Archive for February 15, 2021

Valentine’s Day 2021 Road Trip to Valentine, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, NSX, Road Trip on February 15, 2021 by tysonhugie

It seemed appropriate that several stars aligned during the 7-day period that Acura granted me the keys to a 2021 NSX. It was Valentine’s Day weekend, the car was painted Valencia Red, and I’d been itching to get out of town for a road trip for some time. I remembered that Arizona is home to a community called Valentine, and the rest is history: I took a 500-mile day trip to check it out.

During the heyday of Route 66, this roadway carried thousands of travelers between its Santa Monica and Chicago endpoints. But in 1978, Interstate 40 was completed about 30 miles to the south, rendering 66 obsolete and bypassing the town. Valentine, like so many other communities, was left to desolation. As of 2000, the census tallied 36 residents. On my visit, I saw not a single person – nor a single building that looked like it was currently inhabited at all.

Like so many of the adventures I’ve documented on this blog, the destination in this case was far less important than the journey. And spending about 8 hours behind the wheel of a $197k supercar was a pretty nice way to spend the day. My travels took me initially through the towns of Wickenburg and Wikieup – each stuck in a time warp of its own, relying primarily on flow-through traffic between Phoenix and Las Vegas to survive economically.

When I got to Kingman, I stopped briefly at the powerplant which has since been repurposed as a visitor center. Conveniently, there was a restaurant called Mr. D’s across the street and I was ready for lunch. The homemade root beet was served in a frosty glass, and it hit the spot. Kingman embraces its Route 66 heritage in a big way, and you only have to drive a few blocks along the old frontage road – named Andy Devine – to see that.

It took me about 30 minutes to get from there to Valentine, by way of a two-lane, mostly flat road that took me through the desert countryside. I had to make a customary stop at the Hackberry General Store, where people had stapled $1 bills to the ceiling and walls, along with license plates from around the country and around the world. My stay in Valentine was short-lived – and I had a feeling it would be. The most predominant remaining bit of civilization there is the 1903 Truxton school house, a two-story brick building that served as an educational institution for the Native Americans until the late 1930s. It’s abandoned now.

But that NSX! Talk about a crowd-pleaser. I’m certain I ended up the TikTok, Snapchat, or Instagram of at least a dozen people throughout the course of the day based on the number of cameras I saw poking out of other vehicles. I guess if there’s one modification the car needed but didn’t have, it was window tint. Privacy is not afforded with that car.

The level of performance, coupled with the overall driving “friendliness” is pretty remarkable. It’s a car you can pin at 70 mph on cruise control and drive all day comfortably, but still transform into a nasty speed-machine on a moment’s notice thanks to its twin-turbo V6 coupled with three electric motors. The press car I was allocated was wearing well-used Continental tires with 7,000 miles on them – complete with very evident outside edge wear. I suppose every journalist before me discovered the same thing I did: The car handles like nothing else. Taking a corner at any speed becomes confidence-inspiring.

At the end of the day, whether or not Valentine had any love to offer when I got there was beside the point. The mere act of getting there and back was better for my heart and soul than I could ever expected. Check out my YouTube video here.

While I’m at it, I’ll share a couple other photos. These first few are from my mom’s visit in January. We took a hike to “Tom’s Thumb” in the mountains northeast of Scottsdale. It was about a 4-5 mile round-trip hike that climbed sharply in elevation from the trailhead, then leveled off after the first mile. This was the destination.

I picked her up in the Aztec Green GS-R.

Another shot from the hike.

The other thing I wanted to share was a recent visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Tucked away in central Phoenix is a literal oasis in the desert: 3.5 acres of green plant life and water features. It’s called the Japanese Friendship Garden and it was created in 1987 as a joint project between Phoenix and its sister city in Japan, called Himeji. Later on, a tea house and tea garden were completed in 1996. Embedded within the garden are decorative features that were designed and sent from Japan.

My friend Kyle and I visited the garden on a Saturday afternoon and it took about 40 minutes to take the loop.

There is a koi pond.

Have a great week, all.