Archive for September, 2016

NALM 2016 Day 8: Finally Home in Phoenix, Wrap-Up Video

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on September 20, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  548,664


I made it home, sweet home!  While I’m unpacking the car, sorting through junk mail, and doing a load of laundry, I threw together some quick statistics on my 8-day trip from Phoenix to Atlanta and back.


I visited ten unique states.  My state crossings were in this order:

  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona

A few stats:

  • Total trip distance in 8 days:  4,007 miles
  • Total gallons of gas:  143.3
  • Total spent on gas:  $360.39 ($40 of which was on a gift card to Love’s)
  • Average miles per gallon:  27.9
    • Note that the window sticker for my car states EPA rating of 18 city / 26 hwy
  • Quarts of 5W30 oil added:  1
  • Quantity of power steering fluid added:  1 bottle

Detailed gas log below.  I always used the highest available Premium fuel – sometimes 93, and usually 91 octane.  The cheapest gas was in Jackson, Mississippi.


Here’s an 11-minute video capturing some of the highlights from this year’s event.

This morning’s early border crossing into my home state


Quick stop in Winslow, Arizona.  Have you ever heard the song “Take It Easy” by The Eagles?


I recommend listening to it here.  The song mentions “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.”


It was cool to drive past Twin Arrows, but I saw that the trading post is in pretty sad shape nowadays.


And finally, after fueling in Flagstaff, I made my way down Interstate 17 and home!


Almost forgot to show this awesome award for “Best Engine Bay.”  The printed material attached to the plaque is leather, almost exactly the same color as my interior.  Pretty awesome idea.


Thanks for coming along for the trip!


NALM 2016 Days 6 & 7: Sallisaw, Oklahoma & Gallup, New Mexico

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on September 19, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  548,341


Trip Distance (Overall):  3,684 since last Tuesday


Siri has really failed me.  After two years, she still doesn’t know my car preferences?  For shame!


NALM 2016 is a wrap, but this trip isn’t.  I’m still a ways from home, and that means you still get to hear from me until the fat lady has sung, or rather, until the old Legend has arrived back at my driveway in Phoenix, Arizona.

On Sunday morning, it was a relaxed vibe at our host hotel in Oakwood.  People were partaking of the continental breakfast, loading up their cars, and saying their farewells.  It didn’t take me long to collect my belongings and get packed for the drive.  Meanwhile, my friend Chris had driven over from Athens (Georgia, not Greece) to say hello since he was in the area visiting his sister.


As the rains started coming down, I completed one last NALM tradition in the hotel parking lot:  Putting my graffiti’d message to Kevin inside the trunk of his 1994 Legend LS coupe.  This marks the 5th year in a row we’ve upheld this tradition and it will continue until I’ve run out of space, I guess.


… Or until all his silver Sharpies run out of ink.


That day’s drive took me across 5 state lines:  Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.  Each state has its own landscape, flavor, and style.  I had the opportunity northeast of Birmingham, Alabama to test out a really fresh piece of interstate called I-22, formerly known just as “Corridor X.”




As of June of this year, the complete stretch of freeway is now in place for about 200 miles from Birmingham to the Tennessee state line just outside Memphis.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get that memo until I’d already taken Highway 78, a two-lane side road, for the 12 miles from I-20 to I-22.  Even the Apple Maps on my phone didn’t know that there was a better route because evidently it’s still too new.


Traffic came to a stop (light) after crossing into Tennessee, and I encountered several more stop lights in the final 6 or so miles on approach to Memphis.  Apparently the state of Tennessee still needs to complete its piece for the full freeway to reach the core of Memphis.  Speaking of Memphis, I can’t think of that word without saying “Memphis Raines.”  You remember him?  He was the character Nicholas Cage played in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds.”


From there I hooked up with Interstate 40 which is taking me ALLLLL the way across the center part of the country. After bridging me across the Mississippi River, it took me through Little Rock, Arkansas.  I fueled up in Conway a little bit north of there before continuing on to my motel for the night in eastern Oklahoma – a small town called Sallisaw.


Sunday was consumed entirely by Interstate 40, but dotted with a few special attractions along the way.  The I-40 pathway was once that of historic Route 66, so many of the towns along the way have embraced their heritage as stops along the “Mother Road.”  I didn’t make any stops in Oklahoma until I had almost exited the state.  One such Route 66 town is called Elk City, and it’s home to the National Route 66 Museum.  I didn’t take the time to wander through but I did capture a few photos outside with the gigantic sign.


It wasn’t long until I crossed the Texas state line, and JUST across the Texas border lies one of my favorite roadside attractions:  A restored 1936 Conoco gas station that today houses a visitor center.   I’ve stopped here multiple times on my cross-country journeys, including 3 years ago in August 2013 (pulled from my Instagram):


And again today!  The place hasn’t changed much.  For that matter, neither has the car!


That Art Deco architecture gets me every time.  It’s a scene straight out of the Pixar movie “Cars.”  By the time I arrived in Amarillo, I’d worked up an appetite so it was time to track down some food.  I already knew where I wanted to go, because it’s a tradition.  Soncy Road on the west side of town is home to one of the last-surviving Fazoli’s Italian restaurants in the southwest.  For some reason, all Fazoli’s locations in Arizona and in Utah have closed their doors, but this one still remains.  I had to make mom jealous by sending her some pics.  The breadsticks are unlimited!


Mom speaks the language of acronyms.  Her “TDF” there stands for “To Die For.”  I fueled up in Tucumcari, New Mexico and again on the western outskirts of Albuquerque before deciding exactly where I wanted to target my destination for the night.  That destination ended up being Gallup – a teeny town just east of the Arizona state line.

Like so many other towns in the region, Gallup exudes a Route 66 vibe and I intentionally got off Interstate 40 a solid 8 miles before my motel exit, just so I could drive along the old road and see some of the architecture.  Many of the places are run down, shuttered, and in stages of ruin, but a few hearty businesses have withstood the test of time and continue somehow to stay open.  Like the Desert Skies Motel:


And with that, I’m going to get some shuteye and prepare for my final stretch into home tomorrow.

Thanks for coming along, and enjoy a few more photos just for fun.

Downtown Atlanta in the rain


Driver’s Log.  Should I pick one of these up?


Trying out this brand new interstate.


Spell it with me now.  M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I.  It’s just so fun.


My drive took me straight into central Memphis



And then across the Mississippi River into Arkansas!


Evening arrival in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.


The front desk attendant handed me my room’s TV remote after checking in.  I guess they can’t trust guests enough to leave them in the rooms?


Westbound on I-40 on Sunday morning


The tree-lined interstate gave way to grassland.


I get the feeling a few people have wiped out on this 50-mph curve on I-40 in Oklahoma City.  Those signs are a bit obnoxious!  But they got the message across!


I had the chance to use up my $40 Love’s gas station gift card.  Thanks again, Kevin!


Arriving in Elk City, home of the….


… National Route 66 Museum!


On into Texas (again)!


And into New Mexico!


Painted sky as I closed in my nightly destination


Hotel El Rancho in historic downtown Gallup.  Intentionally staying true to its Route 66 look & feel


View from my room tonight


Check you later!

NALM 2016 in Atlanta Day 5: Dealer Day, Car Show, & Awards Ceremony

Posted in Legend, NALM on September 17, 2016 by tysonhugie


“We could have a nuclear war and there would be two things that would survive:  cockroaches and Tyson’s car.”  That was the quote of the day from NALM attendee Steve Dunn, better known to the Legend community as Stevieray.  Steve hails from Tennessee and is a long-time friend and family member.  Because that’s what this group of people has become to me.  It’s an annual family reunion when we get together.  Sure, there are always a few nutjobs in the mix and there’s always plenty of drama to go around, but we share a common bond that keeps us coming back year after year.


This morning, we were hosted by Carland Acura in Duluth, Georgia for a meet-and-greet / BBQ.  Thanks to the efforts of ground team planning member Kevin Amoth, Carland had allocated an entire parking lot for our group and they served up tasty chicken, burgers, and hot dogs for the group.  The Legends flowed and in and out from around 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 or so p.m. when I took off, but in all I think we had more than 30 in attendance – making this one of the largest national meets in the event’s 12-year history.  A few extra special attendees brought out their prized cars for the viewing – and some, for the driving.


For example, for the first time in my life, I got to drive a right-hand-drive “Japanese Domestic Market” (JDM) Honda Legend coupe.  It’s one of 11 right-hand-drive cars owned by Legend connoisseur Marlow who brought it.  It drew a crowd for obvious reasons.  The condition was remarkable as the car only had 47,000 kilometers on it.  Marlow let me take it for a spin, too.  Talk about a trip!  I had to get used to not only being on the wrong side of the car, but activating my turn signal with my right hand instead of my left, viewing my rearview mirror at my left instead of my right, and taking a whole new perspective on the traffic around me!


This is the driver’s side of the car!  Notice that it’s badged as a “Honda.”


Later in the afternoon, our group got together just up the street from our hotel in Oakwood for a car show and some judging at a parking lot on the campus of the University of North Georgia.  Bonus points were awarded to anyone who had special upgrades to their cars, exceptionally nice condition, etc.  I pulled my “two minute floor mats,” as Chris called them.  They’re called that because they never stay in my car for longer than two minutes before they’re put back in the trunk – I use them for only shows and special occasions since they’re brand new in the box.


The evening events were a cocktail hour, dinner across the street on Highway 53 at a restaurant called “Cookout” sponsored by the ground team, and a closing ceremony / awards distribution event along with prize raffle.


Kevin as usual took command as the Master of Ceremonies in our headquarters of the Best Western, room #218.  There were plaques distributed for a variety of achievements including Best Paint, Best Interior, and Best Engine Bay.  I took home the Engine Bay one!  Kevin also made special recognition of those who had traveled from near and far to be a part of the event.


It was my honor to get a photo with the entire NALM 2016 ground team – minus Alex, who had to leave earlier this afternoon to head to Chicago, at the conclusion of tonight’s activities.  These are truly world-class people and have delivered far and beyond the expectation.  That “Legendary Ln” sign we were holding?  It’s going home with me, along with two others that will soon adorn my new garage back home in Phoenix.

Tyson, Evan, Chris, Kevin, Alan


Until next time, over and out.  This year’s event is in the books!  Tomorrow morning begins my nearly 2,000-mile trip home.

Following Waseem and others to the initial meet-up at Carland Acura


Lining up in the parking lot


Chris showing off his $41,885 window sticker


Rich’s clean Granada Black Pearl Legend GS



Gabe wore his shirt from the Drive to Five Celebration in 2011.


A few more locals showed up who hadn’t yet participated in any part of NALM.


With Alan and Eric in front of the 1993 L sedan that I once owned.


Looking good there!


More of the parking lot


Acura brought out a $68k RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD to show everyone


Marlow’s Japanese-spec Legend.  Notice he’s driving on the right side.


More scenes from the parking lot



One of my fave colors:  (1991-only) Golden Glow Pearl.  You either or love it or you hate it!



Dinner at “Cookout” across from our hotel, sponsored by the ground team


Kevin gave out Love’s gas station booklets and gas cards to a select special attendees (those who had traveled the greatest distances).  It was even personalized with the # of Love’s gas stations I’ll pass on my way home.



Kevin handing me one of my street sign awards.


He’s definitely deserving of this award he received himself!


Oh, and here’s that drag-race video I promised!  A full-blown NALM summary video will take me some time to prepare, but I couldn’t resist sharing this snippet.  Enjoy watching me blow Chris’ doors off.  Haha.

(And thanks, Chris, for letting me win)

NALM 2016 in Atlanta Day 4: Dyno & Drag Events

Posted in Legend, NALM on September 16, 2016 by tysonhugie


No, we’re not talking about dinosaurs and drag shows.  We are talking about couple of traditional car-meet activities that took place today as part of our festivities here in Georgia.  Here we go, from Wikipedia:

A dynamometer or “dyno” for short, is a device for measuring force, torque, or power. For example, the power produced by an engine, motor or other rotating prime mover can be calculated by simultaneously measuring torque and rotational speed (RPM).

A few horsepower-loving Legend owners put their money where their mouths were this morning at Lamar Walden Automotive in Doraville, Georgia.  In the interest of parking ease and sparing a few of us from fighting metro Atlanta rush-hour traffic, most of us carpooled to the venue which was about 40 miles south from our host hotel in Oakwood.


A stock Legend – in 2nd generation anyway – was rated at around 200 horsepower when new, but how much horsepower do these cars have 20+ years later?  As today’s activities taught us, the number can vary widely.  A couple of our members’ cars put down numbers in the high 100’s, and one heavily-modified version achieved 327 horsepower.  I took video today that I’ll compile into a NALM summary when all is said and done!  Each run had plenty of spectators.


Chris Miller threw me the keys to his 1994 Legend GS 6-speed for the return drive to Oakwood and it understandably felt like home since our sedans are identical twins, separated by only a few VIN sequences.  Chris’ car has about 2,000 fewer miles on it, sitting around 148,000.

We stopped for lunch at Zaxby’s and I indulged in some of the best fried chicken fingers I’ve ever tasted.  In a little over two weeks’ time, I’m supposed to be competing in a 26-mile marathon in my hometown.  The fact that I’m eating so horribly on my vacation and slacking on the workouts means that run is going to be a very difficult one when the time comes.


I test-drove a very rare car back at the hotel:  Alan’s 1995 L 5-speed in Garnet Red Metallic.  Garnet Red was a color offered ONLY for the 1995 model year (the last year of production), and only on L models.  The fact that Alan’s car has a manual transmission makes it even more of a unicorn.  It drove incredibly smoothly for 297,000 miles.

And just look at it!



This evening we rolled out en masse toward Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia for the “Year One Fast Friday” at the 1/4 mile dragstrip.  My $20 participant entry fee was very well spent.  And the few hours of waiting to get my car’s nose to the start line were also well worth the 16.7 seconds it took me to get to the finish line.  Maybe I should have gone a little more slowly to really enjoy the scenery along the way?  Our crew had a great time and I counted over 15 Legends that raced.  This is higher than any previous NALM event to my knowledge.



Since we had such a presence at the venue, the announcer over the loudspeaker frequently addressed our group as “The Acuras” and Chris Miller even had the announcer state something about how I “must have really trusted my Legend” because I’d driven it all the way from Arizona and was about to race it with 546,000 miles on the odometer.  I felt a little embarrassed but whatever!  My car is burning a lot of oil – after having idled for a long time in the staging lines, when I took off I noticed blue smoke.  Time for some valve stem work, I guess.


I turned off the Traction Control System, rolled up my windows, and let her rip when the light went green – or nearly a full second later (sucky reaction time).  I blasted through first, redlined in second, and I don’t really remember what happened after that.  All I cared was that Chris was just short of a car length behind me on my left side and I had a gigantic grin on my face.

One of the other (non-Legend) folks at the strip made a comment, “Is tonight an Acura shootout event?”  Well, yeah!  As of this writing, I think our fastest ‘Legend’ was in fact Alex’s BMW 540i with a 15-second something time.  I’ll update this post when I learn the final standings for real.  Videos are pending, I promise!

The 32-mile drive back to our host hotel went quickly thanks to chat from my friend Eric in the passenger seat, and my friend Ryan had arrived from South Carolina so he was right on my tail.  Thanks for checking in!

Breakfast Club


Alex’s 1997 BMW 540i 6-speed is aptly named the “BM Trouble-You.”


Lineup pre-departure


Kevin’s car behind the special coned-off car wash area


Hanging out


En route to Doraville


Alex, Eric, and Waseem shooting the breeze


This is Steve, who came all the way from New South Wales, Australia for this meet!


Evan’s two-tone 1993 LS coupe.  He’s from Tennessee


Kevin’s “Polar Bear” 1994 LS 6-speed


He has the 2nd-highest-mileage car, behind yours truly.


But look at that immaculate interior!


Kevin talking Legends with Marc and Matthew


Hanging with Ann Marie and the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.


Heavily modified 1992 Legend driven by Lou from Pennsylvania




Steve D arrived and washed his 2007 RL A-Spec


Following Chris to the dragstrip


Lining up


The RL wearing a Legend badge.  Indeed, it was sold as the Honda Legend overseas.


Marc wins the ‘best plate’ award.


Ready to rock and roll.


Kevin at the wheel of my car.  Just before I popped the engine bay open for 5 seconds and then said “Show’s over,” as soon as I realized how dusty it was in there.  Kevin got a kick out of that.


Tyson, Kevin, Alex, Steve, Waseem


Marc signing in at the dragstrip


Getting our numbers painted on the windows in shoe polish.


Chris lining up next to me on the dragstrip.


Comparing timeslips post-race


Chris, Alan, and me




Chris’ car is looking fly with those newly-refinished 16″ wheels




Final timesheet standings.  I was right lane.  Chris ended up making a second run and he undercut me with a 16.50 or so.


Hanging with Eric in the stands.  And a goofy face!


Alan got so bored in the staging lanes, he pulled out his camp chair and straw hat to kick back!


Come back tomorrow for our “dealer day” at Carland Acura, a car show, group dinner, and awards ceremony.  Things are just getting good out here!

NALM 2016 Day 3: Oakwood, Georgia

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on September 15, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  546,604


Trip Distance (Day):  670


Trip Distance (Overall):  1,947

Let the games begin!  It “feels” like 7:00 p.m. to me, but locally it’s already 10:00 and time to wind it down for the night.  One challenge with driving west-to-east, cross-country, is that dealing with all those time-zone losses.  I’ve arrived at my destination in Oakwood, northeast of Atlanta.


For a few frustrating minutes – or probably closer to 45 – I fought heavy traffic northbound on Interstate 85 from metro ATL and that caused me to be late for this evening’s pizza party here at the Best Western Plus Hotel.  No matter, I still enjoyed a few slices and it was great to be reunited with old friends and make a few new ones.  This is now the 12th time I’ve attended the National Acura Legend Meet.  And it’s my car’s 11th.  The only one it missed was 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when I drove the then-brand-new ILX.

This morning started out bright and early in western Louisiana.  The humidity was high as I departed Motel 6 off Interstate 10 and started my eastward journey into the sunrise for the day.  The nice thing about today’s drive was that the states went by much more quickly.  In a matter of hours I’d crossed multiple borders off my list.





Lunch (though my internal time clock told me it was breakfast) was at Starbucks in Jackson, Mississippi and I later had a bite at Burger King in Birmingham, Alabama.  The miles flew by and I encountered miraculously few slow-downs on the interstate.


Tonight, I was greeted by the “Ground Team” planning committee members who are putting the event on.  Alan Jackson pulled out his informational poster boards and filled the room of 25 or so people in on the game plan for our upcoming couple of days.  Tomorrow begins bright and early with an 8:00 departure for our “dyno” event where a few members will have their cars tested to evaluate horsepower and torque performance ratings.  A few of us made our way to the parking lot and carried on some Legend chat.


Eric threw me the keys to his 1993 L sedan which coincidentally used to be mine!  It’s amazing to see the car here, but now in restored form.  Pics of that tomorrow.  I also took my friend Marc’s 1994 GS sedan for a quick spin.  Both Eric and Marc are based in New Jersey but this year’s event has brought folks from all across the country – including one guy named Leon who drove from Los Angeles and thus has me beat for the long-haul award!

Much more to come!

Departing Shreveport


Quick stop in Monroe, Louisiana


Crossing the mighty Mississippi River


93 octane is tasty stuff.  $2.18 is what I paid.


Chubby cheeks.  This is a town in Mississippi.


Saw this on multiple vehicles in Alabama.  Must be what they use on recently-sold cars for registration!


Closing in on my destination!


Northbound I-85 in ATL


NALM attendee map.  The one in Arizona is me!  A couple of the Californians didn’t make it, one flew in, and one drove.


Rich’s car, twin to mine but a year newer and an automatic.


Check back tomorrow when the real fun gets started out here!  Thanks for following along!

NALM 2016 Days 1 and 2: Las Cruces, New Mexico & Shreveport, Louisiana

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on September 14, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  545,934


Trip Distance (Leg):  1,277

Trip Distance (Overall):  1,277


Welcome aboard!

It’s that blessed time of year once again when a few dozen crazed Legend fans rendezvous for a multi-day event.  This year, the event’s 12th, will be hosted in Oakwood, Georgia – just a bit north of Atlanta.  My one-way drive will end up being about 1,900 miles, making this quite a bit further than I had to go last year when the event was in Houston.  Here’s to hoping things move toward the west coast for 2017.  Maybe I should host NALM in Phoenix?


The last couple of days I’ve been pounding the pavement of I-10 and I-20 through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.  Let me rephrase that last one.  Teeeeeexxxxxxaaaaaaaasssssss.  The state is just gigantic.  Today I drove from sun-up to sundown and never left the state.  In fact, I drove another 2 hours eastbound in the dark until I finally reached the Louisiana state line after having spent some 800 miles working my way from one end of the Lone Star State to the other.  I’m exhausted.  And maybe my tried & true Legend steed is as well.


Jason of Driven for Drives was kind enough to roll out some red carpet for me during my stay in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The drive to his place from central Phoenix ended up taking me about 6 hours.  I was able to pry my way out of the office (not an easy task when you’ve only had the job a week!) about a half hour early and hit the highway.  After a night’s rest, I continued on through El Paso (fought about 1/2 hour worth of rush-hour there) and then it was the open road ahead.  “Wide Open Spaces,” as the Dixie Chicks would call it.


I reach a point in my long-distance drives where I fall into a meditative state and time flies by.  I’m skipping through a few dozen songs on the iPod, perusing my road atlas, and the next thing I know I’ve gone 100 miles.  Luckily most of the speed limits out in rural Texas are 80 miles per hour, but that doesn’t help in cases (like today’s) where I frequently hit construction zones and sudden rain downpours and had to clamp down on the brakes.


This was my dialogue with the service station attendant at Cowpoke’s Convenience Store in Cisco, Texas:

  • Guy:  What kind of car is that?
  • Me:  It’s just an old Acura, a Legend.
  • Guy:  Oh, I saw when you pulled up, the front end looked like an old Skyline.
  • Me:  Haha, nah.  Nothing fancy.  Just cruising across the country to Atlanta.
  • Guy:  Atlanta?  But you’ve only made it to Cisco, Texas.
  • Me (walking out the door with my newly purchased beef jerky):  Well, at least I’m halfway!

And with that, I was off.  Cisco was a pretty neat little down, actually.  It’s known for being a historical spot in the story of Hilton hotels.  Hilton’s founder, Conrad Hilton, bought a building there in 1919 and it became his first hotel.  Back in those days, they would rent out the rooms in 8-hour time intervals!  Today, that original building houses the Cisco Chamber of Commerce.  I stopped by for a few photos in the rain and checked it out.



In Dallas – the Metroplex – I met up with my friend Scott for a short visit.  He clued me in a pretty cool truck stop just a ways up the road on I-20 called Buc-Ees.  Sure enough, it was worth checking out.  Have you ever been to a gas station that had 38 pumps?  Thirty-eight.  I think that’s what heaven must look like.  No waiting, anywhere.  Just pumps for days.  I didn’t take the time to check out Buc-Ees in much detail, but I liked what I saw.


So that brings us to Louisiana, and just a few states to go until my arrival tomorrow night at the meeting point.  Here’s to a good night’s rest, and thanks for coming along on the journey!

Took this before leaving. These are some leaks from the Legend.  I checked oil 4 times so far on the trip and haven’t had to add any.  I know there is some power steering fluid leakage and I did add some of that.


Departing the “Land of Enchantment”


And arriving Texas there you have to “drive friendly.”



This is the worst breakfast.  But it was also the best.  Cinnabon + choc milk.


Lots of 5-4 going on here.


Seeing signs for Shreveport


Meeting up w/ Scott


A visit to Buc-Ees off I-20



And finally, arriving Shreveport!


First Week of Work; Another Honda Purchase

Posted in House, Legend, Road Trip on September 11, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  544,647


Odometer (ILX):  181,139


Owning a 544,000 mile car is not without its share of drama!  I just got the Legend back on Friday from receiving a replacement starter under warranty from Hon-Man in Tempe, Arizona.  The old one was an aftermarket unit installed in December 2015 that had intermittent issues.  A couple of weeks ago, I had to push-start the car (alone!) in a Great Clips parking lot in Fountain Hills after getting a haircut.  That was embarrassing.  Luckily, Hon-Man took great care of me.  I also had the car’s oil changed yesterday.

We are good to go!  On Tuesday evening, we (as in me + you, my readers) will depart on a 3,800 mile round-trip drive to Georgia and back.


The car received a backyard bath yesterday evening, though I know it’ll get plenty dirty on its cross-country journey across 6 states in the coming days.  I’ll depart Tuesday after work and do my best to post nightly updates like the ones I gave when Jason and I took our Alaska trip earlier this year.


I still have the training wheels on, but I made it through my first week (well, first 4 days) of work at my new job with Banner Health.  Luckily for me, I have a sidekick (Amanda) who started the same day as I did so I don’t have to feel like the only new kid on the block.  Tuesday was filled with a half-day or orientation followed by an introduction to our teammembers.  The Banner “Corporate Center” at Phoenix Plaza is comprised by two 21-story identical towers at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Thomas Avenue.  My team sits on the 4th floor of the south tower.


As with any large organization, we had our share of hoops to go through this week to get up to speed.  Still, I have no work-issued laptop computer and I’m using a “loaner.”  And it took us until day 3 to get ahold of our parking passes and elevator badges.  In all, I’m toting around 6 different badges on my lanyard.  I’d better not lose it!

Access granted:


The team has been most welcoming and I’m starting to wrap my head around the new language and tasks.  My role operates in the Medicare & Medicaid realm which means I need to get acquainted with all the laws, regulations, and rules that govern those programs.  It’s been a crash course in learning acronyms!  EHR, CPOE, MIPS, MACRA, CQM, CAH… these all mean something and sooner than later, I’m going to need to be familiar with the dialect!


One interesting thing about commuting to my new office:  If I want to, I can use the “Suicide Lanes.”  These are on 7th Avenue and 7th Street in central Phoenix, which run north-south.  It’s basically a turning lane that becomes a through-travel lane during certain hours of the day to ease traffic congestion at rush hour.  It changes direction based on time of day:  From 6-9 a.m. on weekdays, the the suicide lanes run southbound.  From 4-6 p.m., they run northbound.  And at any other time of the day – and all throughout the weekend – they’re used as turning lanes.


The VW Jetta in this picture was using a suicide lane during my morning commute the other day.  Notice how the double-yellow lines are “broken” (not solid).  The suicide name – as you can imagine – comes from the fact that it’s possible to meet a clueless motorist head-on who doesn’t understand how the lanes’ directions are managed.


The last bit of this week’s fun comes from another Honda purchase (as if I needed another!).  This one is rear-wheel-drive, with a twin-blade design.  It’s a self-propelled, variable-speed, 21-inch Honda lawnmower that I snagged from The Home Depot yesterday afternoon.  I didn’t get a key-handoff photo (if there had been a key, I would have ) but it was love at first sight when I saw the box being brought out.  The slogan on the box read “Very Smart.”  Go Honda.


Assembly was a piece of cake – extend the handle, add oil, adjust cutting height, and fire it up.  The owner’s manual said that the mower had been started from the factory so I assumed there might be a little gas in the tank.  There wasn’t.  Luckily I had some fuel in the garage so I filled it up and let her rip.  Cutting time was about an hour to cover both the front and back yards.  I even got fancy and striped the front lawn diagonally.


Kyle and Dan stopped by to give their approval of my latest purchase.


Video of the first start-up.

Hope everyone else had a great week!  Here are the rest of my pics.

I was greeted with a welcoming gift and this sign in my cube:  The cow comes from “MU,” or “Meaningful Use,” which is the department in which I’m working.


Doing some heavy-duty training on Day 2 at work.


The new lawnmower had my name on it.  Literally.


“Legendary” performance.  This thing is perfect for me!


Finished product.  I love the backyard.  My swing is still broken, as shown here.


Lastly:  My friends Scott and Sandy were featured this week on Petrolicious!  Check out the video segment on their story, including awesome visuals of their 1959 Mercury Park Lane and their 1992 Acura NSX.


Getting Settled at the New House; Career Changes Underway

Posted in House on September 5, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  544,575


Odometer (ILX):  181,009


I’m a week into ownership of my new home and it’s feeling like a great place to be!  Along with getting my bearings in the neighborhood and getting a few things unpacked, I’ve added 18 entries to my guest book.  There’s just one thing that’s become a bit of a nuisance:  I’m in such a centrally located area of town that my friends are always passing by, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to say hello each time they do.  Take Jack, for instance.  Each morning he drives down my street and gives me a hefty series of honks.  The neighborhood may never be the same!

I actually love the visitors and I feel more connected to my friend network than ever.  Travels have taken a backseat for now, but I’ll get my fill of the open road next week when I head out on a 3,600 mile round-trip drive to Atlanta for NALM.  It’s been nice to have a chance to stick in town.  Best of all, I had some special visitors here to help me break in the new pad.  Like Grandma, who came down with my mom for the Labor Day holiday weekend.


There are also some changes in the works for me career-wise.  After nearly 8 years with CVS Health, I had my last day with the company on Thursday.  My departure was quiet and uneventful – just the way I’d wanted it – but I will definitely miss many of the great folks who I’d worked with there.

Out with the old:


In with the new:


The next chapter in my career path will take me to the corporate office of Banner Health, a health system based in the Phoenix area that operates 23 hospitals.  I’ll be one of about 40,000 colleagues working for the company (making it the largest employer in the state, with Walmart a close second).  My role is in the “Meaningful Use” department at the corporate office.  It’s a 3.5-mile one-way commute.  Breeze!  You know I’m obsessed with timelines and tracking.  Here’s how this one played out:

  • July 18:  Online application completed
  • July 21:  Contacted by recruiter via email
  • July 25:  Phone interview with recruiter
  • July 29:  Received follow-up email from recruiter
  • August 2:  Phone interview with hiring manager
  • August 10:  On-site, 1-hour, 4-person panel interview
  • August 11:  Offer extended
  • August 15:  Offer accepted
  • September 1:  Last day with CVS
  • September 6:  Start date with Banner

I’ll let the photos tell the story about my last week or so.

Here’s a photo of my home while being irrigated.  It’s a little unnerving to see the water level like this but it’s all by design and the yard is specifically “dished” to hold the water in.  Flooding takes place once every two weeks.


View looking south to the backyard from the rear-facing garage door.


My new license plate came for the Integra this week!


CVS main office.


And my new office.  I’ll be on the 9th floor here, I think.


Just for kicks, I pulled 4 of the cars into the backyard for a photo.


The new neighbors will soon learn I’m nuts, just like my old ones did!


Arrival of grandma and mom from St. George, Utah on Friday afternoon.


Dinner group out on the town that evening with a few friends.


Car wash party at Kyle’s on Saturday morning, with Kyle’s pup “Cowboy” supervising.


I gave mom’s 2004 G35 a bath.  It only has 27,000 miles on it.


Lance and grandma playing Boggle before our BBQ.


Dinner group.


Following is a short video about a very special Honda fan.  Helen Musselman has now been featured in the Honda “Kokoro” series of videos for her role as the founder and operator of a Tucson-based motorcycle dealership that has been around since Honda’s earliest days.  Thanks to my friend Charles Schnieber for sharing it with me.

Have a great week!