Archive for August, 2011

Death Valley

Posted in California, Legend, Road Trip on August 7, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer: 488,417

Inevitably at some point during each work week I’ll get the question from coworkers:  “So, where’s this weekend’s trip?”  Maybe it’s because I have a giant US map pinned in my cubicle which serves no purpose other than to daydream daily about road trip destinations.  I got some odd looks from people when I told them I was planning on going to a place which has the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America — in August, too.

I set out yesterday to join a friend of mine, Brenda, for a visit to Death Valley.  We descended from about 3,500 feet in elevation to sea level – and below – within about 15 miles.  The landscape is a vast wasteland once you get into the valley.  No place to seek shade!  We packed in some water bottles to stay hydrated for good measure.

The following picture was taken just east of Stovepipe Wells Village in the park.  There are some sand dunes in the area.  Death Valley is known for its temperatures – the highest on record being recorded at Furnace Creek, at 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913.  Yesterday it was “only” around 113.

Check out the fuel prices in Furnace Creek.  I’m glad I filled up elsewhere.

This is a side-road off the main highway near Furnace Creek called “20 Mule Team” road.  It feels like another planet.  Desert Mist paint color sure does blend in with the desert.

Thanks Brenda for a fun afternoon!

You can’t pass by the World’s Largest “anything” without pulling over for a picture, so I did that here off Hwy 95 while en route to Vegas.

I stayed with a friend in Las Vegas last night and rolled back to the Phoenix area bright and early.  Shortly into the drive, I passed by Hoover Dam.  Until just recently, the highway went OVER the dam and it was notorious for being a traffic bottleneck.  A bypass bridge has since been completed that slices out the delay considerably.  This bridge is an impressive feat of engineering.  The road level stands 880 feet above the Colorado River, making this the second highest bridge in the United States.  I took a short detour to snag a picture over the edge of the bridge on the Nevada side (the river serves as the NV/AZ state line).  Hoover Dam is in the distance.

The Legend passed this week’s extreme heat durability test with flying colors.  Looking forward to the next adventure.

The Garage Queen

Posted in Legend on August 4, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  487,325

The coupe was in for surgery today and had its suspension worked on for the first time since the car was assembled in Japan in October 1993.  I had my mechanic at Highline Import Auto, Wes, install some new rear upper control arms to rectify some play we had noticed in the rear ball joints.  Aside from just being a safety concern, the original arms were causing a lot of uneven tire wear so I’m glad to get them taken care of.

Meanwhile, I’ll take a pit stop on the road to 500k to talk about my other ride which I drove to work today – a car that I initially picked up as a back-up for the high-miler, thinking I’d soon perhaps need a replacement (which definitely hasn’t been the case).  At any rate, it’s been handy to have a spare vehicle around the house for the last 3 years even if it spends most of its time slumbering in the garage.

I have an Acura Legend that’s essentially a twin to my LS coupe, but with two extra doors.  The 1994-95 Legend GS 6-speed sedans are arguably the most rare Legends ever sold, numbering only around 400 in total units over the two year run.

My purchase of the sedan Legend dates back to my days of undergrad at Utah State University where I first saw the car parked on the side of Main Street in Logan, Utah.  Even back then (2004) I knew of the car’s rarity and I staked it out and by chance happened to meet its owner just a few minutes later.  We kept in email contact for four years until Kent finally decided it was time to let it go.  I pulled the trigger and never looked back.  At the time of purchase (May 2008) the car had around 132,000 miles on it.  Today it sits at 141,700 so it’s hardly been driven.

This is a picture from 2010 taken in Tempe, Arizona by my friend John and featuring his gorgeous 1991 Acura NSX.  He has since traded the car on a new ZDX.

The intent of the photo was actually to duplicate the following from an Acura promotional brochure.  I think ours turned out better!

I’ve had a fun time restoring the Legend GS to its current condition but it hasn’t been cheap.  It started out in need of much TLC both mechanically and cosmetically.  Following are just a few of the things I’ve had to address:

  • New Optima red top battery
  • Changed manual transmission fluid
  • Replaced brake master cylinder
  • Replaced both axles
  • Replaced clutch, resurfaced flywheel
  • Replaced windshield
  • Replaced thermostat
  • Replaced antenna mast
  • Recharged A/C
  • Replaced fuel filter
  • Replaced spark plugs
  • Replaced radiator with Honda OEM
  • Replaced upper and lower radiator hoses
  • Replaced timing belt, water pump, drive belts, heater hoses

And then there are cosmetics.  This was an Illinois car originally and suffered for some minor rust around the rear quarter panels (very common for Honda/Acura models of this era in harsh winter environments).

  • Lip spoiler
  • Strip and re-tint, 20% sides and 5% back window
  • Hrant color-matched trunk mat
  • JDM door sill kick plates
  • OEM fog lights with PIAA H3 Ion Yellow bulbs
  • Full size GS spare tire with Michelin Primacy tire
  • Stromung exhaust
  • Burlwood and leather wrapped steering wheel
  • Rust removal and paint on rear quarters
  • Replaced clutch & brake pedal pads with new (details!)

Today the GS sees about 3,000 miles per year of road use.  The last time it was driven in rain was in July 2008 when I got caught in a surprise “monsoon” thunderstorm for the 3-mile drive home from church on a Sunday.  I’ve since detailed & painted the entire undercarriage and I shirk at the thought of taking the car out with even just one rain cloud in the sky.  Huge thanks to my friend Matt for shuttling me home tonight from a BBQ when the rains came down and I didn’t want to take the garage queen out from under cover :).

This photo was taken the day that I took delivery.  The car had a dead battery and couldn’t even leave the seller’s property without a jump.  it’s come a long way!

A friend of mine in the Los Angeles area, Scott Chu, helped me get some really great pictures of the car on a trip to California last year.

The best part about owning twin cars is that some of my non-car-savvy friends can’t even tell the difference between them.  I actually had a coworker ask me one day if I’d changed out my license plate.  She didn’t recognize that the entire car was different (the Legend sedan & coupe don’t share a single exterior body panel); she just thought that I’d decided to change out the tags.  Ha!