Archive for August, 2012

Off-Roading an Acura

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on August 30, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer: 12,436

Are you crazy?   A luxury sport coupe is not meant to leave the pavement!

It’s time for a Friday Flashback.  At 315,845 miles in March, 2008, I took my Legend where no Legend had gone before.  Following is the write-up that I shared on the Acura Legend forums at that time after completing what I called an “Adventurous Sunday Drive.”

Hope you enjoy following along as much as I enjoy reminiscing about that fun road trip from years ago…

There’s a road I’ve been wanting to drive for a long time now.  It’s Arizona Highway 88, also known as the Apache Trail.  The road was constructed in the early 1900’s as a stagecoach route and at the time was the only link between Phoenix and the mining town of Globe.  It has since been bypassed by a more efficient route and is lightly traveled except by tourists.

Article – Scenic Drive:  Apache Trail

So this morning I got up at the crack of dawn and headed out.

The road is one of the curviest, windiest roads I’ve ever driven on and I was lucky to have it all to myself.  The first 20 miles or so are paved and go through some beautiful canyon passes.  At a summit, however, the pavement ends and the remaining 22 MILES of the road are unpaved.  That’s where the fun started.

I had a great time and never encountered another vehicle at any time during my drive — which was lucky because there were many stretches where it would have been impossible to pass.  The road was graded gravel for most of the distance, but the washboard was pretty bad and it kept causing my TCS to activate until I finally just turned it off.

There is one stretch of the road — called the Fish Creek Grade — where the road drops 900 feet within a mile.  From the web:

Steep-sided canyons, rock outcroppings and magnificent geologic formations are all along the road. Fish Creek Canyon is perhaps the most awe-inspiring section. The road hangs on the side of this high-walled canyon and winds its way along tremendous precipices that sink sheer for hundreds of feet below.

Here you can see this section of the road.  The view is pretty incredible once you’re down at the bottom.  You look up and realize how much of a drop-off it was.  This was one of the widest sections where I took the picture; the rest was strictly a one-laner.

Most of the guard rail is just wooden planks except for a few sections.  It’s a lot steeper than it looks!!

Awesome view of Fish Creek once you get to the bottom of the canyon.

Lots of huge saguaro catci along the road.

This little cave would be fun to hike in.

One of several one-lane bridges.

Can you find the coupe?  Again, Desert Mist is a great color for being camouflaged in the desert!

Just stirring up a dust cloud.

I had a little too much speed coming into one of the corners, and the car started going sideways on me in the dirt.  Then I decided the Legend wasn’t a rally car and decided to take it easy!

Great view from up top.

Approaching Roosevelt Dam, where 88 meets up with 188 and the off-roading is over.

Just past the dam.

When you finally get a view of the lake, it’s AWESOME.  The morning light was hitting it just right.

Today, my Legend has traveled another 200,000 miles since that eventful Sunday drive.  Next time I head for the dirt hills, I’ll hopefully take an MDX.  Though I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the 1996-1998 Acura SLX!

ILX Update:

I stopped by Acura North Scottsdale this week to see what was on the lot.  For the first time, I saw an ILX with a chromed-out set of the factory 17″ Premium package wheels.  Looks good!  This car was a 2.0 liter automatic model.

My ILX is doing well!  A few “current events” items:

  • About 2 1/2 months after taking delivery of my ILX, I have now finally seen a fellow ILX driver on the road!  On Saturday afternoon at 6 p.m. in north Phoenix (56th Street & Deer Valley), a Polished Metal Metallic ILX Premium passed me going the opposite direction.  Made my day!
  • In playing around with the push-button start, I realized that if the car’s moving and you hold the button in for 5 seconds or so, it’ll shut the car off even while you’re moving.  Good to know in case of emergencies.
  • My goofball friend Matt decided it would be fun to call his phone using my bluetooth system in the ILX while we were both riding in the car.  When he then answered his own phone from within the ILX, he was able to use the ILX speakers to amplify whatever he was saying into his phone.  Random!
  • I finally took the time to program my door locks so that they don’t always try to lock themselves when I’m driving, nor do they automatically unlock themselves when I turn the car off.  It’s handy being able to customize those settings.

Today I ran the ILX the lowest it’s ever gone on the fuel tank.  Range said 27 miles.  I started getting a “Low Fuel” warning when the range was in the mid-30’s.

It only took 10.4 gallons to fill up.

And then when I got underway again, the range shot sky-high to 457 miles.

I guess that means I’ll be getting 41.34 mpg on each of those 10.4 gallons I just added?

Nothing quite like a drive home from work, coming up on a 3-day weekend, with the right tunes blasting, an Orange Berry Blitz smoothie from Jamba Juice in the cupholder, and a classic Arizona sunset like this.

Big weekend adventures await.

Anybody else remember this classic 1987 John Candy & Steve Martin movie?

That’s a hint about what I’ve got up my sleeve for the next few days.  Tune in next time!

Have a great weekend.

Mount Lemmon

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on August 25, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  12,108

About 12,000 miles into my ILX ownership experience, I finally got the chance to put my new car’s handling to the test.  Last night, I took Alex the ILX to Tucson, Arizona for the first time.  Tucson lies about 120 miles away from Phoenix via Interstate 10 through the desolate desert.

The destination this time was Mount Lemmon, the highest peak of the Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona.  The Catalina highway leaves northeastern Tucson and climbs rapidly to over 8,000 feet in elevation while winding through some of the most technical twisty sections of road I’ve ever driven.  The view of Tucson – at night especially – is phenomenal from the lookouts.  Check out these curves:

Catalina Highway – during the day – is a sight to behold.  Many of the switchbacks are posted at 15-25 mph.

How about a windows-down, stereo-blasting, full throttle drive up the mountain… in the dark?

The contenders:

  • Will; 2011 Chevy Camaro SS
  • Matt:  2012 Nissan 370Z Sport
  • Tyson:  2013 Acura ILX Premium

Three very different automobiles.  And three very distinct powertrains.

  • Camaro:  420 horsepower, 6.2 liter V8, six speed automatic transmission
  • 370Z:  332 horsepower, 3.7 liter V6, six speed manual transmission
  • ILX:  201 horsepower, 2.4 liter I4, six speed manual transmission

Is this even a fair comparison?  Clearly the ILX was outmatched in terms of power and as a 4-door sedan is arguably the least-sporty car in this lineup.  Matt’s 370Z is equipped with a Nissan-exclusive “Syncro-Rev” feature that automatically matches engine RPM by “blipping” the throttle when downshifting through the gears.  The Camaro has double the ILX’s horsepower.  But on a road like the Catalina Highway, as we soon found out, it’s not all about displacement.  The ILX held its own against these two other vehicles by its sheer handling ability.

Huge pluses for the ILX:

  • Light clutch effort:  Easy on the left thigh!
  • Short throw gearbox:  The distance from gear-to-gear in the ILX is a lot shorter than I’m used to in my Legend.
  • Smooth shifts!  This car’s transmission can only be described as “buttery.”  I spent most of my time back and forth between 3rd and 4th gears, revving at 4-5,000 RPM whether climbing in elevation or downshifting during descent.
  • Brake power is more than adequate for any turns that come up as a surprise.
  • Flat cornering – I noticed minimal body roll.
  • Grippy steering wheel with thick rim and small diameter for easy maneuvering.
  • Nighttime visibility thanks to HID projector headlamps and foglights was critical during the 18-mile stretch marked as active ‘deer crossing’ and as a means of anticipating upcoming curves.

Twenty five miles of rollercoaster-worthy curves later, we arrived at Summerhaven which is the end point of the Catalina Highway.  The exterior temperature on my digital readout said 59 degrees – quite possibly the coldest it’s read since I got the ILX in June!  It was refreshing night up there.

Unfortunately, lighting was poor at the Windy Point lookout, one of the pullouts where we stopped and I snapped a couple of pictures.

What you can’t see in this picture is the great view of Tucson ahead of the cars.  Where was Will in the Camaro?  We were waiting for him to catch up.


After the mountain cruise, a late night dinner at BJ’s Brewery in Tucson.

A few other pics from the drive down are here.  These were taken at a midpoint between Phoenix and Tucson, in the now “ghost-towned” community of Picacho, so named for Picacho Peak which stands in the background of the below picture where a motel used to operate.

Incidentally, I stopped at this same location in my Legend in October, 2009 when the motel (though very run-down) was still standing.

Boarded-up restaurant.

Good grief!

Enjoyed the sign at the “Pet Exercise Area”:

On the way back home to Phoenix, I noticed that my range indicator said exactly 200 miles at exactly half a tank.

The Mount Lemmon run was a great driving experience and one that I hope to do again soon!

Wish I could’ve brought the 59 degree temps home to Phoenix with me.

First Car Ride

Posted in Throwback on August 23, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  11,663

I haven’t always been spoiled by the luxuries of Acura  in my lifetime of automotive experience.  Would you believe that my first taste of the world of cars was in a glorified Ford Pinto?  Nearly 31 years ago, I rode home as a newborn from Logan Hospital in northern Utah in a car that’s been designated in some articles as one of the worst cars of all time.

I challenge each of my Drive to Five readers to find out if you haven’t researched it already:  What kind of car was the first one you rode in?

I present to you:  The 1978 Mercury Bobcat.

The hottest ride in Richmond, Utah.  This little gem, as it turns out, has a story to tell.

  • Original MSRP:  $4,112
  • Production years:  1975-1980
  • Powerplant:  2.8 Liter 4 cylinder motor; SelectShift “Cruise-O-Matic” transmission
  • Output:  88 hp; 118 lb-ft of torque

Tuesday, October 6, 1981.  I was two months away from being born and my mom was 19 years old.

Following is an excerpt from her detailed journal entry:

We got rid of our Monte Carlo for $2,700 and bought a 1978 Mercury Bobcat (like a Pinto) for $2,600.  We bought it from a girl here in Richmond who is Craig’s age.  She sold it because she is getting married in December.  The $100 “profit” went for taxes.  But this little hummer gets 25 mpg in my driving back and forth from Richmond to Logan.  It only takes me $12 or $13 to fill it instead of $25.  So I figure even though it isn’t as nice a car, we stepped up to three years newer, get twice the mileage, and I am happy with it.  Craig has complained about the way it rides because he hates all small cars but he was spoiled with the Celica.  No car can compare to the Celica in ride.

Indeed, how could anything ever compare to the 1980 Celica that my dad was benchmarking against?  It looks like automotive engineering has come a long way in the last 34 years.  Fast forward to the 2013 model year and I’m driving a 4 cylinder vehicle that’s putting out 228% more horsepower than that 1978 Bobcat.  Inflation, though, is killer.  You could buy about 7 1/2 Bobcats for the price of my Acura ILX.  Times change!

Update on our Italian Friend, Francesco

We’ve already learned that people from all over the world can appreciate getting the most mileage out of a car.  You may remember Francesco, the Drive to Five reader from Italy who’s on a high-mileage crusade of his own.  He first reached out to me in May 2012 when his car had 240,000 kilometers on it.  I received an update that he’s now surpassed the 250,000 mile mark.  In his words:

The 250.000 came near Munchen on the road for Stuttgart…the roadtrip stop here…center of the city, Mercedes and Porsche museum…too diffiucult the road for Hamburg for the money, the weather and the no limit legal highway (they are crazy!)

Francesco also sent these photos of his Fiat outside Legoland in Germany.  Car looks great for the mileage!

Keep on rolling, Francesco!

30 Years of Honda in America

I received a Media Alert from Honda this week announcing the start of production of the all-new 2013 model year Accord at the Marysville, Ohio plant.  When I attended the Detroit Auto Show in January, I laid eyes on one of the very first Accords built in the United States – a gray 1982 that I blogged about here.  Since ’82, there have been over 9 million Accords built in the United States.  Quite a feat!

Latest on the 2013 ILX

My new Acura made headlines at work in an article that was released this week at my employer’s quarterly newsletter.  The following is a shot of what was included in the mailing to the ~350 people who work in my department at CVS Caremark.

I got a ton of follow-up feedback via phone and email from my colleagues at the office.  Most simply couldn’t believe that Acura took enough interest in my story to form this type of partnership with a “regular guy!”  And a handful of people asked me when I’m taking them to lunch in my new car.  Ha!  Here are a couple of the comments I received.

From Andrew, in Storage & Backups:

Tyson, you’ve gone the equivalent to the moon and back.  What a feat!  I won’t worry about the 100k mark being the end on my Hondas.

From Mary, in Engagement Management:

How cool is that!  I traded my Acura for a Lexus coupe – can’t remember why.  Now I drive a BMW X5.  Really love the car, but it’s not as luxurious as my old Legend.  Sigh.

The ILX is doing great and already begging for another road trip.  I’ve already got a few travel destinations in mind for the coming several weeks.

It’s exciting to see the ILX ownership / enthusiast community continue to grow.  If you haven’t already done so, make sure and join the ILX Owners & Enthusiasts group on Facebook and also take a look at the ILX Owner Sign-In thread at Acurazine — the world’s largest internet forum devoted to all things Acura.  (The member list currently shows over 87,000 registered users).  So far, 12 lucky new ILX owners including myself have made their presence known but I know that many more will join as the ILX sales escalate.

On Monday night, I happened to again be near downtown Tempe and stopped for a couple of pictures at the Hayden Flour Mill (which first launched operations in 1918) that I discussed in my blog from last week.  I really wish I’d had my “real” camera with me because these grainy iPhone pictures just don’t do anything at all justice.

There’s a set of train tracks running alongside the mill that have since been bypassed by a newer set that’s located west of this site.  Also interesting to note in the above picture the contrast between the old mill buildings and the new corporate complex in the background.  The city of Tempe really has grown up around this old mill.

You can still see a very faint “Hayden Flour Mills” written on the side of the building.

Doesn’t the sight of an abandoned building make you want to go crawl inside?  I have a fascination with such things, and I’d love to get up enough bravery to hike around in a place like this, just to see what I could find.  It’d be similar to that day in 2005 when I took a day trip in the Legend and explored the abandoned buildings of the Modena, Utah ghost town.

I captured this picture “on the fly” while crossing the Salt River at the Rural Rd bridge, but these Arizona sunsets are phenomenal!

As my longer-term evaluation of the ILX continues, my readers may also wish to keep tabs on a similar undertaking by Car & Driver.  They’ve inducted a 2.4 liter 6-speed Polished Metal Metallic ILX into their long-term test fleet and already logged a couple thousand miles.   See the initial write-up here.

The old high-miler Legend, meanwhile, will be the feature of my next blog post.  Exciting things are happening with it!

World Traveling LandCruiser & Tempe ILX Pics

Posted in ILX, Reader's Ride on August 17, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  11,490

There are a lot of people like me who take driving/roadtrip adventures way more seriously than the average person.  I love it when I learn about fellow road warriors from around the globe, and I tip my hat to anyone who dares to set out on long-haul travels in a car that’s beyond 100k, 200k, or 300k miles regardless of what make or model they’re driving.   Take a few minutes and stop by this website documenting one couple’s impressive travels in their 4×4 SUV.

Over the last nearly 28 years, Emil and Liliana Schmid have taken their 1982 Toyota LandCruiser FJ60 through 172 countries and driven 414,000 miles.  It’s currently undergoing a restoration effort (for the second time, since it had some prior work done in 2006), but will come back for more world tour action soon.

While the odometer may not read as high as my 1994 Acura Legend, the list of places that this LandCruiser has been is staggering!  I’ll be lucky if my car even gets to ride a ferry over to Hawaii for a lap around an island (a forever dream of mine).  Here is a gallery of Emil and Liliana’s pictures by date & location.

I extend my congratulations and support these inspirational folks on their continued journey!  Keep on rolling!

Ian’s New Ride

I met up this week with my friend Ian who used to own a 2012 Honda Civic Si.  He’s recently traded it for a gorgeous 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer.  I took the car for a spin and was impressed.  Ian’s new car has a mere 1,262 miles on the odometer and still smells fresh.  Not to mention, it’s got a rockin’ Rockford Fosgate sound system.

Congrats on the new set of wheels, Ian!

It’s been a record-setting summer in Phoenix.  I know the below *can’t* be accurate, but the ILX told me it was 121 degrees outside when I got in the car after work on Tuesday to head home.

MT Mania

How smoothly can you shift a manual transmission?  On Wednesday I took a work colleague, Paul, to lunch in the ILX.  We’ve gone out at least 3 times before in my car.  We were getting back on the road after bagel sandwiches at Einstein’s and he remarked, “I just realized, this car’s a stick shift.”  It hadn’t even registered to him that all these times I’ve been manually shifting my own gears.  I had a similar comment once from someone who rode in my Legend with me.  I guess if you’re a pro at rowing, the car rides as smooth as an automatic.  Paul’s 27 and doesn’t yet know how to drive a manual.  I’m determined to educate him.  Save the manuals!

Welcome to the Acura family!

Derek and Danielle are friends of mine from high school days and have newly joined the ranks of proud Acura owners as of this past weekend.  Derek contacted me with some questions on a 2002 Acura 3.5 RL that they were looking at locally in Salt Lake City, Utah.  At around 250,000 miles and 10 years old, its newness may have worn off but I assured Derek that based on my experience, the RL is good for twice that many miles (and beyond).  They ended up striking a deal with the seller.  Congratulations Derek and Danielle, and thanks again for considering me as a resource for your car purchase!

ILX Photoshoot in Tempe, Arizona

My friend Kevin and I took the chance this week to meet up for a few ILX pics since he hadn’t yet seen the car in person.  Kevin and I love road tripping.  He rode with me on my first leg of the Morristown, NJ trip last summer – from Phoenix to Oklahoma City.  He’s a walking encyclopedia when it comes to road history (among other things).

For this week’s photoshoot, Kevin and I met up at sunset time at the Tempe Town Lake Marina.  The “lake” (though really just a dammed-up section of the Salt River) is home to many athletic events each year and offers a nice refreshing visual break from the desolate desert that surrounds us in this area.

Kevin shot these with a Canon EOS Rebel TI 2 with the kit lens.  Most of these were taken at around 25 MM.  Nicely executed!

Over the hood of the ILX in this one is Sun Devil Stadium – home of the Arizona State University Sun Devils.

Thanks, Kevin, for the pictures!

Kevin’s a Honda guy too, having owned his 2006 Accord since it was new.  He’ll be celebrating a milestone very soon as his Accord “officially” gets broken in at the 100,000 mile mark.  He’s at 98,500 or so now.

The Hayden Lakefront Condominiums and business complex, seen across the lake from us, has gone up in recent years as one of Tempe’s premier business districts.

The two bridges seen here were developed to cross the Salt River as the primary avenue to travel between Phoenix and Tempe in the 1930’s aside from using a ferry.   The bridge to the west (completed in 1931) was once a two-lane road until the second bridge to the east was built in 1994.


And now (photo credit – Bridgepix).

Mill Avenue is the main artery through Tempe, is so named because of the giant flour mill that was one of the very first structures in the city when it was constructed in 1874. (Photo credit – Wikipedia)

On a related note, the City of Tempe is excited next month to offer a grand opening of a park, picnic tables, and interpretive museum around the facility next month.

I’ve taken my Legend to this area a number of times for pictures.  Following are some pictures from July 2007 when it had 297,000 miles on it.  I had the “EDM” (European Domestic Market) clear marker lights on it at the time and was still rolling around on Utah license plates.  The car today looks largely the same otherwise!

The building seen here across the lake was my workplace at the time:  the corporate office for US Airways.

Nothing like a spectacular Arizona sunset to finish the day off right.

In the following Legend video from my YouTube channel, the segment from 2:07 – 2:20 was filmed with my “sticky pod” suction cup camera mount attached to the passenger side of my car while driving southbound across the Mill bridge at dusk in October 2008 at 345,000 miles.

For anyone who’s interested in seeing more pictures of the bridges, here are some other incredible images captured by photographer Mike Olbinski of both spans.

Thanks, Kevin, for helping out with the pictures!  Little did he know that I’d snapped this picture of him.

For those who may not have seen it, Acura released the last in a series of YouTube segments about my ‘discovery’ of the ILX, from the date on June 12th when I picked up my car at the local dealership after having them accessorize it.  Check it out!

Have a great weekend everyone.

San Francisco, California

Posted in California, ILX, Road Trip on August 12, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  11,286

It’s been two months to the day since I got my ILX with just 16 miles on it.  It was time yet again to stretch the car’s legs and today’s return trip from the Bay Area was about 800 miles one-way.  It took almost exactly 12 hours.

Tracking back to earlier in the trip:

Saturday morning, I headed northbound on I-5 from Sylmar through what is known as the Tejon Pass, climbing to over 4,000 feet in elevation and then dropping sharply at a 6% descent grade to a small town at the base called Grapevine.  The 1955 Charlie Ryan song “Hot Rod Lincoln” has a reference to a kid racing a souped up Lincoln against a Cadillac on this grade.  The road has since been widened and straightened to make it less dangerous than it once was.  The ILX mastered the hill in 6th gear without even needing to downshift.

Back on level ground, the sun started peeking over the horizon and I set my sights on San Francisco.

That long downhill grade did wonders for my average fuel economy.  I reached an all-time high of 33.6 mpg.

Ouch!  Just when it seems like fuel prices are getting to be more reasonable, I paid this for 91 octane in Firebaugh.

After a visit to a friend in Brentwood and lunch in Walnut Creek, I paid a visit to an Acura dealership that has a special place in my heart:  Acura of Pleasanton.  My 1994 Legend that now has over 515,000 miles on it was purchased brand new from this very location in September 1994 when it had 288 miles on it.  The dealership is conveniently located off Interstate 580 so I swung by to grab a quick picture.

Here’s where I started wishing I would’ve parked inland and ridden the $5 mass-transit “BART” system into downtown SF:  16 lanes wide; total gridlock for 30 minutes waiting to get to the tollbooths.  Two lanes were moving at a decent pace, and of course they were the Fast Pass lanes which I wasn’t eligible for.  The toll is $6 from 5-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. on weekdays, $4 all other weekday times, and $5 on weekends.

Finally, some fresh (and I do mean fresh!  66 degrees!) air as I cross the Bay Bridge.  The bridge itself dates back to 1936 and is 23,000 feet long.  Other fun trivia (thanks to the Bay Bridge History site):

  • The bridge carries 102 million cars per year
  • The cost of the original bridge was $77 million in 1936
  • When it was built, the Bay Bridge was the longest in the world

Before meeting up with friends, there was something I just HAD to do first.  One of my favorite movies is the 1993 Robin Williams movie “Mrs. Doubtfire.”  This film was set in San Francisco, and I learned thanks to some investigative googling that the home used in the movie is in fact easy to find.  This became my second “movie crusade” in the ILX, since last month I drove to the Napoleon Dynamite house in southern Idaho.

Here we are:  2640 Steiner Street.  It’s been 19 years since the movie was filmed and the home looks exactly the same as it did back then.

(Small) screen shot from the movie:

Star-studded steps!

In typical San Fran style, the roads are steep.  Don’t forget the emergency brake here!

Here’s a screen shot from the movie.

And now with my ILX in the same place.

The home is at the corner of Steiner & Broadway streets.

Back the car into the driveway?  Sure, don’t mind if I do!  (Just long enough for a photo-op, of course).

Some other fascinating info about this home in this article.

San Francisco has an elaborate system of cable cars and zero emission buses.

The biggest challenge with getting around this area:  Finding a parking space!  I drove around for about 30 minutes before I found a location remotely close to where I would be spending the night.  Take a look across the street from where I finally ended up parking the ILX.  These cars are bumper to bumper!  It’s no wonder why most of the vehicles in downtown have battered bumpers and dented quarter panels.

My accommodations for the night on Duboce Street.

And reunited with a couple of old friends at Dolores Park for a great sunset overlooking the city as the cloud cover rolled in, followed by a night out on the town.

This morning’s departure:

First up, I found out from some quick mapping that I was only 2.3 miles away from the famous “crookedest street in America,” Lombard Street which I drove in my Legend in 2010. Here’s what the street looks like from a higher perspective/aerial view.

Since it was only about 7:00 in the morning on a Sunday, traffic was light and I was able to take my time creeping eastbound down the 8 switchbacks in the ILX and take a few pictures.

There was even a nice bystander near the bottom of the hill who snapped a picture for me!

Starting my long drive home now – what this picture truly fails to capture is the angle of the road!  Steep!  This is where the ILX “hill start” assist feature on the manual transmission comes in very handy.  When starting off with the clutch depressed, the car actually holds itself in place until you get going.  Fancy shmancy.

Much of today’s drive was on Interstate 5 in central California.  It’s flat farmland as far as the eye can see.  70 mph speed limits.

Los Angeles was about another 6 hours from San Fran, and Phoenix another 6 from Los Angeles.

Once I rose out of the LA metro area, I saw the one of my favorite signs–  “other Desert Cities” — on I-10 westbound.

Palm Springs, California.  Home of the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm.  There are 3,218 windmills out there.

Just after Indio, the temperature crept to a toasty 117 degrees and I began my descent to the desert plateau via I-10.

If only the temp would’ve cooperated and been 111 degrees for my 11,111th mile.

Turn off the A/C?  When it’s 117 degrees?  No, thanks!  The ILX handled the grade just fine.

Last stop of the day was at the Bouse Rest Stop, about 30 miles east of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Understandably, I needed to stretch my legs a little after having been in the car for over 10 hours at this point, so I read the Rest Area Guide.

Among the list of prohibited activities:  Vandalism.  Except, whoever developed this sign misspelled “vandalism” with an E.

Isn’t it ironic that someone took the liberty of vandalizing the word vandalism to correct the error?

Things that make you go, “Hmmm….”

And with that, I’m home sweet home and ready to relax.

It seems that every time I take this car on trip, I learn something new about it.  Here are a couple things I picked up on this time:

  • The turn signal indicator flashes at exactly the same speed as artist Juice Newton’s 1981 song (hey, it’s the same age as me!) “Queen of Hearts.”  Test it out sometime!  Great song.
  • The trip meters (of which there are two:  A and B) max out at 9,999.9 miles.  Since I never reset my meter “A,” it turned over to 0000.0 on me this trip.

Thanks for coming along with me to San Fran!

Sylmar, California – First 10,000 Miles Completed

Posted in California, ILX, Milestones, Road Trip on August 10, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  10,105

Whoever wrote that song, “Oceanfront Property In Arizona” needs to look at a map!   No water in sight.  I’ve had enough of Phoenix’s blistering heat so it’s time to high-tail it to some REAL ocean air of Cali-for-nye-aye.  I’m just north of Los Angeles tonight off Interstate 5 in Sylmar, but tomorrow I’ll continue my journey northbound to sunny San Francisco.  Here’s what today’s trip looked like after departing from work:

Ten thousand miles have come and gone since June 12, 2012 (less than two months ago!) when I took the key to my 2013 Acura ILX from John Watts representing Acura’s Digital Marketing team.  It’s been a great ride so far.

The occasion happened on Interstate 10 westbound in Banning, California.

Ever seen pictures on the news of those crazy dust storms we get in the desert?  I drove through a mild one this afternoon.  Visibility here was actually pretty good.

It wasn’t until I got OUT of the dust cloud (below picture) that I realized just how bad the air had been in there.

*cough, cough*

Pit stop for a taste of the old west:  Desert Center, California.

The drive from Phoenix to Los Angeles is brutal, traversing several hundred miles of scorching 110-degree desert wasteland.

The town of Desert Center (though its current 204 residents hardly comprise a crowd!) got its start in the 1920’s as a small repair garage.  Following is an excerpt from Wiki:

A Model T truck was modified to serve as a tow car. Gasoline was pumped by hand from a 55 gallon drum. Lydia served food and refreshments to thirsty and weary travelers. In spite of the remote location 50 miles (80 km) in any direction from anything, the Ragsdales prospered. Ragsdale named his outpost ‘Desert Center’. In 1921, it was announced that the sand road running through Desert Center would be relocated about 5 miles (8.0 km) north, straightened, paved, and named US Route 60, a modern “high-speed” highway. Ragsdale abandoned “old Desert Center” and built a poured-concrete café in the adobe style with an attached gasoline station and a huge service garage. Across the road, a series of wooden structures were built, including a market (which at one time was the largest Coleman camping equipment dealer in the country), and a post office. He also built several cabins for travelers, and a large “plunge” (swimming pool) next to the café where travelers could escape the desert heat.

The cafe, as it turns out, is still standing but no longer open:

These old gas pumps are remarkably well preserved for their age!  For those wondering:  fuel price here is 39 cents a gallon.

A few other sights to see in this barren land.

And resuming my journey westbound, the sunset was spectacular as it always seems to be in the desert.

I’m still getting some great average MPG’s in this thing!

My first 10,000 miles in the ILX have been rewarding and fun.  The car has plenty of comfort, power, and technology to offer a traveler who’s looking to go the distance.  Tomorrow the adventure will continue to San Francisco.

Friday Flashback:

I was last in SF this past December 2011 for a concert, but the last time my Legend saw San Fran was in June 2010 when I traveled out there for a Legend meet. My car had about 428,000 miles on it at the time.

Great people – Legend forum members.

My good friend Sergio takes a look at the coupe.  He also took it for a spin at the time.

Bay Bridge in the morning fog.

I of course had to drive the car down the “crookedest” street in America, Lombard Street.  This 1/4-mile long, one-way stretch of road has 8 tight switchbacks.  I would’ve loved to skateboard down this thing.  Probably would’ve crashed and burned after the first hairpin.

Good memories.

Side note on the ILX in parting:

Now that the 2013 ILX has been on sale for a couple of months, more and more automotive journalists are publishing their reviews of the car.  Here’s one critique by Brian Cooley of C Net that popped up this week – a good amount of praise, especially for the tech features and drivetrain.  The ILX that Brian is driving is a twin to mine, outfitted with the 2.4 liter and 6-speed manual and finished in Silver Moon Metallic paint.

Sneak peak of what’s up tomorrow:

Next update will be after the SF trip is over!  Until next week sometime…

An ILX with a V8!

Posted in ILX, Maintenance on August 10, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  515,177

Odometer (ILX):  9,673

Made you look!

TGIF, my friends.  The ILX got its second oil change (already) when I took it in for service this week.

As I wandered around the showroom looking at the ILX, I asked a salesperson, “How’s the ILX doing?”  He proceeded to tell me that it’s doing well – that it’s a car that offers something for everyone (citing its three available drivetrains).  “There’s even a 200 horsepower manual,” he said, “But of course we don’t have any of those.”  He said they have a lot of people asking about the manual.  If that’s the case, I wonder why there aren’t any in stock?

  • 12 cars on the outside lot and 2 in the showroom
  • Of the 14 cars, 12 are 2.0 automatics
  • 2 are Hybrids

You’d think they’d at least have one 6-speed to offer prospective customers to experience since the drivetrain is totally unique.  And I sure still wish I could see what an ILX would look like in Milano Red like the TSX Special Edition I saw on the showroom floor.

This is the hottest my ILX’s exterior thermometer has read since I’ve owned it.  This was southbound on Loop 101 around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Sizzlin’.

Got my California license plate!  My ILX is registered to American Honda Motor Company at the Torrance, California headquarters.

Showing a little Utah State University pride.  I graduated from there in December 2005 in Logan, Utah with my Bachelor’s degree.

The Legend got a bath upon arrival in Phoenix last weekend.

It’s now undergone the most intense detail of its life.  On Tuesday evening, I spent 4 hours on it:

  • Remove tires and repaint brake calipers high gloss black
  • Wipe down wheel wells
  • Remove and repaint wiper arms high gloss black
  • Wax wheels with Meguiar’s Gold Class Carnauba Wax
  • Condition leather with Griot’s Garage Leather Care
  • Condition all other interior (door panels, dashboard) with Meguar’s Natural Shine
  • Treat exterior black trim (grille, weatherstripping) with Natural Shine
  • Clean out trunk, vacuum, wipe down compartments, and jack equipment
  • Detail door jams, fuel filler door, trunk jam
  • Full engine wipe down; wax painted areas; condition plastic and rubber
  • Polish chrome exhaust tips with Mother’s Mag & Aluminum polish, then wax
  • Vacuum carpet and replace protective plastic covering on entry sills
  • Scrub all 3 foot pedal pads with toothbrush and all-purpose cleaner

Looking better than ever!

Fun Stuff:

The following video has nothing to do with cars but everything to do with travel.  Matt Harding has traveled all over the world… dancing.  Check this out – hope it makes you smile like it did to me.  Thanks to my Grandma Doce for sending me the link!

If you’ve still got time to kill, head over here for a fun video of a souped up Power Wheels toy.

Lastly, I was tipped off to the following story by my friend Ryan in Utah.  It’s no mystery that to some of us (and I know many of my readers are in my same boat) a car becomes so much more than a method of transportation.  It becomes a member of the family.  That’s the case of “Bluey” – a 1982 Honda Civic owned by Harry Ettling of New York City.

In its 30 years of existence, Bluey has traveled (only) 171,000 miles – nothing for a Honda – but has succumbed to rust as the body is now falling apart.  Instead of sending the car to the scrap yard without fanfare, Harry held a funeral procession for his car and it drove the streets of Manhattan in a mini parade under its own power.  Great story!

Will a similar procession be held for my ILX when it’s 30 years old in 2043?

I’ll be hitting up the California coast this weekend as the ILX travels to San Francisco and back.

74 degrees and sunshine tomorrow?  Yes please!

The Legend Returns

Posted in Legend on August 5, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  515,177

Odometer (ILX):  9,478

The 500k mile Legend is back in business!  After a month-long hiatus for some cosmetic rework, it was ready for retrieval this weekend in my hometown of St. George, Utah where my brother had a friend of his work on bringing it back to life.

The car went from looking like this:

To this:

And finally, to this:

The above picture is one that I received from my brother when he notified me that the car was ready to roll.

Anxious to see how it turned out, I grabbed a dirt cheap fare on Spirit Airlines and flew out of one of the smallest airports I’ve ever been to – Williams Gateway, in Mesa, Arizona yesterday afternoon.

As it turns out, “Lisa” who sat next to me in 17F was a big Acura fan, too, having owned two TL’s and an MDX.

Upon arrival in Las Vegas, Nevada, I caught a $39 “St. George Shuttle” ride that would transport me the 100 miles to where my car was located.  From my vantage point in the row behind our driver Richard, my eyes spied the odometer of a Drive to Five Champion — the Ford Econoline van we were riding in had just over 506,000 miles on it.  How fitting that my ride to pick up my high mileage Legend was also in a high mileage shuttle bus.

Finally reunited with my family and my car.  The paint work turned out phenomenal!

My nieces Ali and Addy hitched a ride to breakfast this morning before I hit the road.

And a parting shot before rolling out on my journey home to Phoenix.

The car’s not been washed and it’s dirty from rain.

The drive from there was about 428 miles and took me around 6.5 hours today.

It was a change to again be in a vehicle that revs so low at highway speed.  The ILX, by contrast, is doing about 3,400 RPM at this speed.

Hell0, Vegas!  Sorry, no time to stop and visit you today.

Onward to Highway 93 where I snapped a couple of pictures just north of Kingman, Arizona.

It’s good to have my baby back home.  Throughout the duration of the long drive, I had a lot of time to reflect on how the driving experience compares in my old car and my new car.  It’s odd how having spent nearly 10,000 miles with the ILX almost made my once-familiar Legend feel a bit foreign to me.  The first thing I noticed when I got back into my old car was its characteristic smell.

My thoughts would be best illustrated in list form:

Advantage:  Legend

  • The long coupe doors have tons of storage space for my sunglasses, day planner, and anything else I need to stow.
  • The quality of the leather also feels superior in the Legend.  When I press my arm against the gathered leather in the door panel, it’s got cushion.
  • I like the 4-spoke steering wheel with a place to rest my hand at the bottom.
  • Better placement of the climate controls – higher on the dash and easier to reach.  Also, the vents are well positioned.  In the ILX, the two driver’s vents are hidden directly behind the rim of the steering wheel on either side.
  • Seat comfort.  The side bolsters on the Legend coupe as well as the contoured seat bottom are a lot more supportive than in the ILX.
  • The ride is very plush and comfortable.  This is probably in large part due to the fact that most of my 515,000 mile suspension (including the struts themselves) is original and worn out, therefore very cushy.
  • I love non-digital odometers!  There’s just something more fun about watching numbers actually roll by than seeing them light up electronically.

Advantage:  ILX

  • I’ve gotten used to that exterior thermometer!  It’s handy to know what the temps outside are doing.
  • Cornering is by far superior.  I took the interchange today from I-15 to Hwy 93 in Las Vegas at a rate of speed that the ILX would surely handle with ease, but my Legend felt like it might almost roll over!
  • The thickness of the steering wheel makes the car feel more “substantial.”  I also like the smaller overall diameter.
  • Push-button start has spoiled me, too.  I got in the Legend with the key in my pocket and inadvertently went to reach my hand for a button on the dash without a key.  Oops!  Gotta have a key for this one.
  • The driver position is better.  In the Legend, the foot wells are shallow and the dash feels low.
  • Cabin isolation.  Despite the fact that the ILX engine revs much higher than the Legend at highway speed, my old Legend has quite a bit of wind noise from the driver’s door window so the ILX is better here.
  • Fuel economy and gas gauge accuracy.  My ILX gets 32-33 mpg.  It also has a MUCH more accurate fuel gauge.  My Legend’s needle will linger ABOVE “F” forever, fall slowly to half-tank by about 250 miles, then dip like crazy to “E.”
  • I love the 3-flash blinker feature that happens when the turn signal lever is “blipped” just slightly.  It’s really handy for lane changes, and in the Legend I had to hold the lever in place while I made my changes.
  • Steering wheel audio controls are very handy.  In my Legend, since I have an aftermarket Pioneer sound system, the wheel controls are deactivated and I have to reach for the stereo to make any changes.

Overall, both Acuras are a pleasure to drive.  I’m impressed with how far Acura vehicles have advanced and I’m happy to report that the new model still feels every bit as “quality” as my built-to-last Legend.  The ILX will continue to be my daily driver.

Oil life 60% with about 4,500 miles driven on this change.  I had an interesting conversation with my friend Matt who drives a corporate lease vehicle 2012 Nissan 370Z which he got in February.  We even took the time to plot our mileage accumulation on the same graph.  The ILX, shown here in red, overtook his Nissan’s odometer last week during my drive to Milwaukee and back.  Didn’t take me long to catch up!

Now we’ll see who gets to 10,000 first.

A familiar ILX ad showed up on the inside cover of a car magazine that I was thumbing through at the airport yesterday.

Just for fun:

Remember that bite-sized vehicle durability evaluation I’ve got going on?  A couple of these die-cast 1:18 scale model cars have now been on my rooftop for nearly 3 years.  Phoenix sunshine is brutal on car finishes — does the same extreme weather also take its toll on model cars?


Summer has taken its toll on my little fleet.  The last time I went up to check on the cars, the BMW’s door had been blown open and the Mercedes 500SL had its trunk blown open by a recent dust storm.  The red paint on the Maserati 3200 GT is fading at an alarming rate.  The “chrome” on the 1957 Thunderbird has lost it luster and the windows and plastic lenses on every vehicle have yellowed to some degree.

The next Phase of testing:  Corrosion.  I took a highly concentrated saltwater solution and gave each car a good spray.

Nerdy, absolutely!  But at age 30 I’m having just as much fun playing with my miniature cars as I am having with the full size ones!