Archive for July, 2012

Day 6 – Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted in ILX, NALM, Road Trip on July 29, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  9,204

Trip Mileage:  3,744

Home sweet home!

As much fun as it is to travel, I love the feeling of pulling back into my driveway after a few days away.  The ILX not only survived its 3,744 mile journey, it actually seems to be performing ‘better’ the more experienced it gets.  My gas mileage went to a record (for me) high of 33 mpg today.

Over the course of the last 6 days, Alex the ILX and I have traveled an average of 624 miles per day.  That’s a lot of seat time!  But I’m happy to report that the newest member of the Acura family does not disappoint.  It instead delivers all the amenities I’ve come to know and expect over the last decade of driving Acura vehicles.

This is a look at the total trip, with a pinpoint at each of my nightly stops.

And this was today’s final leg of the journey:

Good morning from Gallup, New Mexico.  Looks like we got a little rain overnight.

Just 20 miles westward, I celebrated a reunion with my home state.

I shifted gears into a new music genre just for fun.  Ironically, “Cadillac Ranch” came on.  Just yesterday I drove past Cadillac Ranch and blogged about it!

At Holbrook, Arizona, I left interstate 40 and instead sought out some back roads to get me back to the Phoenix area.  Town was pretty quiet on a Sunday morning!

The first part of the drive looked a lot like this on Arizona Highway 277 – wide open roads, zero traffic, and perfect weather.

So perfect, in fact, that I opened the moonroof and enjoyed some of the fresh morning air.

Soon I connected with Highway 260 which winds along Arizona’s “Mogollon Rim.”  This is the area where I took my Acura Legend camping last year.  Beautiful area!

Finally, I was home!   Perhaps worth mentioning here:  I’ve driven 4,292 miles since my last oil change and the “Oil Life” indicator on the dashboard still says 70%.  These highway miles must be pretty easy on a motor.

The first order of business was a CAR WASH!  The last thing I want to do when it’s 100 degrees outside is let all those bugs get baked on.



AFTER.  Tucked in for a rest after the long journey.

Thanks for coming along on the ride to Wisconsin with me and I hope to share more adventures in the coming months!

Time for some rest & relaxation here.  Cheers!

Day 5 – Gallup, New Mexico

Posted in ILX, NALM, New Mexico, Road Trip on July 28, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  8,944

Trip Mileage:  3,484

I’m getting my kicks on Route 66!  Tonight’s motel is located on the historic highway which was completed in 1926 that linked Chicago with Los Angeles.  In fact, I’ve spent much of today retracing the original path of that road.

First thing I did before rolling out of Springfield, Missouri was re-create the picture that I took of my Legend from last year when I stayed at the same motel.  This was taken on July 21, 2011 on my way to the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) in Morristown, New Jersey.

And this was taken this morning, on my return trip from Milwaukee.

The “Sooner State” welcomed me bright and early this morning.

It wasn’t long until after entering Oklahoma that I was driving on Will Rogers Turnpike.  But wait, nothing posted on the speed limit sign!

Some far-out destinations being reached on this trip.  Cuba (Missouri) yesterday, Miami (Oklahoma) today!

Ever seen a McDonald’s restaurant that spans the entire width of the freeway?

Fuel in Tulsa, Oklahoma at QT.  A little plug for my favorite gas station & convenience store here.  The bathrooms are always clean and large, the grocery selection is great, and the cashiers work fast!  I grabbed some veggies to-go.

Today’s tolls on Interstate 44, the Turner Turnpike, cost me a total of $8.00.  I’m going to save the receipts in the ILX’s glove box for souvenirs.

Once I landed in Oklahoma City, I hopped on I-40 westbound.

You know you’re in for a boring drive when the GPS indicates your next turn is in 535 miles!

At this point I still wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go today, but I set my sights on Amarillo for starters.

Elk City, Oklahoma is home to the National Route 66 Museum.   This was the first of many pit stops today that related to the “Mother Road” as you’ll soon see.

And here we go with yet another state – and this will be the last “new” state for this adventure.

That means that since the day I got the ILX on June 12th, it’s been to the following:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin

Not a bad list for a car that barely rolled off the assembly line in Indiana two months ago!

Next pit stop was the town of Shamrock, Texas.  Shamrock is home to the “U Drop Inn,” a Route 66 relic that’s been around since 1936.  The classic art deco architecture has been preserved and the building is now home to the Chamber of Commerce and a Visitor’s Center.

Wouldn’t it be nice if fuel was 34 cents a gallon?  I love that the “This Sale” digits can’t go above $9.99.  Who could ever dream of spending more than $10 on a fill-up?  Little did we know!

Not sure why this picture ended up looking squished but it makes me look skinnier than I really am!

Next up:  Amarillo, Texas.  I felt out of place without my cowboy boots.  There’s one tradition that I have every time I pass through this town, and it has nothing to do with western food.  Fazoli’s!  I love the unlimited breadsticks.  Wish this place would open back up in Arizona…

Cadillac Ranch is visible alongside Interstate 40.  This “work of art” consists of 10 Cadillacs buried in the ground, nose first, at an angle.  They were put there in 1974.  Graffiti is actually encouraged here.  The cars have been painted various styles over the years.

I got some 90 octane in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  That means on this trip, I’ve fueled up with 90, 91, 92, AND 93 octane.

Last Route 66 destination today was the Rio Puerco Bridge.  It’s located about 20 miles west of Albuquerque and parallel to what is now Interstate 40.  Back in the day (1933, to be exact) this was part of Route 66.  The timing was just right for a few sunset pictures when visited the bridge, so here are the shots I got of the ILX.

Thought this was a pretty fun sequence.

It’s great to know that I’m getting close to home and I’m still getting to know my new car better with each mile.  The car is a blast to drive and keeps me entertained for the long miles with its extensive technology and features.  I’ve had a few people on the interstate give me long looks as I’m sure some have never seen a 2013 ILX on the road before.  The finish line for this trip awaits tomorrow!

Day 4 – Springfield, Missouri

Posted in ILX, NALM, Road Trip on July 27, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  7,980

Trip Mileage:  2,520

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I don’t sit still in any given place for too long.  I was greeted upon arrival at the NALM host hotel in Brookfield yesterday by Kevin (looking at his watch), “Okay, you’ve got ten minutes.”  It wasn’t far from the truth!  Fewer than 24 hours after reaching my destination in Wisconsin I was pulling up the anchor yet again and hopping back on the road.  Places to go, people to see.

I’m in Missouri now – chalk that one up to another “new” state for my ILX.  Here’s a recount of the day’s journey.

Kevin from Duluth, Georgia has this gorgeous Vineyard Gray Legend sedan.  He asked that I leave my mark on the car in the form of a signature. Sure, why not!  It’s not every day I get to write on someone’s car in permanent marker!

Trunk liner now immortalized (and devalued, probably).

Meanwhile, we readied ourselves for a photoshoot just down the road in Brookfield.  Tom from Connecticut gives the ILX wheels a quick wipe.

We take our photoshoots seriously!

Let’s get these cars lined up!

That’s more like it.  But wait — Student Driver!?  Yeah, I pulled out the magnets for a little photo-op fun.

Here’s the gang.  Great people, and excellent friends of mine.  All connoisseurs of fine Acura automobiles.

I may not have had a Legend at this meet, but these folks can still appreciate almost anything with an “A” badge on the grille.

Now a solo Legend shot for good measure.

Parting ways already – and on my way back to the southwest via Hwy 194 and Interstate 43 to Illinois.

Anybody else get a kick out of watching their reflection drive by in a tanker truck sometimes?

Central Illinois, somewhere off southbound Interstate 55.  This isn’t the El Paso you’re thinking of!  The distance from El Paso, Illinois, to El Paso, Texas is a whopping 1,396 miles.  That’s an adventure for another day (week)!

Normal, Illinois.  I didn’t dine at Woody’s.

I did, however, feed Alex.  He lapped up some 92 octane at $3.88 / gallon.

Finally some signs mentioning St. Louis – my next pit stop.

Discovery:  Those “Elapsed Time” screens in the driver’s information center can only accommodate 99 hours, 59 minutes of time.

St. Louis’ “Gateway Arch,” as seen from the 64 freeway.  This landmark stands 630 feet tall, making it the tallest man-made monument in the United States.  I would’ve loved to park the ILX in front of it for a picture, but alas I had a dinner commitment to get to.

This gorgeous 1995 Legend LS coupe belongs to my friend Dave who I met through the Acura Legend forums.  When I met Dave in 2005 at the first National Acura Legend Meet, his car only had around 50,000 miles on it.  Today at 130,000 it looks almost exactly the same.  This guy is meticulous and it shows.

And what better place to dine than one that appreciates ‘Legendary’ taste?  Lion’s Choice.

Thanks, Dave, for meeting up!

The Legend’s styling just never gets old.  Does anyone agree with me that it looks a hundred times better than that Prius next to it?

Westbound on I-44 for today’s final stretch.  Road sign announces Cuba straight ahead!

That’s right!  Cuba, Missouri.  Home to 3,230 people.

Now onward to Springfield we go.

Just when the road started to get a little boring, this song came on the iPod and I cranked it to full volume and got fully recharged.

Record-setting MPG average for me right here.

This particular motel in Springfield is a familiar place to me.  Last summer I stayed here when I was driving my Legend to New Jersey.  In fact, I parked it in this very same parking space where my ILX is sitting this very evening.

But what about that old 514k-mile Legend?  I’ve been asked by many.  Well, I received an updated status today along with the below picture.  The front end paint work is now complete, but needs reassembly.  From what I can tell, the paint work turned out nicely!

Good evening and until next time!

Day 3 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Posted in ILX, NALM, Road Trip on July 26, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  7,394

Trip Mileage:  1,934

I’ve made it to my final destination in Brookfield, Wisconsin!  First time I’ve set foot in this state. Fewer than 48 hours after departing from my workplace in Scottsdale, I reached the finish line.  It’s a lot greener here than the Arizona desert that I’m used to.

The 8th annual National Acura Legend Meet is now underway and there are Acura enthusiasts coming from various parts of the country to participate.  Our ‘host’ hotel parking lot at the Quality Inn will be dominated by Acura Legends in the coming days.

For the first time since the event’s 2005 inception (Dallas, Texas), I left my 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe at home and instead made the trip in my 2013 Acura ILX Premium 6-speed.  It was a fun ride!  And, since I’ve got to get home to Arizona by Sunday night – it’s only halfway over.

This morning started off with an early departure from my motel in Omaha off Interstate 80.

I attempted to get into Kenefick Park in east Omaha to get an up-close glimpse at the Union Pacific Big Boy #4023 steam locomotive on display there.  I saw another one of the 8 remaining “Big Boy” locomotives this past weekend in Cheyenne, Wyoming so I thought it would be fun to have a look at another.  However, I learned that the park does not open until 9 a.m. so I was met with a closed gate.

As the interstate crosses the Missouri River, I entered Iowa but was unable to stop in time for a picture.

Lucky sevens!

Anybody know the max towing capacity of a Chevy Cobalt?  I think this guy has it figured out.  On a side note, I have to wonder what the state of Iowa is using on its roads in the winter to keep the snow away.  Even cars that are just a few years old are starting to rust out like crazy!  I saw a relatively new Mazda 3 with rusted out quarter panels and an Explorer that looked like rust had consumed its entire running board.

Cornfields… cornfields… and more cornfields.  Welcome to Iowa!

I’m really not a slob but this is what my ILX interior looked like for much of the drive.

Rest stop off I-80 in Iowa.

While pit stopped, a discovery.  When my iPhone is plugged in with a USB cable, if I try to watch a video I’ve filmed or received via text message, my iPhone “thinks” it’s being played via TV so I can’t see anything on the screen.  Tech people, any ideas?

The words “WORLD’S LARGEST” evoke excitement no matter what they’re in reference to.  It took every bit of willpower in my being to keep me from turning around at the next exit on I-80 and seeing what the “World’s Largest Truckstop” had to offer.

Welcome to the Land of Lincoln!

MPG’s just keep getting better. Thanks to some conservative driving (and 55-65 mph construction zones all through Iowa) I got the average to creep up to 32.3 miles per gallon.

Starting to get closer to Milwaukee!  It’s fun to see that blue dot creep ever closer.

Tollways.  I spent a total of $5.50 today on tolls on Interstates 88 and 39 in Illinois.

“Alex” the ILX gets his first taste of 93 octane fuel for $3.65 / gallon just south of Rockford, Illinois.  We only get 91 back home.

Starting to look pretty buggy up front.  Thank goodness for that clear bra I had installed a couple of weeks ago.

Signs for Wisconsin.  We’re getting there!

And finally – welcome.

Happy camper right here.

Just off I-43 and nearing my destination in Brookfield.

Intergalactic travels in the ILX!  Milky Way Rd!

Arriving at Quality Inn (thanks Kevin for the shot!):

And a familar sight upon arrival at the NALM host hotel:  Alan “Action Jackson” spit shining his 6-speed Sirius White Pearl Acura Legend GS which he drove all the way from Floral City, Florida for the occasion.  This guy’s a trooper and his car looks phenomenal for having just over 200,000 miles on the odometer.  I may very well have the lowest-mileage vehicle at NALM this year…

On another interesting note, it wasn’t until I pulled into the hotel parking lot that I even saw another Legend this trip!  And no ILXs.

I reunited with some friends of NALMs past and had a great evening.  The humidity here is killer!

Alan from Florida was the first to do a little test drive.

My buddy Tom from Connecticut also took the wheel of the ILX.  He’s a former Legend owner but currently driving a 2006 Acura TL 6-speed.

Waseem from Detroit giving his immaculate 1990 Legend LS sedan a bath.

Here’s Ben – I’ve known him since the first NALM in 2005.  This guy presented me with the a special souvenir today – a custom machined titanium shift knob commemorating my Legend’s 500k mile accomplishment.

Pictures don’t do this thing justice – it’s engraved with my name and the Acura emblem, and enclosed in a custom made acrylic case.  Thanks Ben – this is awesome!

Finished out the evening with dinner.  Pictured here with Kevin (my biggest fan) and Chris (hosting this year’s NALM).

(Another) Ben – this one from San Francisco – arrived tonight too.  This guy is apparently as crazy as I am!  His 1992 Legend LS coupe has been to the last several NALM events regardless of distance.

This is what I love about the Legend (and Acura in general) community – its people.  It doesn’t matter that I showed up in something other than a Legend at today’s meet.  It just matters that I’m here.

Tomorrow, more festivities await and I’ll begin my return trip to Phoenix, though traveling via a different / more southern route.  My nightly destination will depend on what time I break away from Brookfield.  Tune in tomorrow night to find out!

Over and out.

Day 2 – Omaha, Nebraska

Posted in ILX, NALM, Road Trip on July 25, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  6,858

Trip Mileage:  1,398

I did it!  While it wasn’t a record-setting mileage day in my driving history, it was still a long one.

Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska with a population of just over 400,000 people.  Little did I know, too, that Omaha is the birthplace of what later became known as the “TV dinner.”  Thanks, Nebraskans for giving us that!

My day started off very early – 5:30 a.m. local time, hopping on I-25 northbound from Santa Fe with the highway to myself.

Welcome to Las Vegas!   Las Vegas, New Mexico that is.  No gambling allowed here.

Beyond Vegas, I-25 climbs up toward the CO/NM border and I finally got a chance to exercise some smooth-shifting skills.

Made it!  One more state added to the list.

Are we having fun yet?  I think so.

You’d think the Rockies would be a bit more… rocky?  Reality is that the eastern side of Colorado is actually pretty flat.

Just north of the CO border, I diverted from the interstate and instead took to the 2-lane backroads for the next several hundred miles.  Hwy 350 paralleled the train tracks for awhile.

You know you’re in a remote place when you get zero service.  And zero data.  Thank goodness I was in a reliable car!

Thought this was a ‘cute’ name for a little one-horse town in the middle of nowhere off Highway 71.

Where 71 meets 70 in the town of Limon, I thought I’d fuel up…

… but I quickly learned that the only gas station in town only had two grades of unleaded fuel:  85 and 87.

Neither is acceptable for Premium-sipping ILX so I continued on.

These windmills off 71 reminded me a bit of Palm Springs.

And… just when I got some good momentum going, a construction zone held me up for about 15 minutes.

Giving me time to stare at that “A” a little longer.

Here we go – Woodrow, Colorado.  ZIP code 80757 and not even enough going on to warrant a Wiki page longer than two lines.  Here we have the ILX posed in front of the ultimate all-in-one:  Post Office, General Store, and Coffee Shop.

I took this picture for my friend Woody.

Finally I got back to an interstate, I-76 at the town of Brush, Colorado.  Check this out:  The “Brush Hair Company.”  Doesn’t that just seem fitting?!

Fueling up!

Right at home behind the wheel!

And, another state conquered.  Thankfully there was a family pulled over here so I enlisted their services in getting a picture for me.

Omaha awaits!

Hwy MPGs are rated at 31 on the window sticker – I’ve consistently been getting better than that.

Gothenburg, Nebraska is teeny town on I-80 in central Nebraska whose only claim to fame is that it’s home to an original 1854 Pony Express station.  I’d stopped here many years ago in my Legend on a cross-country adventure, so I figured I might as well take the ILX there, too.

Foreground, 2013 Acura ILX.  Background, 158-year-old Pony Express station.

Transportation has come a long way since the days of the Oregon Trail.  Which, by the way, was my favorite computer game in elementary school!

Nebraska is one continuous construction zone.

Finally, arriving at the Motel 6 off I-80 in Omaha.

And a visit from my Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based friend Dawson who I met via the Acura Legend forums.  This guy has gone through 4 Acura Legends and a couple of Integras.  I let him take the ILX for a spin and he had fun with it.

When all other restaurant options fail – Denny’s is always there for you.

So how did it feel to spend over 14 hours behind the wheel of the car today?  I feel like I need to go for a run around the block!  I get stir-crazy from sitting in one position for such an extended time.  I’m a little fatigued, too, but this has less to do with that KIND of car I was driving but rather the fact that I was IN a car the entire day.

Thankfully, tomorrow’s final stretch to Milwaukee, Wisconsin is “only” about 8 1/2 hours of drive time, and fewer than 600 miles.  Piece of cake!

Day 1 – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted in ILX, NALM, Road Trip on July 24, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  5,976

Trip Mileage:  516 miles

Let the games begin!  My voyage to the National Acura Legend Meet’s 2012 event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is underway.  I’ve just finished checking in at a luxurious Motel 6 in New Mexico’s capital, Santa Fe.  I’m only about an hour north of much-larger Albuquerque and sitting at about 7,200 feet elevation in the mountains of northern New Mexico.  Can’t wait to see the sunrise up here.  So far, so good.

I’ve now added another state to the list of ‘conquered’ destinations.  That means, my ILX has now traveled through:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Utah

Here’s what today’s trip looked like.

Beginning mileage:

The afternoon departure from work in Scottsdale, Arizona as the trip begins.

It didn’t take long until my ascent from Phoenix to the mountains of northern Arizona was accompanied by some ominous looking storm clouds in the distance.

Rainy times on Interstate 17 northbound nearing Flagstaff, Arizona.  Thankfully the ILX is well-equipped with Michelin all-season tires that kept the ride stable.

A lot of these grades are steep as the road climbs from Phoenix area’s 2,000 feet elevation to Flagstaff’s 7,000 feet.  I was able to leave the car in 6th gear and it held its speed impressively.

Shout out to my friend Ryan for sending me on my way with a mix CD that I rocked out to!  Today’s 7 hours in the car went by in a flash thanks to lots of mobile audio entertainment.

Now on Interstate 40 eastbound.

Even in an age where iPhones and GPS systems have made travel “on the fly” so easy, there’s still something I absolutely love about having a printed paper map.  Besides the one I got from Google Maps, I also bought a $13 road atlas from Flying J this evening.  A must-have.

The open road of Interstate 40 eastbound in northern Arizona was pretty deserted for a Tuesday afternoon.  Some blue sky peeked through the clouds at one point.

This has got to be one of the oldest operating DQ’s out there.  Holbrook, Arizona.  My friend Kevin and I ate at this DQ last year on my way to NALM 2011 in Morristown, New Jersey.

A very rainy arrival into the “Land of Enchantment” at the Arizona – New Mexico border.

And a rainbow awaiting me not long afterward.

There’s just something about these desert skies at dusk!

Two fuel stops today – Holbrook, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The ILX is doing great and I’m feeling refreshed and ready for another long day of driving tomorrow!

In other news:

I walked out of Supercuts on Sunday to find a twin (or at least sibling!) in the parking lot in Scottsdale.  Next to my car is a 2012 Acura TSX Special Edition, finished in the same Silver Moon color as my ILX.  It’s also powered by the same 2.4 liter, 201 horsepower 4 cylinder motor.

Yesterday, I had the door latch recall on my car taken care of.  It was a quick and painless ordeal.  Acura has done a great job of communicating this to customers and promptly making replacement parts available.  I was glad to get this done before my journey started.

If you’re into motorsports beyond just luxury cars, check out the Fall Fuel Fest.  My brother Bentley’s business is called H&S Performance and specializes in diesel pickup performance upgrades.  They’re sponsoring an all-day event at headquarters in St. George Utah with motocross, diesel truck pulls, and dyno events.  Guaranteed to see some high horsepower engines over there.

Heard the name Gunther Holtorf?  This guy’s story is inspirational!  500,000 miles in a Mercedes SUV, hitting nearly every continent in the globe over a 23-year span.  The photographs that accompany his story are awesome.  Check out this video.  My favorite line:  “He drives like an old granny!”

Guess it’s time for me to start shipping my 500k-miler overseas to give this guy a run for his money!

Up next:

Below is what I’m going to attempt tomorrow.  14 hours drive time, 883 miles from here in Santa Fe to Omaha, Nebraska.  Can the ILX do it?  Can I do it?

Tune in tomorrow night to find out.

Choo Choo Trains

Posted in Trains on July 22, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  5,356

Papago Park on a Sunday afternoon is a pretty quiet place when it’s this warm, but it makes for a nice Acura ILX backdrop.

I traveled to the “Mile High” city of Denver, Colorado this weekend.  I didn’t take an Acura, but time was short so flying was the best bet for travel logistics.  The last time I was in Denver, I did drive the Legend.  It was February, 2011 and my car had about 462,000 miles on it.  I drove out to visit my friend Josh who had recently moved there from the Phoenix area.  The drive was 850 miles each way and took about 14 hours.

A few photos from that 2011 journey follow.  This trip was just one month prior to starting this Drive to Five blog.

Flagstaff, Arizona on I-17 northbound

Check the sign – “Highway of Legends”!  This is just off I-25 north of the New Mexico state line.

The sunset-in-the-mirror shot is one of my favorites.

Ever heard the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy“?  It talks about standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.  Well, I stood on a corner in Winslow:

Somehow I even had time to meet up with two fellow Acura Legend owners.  First, my friend Sean in Albuquerque.

And in Colorado Springs, Adam with his super clean 5-speed coupe.

I love that everywhere I go, I can find people who are just as crazy about Acura as I am.

The purpose of this latest weekend trip was to do a little “train chasing.”  Union Pacific #844, a steam locomotive that’s been around since 1944, makes an appearance each July at a “Frontier Days” event.  The train departs Denver, Colorado and travels around 100 miles to arrive in Cheyenne, Wyoming just in time for a Wild West parade, chuckwagon cookoff, and other festivities.  My friend Matt and I cared more about the locomotive itself than sticking around for the rodeo.  Our day started off by staking out a couple of locations along the track north of Denver where we were able to watch the train go by en route to Cheyenne.

Our rental 2012 Chevy Malibu was not a pleasure to drive but it did the trick.

Here she comes!

Lots of other folks were out there with the same intentions.  It’s pretty incredible to hear (& feel) this huge locomotive passing by.  Lots of momentum!  Here’s a video I shot with my iPhone.

Hot pursuit!  Well, track speed was really only a max of 65 mph or so.

Finally – our arrival.  Cheyenne, Wyoming is home to about 60,000 people.

Nothing like a bowl of ice cream made by a 1927 John Deer 3-horsepower engine:

We also made a pit stop at Holliday Park which since 1963 has been home to one of the world’s largest steam locomotives.  This particular example, “Big Boy,” weighs 1.2 million pounds with the tender & locomotive combined.  It is one of 8 survivors from the original 25 units that were built between 1941 & 1944.  Big Boy gets a lot of respect from me, because it’s a high miler in its own sense:

During its 14 years of service, it traveled 440,545 miles.  That’s 31,467 miles per year.  Still not the ~45k that I was averaging in my Acura Legend until its retirement, but still a very impressive feat especially considering the level of upkeep and maintenance on a beast of this size.  And unlike Big Boy, the Legend is still going strong and will continue to accumulate miles rather than becoming a museum artifact.

Denver at dusk

Enjoyed the weekend trip and hope all my readers enjoyed theirs too!

Pandora Internet Radio

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but it took me over a month to take the time to investigate how this works and actually get it set up in my ILX.  I must say I’m in love.  I downloaded the Pandora appplication (for free) from the App Store to my iPod Touch.  From there, I simply had to launch the app, plug in the USB connector, and then hit AUX on the instrument panel to select it as the media source.

Next, all controls can be managed from the dashboard.  I can go to my main menu of custom-built stations which pre-populate on the screen, select my preferred, and start rocking out.  The system even lets me “Like” or “Dislike” songs using the Select button.

Best of all, I get to see the album art.  This is nifty!

And another feature I discovered:  “SVC.”  Speed Volume Control.  The ILX audio system can modify the level of volume depending on how much noise is in the cabin.  I’m a little bit proud of myself for actually figuring some of this high-tech goodness out!

Door Latch Recall:

I received an email this week about a recall on the front door latches of the 2013 that will affect 6,200 vehicles.  My service advisor at Acura of Tempe was quick to notify me and get the parts on order. I’m taking the car in tomorrow to have the corrective action performed.

Another Acura Brother

My local friend Devan swung by this past week to check out my latest ride.  He’s got an ultra clean 2003 Acura TL in White Diamond Pearl with just over 160,000 miles.  Devan by trade is a professional at auto detailing.  In fact, he’s got his own business called DNA Auto Detailing.

I first met Devan last November at a car show held at SanTan Honda in Gilbert, Arizona:

His TL looks just as phenomenal today.

If anybody in the Phoenix area is looking for a detailing pro, he’s your man.  Thanks for the visit, Devan!

Just two more days until my departure for the Wisconsin trip for the 8th Annual National Acura Legend Meet (NALM).

Hang on for the ride!

Infiniti G Coupe Drive & NALM Trip Planning

Posted in NALM, Vehicle Reviews on July 18, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  5,279

Happy hump day to all Drivers to Fivers out there.

Here are a few impromptu evening cell phone pictures of the ILX from last night in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona:

The ILX is just too photogenic for its own good.

And who doesn’t love a little in-car karaoke?  On my commute home from work this afternoon, the right song came on XM radio and got me pumped up.  It was this song!  Took me back to 1994…

I didn’t care that it was 107 degrees outside and I was stuck in traffic.  All four windows went down, moonroof slid open and I should apologize to anyone who was within earshot on loop 101 southbound in Scottsdale around 5:15 p.m. as I blasted the song at max (level 40) volume.

Having driven a Legend V6 luxury coupe for nearly 10 years before I got my 2013 ILX, I am always interested in seeing what a logical replacement for my 1994 Legend LS coupe would be in 2012 if there was such a thing.

Acura discontinued the CL model in 2003 and hasn’t had a ‘full size’ 2 door since.  I’ve been an Infiniti G coupe fan since my brother Payton had a 2003 6-speed Ivory Pearl G35 with Navigation several years ago.  We entered our coupes in the Hurricane, Utah Easter Car Show in April, 2007.  My Legend had about 280,000 miles it at the time.  Payton and I captured a few pictures of the 6-speed V6 coupes together:

Payton ended up getting first place in the car show that year in the Import class.

Today, the G35 has become the G37 and is powered by a 330 horsepower, 270 lb-ft of torque powerplant.  My friend Matt’s mom picked up 2012 G back in January and I borrowed the car on Monday so I could have “my” tint guy install some 3M window tint for her.

Even though I’m a 3-pedal manual transmission kind of guy, the automatic G is fun and utilizes a 7-speed which I much prefer to the CVTs (continuously variable transmission) that Nissan and Infiniti are now implementing en masse.  I have lots of great things to say about the G.  Tons of torque +rear wheel drive makes for a driving experience much unlike any car I’ve owned.  Detailed specs on the car are here.  Among my “likes”:

  • Bose stereo will rock your ears
  • Power on tap – awesome.  When commanded, this car will rocket you easily past any slow pokes on the highway
  • The exhaust note even in stock configuration is great sounding
  • Handling is great and the car feels ‘substantial’ – hard to describe but it’s not light/cheap feeling
  • I love how Infiniti has retained an analog clock in the dashboard – a ‘signature’ feature for the brand
  • Brushed aluminum finish center console trim looks good
  • Back-up camera much like my ILX has assistance guidelines.  Though, unlike the ILX, these lines also change position depending on how the steering wheel’s turned.  Pretty clever.

And a few shortfalls:

  • The doors are long and the frameless glass windows get in the way for ingress & egress
  • The car felt a little bit tight in leg area.  Seat belt was also a little hard to reach since it was mounted on the pillar behind the driver’s seat.
  • The screen/monitor could use a little higher resolution, and the buttons below the screen are awkwardly angled toward the ceiling.
  • Some of the interior materials (some plastic on the center stack, plastic center of the steering wheel) felt too cheap for this $39,250 “Journey” trim level coupe.
  • This near-white interior is way too susceptible to scuffs.  Even at just 3,275 miles on the odometer the door panels are already showing some wear.
  • It’d be nice to see a third (center) seatbelt in the rear seat.  There’s room for a third passenger in a pinch.

Overall a fun ride and perhaps the car that is now filling the role that the big-body Legend V6 coupe dominated back in 1991-1995.  I have faith that Acura can and will bring back a 2-door that can give this G a run for its money!  It needs to happen!

Mystery Solved

As a side note, remember that “mystery tool” I discovered underneath my driver’s seat the other day, thinking it might be something left there from the Acura production factory in Indiana?  Turns out it belongs to the window tint place.  They asked me if I’d found it, so I returned it to them.  Guess that answers the question!

ILX Sales Picking Up

June 2012 sales figures showed that ILX owners are now in the thousands so I’m glad that other people are enjoying the car as much as I am.  I took this picture a few weeks ago at an open house at the Acura North Scottsdale dealership where the community was invited to come see & experience the new car while enjoying food & live music.  It’s striking how different the ILX looks in completely stock configuration as compared to being fully accessorized in Premium trim like mine is.

The ILX Owners & Enthusiasts page on Facebook also continues to grow.

Upcoming Trips:

Frontier Days – Colorado

It’s a park & fly weekend for me as traveling from Phoenix to Denver for some train-chasing like I did last November.  Each year, Union Pacific steam locomotive #844 travels the 100 or so miles between Denver, Colorado and Cheyenne, Wyoming to attend Cheyenne’s “Frontier Days” celebration.  A concert, rodeo, and chuckwagon dinner are also in store.  Giddy up!  Even though I won’t have the ILX or the Legend it’ll still be a great trip.  Locomotive #844, after all, is called the Living Legend.  It’s been in service for 68 years.  I wonder how many miles it’s traveled?

NALM – Wisconsin

The National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) 8th Annual event awaits on July 26-28.  Since 2005, this is an event I’ve driven my 1994 Legend LS coupe to each summer.  We’ve been to the following destinations:

  • Dallas, Texas (2005)
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma (2006)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (2007)
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee (2008)
  • Branson, Missouri (2009)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (2010)
  • Morristown, New Jersey (2011)

And this year I’m off to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I’ve never set foot in Wisconsin before so I’m excited for the opportunity to see some new turf.  The host / ground team in Milwaukee has developed an action-packed schedule of events including scenic drives, tech sessions, performance driving events, photo ops, and of course the best of cuisine the MKE has to offer.  My tentative route looks like this, with the northern leg being my outbound and the southern being the return.

For the first time since NALM’s inception, I won’t be driving my Legend there this year.  Instead, I’ll take the 2013 ILX on its first real cross-country trip and see how it performs over the 3,706 miles round-trip.  I plan on making every attempt to post nightly to Drive to Five with pictures and updates as things move along, similar to what I did last July on the drive to Morristown.  I’ll depart from the Phoenix area next Tuesday, July 24th, after work.

Don’t change that dial!  I’ll take you along for the ride.

First Maintenance in the ILX & Monsoon Rains

Posted in ILX, Maintenance on July 15, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  514,705

Odometer (ILX):  5,102

The drive to five (thousand) didn’t take very long!  A few long highway trips is all it took to rack up an average about 145 miles per day over the 35 days I’ve been driving this new 2013 ILX.

Yesterday, I had the ILX’s first oil change performed at Acura of Tempe.  Even though the maintenance indicator in the dash display said oil life 50% and they recommended not scheduling the maintenance until it was down to 15%, I still felt that for a break-in oil change I should have it done sooner than later.

Clean bill of health and it’s now back on the road.  Aside from the tire pressure activation early on, there have been no unforeseen maintenance needs on the car.

I discovered while thumbing through the magazines at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore one time that my favorite part of every car magazine is the Long Term Update section.  It’s one thing to evaluate a brand new car and announce its merits, but completely another to follow that car through its lifetime and see how it actually CONTINUES to perform.  As someone who’s had an incredible experience with Acura in getting my last car to 500,000 miles, the question I want answered when I read about any new car is, “How long will it last?”

I plan on using Drive to Five a venue for not only continuing to value my heritage as an Acura Legend driver (since, after all, that car is responsible for getting me here) but also for sharing my experiences with the 2013 ILX from a real life perspective.  This first oil change marks the beginning of my coverage of what it takes to keep the car in tip top shape for many miles ahead.

Thanks to Acura Connected, I learned this week about THR-W (Team Honda Racing – West), which is the road racing team of Honda R&D in Los Angeles.  They’ve got a fun project going on right now!  Check out the vision for a couple of race-inspired Acura ILX models that will be built to compete at Thunderhill Raceway in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance racing event.

I love seeing Acura dig back into its “performance” roots and truly showcase what it’s capable of.  Here’s Honda Performance Development’s blog which talks more about the project and has a few pictures.

Our friend Linh loves being a goofball, but I think she’s got a potential future in modeling with cars.  Right?

I vacuumed the car this week and reached under the driver’s seat to grab something that had fallen there.  I discovered a hidden treasure.  It appears the Acura production factory in Greensburg, Indiana left a tool in the car when it was on the assembly line!  My car was #82 so it was among the very first ILX models that were made.  Hopefully they didn’t need this tool for #83 and beyond.

I also realized when washing the car a few days ago that the side moldings had been scuffed by a piece of tire tread that got kicked up.  The marks were easily cleaned up.  I still need to wax the entire car – I think it’s safe to do so now that the paint’s a couple months old.

Milestone time!

How’s this for some high class company:

This dream garage belongs to my friend Kelvin.  He’s got not one, not two, but three Acura NSXs.  Talk about an Acura supercar hoarder!  I visited him yesterday evening.

Left to right:  1993 Formula Red, 1999 Monte Carlo Blue, 1997 Kaiser Silver.  He’s probably already on the waiting list for the 2015 NSX.

For any who would like to experience the ILX in a more involved setting than just reading my stories, there’s currently a sign-up in progress for an all-access Ride & Drive event nationwide held in 5 separate cities this summer (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia).  Check out this link to see if the schedule works for you and you’d like to participate.

Legend Update:

The Legend coupe is under construction getting some paint work.  Here’s a picture I received showing its current status up in Utah.  The front end hasn’t been this torn apart since 2007 when it was repainted after hitting those two deer in Texas.

I found this sign in Kingman, Arizona fitting on my drive from last weekend:


Lastly, now that we’re into July it’s officially “monsoon” season here in Arizona.  No longer can we brush off our 110+ degree temperatures by saying, “It’s a dry heat.”  Higher humidity levels bring huge afternoon thunderstorms to the area frequently.  After a downpour yesterday, I spied a photo-op just off the McDowell Rd exit of the 101 freeway in Scottsdale.  I was glad for those all-weather mats when I got back in the car with muddy flip-flops.

Utah & Idaho – 4th of July Adventures

Posted in ILX, Road Trip, Utah on July 9, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  514,705

Odometer (ILX):  4,616

Celebration time!  Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 10th)  marks the 4 week anniversary of the day that I took the key to my new car from John Watts of Acura Digital Marketing when it had just 16 miles on the odometer.

Since that time, the ILX has been driven exactly 4,600 miles.

I’ve spent 92 hours, 16 minutes behind the wheel.

And the car has averaged 31.3 miles per gallon.

“Alex” the ILX scampered all the way to Idaho and back over the last several days.  The plan of attack looked something like this:

As we near 5,000 miles, the 2013 ILX is already proving itself a capable, comfortable alternative (can’t say replacement!) to the old Legend.  Even after subjecting the car to an 11-hour drive yesterday it wouldn’t phase me to hop in the driver’s seat and do the same drive again today.  The ILX demonstrated power on the steep grades, ample entertainment for the many hours of driving, and better-than-advertised fuel economy.  I’d say based on my experience so far, this car’s a winner.  Here’s a photo essay of where my Independence Day travels took me.

First rainstorm in the new car, northbound on Hwy 93 on the morning of July 4, 2012.  So much for that immaculate undercarriage!

Wikieup, Arizona.  “Eat at Joe’s” BBQ.  I’ve always wanted to try the grub but never had time!

Bluetooth – figured it out!  First call was to my friend Linh who said she could hear me loud and clear.  I also figured out how to play music from my iPhone through the car’s stereo system without using the USB cable.  Pretty slick design here.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Home to “Midnight Mayhem” drag races that I used to attend frequently.

Hopping back on Interstate 15 after a fuel up.

There are a couple sections of rural central Utah where speed limits are a generous 80 mph.  The ILX is around 3,400 RPM at that speed but doesn’t drone or give the driver a headache, thanks to its extensive sound deadening.

Pit stop for fuel in Beaver, Utah.  Home to 2,400 people and an outlet store for Cache Valley Cheese.  Anyone like cheese curd as much as I do?

Approaching Nephi, Utah on Interstate 15.

My favorite trucks.  Have YOU had your Tyson today?

And finally among the Wasatch Mountain Range in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Honey, I shrunk my ILX!  Perched on the rooftop of my friend Branson’s house with Marcus and Matt in Salt Lake City, we had a nice vantage point of my parking space out front.  We scouted out locations to watch that evening’s fireworks.

I connected with my friend Jeff who was visiting Salt Lake from Alberta, Canada and we decided to do a little (okay, a lot of) hiking.  “Mount Timpanogos” looms 11,749 feet above the Utah Valley.  Ambitious hikers can access the summit via a 14-mile round-trip hike.  Jeff and I took along our other friend Devin and ventured out from the trailhead (elevation 6,900 feet) with our eyes on the prize.

It wasn’t long until we were right among the cascading waterfalls caused by spring run-off.  Truly spectacular sights & sounds.

But about 45 minutes into our elevation gain, a steady drizzle turned into a full-fledged rainstorm.  Coupled with the cold wind (there’s still snow in the ground at this elevation!), slippery mud/rocks, and our lack of adequate rain gear, we quickly learned that this would be a challenge.  We did still press on!

In the end we in fact did not reach the summit, but we did reach a small stone shelter built in 1959 at Emerald Lake, at elevation 10,380 feet after about 2 1/2 hours.  By that time, my clothes and backpack were soaked all the way through, my shoes were a muddy/squishy mess, and I was absolutely freezing.  The cloud cover kept us from being able to see much of a view from up there, unfortunately.  But my screaming leg muscles told me we must have been pretty high up!  The descent went much faster for us.

A great hike that I highly recommend if you’re ever near the Provo, Utah area and feeling outdoorsy.  But remember to take a rain poncho if there’s any mention at all of rain in the forecast.

I took the opportunity later that afternoon to head to Logan, Utah in the ILX.  One of my favorite scenic drives of all time is through Sardine Canyon which runs from Brigham City to Logan.  Fall colors there are simply unmatched, and I vow to go back later this year to capture some of them with my camera.  I did pull off Highway 89/91 for a few pictures of the ILX in the green hills.

Finally, arrival at Grandma’s house and a “traditional” lap around her yard.

Logan is also home to 14,000 students attending Utah State University – home of the Aggies.  I graduated as a proud USU student in December 2005 from the university’s Business program.  A painted-over drive-in movie theater at the south end of town pays tribute to the university.

On campus at the “Old Main” building which dates back to 1890 when the university was called “Agricultural College of Utah.”

Kid tested, mother approved.  Mom took the wheel of the ILX for a test-drive around the neighborhood and seemed right at home rowing through the gears.

The next morning it was time for a bath.  An exciting discovery awaited me when I went to pull the car into the garage from its steep driveway parking space.  This car actually has a feature that prevents it from rolling backward unintentionally when starting off from a stop!  I tested it out a few times.  It’s an ingenious idea that keeps the driver from having to do the whole clutch-brake-clutch fancy feet move to keep from rolling back.

I wasn’t content to be THIS close (only 20 miles!) to Idaho without making a little jaunt north of the border, so my mom and I set off in the ILX on Friday for a little adventure.  Many of my readers are probably familiar with the 2004 film “Napoleon Dynamite” about a nerdy high schooler.  The movie was filmed in the tiny 5,000 population town of Preston Idaho in southeastern Idaho, so my mom and I made a pilgrimage to check it out.

Idaho joins Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California on the list of visited states for the ILX.

After some help from Google, we found out the address to the home used in the movie.  A dirt road didn’t stop us from taking the ILX the rest of the way there.

And, our arrival.  The home looks exactly the same today as it did in the movie 8 years ago.

Unfortunately, though, there was no pet llama “Tina” on the property as was seen in the film.

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from the movie.

Saturday it was time to attend the Cache Valley Cruise-In car show which has become a tradition for my family in Logan, Utah.  The show draws over 1,000 cars each year and is always held on or around the 4th of July.

I happened across this high-mileage beauty:  a 1963 Corvette proudly driven by its original owner, Steve Stone.  His Corvette has a story as exciting as my old Legend does!  Steve’s hit the 48 lower U.S. states as well as 11 Canadian provinces in his car.  I chatted with him for several minutes about his 487,000 miles of travels and wish I could have stayed longer to learn more.  This is a guy I can relate to!

In other high mileage news:  If you haven’t already heard the story of Irvin Gordon and you’re a high mileage car buff, take note.  His 3 million mile quest in his 1966 Volvo inspires us all!  Makes my measly little 500,000 mile achievement seem like not such a big deal!  Here’s the article.

S’mores around a campfire in Logan Canyon finished off the evening last Saturday.

The return trip to Phoenix was long but fun.  Mantua, Utah is a little community nestled in Sardine Canyon.

For the 727-mile SLC-PHX leg of the trip, I had a co-driver.  This picture was taken in the Virgin River Gorge on southbound Interstate 15 which to this day is one of the most expensive stretches of interstate ever — thanks to the extensive work it took to carve the road through the canyon.

Just beyond Hoover Dam at 4,526 miles on the odometer, we had a warning come up on the display indicating a loose fuel cap.  We double checked the cap and it was tight (clicked), so we shut the car off & restarted it to see if the problem reset.  It did.

And a parting shot from last night’s sunset on Hwy 93 southbound with Matt at the wheel.  Arizona sunsets just never seem to get old.

The ILX continues demonstrating its abilities as a great road-tripper and strikes a great balance between being fun to drive, yet not wearing out its driver on an all-day trip.

My experience thus far is best summed up with the reaction of an onlooker after I pulled in for fuel at Chevron in Salt Lake City on Saturday:  “Oh my GOSH that car is so gorgeous!  Is it a 2013!?”  I told her that yes, it’s a 2013, and no, she couldn’t have it!   I’m having way too much fun with the new ride.