Archive for August, 2011

TireKicker Feature

Posted in Legend on August 31, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  491,877

I’m just 88 mph short of being able to take a trip back to 1985 — or 2015, depending on which of the Back to the Future trilogy you prefer.  The Legend today was named a “time machine” by automotive enthusiast and journalist Michael Hagerty, owner & operator of TireKicker.

Since 2008, Michael has road tested an average of 100 new vehicles per year and provided the everyday driver with a concise and un-biased look at the cars and trucks hitting the showrooms today.

Michael and I met in mid-2009 when he at the time was working for a local Phoenix-area news station and doing a short story on people who’ve kept their cars beyond 200,000 miles.  At the time, my coupe had a mere 378,000 on the odometer.  It was a pretty unreal experience turning on the morning news before work and seeing my car on the big screen.

June 2009 – Scottsdale, Arizona

Michael and I have kept in occasional contact via email since then, and today, he posted about the “time machine” Legend on his blog.

Have a look at some of his reviews and you’re bound to be pulled in like I was.  How jealous I am of his chance to savor so many different vehicles.  Take a look at TireKicker’s “Top 10” vehicles on the right hand margin of his blog and other “Top” cars in other categories.  It makes me feel a bit boring to have stared at the same 1994 dashboard for the last 9 years and 397,000 miles.  Thanks, Michael, for the shout-out!

Check out TireKicker here:

Beach Bummin’

Posted in California, Legend, Road Trip on August 28, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  491,774

This weekend’s trip was yet another PHX-LAX adventure and a nice reprieve from the temps pushing 120 degrees in Arizona.  Having the ocean within a short 6-hour drive is just too appealing this time of year!

In Quartzsite, Arizona – just inside the western border of the state – I made a pit stop at what may very well be my future home: the Tyson Mobile Home & RV Park.  It’s named after a wash that runs through the area.  Quartzsite doesn’t have much else to offer except that it’s the gateway from Interstate 10 to Highway 95 north to Lake Havasu.

I’ve passed this California welcome sign a hundred times or more but never stopped for a picture until now.  Just prior to this is a mandatory checkpoint where all motorists entering the state must stop.  It’s called an agriculture inspection, and it’s administered by the California Department of Food & Agriculture.  To this day I’ve never been delayed for longer than a couple of seconds before being waved onward by the inspectors.  They’ve also never asked if I have any agriculture on board.  Seems kind of like a pointless effort?

I was welcomed to Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach by a pair of Acuras on either side of me.  I felt right at home!  Unfortunately, neither driver acknowledged my thumbs-up when I rolled up next to them.

After a stop at the beach to visit with a couple of friends who were there, I met up with my buddy Brett on his lunch break.  He drives an insanely clean Canterbury Green Legend sedan.  This guy’s shine puts even a new car’s paint to shame.

See Exhibit “A”!  Hi, Brett!

Finally, I battled traffic on the 405 northbound to meet up with my friends Matt and Kennie in Venice.  What was supposed to be a 40-minute drive ended up closer to two hours!  How the California freeways can be so backed up a Saturday afternoon for no apparent reason is beyond me.  I got a thorough leg workout running the clutch in stop-and-go.  We took a short jaunt up Pacific Coast Highway to Will Rogers State Beach just north of Santa Monica.  The sunset was at its peak when I arrived so I snagged a couple of pictures.

This morning’s return trip to Phoenix was uneventful to say the least.  There is so little activity going on in the desert on these barren stretches of Interstate 10 that even the sign approaching Indio just says “Other Desert Cities.”  From here on out, it’s a chance to zone out at 75-80 mph for 4 hours until approaching the Phoenix area.  Thank goodness for ice cold A/C because it was smokin’ hot out there today.

Things are looking good for the next 8,226 miles!  Next scheduled maintenance will be an oil change at around 493,300.   Keep on truckin’.

I <3 Acura

Posted in Legend on August 26, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  490,826

Couldn’t help but capture a classic Arizona sunset on my way to dinner Wednesday evening.

In a prior life before my days in the prescription Rx biz, I worked a couple of years for an airline.  Without fail, any time I wore company-logo apparel around town I’d be signing up myself to be a customer complaint sounding board.  Seems everyone loves to talk about their missed connection, lost baggage, or uncomfortable seat.  I had to grin yesterday as I wore one of my new Acura Polo shirts yesterday because the experience was so very different.

I wore my black Acura polo shirt to the office.  By noon, three people had already commented on it.  First thing this morning, Tami who I work with said, “I really like your Acura shirt.”  She drives a TSX but is totally NOT a car person.  She somehow managed to run out of gas in a loaner TL once.  That’s how little she pays attention to her car.

Walking to get a sandwich at lunch, cutting through the parking lot of a medical complex.  A lady of senior citizen age got out of a red Jetta and I was text-messaging on my phone as I walked.  “Great cars,” she said.  I asked, “What?” as I looked up, thinking she was talking about her VW.  “Acura… they make amazing cars!”  I said, “Yeah I agree, that’s what I drive.”

After ordering a sandwich at the deli, one of the guys behind the counter asked, “Do you work for Acura?”  I told him that no, I just drove one.  He said, “Oh man, my friend just got a new TSX and I drove that thing and didn’t want to get out.  That car felt like it drove itself!”  I nodded and told him about how my friend just purchased the wagon equivalent and loves it.  I think I’ll be stocking up on more Acura clothes because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so popular!

I was reminded of an Acura Legend “meet” years ago (March 2008) when a few of us local PHX-area enthusiasts met at Acura of Tempe and then took a scenic cruise in our Legends to Tucson.  We proudly wore our new T-shirts for the day.  This was a candid shot that surfaced in the meet pictures later on.  That’s Rosalinda, myself, and Ethan checking out Ethan’s latest additions to his 1993 LS 6-speed coupe.

Happy Friday to all my readers, and TGIF!  This weekend’s plans are yet to be determined, so if you have a roadtrip destination in mind, post it in the comments!  Safe travels to all this weekend.

My Commute

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on August 23, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  490,622

One of the questions I get asked most frequently when people learn of my many travels is, “Are your road trips work-related?” or, “Do you work in sales?”  The answer to both questions is no.  My Monday through Friday drive to work is a measly 10 miles each direction.  The mileage accumulation on the Legend comes almost entirely from my weekend/leisure adventures.  I stuck my point & shoot digital Canon camera to the top of the car this morning and drove to work with it recording.  Enjoy with me my sped-up commute.  In reality, it takes about 18 minutes.  I left the house this morning around 6:45 and the freeway you see featured here in Loop 101 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

You should have seen some of the looks I got from fellow motorists as they eyeballed my video equipment atop the car.

Chance Encounter

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on August 22, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  490,580

Phoenicians love to flock (or phlock!) to the hills on warm summer weekends to beat the heat.  Payson, Arizona is a short 70-miles away via curvy technical 4-lane highway (3,000 ft+  in elevation gain) so I decided to see what was going on up north for a bit.  Shortly after arriving there, I saw a call come in from my friend Chuck.  “Where are you?” he asks.  I told him I was in Payson.  “Look four cars behind you,” was his response.  As it turns out he and his wife Patty were heading back to Phoenix from a cabin weekend.  We decided to rendezvous for an impromptu lunch.

Chuck also just happens to drive an Acura Legend that similar to mine is equipped in LS trim with a 6-speed manual transmission.  His car, however, has seen far less use since 1993 than mine has.  Interesting fact:  My car has averaged about the same number of miles PER YEAR that his has accumulated in total over its entire 18 years.  With just 29,356 miles on the odometer, his coupe has averaged 1,600 miles annually.  A baby!

Two extremes in the mileage spectrum united today for a photo.

I took care of some routine maintenance yesterday morning at Acura of Tempe.  Never have I seen another customer lounge with such amenities!  Juices, sodas, fresh baked cookes, fruits.  It’s no wonder I intentionally show up with an empty stomach when I take the car in for service.  I’m often asked how often I have to get oil changes based on my hyper-mileage driving patterns.  Typically I drop $35-40 on an oil change about once a month.  Yesterday’s receipt notes that my Optima red-top battery (new exactly 3 years ago) has failed the load test.  Battery life in the desert seems to be 3 years.  The heat just kills them.  I didn’t opt for a replacement at this time.

Dana, “my” service advisor, declined the chance to star in a photo but did allow me to take one at her desk.  Thanks Dana for taking good care of me!

With that, I added yet another line to the maintenance spreadsheet.  As a data analyst by trade, I could have a heyday with this spreadsheet but I won’t bore my audience other than by saying that as of today, the Legend has cost $28,304.32 to operate since the day it was new.  This number won’t include anything associated with registration, emissions inspections, fuel, or insurance.  And I’m fairly confident I’ve left off “most” of my sets of tires (since I’ve gone through 13 different kinds of rims – a story for another day).  Also – the $28k won’t reflect any expenditures related to accessorizing.  These are strictly wear and tear, keep-it-on-the-road dollars.  If you’re curious, it comes out to 5.8 cents per mile over 490,322 miles.

Have I been better off by spending 5.8 cents per mile over the last 8 1/2 years keeping this car on the road as opposed to buying a new vehicle?  Depends.  I haven’t had a car payment in years.  And the way I look at it, most maintenance items can apply even to a new vehicle.  I’d still be in the dealership for an oil change monthly even if I drove a 2011 model.  It’s an argument you can take either way.  Truth is, there’s nothing else I’d “like” to drive right now (within my budget anyway) more than my Legend, so for me keeping it on the road is the best answer.

I always love browsing the local pick-n-pull salvage yards to see what kind of treasures I can dig up.  Yesterday afternoon, my Legend-owning friend Spencer and I went to one of the yards in Chandler, Arizona.  We found only four 1991-95 Acura Legends in inventory — all sedans, all automatics, and all only “L” trim models.  No treasured parts here, although we did pull he audio/cruise steering wheel buttons off this tired old 1991 Cobalt Blue ride.  I think I got second degree burns when I put my hand on the hood for this picture.  Metal in 106 degrees & sun:  don’t try this at home.

I also take note of the odometers of cars that interest me in the salvage yards.  The highest achieved on any of the Legends in there was 215,000.  It’s too bad they for whatever reason were retired before their time.

Spencer’s car – 1994 Legend LS coupe, Cashmere Silver Metallic 6-speed manual.

I’ll close out today’s entry with a for-sale plug for my friend Mirel who’s selling his gorgeous (and rare) 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed in Granada Black Pearl.  I visited him yesterday to take some pictures of it for an out-of-state friend who’s interested.  A link to his craigslist ad follows.

The refrigerator in my home proudly wears my magnetic name badge from last week’s visit to Acura on its door.  Signing out!

St. George, Utah

Posted in Legend, Road Trip, Utah on August 15, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer: 490,025

TOP TEN COUNTDOWN now in effect! 

It’s all downhill from here.  The big 4-9-0 was achieved on Interstate 17 southbound in Glendale, Arizona this afternoon near the Thunderbird Road exit.  I’d been returning from a trip to my homeland.

If a bridge existed over the Grand Canyon, I’d probably have a lot fewer miles on my car than I do today.  The Great State of Utah is where my roots lie and where all my family currently resides, so I end up going around the nat’l park frequently.  The Legend could drive itself to Utah on autopilot from just about any direction.  I typically visit my hometown in the southwestern corner of the state at least once a month – a roughly 400 mile, 6 hour trip from the PHX metro area each way.  After leaving Los Angeles on Saturday morning, I set out northbound to UT instead of eastbound to AZ.

The trek through the Mojave Desert from the LA area to St. George is a breeze.  It only takes one freeway, I-15, to get from A to B.  I hadn’t driven this stretch of road in several years so I took the chance to appreciate a couple of my highlights on this particular trip:

Between the desert cities of Barstow and Baker, California, lies a road known as Zzyzx.  I captured this image while holding the camera out of my open sunroof.  Besides being a fun word to look at, the road does have a bit of history.

Credit to Wikipedia for the following background:  The name Zzyzx was given to the area in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, claiming it to be the last word in the English language. Springer made up the word’s pronunciation “zy-zicks”. He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa in 1944 at the spot, which was federal land, after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres surrounding the springs. He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the hot desert.

In light of the fact that I captured a picture at the World’s Largest Firecracker last weekend, I had to make a pit stop at the World’s Tallest Thermometer on Saturday.  This particular engineering marvel is significant because of its announcement of Baker, California as the gateway to Death Valley.  It was also the first backdrop I ever used during a photoshoot with my Legend.  I made a stop here on my drive home to Utah after purchasing the car in San Jose, California on the night of March 27, 2003.  Here is the picture from that day many years ago.  Pic of a pic = poor quality.  This was back in the olden days of 35mm film.

And the current version from this weekend.  Thankfully the car looks largely the same even after all those miles.  It certainly runs just as well.

The thermometer is the most prominent feature of this town of around 700 people.  It stands 134 feet tall – a number significant because that was the highest temperature recorded in Death Valley (see my blog post from last weekend!).

Hidden among my cargo for this trip was a set of 17″ Toyota wheels that I had picked up in AZ for my brother to deliver to him.  This is far from the first time my Legend has doubled as a pickup truck.  When I managed to fit four full size SUV wheels including tires into my 2 door car last week, the look on the seller’s face was priceless.

Quick shout-out to my friend Jeremy who drove to St. George this weekend and spent a little bit of time with me and my family.  He’s the one who encouraged me to start this blog in the first place.  He’s got pretty good taste in cars too and is as loyal to Lexus as I am to Acura.

Before the Phoenix return trip this morning, I stopped for a quick picture on the hill overlooking town. The DIXIE painted on the side of the sandstone ledge denotes this area as “Utah’s Dixie” since it was settled in the 1800’s by Mormon pioneers who were sent to the area to grow cotton.  Look extra closely at this picture and you’ll see some adventurous people rappelling – one atop the rock, and another inside the “D.”

The most prominent building, to the right of the frame, is the Mormon temple.

Despite the opening of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge, there’s still a traffic bottleneck in that area on summer weekends and today was no exception.  I hit about a 15-minute delay but otherwise today’s return trip to PHX was most enjoyable.  My favorite stretch of “straight line” road lies just south of the dam access road (laugh it up, I said dam road).  It’s Hwy 93 and it leads you to Kingman, Arizona on a 60 mile journey where you literally can just leave your steering wheel positioned straight ahead and not touch it for the duration.  Boring to some, but I find it a great chance to set the cruise control and just space out a little bit to some good music while watching the desert fly by.

I’m often asked if I have any predictions on where or when the 500,000 mark will roll around.  At this point, I’m really not sure!  Looking ahead to the next 10,000 miles, I don’t anticipate any major roadblocks to getting me there.  Mechanically there are only a few things on the car that I’d say may need some attention.

  • That clutch – I keep saying it – continues to perform but is definitely not happy about it.  It will be a real feat to milk another 10k out of the original.  In the meantime, my left leg gets a workout.
  • Brake rotors.  They’re original too!  Per my records, they were machined at 37,409 miles by Pleasanton Acura and then machined again at 89,784 miles by Precision Auto Repair.  I’ve never touched them during my ownership which started at 95,000, but have done a few sets of pads along the way.
  • I still haven’t changed the multi-crack windshield but at this point, I’d rather just roll around with the old one as long as I can.

I’ll close out with a sunset pic from last week at my home.  Arizona has the best sunsets!  Onward to 500,000.

Los Angeles, California

Posted in California, Legend, Road Trip on August 13, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  489,175

An early morning departure for Southern California was the beginning to an action-packed Friday full of Acura adventures.  I had the opportunity this afternoon to attend an exclusive event at Honda/Acura headquarters in Torrance commemorating the Acura brand’s 25’s anniversary celebration this year.  Along with the invitation came the opportunity to preview and test drive each model in the current fleet.

My car-nut friend Matt handled navigation duties from the shotgun seat while we found our way to Honda America’s corporate office this morning.  Some very loud Metallica music and a pit-stop for caffeine assistance at Starbucks in Indio, California helped us overcome the lack of sleep and 5:30 a.m. departure.  I missed the photo-op for the 489,000 milestone somewhere on the 91 freeway.  We arrived at our destination a few minutes ahead of schedule and I was thrilled to have a few minutes to stretch my legs.

Acura really rolled out the red carpet for a handful of us today.  I had the distinct honor of meeting folks from various other online blogs, including, the Acurazine folks, Cars Direct, Temple of VTEC, and others.  We received a feast for both our tastebuds (free lunch!) and our eyes while we watched some of this year’s promo spots for the refreshed model lineup and learned about some of the impressive heritage that Acura has developed over the years.  The next part of our visit was a special visit to the Honda Collection – a warehouse full of mint condition and usually low-mileage examples of some of Honda & Acuras models from over the years.  I was a kid in a candy store.

Finally, I got to drive some of today’s Acura models.  Having driven an Acura flagship model as my daily driver for the last 8+ years, my first pick for my test lap was the 2011 RL.  I wore a huge grin I’m sure as I took my lap around the block in this fine car.  It probably helped that, unlike in Phoenix, I was able to roll all four windows down and drive with the moonroof open without running the risk of heat stroke!  The SH-AWD was a nice treat and handling was predictable and responsive.  The technology has sure come a long way, too.

Among my other test drive “victims” were the TSX 6-speed, TL SH-AWD, and ZDX.  A fine lineup of automobiles and I’d be proud to own any one of them.  A few pictures to go along with today’s write-up:

Dave who leads the Acura Auto Show team gives us some history on the brand.

Here we are with Dave and Brad.  I’ve known Brad for quite some time now and it was great to reconnect with him on this visit.  He’s the man when it comes to knowing the ins & outs of the Honda Collection.

Here’s a glimpse at the car that started it all:  The 1986 Legend.

I had to take special note of the 1991 Acura Legend coupe in the collection.

Check out the odometer on this one.  300 miles.  Pretty safe to say this Legend coupe has had a life very different than mine!

What’s not to love about a pair of minty red NSXs?  The New Formula Red 2004 behind Dave has only 78 miles on the odometer.

Some of the other attendees – soaking it all in just like we were.

Sport mode!!  Yes, please.  The ZDX was a real treat to drive and got a lot of looks from people on the road.  I especially enjoyed the cooled seats.

A chance to interact with Aniela who coordinated our visit, as well as Gary and Shannon from Acura Public Relations (and others who I didn’t catch for a photo-op).  Great folks!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the Acura test fleet that we drove today.  I must have been too busy (and too excited) driving the cars to take a moment and photo document them.  Also, unlike on most trips, I ended up with zero pictures of the road warrior Legend, except for the glimpse you see behind Matt’s shoulder in the above picture as it sat outside conversing with its 2011 counterparts.

Huge thanks to our great hosts at Acura for a memorable afternoon.