NALM 2015 in Houston, Part 1: Scottsdale AZ to Katy TX
Odometer (Legend coupe): 536,520
Trip Distance: 1,149 Miles
I MADE IT. My annual pilgrimage to Legend Mecca is underway and it feels like I’ve done this before. In fact, I’ve done it ten times – every year driving to a different city around the country to meet up with other car geeks. On Tuesday night, a few fellow enthusiasts with the same idea stopped by my house in the late evening. James, Gabe, and Mirel took a short break in my living room before heading out in the middle of the night. James had driven all the way from the San Francisco Bay Area, Gabe from Los Angeles area, and Mirel a local guy just getting ready to embark. We had 6 Legends at my place in Scottsdale for a couple of hours.
Gabe, Mirel, James, Tyson pictured below. Those three crazies next to me continued on to Houston around 11:30 p.m.
On Wednesday afternoon after work, my friend James and I hit the road in two matching 1994 Legends: My 1994 LS coupe, and my 1994 GS sedan.
Ahead of us was a 6-hour drive that evening to an overnight stay in Las Cruces, New Mexico with our friend Jason. When we rolled our convoy in the combination KFC / Taco Bell in Benson, Arizona, the cashier gave us a head nod and said, “Nice cars!”
Jason rolled out the red carpet – and comfortable sleeping accommodations – for the weary travelers. His place is located right off I-25 so it made for an easy getaway the following morning bright and early. James and I fueled up on Lucky Charms and then hit the road with another 11-hour stretch of road ahead of us. Those 11 hours soon became closer to 13, thanks to a few delays. No cross-country road trip is complete without them. First of, all we got gridlocked in El Paso traffic right at morning rush hour. After breaking free from that mess, I got on the walkie talkie and told James that I wanted to pit stop in Van Horn, Texas next. By then, both of us were ready for a bathroom break and a beverage. James snagged this photo of me with the cars.
The next several hours, I kept a close eye on James in my rearview while enjoying the west Texas countryside ahead and around me. Traffic broke up and pretty soon we had our cruise control speeds set at 85 miles per hour thanks to the 80 mph limit on those interstate freeways. Our next fuel stop was in “Ozona,” a quaint little town of 3,200 people and a few gas stations. At each fuel stop, I topped off both cars. The interesting part? The Legend sedan consistently got about 1/2 mile per gallon better mileage. I guess that might be in part due to the fact that it has only 148,000 miles on it as compared to the coupe’s 536,000. The window sticker quotes a highway rating of 26 but both cars were getting beyond that – the sedan sitting right around 27.
San Antonio traffic was a cluster. I thought I was being all clever to suggest that we avoid downtown at rush hour by going AROUND town on a 26-mile bypass loop called Highway 1604. But, my confidence was quickly squashed when we came to an immediate halt on the offramp. For the next 30 minutes, we dealt with aggressive drivers, narrow lanes, heavy traffic, and a woman in a Ford Expedition who was so dead-set on not letting James merge that she nearly caused an accident in the process. We were glad to get back on the open road toward Houston when we reconnected with I-10.
Finish line in sight, James and I had just about 50 miles to go to the NALM host hotel in Katy. As the sun dipped down in my rearview mirror, I was rocking out to some good music and I had a Red Bull in hand for a little extra caffeine kick. James said over the walkie talkie: “So, this is where we get to figure out how to balance a Red Bull between our legs?” The Legends equipped with a manual transmission have zero cup holders, so handling a beverage on the go inevitably becomes a bit of a challenge.
Once again, our enthusiasm was dampened when traffic came to a literal stop on the freeway. We sat in a parking lot on I-10 eastbound for about 15 minutes. I even turned the car off because people started getting out of their vehicles. Do you know how frustrating that is to be within 50 miles of your 1,300-mile road trip destination and be stuck in a traffic jam? Worst of all, I knew we were missing the pizza party at Brother’s Pizza where all other NALM attendees were dining out. When we finally DID start moving again, we were engulfed in a cloud of dust because the construction zone sent us through an unpaved portion of road. Goodbye clean cars!
I didn’t care, though, at that point. Because we were about to meet up with my long time friend Chris Miller of Baltimore. For the last 8 weeks or so, Chris has painstakingly been preparing his new acquisition, a 1994 Legend GS, for participation at this year’s NALM. Except – I was one of only a few people he told about it. His arrival at NALM was to be a complete secret for most of the attendees. James and I met up with Chris at a Walmart parking lot off the Katy freeway, then arrived at the Marriott host hotel in caravan. The reactions of those who hadn’t before seen Chris’ new car was priceless. His work and efforts had paid off. When Chris pulled into the parking lot and put his car among the 30 or so other Legends in the parking lot, he had everyone’s attention.
And so began the reunion with all my great Legend friends. These are people from all over the country who come together once a year in celebration of this crazy thing called Legend Love. Ben flew from Shanghai, then drove his car from San Francisco. Sergey drove from Seattle. Alan drove from Florida. Kevin brought his 300,000+ miler from Georgia. Nothing stops these people! They are here because they want to be, and I’m honored to call them friends. We have a fun next few days in store and I’ll bring you the latest as time allows.
Here are a few first pics from the adventure!
James following me out
Fuel stop in Benson, Arizona
And getting stuck in El Paso traffic
Group text with other NALM attendees. I guess they weren’t having any better luck in Houston than I was in El Paso.
I kept checking Chris’ location to see if he’d beat me to Houston, since we were trying to align our arrival times.
Split of I-20 and I-10. I took this same route earlier this year when I drove the ILX to Dallas.
Legends as seen outside Sonic in Ozona, Texas during our lunch.
Closing in on San Antonio on I-10 eastbound.
Fuel up at Love’s just east of San Antonio.
Legend Lineup at the Marriott in Katy, Texas. Just a fraction of them!
More to come! Stay tuned.