Archive for December, 2013

2013 Year In Review: Top 5 Drives

Posted in ILX, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on December 31, 2013 by tysonhugie

It’s been a great year!  Let’s close it out with some statistics for 2013, just for fun.

  • Views:  76,460
  • Email Subscribers: 55
  • Number of Posts:  128

Ending Mileage Readings

  • 2013 Acura ILX:  63,602

63602

  • 1994 Acura Legend LS Coupe:  528,328

528328

  • 1994 Acura Legend GS Sedan:  144,382
  • 1992 Acura NSX:  98,513

TOP 5 MEMORABLE ROADTRIPS

1)  Moses Lake, Washington in the ILX

The highlight of this trip to the Pacific Northwest was the company.  I had three very important passengers in tow:  My grandmother, my aunt Jodi, and my mom.  For several days, we resurrected old memories by visiting homes where my family members had lived half a century ago.  At the same time, we created new memories by making special visits to one of the largest dams in the United States and reconnecting with family members at a reunion.

wa_trip_map

group_shot_coulee_dam

2)  Asheville, North Carolina in the Legend

The National Acura Legend Meet is an event where I can feel totally comfortable “geeking out” about my obsession with the Acura Legend.  The 9th annual NALM was held at the opposite end of the country, but that didn’t stop me from enthusiastically hopping back into the driver’s seat of my tried & true 520k+ mile Legend for this exciting adventure across 11 states.  The reunion with friends along the way made it all worthwhile.

nalm_map

kevin_tyson_award

3)  Mount Evans, Colorado in the ILX

One of several “Tyson-Jason” trips that I’ve taken with my fellow roadtrip warrior Jason from New Mexico, this one topped the charts – literally.  Jason and I took our cars to the highest elevation paved road in North America, located west of Denver Colorado.  The scenery was every bit as amazing as I knew it would be.  Above 14,000 feet, we truly did feel like we were on top of the world.

evans_map

tyson_jason_echo_lake

4)  Hell’s Backbone in Southern Utah in the ILX

The allure of conquering a remote backroad with “Hell” in its name was all the motivation I needed on this one.  The fact that the route traversed over 50 miles of technical dirt terrain didn’t keep me from taking my Acura ILX where no ILX had gone before.  My friend Ryan brought his Audi along for this one.  Among our trip’s highlights were a ride on the Hall’s Crossing ferry at Lake Powell, and the experience of driving the Burr Trail.

utah_map

acura_ilx_capitol_reef_np_burr_trail

5)  Million Dollar Highway in Colorado in the ILX

Highway 550 between Durango and Ouray, Colorado has been a long-time favorite of sports car drivers and motorcyclists.  For this multi-day adventure, I teamed up with my mom and my stepdad to explore some of southwestern Colorado’s most scenic roads and quaint mining & railroad towns, including Silverton and Telluride.  The ILX made a perfect choice for carving the high-elevation canyon roads with ease.

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Honorable Mentions:

Here’s an Annual Report that was developed by WordPress with some other neat stats.  Thanks to those of you who keep coming back for more.  Keep those roadtrip ideas coming, because there’s much more in store for 2014.  Happy New Year!

Birthday Celebration & Old Tucson Studios

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on December 29, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,279

528279

Odometer (ILX):  63,525

63525

Trip Distance:  236 Miles

phxtus

tyson_ilx_bw

Each year, I receive a visit from my dad & stepmom between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  This year, they showed up in their new 2013 Acura MDX.  It seemed only fitting that we lined up the available Acuras for a quick driveway photoshoot.  My neighbors, without a doubt, were watching out the windows and rolling their eyes.

tyson_house

  • 1992 Acura NSX:  98,500 Miles
  • 2013 Acura ILX:  63,525 Miles
  • 1994 Acura Legend:  528,279 Miles
  • 2013 Acura MDX:  10,800 Miles
  • 2004 Acura MDX (friend’s):  90,400 Miles

acura_driveway

Interestingly enough, the 4 other Acuras in the picture still don’t add up to the mileage of the 1994 Legend.  In fact, their combined mileage of 263,225 is still less than half what the Legend has alone.

legend

As part of dad’s visit, we worked on a bunch of home improvement projects and also celebrated my birthday which was on 12/28.  I like having a birthday that’s sandwiched between Christmas and NYE.  The below picture must have been taken around my 5th birthday or so.  Long live the 1980’s!  Check out those stripes.

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My friend Cody wins an award for this fantastic Acura-themed birthday wish on Facebook.

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Later in the day, I received a very nice visit from world-famous automotive spy photographer Brenda Priddy.

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And best of all, my 2-year-old niece, Vivienne, made my day with this sidewalk chalk message sent from Utah.

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We dined at one of my favorite Mexican joints in the Phoenix valley, called Nando’s Mexican Cafe.

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To celebrate my #32, my dad and Tanya and I took the ILX to a 1939 movie set called Old Tucson Studios, just west of Tucson, Arizona.  The 200-mile round-trip drive from Phoenix was a great chance to visit with them.

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I’ve blogged about Old Tucson before back in April and it was every bit as interesting on the second visit as the first.

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We learned about some of the 300+ Western films that were produced here.

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Standing at the cemetery entrance

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With Tanya, in jail!

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And inside the lobby of the Grand Hotel

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This set was used as an 1863 bank in various films.

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The star of the show was this 1897 steam locomotive that was used in such movies as Tombstone and Wild Wild West.  It is a Virginia & Truckee Railroad No. 11.

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Parting shot before we rolled back to the Phoenix area in the ILX.

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I’m one year older and a little bit wiser.  The adventures will keep on coming.  My friend Ami’s post said it best!

ami_post

Arizona’s Salt River Canyon in the ILX

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on December 26, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,279

528279

Odometer (ILX):  63,215

63215

Trip Distance:  338 Miles

showlow_map

Arizona is full of white-knuckle canyon drives, and this week I’d like to share another one with you.

On a brisk 41-degree Christmas morning in Phoenix, armed with a chocolate milk, an iPod loaded with good music, and a full tank of premium fuel, I headed out in the ILX to the White Mountains to attend a luncheon with friends in Show Low, Arizona.  This drive would take me eastward on US Highway 60 through the Salt River Canyon Wilderness which comprises over 32,000 acres of terrain in the Tonto National Forest.  My favorite stretch includes the 87 miles between Globe and Show Low — the focus for today’s discussion.

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The Salt River Canyon is been referred to as a “mini” Grand Canyon, and for good reason.  Around every turn is a scenic panorama of sandstone cliffs that defy gravity and entertain the eyes.  And unlike its big brother canyon in the northern part of the state, Salt River Canyon can be driven from rim to rim; just don’t bring a passenger who gets easily motion sick.  There are oodles of curves that require maximum driver attention.  Highway 60 is a two-laner that falls 2,500 feet in elevation over the course of just a few miles to the canyon floor below, where for millions of years the Salt River has been carving out its course.  The ILX made short work of the 6% grades since I was able to downshift into 3rd gear for the 25 mph curves and rarely hit the brakes.

At the base of the canyon, an eerily vacant rest area along the river’s edge provided a prime place to view the existing bridge as well as the old bridge which runs parallel to it.  A concrete barricade prevented me from being able to use the rest area parking lot.  Grass was growing over a foot tall out of the pavement, so it was very clear that this place hadn’t been in use for quite some time.  I took the opportunity to park the ILX a little further up the road and do a little hiking around.  Constructed in 1934, the original bridge is 454 feet in length and is still fully intact, though it’s used only for foot traffic.  I walked across it – as fascinated with the canyon view as I was with the historic bridge itself.

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The Salt River Canyon rest area (among many others in the state) was closed in 2007 due to budget issues.  In the 6+ years since that time, it’s fallen into quite a state of disrepair.  Some of the interpretive signs were vandalized, the landscaping has overgrown, and the building itself has taken on a scary appearance with chipping paint on its trim.  I walked around the stone building with is intricate staircases and metalwork, thinking to myself what a shame it was that people could no longer stop there.  I did learn some good news, though.  As of October of this year, it was announced that restoration efforts will bring the rest area back into service sometime in summer 2014.  I’m anxious to see how the facility turns out.

With eagerness, the ILX ascended those 2,500 feet to put me back among the pine trees and a light dusting of recent snowfall along the road’s edge.  I powered through the curves with the road almost entirely to myself.  The Salt River Canyon scenic drive is one that should not be missed.  Check out my pics below for a taste of some of the terrain that I covered on a beautiful Christmas Day drive.

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Miami, Arizona – like so many other historic towns of the southwest, this place got its start in mining.

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This Mobil station stands as a forgotten relic of the past.  It’s been fenced off and closed up, but is a clear reminder of the olden days.

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There are even vintage vehicles sitting around.

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I would have loved to see this station in its heyday.

mobilgas_miami_arizona

Next stop:  Show Low!  Odd name for a town, right?  It actually has a reference to gambling.  Here’s the full story:

According to the legend, the city was named after a marathon poker game between C.E. Cooley and Marion Clark. The two men decided there was not enough room for both of them in their settlement. The two men agreed to let a game of cards decide who was to move. According to the tale, Clark said, “If you can show low, you win.” Cooley turned up the deuce of clubs (the lowest possible card) and replied, “Show low it is.” The stakes were a 100,000 acres (400 km2) ranch. Show Low’s main street is named “Deuce of Clubs” in remembrance.

show_low_springerville

Visible from one side of the canyon is the road that escalates up the other side.  See that slice toward the bottom of the picture frame?

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Here is the approach to the (now-closed) rest area.

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Approaching the old 1934 bridge here from the north:

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Pavement markings are still visible, even though this has been closed to automobile traffic since 1996 when it was bypassed.

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Photo of the new (red) bridge, as taken from the old.

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View of the Salt River, looking east while standing on the old bridge.  Also visible is the highway which ascends about halfway up the mountainside.

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This is the rest area parking lot – clearly showing the overgrowth that has taken its toll on the facility.

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Following are a few pictures of the rest area which has been closed for over 6 years.

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Interpretive signs

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View of the backside of the building.  Large metal doors into a utility room of sorts were wide open.  I walked inside and found only trash and rubble.

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These elaborate curved staircases line each side of the rest area.

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Steps leading down to an observation deck overlooking the Salt River.

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View looking up toward the rest area building from the staircase.

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Observation deck down below the bridges

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Old bridge in the foreground; new in the background.  This was a peaceful, serene place to hang out for a few minutes. I heard only 2 or 3 cars drive by during my entire stay at the vacant rest area.

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Back at road level, a picture of me with the two bridges in the background.

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Hello there!

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One thing that I love about old infrastructure is the level of effort that has gone into making things beautiful.  Look at the intricate metalwork on the railings that line the bridge deck.

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Here’s where I’d parked the ILX during the time I was hiking around.  “Medecine” Ranch – anyone else want to guess that label on this crudely made wooden sign was a typo?

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Words to live by, as stated by the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs:

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A short hike up the road, this abandoned gas station offered some entertainment.

salt_river_gas_station_pumps

I don’t know why, but those made me think of the robot character Johnny 5 from the 1986 movie “Short Circuit.”

johnny_5

Here’s the rest of that old gas station.

salt_river_gas_station_acura_ilx

Inside, it’s a griffiti’d mess.

inside_gas_station

Need to use the restroom?

inside_bathroom

Not sure what the story was on this wooden shack out back.

shack

Inside, more trash, and a metal desk that might be nice with some restoration effort.

inside_shack

And removing the dirt from those drawers.

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Looking back at the road I’d just descended:

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The ILX after conquering the canyon:

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Headed to dinner later that day in the Legend.

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Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

ILX Drive to Clarkdale, Arizona: Verde Canyon Railroad

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip, Trains on December 23, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  62,831

62831

Odometer (Legend):  528,242

528242

Trip Distance:  232 Miles Round-Trip

scottsdale_to_clarkdale

tyson_with_verde_engine

Chugga chugga choo choo.

This weekend I decided to change things up a bit and hop onboard a train instead of hitting the highways for a long distance.  The Verde Canyon Railroad is based in Clarkdale, Arizona and operates 20 miles of track.  The company’s slogan is “It’s Not the Destination; It’s the Journey.”  Sounded like the perfect type of experience for me!

My friend Chris and I headed northbound in the ILX on Saturday morning despite inclement weather.  The car was surefooted and easy to control on the wet surfaces of Interstate 17 which climbed several thousand feet in elevation out of the Phoenix valley.  By the time we reached a summit near Camp Verde, the rain had transitioned into snowflakes but thankfully they weren’t sticking to the roadways.  Once we arrived in Clarkdale, Chris and I enjoyed some lunch what appeared to be the only place in town that was open:  Main Street Cafe.  We were the only ones there, and as a result had the attention of the entire wait staff.  Score!

ilx_in_clarkdale

Clarkdale was founded in 1912 as a “company town,” much like the mining town of Bagdad which we visited this summer.  It was named for Senator William A. Clark who owned the United Verde Copper Company.  In its day, Clarkdale’s amenities were cutting edge, with electric streetlights, telephone/telegraph, sewer system, and public parks being some of the features of the master planned community.

The mine closed in 1953 and there were tough times for the town, but it was incorporated in 1957 and lives on today, with the Verde Canyon Railroad as one of its hub attractions.  In fact, the railroad was originally built as a means of serving the mine.  It connected Clarkdale with two other small towns, Drake and Perkinsville, which are now ghost towns (making notes here so I can visit both of those at a future date in the ILX).

Chris and I made our way to the railroad station and checked in, then met up with our friends Matt and Alan who would be joining for the experience.  Our out-and-back, 40-mile round-trip ride took about 4 hours.  The train’s pace was perfect to allow us time to soak in the great scenery along the way, as we followed the path of the Verde River westward.  First Class accommodations were very comfortable, affording two plush couches to our party of four.  Select beverages, snacks, and appetizers were included with the $79 fare, and each of us made multiple trips to the concessions area of our car, which was named “Sycamore.”

view_from_train_verde_canyon

Power was provided by two vintage FP7 diesel engines, built originally by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors for the Alaska Railroad in 1953.  It’s amazing to me that 60 years later they are still providing reliable service.  Connected to our passenger car was an open-air “gondola” car with small canvas umbrellas and wooden benches in the center.  As long as we had our sweaters on, it made the best place from which to view the Verde Canyon’s scenery.  We had a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus along the way.  Oh what fun it was to ride!

My favorite part of the trip was going through the 680-foot-long (curving) tunnel that took 6 months to carve out in 1911.  At times, the train came within only 6 inches of the walls.  Our ride was full of other attractions along the way, including cliff dwellings, caves, bald eagle sightings, and an up-close view of the abandoned train depot building in Perkinsville, Arizona that has fallen into disrepair.

Check out the many pictures and video below for a more detailed look at our Verde Canyon Railroad experience.  Thanks for joining!

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Jump starting our morning with some beverages from Starbucks.  The ILX has some of the best cupholders in the industry!

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Happy campers, heading northbound.

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The Prescott National Forest welcomed us with its 1.25 million acres of land in north-central Arizona.
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Camp Verde, Arizona.  Bathroom break at the BK with rain that was just a few degrees away from becoming snow.

ilx_in_camp_verde

Backing out… err… guess that rearview camera won’t be doing us much good!

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Highway 89A weaved through a neat historic business district in the town of Cottonwood.

ilx_back_in_cottonwood_arizona

Soon we pulled into Clarkdale town limits.

clarkdale

It’s been years since I saw a gas pump with “rolling” numbers like this instead of digital ones.  Believe it or not, this one in Clarkdale is still in service.

gas_pump_in_clarkdale

Our train was waiting for us when we arrived at the station 15 minutes prior to departure.

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Beauty shot before getting checked in.

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All aboard!

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We were assigned to the Sycamore car.

boarding

Among our first attractions were these ancient Sinagua Indian ruins, high in the canyon walls.  These date back to around 1100 – 1125 AD!

cliff_dwellings

We got settled in for the ride in our comfortable couches.

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The gondola car was an inviting place to hang out, though a little chilly when we were rolling through the shade.

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Don, one of the many guides who we had, was pointing out something to Matt here.

matt_don

For 20 miles, we curved along the Verde Canyon crossing trestles and bridges.

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Red rock scenery is similar to that of neighboring Sedona.

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This is what the inside of our First Class car looked like.  These passenger coaches were originally built in 1946 and used in a commuter capacity.

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It was great to kick back and relax.  The train is a slow-paced way of travel but it’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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More from the gondola car.

observation_car

This was my favorite part of the train ride:  the 650-foot-long tunnel.  Photo scanned from Rail Magazine, the official magazine of the Verde Canyon Railroad, page 32.

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Matt, Alan, Tyson, and Chris

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Chris taking a peek at something in the distance.  It was neat to see some snow on the ground outside.

chris_on_train

This is the old 1911 Perkinsville Depot that we passed, just before the diesel engines uncoupled and switched ends of the train for our return trip.  Perkinsville is now a privately owned place, with a population of 10.

perkinsville_station

The Perkinsville Depot was featured briefly in the 1962 film “How The West Was Won.”

chris_in_perkinsville

Heading back on the return ride!

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View toward the front of the train, showing the alternating passenger cars & gondola cars.

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Alan looked a little too excited to be there.

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Chris captured a photo of two of the bald eagles that reside in the Verde Canyon, on top of a dead tree.

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Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, for a great ride!

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Closing out a memorable adventure with a sunset drive back to Phoenix via I-17 in the ILX.

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Hope you enjoyed the ride!

2015 Acura TLX Sedan to Debut in Detroit

Posted in Car Show, TLX on December 20, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,197

528197

Odometer (ILX):  62,384

62384

ilx_in_sunrise

This was some great news to start my morning yesterday when I checked my phone.

media_alert

TL + TSX = TLX, at least according to Acura.   The company’s current TL and TSX bodystyles have been around since 2009, and both models will be killed off in 2014 as a new model takes over.  The new TLX, Acura reports, will be “the perfect blend of style and muscle with its elegant, well-proportioned exterior that cloaks the true sport sedan chassis and powertrain beneath”  (Mike Accavitti, Senior Vice President of American Honda Motor Company).

TLX will serve as a mid-range model between the entry level luxury ILX and the flagship RLX, which I road tested last month.  Its heritage can be traced back to the Acura Vigor.  Back in 1991, Acura had only two sedan models:  the Integra and the Legend.  The Vigor was born in 1992 and sized between those two vehicles.  It even came with a 5-cylinder engine that bridged the 4- to 6-cylinder gap.  Since then, the car’s evolution has looked something like this:

  • 1992-1994:  Acura Vigor
  • 1996-1998:  Acura 2.5 TL (5 cyl) and 3.2 TL (V6) – 1st Generation
  • 1999-2002:  Acura 3.2 TL – 2nd Generation
  • 2004-2008:  Acura TL – 3rd Generation
  • 2009-2014:  Acura TL – 4th Generation
  • 2015+:  Acura TLX

As a side note, I owned a 1993 Vigor GS 5-speed for a short time in 2010.  It was Frost White with black leather interior and had 241,000 miles on it.  This was the key hand-off, taken in May 2010.

vigor_handoff

The Vigor, especially equipped in manual transmission form like mine was, exhibited fun around-town behavior.  It felt a lot more light and nimble than the Legend.  Here is the car pictured in my garage next to the Legend sedan:

legend_vigor

My family also owned a Cayman White Pearl 1st Generation 1997 Acura 3.2 TL in 2003.

tl2

Bonus points for anyone who can identify what Acura model those wheels were swapped from.

tl1

You’ve already seen examples of Devan‘s 3rd Generation and Jason & Paul‘s 4th Generation TLs.  That brings us to the TLX, which has not yet been seen by the public eye except in heavily camouflaged form, while out for testing.

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I’m excited to see what this new car is all about.  The TLX Prototype is set to debut on Tuesday, January 14th at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan.  The best news is:  I’ll be there to watch.  I’ve finalized my flight arrangements and media credentials, so I’ll be bringing you all the latest updates from the show.

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Two directed-injected engines will provide the power and an “all-new transmission” will put that power to the ground.  I really hope there will be a manual transmission offering.  Acura will be keeping details about the TLX under tight wraps, but for now here’s the press release that highlights a little bit about what we can expect to see from the company’s all-new sedan.  Keep on driving, my friends.  And Happy Friday!

ilx_sunset_gauges

My 1992 Acura NSX

Posted in NSX on December 17, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  528,171

528171

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  144,362

144362

Odometer (ILX):  62,287

62287

Odometer (NSX):  97,482

97482

Guess it’s time to let this cat out of the bag.  I’ve been hoarding Acuras for years now.  My secret toy obsession is a Formula Red 1992 NSX that I bought for my 30th birthday exactly two years ago, on December 17, 2011.

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During the first generation NSX’s production run from 1991 through 2005, there were only about 8,000 cars made.  My NSX is one of 421 in its color & transmission configuration for the year.  The NSX is an iconic car that showed the world that an exotic sportscar didn’t have to be unreliable.  It’s powered by a 270-horsepower 3.0 V6 engine with VTEC, which puts the power to the pavement via a 5-speed manual transmission.

When I picked up my NSX up just two weeks before my 30th birthday, it had 80,440 miles on the odometer.  It came with full service records back to new, all the manuals, a dealership sales brochure, and 4 keys including the original titanium key that was issued with all new NSXs of that era.  Talk about a perfect find!  I was in heaven for the entire 12-hour drive home to Phoenix.  The car grabbed more attention than I knew what to do with.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken the NSX on a number of fun adventures. The driving experience is unlike any of the other dozens of Acuras I’ve had the privilege of being behind the wheel of.  I can best describe it as “raw.”  The NSX has no power steering.  No cupholders.  No “frilly” unnecessary luxuries.  It is the most connected car to the road and to the driver of any I’ve driven.  In any other vehicle, a key ingredient in a pleasurable drive is a rockin’ sound system.  Not in the NSX.  The Bose stereo is nice, but I’d rather leave the audio turned off entirely.  Hearing the car’s mid-mounted V6 rev to the redline from behind the jet-inspired cockpit is an intoxicating feeling that brings endless grins.  It makes you want to push the car’s limits again and again.

Come reminisce with me as I take you on some of those trips through the many pictures that follow, in chronological order.  You’ll probably see some NSX pictures from time to time on the blog as I continue my Acura travels in 2014 and beyond.

November 2011 – This is a photo from the original San Jose, CA Craigslist ad

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December 17, 2011 – The traditional key handoff picture.  The man handing me the key was the 3rd owner.  He’d owned the NSX for about 14 years.

key_handoff

First ride, caught on video:

Just before driving away to bring my baby home to Arizona

morning

First arrival in Scottsdale and meeting its stable-mates, the 1994 Legend coupe and sedan

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December 31, 2011 – My brother’s place in St. George, Utah after adding the 2002-05 model year, 17″ NSX wheels and ditching the OEM 15″ / 16″ staggered setup, which I still have in storage.

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January 22, 2012 – Driveway photoshoot in Scottsdale, Arizona with my friends Branson and Matt, along with the two Legends

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February 23, 2012 – Car show at Arizona State University

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February 25, 2012 – Scenic drive up Interstate 17 in Arizona

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February 28, 2012 – “Supercar Saturday” drive in Arizona with over 100 exotics & sportscars

6

March 2, 2012 – Saguaro Lake, Arizona with my friend Matt’s 2012 Nissan 370Z Sport 6MT

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March 4, 2012 – Mount Lemmon Cruise, in Tucson Arizona with Matt and my friend Josh in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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More from Mount Lemmon

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March 3, 2012 – Cars & Coffee meet-up in Scottsdale, Arizona with fellow local NSXers

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March 31, 2012 – NSX Meet in Tempe, Arizona

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April 2012 – Photoshoot in Tempe, Arizona.  Pictures by John Bazay.

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April 2012 – Hurricane, Utah Easter Car Show with my friend Branson and his dad Don

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Great day at the car show.  Lots of fun comments about the “squirrel wheel” (spare tire) in the front compartment.

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My grandma “Doce” getting some seat time in the NSX at the car show:

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April 2012 – St. George, Utah, on the dyno machine at H&S Performance.  Numbers:  242 horsepower, 179 foot-pounds of torque.

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Dyno video:

April 2012 – Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Drive, Highway 89A, in Northern Arizona on the way back to Phoenix with Matt and his 370Z.

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May 2012 –  Photoshoot in Tempe, Arizona with a 1979 Porsche 928 belonging to my friend Scott Utter

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June 30, 2012 – Logan Canyon, northern Utah with my friends Ryan (Honda S2000) and Tyler (Honda Prelude 4WS).

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More with the 3 great Hondas

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July 2012 – Canyons east of Salt Lake City, Utah, taken by my friend Branson

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September 2012 – NSX Meet in Tempe, Arizona

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October 2012 – Supercar Saturday event – Jerome, Arizona.  Below is a screen capture from a YouTube video.

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Skip to 8:05.

More from Supercar Saturday in Prescott, Arizona

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October 14, 2012 – Coronado Trail Scenic Byway in Eastern Arizona.  This is Highway 191 – the “Curviest Highway in America.”

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Superior, Arizona, crossing a bridge on US-60

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Just south of Eagar, Arizona at the north end of Highway 191

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Eating up some twisties on the Coronado Trail

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No place I’d rather be!

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December 2012 – Scottsdale, Arizona, at home with the 2013 ILX

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January 2013 – NSX Meet in Chandler, Arizona at Science of Speed

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More from the Science of Speed meet

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Last picture from Science of Speed

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February 2013 – Scottsdale, Arizona – checking out an ultra-rare “Imola Orange Pearl” 2002 NSX for sale.  This one even had the orange interior.

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February 2013 – Parked at work on a Friday, and this blue Corvette Z06 owner decided to copy my parking style.

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April 13, 2013 – Supercar Saturday (Scottsdale to Payson, Arizona).

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Skip to 1:12 in the video below to see me.

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April 28, 2013 – At home in Scottsdale, Arizona with my friend Matt’s 2013 Nissan 370Z Sport 6MT

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July 4, 2013 – Cache Valley Cruise-In Car Show (Logan, Utah) with my brother and his 1968 Chevy II Nova SS

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Two very mean cars with two very different missions

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V6 versus V8

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Photo in Grandma’s backyard, Logan, Utah

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Logan Canyon scenic drive to Tony Grove up Highway 89 with Ryan (Honda S2000), and Tyler (Honda Prelude 4WS)

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July 27, 2013 – Cedar City, Utah with my friend Chanc and his two Acuras (1999 Integra GS-R and 2006 TSX)

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August 30, 2013 – Scottsdale, Arizona during a visit from my friend Ben

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October 27, 2013 – Desert Center, CA en route to a Legend forum meet-up in Santa Monica

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At the Santa Monica meet with these great friends

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Santa Monica Place

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Mini NSX meet at my house – November 2013

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December 7, 2013

Cars & Coffee meet-up in Scottsdale, Arizona with my friends Joe, Michael, and Kelvin

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And that’s a wrap!  Until the next adventure…

Weekend in Salt Lake City & Paul’s 10k Milestone

Posted in Utah on December 15, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,160

528160

Odometer (ILX): 62,221

62221

The Acuras hibernated this weekend since I opted to take a 90-minute flight instead of an 11-hour drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, Utah.  My uncle Brett’s reaction when I told him I’d flown up:  “Are you feeling okay?”  My family knows it’s out of character for me to choose a plane over a car, but given the unpredictable winter weather and limited timeframe, it made the most sense to fly the friendly skies.

It was a great weekend of visits with family and friends.  I’ll share just a few highlights.  First is of the Legend getting airport duty at the Sky Harbor Economy lot B, level 4.  In true “parking paranoia” fashion, I made sure I was the only vehicle on the entire row, and I parked at the extreme end, away from everyone else.

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I was unprepared for what hit me when I walked outside Salt Lake International Airport.

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Haze was right!

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My friend Branson and I enjoyed a delicious brunch the following morning.

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He’s almost sold me on ditching the iPhone for an Android like his, after showing me that he can play Mario Brothers on it.  Take me back to 1985.

branson_playing_nes

No Salt Lake visit would be complete without a drop-in at Jody Wilkinson Acura.  JWA has taken care of me for many years as the area’s premier dealership.  They had a nice looking Milano Red 2014 Acura TSX Special Edition in the showroom, along with a Pomegranate Pearl 2014 Acura RLX.

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Salesman James told me a little about the features of the 2014 TL Special Edition while we were there.

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An ILX sat out front awaiting test drives.

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All in all, a great visit that made me feel right at “home,” even though I hadn’t driven my Acura to Utah.

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That evening, I enjoyed a night with family, including my grandparents pictured here.  Grandma’s sweatshirt reads:  “I’m only wearing black until they make something darker.”  Her wardrobe is as predictable as it gets!

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Later that night, I watched one of my favorite holiday films:  Home Alone.  There’s a scene in the movie where Santa Claus stalls out a 1982 Honda Civic after talking with Kevin McAllister.  The car looked a little bit rusty, but it’s still fun to see a classic Honda on the big screen.

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It was great to get back to blue sky in Arizona this afternoon.  I had a perfect view of my house from seat 22F.

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Achievement Award for Paul

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Over the weekend, my friend Paul rolled 10,000 miles in his 2013 Acura TL SH-AWD.  Here was the odometer when he took delivery on January 12, 2013.

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And on December 14, 2013, he completed his first 10,000.  Congratulations, Paul!

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Reader’s Ride: Tina’s RL & TL

Posted in Reader's Ride on December 12, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,121

528121

Odometer (ILX):  62,075

62075

Today we welcome a new member to the Acura family.  Tina is a long-time friend of my mother’s who recently reached out via Facebook about her car “conversion” story to the Acura brand.  She writes:

When our Honda Accord was stolen right after we moved to California, I remembered your son’s video about the 500,000 mile Acura! I told my husband about your son and his car, so we bought a 2000 Acura. Then my son bought a 2002 Acura. We’re hoping both make it to 500,000 miles and beyond!

I got in touch with Tina to congratulate her on a fine purchase decision.  Here is her husband’s pride and joy, a pearl white 2000 Acura 3.5 RL.

RL

This car, minus the color, is identical to a 3.5 RL that my mom owned from 2004-05 (pictured below).  Check out my recent write-up on the 2014 Acura RLX for a little history on the RL model and how it’s evolved over the years.

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Tina also shared a picture of her son’s blue 2002 Acura 3.2 TL:

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She and her family now live in Grand Junction, Colorado where winter weather is fierce and having a reliable vehicle is critical:

In our -8 temps this morning, my Trail Blazer was sputtering and wouldn’t idle. So I got to take the Acura to work so my husband could take the Trail Blazer to the shop. Below zero temps didn’t bother the Acura!   I actually stopped a couple weeks ago and took pics of a 1997 Acura I saw for sale for $2,000.  But it’s no longer there, so I’m afraid someone snatched it up!  Dang it!

Thanks, Tina, for sharing your enthusiasm for the Acura brand and I am confident your cars will serve you reliably for many years to come.

Check out my new license plate that arrived this week!

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ILX Drive to Gisela, Arizona: Great Roads, Poor Hospitality

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on December 9, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,101

528101

Odometer (ILX):  61,902

61902

Trip Distance:  146 Miles Round-Trip

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Have you ever seen one of those welcome mats that just says “Leave”?

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The entire town of Gisela (guy-SEE-la) feels like it has one giant “Leave” mat to greet visitors.  I have never been to a place where I felt more unwelcome.  No services whatsoever, no tourist information, not even a welcome sign at the entrance to city limits.  This was a change from last week’s visit to the town of Chloride which lured motorists in from miles away by boasting exaggerated attractions.  Gisela, by contrast, would prefer if you didn’t come at all.

The most unfortunate part about this?  The Gisela access road is amazing:  five miles of brilliant roller-coaster two-lane thrills with elevation gain, switchbacks, and a hairpin that’ll have your Michelin tires howling if you take it at the speed I did.  It’s a shame I do want to go back to Gisela, just for the sake of its road.

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Just 73 miles from of Scottsdale, Arizona in the mountains of the Mogollon Rim lies this town of 532 (crabby?) people.  On Sunday afternoon, I crossed Gisela off my to-see list after visiting with my Acura ILX.

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That five mile detour off Highway 87 toward the town center was prime terrain for a sports sedan like the ILX.  The road was technical, narrow, and required key driver attention.  I rowed between 3rd and 4th gears as I carved my way through the hills, pushing the ILX toward its handling limits.

“This is it?” I thought when my GPS told me I’d arrived in Gisela.  There was no visual cue outside the car to indicate any such arrival.  Any hint of commerce in Gisela must have boarded up its doors decades ago.  What I found instead was a grouping of a few dozen double-wide trailers on dirt roads, yards filled with old cars and garbage, and chain link fences with padlocks everywhere I turned.  As I drove around, I was chased by dogs repeatedly.  Every single home had a “NO TRESPASSING” and “BEWARE OF DOG” sign on its gate.

Then there were these:

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Residents of Gisela have gone to great lengths to make drivers feel like they’re being scolded all the time.

I was amused by the fact that there were a few cows roaming the residential streets, so I coasted to a stop, pulled the E-brake, and hopped out of the ILX with my camera to capture the scene.  I heard an ATV motor running, so I turned to where the noise was coming from.  A man on a four wheeler sat there poised a couple dozen feet from me.  The look on his face clearly communicated a message of, “Get off my lawn,” though I was undoubtedly on a public road.  I’m sure he was mumbling something to himself about, “What’s this trouble-maker doing?”  I quickly got back into the ILX after not taking a picture of said cows and continued on my way.  SLOWLY.

Check out the photos below for the highlights from this quirky Arizona town.  Chalk it up to another interesting destination for me, and there are plenty more where that came from.  Thanks for coming along!

Northbound Highway 87 was traffic-free and dry for an exhilarating ascent to the Mogollon Rim

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An appropriate Beach Boys song provided the soundtrack to this Sunday drive.

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First gear (Honda Honda) it’s alright (faster faster)
Second gear (little Honda Honda) I lean right (faster faster)
Third gear (Honda Honda) hang on tight (faster faster)
Faster it’s alright

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Soon I arrived at the turn-off to Gisela Rd and headed east from the Beeline Highway.

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“Rough Road” was right.  But that added to the experience.

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Just beyond the first bend, I passed a sign that said “LIMITED SIGHT DISTANCE.  15 MPH.”  They weren’t kidding.  The road became way more fun than I’d expected it to.

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Someone had taken the time to decorate a pine tree for the holidays.

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Gisela’s now dead business district.

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The church looked like a simple one-room setup.

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River Road was one of several residential dirt roads.  This one was lined with trees including two huge ones that forced the road to curve around them.

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The next couple of images illustrate typical homes in Gisela.

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Hey, at least they’re patriotic.

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The most fitting sign in the entire town was this family name in front of one of the homes.  This was a “strang” town, indeed.

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Don’t forget all those warning about excessive speed.  And by excessive, they’re talking about anything above a crawl.

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“Tonto Creek Shores” – hit the brakes here because the pavement turns to dirt.

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Peace out, Gisela.

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Back to the road – that was the best part about this trip anyhow!

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Highway 87 took me back home after a fun little adventure.

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Haven’t forgotten about this Legend!  It’s due for a roadtrip soon, too.

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Have a great week!

ILX Drive to Chloride, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on December 5, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,074

528074

Odometer (ILX):  61,446

61446

Distance:  440 Miles Round-Trip

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chloride_billboard

Chloride:

1. a salt of hydrochloric acid consisting of two elements, one of which is chlorine, as sodium chloride, NaCl.
2. a compound containing chlorine, as methyl chloride, CH3Cl.

To me, the word itself carries a vibe of toxicity, harshness, and abrasion.  The rusty pots and pans that were hanging along the fence at the entrance to town thus provided a curious, yet fitting, welcome to a community that resembles 1913 a lot more than it does 2013.  Join me on a drive to the oldest continuously-inhabited mining settlement in the great state of Arizona:  Chloride.

tyson_in_chloride

I could drive the Highway 93 corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas with my eyes closed – that’s how familiar I am with that 292-mile stretch of road.  In the hundreds of times I’ve passed the turnoff for “Chloride,” though, I never let my curiosity get the best of me and actually checked it out.  That is, until last Saturday when I was on my way home from the Thanksgiving holiday in Utah.  “Today’s the day,” I thought to myself as I hit the brakes in the ILX and made my way to the left hand turn lane.  “I’ve gotta see what this place is all about.”

chloride_sign

For each of the 4 miles that I rolled eastward on Route 125, I journeyed deeper and deeper into the past.  I ended up in the year 1864, when Chloride was bustling with commerce and was home to 2,500 people who rushed to settle there in search of silver, gold, lead, and zinc deposits in the Cerbat Mountains.  My ‘ILX stagecoach’ kicked up a few billowing dust clouds in the sections of two-lane, winding road that had experienced flooding recently.  I drove in search of the various attractions advertised on a crude wooden sign alongside the road.  It promised “Old Buildings.”  What more enticement did I need?

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Approaching town limits, I passed a cattle guard at the west end of town and saw a small sign that said CEMETERY alongside the road.  I downshifted the ILX to 2nd gear and slowed to 15 mph in the 25 mph zone because there was simply too much scenery to soak in.  All around me were relics of the past, homes that stood half-boarded up like they were one step away from being good for nothing more than firewood.

A gas station on the north side of Route 125 had antique pumps out front that have been dry for decades.  As I neared the intersection of 2nd Street & Tennessee Avenue, I saw that life did exist in Chloride.  Two bearded men were smoking in front of a tavern and gave me a stare-down as I slowly rolled past them.  I might as well have been driving a spaceship because that’s how much of an outsider I felt.  If it was possible to “tiptoe” in a vehicle, that’s what I felt like doing.  I didn’t want to call any attention to myself as I explored this fascinating little town.

My first stop was the Mineshaft Market & General Store.  One step inside the front door and I quickly recognized why the sign out front said, “Pack Rat’s Porch.”  This place was chock full of… well… stuff.  Basic food items lined one wall while the rest of the shelves were filled with trinkets, leather goods, and souvenirs.  I used the restroom at the back of the store, then went into an adjacent room with a sign “Arizona Tourist Information.”  That tourist information, as it turns out, was a room fitting for the TV show Hoarders.  Miscellaneous brochures and pamphlets were scattered around haphazardly as if a tornado had just rolled through the room.

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I took a driving tour to explore a few square blocks of Chloride, envisioning what the place might have been like 150 years ago.  Still most of the roads are unpaved.  “Payroll Avenue” was one of those streets.  I wonder if anyone actually ever struck it rich in Chloride?  If they did, I certainly imagine they would have since moved elsewhere.  I pulled over and got out of the car when I saw a woman who’d walked up to the post office to retrieve her mail.  “How long have you lived here?” I asked.  “Four years,” she said, “But my boyfriend’s been here 20.”

She confirmed that the few hundred people who still live in Chloride do work primarily in the mining industry.  The town attracts a few tourists a year for its St. Patty’s Day parade and an “Old Miner’s Day” parade each June, complete with a gunfight at high noon.  The town’s two restaurants and two bars are usually filled to capacity during those seasonal festivities.  Perhaps I’ll go back for the “all town yard sale,” held each May and October when residents display their wares on their front lawns in hopes of finding the right buyers.

I thanked the woman for the information, saddled back up in my ILX, and headed westward on Route 125 into the sunset, glad that I had stopped in this quaint little town but also glad to get back to the reality of 2013.  Hope you enjoyed experiencing it with me.  Below are the photos that I captured during my visit.

A fence lined with pots & pans greet visitors arriving from the west.

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It truly felt like I was time traveling as I got closer to the business district.

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On the outskirts of town, a May 1976 time capsule created by the students of the Chloride School awaits its unveil at a future unspecified date.

time_capsule_1976

I don’t think this service station had the 91 octane fuel I would have needed.  Luckily I had a half tank of gas.

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Below (building at left) is the post office which has been in continuous operation since 1873.

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The Chloride Baptist church (established 1891) has Sunday School services at 10:00 a.m.  This was the only church building I saw within town limits during my drive through.

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This “pedestrian-only” ghost town street looked like a Western movie set.  It reminded me of my visit to Old Tucson Studios.

chloride_ghost_town

The center of commerce:  Mineshaft Market.  The Pack Rat’s Porch invites visitors to “Come Sit a Spell.”  It’s easy to tell that the pace of life in Chloride is moving in slow motion.

mineshaft_market

I parked the ILX and took a peek inside to see what kind of wares I could find.

ilx_at_mineshaft_market

The sign at hanging on the wall at right reads, “Arizona Tourist Information.”  Good luck finding it in this disastrous room.

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When’s the last time you used a pay phone?

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A small building (it stood no taller than my height) had a sign out front that said “Gnome Retirement Home.”

gnome_retirement_home

Finally, heading back to civilization in the real world and happy to set foot back in 2013.

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SWEET ILX

Thanks to my friend Paul for capturing some pictures of the sporty looking ILX at the Phoenix Auto Show this past weekend.

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MAINTENANCE UPDATE

On Monday, my ILX received an “A13” service from Acura of Tempe, Arizona.  It included:

  • Oil change (0W20 synthetic):  $46.70
  • Tire rotation:  $20.00
  • Manual transmission service:  $69.95
  • “Shop supplies”:  $8.28
  • Total invoice with tax:  $150.92

Current maintenance summary since new (click to enlarge):

ilx_maintenance

Back on the road I go, riding into the sunset until the next episode!

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