Archive for the Arizona Category

ILX 7-Year Anniversary: PAPA Visit to Apex Motor Club – Maricopa, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Milestones, PAPA, Racing on June 16, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  215,000

About 45 minutes from my house is an automotive playground called Apex Motor Club.  Designed with the idea of becoming the “premier motorsports club of the southwest,” Apex was co-founded by entrepreneur and automotive enthusiast Matt Williams.  Matt graciously invited a handful of members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) to attend a media program on Wednesday morning, June 12, designed to give journalists a glimpse of exactly what the facility currently offers – and will offer in the future.

The heart of Apex is its 2.2-mile track, part of “phase 1” of three phases of expansion that the facility will undergo in the coming years.  The track itself offers something for pretty much any skill level.  I experienced it from a beginner’s perspective in a series of parade laps that got my blood pumping.  If a “parade lap” can do that, imagine what kind of full-on competitive racing could do.  Matt and his team welcomed us with an introduction to the history and the infrastructure.  Apex is located in Maricopa, Arizona, a small community on the outskirts of the greater Phoenix area.

Today, the amenities are relatively scarce aside from a shade pavilion and some portable toilets.  But there are plans in the works to build a clubhouse, restaurant/bar, pro shop, and private garages on the property.  Considering the entire project just broke ground less than a year ago, there has already been some impressive momentum.  Over 100 memberships have already been sold.

The highlight of my trip was when journalists were invites to experience the track firsthand.  I was sandwiched between a Corvette and a Porsche, and we followed a Camaro pilot car.  My little ILX felt understandably a little out of place.  But for each of the 5 successive laps, I got a little more confident in not only the layout of the track but in how to best control my vehicle.  For a “parade” lap it was a pretty spirited experience, and I can confidently say I left plenty of tire tread – and probably a good deal of my brake rotor lifespan – out on the track.  I definitely had a grin on my face when it was all said and done.

In a fitting conclusion to the trip, my 2013 ILX rolled 215,000 miles on the way back to Phoenix – perfect timing since that day was the 7-year anniversary of the day I first took ownership in 2012.

Entry to Apex in Maricopa

Some of the Apex-branded vehicles on-site

Staging area for vehicles

Getting our introduction to the lay of the land

Brittany from Apex, and Matt Ferguson from Barrett-Jackson

Some of the Apex team including co-founder Matt Williams (second from left)

Track tour in a Ford Raptor pickup

Entry to the 2.2-mile course in the ILX

This wasn’t my ILX’s first time on a track.  In 2012 I drove it on the high speed oval at Nissan’s proving ground.

Nerdy Burger Destination: Group Drive to Globe, Arizona & More Home Improvements

Posted in Arizona, House, NSX, Road Trip on May 27, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  115,761

Trip Distance:  180 Miles

Talk about a one-stop-shop:  At Nurdberger in Globe, Arizona, you can get your hands on burgers, coffee, sweets, and… nerds?

You read that right.  This uniquely-themed hamburger joint prides itself in being nerdy.  Its main lobby has arcade games, and the walls are covered in posters of comic book characters.  Most importantly, the menu is nicely put together and I went with a “Power Nurd” 1/4 pound burger (or, berger) along with a side of onion rings with a diameter the size of pancakes.

Globe is a small mining town about an hour and half east of Phoenix that has about 7,000 residents.  When my friend Kyle pitched the question about taking a weekend group drive, we had no problem rounding up 11 people in 8 different (and I do mean, very diverse) vehicles to spend the day on the road for a burger.  Comprising the list of participating vehicles were:

  • Acura NSX x 2
  • Acura TSX
  • Ford Mustang Saleen
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Pontiac G8 GXP
  • Porsche Cayman
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser

The initial 35 or 40 minutes were on largely flat, straight terrain, but after we crossed through Superior and made our way upward through the Queen Creek Tunnel on US-60, things got a lot more interesting.  It was here that I got to have some fun with the NSX.

At the same time, I enjoyed some of my recently downloaded road trip music from Tropical House Records (thanks, Conor!).  It was therapeutic.  This song was one of my faves.  Picture me blasting that at max volume while rowing gears through the Superstition Mountains.

And I must say, Donald’s FJ, despite being unlike some of the other contenders, held its own in the twisties.  Unfortunately, though, he said he burned through 7/8ths of a tank of gas on this trip.  It’s okay – the burger and the experience were worth it.

Greg brought out his rare 1989 fox-body Mustang “SSC” — one of only 160 vehicles built by Saleen that year, and with only 13,000 miles on it.  Speaking of rarity, Kyle’s immaculate 2009 G8 GXP 6-speed manual is a rarity in itself and put us all to shame with its impeccable tire shine.  James’ Elantra Sport rolled 3,000 miles along the way.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.

As someone who is 100% nerd, I can appreciate the allure of a place like Nurdberger and I was glad for an excuse to get some time on the open road and spend it with great people.  Below are some photos and videos of the day’s excursion.

Pre-departure at Kyle’s

Woody and Jack in the 2004 TSX

NSX passing NSX

Woody and James

Following the TSX through Superior

Check out that Saleen!

Shots from Nurdberger

Headed back home

Just call me Al Borland.  I’ve been busy upgrading my home with a few things in recent months, including a new garage floor and some driveway pavers.  The latest addition to the property is an awning in the backyard that gives me 2 additional covered spots.

Before:

During:

After:

Nice to have some shade back there now!

Also got a cool new banner from a friend!

Hope the holiday weekend is going well for everyone.

Mike’s Integra, Memory Lane Pics, Steve’s Visit, & a Driveway Upgrade

Posted in Arizona, House, Model Cars, Road Trip, SLX on May 23, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (SLX):  178,689

We’ll call this post “automotive potpourri,” like the recent feature on my friend Tim’s blog.

Let’s kick things off with a for-sale listing, just because I’m all about helping a nice old car find a good home.  My friend Mike in Connecticut is selling his 1991 Integra RS Automatic with only 108,000 miles on it.

It needs some cosmetic work as there is rust on the right rear quarter panel and in a few other places.  But mechanically, the car is well sorted out.  In the past year, Mike has addressed the following:  Oil change, transmission service, springs, rear shocks (fronts were done a couple years ago), power steering pump & rack, timing belt/water pump, and the exhaust between the manifold and muffler. All of the above were done at an Acura dealership.  Mike’s not looking to get a ton of money for this so he’s open to offers.

The RS is a bare-bones model with manual-crank windows – probably my favorite thing about it.

There is also no moonroof.

Cloth seats are showing some wear.

Get in touch with Mike at mike.russo.66@gmail.com if this is something you’re interested in.  I wish I had room for it!

On Sunday afternoon, I met up with my friend Mirel who recently had some paint work completed on his 133,000-mile 1994 Legend LS coupe.

Mirel might be taking this one to NALM in Florida in October.

I also happened to be going through some old photos and came across a couple of gems.  This one shows me on my 18th birthday in my bedroom, which had been toilet-papered by friends.  A couple of things stood out to me:  The “Justification for Higher Education” poster, as well as the BMW 3-series convertible die-cast model car that I still have 19, years later.

This was from around 1999 in my 1989 Prelude Si, with my brother in the passenger seat.  It was taken in Logan Canyon in northern Utah, crossing a bridge.  I do miss that car a lot!

I finally got around to purchasing the 2015 CD album “Ludaversal” by Ludacris, which features his Cashmere Silver Metallic Legend on the album artwork.

It’s in my showcase now.

I received some “Precision” magazines which are Acura’s new publication that’s only distributed to dealers.  And me.  I have a special hookup!

I was going through odometer pics to prepare for my 567,890 which is coming up soon.

I had company from my friend Steve from Missouri who I’ve known for about 13 years now.  We initially met at NALM 2006 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  We took the SLX out to one of my favorite dinner spots called Hula’s Modern Tiki.

We also cruised around a bit in the NSX.

I took the Legend GS to work this week.

And drove the GS-R to a friend’s birthday party.

My friend Jason of Pawela’s Garage put together a window sticker replica for the SLX, complete with $35k pricetag.

Thanks Jason!

And finally, I had some work done at the house by having a contractor add some pavers to the front driveway to even it out, for ease of entry.  Check out the video and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Before & After:

Whew, I think that’s it for this week.  Have a nice holiday weekend, everyone!

Northern AZ Road Trip – Grand Falls, Snowbowl, & Bedrock City

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on May 12, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  214,556

Trip Distance:  475 Miles

Nerd Alert:  I have an Excel spreadsheet on my personal laptop entitled “Tyson’s Destinations.”  It has 198 locations on it, including the the state, a description, and the name of the person who recommended it.  As I visit the locations, I shade the lines in gray.  This past weekend, I shaded 3 more lines out, meaning I’ve now hit 52 which leaves a total of 146 left to see.

Completing the list could take me a while, considering the fact that I’m adding locations at almost the same rate that I’m crossing them off.  And some of them are not exactly around the corner.  For example, Key West, Florida has been nagging at me for some time.  Have a place you think I should check out?  Drop me a line; I’m always up for a new adventure.

On Saturday, I visited an Arizona waterfall larger than Niagara, named “Grand Falls” and known for its brown color.  But there’s a catch:  I missed the snow runoff season, and Grand Falls wasn’t so grand, after all.  It was down to just a trickle.  You see, Grand Falls only exists during a short window of time in the spring or after very heavy rains.  I took a gamble on the chance I might get to see something dramatic but was disappointed after about 10 miles of dirt road that it was pretty quiet out there.  At least the scenery was nice.

Here’s a picture my friend took of what Grand Falls “can” look like:

And here’s what I really saw.

The falls are 185 feet tall, whereas Niagara is 167 feet.  So you can bet I’ll be trekking back out to see the falls when the viewing is optimal.

Determined to not have the entire day be a “bust,” I proceeded to my next destination which was the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort.  It comes as a surprise to many, but Arizona actually does have a few ski resorts at higher elevations in the norther part of the state.  This one opened in 1938 and is a short drive up a fun, windy road from Flagstaff that reaches the lodge at 9,200 feet in elevation.  I encountered raindrops as I made my way up the mountainside and I watched the temperature dip from mid-50s to 41 in the matter of a few miles.

Amenities at the lodge were limited but I didn’t take a lot of time to explore.  There was still a fair amount of snow on the ground at that elevation, but it didn’t look like lifts were in operation at the time.  However, I checked the website and it said they were expected to be open at least one more weekend, through the 19th of May.  In fact, the site says that extended weekend makes this year’s season the longest in the resort’s 81-year history.  Too bad I didn’t have time to pick up a quick lift pass!

The last place on my checklist for the day was a step back in time to “Bedrock City,” home of Fred & Wilma Flintstone.  Over six years from 1960 through 1966, William Joseph and Hanna Barbera of Hanna-Barbera produced 166 episodes of the cartoon “The Flintstones.”  It became one of the most iconic TV shows in recent memory, and as a result it inspired lots of roadside Americana to go along with it.  In 1966, in Custer City, South Dakota, a Flintstones-themed 62-acre theme park was opened.  The same owner built a similar operation in Arizona in 1972, pictured here.

Both locations were sold and closed in 2019, but the buildings and some of the relics remain.

When I stopped by the Arizona version of Bedrock City on Saturday afternoon, I was greeted by a massive Fred and “Yabba-Dabba-Doo” sign.  A campground, gift shop, and restaurant were all painted in bright colors and architecturally designed to resemble the cartoon.  Luckily, despite being abandoned, it appears that vandals for the most part have left things alone in the 4 months it’s been closed.

A recent Arizona Central news article stated that the property will become “Raptor Ranch,” a showcase of birds of prey.  So perhaps there is another chapter to the location’s history as a tourist destination (or tourist trap, whichever way you see it).

I bid farewell to the dinosaur skeleton in the parking lot and headed home after a fulfilling day exploring the Arizona high country.  Thanks for coming along!

Here are a few more pics and a short video from my day on the road.

Headed out on backroads while finding my way toward Grand Falls

Puddles of Mud (isn’t that the name of a music group?) as a result of recent rains

Grand Falls, not so grand, but still a nice view

My 4×4

Better than rush hour traffic

Beginning the ascent to Snowbowl

A Yabba welcome at Bedrock City

Other updates for the last couple of weeks are below in random order.

My local Honda dealer congratulated me via email on being a member of the 100,000 mile club.  They’re only about 16 years and 460,000 miles late.

My friend Joseph picked up a sweet Acura Vigor

Which prompted me to take mine out for a spin

Jason clued me in to the fact that a street named “Acura Court” exists in LA.  I’ll be going.

I did a little junkyarding.  These Troopers didn’t have anything I needed.

A friend shared a quote from the reveal of the 1996 Legend (but named 3.5 RL in the states).

Integra outing to Tempe.

I got ahold of a rare OEM rubber cargo mat for the SLX.

Also found out that one local dealership still has Isuzu signage, despite the fact that Isuzu stopped selling passenger vehicles in the states 10 years ago.

I built a little bookshelf for my service manuals.

My friend Jack copied my pic from Baker at the World’s Tallest Thermometer.

I found some 1950s car ads.  Zoom and read some of these gems.

I sorted through my collection of “Style” magazine, which is now out of print.

I found out I still have a copy to the ignition key to my original 1989 Prelude Si.

And last weekend, i visited my friend Vlad’s garage, complete with RLX, Integra Type-R, and NSX.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

2 Dayz Exploring AZ: 300-Mile Road Rally to Sedona & Flagstaff

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip, Vigor on March 25, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  113,079

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  251,087

Trip Distance:  316 Miles

Sometimes you just need to get away on a road trip to clear your head on an open interstate.  And sometimes that relaxing road trip morphs instead into an energetic hodge-podge of friends & vehicles, romping through the hills, braving tourist traffic, and occasionally getting a breath of fresh air.  I joined about 20 friends this weekend on a 300-mile excursion that became just that type of experience.

This group outing was born as a creation of my friend Saifonh, who emerged as a planning leader for what started as an overnight rally to view the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The route was later modified, the pit stops solidified, and the invites distributed.  Unlike most of the travel adventures I write about on this blog, this one wasn’t just for a specific make, model, or era of car.  This was open to anyone and everything – from a 415-horsepower Chevy SS muscle sedan 6-speed to a people-hauler Toyota Sienna XLE.  And that’s what made it fun.

We joked over the walkie talkies during a particularly technical section of Highway 89A that the Sienna, owned by my friend Ben, was doing a great job at hustling through the curves while keeping all of its juice boxes safely contained in cupholders.  And to be fair, the Sienna was likely the most comfortable ride of the entire bunch.  Between it and Corey’s LX450, there was room to pick up a few hitchhikers (or a soccer team) but the need never came up.  Maybe next time.

The drive route itself started on Saturday morning at my home in Central Phoenix, which happily opens its doors for friends and visitors as long as they agree to sign my (now 36-page) guest book.  I added a few line items to it as friends poured in and sampled pastries and orange juice before saddling up for the drive.

My friend Ryan made the trip from Utah to be a part of this adventure, so it seemed only fair that I’d provide his rental car.  Of the 7 available vehicles for the picking (my SLX is in for a transmission service), his weapon of choice was the Vigor.  I decided to take the Integra GS-R.  Joining our Acura family for the trip was Brandon in a TL Type-S.

We made our ascent on Interstate 17 and moved toward Prescott Valley, where the first checkpoint of our rally would have us meet up with Dane from Las Vegas in a red hot 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T.  Dane followed in line as we moved on through Highway 89’s twisties to the old mining town of Jerome which was bustling with tour buses & rental cars.

Knowing that a group of our size was unlikely to find a place for lunch there, we pressed on to Sedona just 28 more miles away.  Our lunch spot couldn’t have been prettier:  We were perched atop the mesa adjacent to the Sedona airport – luckily “Mesa Grill” was able to accommodate us on the patio.  Even Chepe the pup was welcome.

The last piece of road we got to experience on Saturday was my favorite of the day:  Oak Creek Canyon.  It winds through hairpin two-lane curves through the wooded forests and past dramatic red rock formations.  Though certainly best experienced in a sports car in fast motion, poor road conditions and heavier traffic forced us to take a leisurely pace, but I actually didn’t mind.  I had my moonroof open and a buzzy little 1.7-liter go-kart at my command and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our evening was spent at Southside Tavern on San Francisco Street, which graciously opened its entire back room for our party.  The group had a chance to relax and unwind after a hectic day on the road, and the mac & cheese bites offered a tasty snack.  By the time I got to Econo Lodge on Milton Road, I was ready to call it a night.

Ryan and I made a move pretty early the next morning and fueled up the vehicles (frosty from the night’s cool temps) before heading southbound for the 140-ish mile trip home to Phoenix on Interstate 17.  Thanks to our walkie talkie communication mechanism, we were able to banter back and forth for a couple of hours and it made the time fly by.

In fact, I think in the entire 300-mile loop and nearly 6 hours in the car, I never even turned on my radio.  Not that the AM/FM cassette would have given me much entertainment anyway.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!

Here in alphabetical order was the list of 15 participating vehicles.

  • Acura Integra
  • Acura TL
  • Acura Vigor
  • Chevrolet SS
  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Stealth
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Lexus IS350
  • Lexus LX450
  • Mercedes-Benz ML430
  • Mercedes-Benz SL500
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Porsche Cayman
  • Toyota Sienna

Pre-departure breakfast

Kevin’s Accord Sport – loved this car!

Driver meeting hosted by Sai

Sai and George

That’s an experience – getting passed by my own car.  I enjoyed the view.

First checkpoint – Prescott Valley, Arizona

Corey’s LX at 270,000+ miles was the high-mileage king!

Onward we go.  I was behind the Cayman.  Far behind at times, haha.

Green machines atop the hill in Sedona.

Mesa Grill – our lunch spot near the airport.

And dinner spot – every good road trip revolves around the food, right?

Corey and Sai

Crisp Sunday morning in Flagstaff.  It got down to about 30 degrees.

I’m used to seeing all of this in my Integra.  Check engine, ABS, and 4,000+ RPM.  It’s fine.

Dropping off Ryan at the airport later that afternoon.

Couple last bits of news:  Check out this cool article written by my friend Nyko de Peyer about his recent inside look at the Acura Design Studio in California.

And get over to Bring a Trailer right this instant so you can view (and maybe bid on) my friend Dave Ekiss’ 1999 Integra in Supersonic Blue.  You need this car.  I need this car.  Some lucky person is going to buy this car.

Have a great week!

Quick Q&A with Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum Collector Car Auctions

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, PAPA on March 18, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  565,313

Odometer (ILX):  213,342

I shook hands last Friday morning with the CEO of the largest collector car auction in the world!  I was one of 11 journalists from the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) who were invited to an exclusive Q&A with Dave Magers during the opening weekend of Mecum Auctions’ first event in Phoenix.

Mecum is a powerhouse in the collector car marketplace, launched in 1988 with humble family beginnings but today hosting 14 auctions nationwide, each one at about $30 million or more in sales.  That’s a lot of steel & rubber changing hands each year (roughly 15,000 vehicles, actually).

While most of the Phoenix & Scottsdale community thinks of “auction month” as happening in January (see recent post from Barrett-Jackson), Mecum came to the Valley of the Sun at a time when it could have the exclusive spotlight.  It also operated out of a facility that more readily accommodated visitors with on-site parking and other niceties:  The State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals NFL team.

Dave invited us behind-the-scenes to learn more about what it’s like in his role and the thought process that goes into strategy for where / how to expand the Mecum enterprise.  Clearly he and his team are doing something right:  The Phoenix auction was just put into contract last November.  It was initially designed to accommodate 600 vehicles over two days.  That 600-vehicle registration cap was reached in a mere 48 hours.

After some additional rework and coordination, the event was reconfigured and expanded to sell about 1,400 vehicles over three days, closing out on Sunday just in time for a Garth Brooks concert to take over the venue the following morning.

I was greeted at the entrance to the main forum by 2 red LaFerraris, each likely valued at $3-4 million or more.  A small 8×11 sheet of paper in front of them said “Available for Immediate Purchase.  Text such-and such phone number.”  I failed to take down the number, but if any of my readers have a craving for speed and a fat wad of cash to blow, hit me up and I can probably find out where those cars ended up.

The lineup of cars looked a lot like other collector auctions I’ve been to, with a high volume of predominantly domestic makes and models from the 1950s through 1970s.  Other outliers were there, but fewer and farther between.  Dave indicated that the auction prides itself in “treating everyone equally.”  A bidder who purchases his high school dream car for $25,000 may in fact have more attachment to the car and more satisfaction in the bidding process than someone who plunks down $2M on an exotic car for an investment.  So the Mecum team treats everyone the same.  In thumbing through the booklet of available cars, I did come across a bit of an oddball find:  This 1996 Accord EX Wagon, lot #T110.  I’ll have to see what it went for.

Ever think about how most of these auctions cater to 50-60 year old men?  It’s no mystery:  They are the demographic with enough disposable income to buy their dream cars.  Knowing this, Dave and his marketing teams customize their messaging accordingly: If you’re 25, he wants you to follow the auctions online, and probably buy a ticket to come spectate.  If you’re 50, he wants you to come buy something.  He’ll always market toward 50-year-olds, just that the cars they’re looking for will evolve.

Dave’s concern is about a “gap” of vehicles between about 1980 and 1995 when cars (to most people, anyway) weren’t as collectible or desirable.  Guess what?  That’s where some of us thrive, and it’s clear from sites like Bring a Trailer that the 1980s and 1990s collector community is very alive and well (I’ve now auctioned 3 vehicles from that era and each one of them has far exceeded expectations).  Niche buyers and collectors of those types of cars just aren’t going to venues like Mecum as their marketplace of choice.  And that’s perfectly okay!

Speaking of which, does anyone want an absolutely insanely mint 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible?  Say no more.  It’s right here.

Someone in our group asked Dave about his personal cars.  When he’s not “touring” with his auction’s 33 semi trucks to destinations nationwide, Dave commutes 140 miles round trip per weekday (!) from Chicago to a Walworth, Wisconsin in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, but the two favorites from his collection are a Ferrari 458 Italia and a Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS Gullwing.  A man of good taste indeed.

Many thanks to the Mecum team for their hospitality.  I have no doubt this year’s auction was a complete success and I hope you will enjoy coming back to the Valley of the Sun for years to come!

Here was a sweet Nova SS 396 that I saw.

In a few other updates:

Mom is still happily cruising around in her new RLX.  She had the OEM splash guards and spoiler installed this past week.  She also rolled the 22,222 milestone.  I hit the same milestone in my ILX in December 2012.

I added a sticker to the mirror in the cabinet in the garage.  “Eat, Sleep, Acura.”

And I finally took the chance to go through my old stash of license plates and do something decorative with them.

Some of them are now used as a border along the ceiling in the laundry room, which is the entrance to my showroom.

I saw this relic 1985 Celebrity while at the local pick-&-pull junkyard on Saturday.

I had a couple of friends over on Saturday night:  Michael S (in a white 1993 Integra GS) and Michael O (in a blue 1988 Legend L).  It was fun to have some new guests in the garage for a little bit.

Michael S’s Integra just completed the 150,000 mile mark and Michael O’s Legend has 190,000.

Finally:  A friends recently made some fun acquisitions, including Ryan here (at left) picking up a 1992 Vigor.

Then Chris, here at left, picking up a 2016 MDX Advance.

And Ira, who snagged a brand new Civic Si that nearly perfectly matches his NSX!  Oooh, that blue!

Congrats, guys!

Surfin’ USA: The Wave Cave Hike in Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, Legend, RLX on March 11, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  73,210

Trip Distance:  100 Miles

Mom was a victim of her first cactus attack this weekend.  The cholla, or “jumping,” cactus is famous for its ability to seemingly jump out and cling to passersby.  Worse, it’s tough to pull out and only wants to latch on to anything (or anyone) that attempts to remove it.  The solution?  Just ask Chris, the seasoned hiker who joined us for this excursion.  He whipped out a hair comb which was able to extract the needles safely without putting anyone at risk.  Clever survival tips for the desert southwest.

All of this came about from our decision to hike to one of the Superstition mountain range’s most unique geologic features:  A sandstone rock in the shape of a large wave.  See me surfing up there?  The cave’s remoteness and difficulty have kept some hikers away, but we tackled the 4-miler with confidence and enjoyed basking in some of Arizona’s prime spring weather for a few hours on Saturday morning.

Reaching the Peralta Trailhead took us about an hour from Central Phoenix and while I would have been perfectly fine subjecting my ILX, or the SLX, to a few miles dirt, we decided to takes Chris’ Jeep Cherokee.  Our first stop was the drive-thru at Starbucks.  You can’t go out into the wilderness unprepared, after all.  Frappaccinos in hand, we were ready to conquer nature.

The trail itself seemed to intensify in difficulty as we worked our way up the 800 or so feet in elevation.  Though the cave itself was visible from the trailhead, it required scrambling up a few stretches of jagged rocks flanked by prickly cacti – definitely the type of environment where adequate and stable footing is a necessity.  I took a spill just once and scraped up my right hand thanks to loose gravel.

The view was worth it.  From the interior of the cave itself, we were able to gaze across the landscape for many miles in the distance.  With temperatures in the high 60s and a light breeze, conditions were optimal to hang out and enjoy the scenery before beginning our descent.  Round-trip travel time was about 3 hours, and we rewarded ourselves for a job well done by having lunch at Costa Vida.

Here are a few more pics before I get into this week’s round of automotive news & updates here in Acura Land.

We pulled my low-miler out of the garage for commute duty during mom’s visit.

I also received a drop-in from my friend Mike from San Diego, who was riding in style in his friend’s Challenger.

My buddy Mirel scored a new car:  Check out his white 1994 LS 6-speed coupe.

On Saturday, we were ‘seeing red’ with all these reds (called Milano, Formula, and Torino) while my friend Sunny was in town from Salt Lake City in his TSX Special Edition.

Another fun Acura-sition took place over the weekend, and I was able to help make it happen.  My friend Jason “re” purchased a 1991 LS sedan that he owned a couple of years ago.  It only has 48,000 miles on the odometer thanks to spending its first 10 years tucked away in hiding.  You see, this car was stolen when it was brand new on the dealership floor and recovered much, much later.

I helped out by having a couple of maintenance items done before Jason & his dad flew down to pick it up.

My friend Jimmy stopped by the dealership while I was there.

Jason & his dad were happy campers when they arrived to take delivery.

Jason sent these pics while passing through my mom’s city where she met up with the new RLX.

It’s interesting to see how these vehicles, 25 model years apart, are different in some ways and similar in others.

Speaking of throwbacks, mom lined up the RLX in the same place as her old 2000 3.5 RL which she owned 14 years prior.

Picturesque Snow Canyon, Utah

The last bit of news here relates to a fun project I was able to collaborate on with Acura.  A small film crew flew out last week to spend a day with me doing a sort of documentary on my car collection and some favorite road trip stories.  After shuttling all 8 cars to a nearby parking lot, we took 3 of them out on an 80-mile scenic loop through the Bush Highway past Saguaro Lake.

I’ll post a blog entry once the film debuts in the coming months, but it will be a short 5-8 minute YouTube feature on Honda’s YouTube channel.  Brand Culture Champion Charles Schnieber posted a few photos of our day on Instagram under his handle @kokoro_honda.

Getting interviewed in the hot seat… in my garage.

The production was facilitated by 3 gracious volunteers who assisted with driving – thanks to Chris, A.D., and Woody!

Closing out the night with a fantastic sunset in the Superstition Mountains.

Thanks for reading!  And have a great week!