked my fourth NSXPO attendance, though admittedly I “cheated” and flew in for two of them:

Here are links to my prior NSXPO Write-Ups:

  • NSXPO 2015:  Palm Springs, California
  • NSXPO 2016:  Orlando, Florida
  • NSXPO 2017:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The four core planning committee members definitely had their work cut out for them with a group of this size.  Establishing logistics for an event of any size in the urban San Francisco Bay Area is a feat, let alone with over 230 people and 130 vehicles in attendance.  Pictured here are the core team members (May Lee in purple, Roger Estrella and James Ubarro in orange at right, and Les Rowe – not pictured, along with NSXCA President Peter Cunningham, and special guests).

My drive took me through Los Angeles, then upward on Interstate 5 — a road I’ve come to know and love in 2018 thanks to multiple trips:  Radwood, my Integra purchase, and then my Integra drive home.  Beyond that, I was also just in the Bay Area for Car Week.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the first two days of this year’s event – the track days at Thunderhill Raceway.  Then again, I’ve never been much of a performance driver and I have a lot to learn about pushing my car to its limits before I make a fool of myself!

For my own NSX, the trip to California was like going back home.  In December 2011, I purchased the car in San Jose.  It almost seemed like it was already familiar with the roads out there.  After a roughly 12 hour total travel time, I arrived at our host hotel, the Hyatt Regency SF Airport, on Thursday afternoon and arranged for a few local friends to come over and hang out.  We went out in downtown Burlingame that evening in my friend Ken’s 1987 Legend sedan.

On Friday morning, we braved commute traffic northbound to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was worth it.  The Golden Gate is perhaps the best-known in the SF Bay Area.  When completed in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, at 1.7 miles.  Today it has a $30 million “zipper” movable barrier system that allows lane usage & direction to alternate.

From Horseshoe Bay, we were able to take panoramic photos of all the cars lined up together.  Lunch was served up at the Presidio, with special guest speaker Graham Rahal, who has scored himself some impressive race wins during his career.  Graham was the youngest person to win an American open-wheel race, at age 19, which was ten years ago.

The evening took us out across the harbor from the Embarcadero pier area – a 45 minute bus ride from our Hyatt.  As dusk settled in, we were surrounded by stunning views of the illuminated city skyline from out in the water.  Dinner was served and we had a short program, all while boating along on a massive ship that took us out to the Bay Bridge, around Alcatraz Island, down to the A&T Ballpark where the SF Giants were playing baseball, and then back.  The round-trip adventure took about 3 hours, and the highlight was seeing our friend Randy Chua propose to his fiance.  (She said yes, which was received with a round of applause).

On Saturday, the caravan of NSXs rolled out toward the high elevation community of Woodside, tucked into the mountains about 30 miles south of SF.  Mountain Terrace served up a brunch menu there on the grass.  Unfortunately, I had to work that morning and arrived a little too late to join in on that – so I grabbed lunch on my own across the street at a historic spot called Alice’s.  It was originally constructed as a general store, but converted into a restaurant in the 1950s.  Today it serves a variety of car clubs and motorcyclists year-round, which explains why two of the sandwiches on the menu are the “Yamaha” and the “Honda.”  You can guess which one I ordered.

For the next hour, I pointed my NSX southbound on Skyline Drive and enjoyed the twisty roads and the scenery.  One particularly fun stretch had curves that narrowed to just a single lane of traffic with speed limits at 15 miles per hour.  I went a little bit faster than that.  The NSX excels in such a driving environment.

By the time I arrived at our next stop, Canepa Car Museum in Scotts Valley, most of the group had already beat me there.  The museum itself also doubles as a dealership, showcasing some of the finest sportscars I’ve laid eyes on.

My friend Dom made an appearance back at the Hyatt.  He and I have crossed paths in social media circles for some time now, but this was our first time hanging out in person.  He was in his blue 2013 ILX.  I threw him the keys to the NSX and let him take it for a whirl.  We finished our test drives just in time for me to quickly change into more formal clothes and get to the pavilion next to the pool.  Seating was already underway for our closing dinner and awards ceremony.

We were honored to hear from Motoharu Kurosawa, otherwise known by the name Gan-San, who had an extensive professional racing career.  Representatives from HART (Honda of America Racing Team) also addressed the congregation, while dinner was served.  Awards were given out for the best original and best modified NSXs, and the long-awaited announcement was made regarding dates & location for next year’s event.  NSXPO 2019 will be held in Washington, DC on October 9-13.

All too soon, NSXPO drew to a close and we bid farewell to some of our friends who we only get to interact with once or twice a year.  I caught a few hours of shuteye and hit the road early (but not yet bright) on Sunday morning, hauling the entire 11-hour, 800-mile stint with only a few short stops.  My NSX performed flawlessly and I had plenty of time to jam out to music and enjoy the drive.

Until next time!

Top level of the Hyatt in SF, full of NSXs

Pre-departure on the group drive to the Golden Gate Bridge

Rolling out

With friend and fellow automotive journalist Jason Cammisa who stopped by

Group parked at Presidio

Looks like this guy’s been to a few meets over the years!

Lunch time

My friend Ben’s 2005 Silverstone NSX-T….

…. with only 8,300 original miles!

My car with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

A visit from Dom and his Fathom Blue ILX 6MT

Bay Bridge

Gas station at Alice’s in Woodside

Group on the dinner cruise

View of the AT&T baseball field from our cruise

Perfect name for a road!

Curves all to myself

Having some fun near Skyline Drive

Very amazingly preserved 1991 Berlina Black NSX with Ivory interio

Jhae and his famous NSX

Lots of colorful cars out there at Canepa in Scotts Valley

A visit from David who has a Legend he showed at Radwood

Check out that yellow interior!

Driving home through some severe dust storms on the horizon

Hiking “Havasupai” Waterfalls: An 18-Miler into the Grand Canyon

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, National Parks on September 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  207,567

Trip Distance (Drive):  600 Miles

Trip Distance (Hike):  18 Miles

Imagine living in a place so remote that the cold Dr. Pepper you’re about to swig had to come in on a pack mule or be air lifted there by a helicopter.  Given the logistic challenges of sustaining a town so remote, I was surprised such a luxury was even available – let alone refrigerated.  I even got this one at a discount because the can had been damaged during mule transport.

I’m about to introduce you to a community that has thrived in the heart of northern Arizona for hundreds of years.  If you’re lucky, you’ll pick up a hint of 3G cell signal there.  But otherwise, the inhabitants of the village of Supai are about as “low-tech” as you can get in the year 2018.  (See location in the middle of this Google Maps screen shot).

I’ve lived within a few hours of the Grand Canyon my entire life and only been into the (mile-deep) middle of it one time, three years ago when some friends and I did a crazy, 26-mile, “South Rim to North Rim,” hike.  It was time to put the hiking boots back on (or, just my running shoes, in this case) and trek back into one of Arizona’s wonders of the world.

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is surrounded on all sides by the national park, and it’s one of the most difficult to obtain a hiking permit to access.  In fact, twice in the past (2008, and then again earlier this year), I’ve had a permit that has been cancelled or re-scheduled due to flooding in the canyon.  This time, we crossed fingers that our trip would proceed as planned, and it did – for the most part.

Havasupai is a word that means ‘havasu’ (blue-green waters) and ‘pai’ (people).  So the 639 people who live within the 300-square-mile reservation are the people of the blue-green waters.  They are governed by a constitution that was signed in 1939 and led by a seven-member tribal council.

Our party of nine met up at the crack of dawn – actually, a little before it – on Friday morning, September 21.  Getting there was a straightforward trek up Highway 89 from Phoenix, through the Route 66 towns of Seligman and Peach Springs, and then about 68 miles on a paved two-laner to the trailhead parking lot.

Getting all my gear into a backpack was no small challenge, and I had to carefully prioritize which items were critical for the trek.  The 8-mile initial drop into the town of Supai was easy thanks to cool morning temperatures, well-traveled pathways, and primarily downhill grade.  Amenities there were impressive:  A cafe, general store, schoolhouse, and churches were all all present – staffed by natives and welcoming to the estimated 200 tourists who are camping in the area on any given day.

We found the perfect campsite for our party.  It was two more miles down the dirt pathway and located right on the verge of Mooney Falls, which sent crystal blue waters cascading about 200 feet to the canyon below.  Kyle set up a hammock along the river and that ended up being my favorite place to (literally) hang out.  Best of all, we were disconnected entirely at that point from contact with the outside world.

On Saturday, we scaled the cliffside with assistance of chains & ladders to the pools below Mooney Falls.  It was an unforgettable experience in conquering a fear of heights.  The most unnerving thing about making the descent was the fact that over time, the rocks & ladders had worn smooth so grip was limited.  Besides that, the waterfall’s mist kept all footholds nice and slippery with water.  Yikes.

We enjoyed the sights & sounds of Mooney Falls for a couple of hours before making our ascent to camp again.  That afternoon’s highlight was getting a taste of some of the natives’ frybread.  A $12 taco with beans, cheese, and tomatoes was the ultimate afternoon snack and worth every penny to someone who was sick of eating dehydrated meals from tinfoil bags.  Jack opted for the ‘dessert’ version, drizzled in Nutella and caramel.  In fact, he had two, and made me promise not to tell anyone.  Sorry Jack!

Campfires are explicitly outlawed in the Havasupai region, so we told nighttime stores while huddled around the picnic table before calling it a night.

Already a little sore from two days of trudging around in the sand & water, I wasn’t feeling too keen on a roughly 10-mile (uphill) return hike to the parking lot on Sunday morning, so 3 from our party elected to take a helicopter from Supai instead.  It was my first time riding in a helicopter, and I was glad that I did.  The one-way fare for a 7-minute flight was $85 and because of limited seating (only room for 6) and a high volume of people leaving the canyon that day, it took about 4 hours until we actually got onboard.  The views were spectacular.

By the time we got back to our vehicles, the members of our group who’d opted to hike out had already beat us there and left the area.  I played catch-up in my ILX and reunited with Kyle, Jack, and Justin at Roadkill Cafe in Seligman before continuing the rest of the way into Phoenix.

The next time I crack open a Dr. Pepper, I’ll remember this trip with fond thoughts of sand in my shoes and a babbling brook underneath me in a hammock.  Here is a video and a few more photos from our adventure!

Hiking in

Group photo courtesy of mom’s selfie stick

Checking in at the Tourist Office, where we were issued wristbands with our group name & trip dates

Picture perfect postcard perspectives all around

Overlooking Havasu Falls

Another view of Havasu Falls

Caution sign prior to descending to Mooney Falls

View looking upward from the hammock

Havasu Falls

Frybread vendor

Group around the picnic table at our campsite

Group shot

Some of our gear

View from the helicopter ride out