Archive for June, 2014

530k Milestone & Flagstaff Quick Drive

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip, Spy Shots on June 29, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  530,024


Odometer (ILX):  85,452


Took me long enough to get to 530k!


Friday, I drove the Legend to work and achieved a milestone on the way home from the office.  I took a few cell phone shots of the car just shortly after the roll-over.  They aren’t the best quality but you get the idea.

I have a few maintenance items to address before driving it to Los Angeles next month for NALM.  I might go ahead and have the spark plugs changed (last replaced at 434,000).  There’s also a leaking inner CV boot on the passenger side, and I’ve been told the A/C lines at the compressor are leaking, though the system still somehow blows ice cold air.


These were taken just east of Phoenix on the Beeline Highway near the Saguaro Lake turnoff.



Yesterday, I escaped the Phoenix heat for a few hours and met up with some friends in Flagstaff, Arizona.  It’s only about a 150-mile drive each way via I-17 so I was easily able to get up and back comfortably over the course of the day.  It sure was great to spend some time in “only” 90 degree temperatures as opposed to the 110 degrees at my house.


The only photos I grabbed were at Exit 317:  Fox Ranch Road.


Perfect day for a drive.


Think anyone will mind if I park the car there?  I was a rebel for a few seconds.


I thought it would be fun to share a few “spy shots” that friends have sent me over the last couple of weeks since I recently started saving them.  My friends know how Legend-crazy I am, so I frequently get text messages of random sightings from the road.

From Tim


From Terrance


Another from Terrance


From Paul


From Mike


From Jim


Another from Jim


From Beau


Haha, to those who have my phone number or email:  Keep the pics coming!

NALM Registration for July 24-27 Event in Los Angeles

Posted in NALM on June 25, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,904


Odometer (ILX):  85,018


My friend Jeff sent me the below picture via text message.  He works for the province of Alberta and wanted to show me just how far north his team was stationed today, in the town of Grande Prairie. The sign states “Alaska” with an arrow.


My first thought was, “That looks so familiar!”

Sure enough, after a little digging, I discovered that I took a picture of the exact same sign 8 years ago.  It was May 2006 and my dad & I were on our way to Fairbanks, Alaska and passing through.  Our weather wasn’t nearly as nice.


It really is a small world!

Just a quick plug to those of you who may reside within a day’s drive of Los Angeles – or perhaps a couple of you crazies who would be willing to drive even longer than that:  Registration for this year’s 10th Annual National Acura Legend Meet is now open. The event will be headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California and held July 24th through 27th.

This will be the 10th time I’ve driven to NALM since its first event in 2005 in Dallas, Texas.  I’ve enjoyed the program each and every year, and I’ve continued to build quality friendships with others who share similar interests.

My home in the Phoenix area will be a staging area of sorts for at least 3 Legendary road trippers who are coming through from the eastern United States.  Even more exciting for me is that I’ll be able to have both my Legend coupe and my Legend sedan in attendance, thanks to my friend Chris from Baltimore who will fly out and make the 6-hour drive via I-10 from Phoenix with me.

This year’s NALM will include a special kick-off ceremony at Honda’s private museum at the company’s headquarters in Torrance.  Must see!

A detailed itinerary is pending but here’s the basic layout of events.


These two are ready to rock and roll!



Hope to see some of you there!

New York City

Posted in Misc Travel on June 23, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,846


Odometer (ILX):  84,912


I stumbled with droopy eyes off a United Airlines flight at Terminal C in Newark, New Jersey at 6:14 a.m. on Saturday morning.  It felt like 3:14 a.m. to me on Arizona time, but my exhaustion was quickly put to rest when my friend Conor pulled up to the passenger pick-up area in his beautiful Satin Silver Metallic 2004 Acura TSX to provide the finest in luxury transport services.

Our destination was none other than the Big Apple:  Conor and my other friend Brad rolled out the red carpet for me on a two-day trip to New York City this weekend.  My last trip to Manhattan had been nearly 3 years ago.  I tried to convince Brad and Conor that I knew my way around but I would have been truly lost without them.

All it took was one step out of Brad’s place at 95th Street & 2nd Avenue after catching a quick power nap, and I said, “This weather is amazing!”  I hope each and every one of New York City’s 8 million residents had been enjoying it as much as I was.  By the way, that’s double the population of Los Angeles.  Saturday was an action-packed day of sightseeing and exploration, with key visits to Central Park, Grand Central Station, and Times Square.

Here are a few photos from our adventure.

The ILX took a chill pill in the East Economy lot at Phoenix Sky Harbor.


Awaiting my redeye flight from PHX-EWR:  A full two hours early and wondering how I’ll ever be able to sleep on the plane.


Early morning Saturday arrival in Newark.


In a sea of yellow cabs, one car stood out:  it was Conor’s silver 2004 TSX.


Driving through the Holland Tunnel which opened in 1927 and connects Manhattan with Jersey City, New Jersey.  It’s located underneath the Hudson River.


Arrival at Brad’s place on 95th Street after our tour through town.


A full 30-40 degrees cooler than home!  I enjoyed every second of this weather.



This is how you get around in NYC.


For some reason this subway map is so much more overwhelming to me than a road map!  Stop here, transition here to another train, be mindful of special hourly constraints, so much to keep in mind.  Just give me some car keys.


Tyson, Brad, Conor before brunch at a neat place called “Trend” located on the Upper East Side.


Central Park was bustling with activities, including a wedding and a couple of festivals.


We wandered up to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.


Times Square with thousands of tourists.  The woman to my right was not amused by being in my picture.


Grand Central Station, which receives 21.6 million annual visitors.


Bryant Park


ILX sighting!  I ended up seeing a few of these around.  In all our wanderings, though, we only saw two Legends:  A blue 1991 coupe and a gray 1987 coupe — both in Brooklyn, and both within a block of each other!


Dinner at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Chelsea.  Highly recommended.  But take note:  It’s cash-only!


Sunday morning, a trip to Conor’s place in Brooklyn Heights, complete with some important reading material.


… and a look at the “shrine” of Acura memorabilia in his living room.


Brooklyn Heights Promenade — the best view of NYC in my opinion.


Awakening Vanessa the TSX from her slumber for my shuttle ride back to EWR airport.


Bon voyage!


Last view. Vanessa, incidentally, turned over 128,000 miles en route that afternoon.


I had a blast this weekend and I extend my thanks to my great friends for their hospitality!

550,000 Miles in 32 Months

Posted in Blog on June 20, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,841


Odometer (ILX): 84,836


I walked into the kitchen after work (and exhaled because it’s been a stressful work week and it’s 108 degrees outside) and started thumbing through the junk mail I’d picked up outside.  The following conversation ensued.

  • Roommate:  Going anywhere fun this weekend?
  • Me:  Yeah, I’m catching a flight to New York tonight.
  • Roommate (turns away from whatever he’s cooking):  You’re FLYING somewhere?

It’s true.  If I can survive tonight’s redeye, I’ll be in Manhattan tomorrow and making a quick turnaround to come back to Arizona on Sunday night.  Whirlwind trip.  But you all know, that’s how I roll.  Or, in this case, fly.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a fun video.  Can you imagine driving 7,500 miles per week?  An oil change every week.  Around-the-clock operation.  Nissan provided a Chandler, Arizona-based delivery company with an NV3500 utility van for the ultimate in real-world durability testing.  The results are impressive to say the least.  Just one unscheduled maintenance item:  an alternator replacement somewhere in the 300,000 mile range.  Check out this video!

I’ve personally met Nissan Engineer Craig Pike who appears in the video.  Should I send him a job application to be a test engineer?


Thanks Dillon for providing the sweet ILX wallpaper here.  Have a great weekend.

Feature Story in “Kurumag” Japanese Automotive Lifestyle Magazine

Posted in Blog, Legend on June 17, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,840


Odometer (ILX):  84,672


Earlier this year, I had the privilege of meeting with author Shigeyuki Ishikawa and photographer Yujiro Otsuki from a Japanese magazine called Kurumag.  The free publication is widely distributed across Japan – each issue totaling around 500,000 copies. Previously it has included the stories of custom car builder George Barris and renowned racer Ken Block.

Shigeyuki had learned of my love for the open road through a mutual friend and he asked about featuring my story an upcoming issue that would focus on road tripping.  A few weeks later, Shigeyuki and Yujiro came to my home in Scottsdale, Arizona to conduct an interview (in Japanese, with Yujiro translating) and take a few photos of me and my Acuras.

Many thanks to Acura Legend forum member David (“CatchyCamel”) for his great assistance in putting together the translation so that I could share this article with all of you.  Keep an eye on the Kurumag website because it will soon launch as an electronic version of the magazine.







Tyson lives in Arizona and his beloved legend reached 800,000 kilometers. There’s nothing he loves more than driving. He is 32 years old, and he told us about the appeal of the road trip.


So what got you interested in cars?

I remember when I was 5, I was polishing my dad’s pickup in front our house. My grandpa and my dad both love cars so it’s no wonder I love cars so much.

What was your first car?

When I was 16, I got handed down a Chevy Celebrity, and then when I was 17 I purchased a Honda Prelude Si. I had fun customizing it quite a bit.

How did you find this particular Legend?

When I was driving my Prelude and my mom was driving a 1993 Acura Legend sedan, I thought it was a good looking car and I hoped to someday purchase my own. At age 21, I started looking all over the country for a Legend coupe MT and I found it in San Jose, California. So I stuffed cash in my pocket and took off right away to go see it. Then it became my beloved car and this has been my 11th year owning it. Other than the Legend, I own an Acura NSX, an Acura Legend sedan, and an Acura ILX.

How did you drive as much as 800,000 kilometers?

The mileage was mostly achieved through my weekend drives almost every single weekend. I find my destinations by opening up a road atlas and saying, “Let’s go there,” to decide where to go. One interesting drive I made was going to Alaska in 2007. I left Arizona and kept going north across Canada until I got to Alaska. And then on the way home I kept going south along the west coast. That drive took 8,000 miles (12,800 kilometers) and the first thing I did when I got to Fairbanks was do an oil change.

You went that far? You could have flown!

Yeah, I agree. The funny thing is I used to work for airlines. I loved traveling so I thought it would be the most awesome thing to go all over the place, but I realized that travel by car is more fun: You get to enjoy the scenery, stop at the small towns and then find good restaurants. It’s not as much fun if you get straight to the destination since you don’t get to enjoy all the other things.

You drove that many miles in one car. That’s not easy, is it?

I could have bought a newer car with the money I spent on maintenance so far. In 2007 in Texas, a deer crashed into my car and the damage was pretty large. The insurance company told me it was totaled but I was so attached to my car that no matter how much trouble it was, I wanted to fix it. It’s an old model year so it was really hard to find the parts. I don’t think it will happen again, but just in case, I got an extra set of headlights (LOL).

Do you know the average miles the Japanese drive in a year is 12,000 kilometers?

Wow! It could take me only 2 months to drive that much. I drive around 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) a year.

What’s your most memorable drive?

Back in the day, there was no GPS or iPhone. I printed a map from MapQuest and took it with me. My trips were so far, they would fill up 15 pages. It’s so much easier now. You can take off right away, anytime.

I do have a story from when I went to Santa Monica, California for lunch. This one little lunch took 13 hours round trip. That might be a strange story but on the way home from the lunch as soon as I entered Arizona, the police pulled me over. The office asked, “Where are you going?” so I said, being honest, “I was coming back from Santa Monica from lunch.” The police were suspicious about the fact that I had driven all the way to California just to get lunch and said “No way.” Then more police cars gathered and searched my car completely. That was really something!

Do you have anywhere you want to go for a drive?

I’ve been to almost everywhere on the west coast so I want to go to the east coast like Long Island. Maybe someday, I would like to take the car to Hawaii and drive over there.

What is so appealing about driving?

Everybody must have a desire for adventure. But when it’s time for people to go they tend to plan to much detail like where to go and what to see. Sometimes there is no destination, you just get in the car. Start the engine, turn on the music, and start driving. Just simply and purely enjoying the driving. That also makes a great therapy too. You can clear your mind and the stress of daily life; its just simply just you and the car together. I think driving is a truly wonderful thing.


  • A plaque from Acura to celebrate 500,000 milestone
  • He keeps all maintenance records well-organized as much as 2 binders full
  • On the wall in Tyson’s dining room are photographs of 3 generations of car fanatics
  • In his hand is binder full of tons of programs, brochures, articles, and newspaper clippings.

Thanks for reading!

Here’s a parting shot of my 1994 Legend GS 6-speed on Sunday in front of “Legend Cleaners” dry cleaning in Ahwatukee, Arizona.


And one of the ILX this morning in “my” parking spot at the office.  End space, backed in, close to the curb.  7:00 a.m. arrival and nobody else has this spot staked out that early in the day.  Yeah, it’s all mine.



Quick Visit: White Tank Regional Park, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on June 13, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  84,278


Odometer (Legend):  529,778



Sometimes a driving adventure presents itself when you least expect it.  I had just finished up a walk-through at a rental home in Waddell, Arizona on Thursday afternoon for a cousin who’s moving to the area from Pennsylvania.  Pulling out of the subdivision on Olive Avenue, I looked to the west and saw the 4,000-foot White Tank Mountains in the distance.  I had two hours to kill until meeting a couple of friends for dinner, so I decided to see where that road would take me. (See red pin at left on the below map)


The four-laner went down to two lanes a mile or two before I approached the entry gate at White Tank Regional Park.  Entry was $6 and I saw a sign stating “Ice Cold Water $1,” so I grabbed one of those as well from the nice senior couple that was working the booth.  “I’m a first timer,” I said, “What is there to do in here?”  The man told me that the park has 28 miles of hiking trails.  I glanced down at the ILX external temp readout and noticed that it indicated 108 degrees, then responded, “Hiking?  Not on a day like today!”  He just shook his head and rolled his eyes, “You’d be surprised.  We have a ton of locals out there right now.”


I headed on into the 30,000-acre park and proceeded along the winding, two-lane paved road that had dips and curves giving my suspension a workout.  The landscape was dotted with hundreds of towering Saguaro cacti and a few jackrabbits scampered across my path as I worked my way through the park at 25 to 35 miles per hour.  The road went 3 miles along the base of the mountains until it hit a roundabout, where I looped back.  I took a side loop on the return trip via Ford Canyon Rd which became Waterfall Road.  Despite the temperatures, I did take the opportunity to hike around long enough to get a few stray cactus needles attached to my socks.  Ouch.


White Tank is definitely a place I’ll be visiting again for some hikes when the weather cools off.  It’ll make a nice backdrop for some automotive photography, too.  Glad I was able to find it!


These massive Saguaro cacti are probably centuries old.  According to the National Park Service, the Saguaro must mature to 100 years in age before it even begins to grow an “arm”!





You all know I’m big on dates & anniversaries.  Yesterday, June 12, was the 2-year anniversary of the day I took ownership of the ILX from John Watts of Acura’s Digital Marketing team.

The car had just 16 miles on it.  It’s been a fun ride so far!


Have a great weekend!

Beartooth Highway Part 3: Red Lodge, Montana to Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted in ILX, Road Trip on June 11, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,755


Odometer (ILX):  84,086


Leg Distance:  1,307 Miles


On Sunday morning, I slid open the window of room 418 in the historic Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge, Montana around 6:15 a.m. Fresh rains had left moisture on everything in sight, and the smell was better than any “spring rain” scented laundry detergent has ever been able to duplicate. This was the real deal.

Still digesting Saturday night’s steak dinners and anxious to hit the highway, we opted out of the complimentary sit-down breakfast in the lobby and fired up the ILX for our next day on the road. Multiple route choices presented themselves, but ultimately we decided to take Highway 78 to the northwest which would link us to Interstate 90 and through Bozeman, Montana. The 49 miles between Red Lodge and Columbus passed through rolling green hills with scattered farms throughout. Every home had a red barn in the backyard.


Dad took over the wheel for the next 97 westward miles to Bozeman, then the next 80 miles to West Yellowstone via Highway 191. We admired the wildlife and the scenery as we paralleled the Gallatin River.



By the time we arrived in West Yellowstone, we’d worked up an appetite (you know, from all that sitting in the car). Outpost Restaurant had opened for lunch just 15 minutes prior, so we stepped through the antler-lined entryway and grabbed a table. Our server started reciting the day’s specials: “First of all, we have a homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies, and then we have baked chicken and…” I knew already what my dad would be ordering. We are both suckers for meatloaf. It was well worth the $9.99.

Despite having seen a bear in Yellowstone Park the day prior, we wanted to see a little more wildlife before heading back home, so we pulled off Highway 20 just west of Rexburg, Idaho and visited a drive-through wildlife park called “Bear World.” Seriously.  $16 each for adult entry gets you a ~25 minute driving tour that loops through a (secured / fenced) park that’s home to 45 bears as well as numerous elk, deer, and other critters. As the attendant swung the gate open for us, we were instructed: “Windows rolled up at all times. Speed limit is 3-5 miles per hour. Do not stop or back up.” Dad and I did oblige, mostly. It was unreal to see a brown bear come waddling out of a watering hole and shake his fur off, then mosey right alongside the ILX as if we weren’t even there.


In Idaho Falls, I had dad take the wheel and we sailed southward at 75 miles per hour toward the Utah state line.  The icing on the cake for this day’s drive was when my dad introduced me to a new (to me) stretch of road called Weston Canyon.  It’s known as Highway 36 and located in southeastern Idaho. The two-laner winds past two reservoirs:  Deep Creek and Weston Reservoir, both nestled in lush green valleys and surrounded by scattered farms.


I settled in for the night in Salt Lake City, Utah in anticipation of my trip’s long 10-hour remaining stretch for the following day.  The next morning, I was up & out the door by 6:30 in the morning and headed southbound on Interstate 15 through southern Utah, Las Vegas, Nevada, and then on in through northwestern Arizona and dropping down into Phoenix.  By the time I got home, the temperature had crept up to 110 degrees.  I wished I was back at Beartooth Pass breathing the fresh, cool mountain air, but feeling satisfied at another trip checked off the bucket list!

Here are the rest of the pictures from this third leg of one of my biggest trips of the summer so far.  Here is our departure from Red Lodge with drops of water on the car and a crisp, refreshing breeze in the air.


Columbus, Montana is the only place I’ve ever seen 85.5 octane fuel offered.


The following picture is for blog reader Carlos in Florida, who alerted me to the fact recently that this week is the 30th anniversary of the world premiere of Ghostbusters in 1984.  I noticed the “Ellen” movie theater in Bozeman, Montana was hosting a Ghostbusters movie trivia night.  Carlos, how well would you have done in the competition?


We hit road construction for a few miles on U.S. 191 southbound between Bozeman, and West Yellowstone, MT.


Soon, we arrived in West Yellowstone and got rained on by just a few sprinkles.


Meatloaf at the Outpost Restaurant!  Highly recommended.  Half-eaten, sorry.


Photos from Bear World, between Rexburg and Idaho Falls, Idaho.


Check out the lengthy Park Rules and Guidelines.  “Always give animals the right-of-way!”


Sage advice.


First elk sighting.


Getting access to the bear zone.


And there he goes.  Right off the bat, there was a brown bear (fresh out of a nearby pond) sauntering across our path.


Our last diversion for the day:  Weston Canyon in southern Idaho.


Great roads – we saw a few motorcyclists out this way.


Selfie!  From the passenger seat, too — not a place I’m sitting very often.


Check out this fuel economy over the 750 miles from Cooke City, Montana to northern Utah!  All those 45-65 mph roads really translated into some great MPGs.


In central Utah, speed limits are 80 for most of the time so I set the cruise control accordingly.


Quick stop in southern Utah – back in red rock country.


Onward into Nevada.


And home sweet home!  Thank you all for being a part of this trip.

Beartooth Highway Part 2: Jackson, Wyoming to Red Lodge, Montana

Posted in ILX, Road Trip on June 10, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,752


Odometer (ILX):  84,031


Leg Distance:  229 Miles


“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play.”  Surely the 1873 poem “Home on the Range” was written about Yellowstone National Park!  In fact, it happens to have been written just one year after then-U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant named that 3,500-square-mile area as the country’s first national park.  In the couple hundred miles driven in my Acura ILX on Saturday, my dad and I saw hundreds of the massive animals for which the park has become famous.

Saturday was the long-awaited day for our trip on the Beartooth Highway. By the time the morning sun had peeked over the eastern horizon, my dad and I had already made our way to Jackson, Wyoming’s best breakfast joint: The Bunnery. Known for its “OSM” (oat, sunflower, and millet) bread, the Bunnery serves up French toast that ranks as one of my favorite breakfast dishes.

Highway 89 beckoned as we set our sights on the towering Rocky Mountains. Grand Teton, at 13,700 feet, stays snow-capped and glacier-covered for the entire year. There are half a dozen or so turnouts where people can park alongside the road and admire the mountain range.


We paid our $25 entry to Grand Teton National Park (which also covered us for Yellowstone) and continued on. Though the speed limit through much of the parks is only 35 mph, the slower pace allows for more appreciation of the scenery all around. The winding two-lane road travels through a variety of landscapes – from densely wooded and immensely tall lodgepole pine forests, to grassy rolling hills, past rivers and lakes and always in sight of those magnificent mountains. My dad was on wildlife watch. “Be Bear Aware,” advised the roadside signs. We did see a bear at one point – and so did dozens of other visitors who had pulled off the road and set up their tripods for the occasion.


Yellowstone is a famous place for studying geologic activity.   Today, over 3 million people visit the park each year. Their first destination is usually Old Faithful, a famous geyser which erupts every 91 minutes. Yellowstone even also has an active volcano called the Yellowstone Caldera.  We visited Lower Falls, at 308 feet, which are the tallest falls in the park.  The sound of the water crashing down was loud even from a distance!


After probably driving within the park for 100 miles, we finally made our exit out the northeast entrance. The town of Silver City wasn’t more than just a few buildings, but within 4 miles we’d arrived in a settlement nestled at the base of the peaks in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness: Cooke City. My dad is always intrigued with places like Cooke City and asks: “What do people do here?” Due to seasonal road closures, the city is essentially isolated for the better part of a year. No doubt the hot place in town was Beartooth Café, where we ordered burgers and talked with the locals about what it’s like to live in such a rugged place.


Beartooth Highway first opened on June 14, 1936 after a painstaking construction effort. Its lesser-known name is U.S. Route 212. From Cooke City, we’d be dipping back into northern Wyoming for a stretch, then re-entering Montana. I put on my sunglasses, buckled up, and gripped the steering wheel tightly. We were ready. We were about to experience a road that’s a favorite of motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts from all over. Over the course of one specific 12-mile stretch, we rose about 3,000 feet in elevation. At the summit, Beartooth Pass, the elevation tops out at a whopping 10,947 feet. Weather conditions are volatile at best – with severe thunderstorms, heavy winds, and snowstorms common – even during the summer! We lucked out and didn’t encounter any of that. Annual road closures take effect from mid-October until Memorial Day.


I pulled the ILX off the road for several breathtaking photo-ops. Fresh snow runoff had created dozens of waterfalls all around us. The higher in elevation we got, the higher the snow drifts alongside the road – sometimes towering above us at 3 or 4 times the height of the car. I cannot imagine what a chore it must have been for the snowplows to first blaze their way through the pass a couple of weeks ago for the first time this year. While temperatures only dipped as low as the mid-40’s Fahrenheit, it would have still been a very chilly ride for the few motorcyclists we saw along the way. Each turn presented a new dramatic vista. Clear mountain air allowed us to see many many miles into the distance.


At one point we pulled over and watched from a distance as some daredevil skiers rocket down the hillside on what appeared to be a totally vertical slope. We also were able to see “the” Bear’s Tooth for which the road was named. From there, it was a white-knuckle descent for about the next 20 miles. Switchbacks had been blazed through the hillside but it was hard to believe just how technical the road was about to get. Some of the hairpin curves made almost complete circles as we made the 6-8% grades. I used my 6-speed manual transmission to brake the car rather than ‘riding’ the brakes down the grade.


After what seemed like a forever-long descent, we finally found ourselves at ground level and continued the remaining 15 or so miles into the town of Red Lodge. Our hotel was the historic Pollard Hotel on Broadway. It was the first brick structure in the town, dating back to 1893. The Pollard (and its associated ‘friendly ghosts’ that haunt it) has been a long-time icon in the valley. There’s an entire room located at the southeast corner called the “history room” – chock full of pictures and newspaper articles related to The Pollard’s past. That room, incidentally, was at one time the town’s post office.


Dad and I enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs and wander around the historic downtown district. An old movie theatre had been converted into a gigantic candy store.  We ate dinner at Bridge Creek Restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel, then called it a night, leaving the hotel room window open and enjoying the breeze.

Here are the rest of the pictures and a short video from this segment of the trip!  Come back tomorrow for Part III!

“Million Dollar Cowboy Bar” in Jackson, Wyoming – dating back to 1937.  I asked the hostess at the gift shop why it was called the Million Dollar Bar, and she told me that it had cost that much to build or renovate.


Antler arch at the entrance to Jackson’s Town Square.


Entering Grand Teton National Park.


My dad told me an interesting statistic:  99% of people see only 9% of the park.  I don’t know how true that is, but I tend to believe it.  There is so much uncharted wilderness.  Here’s a sulphur pond.


Distance sign.


Yellowstone Lake is huge.  It covers 136 square miles and is the biggest body of water in the park.


Typical scenery.


Sign for Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.


Distances after exiting the Northeast entrance to the park.


Arrival in Cooke City.


Beartooth Cafe:  Our lunch spot for Saturday.


“Top of the World.”  Contrary to what you’d think, this place is not at the summit of Beartooth.  The road continues its ascent well beyond the site of this convenience store.



Nearing the crest at 10,947 feet.


It will be awhile before all this snow melts.


Love the scenery.



The “actual” bear tooth-shaped formation in the mountain, for which the road was named.


Pointing my finger at the bear’s tooth.


Welcome to Montana!


Postcard we bought that shows the zig-zagging highway as it makes its descent.


Arrival in Red Lodge, Montana.  (Population:  2,125)


Checking in at The Pollard.


Nice store name!


Enjoyed this article in The Pollard’s “History Room.”


We saw the charred remains of an SUV that had caught fire earlier in the afternoon.


Candy store!


The place smelled like popcorn.  Bags of popcorn were available for sale for $0.25 each.


Old service station, still in use.


For kicks, I decided to compare Red Lodge weather with my hometown weather.  There was a 40-degree difference!



Beartooth Highway Part 1: Scottsdale, Arizona to Jackson, Wyoming

Posted in ILX, Road Trip on June 9, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,750


Odometer (ILX):  83,995


Leg Distance:  1,009 Miles


I’ve got a super-sized helping of road trip mania for you this week!  Here’s the lowdown:

  • Five days: Thursday through Monday
  • Six states: Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana
  • Two national parks: Grand Teton National Park & Yellowstone National Park
  • Total miles:  2,545
  • Total time in the ILX:  Estimated 45-50 hours
  • Other Acura sightings:  Legend, 0; ILX, 1

There are a lot of “bucket list” roads I’m systematically crossing off as I experience them.  Earlier this year, I learned of a road that was an absolute must-see:  Beartooth Highway.  I took one look at my Rand McNally 2014 road atlas and saw this squiggly line straddling the Montana / Wyoming border.  “What is that?!  I must experience it!” I thought.


The trip write-up will be published in 3 parts.

The first leg of my drive from Scottsdale, Arizona to Logan, Utah was a 12-hour trek that I’ve done dozens of times in the past. It was the drive from Logan onward that became a new adventure. When I arrived at my dad’s place around noon on Saturday, he was outside working in the yard. His duffel bag was packed and he was ready to rock and roll as my copilot for this latest crazy road trip. My dad have road-tripped many times together before, and it’s due in large part to his appreciation for our beautiful country that I have such an itch for exploration. In 2006, dad and I drove my Legend from Utah to Alaska & back – a memorable 7,000+ mile trip across some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve ever laid eyes on.


Before I was ready to leave Logan, we had to stop at the best pizza place in town: Fredrico’s. Located near the Utah State University campus, it’s been a landmark in Cache Valley for decades. After savoring some butter-drenched garlic bread, I took the wheel as we pointed the Acura’s nose northward. Within 25 minutes on Highway 91, we’d already passed the Idaho state line. After fueling at a gas station called La Tienda in Franklin, I decided to turn the reins over to my dad for a stretch. He got in the car, hit the brake, and held the start button.  Nothing happened.  “You have to push the clutch in,” I instructed him.  We had a good laugh.  He’s gotten so used to driving his auto-transmission Hyundai Sonata.


Scattered clouds looked over us as we wound our way through the Cache National Forest. We made a pit stop in Mound Valley at a home where my grandfather lived when he was growing up. I’d asked grandpa for the home’s address a number of weeks ago. “It doesn’t have one,” he said. “Just look for the first house on the left after you cross the Bear River the second time on Highway 34.” Sure enough, his directions were spot-on. I could tell right away why my relatives had at one time settled in that area. Looking around at the views and feeling the comfortable temperatures, it was tough to believe I’d left the cactus-lined, scorching hot desert just a day prior. Dad and I stopped the historic Henry Store, dating back to 1908 and operated by a single family for more than 70 years before closing down.


Soon, we closed in on our nightly destination.  Jackson is home to around 10,000 people and nestled at the base of the massive Grand Teton mountains. The cowboy culture runs strong, and Broadway Avenue is lined with more elk and moose statues than I could count.  Traditions run strong in my family.  Growing up, each time we visited Jackson, my dad would park our truck at the same location & snap a picture.  Here for your viewing enjoyment is a sampling of the photos we’ve taken in the last 22 years.

1992 (I’m standing at center with my legs crossed)


1997 (I’m standing at far right)


2000  (I’m standing 2nd from right)


2014 (There I am!)


Look at how much those pine trees have grown!  It’s crazy what a couple of decades will do.  We checked in at the Painted Buffalo hotel and got settled in before walking up to the town center. One of Jackson’s best-known features is the elk antler arch that stands at each corner of the park. Each arch was constructed in 1960 and for decades has welcomed tourists.


We dined at the Mangy Moose Saloon in Teton Village. From our table in the dining room, we could watch out the massive back windows in the log cabin structure and see the ski slopes in the distance.  Tired and needing maximum rest for the following day’s travels, we retired at the Painted Buffalo for the night.


Next up:  Beartooth Highway in all its glory.  Tune in next time for that.

Here are the rest of the pictures from that first leg of the journey.

Beaver, Utah


Quick meet-up with my friend Branson in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Branson has a Cayman White Pearl 1995 Legend LS coupe 6-speed with 156,000 miles on the odometer.  It’s immaculate!


My dad and I departing from Logan, northbound on Highway 91 toward the Idaho state line.


Pit stop near Grace, Idaho at my grandfather’s old farmhouse.


Roadside scenery along Idaho Highway 34.


Entering Wyoming!


Freedom, Wyoming.  This garage has been out of commission for awhile.


Post office doesn’t look very modern, either.


Even the gas pumps are a blast from the past.  They’re set at $0.42 / gallon.


Final stretch into Jackson as the highway travels along the Snake River.


Gunfight reenactment in central Jackson.


See you again soon!

Press Preview: 2015 Chrysler 200

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on June 6, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,747


Odometer (ILX):  82,441



Hold your horses y’all – I’ve got a 2,500 mile road trip on tap for this weekend for those of you who are itching for some travel mania.  In the meantime, on the heels of my 2014 Honda Accord review, I got a look a car that’s going head-to-head with it in the marketplace.  On Wednesday, I got an up-close look at what Chrysler call’s the “new face” of the brand.  I was invited to participate in a regional launch event at a boutique resort called Hermosa Inn, located in Paradise Valley, Arizona.  The star of the show was a redesigned-for-2014 sedan called the “200.”

The 200 name first debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a little brother to the flagship 300 sedan.  It’s a true world-class car, even selling in Europe under the name Lancia Flavia.  Now moving into its fifth model year, the 200 is newly refined and ready to duke it out in the crowded mid-sized sedan segment.

Chrysler has put a lot of effort into making the 200 stand out.  The transmission is a 9-speed automatic and the chassis is based on an Alfa Romeo.  There are two engine options and an available all-wheel-drive system.  Pricing starts at $21,700 but extends all the way to the high $30’s depending on powertrain and equipment selections.  That’s why Chrysler considers the 200 not just “a” car but a “family” of cars:  4 unique trim levels with different target markets and corresponding price points.  The Sport model with upgraded suspension, wheels, and the V6 motor gets my nod as a top pick.


Mitch, a representative from Chrysler’s engineering team in Michigan, gave us the lowdown on some of the tech specs and what makes this Chrysler so special.  Among some of the highlights are a “noise, vibration, & harshness” (NVH) score that’s the best in its segment, an extremely “slick” aerodynamic design (.27 coefficient of drag), and class-leading fuel economy with 36 highway according to the EPA rating.


I drove the 200 S (Sport) model in stunning Vivid Blue and put it through its paces for a 7-mile drive route around Paradise Valley.  The V6 has 295 ponies that propel the sedan to speed with nice a nice sense of urgency.  The instrument panel’s huge touch-screen is nice, but I liked that there are redundant “manual” controls below it for those of us who like buttons and dials for our climate control.  In addition to the analog gauges, there’s a big digital speedometer with complimentary blue lighting around the periphery which I thought was a nice touch.  Ride handling was nice – just enough to keep you in tune with the road, yet not completely isolated from it.  From a fit & finish perspective, I liked the thickness of the steering wheel and the amount of padding in the soft-touch door panels.  Comfort abounds.

This 200 is going to give that Accord a run for its money.  The fact that it’s available in AWD is a big +1 in my book.  Let’s watch this fight and see what happens.  Thanks to the folks at Chrysler for having me over!


Let’s take a look inside.


“Sport” model gets two tone seats with a nice pattern.


Hey, what’s this classic Volvo doing here?  Oh, that was spy photographer Brenda Priddy’s new hot rod.  There’s a sliver of ILX in the top part of the screen, too.


You probably can’t read the street sign in the below picture from where you’re sitting.


But I had to hit the brakes hard (and they worked great!) when I saw it.  Why?


The name of the road, in Spanish, translates to “road without a name”!  I’m easily entertained.


Rotary shifter, electronic parking brake are big “firsts” for the 200 in 2015.


This is the AWD model.  I’m liking those wheels and the dual chrome exhaust tips.


Interior designers have worked closely with engineers to maximize every available millimeter in the cabin.


“Excessive heat warning.”  Welcome to Phoenix!


The back end of the 200 S that I drove.


Scott Brown, Western Region Manager at Chrysler, who made it possible for me to attend.  Thanks Scott!


Fun history:

Some of my favorite memories from my younger years were in a Chrysler product.  At one point, my mom owned a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited.  Its 5.2-liter V8 had more torque than I ever knew what to do with.  Much like every other car the Hugies ever owned, we couldn’t leave well enough alone.  What started out as a standard-issue Limited with a gold push-bar and cheesy chrome mudguards…


… Got lifted and tricked out.  My brother was the mastermind behind this project:  chrome grille, different fog lights, and removal of everything that was gold to replace it with silver.  Nice looking results!


This weekend?  Catch me if you can.  Nevada + Utah + Idaho + Wyoming + Montana + the ILX.

It’s happening right now.  See ya.