Archive for the ILX Category

Saturday Drive to Flagstaff, Arizona for a Breakfast Burrito

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on February 26, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,495

550495

Odometer (ILX):  193,151

193151

Trip Distance:  288 Miles

phx_to_flg

My friend Derek and I are on a quest to find the best breakfast burrito in the southwest.  Over the last few months, we’ve sampled the cuisine from Otro Cafe, Phoenix Burrito House, and others.  This time I took one for the team and drove solo, about 4 hours round-trip to try one from “The Dog Haus,” on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona.  It’s a hot dog place, first and foremost.  But a small sign on the east side of the red, triangle-shaped building proclaims proudly the Haus’ notoriety in the burrito arena.

burrito_sign

Does the burrito measure up?  I paid $5 to find out.  It took 3 bites to confirm.  It’s tasty – but Flag’s best?  TBD.

breakfast_burrito

This week’s adventure isn’t too exotic, but I did get to lay eyes on a few neato roadside attractions.  Flagstaff, Arizona is one of the state’s most popular recreation getaways.  In the wintertime, the Snowbowl ski resort is a hot spot, and in the summer, it’s a retreat from the heat where temperatures can be up to 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.  It’s no wonder so many Phoenicians have a second home there.  I watched the exterior temp readout dip down as low as 35 degrees while making my way northbound on Interstate 17 on Saturday morning.  The elevation gain is substantial – Flagstaff sits nearly 7,000 feet above sea level.

tyson_museum_club

First on my radar was a destination called The Museum Club right along historic Route 66.  Once a 1931 log cabin social hall, today it continues to host live entertainment on a regular basis.  My “Roadside America” iPhone app told me the cabin is also somehow the “world’s largest log cabin,” but I’m skeptical.  Before I believe anything is the “world’s largest,” I want to see proof!

Then, how about this place?  Awesome!

dog_haus

ilx_at_dog_haus

Most of the old Route 66 corridor retains its historic charm.  One such building is definitely The Dog Haus.  After driving my car through the middle of the building, I made my way toward downtown Flagstaff and visited Heritage Square while having a few bites of that burrito.  The last place I checked out was a “Moon Tree” on the northwestern side of town.  I didn’t know what a moon tree was at the time, I found out when I got to it – which took a little bit of scavenger hunting.

apollo_tree

apollo_tree_sign

So here’s what I know so far:

In January, 1971, Apollo 14 launched as a third mission to the moon.  Astronaut Stuart Roosa took about 400 seeds with him while he was orbiting the lunar surface.  When he returned, the seeds were germinated and the seedlings were planted in various places around the country.  One such tree was planted at what was then Flagstaff Junior High School, on April 30, 1976.  What I didn’t learn until after my visit to the tree was that the original tree actually was yanked from the ground 3 days later and did not survive.  A non-moon tree was planted in its place, but the original sign remained.  What a hoax!  It was a fun side-trip anyway.

Thanks for joining for the adventure!

Hot air balloons out floating around on the north end of Phoenix as I left town

hot_air_balloons

Route 66 in Flagstaff

r66

Parked outside the Museum Club

ilx_museum_club

R66 marker attached to the Museum Club

museum_club_sign

Exterior of the Museum Club

museum_club

World’s largest?  C’mon now.  I don’t know about that.

log_cabin

I liked this sign at Muffler Magic.  “Rest Home for Exhausted Mufflers.”

muffler_magic_flagstaff

Northbound San Francisco Street

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Heritage Square in downtown Flag

heritage_square_flagstaff

Frozen waterway

frozen_creek

ILX with Mount Humphreys (> 12,000 feet in elevation) in the background

humphreys

Sign Mania!  How many do we need?

signs

This lumberjack was carved from a single solid tree.  The lumberjack is Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) mascot so there are lots of similar things around town.

flagstaff_lumberjack

Couple other random pics, including a visit from my friend Chuck in his ’88 Legend ragtop.

tyson_chuck

Chris visiting from Florida

chris_tyson

And Serge visiting from Los Angeles

serge

The below was shared with me this week – an infographic by outdoor clothing & backpack company Cotopaxi regarding our national parks and which ones are the most/least traveled. If you’re like me, crowds are a turnoff, so I’ll be hitting some of those “hidden gems.” Notice our Grand Canyon gets 5 million visitors per year!

cotopaxi_national_parks_x2

Lastly, a model car update on the diecast 1:18 scale 1957 Chevy Nomad that’s one of 5 cars that’s been on my roof for 8 years.

57_nomad

Two in One: San Vegas and Las Diego Road Trip Weekend

Posted in California, ILX, Nevada, Road Trip on February 17, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,486

550486

Odometer (ILX):  192,625

192625

Trip Distance:  1,000 Miles

trip_map

Yeah, I know.  Who RSVPs to a birthday party in one state, and a bachelor party in another state, on the same weekend, and still attends both?  You’re looking at him.  And here I am 1,000 miles later to tell you how that all played out.  The good news is that it feels amazing to go from the awe-inspiring 54th floor of the Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip one day, to the picturesque and sweet-smelling Mission Beach of San Diego the next.  The bad news is that coming back to reality bit.  Hard.

This past weekend’s adventure started with me scooping up my friend Kyle at his place in central PHX and us making our way, Taco Bell crunchwrap supreme in hand, in the ILX to Las Vegas.  It’s a drive that takes about 4.5 hours through the picturesque yet pretty barren reaches of Highway 93.  We arrived just in time to join the rest of our gang for a bite to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings before venturing out on the town.

vegas_strip

And I can assure you, what happened in Vegas that night will stay in Vegas.  Well, I take that back.  The group text message with 8 people in it became a dumping ground for all the photos and videos from that night’s debauchery, and they will forever live on in the memory bank of each participant’s iPhone.  But this isn’t the time nor place to divulge any of those details.  Las Vegas Boulevard, known better as “The Strip,” is home to some 62,000 hotel rooms.  Tourists are out on the streets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is seriously no end to the available entertainment and we got our share of it.

group

On Saturday morning, we pulled our acts together in time for brunch at “Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar,” home to some of the best nachos I’ve ever had.  They’re called “trash can nachos” and basically come out in a big tin can that gets dumped on a plate in the center of the table.  Trust me, they were amazing.

vegas_ilx_dash

Snoozing passengers!

sleepy_pax

Kyle, Lance, and I hit the road by early afternoon for the next chapter of our road trip weekend:  a bachelor party in Southern California.  Luckily the drive was a breeze with 95% of it being on southbound Interstate 15.  We stopped briefly in the middle-of-nowhere town of Baker, home to the World’s Largest Thermometer at 134 feet tall.  In typical fashion, traffic was slow-and-go the closer we got to the Los Angeles area, but as dusk settled in, we kept cranking the iPod and karaoke’d to classics like Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” (a song now 20 years old!) to pass the time and the miles.

Primitive but predictable, the Motel 6 on 2nd Avenue in downtown San Diego was our resting spot for the evening.  We had just enough time to freshen up there before heading to dinner and a night out on the town at Oxford Social Club in the Gaslamp District.  I felt like a true A-Lister there:  VIP entry, special reserved seating, and a meeting with the owner himself who came over to shake our hands.  The lights and music raged onward as we celebrated the upcoming wedding of my friends Wade & Rustin until the wee hours.

Speaking of, this is what happens when you’re part of 2 massive group texts and you put your phone away for a few minutes.  Ugh, the anxiety of unread messages.  I put both threads on “do not disturb.”

unread_texts

And what California trip would be complete without a stop at the beach?  My phone told me we were a mere 14 minutes from Mission Beach so we saddled up in the ILX and went to check it out.  The smell of a fresh sea breeze and the sound of crashing waves will never get old.  We wandered northbound along the sand for a little while before looping back to meet the rest of the gang in Little Italy for brunch at a spot called Prepkitchen.

ocean_front

tyson_lance_kyl

The final leg of this epic weekend journey was the stretch of Interstate 8 that links San Diego with the Phoenix area, an oft-desolate road that runs parallel to the Mexican border.  Kyle took the wheel from the halfway point in Yuma onward, which was great because I needed some time with my eyes off the road.

The gang in an elevator

elevator

View from the Cosmopolitan hotel room

vegas_view

Soaking it all in, with Lance

lance_tyson

This was the burger I had at Guy Fieri’s restaurant.  I liked the fries better!

burger

Stop in Baker, CA with Kyle along I-15 southbound.

baker_sign

Gas prices there, ouch!

baker_gas

World’s Tallest Thermometer – 134 feet tall – indicative of the highest temperature ever observed in Death Valley nearby.  Notice it was only 67 degrees at the time of our visit.

baker_thermometer

Continuing on down Interstate 15

i15south

California’s inspection stations have never caused me too much delay.  I just get waved through.

california_inspection

i15

Ahh, the beach!

pacific_ocean

Looking northbound alongside the sidewalk at Mission Beach in San Diego

bech

ocean_front

Fuel and bathroom break in Gila Bend, AZ on the way back to Phoenix Sunday night

sunset

Check out this story about my friend Steve who flew across the country recently to buy a minty 4th generation Honda Prelude and drive it all the way back to Arizona!  Congrats, Steve!  I’m looking forward to seeing the car when you visit tomorrow.

And finally, does anyone out there want to be my twin?  This Legend coupe is up for grabs in the Los Angeles area!

twin

Have a great weekend!

Road Trip to Nellie E. Saloon (AKA “Desert Bar”) Near Parker, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on February 5, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,420

550420

Odometer (ILX):  191,409

191409

Trip Distance:  334 Miles

desert_bar_map

Food is such a great motivator.  I’ve endured a yawn-inducing corporate seminar because there’s a free meal involved.  I ran a 13.1-mile race last month just because there were all-you-could-drink chocolate milk bottles at the end.  And this weekend, I drove 6 hours and over 300 miles (10 of them on some of the rockiest dirt road stretches I’ve ever put my car through) to pay $12 for a cheeseburger.  It was worth it.

burger

The Nellie E. Saloon, better known as just the “Desert Bar,” is just my kind of place.  This one came at the recommendation of my friend Chris who’s always on the lookout for driving opportunities to obscure destinations.  The drive took me and 3 friends to the Buckskin Mountains in the remote and sparsely-populated western reaches of the Grand Canyon State.  It’s a beautiful area:  The Colorado River slices through the middle of the desert and creates a border between Arizona and California.  Spring breakers flock to the area for wild times at Lake Havasu.  But our destination was far from any such refreshing water supply.  It was tucked deep into a dusty canyon.

hills

And it seems we weren’t alone.  Hundreds of Jeep owners, ATVers, and campers had the same idea that we did and the saloon was a hoppin’ place on a Saturday afternoon.  Getting there was (more than?) half the fun.  The closest town to the saloon – Parker, Arizona – was hosting an off-road race called the “Bluewater 425” which brought out all sorts of desert-goers.  Think baja race.

primitive_road

dusty

About 4 miles out of town on Highway 95, we headed east on Cienega Springs Road and were immediately warned by a roadside sign about primitive road conditions.  Not to be turned away, I gripped the wheel and shifted the ILX into low gear for a bumpy ride.  Sam Haymart, of TestDriven.TV fame, followed closely behind in my cloud of dust with his 2017 Audi A4.  We might have been the only ones crazy enough to subject our luxury sedans to such rocky terrain.

At certain times, the narrow road was only one lane wide and we had to carefully maneuver around oncoming traffic.  The 5 miles of dirt took us probably 20 minutes to navigate, but eventually we arrived at the oasis:  A sprawling, multi-level restaurant and bar crudely constructed inside a canyon with surrounding parking.

solar

From the parking lot, we could hear the bass beat of live music and the closer we got, the louder the music – and the crowds – became.  The lunch rush was in full swing at 12:45 p.m. – amazing because the place had barely opened for the day at “high noon.”  There were various places to order and the seating was “wherever you want.”  I grabbed my cheeseburger and sought after some shade on a set of bleachers.

The people-watching was some of the best I’ve ever had – it seems a few folks had a started happy hour early, as the Coors cans were clearly everyone’s drink of choice to wash down their burgers.  The band played on, and I couldn’t help but sing along for a line or two when the song “Wagon Wheel” came on.

piano

We took a short post-lunch hike to the summit of a rocky overlook.  It gave us a great view of the entire bar area and the surrounding hills.  Desert Bar was lined by a few rusting carcasses of old vehicles including a fire truck.  I noticed upon surveying the parking lot from that vantage point, about 95% of the vehicles in the parking lot were higher clearance AWD trucks and SUVs.  It was probably for good reason, too.  While fair weather cruising wasn’t a huge challenge, I imagine that any sort of inclement weather would pose a real road muddy hazard for someone like me taking a car out there (next time I’ll take an SLX).  And while owner Ken could probably attract a lot more visitors if road conditions were improved, the challenge of the trek is part of the allure.

parking_lot

Tyson, Sam, Rob, James

group

Ken’s vision of the Desert Bar started in the mid-1970s when he had acquired the land of an old copper mining camp.  By 1983, he had acquired a liquor license and started hosting guests in a makeshift building.  And in the 1990s, further improvements were made to the site including construction of a small church and a covered bridge across the ravine between the parking lot and the main stage.  By the looks of things during our visit, more enhancements are probably still underway as we saw some concrete & rebar walls going up.  And the entire place is now powered by solar panels.  Brilliant, actually!

inside_bar

We made our way back to civilization in one piece and perfectly satisfied with our 6 hour trip for a nice, greasy burger.  For anyone looking for an easy day-trip from the Phoenix area, Nellie E. is a definite hit.  But keep in mind its limited operating hours:  It’s only open from October through April, Saturdays and Sundays, from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.  And the entire operation is cash only!  Don’t even think of trying to pay with plastic out there.  Have fun and check it out sometime!

Related reading:

  • Castle Hot Springs because it’s a similar oasis type place in the desert
  • Mystery Castle because Desert Bar reminded me of this type of architecture
  • Alamo Lake because the Wayside Oasis restaurant was equally challenging to get to
  • Lake Havasu because it’s nearby in the region and another great destination
  • Six Speed Blog to check out what James has been up to
  • TestDriven.TV to see Sam’s auto news and reviews

Road trippers!  Yoohoo!

yoo_hoo

Headed toward Parker

havasu_sign

First sign about the Desert Bar, about 4 miles before we got there

desert_bar_sign

Sam following close behind in the A4

audi

Almost there

dirt_road

Nice layer of dust here.

dusty_ilx

Paying my respects!

church

Parking is very limited out there in the boonies

no_parking

Sample of the menu

menu

Bridge connecting the parking lot with the upper level of the restaurant

bridge

Fire truck that was used at one point to bring in water to the facility.

fire_truck

Dirty Acura and dirty Audi

acura_audi

Passing through “Hope, Arizona” on the way home.

beyond_hope

They’ve fixed the sign!  This was taken last November.

beyond_hope_original

Congrats to faithful reader Hy on (finally) hitting 65,000 miles on his 2004 Acura TSX 6-speed manual!  And, happy birthday today!

hy_65k

Horrible winter weather here in Arizona for a Legend GS sedan cruise the other day.

sedan

And lastly, check out this cool “infographic” someone shared with me on the highest mileage cars of all time.  (credit)

high_mileage

Birthday #35 and New Year 2017 Celebrations

Posted in Blog, ILX, Maintenance on January 7, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,089

Trip Distance:  232 Miles

phx_tus

Welcome back to the start of a new year and a few more miles to be driven!

Here’s how my last few years have gone.

  • 2014:  128 blog posts, 115,740 views and 41,008 visitors
  • 2015:  95 blog posts, 113,438 views and 39,165 visitors
  • 2016:  84 blog posts, 107,955 views and 40,495 visitors

Clearly I’m posting less frequently and it looks like that also translates into fewer views overall, though somehow “visitors” remains steady.  Today’s post is just a quickie as I’m out the door (and in the air) at 7:05 a.m. tomorrow morning for my annual trip to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan.

Here was a fun 2016 annual mileage summary that I put together a few days ago with some notes at the bottom if you’d like to geek out with me.

car_nerdery

We need to have a moment of silence for a newly-departed 2001 MDX that reader “Russell” emailed me about.  After 15 reliable years of service, his MDX succumbed to a rusty frame and had to be retired at 525,609 miles on the odometer.

Russell’s email stated:

Tyson, the harsh chemicals used to treat Connecticut roads took out my car today. The part of the body that bolts to rear axle was destroyed by the salts. Done at 525k. Picked up a certified RDX today w 55k.

img_1303

Best of luck with your RDX, my friend!

Winter’s weather wrath is something we don’t really have to deal with here in the Grand Canyon State.  My backyard, in fact, is still green and I had to mow it the other day – even if only to pick up a few fallen leaves from the tree back there.

backyard

I celebrated a milestone of my own last week by hitting 35 years on my odometer a couple of weeks ago.

35

It was a memorable occasion for many reasons.  One of them was a visit from my friend Paul who’s based in Honolulu but happened to be passing through town with his mother and his girlfriend.

tyson_paul

Later that evening, some of my friends took me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants.

bday_group

I pulled the Integra out on the grass for a couple of evening photographs.

teg_backyard_2

teg_backyard

One of the buildings in Tempe has windows that can be used to spell things out.  When the Super Bowl was in town a couple of years ago, it said XLIX.  Last week it simply said “2017.”

first_solar

Speaking of XLIX, and ILX, I had a 190,000-mile oil change (they call it a “B1” service) and tire rotation last week.  The technician noted a few maintenance items that may need to be addressed in the near future.  Among them:

  • Rear brake pad replacement
  • Leaking rear shock replacement
  • Air and cabin filter replacement
  • Serpentine belt replacement
  • Brake fluid flush
  • Clutch fluid flush

Guess it’s time to blow the dust off the old wallet (I learned that phrase from Josh) the next time I go in for service.

ilx_notes

190k

My friends and I took a drive to Tucson, Arizona for our New Year festivities.

lions_den

My friend James let us stay overnight in his historic 1914 home near the University of Arizona.

group_pic

On my drive home, I received a picture of myself from another friend who wasn’t traveling with us but who happened to come up behind me on Interstate 10 westbound just outside Phoenix.  The world is too small.

letsom_text

This morning I cruised down to Chandler, Arizona for an annual New Year Meet at Science of Speed, an NSX & S2000 specialty shop that I use for some of my maintenance needs.  There was a really nice turnout – probably 30 to 40 cars.  One of them was this unassuming 1992 Formula Red that looks a lot like mine.

nsx_high_mi

Until you peek at the odometer:  347,216.  Wow!  The owner said he’d owned it for 14 years and the car is still on its original engine and transmission.

nsx_gauges

Have a great rest of your weekend!  I’ll be freezing my buns off in Michigan but seeing some hot cars (hopefully) at the auto show.

The Legend Rolls 550,000 Miles on a Christmas Trip to Utah

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip, Utah on December 26, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,085

550085

It took me 5 years to go from 500,000 to 550,000, but I finally got there last night.  I made a Christmas 800-mile round-trip to southern Utah this weekend and celebrated the milestone on my way home, along Highway 93 just north of Wickenburg, Arizona.

wikieup

Mechanically, it was smooth sailing aside from adding a little power steering fluid and getting a check-engine light.  As a matter of fact, somehow I achieved 29.7 miles per gallon on the way up Friday night.  I guess that’s partly thanks to the fact that my speeds were usually between 65 and 70 miles per hour.  They still haven’t paved an interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas so it’s mostly back roads for that 4.5-hour stretch.

550000

Fittingly, my return trip took me through “Santa Claus, Arizona” – a now-abandoned tourist trap that in the 1930s was a gas station, gift shop, and restaurant.  Vandals have destroyed what’s left of it, but the map still clearly confirms its existence and I stopped for a few pictures at Saint Nick’s run-down residence.

santa_claus_map

The place can be yours, if the price is right!

santa_sign

Snow-capped peaks in the background – it was chilly out there, for Arizona standards anyway.

santa

Here’s the roll-over video and a few scenes from Santa Claus.

A few other photos from recent events.  Allie from Acura mailed me a “Nouvelle Blue Pearl” 2017 NSX model car.  I told her it’ll go nicely in my garage!

blue_nsx

Fueling up in Wickenburg on Friday afternoon

wickenburg_fuel

Sunset when rolling through Las Vegas, Nevada

vegas

Visiting mom, and also a visit from our friend Jack

tyson_mom_jack

Re-creation of a 20-year old photo (top) taken in 1997 with mom’s Legend.

1997_2017

My brother’s 1993 Legend LS 6-speed (139,000 mi) next to mine.

payt_legend

The ILX getting snowed on in Holden, Utah.  Jack – from a few pics above – borrowed the car this weekend and put it to good use.

ilx_snow

My uncle Dande picked up a 2013 ILX too.  “Polished Metal Metallic” automatic.

dande_ilx

Family photo of mom’s side of the family.

mcgregor_fam

A few other videos for your viewing pleasure today.

ILX in snow – thanks Jack for the clip:

Link to Xtreme Coupe YouTube channel – my brother’s page.  Watch his Lexus IS300 project updates:

Link to interesting video on the evolution of automotive design:

Link to Hagerty Engine Rebuild Video of a Chrysler motor.  Pretty fascinating stuff:

Have a great week!

Dirt Playground: “Willcox Playa” in Southeast Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, NSX, Road Trip on December 18, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  549,086

549086

Odometer (Legend sedan):  150,755

150755

Odometer (Integra):  238,331

238331

Odometer (Vigor):  106,387

106387

Odometer (ILX):  188,457

188457

Odometer (NSX):  106,412

106412

Trip Distance:  390 Miles

willcox_map

My maturity level took a deep dive on Saturday when I sat in my driver’s seat and looked out upon a gigantic expanse of perfectly flat land in all directions.  I was unsupervised.  I had a slick-shifting 6-speed transmission at my fingertips.  And my sense of adventure begged me to go have some fun.  So, I hit the Traction Control button to deactivate any kind of traction aid, gripped the steering wheel, and let ‘er rip.  Result?  I haven’t had that much fun driving a car since my autocross adventure in 2009.  Talk about a riot.

ilx_willcox

My friends Jason and James were there to witness it — encouraging it, even.  The Willcox Playa – some 3.7 square miles of dirt flatlands – is a dry lake bed in Arizona’s Cochise County in the southeast corner of the state.  But for me, it was a playground where I could pretend I was a professional rally driver.  I can only imagine how much more fun the experience might have been in a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle.  Time to plan another trip back.

willcox_dry_lake

This weekend trip started out as an excuse to meet up with one of my road trip partners in crime, Jason Pawela of Driven for Drives.  Jason was crazy enough to join me on the 8,000-mile Alaska trip earlier this year and I hadn’t seen him for about 6 months since.  We decided to plan a lunch meet-up at the exact geographic midpoint between us:  Willcox, Arizona.  The town of 3,700 people lies 194 miles from Phoenix and 195 miles from Las Cruces.  It was absolutely perfect from a logistical perspective.

willcox_entry

Joining for this one was another seasoned road-tripper, James Lee of Six Speed Blog, who typically joins our group drives in whatever “flavor of the week” he’s road testing at the time.  This week, it happens to be a saucy red 2017 Toyota Corolla with a host of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) goodies.  Yes, I just used the words “Corolla” and “racing” in the same sentence.  I was surprised, too.  Jason’s car of course was the 2004 Mazda 6, now with 217,000 miles and still as robust as ever, and I was in my 2013 ILX.

haskell_lineup

It took us about 3 hours to get to Willcox, and we met up with Jason spot-on at our 1:00 predetermined time.  Dining options in a town of 3,000 people are sparse, and I’d already eaten at 2 of the 3 top-rated spots on Trip Advisor.  (See:  Chiricahua National Monument road trip).  Next on the list?  “Grandma D’s Cafe.”  It sounded safe.  And it ended up being one of the most hospitable places I’ve ever dined.

gma_sign

haskell_maley

Housed in the historic part of Willcox at the northwest corner of Haskell Avenue and Maley Street, the place appeared to have been there forever.  Luckily we had enough time to eat before the 2:00 p.m. closure (grandma cooks breakfast & lunch only!).  I went with the Cochise Burger, adorned with green chiles, avocado, and an over-easy egg for a little extra protein.

grandma_d_willcox_arizona

Grandma was nice enough to get a photo with us and I jotted down our blog websites on a notepad for her.  If you’re reading this, thanks for the hospitality and the great food!  Hope to see you again, Gma!

dirt_road

At this point, we did a car-key-swap and I got to drive Jason’s Mazda the few miles toward Willcox Playa.  To get there, we headed west on I-10 about 4 miles, then south on Highway 191 to a dirt road turnoff that we’d scouted out thanks to Google Earth.  The entrance to our playground was right where we thought it would be.  Luckily for us, the dirt was hard packed for the most part — I’m sure if it had rained recently, we wouldn’t have gotten past the gate.  And also luckily for us, we didn’t venture into any dangerous parts of the Playa.  It wasn’t until after our visit that I read online that the U.S. Military uses portions of the area as a bombing range.  Yikes!

It was a memorable journey for us and I hope you enjoyed being a part of it!  Some additional photos and a short video are below.  Don’t mind the circus music 🙂

Fueling up at Picacho Peak, midway between Phoenix and Tucson

picacho_gas

Entering Grandma D’s in Willcox

cafe_sign

The Cochise Burger at Grandma D’s

burger

Lined up outside the restaurant:  James’ Corolla, Jason’s 6, and my ILX

three_cars

Park near the railroad tracks

ilx_corolla_6

Arriving at the Willcox Playa

6_ilx_2

Clearly James was having a good time!

james_driving

Where’d those skid marks come from?

ilx_back

Getting down and dirty.

ilx_willcox_4

ilx_willcox_3

Wide open spaces, just like that Dixie Chicks song.

6_ilx

It was colder than it looks.  Definitely a breeze in the air!

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Headed back to Phoenix near Picacho Peak (at left) on Interstate 10

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I’m going to put in a plug here for my friend Darren of “IDrewYourCar.com.”  Darren contacted me after my recent Jalopnik feature offering to do some digital artwork for my garage.  I am thrilled with what he put together for me!  Each of my five “old” Acuras has been drawn up in exact detail and printed in 13×19 size.  Even the colors are spot-on.

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A perfect addition to the garage!  Thanks Darren!

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Finally, I’m a nerd about anniversaries and last night just happened to be my 5th anniversary with my 1992 Acura NSX.  It was December 17, 2011 when I flew to San Jose, California and picked up the car.  Last night, James and I went over to Tempe Town Lake for a couple of celebratory photos with the Mill Avenue Bridge in the background.

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Of course I wore a T-shirt to match the car.  Duh!

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It’s been a fun 5 years and 26,000 miles with that one.  Have a great rest of your weekend!

Saturday Road Trip: X Marks the Spot, Musselman Honda, and SidDesign

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on December 4, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  549,077

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Odometer (ILX):  187,814

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Trip Distance:  232 Miles

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The weird, the offbeat, and the random destinations of the world always pique my interest.  How many people do you know who would drive out to the middle of the desert just to see a 60-foot-wide piece of concrete in the shape of an X that’s been there for 50 years?  I guess I’m that person.  And thus the reason why fellow blogger Joe of Bowtie 6 emailed me back in October about an article he’d seen on NPR on that topic.

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The article talked about something called the “CORONA” Project.  During the Cold war in the 1960s, the United States government needed a way to calibrate its satellite system.  Someone came up with the brilliant idea that they could install X’s in the desert for the satellites to hone in and affix on, thereby increasing the accuracy of any images being returned.

Sounded like a road trip opportunity to me!

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I headed out from the Phoenix area in the ILX on Saturday morning and it only took me about 45 minutes to get to the first X.  You’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it:  Tucked away southwest of the intersection of Jimmie Kerr Boulevard and Sunland Gin Road, I drove right to it thanks to a map I’d seen online.  Each of the 272 X’s were 60 feed in diameter and consisted of 4 pieces angling outward.  They are placed at 1 mile intervals in a satisfyingly perfect configuration for someone who has OCD like me.  The center has a small, metal, round marker.  This one said:  “$250 fine or imprisonment for disturbing this mark.”  I wonder if that’s still the case?

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Some 50 years later, it’s no surprise that many of the markers have been destroyed or removed completely as development of the desert has moved forward and the markers are no longer in use.  Only about 117 of the 272 are still left.  Handily, Google gives us a map showing the location and status of each marker.  Purple = gone.  Yellow = damaged.  Blue = present.

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Let’s zoom in on that a little more.  You can clearly see that urban development is coming from the northeast.

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The next stop on my Saturday tour was a historic motorcycle dealership in Tucson.  Helen Musselman and her husband started selling motorcycles in 1945 and became one of the first “official” Honda dealerships in 1959.  She’s worked there since the beginning, and at 98, she still hasn’t retired.  Back in August, Honda’s “Kokoro” Tumblr page written by Charles Schnieber featured a YouTube video of her.  I fell in love with Helen from the get-go.

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Musselman Honda is located in central Tucson just south of a busy road called Grant.  The overall look of the building has not changed in the 70 years of its existence.  What I found even cooler was that the showroom has an entire room dedicated to historic photos, shop manuals, and motorcycles themselves from Honda’s history there.

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I spoke with a sales representative and asked if Helen was in.  “She takes weekends off,” he said.  “We need to get her signing autographs – we get people in here all the time asking for her!”  It’s too bad I didn’t get to shake Helen’s hand, but I did peek inside her office.

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I had a hankering for chips & salsa so I looked up reviews for local lunch spots and was sold on the above review.  I ended up going to another historic Tucson destination:  A family-run Mexican food spot called “Club 21” on the east side of Oracle Road.

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I had the place to myself – which is either good or bad depending on your perspective.  The food was tasty, though, so I enjoyed the peace and quiet.  I always find it amusing when a server brings out a plate and says “Careful, the plate’s hot.”  It seems to happen at every Mexican joint I’ve ever visited, just before my fingers get fried for trying to turn the plate around on the table.  Just once in my life, I want to be told “Touch this plate – it’s fine.”

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On my way back to Phoenix, I did stop for one more X.  This one was off Battaglia Road near the teeny town of Eloy.  It actually took me a couple of tries to find it because the surrounding area had overgrown with tumbleweeds, but I tracked it down and took a few photos.  I’m sure the people driving past were wondering what kind of crazy nonsense I was up to taking pictures of a piece of concrete in the middle of a field.

The last thing I want to show you today is a special story about my friend Sideiq, better known as just “Sid.”  After a recent Jalopnik website feature of my car collection & garage, Sid emailed me offering to do some digital artwork of my vehicles.  Sid is more than just your everyday artist.  He has cerebral palsy, and he was diagnosed at a year old.  From Sid’s bio:

“I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was a year old.  Cerebral palsy affects my muscle coordination, particularly with my arms, legs, and speech.  Because of my disability I use my feet and toes to control the computer with an oversized keyboard and trackball.  I get around in a motorized wheelchair that I also control with my foot.  But these hindrances do not hold me back from translating my goals and dreams into reality.”

This week, Sid sent me two digital images:  A G2 Legend coupe and a G1 NSX, beautifully framed.  How cool is this?

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Unpacking

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And showing them off

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Sweet.

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I’m thrilled with the pictures and can’t wait to hang them up in my home.  For anyone wanting to check out Sid’s website, he’s at SidDesign.com and his Etsy page is here.  Thanks, Sid!  You’re awesome.

And thanks to the rest of you for reading!

Abandoned gas station in Eloy, Arizona

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One of my favorite stops on the Phoenix-Tucson drive.

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This concrete pad used to be a Nickerson Farms restaurant that was demo’d.

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Guard rail in the middle of nowhere!

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Arrival at Musselman Honda in Tucson

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Neat image of Honda’s original US distribution office on Pico Boulevard in LA that I visited last month.

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Vintage pic of Musselman Honda

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