Archive for November, 2018

Day Trip: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, National Parks, Road Trip on November 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  209,416

Trip Distance:  260 Miles

“Where should we meet up on Saturday?”

“Why?”

“Just so I can do a little mapping on times and distances.”

“So Why?”

That’s how a planning conversation about this trip could have gone.  Because, of all the places our group could have picked to rendezvous before venturing into the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, we picked the town of Why, Arizona.  And the term “town” is used very loosely, since it’s home to only about 100 people.  And, as we discovered, its only restaurant (Granny Mac’s Kitchen) is closed on Saturday – the one day of the week that we’d be visiting.  Guess we’ll have to sample Granny’s culinary creations on a future trip.

I’ve visited Why before – about 5 years ago, actually, and discussed a little about how its name came to be.  The intersection of State Routes 85 and 86 originally created a Y shape, but for safety reasons were later transformed to meet at a T.  It was here in Why, at the Why Not Travel Store where James Lee of Six Speed Blog and I awaited arrival of Jason from Driven for Drives.  In addition to snacks and drinks (though I was disappointed the nacho cheese machine was out of cheese), the Why Not store also sells Mexican automobile insurance policies for travelers who are on their way south of the border.  A liability-only policy runs $35 per day and “full coverage” rates vary.

We didn’t stick around long, because we had turf to cover a little south of Why.  Tucked into the far southern reaches of Arizona – literally, touching the international border with Mexico, is a special place that is remote in geography and picturesque in landscape.  Even now, when Arizona’s weather is at its prime and tourism should be at its peak, we had the park largely to ourselves.  Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was established 81 years ago in 1937 and sees just over 1/4 million visitors per year.  By comparison, another of Arizona’s parks, the Grand Canyon, sees about 7 million visitors per year.  I much prefer visiting the lesser-traveled park units.

Now with 3 cars in tandem – my ILX, James’ tester Corolla hatchback, and Jason’s Mazda 6, we visited the Kris Eggle Visitor Center.  It was named for a 29-year-old border patrol agent who was killed in the line of duty in 2002 by a Mexican drug smuggler.  The dangers of being so close to the border are very real, and even today, visitors are encouraged to travel in groups and only visit during the day.

A 15-minute overview film taught a little about the terrain and its history.  I noticed that a pair of hikers inquired with the park ranger about getting a token for completing one of the hikes, and later learned that any visitor who hikes 5 or more miles in the monument is eligible.  We also saw a 7 or 8-year-old take a “ranger oath” with his right arm extended.  Traditions like that make visits to the parks memorable.

The Ajo Mountain Trail was the main attraction for us, and despite the fact that it was rugged and unpaved for most of the 21-mile loop, we knew we had to check it out.  Per-car admission was $20 but to me it was worth it to be able to say I’ve “been there, done that.”  I led the way and kicked up a pretty good cloud of dust for my followers while we stayed in touch by walkie-talkies.  The trail extends eastward to the foothills and curves up to a panoramic lookout over the terrain.  The Sonoran Desert, we had learned earlier in the film at the visitor center, is notoriously one of the most “green” types of deserts, and even in summer displays a wide variety of plant life.  One of those plants, the Organ Pipe Cactus for which the monument was named, is native to the area and highly prevalent.

Since amenities immediately near the visitor center were few, we decided to back-track to the town of Ajo for a bite to eat at Agave Grill before splitting ways for the evening.  James gave his hamburger a little more pizzazz by adding avocado, bacon, and a fried egg.  Jason and I couldn’t help but play copy-cat and order the same thing.  The owner of the restaurant later came out to let us know how much the kitchen staff had enjoyed putting together our custom-ordered burger creations.

But the next time I visit, it’ll be on a non-Saturday so I can see if Granny Mac’s food compares.

Signage indicating proximity to Mexico.  Here’s where we headed south from Gila Bend on Highway 85.

Cab of an old pickup truck made into a fountain – with music playing from inside it!

Coyotes on the loose!

Your one-stop shop:

Jason received this text on his phone as we neared the border (though we didn’t cross it!)

Need a place to store your car?  Or your gun?  While in Mexico…

From the Why Not Travel Store:  “If you need a penny, take one.  If you need two, get a job!”

Interior of the OPCNM Visitor Center

Jason making some purchases

Headed out on the Ajo Mountain Road

Not a great place to have low clearance and low-pro tires!

Quick break near a summit on the trail.

Check the size of that saguaro cactus.

“Double arch”

Dinner spot at Agave Grill in Ajo, Arizona

The burger that wasn’t even on the menu.  We’ll call it, “James’ Juicy Creation.”

Hope you enjoyed coming along!

Mountain Bridges Classic Car Show 2018 – Mesa Arizona; Other Updates

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, NSX on November 8, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  564,623

Eenie, meenie, miney, mo, that’s exactly how I ended up picking which car to take to a ‘Cars & Coffee’ event last Saturday morning in North Scottsdale.  But apparently, I made the right choice, because I happened to pick the Vigor which led me to make a new friend who has the same model.  I coincidentally ended up near Gavin who drives a 1992 GS model in Rosewood Brown.  It’s an automatic with only 126,000 miles on it and he purchased it just a few months ago.  It was nice to have dual representation for such quirky cars, especially in a venue that attracts mostly high-end exotics.

It’s definitely car show season now.  While in some parts of the country, people are tucking their sportscars into hibernation and plugging them into the wall with battery tenders, here in Arizona it’s time to bring them outdoors and enjoy the primo weather.  This past Saturday, I attended the Mountain Bridges Classic Car Show in Mesa, Arizona, which I learned about through my friend Greg.  Now in its 9th year, the MBCCS is largely dominated by 1950s & 1960s American hot rods & muscle cars, but we decided to spice up the roster with a few cars from Japan.  Greg took his newly-acquired 1983 Honda City Turbo II, Hy took his 1993 Honda Accord SE, and I took my 1992 Acura NSX.

It was great to spend a couple of hours admiring some of the other sheetmetal including an exceptionally rare and clean 1988 BMW M3 “Evo 2” owned by a guy named Brian.  It was stunning for 30 years old.  I had some pork brisket from the food truck on-site and enjoyed engaging in commentary with some of the other attendees.

Here’s a short video from the show.

The other cars have had their own time in the limelight in recent weeks, too.  The Legend coupe made an 800-mile trip to southern Utah for a 7th birthday celebration for my nephew.  I met up with “Honda Pro” Jason Richmond while there, who was in the area in advance of the week-long SEMA automotive aftermarket show in Las Vegas the first week of November.  Here’s a photo from Pioneer Park in St. George – one of my favorite places to take car photos thanks to its scenic one-lane loop.

With the man himself, Honda Pro Jason.  He has amassed over 110,000 Instagram followers (and equally sky-high reach on other social venues) thanks to his work over the years as a Honda brand ambassador.  It was nice to connect with him & his family for a few minutes.

Speaking of my own Hondas, The 1990 Accord EX and 1993 Accord SE got historic tags, and I’ve already since sold the 1993.

I also burned a 16-song disc with the Billboard top hits, in descending order from 1990.  It will stay in the CD changer of the 1990 EX to enjoy each time I drive it.  These are some of the songs on it:

  • Hold On – Wilson Phillips
  • It Must Have Been Love – Roxette
  • Nothing Compares – Sinead O’Connor
  • Poison – Bell Biv DeVoe
  • Vogue – Madonna

These were a few photos from the craigslist for-sale ad for the 1993, which in typical Tyson fashion, went into great detail about the car’s ownership and maintenance history, despite the fact that I didn’t own it for very long.  I was able to get ahold of information about detailed maintenance services performed at the AutoNation Honda dealership in Tucson, including a timing belt just 4 years ago at 282,000.

I sold the car with 302,200 on the odometer.  It still ran and drove great, and passed emissions test requirements with flying colors.

Maintenance binder and dealer brochure – because, duh!  My asking price was $1,200 and I took $800.

Another shot from Cars & Coffee

More pics from the Mountain Bridges Car Show:

Interior of Greg’s City

With Hy and his 1993 Accord SE

Separated by 1 model year:

Following Greg’s City out.

Cruising the Legend coupe near the Strip in Las Vegas.  (Bellagio in the background)

Scenery in St. George.

A visit from my friend Kevin from GA.  Hi Kevin, if you read this!

Visit from my friend Matt from UT.  I know he’ll see this one!  Thanks for stopping by!

Group dinner with my friend Nick visiting from TX.  It’s been a busy few weeks!

Quick trip to Tucson in the Legend GS

Photo from 2003 with the Legend coupe at a Burger King in Utah.

Same location (okay, one spot over) 15 years later in 2018.  The main thing I noticed was that the pay phone at the corner of the building is now gone.  I love re-creations.

Have a great rest of the week!  Stay tuned for a drive this Saturday to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona.  I’ve been itching to get out of town and explore something new.