Archive for August, 2019

Beyond the Border in Banff: Canadian Rockies Hikes & “RAD Garage” Visit

Posted in Hikes, Misc Travel, Vigor on August 13, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  566,458

Trip Distance:  3,000 Miles Flown via WestJet

I fell in love with Alberta, Canada this past weekend.  The scenery, the food, and more than anything else, the overwhelming hospitality of the people there really swept me off my feet.  I was able to spend 4 days and 3 nights exploring the area – an idea hatched back in April that would give me the chance to reconnect with a long-time friend who lived in the area as well as see some of Canada’s most breathtaking features of the Rocky Mountains.

From the moment I landed in Calgary after my flight from Phoenix on Thursday afternoon, I was whisked away by Jeff and Lucas to Banff National Park about 90 minutes to the west.  While I snacked on snacks in the backseat of Jeff’s Mazda 3, I got a chance to learn a little about the area and enjoy the scenery along the way.  After entering the park, we made our way to a trailhead at Hector Lake.

The 40-minute hike required us to cross the a river multiple times, but I didn’t mind getting my sneakers wet because I felt like I was living in a postcard-perfect landscape.  We also made a stop at Peyto Lake, with its characteristic turquoise blue water and an upstream glacier.

My wake-up call in Calgary at Jeff’s place on Friday came as the clock struck 4:30 a.m., which was 3:30 a.m. my time.  I was a bit of a zombie as we made our way back to Banff, but when we parked at Lake Louise, my eyes lit up with the scenery:  The 127-year old “Chateau” hotel overlooks what has to be one of the most gorgeous natural wonders in the world.  We were surrounded by 360-degrees of pure perfection.

Luckily, my shoes had dried out overnight because they were about to get some pretty hardcore miles put on them.  We took the trailhead alongside the lake that started an immediate ascent – initially a moderate grade with pavement, then gravel, then becoming eventually a narrower pathway that zig-zagged its way up the mountainside.

Our destination was the Devil’s Thumb – a scenic lookout point about 3,000 vertical feet above the lake itself.  One waypoint along the path was the Lake Agnes “tea house” – a log cabin structure where they serve food and drink provisions.  From the tea house, the level of technicality grew and at some points of the hike, I scrambled on all fours to get traction and work my way up the mountainside.  The panoramic view from the top of Devil’s Thumb was 100% worth it!

We hadn’t yet burned all our energy or daylight by the time we returned back to ground level, but we recharged our batteries a bit by enjoying the view from lounge chairs before hitting up another short hike, to Silverton Falls.  Jeff introduced me to the town of Banff itself – crawling with tourists like me.  Of all the dining options, Mexican food sounded best to me so we stopped in at a saloon-themed place called Magpie and split a delicious pulled pork enchilada with some chips, salsa, and guacamole on the side.

The rest of the weekend was spent right in Calgary, where the sun didn’t peek out from behind the clouds on either Saturday or Sunday, but that was perfectly fine with me – I enjoyed the temperatures and the light drizzle.  In perfect fate, there was a “Taste of Calgary” culinary event taking place in the Eau Claire part of town so we took advantage of the chance to indulge.  The buffalo chicken poutine was to die for.

Capping off an already-incredible weekend was the chance to shake hands with someone who I’ve idolized from the automotive community for a few years now:  Rick from RAD Garage.  Rick’s detailing “theatre” made from his 2-car garage in suburban Calgary is a place of dreams for anyone who takes pride in maintaining the condition of his or her vehicle.  What started 9 years ago with the installation of a tool chest and the hanging of a few photos has transformed the space into a comprehensive mecca of detailing paradise.  Every product, every brush, every solution for every type of detailing challenge resides there.

An Adams product for every need – and then some.  My favorites were the Cars & Coffee, and the Pumpkin Spice spray.

My friend Zach was kind enough to shuttle me to Rick’s place in his 272,000-kilometer 1994 Acura Vigor GS – I felt right at home from the passenger seat.

Canadian-spec cars got heated seats, heated mirrors, and a trunk ski pass-through as standard equipment!

Rick and I had the chance to share a bit of Q&A for our respective channels and I enjoyed picking his brain a little about how his garage had evolved over the years.  Here is the video that he put together:

And here’s my version:

I enjoyed a phenomenal couple of days with the people and places of Canada.  It was enough to make me not want to come home – or at least to start thinking about making another epic road trip to our northern neighbors from behind the wheel.  Maybe I’ll be able to set something up soon.

Arriving Hector Lake

Peyto Lake

View looking upward to the canyon above Peyto Lake

Agnes Lake

Jeff showing the way as we ascended toward Devil’s Thumb

A friend pulled up my location on “Find My Friends,” and sent me a screen shot.

Making the descent

Lake Louise in the background

Fairmont Banff Springs hotel in Banff

Walking tour of Calgary with Jeff

Know what that is?  The elusive Acura 1.7 EL!  We didn’t get those in the States.

Riding to Rick’s in Zach’s Vigor

I loved the foam drawer liners in the toolboxes at Rick’s – custom fit for each tool present.

Overview of Rick’s garage

Zach’s Vigor

“French Toast Pie” (and a bag of bacon) for breakfast at Chix in the East Village of Calgary

Calgary Public Library internal architecture.  Amazing innovation!

Quick Car Updates: Cheesecake Day, TL-S Visitor, RL Shots, & Red Velvet

Posted in Del Sol, House, Integra, Legend, SLX on August 7, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  73,323

I guess pretty much every day is a “food holiday” of some sort.  I found this list online which claims to be the “complete list” of holidays, including 13 holidays for the month of August alone.  This coming Saturday, August 10 is National S’mores Day, so get your marshmallows and Hershey chocolate bars ready for the occasion.  That’s definitely one worth celebrating.

I bring this up because July 30th was Cheesecake Day, and my favorite kind of cheesecake is key lime from the Cheesecake Factory.  My 1993 del Sol has a license plate that reads “KEYLIME,” so you can guess where this story is going.  I pulled the ‘Sol out of its slumber and headed over to the Biltmore Mall for some salmon for dinner and a slice of key lime cheesecake for dessert.

Notice, I even whipped out the green HONDA factory associate hat for the occasion. That hat was given to me as a souvenir during my April 2012 visit to the Greensburg, Indiana Honda manufacturing facility for the “line-off” event of the 2013 Acura ILX.  The hat is actually designed to have a hardhat inside it.  Clever wardrobe.

It’s been a busy few weeks at the house, with Ira’s recent visit and then a drop-in from my friend Naveed who has a 2008 Acura TL Type-S.  He was passing through town from Los Angeles to Dallas and spent the night.

Naveed’s car is a super-sweet example with automatic transmission and < 50,000 miles on the odometer – a one-owner car out of Carlsbad, California with immaculate service history and cosmetic condition.

It makes my day that other people geek out about old cars as much as I do.

Interior looked brand new for being 11 years old.

The RL got a few glamour shots that I’ll soon be sharing on Instagram.  The car is my preferred people-hauler, above everything else in the fleet.  It’s just such a smooth ride.  The only issue I need to sort out right now is an intermittent stalling that has happened twice.

I looked into it and it appears there may be a ‘known’ problematic area with the APP Sensor, which stands for Accelerator Pedal Position.  The part runs a couple hundred bucks but it basically tells the engine where the throttle is.  In both cases where the car has died, it was when I was off the throttle, either decelerating or coasting around a corner.  I’ll get it all sorted in due time.

The SLX is coming out soon with its 5th video episode in a YouTube series I’ve been putting together.  Of all my recent uploads, those been getting some of the most traffic / views.  It’s also been fun how many people I’ve “met” through it.  This week, I got an email from a nice gal named Roxana in North Carolina who uses her SLX to tow people out at the beach.  If you don’t believe me, check out her videos.

I’ve pretty much put a pause on spending any more effort or money on the SLX for the short term.  I’m running a Prolong engine oil treatment right now, as well as some fuel system treatment.  But it’s been rock solid.  The best news of the week:  I discovered that the cassette tape player works, so I can rock out to all my favorite 1990s jams in style.

With this summer heat in Phoenix reaching 115 degrees consistently, I was curious how hot my 2 garages (which aren’t climate controlled) get.  The smaller garage on the west side of my property is a single car space with no insulation.  It reached 121 degrees this week.

The other, larger, garage which is on the east side and has insulation, hit 101 degrees – a full 20 degrees cooler.  Still warm though.

The Legend sedan was picked up today for transport to Monterey, California.  It’s headed to the 2nd annual Japanese Automotive Invitational at Pebble Beach.  Here’s my article from when the Integra GS-R went there last year.

And speaking of the Integra – you might get a kick out of this.  I found out that Amazon sells red velvet ropes and stanchion posts for crowd control.  What better way to create the occasional VIP-exclusive area inside my garage (or inside the house, at a party).  This is 100% a joke, but I thought it would make for a fun conversation piece from time to time.

My neighbor Gabe is trying to sell a 1982 Corvette (auto).  He and his wife came over to chat the other day while we were irrigating our lawns.  This one belonged to Gabe’s brother.  It’s been parked / covered since 2008, when the tags last expired.  Does anybody want it?  Hit me up.  I have more pics, the VIN, and can snag a video or any other details.  Odo reads 26,000 miles, which is probably 126,000.

The only other update I can share is the the ILX needed its first alternator replacement.  I had just arrived at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and got a “CHECK CHARGING SYSTEM” message, literally as the car rolled 216,000 miles.  I made it to my Hon-Man mechanic who got me into a new Denso starter for about $490 parts & labor a couple of days later.

Have a great rest of the week!  I’m off to explore some new turf soon, but I’ll save the details for next time.

Mazda Milestone in Northern New Mexico: Jason’s 200,000th!

Posted in Arizona, Milestones, New Mexico on August 4, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Mazda 6): 200,000

Odometer (ILX):  216,857

Trip Distance:  810 Miles

This is the world’s oldest Dairy Queen, located in Holbrook, Arizona.

We don’t actually know that.  In fact, it’s probably a flat-out lie.

But, my friend and fellow road-tripper Kevin and I have always called it that.  Which explains why, when I sent him that picture (without any caption needed) on Friday afternoon, his text reply said, “Ha!” and then my phone rang a few seconds later.  Our conversation went something like this.

  • Kevin:  “Where are you going now?”
  • Tyson:  “Farmington, New Mexico.”
  • Kevin:  “WHY?”
  • Tyson:  “Just exploring some new turf, I’ve never been anywhere in NM north of Gallup.”
  • Kevin:  “But WHY?”
  • Tyson:  “I’m meeting up with my friend Jason from Las Cruces.”
  • Kevin:  “But Farmington?  WHY!?”
  • Tyson:  “Jason’s Mazda is going to roll 200,000 miles there.  We’re going because it was purchased there new.”
  • Kevin:  “Okay, now there’s a modicum of rationale.  But Farmington is the land that time forgot.”

And indeed, it was.  Farmington is a in a bit of a bubble.  After all, they have an honest-to-goodness, living, breathing K-Mart.  When was the last time you saw a K-Mart?

Luckily, we weren’t there for the night life or the attractions.  We had more important things to attend to.  More specifically, we were there to celebrate my friend Jason’s 200,000th milestone in his Pebble Ash Metallic 2004 Mazda 6.  And to add icing to the cake, the date he’d preselected for the milestone was specifically the 15-year anniversary of its original purchase date in 2004.

My trip to Farmington took me through the forested woodland of northeastern Arizona – a welcome reprieve from the Phoenix summer heat.  I opted not to eat at the DQ in Holbrook, but I did grab a quick beverage at “Gas Max” just north of Gallup after diverging from Interstate 40 to head north through the Navajo reservation.  By the time I rolled into Farmington, it was around 10:00 p.m. local.

Saturday was packed.  After a breakfast burrito including green chile (a NM tradition) at Comfort Suites, we scoped out Hi-Country Kia Mitsubishi (formerly known as Performance Mazda) and burned off about 14 miles so Jason could roll 200,000 at exactly the predetermined location.  We even staged a photo with the car in the same parking spot where it sat when it was originally sold in 2004.  The staff at the dealership were excited to have us on site and celebrating.

Interview time!

Our trip wasn’t complete without a bit of road-tripping adventure, so Jason introduced us to the “Bisti / De-Na-Zin” Wilderness as we made our respective journeys southbound.  The Wilderness is about 45,000 acres of badlands that are remote in nature, free to access, and unforgiving in lack of services or amenities.  We made sure to take bottled waters before trekking into the ash & sandstone formations too far.  We came across the wreckage of a 1950s car.  Maybe one of my readers will be able to identify it.

(More detail in the video below)

I enjoyed the trip home since it took me through Payson, Arizona, which had freshly been rained upon.  Temperatures crept from 68 degrees to 112 degrees as I crawled my way back to home.

Congrats, Jason!

No flood risk on the day we went!

Couple more shots fro the Bisti Wilderness.

Ira’s Visit from Portland, Return of the Type-S, Upcoming CA ‘Car Corral’ in September

Posted in Arizona, NSX, Road Trip on August 1, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  115,946

My buddy Ira drove his 2017 Acura NSX over 3,000 miles to have it serviced at a specialty / performance shop – just for the sake of the road trip.  And this is why he and I are friends.

Ira is the proud owner of a Nouvelle Blue Pearl “NC1” (second-generation) NSX that traveled across 5 states over a 6-day period.  His home base is Portland, Oregon but he made it to Phoenix in only two days.  It was fun to host him in the area, and we made the most of his time in Arizona, despite the weather being toasty.

After a welcome dinner at one of the Valley’s fave Italian spots on Thursday, Oregano’s, it was a much needed chance to relax and get some rest.  On Friday, he had the NSX serviced – its first oil change – at Science of Speed.  They are the region’s most reputable experts on parts & performance.  On Saturday, I hosted more than a dozen NSX vehicles and their respective owners for breakfast snacks.

We rolled out at 11:00 in the morning for a 70-mile trip to Gila Bend, Arizona.  Our destination was the “Space Age” Restaurant, a landmark dining establishment that is entirely extraterrestrial-themed.  I went with the Jupiter Burger.  It seemed only fitting that in light of all the recent social media buzz about “storming Area 51,” we customize our group activity for a storming of our own.

The whole experience reminded me a little of my 2005 visit to the Extraterrestrial Highway in southern Nevada.

The Botanical Gardens have twilight “flashlight tours,” so we hit that up later on.  Even after sundown, the temperature lingered in the 108-degree range but we had water bottles and enough ambition to keep our minds off that.

Huge thanks to Ira for taking the time to come see us!  Here is his video on his trip.

And here is my video.

In other news:  Did you hear?  On Thursday, August 15, in Monterey California, Acura showcase its “Type-S” concept car.  This is a very short teaser video that was recently released.  I’ll be in attendance at the unveil so you’ll read more about the car itself here soon!

Finally – if anyone in (or near) California would like to participate, there is a Car Corral at the IMSA Grand Prix race.  Details are found in this flyer, including RSVP instructions.  It’s free to attend!