Archive for January, 2013

Driving in China

Posted in Road Trip on January 31, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  519,285


Odometer (ILX):  26,034


No, I haven’t shipped my cars overseas for a lap around Asia (yet!).

Can you imagine having to apply for a lottery to be able to get a license plate for your vehicle?  How different things would be for me if I lived in another country.

In an effort to curb traffic congestion, the largest city in China (Shanghai, at 23 million people), is looking into ways to limit access to plates.  In Beijing, the capital city, such a system is already in place.  Only 240,000 plates are issued per year.  This works out to one driver out of every 75 applicants being successful in getting a license plate!   See this article for more information.

My friend Ben lives in Shanghai.  He shared this picture with me with a “then and now” look at the city. The top picture here was presumably taken in the 1980’s.  Ben says that old parts of town are being demolished and new luxury apartments and retail stores constructed at breakneck speed.


Shanghai has 12 metro train lines and 273 stations.  The “Maglev” train that runs from the airport has a top speed of 268 miles per hour.  Acura models are sold in China.  Ben reported seeing this Chinese ILX advertisement in the airport:


The “Urban Spirit, Urban Force” is loosely translated to “The city:  My main stomping grounds.”  Per Ben:

So, for example, if I wanted an ILX in Shanghai, a hybrid (from what I can tell from the website, it’s the only one available in China) costs US$52729, once you add in the cost of the license plate, by the time it’s registered and on the road, it will have cost you over US$70000.  Now that you’ve spent $70K, you still don’t have a place to park.  Parking spaces run up to US$300 a month, or if you want to buy one, US$100K.  Gas costs upwards of US$5 a gallon.  This is in a city where the average salary is US$8500 a year.

This is what Ben’s morning commute bus ride looks like around 10 a.m. in Shanghai.  Still very heavy traffic nearing city center.


Here are 2 pictures that Ben recently took of a Honda Legend in China.  The city truly takes its toll on vehicles, so this car looks like it’s seen better days.



I definitely take my freedoms as a driver for granted.  I have the ability to freely register as many vehicles as I wish, to hop in the car and travel on “non-toll” roads, and spend only a fraction of the fuel cost that someone in Europe might be paying.  We have it really good here.  And for that I am grateful.

New Innovation for the ILX


Acura continues to be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to driver safety and convenience.  This week, it was announced that the ILX is one of Honda/Acura vehicles that will offer integrated support for the iPhone’s “Siri.”  With just the activation of the hands-free link and Bluetooth, drivers may now keep their eyes on the road and utilize Siri functionality.  From a press release dated 1/30/13:

Later this year, owners with a compatible iPhone1 running iOS 6can direct Siri to perform a number of specific tasks while they safely keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. Using Eyes Free mode, Siri takes hands-free functionality even further and minimizes distractions even more by keeping your iOS device’s screen from lighting up.

Something to look forward to when I upgrade from my “regular” iPhone 4!

Legend Lovers Unite – Michael’s 1994 Legend LS Sedan

On Wednesday night, a new Legend friend came over to my home.  Michael happens to live just a few blocks from my house, and he’s as much of an Acura fan as I am.  Having owned a 1991 sedan previously, he’s currently in a 1994 LS Automatic with 191,030 miles on the odometer.


Barely broken in!  This car is equipped with Koni red struts, an aftermarket sound system, and other goodies.


The interior is in fantastic shape.  According to AutoCheck, this car lived in California until 2007 when it moved to the Phoenix area, and it’s been here ever since.  There’s not an ounce of rust on the body.


Interestingly enough, Michael’s car used to be Desert Mist Metallic – the same color as my coupe.  At some point before his ownership, it was repainted pearl white.


He took me for a spin and it drove as solidly as a Legend should!


Thanks Michael for stopping by!

Quarter Million Mile…Lambo?

I saw this article today on Jalopnik about a 2004 Murcielago with 258,098 miles on the odometer that was just recently wrecked.  Days before the accident, it had undergone a $47,000 service.  To put that into perspective:  This Lamborghini required more maintenance dollars on a SINGLE service than my 1994 Legend cost to maintain over its lifetime, with double the number of miles.  That number, by the way, is $34,148.54 that the Legend’s had spent on it.

SG54 LAM crash

Back in the “real world” of cars:

The ILX looked cozy today tucked into my corner parking space at the office.


Someone got creative with exterior decor on his or her Honda CR-V.  Those are Post-It notes!


I fueled up on the way home with 91 octane Shell gasoline at $3.40 / gallon.


The ILX is returning 32.0 mpg currently.  I can’t remember when I last reset it, but the EPA estimate according to the factory window sticker is 31 mpg highway, so I’m beating that (and with mixed driving, too).


New ILX Owner Brent

Tonight I witnessed a friend of mine taking delivery of a brand new Acura ILX 2.0 automatic in Polished Metal Metallic with Parchment interior.

Brent traded his 2010 Acura TL in his new car at Acura of Tempe.  Here are his new and old cars, side by side.  His TL had only 34,000 miles on it.


Customary key handoff photograph!  I wish I would’ve had my better camera on-hand:


And a quick shot of me, Brent, and our ILXs.


Congratulations Brent!  Hope you have fun with the new ride.

How is winter treating everyone?  The next time I get into the Acura ILX for my morning commute (at a chilly-for-Scottsdale 55 degrees) and quickly switch the seat heaters to “HI” for maximum heat, I’m going to think of this guy in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.


He’s in a Subaru WRX STi that doesn’t feel like starting at -44 degrees Celsius (which converts to -47 degrees Fahrenheit):

The closest I’ve driven to the Northwest Territories was a neighboring province called the Yukon, back in 2006 during my Alaska trip with my dad.


Thanks to my friend Tony in Toronto for sharing the video link.

Stay warm everyone!  Happy Friday.

Bisbee, Arizona: Legend of the Old West

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on January 27, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  519,137


Odometer (ILX):  25,854



Fire up the DeLorean, Doc Brown.  We’re going back to 1885.  Rain or shine, for this weekend’s roadtrip I decided to take the Legend out of town.  Bisbee is about 210 miles away from my home in Scottsdale.  It was founded as a mining town in the 1880’s and today is home to about 6,000 people (the population has remained constant since about 1950).  Check out the route that my friend Josh and I took yesterday (“A” to “B”):



The Phoenix area gets an average of over 300 days of sunshine per year, yet we picked a day when it was absolutely dumping rain.  I was more paranoid about getting my car dirty than anything else.  The Legend is as sure-footed as ever thanks to a fresh set of Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires that were installed only 7,000 miles ago.


First stop was just north of Tucson, Arizona for some fuel and snacks.


The rain really decided to let loose right around this time.  Back on Interstate 10, traffic was at a 35 mph crawl for much of the drive through metro Tucson.


Slowly the clouds parted as we made our way to Benson, Arizona where we pulled off I-10 and took Highway 80 through the towns of St. David and Tombstone.  Here is a picture at the Boothill Graveyard near the entrance to Tombstone.


This was the third time my Legend has been to Tombstone – the first was back in February 2006 when I went with my friend Chris.  My car had 2004 Acura TL 17″ wheels on it at the time (and only around 209,000 miles).


At that time, Chris and I parked our cars in front of the “legendary” Boothill Graveyard.  Chris’ car was a 1994 L sedan automatic in Sherwood Green Metallic.


There are many more pictures from our adventure that day in the Legend forums thread here.

Continuing on Hwy 80, Josh and I made our way toward Bisbee.



Just before arriving in Bisbee on Hwy 80 from the west, we went through the Mule Pass Tunnel which was completed in 1958.



Finally, a one-lane curvy road called Tombstone Canyon Road takes us through what is now known as “Old Bisbee.”


Josh and I wandered around this area and peeked inside some of these shops, including the Bisbee Olive Oil Company that was giving out free samples.


Soon, our new friend Jason arrived.  He’s the man behind the blog “Driven for Drives” which captures his ownership experience with his gorgeous silver 2004 Honda Accord V6 6-speed coupe.  It has about 109,000 miles on it.




Bisbee lies only about 10 miles from the Mexican border, so we saw a lot of Border Patrol vehicles out and about.  I also spotted several vehicles with Mexican license plates, including a van from the state of Sonora and another van from the state of Jalisco.



Following a coworker’s recommendation, we had lunch at a place called Santiago’s, located on the ground floor of the 1902 San Ramon Hotel.  The tacos are highly recommended!


Jason, Tyson, Josh – at Santiago’s


Photo Re-Creation Experiment

The November 2012 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine had a special section with “then and now” photos from various locations in the state.  The opening picture in the article was Main Street in Bisbee.  This picture was taken in 1940.


The opposite page, pictured below, contained a picture from the same angle taken in 2012.


I was determined to re-create the image, so Jason and I sought out the location where it was taken.


We found it.  Here again for comparison are the picture from 1940, and our picture from 2013.



And finally, a side-by-side.  Thanks Aunt Jodi for putting these images together!


Spot on!  It’s been 73 years.  The buildings look the same, but the cars have changed.


A couple more shots that Josh took while Jason and I did a drive-by.





Next up, we took a little driving tour of town.  Given Bisbee’s notoriety as a ghost town destination, tourists can even take a tour in a hearse!  We opted instead to take the Legend and the Accord.  Because of the steep terrain, many of these roads are one-laners (but still allowing traffic to go both directions).  I feared that we might meet another vehicle head-on and have to back down this road, but traffic worked in our favor and we didn’t.


Homes and shops are built into the side of the side of the Mule Mountains.



Because of the terrain, many homes can only be reached by steps.  There’s a 5-kilometer race event called the Bisbee 1,000 Stair Climb that goes up and down 1,034 stairs.  The 2013 event will be held on October 19th.  I might have to give this one some consideration!


A look at the Copper Queen Mine in the background of the cars here.  This huge mine hasn’t produced any ore since 1975, but tours are still offered.


Copper, gold, and silver were the main ores extracted from the hills during the mining frenzy of Bisbee’s birth.  One reference that I saw indicated that at one time, Bisbee had the highest population of any town located between St. Louis and San Francisco.

One of the sights I wanted to see was the Shady Dell RV Park which is located just a few miles south of Bisbee.  This quaint place right off Highway 80 is a place where people can take a step back in time to the 1950’s and 1960’s and spend a night in one of 10 historic travel trailers.  The “feel” here is so authentic because the owners have gone to great lengths to make it seem like a time warp.  They don’t even offer wireless Internet – because “It hasn’t been invented yet.”



Thanks to Jason for this great picture of my Legend’s interior.


After parting ways, Josh and I headed back on I-10 to the Phoenix area and chased a freight train near Picacho Peak.


Hope you enjoyed the drive to Bisbee!

The March 2013 issue of Motor Trend magazine is already out, and it looks like their long-term test subject, the ILX 2.4, is doing well.  Editor Mike Floyd reports that at just under 10,000 miles, the only maintenance item has been an oil change and the ILX is delivering great gas mileage.


Last night, after dinner with a few friends, as I was approaching the ILX I played around with the key fob and held the “unlock” button for more than a couple of seconds.  To my surprise, all four windows and the moonroof slid open!  This is a feature I definitely did not know existed before.  I continue discovering things like this about my 2013 ILX.  Josh spent some time behind the wheel today as we took an airport run.


We picked up a friend and his dog – “Ike” – a French bulldog.  First time I’ve hauled a pet in the ILX!


Hope everyone else had a fun and adventurous weekend, too.

Shifting Gears

Posted in ILX, Legend on January 24, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,703


Odometer (ILX):  25,657


Some of us drivers will never be content to let an automatic transmission change our gears for us (see “Save the Manuals“).  In this blog post, I’m going to share five types of manual transmissions that strike me as unique in some way.  But first, some pictures of my 2013 Acura ILX taken this afternoon my commute home.

The building seen here is the Scottsdale campus of the Mayo Clinic; it’s one of five Mayo campuses in the greater Phoenix area.  I like the architecture at the front entrance to the facility which is near Shea Boulevard and 134th Street, so I pulled the ILX in there for a couple of shots.




Here’s the rundown of five fascinating gearboxes that I’ve recently learned about.

(1)  Saab Sensonic.  I learned this week in an article on Hooniverse that there is such a thing as a “clutch-pedal-less” manual transmission.  It seems similar to the type of drivetrain we had on our family’s Yamaha Kodiak 4-wheeler back in the 1990’s:  a manual gear-shift lever, but without the clutch.


From the Hooniverse write-up:

The Sensonic system is a clutch pedal-less manual. In the footwell are the pedals from an automatic Saab 900NG, but there’s a regular-looking shifter. There’s a micro switch in the gearshift that uses the clutch for you, so you just drive with your left foot on the footrest and shift normally as you go along. The system was originally deemed good enough for Saab to hastily introduce a retrofit pedal setup for Sensonic refugees to get back into regular shifting action, as the system often ground to a halt with warning lights a-popping and the shifter immovable.


How weird would it be to drive a manual as if it were an automatic?  I liked how the article talked about “ghost-clutching.”  More often than once in my life, I’ve slammed down on a brake pedal in an automatic car forgetting that it wasn’t a clutch.

(2)  BMW’s SMG Transmission.  This stands for “Sequential Manual Gearbox.”  My brother had a 2002 M3 with this setup (a $2,400 option).  The car was equipped with a clutch, but it was controlled by a computer.  The car could be driven in fully automatic mode, or in a mode wherein gear shifts would be activated either by paddle shifters on the steering wheel or input to the shift lever in the center console.  There was no clutch pedal.  I still have a tough time calling this a “manual.”


Following are some pictures that we took in my hometown of St. George, Utah in December 2009.  My two younger brothers have always loved their cars as much as I love mine, so the 3 of us lined up our rides for a photo-op:

  • Tyson’s 1994 Legend LS Coupe 6-speed:  407,000 Miles
  • Payton’s 2005 Subaru WRX STi 6-speed:  50,000 Miles
  • Bentley’s 2002 BMW M3 SMG 6-speed:  80,000 Miles




Both of my brothers have since moved into the diesel truck world and no longer have their sporty cars.  More info here on how the SMG transmission operates.

(3)  Mitsubishi “4×2 Super Shift” Transmission.  Here’s a car with EIGHT forward gears.  Back in the early 1980’s (and up until 1990), Mitsubishi offered a transmission that operated a bit like a bicycle’s on its Tredia and Cordia models.  The transmission had four gears, but also two secondary gears – Power and Economy.  Two gear shift levers — did this car require 3 hands to drive?


From the Wiki page:

In practice, it was very difficult to use all 8 forward speeds in sequence as every second change required movement of both gear levers at the same time – something which was almost impossible without using both hands. Many owners settled on using the transmission in low ‘Power’ mode the majority of the time, and only using the secondary selector to select high ‘Economy’ mode when in 4th gear, effectively creating a 5th gear from 4th ‘high’.


(3)  2014 Corvette 7-speed Transmission.  SEVEN gears; that’s right!  The C7 Corvette was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month, and in the perpetual quest for “more is better,” Chevy has followed suit with Porsche in now offering a seventh gear in its manual transmission-equipped cars.  This will mean great fuel economy from a 6.2 liter V8.


My friend Matt was at the Barrett-Jackson auction here in Scottsdale, Arizona this past Saturday night, January 19th 2013 when the first C7 (VIN 0001) was sold for $1,050,000 to Rick Hendrick.  Interesting to note that the below pictured car that rolled across the auction block is in fact NOT the vehicle that Rick will get.  This is a show car.  Rick’s will be custom built to his specifications at Chevy’s Bowling Green, Kentucky production facility later this year.


(4)  Three-on-the-tree.  I really want to try driving a vehicle with a steering column-mounted shifter sometime.  My grandpa’s old 1950 Buick Special had one of these.  Here are a few of the old pictures that we have of his car.



What a boat this thing must have been to drive!

  • Straight-8 engine (248 cubic inches):  110 horsepower
  • Transmission:  3-speed column shift; synchro-mesh in 2nd and 3rd
  • Weight:  3,655 pounds
  • Base price:  $1,856

I love the toothy grille and rare “Jetback” / fastback bodystyle.  Someday I will own and drive one of these classic Buicks.  The last picture here was taken during grandma and grandpa’s honeymoon.


(5)  Acura 6-speed Manuals.  I love how low the Legend revs on the freeway (fewer than 2,500 RPM at 80 mph).  The following is a chart from page 134 of the owner’s manual entitled “Maximum Speeds”.  Notice that the car is capable of 125 mph in fourth gear and still has two gears to spare!


The ILX 6-speed is one of the smoothest shifters I’ve ever driven.  My friend Sivaram, who drove a Legend 6-speed for 10 years, says the thing he misses the most about being in an Acura (he now drives Audi) is the smoothness of his shifter and the fact that he could change gears with just the effort of a pinky finger.  I love the ILX’s “hill start assist” feature that prevents the car from rolling back when it’s on a hill.  Though, it keeps me from being able to demonstrate my fancy footwork!


Memory Lane

I ran across some old pictures that I wanted to scan and share.  It was around 2002 when I first saw a high-mileage Acura that inspired me.  It was this 1987 Acura Integra LS with 5-speed manual.  My friend Israel located in Vista, California had this one:


It had 320,000 miles on the odometer and ran great.  I wonder if it’s still on the road, 10 years later?


Anyone In The Market?

My last couple of blog entries have featured ads for Legends for sale from various parts of the country.  Here’s a needle-in-a-haystack kind of find:  Very nice Legend LS coupe 6-speed with only 42,000 miles (that’s only 2,200 per year!).  It’s finished in Milano Red with the Ivory (Type F) interior.  Somebody in the Minneapolis area needs to pick this beauty up.




Today we’re getting some much-needed rain in Scottsdale, Arizona, but the ILX was sure footed and capable.  Pulling out of a Burger King drive-thru in the ILX at lunch, I read this sign as “Thank Come You Again.”


In other parts of the country, winter weather is taking its toll on cars.  A friend shared with me this photo page which captures some of the devastation caused by today’s icy rain in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Anybody notice the 2nd generation Legend in the picture?


And another.  This looks to have been a pretty nice 1990 Legend L coupe before the accident.


Stay safe out there!

This weekend, I’ll be time-traveling to an historic 1880’s mining town in southeastern Arizona called Bisbee.  Tune in for the write-up in a few days!

Rock & Roll Arizona Half Marathon

Posted in Arizona, Running on January 20, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,646


Odometer (ILX):  25,519


I put some miles on my tennis shoes this weekend instead of on my Acuras.  Thirteen point one miles, to be exact (see blue route in the below map):


This was the 5th time I’ve competed in the race, which is held in January each year.  Weather was just what the doctor ordered.  Look at those highs!



Since my mom was in town from Utah for the occasion, we celebrated at dinner with a few friends at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in town:  Nando’s Mexican Cafe in Chandler, Arizona.  Here I am pictured with Linh and Kevin:


Matt, Josh, Todd, Tia, Tyson, Linh, Kevin


Matt, through his work at Nissan / Infiniti, had access to a right-hand-drive Infiniti M35 Hybrid that he brought over to show us.  It’s a real trip going for a ride in the front “passenger” seat yet being on the left side of the car!


Our first stop on Saturday morning was for the exposition at the Phoenix Convention Center. We picked up our “goodie” bags, race bibs, and other swag.

Jim, Tyson, Tia, Joey, Aaron.  Joey and Aaron were registered for the full marathon, so their bib colors were different.


Brunch at Fez on Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix.  I highly recommend the Breakfast Pasta.  It’s got scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon bits!


Fez brunch bunch


Here it is:  The awaited day.  After an early arrival at historic Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe in the Acura ILX, we walked over to the starting line “corrals.”  In this race, since there are literally thousands of runners, runners are grouped according to estimated finish time and released in waves.  I think the interval between waves is 90 seconds or so.

Tyson, Tia, Jim


The temperature just prior to race start at 7:50 a.m. was 45 degrees Fahrenheit so we held onto our hoodies and jackets as long as we could before putting them into “gear check” trucks which would hold them until we completed the race.  The crowds were crazy.  We waited about 20 minutes just to use a port-a-potty (and there were probably 20 port-a-potties in a row with lines just as long as ours!).  Official race results are not yet posted, but I believe last year there were 18,000 participants in the half marathon.


One of my favorite things to do while running a race is reading the inspirational words that people have on their shirts.


Motivational posters also keep runners from becoming preoccupied with the task at hand.  I thought this one could very easily be applied to a drive to 500,000 miles.  It only takes a mile at a time to get there.


And this one:  The Journey Is The Reward.  Perhaps this could be a new Acura slogan?


Some of the other signs that I found entertaining:

  • Chuck Norris never ran a half marathon.
  • Worst.  Parade.  Ever.
  • That’s not sweat.  It’s your fat cells crying.
  • Your feet hurt because they’re kicking so much butt.
  • You’re not a wimp.
  • You inspire me.
  • Hurry, run!  There’s someone chasing you!
  • Running is 90% mental.  The other 10% is mental.

Here you can see my race results and split times.  I started out pretty strong with an 8 minute, 40 second pace per mile, but by the 10 mile mark I had slowed down to nearly 10 minutes per mile.  In the end, I finished in 2 hours, 2 minutes.  I would’ve loved to break the two-hour mark, but it wasn’t meant to be!


Here’s a look at mile 10 where I hit that “wall” of sorts.  At each of the major distance markers, there are clocks showing elapsed time since the race start.  In this case, it said 1:34:17.


Just 3.1 miles, later, the long-awaited finish!  Best part of the race was crossing the Mill Avenue Bridge which I’ve blogged about before.

Tyson, Tia, Jim.  Still looking fairly alive after all that.


Back to the ILX after a few minutes of recovery.  It felt amazing to sit back down!


It was a perfect day for moonroof-open cruising as we headed back to my place in the ILX.


Here are two badges that I’m proud of!


Over the couple of hours that I was running, I had some time to ponder on the tie-in between long-distance running and long-distance driving.  It’s amazing how closely they relate.

  • A cross-country drive takes planning and preparation, just like a marathon takes training.  I need my body to be in shape for a run, so I work out and I pay attention to what I’m eating.  My cars get treated with equal care to make sure they’re in mechanical top shape before a long drive.
  • When I embark on a 2,000 mile drive across the country, I set a manageable pace for myself.  I don’t push myself so hard each day that I wear myself out.  I take time to enjoy the scenery.  As a runner, I do the exact same thing.  I break up a 13-mile run into 2-3 mile sections and just take it a piece at a time.  I keep a consistent pace that keeps my forward momentum but doesn’t drain me.
  • And most importantly, no long-distance run is complete without a powerful soundtrack.  I BLASTED my music for the entire time.  When I take a road trip, there is nothing that helps more to keep my mind off the task at hand than rocking out to some great tunes.

Are any other Drive to Fivers, “Run” to Fivers?  I’d love to hear your feedback on how the two activities parallel.

Time for an airport run in the Legend.  There are very few places where shorts & flip-flops are weather-appropriate attire in January.  Phoenix is one of them.


Adios, until next time mom!  Hopefully soon!


Legend Drive: Casa Grande Ruins in Coolidge, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on January 18, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,624


Odometer (ILX):  25,497


What started as just a little Sunday drive to get the 5W30 blood flowing through the old Legend’s heart ended up being a 105-mile, 2 hour drive.  I visited some 700-year-old ruins from an ancient civilization that once bustled in the middle of the desert between (the areas now known as) Phoenix and Tucson.  Yes, 700 years!  The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is a 472-acre site that is home to ruins dating back to the 1300’s.


Sunny skies, open roads, and 50 degree temperatures had me itching to spend a few minutes behind the wheel, even though I’d just driven to Sedona and back in ILX the day prior.  So, the old Legend cranked into action and we rolled eastbound on I-10 toward the exit for Arizona Highway 387 north.




The ruins are just outside the town of Coolidge.  It was $5 to enter the site.


Pictured behind the leftmost Saguaro cactus (and just below that sun flare) is the biggest structure on the site — a once 4-story building known as Casa Grande (Spanish for “big house”).


I didn’t check out the 20-minute video in the visitor center but instead made my way directly to the ruins themselves.


A model inside the museum shows what the Casa Grande looked like when it was built around 1350 A.D.


This is what it looked like in 1880.


According to one of the interpretive signs, in 1892, this area was designated as a federal preserve and a custodian was hired to safeguard the ruins.  In order to slow the inevitable erosion and decay of the ruins, in 1932 a massive roof was constructed over the ruins.


This location is the site of the first known civilization in Arizona.  Multiple buildings once stood here surrounding an oval court which is believed to have been a place for community activities for the Hohogam people.  Hohogam translates to “those who have gone.”


Certain features of the Casa Grande ruins align with the belief that this was a prehistoric observatory.  Certain openings/windows in the structure align with various notable times of the year, like a window at the upper left corner of the west wall that aligns with the setting sun on the summer solstice (June 21).


“If these walls could talk,” what would they tell us?


I peeked inside the gated-off entrance and snapped a picture looking upward.




“Compound A” is captured below with a small house in the foreground and the big house in the background.  From one of the signs:

Imagine the scene in the early 1300s:  People are working; grinding corn, cooking meals, weaving baskets, making clothing and pottery, and going to and from the fields outside the compound.


It’s not clear why the Hohogam people departed from this community in the 1400s.


From the Casa Grande monument, I went down the street to grab some fuel and a beverage at Circle K.  Premium ran $3.33 / gallon (mom – this one’s for you – I know that’s your favorite number!).


The surprise was inside the store, where I learned that this my friend Rosalinda works there!  She was on the clock.  I’ve known Rosalinda and her husband Mark for many years now because of their Acura ownership — I met them at a Legend meet locally.  In fact, their wedding day itself was a meet.  Here’s the happy couple pictured in front of the 1989 sedan and my 1994 coupe back in May, 2009.


Awhile back, Rosalinda sold her 1989 Legend L sedan and picked up a 1995 Miata Special Edition instead.  It’s a whole different driving feel!


Rosalinda gave me the keys to her Miata and I took it around the block.  I didn’t want to give those keys back.  It sure made my Legend feel like a yacht.


Thanks for the test drive!


Here are some of the pictures that my friend Beau took on last weekend’s Sedona drive:







My friends and I checked out the Barrett-Jackson auto auction this week.  Each January, this auction brings around 1,400 high-end and classic cars to Scottsdale to be auctioned off (list here).  Among some of the notable rides, I saw the Batmobile (learned that it was actually built on the frame of a 1955 Lincoln Futura).

They also had one of two 1968 Dodge Chargers that were used in the movie The Fast And The Furious, and a truly immaculate YUGO.  I never thought it would be possible to see a vehicle with both the motor and the spare tire sandwiched inside the front engine compartment until I saw that beauty.  Sadly, I didn’t see anything from Honda or Acura.

Here I am with a 1956 Buick that had fewer than 6,000 original miles on it.  That paint is factory original!


Here’s the F&F car:


And a 1981 Zimmer.


Doesn’t it make you think of Cruella DeVille?


My mom’s in town for this weekend’s Rock & Roll Arizona Half-Marathon.  While it’s 1 degree Fahrenheit in her hometown, she’s been sitting by the pool and soaking in 72 degree rays here in Scottsdale.  The ILX made a great loaner car for her.  “That shifter is fun!” she said.


Looking for a used Legend?  For $2,200, buy a $43,000 car!  This is one example of a Legend for sale in Missouri that’s outfitted with just about every factory accessory that was available in 1994:




I spy:

  • Cornering lights (rare!)
  • Fog lights
  • Gold accent grille
  • Gold emblems
  • Moonroof visor
  • Mud guards
  • Rear wing spoiler
  • Factory cell phone (rear window-mounted antenna)
  • Floor mats

Fully loaded.  I like!

For the latest in ILX reviews, check this latest by Autoblog.

Sounds like overall they’ve got a lot of positive feedback on the car.

Acura’s reboot of the near-premium compact car might not be as enthusiast-oriented as the old Integra, but rather than attempting to recreate what has become an iconic model, Acura has focused on offering a broader range of model choices, which ought to help attract more new buyers to the brand whether they are stepping up from a Honda or trading in another luxury make. With its limited scope (one powertrain and no options), we’re not sure what chords the ILX 2.4 will strike with consumers, but we just can’t knock a car that brings a luxuriously appointed sporty sedan to the sub-$30,000 price bracket.


Have a great weekend!

Jeremy’s Wild Ride in a 2006 Accord Coupe

Posted in Reader's Ride on January 16, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,565


Odometer (ILX):  25,323


Special Guest Feature

By now you’ve seen my crazy friend Jeremy pop up a few times on Drive to Five over the last couple of years.  He’s gone through a TSX Wagon, an SC400, an Acura MDX, and even an Acura Legend to name a few of his rides bought & sold.  His sense of adventure parallels mine in many ways.  Last month, Jeremy took a roadtrip that I thought was worth sharing with all of you who love the road as much as we do.  The following write-up is by him.


3,511 miles in nine days. Impossible? Hardly. I set out to show Tyson what a real road trip is all about. Some of you may see me pop up in the blog occasionally, but what you may not know, is that I drive just as much (or more) than Tyson does. We both love our six-speed Honda products. The difference between the two of us is simple. Tyson drives one car to half-a-million miles, and I split up the miles between a few hundred cars.

Since it was Tyson’s birthday coming up, I decided that I wanted to be there in person to wish him the best. So I set out on a plan to be there just in time for his birthday on a Friday. I caught a red-eye flight from Salt Lake City, UT, and after a connection in Charlotte, I was in Memphis by 8:00am on Thursday morning (the day before his birthday!). I picked up a beautiful silver 2006 Honda Accord EX V6 coupe, with a slick six-speed manual and a handy touch-screen navigation system. I purchased the car on ebay from a private seller, who picked me up at the airport and sent me on my way. I decided to pay my tribute to Elvis, and hit the road after a fuel stop at Costco (am I the only one who obsessively fuels up at Costco??).

The journey began, and I didn’t stop until Dallas. Had a quick workout to rejuvenate, and was in Lubbock late that night to say hello to some extended family. They graciously put me up for the night, and by the next morning I was on the road. At this point I was about 740 miles from Tyson’s house, and they had dinner reservations for 7:30! I was very happy that the car was humming along, getting over 30mpg, and the XM radio was keeping me fairly entertained.

After one wrong turn, I ended up in El Paso and had to “increase” my speed considerably over the New Mexico and Arizona desert to compensate for the wrong turn. When I walked in the the restaurant just as the food had been served. What better birthday present to Tyson than driving nearly 24 hours just for a birthday! My travel didn’t stop there. I continued on to Palm Springs, San Diego, Mexico, and up to San Francisco. After my final destination in the bay, I drove all the way back to Salt Lake City.

I covered nine states, Mexico, and finished off the trip spending 57 hours behind the wheel. The total mileage was 3,511 miles, with fuel at 27.7 avg mpg. The most expensive gas was $4.79 and the cheapest was $2.69. I made three visits to Honda dealerships for a broken motor mount, flat tire, and the heater deciding it wasn’t going to blow hot air anymore.

Final trip stats:




Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles with Josh & Cora




Baja California, Mexico



Chilly temps!




San Francisco






Meeting with Tyson in Phoenix


Thanks, Jeremy, for sharing!

Other Acura News:

This week is the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the ILX concept car was revealed.  Yesterday, Acura unveiled the 2014 MDX prototype.  Click here for more!


Below is a rendering by Acura enthusiast Dillon C (“Hondatalover” on the Temple of VTEC forums) with some handsome enhancements to the already attractive ILX design language.  Dillon has added exhaust tips, enlarged the OEM 16″ wheels, and modified the taillights.  I think it looks great!


I visited my local dealership on Monday for an oil change in the ILX and surveyed the inventory.  There were at least a dozen or so ILX models on display.  Notable were the following:

  • Just one car in Fathom Blue Pearl (2.0 automatic Premium)
  • One Crystal Black Pearl 2.0 automatic Premium with VIN 202 (very early production)
  • One Hybrid in Bellanova White Pearl
  • One Silver Moon 6-speed; VIN 1336

My ILX passed its inspection except for the cabin air filter.  It appeared that after enduring some of our Arizona dust storms it had collected quite a bit of dirt.


First 25,000-mile maintenance summary.  I missed typing in a tire rotation somewhere in there, but you get the idea.


Love this Fathom Blue in the sunlight!


Here’s the 6-speed Silver Moon ILX:


Anyone else find the below craigslist ad a little sad?  It’s for a Desert Mist Metallic Legend like mine but with only 178k miles.  This Denver car looks like it has seen better days, yet the owner states it has been “recently detailed” as well as “loved and maintained” for the last 15 years they’ve owned it.  Does this look like an Acura that’s been loved?





And finally, many thanks to Service Manager Allen from Jody Wilkinson Acura for inviting me to dinner last night.  Allen as well as several other dealership representatives from both Jody Wilkinson and neighboring Mike Hale Acura in Salt Lake City are here in Phoenix for a “Destination RLX” training conference on the all-new 2014 Acura RLX.  It was great to chat with all of them.

Sedona, Arizona: Red Rocks & 25,000 Miles

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Milestones, Road Trip on January 13, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,436


Odometer (ILX):  25,101


As a southern Utah native, I’ve grown up around red sandstone rock formations.  The 10,000-resident town of Sedona, Arizona feels a lot like my hometown in terms of the landscape that surrounds it.  Saturday’s drive was a 312-mile out-and-back trip in the 2013 Acura ILX, with a slight detour from Sedona to Flagstaff on curvy Highway 89A.


Unlike last weekend’s solo trip to Hope, Arizona, this time I dragged 10 friends along for the ride!  We were in 5 vehicles:

  • Woody and Lucas rode in the 2012 Honda Civic Si
  • Josh brought his 2012 Lexus IS350
  • Matt brought a 2012 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible
  • We met up with Ryan in his 2006 Acura TL
  • And Beau rode with me in the 2013 Acura ILX

All 3 of the Japanese “premium” brands were well represented.

Here’s our pre-trip staging at the Circle K gas station in north Phoenix off the 101 freeway and 7th Avenue at about 11:00 in the morning.


These sporty rides look like they’re ready to conquer the hills.


Our first pit stop was the Sunset Point rest area off I-17 after we climbed a couple thousand feet and weather got a little cloudy.


From an online write-up about Sunset Point:

The Sunset Point Rest Area is a large rest area with different things to look at while you stretch your legs. There are:

  • Vendor Machines

  • Rest Rooms

  • Pet Exercise Area

  • Signs with Interesting Words

  • Poisonous Snakes and Insects

  • A Sundial memorial to Transporation Workers

  • Picnic Benches

  • … And more!


Thankfully we didn’t encounter any of those poisonous snakes or insects.

Siblings.  Woody’s Civic Si and my ILX share the same 201-horsepower 2.4 liter motor and 6-speed manual drivetrain.


There were scattered snow flurries on the 17 as we made our way northbound.  Soon we arrived at our turnoff for Highway 179 north which would get us to Sedona in fewer than 10 miles.


Highway 179 curves around various roundabouts, and we started seeing some of the area’s characteristic rock formations right away.


Arriving in Sedona.  According to the city’s website, this place receives between 2 to 4 million visitors per year.  Those who live there year-round have an average age of 50.



First order of business was to put our hunger to rest, and what better place than an alien-themed restaurant?  The Red Planet Diner is another Roadside America hotspot, having attracted guests for decades to its extraterrestrial atmosphere.


This wasn’t the first time I’ve traveled to places of interplanetary nature.  In 2005, I took my Acura Legend to Nevada’s state highway 375, also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway, just outside Area 51.


The Red Planet Diner was filled with odd decor.


Sorry aliens; find an ATM!



Most of our 11-person party went with the “signature” Red Planet Burger for $9.49.  I enhanced mine with mushroom & avocado for $2 extra.



There were plenty of odd sights to keep us entertained.  The food came out surprisingly quick and it was tasty.


This countertop was covered in images that had been taken of UFO or alien sightings over the years.




The exit door has a sign on it that announces our return to Planet Earth.


Outside, our cars lined for a quick photo-op.  Combined mileage on these 5 cars is only about 140,000 miles (and over half of those are on Ryan’s TL alone).  These are some new rides.


Three of the five cars were not wearing Arizona license plates:

  • My ILX:  Registered to Acura headquarters in California
  • Matt’s G37 IPL:  Registered to Nissan headquarters in Michigan
  • Ryan’s TL:  Registered in his hometown of Yankton, South Dakota


The Infiniti was the most expensive car there, doubling my ILX’s pricetag at $62,000.  It’s equipped with the “Infiniti Performance Line” package including a red leather interior.  It was also the most powerful car in our lineup at 348 horsepower.  The Lexus followed with 306 horsepower and an MSRP just over $40k.


Here’s the gang at Red Planet prior to our departure.  Cheesy group pics are my specialty.


Woody’s Civic, named “Rosie Oprah Ling,” stands out in a crowd thanks to her red paint.


Next stop was Mickey-D’s for a hot cocoa.

This McDonald’s on Highway 89A is the only one in the world with its arches painted torquoise instead of yellow.  In Sedona, great lengths are taken to preserve the natural appearance of the community.  Residents are emphatic about minimizing the “noise” created by urban development, so they’ve enacted strict building requirements.  In this case, reportedly the only way the city would allow McDonald’s to build there was if they ditched the yellow M.


Many communities like Sedona are characterized by a lack of street lights.  The goal here, of course, is to minimize light pollution at nighttime and allow the stars to more readily be seen.


Next up we visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross was built at a cost of $300,000 in 1956.  It rises 250 feet out of a red rock cliff.  Upon closer inspection, the chapel is pictured here.  It truly does blend in with the surroundings.



Tour admission was free so we took a gander inside.


I spy the ILX in the parking lot below.




A look inside.  There was a gift shop in the lower level.



In the distance, “Cathedral Rock” can be seen.  I’ve heard this presents a great hiking opportunity but with temps in the 30’s Fahrenheit, we decided to pass for now.



Back to the cars for the final leg of our journey.




This last shot of the chapel was taken out the moonroof of the ILX.


My intent after visiting the chapel had been to hike Devil’s Bridge, the largest sandstone arch in the area.  It’s only a 2-mile round-trip hike, but those chilly temperatures (for us Arizonans, anyway) caused us to rethink that idea.  I’ll go back when it’s 50 or so degrees warmer and hike Devil’s Bridge.  Instead of hiking, we started our ascent to Flagstaff via Highway 89A.


Hwy 89A climbs from Sedona at 4,326 feet in elevation to Flagstaff at elevation 6,910 feet over the course of 25 miles.  The views along the highway are especially stunning when fall colors are at their peak.

This road was a playground for my 6-speed equipped ILX.  The car is so fun to shift through the gears that I find myself oftentimes downshifting unnecessarily.  On these mountain grades, third and fourth gears were just the right match for giving me the power I needed to climb in elevation.  Turns are tight and suspension tuning is key.  Here’s where I think Acura engineers did a great job at achieving optimal ride & cornering balance for the 2,978-pound ILX.


This is the Google Map view of the twisties.

01-08-2013 11-49-57 AM

For a good chunk of this road, my XM radio was not picking up stations due to the canyon walls blocking the signal.  I haven’t had that happen very often!  Finally we made it to Interstate 17 and regrouped briefly at a scenic overlook.


Interesting to note here that my ILX happened to be the highest-mileage vehicle in our photoshoot, yet was the newest model year!  Left to right:

  • 2012 Civic:  18,000 miles
  • 2012 G37 IPL:  11,000 miles
  • 2013 ILX:  25,000 miles
  • 2012 IS350:  8,000 miles



On the way back to Scottsdale, my ILX completed its 25,000 mile mark.


This milestone means that the Acura ILX is now 5% of the way to 500,000!   That doesn’t even seem close, but hey it’s worth celebrating!

Thanks for coming along on the latest drive to five.

Update on Gunther Holtorf’s 1988 Mercedes


Readers who’ve been with me awhile will remember when I introduced them last July to Gunther Holtorf, a 75-year-old man who since 1988 has been traveling the world in his Mercedes SUV, having driven in over 170 countries and traversed over 800,000 kilometers.  His inspirational world tour has been without fanfare or sponsors.  He expects to visit the last 10 countries by August 2013.  Following is a quote by Gunther that I found meaningful:

The world is overpopulated and the tourist industry has sent too many people to too many places. We go to the famous places—Niagara Falls, the Taj Mahal—but exploring the globe means you have to look behind the curtain. You have to visit the small villages. Big cities all over the Third World are very much alike. But in the countryside, it’s a different world.

I also especially liked this quote about how Gunther’s travels are a personal undertaking and for no other reason.

I travel for myself, nothing else. I don’t care about communicating with the world and I don’t do anything to please the world. It’s a private undertaking and that’s it. Many travelers, backpackers especially, they undergo all this stress and strain to find an Internet connection. And they sit there for hours typing stories about what they ate for breakfast or whether the customs officer smiled at them or not. Who cares about reading things like that? That’s their world, but it’s not mine.

And then I reflected on how in my last post, I talked about what I had for breakfast in Wickenburg, Arizona.  Ha!  See the article here from Outside Magazine for more pictures and a detailed update.  Be sure to scroll through each of the 12 pages.

Honda History Lesson

Long before Acura came around in 1986, Honda’s been building quality automobiles.  The first one dates back to 1963.  There’s something endearing about the Hondas of yesteryear – they’re so gosh-darn cute.  Ever laid eyes on an N600?


As we’ve advanced so far into the world of bluetooth, iPhone connectivity, and even cars that basically drive themselves (look at the new Lincoln MKZ with its “Lane Keeper” system and adaptive cruise control), we seem to have forgotten the simplicity that could once be enjoyed on the road.  Honda’s early cars were innovative for their time.  Take a peek at some vintage Honda ads on the Production Cars literature website.  Following are some things I learned:

  • A 1986 Civic “Wagovan” with Real-Time 4-Wheel-Drive.  Did you know that this car had a 6-speed transmission with ultra-low first gear?
  • A 1977 Civic 5-speed got 54 miles per gallon highway, 41 miles per gallon city – an industry first to exceed 50 mpg!
  • The ad copy on some of these treasures is quality.  I especially love the final line on the ad for this 1981 Civic GL.  “Is the Civic GL a sports car?  There’s only one way to settle this.  And it isn’t here.”


My friend Tyler knows that I lust after a 1979 Honda Prelude, the first model year of the Prelude.  The gauge cluster on this car actually had the tachometer inside the speedometer and running on the same axis.  Little known fact:  every Prelude from 1979 to its final year in 2001 was equipped with a moonroof.


Til Next Time

Safe travels to all!  Elsewhere in the country, winter storms are making a mess of the roadways.  This particular 1994-1995 Acura Legend sedan (photo sent to me by a friend in Salt Lake City, Utah this week) looks to be a victim of said storms.


Meanwhile in Arizona, my neighbors are putting blankets over their landscaping when it threatens to freeze.


Tune in next time!


Acura RL: 472,000 Miles in 10 Years

Posted in Milestones, RLX on January 10, 2013 by tysonhugie

The Acura RL (so-named for its “refined luxury”) was born in 1996 as the Acura brand’s top-line replacement for the Legend which ran from model years 1986 to 1995.

Since then, the RL has undergone a number of refinements and performance enhancements to showcase the brand’s capabilities.  A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system called Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) debuted on the 2005 model.  Navigation capability, active (swiveling) headlights, power folding mirrors, and an innovative wheel noise-quieting technology called a “Helmholtz resonator” were also adds to the long list of notable features over the years.

Despite its perceived value and reputation, the RL was never a high selling model, topping the list of worst-selling vehicles in 2011 at only about 1,000 units.  It didn’t do any better in 2012 but was excluded from the contest since it was set to be discontinued after the 2012 model year.  Few have appreciated what the RL has to offer.

Last month in Los Angeles, the RL’s successor, RLX was unveiled, set to go on sale as a 2014 model.  My write-up about the experience at the auto show is found here in a prior Drive to Five post.


One of the many Acuras my family has owned was this 2000 3.5 RL, finished in beautiful Nighthawk Black Pearl with black leather interior and the Premium package.  This picture was taken on May 2, 2005 when I picked up the car at just 22,000 miles on the odometer from its original owner named Terry in Concord, California.


That trip will forever live on as one of my favorite car memories.  A delayed bank funds transfer for the purchase price of the car meant I needed to stay one night at the seller’s home.  He was gracious enough to allow me.  The 680-mile drive home to Utah was a rewarding experience – the first time I’d been in a vehicle so plush and refined.  My mom went on to drive that RL to about the 50,000 mile mark, at which time it was sold to my uncle who’s still driving it today.


Elsewhere in the family, this beautiful Heather Mist Metallic 1997 3.5 RL resides in the garage of my grandma.  She’s driven it since 2004 and it only has about 118,000 miles on the odometer.  Mechanically it’s been a great ride, though one mishap does stand out in my memory.  We were coming home from Beaver, Utah via I-15 southbound and the right rear window rolled down part-way but wouldn’t roll back up.  It was raining, too.  I’ll never forget my aunt Jodi’s flustered face as she shoved a pillow into the window’s gap in a vain attempt to keep the water out.

Keen Acura eyes will note that this car is equipped with 7-spoke OEM wheels from the 2002 model year instead of the 1997-issued ones which to me always shared a resemblance to a pie plate.

Why all the talk about RL’s today?  I came across a contender on Autotrader this afternoon for the next Drive to Five celebration.  This nice looking 2003 model in Ohio has racked up a whopping 472,000 miles.  That means that whoever drove this thing has been putting more miles on it (per year) than even I drive.  At 472,000 miles over 10 years, that’s 129 miles per day, 365 days a year, for 10 years.  Has this car ever been parked longer than a few minutes?






Somebody needs to buy this thing and drive it another 27,648 miles so it, too, can achieve Legendary status.

Any takers at $5,495?

Hope, Arizona: Passmore Gas Company

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on January 8, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,436


Odometer (ILX):  24,589


Someone with a sense of humor decided to have fun naming his or her propane business.  Thanks again to Roadside America, this past weekend I decided to take my Acura ILX and seek out one of the most random destinations I’ve ever heard of:  a propane tank with this odd company name painted on the side of it.  My route was about 260 miles round-trip and took around 4 1/2 hours.

01-02-2013 7-54-23 AM

The first leg of the trip was on Interstate 10 west which crosses the barren desert toward the California state line.  At exit 45, I headed north on Avenue 51E (also known as Vicksburg Road) and made my way to US 60.


Highway 60 at one time was the main thoroughfare that got Phoenix people to LA and vice versa.  It parallels the railroad tracks.  The road was made obsolete when Interstate 10 was constructed in the late 1950’s.  I-10 is a much more straight/direct line to the California state line from Phoenix, but sometimes it’s fun to forget about being in a hurry and just take the back roads for no reason.  Shortly I arrived at my destination, just outside Hope, Arizona:


Yes, the name on this propane tank is for real.  See the background here:


Unfortunately, conditions for photography (thanks to the sun’s placement) were less than optimal.



There wasn’t much to see in Hope — just a few buildings, really.


But as I whizzed out of town, my eye caught something to my left and I did a double-take.  “Wait,” I thought.  “Did I just see a blatant typo on that sign?”  I quickly came to a stop and pulled the ILX to the side of the road, then made a U-turn.  Grammar police were in hot pursuit!  Yes, indeed.  The people of Hope have improperly used “YOUR” (as opposed to “you’re”) on their sign announcing departure from city limits.  Ha!


Continuing east on US 60, I rolled through Salome, Arizona (established 1904).  There’s not much to see there aside from RV parks, but I did capture images of a few of the hot spots.  It’s a shame the Desert Oasis “Bargain Center & RV Park” was closed.  I wonder what kind of bargains they had!  A savvy shopper’s paradise it must have been.


I thought this little roadside historical marker was entertaining.  It talks about the “Laughing Gas Station” that once operated in Salome.  If I ever open up a gas station, that is what I’m calling it.  Bonus points if you can spot my shadow waving in the background.


That’s it, folks. The entire town captured in the background here.  I wonder if this town had ever seen a 2013 model year vehicle until my ILX rolled through.


Got $99,900 and interested in some real estate?  Big Mama’s Country Kitchen is up for grabs!


Speaking of real estate, it looks like this agent has picked a winning name for her business.  Anything “Legend” is good, right?


Aguila, Arizona (Aguila means “eagle” in Spanish):  The Burro Jim Motel.  Vacancy!  But I didn’t intend on sticking around.


This wooden wagon’s for sale.  Any takers for $500?  Let me know – I’ve got a picture of the sign with the phone number on it!


25 miles of straight, flat pavement later, I arrived on the outskirts of Wickenburg, Arizona.  This town feels like it’s stuck in time, 100 years ago.  And I think the residents there like to keep it that way on purpose.

The AT&SF locomotive #761 is on display near the railroad depot.  This locomotive is a “2-8-0” arrangement (refers to the layout of the wheels — 2 leading wheels, 8 driving wheels on 4 axles, and 0 trailing wheels).  It was built in the 1890’s and was decommissioned in the 1950’s when it was donated to the city, but it wasn’t until 10 years ago, in June 2003, that was moved to its current location next to the old depot.


Considering that my last blog entry was all about the Saguaro cactus, I found it fitting that I park the ILX in front of the Saguaro Theater.  It opened in 1948 and was restored in 2006 and is still open today (looks like I could’ve stuck around for a matinee of The Hobbit at 2:30 p.m.).


Next door, I saw a saw a couple satisfied customers come out of the Twin Wheels Cafe, so I decided to give it a whirl for breakfast since it was only 9:30 a.m. and I hadn’t yet eaten anything except a Pop Tart.


Cowboy atmosphere abounds here.


Coming back from a restroom break, I got sidetracked reading all of these printed-out jokes / quotes on the wall.



My server “Methanie” was extremely friendly.  I opted for the meat lover’s omelet – highly recommended.


Twin Wheels is open daily at 7 a.m., but closed on Wednesdays.


I thought I was seeing double when I spotted these stop signs while leaving town.  They really mean business!


It reminded me of these duplicate signs I saw last week on Interstate 19 (likely part of a sign replacement project that’s underway).  My tax dollars at work!


Hope you enjoyed the drive to Hope!

Have any of my readers heard of the Endurance Rally Association?  A coworker taught me about it this week.  This is an organization that organizes road rally events worldwide.  They’ve even got one that runs from New York to Seattle.  It looks like 51 vehicles participated in 2011.  The next will be in May 2015.  I’ll be there.


I met a new Drive to Five follower this week named Ryan who’s as big of an Acura fan as I am.  He’s owned a 2002 CL Type-S and is currently driving an Anthracite 2006 TL.  His car has only 78,000 miles on it and drives like new.  It’s fully equipped with navigation.


Ryan’s an architecture major at Arizona State but his car is proudly wearing South Dakota tags from his hometown.  Ryan says the drive to & from SD each year (about 1,400 miles each way from here) are a definite highlight of his year.  I can’t say I blame him!



Ryan and I may be meeting up for some Acura drives in the near future, so stay tuned!  Thanks for chauffeuring me to lunch!

It’s tradition to drive the Legend to work once a week, and today was the day.  It was glistening in the afternoon sunlight thanks to a one-step Meguiar’s cleaner/wax that I applied to the body over the weekend.


About 8 miles of my drive home were eastbound on Shea Boulevard with the sunset in my rearview mirrors.



Since I had my SLR camera in the car, I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures.




The next two were taken at a place called “Lyle Fish Point.”



Signing out until next time!


Saguaro National Park & San Xavier Mission

Posted in Arizona, ILX, National Parks, Road Trip on January 4, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  518,342


Odometer (ILX):  24,218


Over the last few weeks, I’ve made a list of 20 “bucket list” destinations I’d like to visit in 2013.  As of January 1st, I’d already crossed one of those off the list.  On Tuesday’s road trip, I went to a national park dedicated solely to cacti, traveled the only interstate in the country that’s marked with metric signposts, and stepped inside a historic church that was over 215 years old.  Quite the successful day!



Saguaro National Park is so-named for the Saguaro cactus.  These cacti can grow as high as 70 feet and live 175 years or more.  They dot the landscape in many parts of Arizona, but they are most concentrated in the area which in 1994 was designated as a national park.  Saguaro NP is unique in that its total 91,000 acres are split up in two separate “districts” – one which lies east of Tucson, and one to the west.  For my New Year’s Day visit, I traveled to the east district, also known as the Rincon Mountain District.  It was about a 300-mile round trip drive in the ILX.


Departing Scottsdale on a chilly morning.  It’s a rare sight to see frost on the cars around here!


When I arrived in Tucson and fought construction on Houghton Road, I was perplexed by the wording on these signs.  Could the placement have been done differently to make the message more clear?  As it’s currently written, I feel like I’m being asked to share “The Road Drive” with care.


Saguaro’s east district welcomed me and my friend Josh.  He’s lived in the Tucson area for 10 years and this was his first time entering the park.


The entrance station was busy with holiday visitors like ourselves.  The only day of the year that this park closes is Christmas Day.  The fee was $10 and is good for a week in case I decide to go back for a closer look.


There’s an 8-mile one-way scenic loop that Josh and I took.  It’s a curvy one-lane road that would be a ton of fun to drive if the speed limits weren’t so crazily low.


That’s right.  FIVE miles per hour.  They really want you crawling around these corners!  We did see quite a few walkers and bicyclists for safety’s sake, the speed limit is probably a good idea.



A few pictures were taken as photo opportunities presented themselves.



This saguaro in particular is probably pushing 200 years old.  They’re a highly protected species.  In other parts of the state, I’ve seen these cacti “braced” / propped up by wooden boards if the land / root system is disrupted.


This picture of me standing next to that same cactus gives a sense of the size of these monsters.



Josh and I took the opportunity to park the ILX in one of the scenic turnouts and do a little bit of hiking.  The weather was great and the air very clear.



Josh and I stopped by his friend Fred’s house to see an immaculate 2000 Honda Civic coupe with the cleanest (wire-tucked) engine bay I’ve ever laid eyes on.


I headed toward Tucson again but this time veered south from I-10 west onto I-19 south.  This interstate is the 4th shortest freeway in the country, at only 63 miles in length.  Better said, it’s 101 kilometers in length.  And motorists better familiarize themselves with kilometer calculations because this is the only freeway in the country that’s currently signed in metric units of measurement.


This notice at the north end of I-19 advises drivers that they’ll need to pay attention to the distances in kilometers, not miles.


Shortly thereafter, Irvington Road comes up 1 kilometer away.  Interestingly enough, the speed limits on I-19 are still in miles per hour, not kilometers per hour.


The reason why this interstate was set up with metric signs is that at the time of construction in 1972, it was thought that this effort would push toward the metric system and that perhaps this would be the first of many freeways in the U.S. to begin using metric distances.  Such did not end up being the case, yet I-19 retains its existing signs.  Talks have taken place regarding changing the entire freeway to “miles” but business owners have pushed back (they’d have to update their directions) so there has been little traction with that initiative.


Here we go – arriving at the San Xavier Mission for my next destination.


What lies ahead of my Acura ILX in this picture is a 216-year-old “White Dove of the Desert,” also known as Mission San Xavier del Bac.


This is a Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of Tucson.  Though the site was founded in 1692, the building seen here was constructed over the 14-year span of time from 1783 to 1797.  Considering its age, I’m surprised just how few restoration efforts have taken place!



Entrance was free of charge.  I would have liked to visit the gift shop, but it was closed for the holiday.


Exterior is covered in a traditional mud plaster that was refinished within the last couple of decades.  The artwork is pretty ornate as seen here.


The grounds are surrounded by cactus gardens.



Inside, there are multiple chapels.  The decoration here is supposedly very similar to what it would have looked like when the mission was new.


View of the ceiling.


Looks like they’ve still got quite a bit of Christmas decor up.


It was a humbling experience to be in this place that is sacred to so many.  I saw people paying their religious respects quietly.


To the east, there was a hill with a cross on top that people were climbing up.


Some background on the site, from a placard near the south (main) entrance.


I wonder if these wooden doors are original?



The mission was designated a historic landmark 50 years ago in 1963 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.


Hope you enjoyed the drive!

For any who might find it of interest:  Acura ILX sales performance reached an all-time high, with 2485 units selling in December 2012.  It’s awesome to see the momentum picking up as we go into 2013.  Lastly, did anyone else see this immaculate 1994 Legend L Sedan 5-speed on craigslist in Oregon?  It’s rare to see a Legend in this kind of condition nowadays.  Somebody scoop this baby up, please!  $3,200 for 175k miles.



It inspired me to make vacuum tracks in the carpet of my own Legend:


Happy Friday!