Archive for the Integra Category

Trip to San Diego, California: Beach Time, Car Time, & 250k Integra Milestone

Posted in California, Integra, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip on July 16, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  250,279

Trip Distance:  801 Miles

I seriously have the worst luck with losing sunglasses.  I’ll never forget the time I left a pair sitting on the trunk lid of my car near Bryce Canyon in Utah a few years ago and drove away.  I realized it a few miles down the road, looped back, and ended up finding them but they were missing a lens that was nowhere to be found.  So I plunked down another $80 on a replacement pair, which I’m sure I lost again.

The most recent casualty was from a massive wave in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday afternoon.  I think I got a little ambitious with how far I wanted to immerse myself.  Next thing I knew, I was overtaken and ended up with eyes and mouth full of saltwater as I went completely underwater momentarily.  The shades were a lost cause, but I’ve learned my lesson:  This time I bought replacements for $14.99 from a convenience store.  At that price, they’re disposable anyway.

Losses aside, this trip was just what the doctor ordered for a few days of reprieve from a busy schedule and some toasty summer temperatures in Arizona.  Some friends and I spent a couple of days in the Hillcrest neighborhood, celebrating a birthday and enjoying the sights and sounds that the city had to offer.  I took the Integra GS-R on this trip – knowing that the Legends will see plenty of use in the next week or so for the upcoming NALM trip to Colorado.  I stopped by the Imperial Sand Dunes, which were completely empty.  Go figure, nobody wants to burn their feet in July out there!

One of the ways I always like to dig up nostalgia when I’m in San Diego is to stop by some of the areas where I lived during the 2001-03 timeframe when I was a missionary for my church.  Even back then, I was eyeballing NSXs.  This one, spotted on June 15, 2001, is evidently still owned by the same person 17 years later.  I just today ran the plate using a smartphone app called MyCARFAX.  The car had 30,000 miles back then, and it has 50,000 today.  It’s a 1992 “Grand Prix White.”

And speaking of digging things up:  The first place I visited this weekend was Ramona, California, where my assigned partner and I lived in a converted horse stable, pictured below, that we lovingly called the “Shack.”  In January 2002, we buried a time capsule there with intention of digging it up 5 years later.  It’s now been over 16 years and I have no idea if or when we will ever exhume it.

The property as it sits today:

Christmas 2001 looking mighty festive.  I was standing in the doorway.

I paid a visit to the temple on Interstate 5 at Charmant Drive – a grand, white, castle-looking structure that is as striking from inside as it is out.  It was built in 1993 and has 72,000 square feet.  The grounds are always immaculate too.

Just a couple of miles away, I met up with a handful of “car friends” at a parking structure on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus.  Included were a nice lineup of Legend GS models owned by my friend Jacob, Mike’s 1989 Prelude, Ryan’s 2018 Accord, Jay’s 2008 Mercedes, and eventually Jorge’s 2011 BMW wagon.

We shot the breeze over burgers & fries at Rock Bottom Brewing on La Jolla Village Drive, and by then it was time for me to hit the highway and make my way back to the desert.  The Integra performed well, achieving its 250,000 mile mark just as I descended the grade from Jacumba to Ocotillo on eastbound Interstate 8.

Enjoy some photos and 2 videos from the weekend below!

Imperial Sand Dunes

Heading up Highway 67 toward Ramona

Lineup of mailboxes in buckets of cement, in Ramona

Roaming around the hills east of Ramona

Arrival at the temple

Jacob’s 1994 GS Legend in Sirius White

Eyeballing Jorge’s 2011 BMW

Ryan headed out on Interstate 5

250k milestone!  (Of course, with the ABS light permanently lit!)

Always liked this old hotel – “Stout’s Hotel” in Gila Bend.  It dates back to 1927 but hasn’t been open since the 1980s.

Lastly:  Continuing the “List your car here” trend.  I have a local contact with a 54,000 mile 1995 Legend L sedan automatic pictured here.  It has been neglected, to be quite honest, but runs and drives well and has super low miles.  Does anyone want to bring it back to its deserved glory?  Contact me.

Independence Day Trip to Payson, Arizona & Introduction to Jeff’s 1990 Accord EX

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Reader's Ride, Road Trip on July 7, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  249,324

Trip Distance:  180 Miles

Sometimes it’s nice to just get out of town for a couple of hours – to be independent from the urban grid, listening to Sugar Ray or Chicago, checking out some new terrain.  That’s why on Independence Day, my friend Jack and I hopped into our Acura hatchbacks and headed for the hills.  The small town of Payson is only about 90 minutes away, yet it affords temperatures around 20 degrees cooler than the Phoenix metro area.

Jack’s 2006 RSX took the lead for most of the drive, and I followed him in the Integra GS-R.  We went “non-chain” with our dining selection and seated ourselves at the bar at Pinon Cafe, which has called Payson home for the last 45 years.  It was a little early to be ordering from the lunch menu, so I grabbed a green chili & cheese omelet, with potatoes and wheat toast on the side.  Everything hit the spot.

Payson was bustling with residents preparing for their 4th of July festivities.  We stopped by a nearby park on Main Street and they were setting up for the fireworks launch later in the evening.  Would have been nice to stick around and check out the display, but we hit the road and headed back home.

Every once in a while I get to share with you some exceptional cars.  Here’s one I think you’ll enjoy seeing.  In a recent blog post, I talked about a burgundy (Mulberry, actually) 1990 Honda Accord EX that my friend Jeff was entertaining the idea of selling.  Jeff has decided to keep the car for the time being, but needs a place to store it, so it will be residing in my garage.  He brought the car over earlier in the week.

This car is something truly special:  The first model year for the fourth-generation “CB7” chassis Accord, this 1990 EX was purchased new by Jeff’s mother on September 5, 1990 with 18 miles on it from Scottsdale Honda for around $19,000 out the door.  Over the next 28 years, she cared for it to an incredible extent – literally, spending over $28,000 maintaining it on spare-no-expense dealership services.

Let’s put that into context:  My 2013 ILX turned over 200,000 miles a little over a year ago.  Total spent on maintenance from new to 200,000?  $7,169.  So this Accord has had 4 times that amount spent on it, and still has 64,000 miles to go until the same mileage.

Spreadsheet excerpt including totals at the bottom.  It’s had 8 batteries and 3 timing belts.

Unfortunately, Jeff’s mother passed away earlier this year.  Her pride and joy Accord has just over 136,000 miles on it.  And that’s where we are today, and why Jeff has chosen to allow me to display it on loan in my modest collection for the time being, though it’s deserving of far more.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car preserved to this extent – even many high end exotic supercars don’t enjoy the pampering this car had.  $1,800 alone was spent on periodic details to keep the paint and finishes looking fresh.  The car has a dash mat, car cover, steering wheel cover, anything that could possibly be used to preserve its appearance.  Enjoy the walkaround video below!

Saturday Lunch Outing to Cave Creek, Arizona; Garage & Integra Updates

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip on June 19, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  561,449

Odometer (Integra GS):  71,937

After 97 days without rain in Phoenix, the streak was broken last Saturday – on the very day that about 15 friends and I had a group drive planned.  While most car clubs would be devastated by a little bit of moisture in the air, we loved it!

While seated at lunch at the Horny Toad in Cave Creek, Arizona, we peeked outside and saw our variety of vehicles getting drenched.  And a wide variety they were!  From a Toyota iQ to a Mercedes-Benz 500SL, we had all our bases covered.  Roomie James presented us with a vivid blue Kia Stinger.  I rolled in the Integra because, as my daily, it’s usually closest to the ‘exit row’ in the garage and I didn’t mind it getting wet.

Things have been busy here at the Auto Spa.  In anticipation of having the car club folks over, I did some arts & crafts at the local FedEx Office.  I photocopied some of my cars’ window stickers (and made them all a standard size), then laminated them for display on each vehicle.  I’m still missing a sticker for my Integra GS-R but the rest of the cars either have originals or reproductions thanks to help from fellow Acura owners.

I also finally had the chance to hang up an acrylic plaque with the May 2017 article from Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car on the Integra.  I was able to make room for it along the west wall of the garage.

The “new” Integra GS is coming along nicely.  Last week I was able to ditch the clunky, flat-spotted, 17-year-old Goodyear 195-60-14 tires and replaced them with new Falkens at Discount Tire.  It ran about $400 out the door and the car rides 100 times better now.

New floor mats are on order (aftermarket, for now) and a friend helped me source a passenger sideview mirror to replace the existing one since it’s a bit mismatched and has the wrong mirror glass in it (it doesn’t say anything about “Objects In Mirror” and the image is distorted).  Stay tuned!  I dropped off the replacement mirror for paint today.

I spent a few hours last week stripping off the dealer add-on plastic wheel well moldings (and all the tape/glue that they left behind).  Time lapse video still pending.  You’ll see it here on the next blog entry.

Wall art – currently awaiting the next picture to go along with the other 5 on my wall from IDrewYourCar.com.

Hemmings article on display

Window sticker copies!

Also showing off this brochure with my custom aluminum wheelstand my brother made me.

Looking clean after removing the pin stripe and moldings.

Current passenger mirror on the car – mismatched and pieced together with glue I guess?

Lastly – continuing the trend of posting a car here or there when I know of great opportunities, here are a few selections for you today.

If you’re looking to get into the NSX game relatively inexpensively and with a really rare car, check out my friend Todd’s 1996 NSX in Brooklands Green.  It needs some cosmetic TLC but might make a good entry level NSX for someone out there.  The configuration is 1 of only 25 cars produced in its interior & exterior color combo.

Craigslist link here.  Tell Todd I sent ya!

If family sedans are more your thing, you might want my friend Asmar’s 1993 Accord Special Edition with only 50,000 miles on it.  It’s all original minus the tires, so plan on doing a little preventative maintenance.  But the price is right.  He’s located in Seattle.  Message me for details and I’ll put you in touch with him.

And another CB7 Accord, this one a 1990 EX in a stunning burgundy color (“Mulberry Red Pearl,” if you want to get technical).  This one is being offered privately to only qualified buyers as it’s not listed on any sites.  In other words, a “good home” is an absolute must.  Contact me for details.  It’s a 136,000 mile automatic for sale by the original owner, located here in the Phoenix area.

Have a great week!

Quick CO Trip: NALM 2018 “Pre-Meet” in Colorado Springs

Posted in Colorado, Integra, NALM on June 10, 2018 by tysonhugie

In a little over a month, the 14th annual National Acura Legend Meet will kick off in Colorado.  As a member of the 5-person planning committee, I attended meetings there this past weekend.  Unique to most other NALM events, this one is being planned almost entirely with efforts from “outside” the local area so it was critical for us to visit the sites and make sure they will work for our group.  We achieved success!

I flew to Denver on Thursday evening and spent 2 nights in the area, arriving back in Phoenix last night.  Sorry, no road trip write-ups to share this time!

The NALM event will kick off on July 18 at the Country Lodge in Woodland Park, Colorado, about 20 minutes up Route 24 west of Colorado Springs.  It’s a scenic, twisty highway that gains elevation in the pine forests to over 8,000 feet in elevation.  Our host hotel has a nice back deck with plenty of space for soaking in the views and scenery.  On Thursday, we have a scenic drive to Breckenridge with lunch at Legends Grill.  Fitting, right?

Friday, we summit the almighty Pikes Peak at over 14,000 feet – one of the country’s most famous and picturesque highways.  That afternoon, we’ll be exploring the historic mining towns of Victor and Cripple Creek.  We have a pizza dinner planned for that evening.  On Saturday, Pikes Peak Acura in Colorado Springs will host us for an open house and food, including the chance for a few “feature” Legends to be parked inside the showroom.  That afternoon, we’ll have our judging for the awards and later on, a closing dinner, awards, and raffle prizes at the Country Lodge.

We are greatly looking forward to this year’s event and have attendees coming in from 9 different states.  Here are a few photos of how our planning activities went this weekend.  Registration is still open here.

Chris enjoying the deck at Country Lodge

Our rental was a 2018 Nissan Altima SL.  Not too bad!  611 mile range!

View of the peaks from Highway 24

Pikes Peak Acura in Colorado Springs

Evan, Chris, Alex, Alan, Tyson

The RealTime Race Team happened to be prepping the TLX-GT for this year’s hillclimb event, slated for June 24

Riding back up the mountain in Adam’s 1988 Toyota Celica. Adam is a local Toyota / Lexus owner but former Legend owner, and he’s been giving us a hand with local insight.

Turnoff to Pikes (and the North Pole, it seems!)

View from Country Lodge deck

Back of Country Lodge

Exploring old mining towns

Adam’s 1999 Lexus LS400 was a posh ride for this portion of our activities

It’s a sweet car for the 198,000 miles it has on it!

Someone showed me this commercial the other day and I dug it.  Michael J. Fox selling the Integra sedan!

Have a great rest of the weekend.

The New 1992 Integra GS Sedan 5-Speed, Part 2: Drive Home & Initial Cleanup

Posted in Integra, Maintenance, Nevada, Road Trip on June 2, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  560,985

Alas, my adventure from the purchase of this 71,215-mile Integra was not over yet.  This new (old) Integra GS wasn’t quite ready to break free from the cobwebs of long term storage:  Just as I started getting comfortable on my return trip to Phoenix, roughly 100 miles into my trip, the motor started cutting out intermittently on the interstate.

At first it didn’t interfere with my ability to keep momentum, but eventually, even with my foot on the accelerator at full engagement, I was dropping speed – and quickly.  I was about 20 miles north of Las Vegas on I-15, in about 100 degree temperatures, on the shoulder.

I was able to re-start the car a couple of times and limp along southbound in the emergency line, but meanwhile I was doing my research and figuring out next steps.  I HAD to get back to Phoenix somehow that night, still over 300 miles away, for important work meetings the following day.

So, was my best option to tow the Integra home somehow, rent another car, or try and catch a flight out of Vegas?  I got the car to a Love’s gas station and bought a bottled water while waiting for a neon green tow truck, so I had a few minutes to do my research and collect my thoughts.  Look at this call history!

Not how I thought the day would go!

What I discovered was that rental car agencies are not friendly to work with on the phone – and that’s if you can even get someone on the phone at all.  Many were closed at 6:00 p.m.  One wanted to charge me a $300 one-way drop-off fee if I picked up a car in Vegas and drove it to Phoenix.  Another refused to rent to me at all without a round trip flight ticket.  WTH?  I met one slammed door after another.

Southwest Airlines came through for me.  Luckily, there are about 8 departures per day between LAS & PHX.  I was able to snag a seat on the last flight out for the day – departing around 10:30 p.m. – and make my way to the airport after leaving the Integra at the Acura dealership on Sahara Avenue.  My nerves were shot when I got home around midnight.  But by gosh by golly, I made it to those work meetings.

Description of the problem that I wrote on the envelope with the key when I night-dropped the car.

Flying home!

Meanwhile, the Integra GS sat for a week at the dealership, 300 miles away from my home.  Its diagnosis?  A bad fuel pump and a leaking fuel filler line, which of course was discontinued.  It’s a good thing I have friends in high places.  My friend Hy found a used part on Ebay which I promptly ordered and had shipped to the dealership.

I received word on Tuesday that the part had arrived and would work, then awaited an ETA on the car’s roadworthiness.  On Wednesday, I learned they had the wrong fuel pump and a new one would be arriving the next day.  Thursday, they got the right part.  And Friday, it was tested and confirmed good.

After what seemed like forever, I was able to fly back to Las Vegas and retrieve the car.  I took a 7:05 a.m. flight on Southwest on Saturday (really racking up those Rapid Rewards loyalty points!) and was on the ground a little after 8:00, picked up by my friend Dane in his Lincoln – Starbucks in hand for me.  Bless his heart.

We headed directly to the dealership on Sahara and I met up with a friend who works there, Louie, as well as my service advisor, Mitch.  It was a relief to (again) be heading out in my new car and I was optimistic about this latest fix taking care of the issues.  I grabbed breakfast with my Dane and Brandon at the Egg & I before hitting the road.

FOOD!

And smooth sailing it was – I kept things really easy on the car, low RPM, easy acceleration, kind of holding my breath that nothing else would happen in the 300 miles that remained.  When I finally got to my house at 3:00 p.m., I breathed a sigh of relief.

So here’s how the overall purchase timeline worked out.

  • April 27:  Notified of the car being for sale by Jeff
  • April 30:  Cody test drove
  • May 1:  Made offer, which was accepted, booked flight
  • May 2:  Scheduled 90k maintenance with Honda dealer
  • May 7:  Flew to Utah
  • May 8:  Picked up car, had maintenance, started driving home, broke down, towed to dealer
  • May 9:  Identified issue
  • May 10:  Found discontinued / used part, ordered on Ebay
  • May 15:  Part arrived
  • May 16:  Notified of incorrect fuel pump
  • May 17:  New pump installed
  • May 18:  Fuel system passed testing
  • May 19:  Returned to Las Vegas & drove the car home

After getting the car home, I spent dug in and started getting things cleaned up in the same fashion that I did it with my LS.  In fact, it was deja vu.  (I just spent 5 minutes looking at the etymology of that phrase.  Turns out it’s French, and it means “already seen.”  You’re welcome!).  Even the local emissions check station agents looked at me a little funny as I arrived in a new Integra.  “Weren’t you already here?” they asked me.  “Where do you keep finding these cars?!” was the next question.

So here I am, one Integra sold, one purchased, and taking a break from running a used car dealership for a little while now.    Here are a few episodes on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.  Get lots of popcorn ready.

Part 2:   Transport Home

Part 3:  Cleanup

Part 4:  Engine Cleaning

Home and part of the family!

That front plate was the first thing to go.

And of course – the next day – a few pics in the backyard.

Engine bay – before

Engine bay – after

Thanks for following along on yet another of my crazy automotive adventures!

Bye Old Integra, Hello New Integra: Am I Insane Yet? (Part 1)

Posted in Integra, Utah on May 30, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  560,344

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  158,148

Odometer (Integra Hatch):  248,095

Odometer (Integra GS Sedan):  071,778

Odometer (Vigor):  111,181

Odometer (NSX):  111,553

Yes.  The answer is yes, I’m insane – I don’t need you to put it in the comments, but please do it anyway.

I’ve fallen so far off my rocker I may never be able to get back up.  But that’s okay.  I thought I’d spice up this blog with an unexpected twist and buy an Acura Integra nearly identical to the one I already had.  Why not, right?  I already have twin Desert Mist Metallic 1994 Legends.

So here we go again.  This time I have a 1992 Integra GS sedan 5-speed.  Now let me help give context with some trim level breakdowns:

  • RS:  Basic as basic comes!
  • LS:  RS trim + color matched mirrors, power mirrors and locks
  • GS:  LS trim + anti-lock brakes, power moonroof, alloy wheels, and map lights.  Ooooh!

All 3 are powered by a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter dual overhead cam 4-cylinder motor.  No VTEC here:  The sedans did not get the same engine technology that the GS-R 3-door hatchback did.

I was definitely NOT in the market for a replacement Integra when this one came along.  To the contrary, I was greatly enjoying restoring my 1992 LS that I went to great lengths to buy, transport. and clean up.  But luckily, thanks to my Bring a Trailer auction, I was able to find a new owner for that one who will really enjoy it.  Ken flew in on Sunday morning and drove the car home to Denver, Colorado.

Short video of the drive-away:

As much as I enjoyed that LS, when a one-owner car comes along with extensive ownership history and all the goodies of a top trim level, you bust a move.  So thanks to my friend Jeff for sending it my way, and to my friend Cody for driving over to check it out – including a FaceTime session with him and with the owners.  Here are the photos from that day.

Screen shot of the original craigslist ad.

71,212 on the odometer!

FaceTime sesh!  Yes, I did.  Chris, this pic’s for you.

This car comes to my collection from a sweet gal named Maxine who lives in southern Utah.  She bought the car brand new off the showroom floor in the Seattle area 26 years ago at Bellevue Acura.

I caught a flight to St. George, Utah on Monday evening, May 7, and spent the night at mom’s place before heading over to Max’s on Tuesday morning for the transaction.  I was a little apprehensive, as is always the case in the hours leading up to the purchase of a new car.  It was about a 30 minute drive to Max’s place in Ivins.  The car was already pulled out of the garage and ready to roll when we arrived.

Max was understandably a little emotional about the event – and for good reason.  She’d owned the car for maybe half her life?  It’s a big deal to part with something so sentimental.  After taking a few traditional key handoff photos, we went through a folder of paperwork dating back to when the car was new.  You all know how excited that gets me.  She had the original window sticker, service receipts, even a slip of paper indicating the commission amount that salesman David Wright made on March 12, 1992.  It was $285.00.

Oh, and I also found a Vehicle Service Contract dated March 30, 1993 at 26,741 miles that was good for 84 months or 100,000 miles.  By the mileage standard, the car is STILL covered!  Haha.

First stop before even getting the revs beyond about 2,500 RPM was the Honda dealership a few miles away.  I’d pre-arranged with the Service Department to take care of a timing belt & water pump change for me – not one to risk driving 400 miles on an old belt in 100+ degree temperatures.  The oil change was also far overdue – with the last sticker from Jiffy Lube on the windshield dated 2009, nine years ago!

The service technician reported that the timing belt was “yellowed and crispy” (yikes) so I was glad I had it changed.

I set sail on my homeward trip, feeling accomplished at picking up a minty little car.  But something still made me uneasy in the driver seat.  Was it the ancient Goodyear tires?  Flat spotted and cracked?  I didn’t exceed 65 miles per hour because of those.  But even beyond that, I was unsettled, and for good reason.  I soon found out why.  Come back next time to read the next chapter…

First Episode:

Departing from Max’s place

Interesting – this car was marked up $2,000 from the MSRP!  $19,275 instead of $17,275.

Toasty day to be heading out!

Just for kicks – check out this 6-minute video my friend Hy and put together last weekend of his immaculate Accord SE as I was invited to roll a milestone with him.

And a video of my friend Jim taking delivery of a 2018 Accord 6-speed:

And a video of my friend Kyle arriving home with his ‘new’ 2009 Pontiac G8 6-speed:

And one more, from just this past weekend.  I went junkyarding with my friend Michael – check out his really nice 1990 Legend L sedan with only 60,000 miles on it.

That ought to keep you all busy for a few days.  Have a great one!

Southern Arizona Saturday: Douglas, Arizona Road Trip & Historic 1907 Gadsden Hotel

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip on May 27, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  248,090

Trip Distance:  464 Miles

Occasionally, my friend Jason and I like to get together for lunch.  The only challenge is, Jason lives 388 miles away and in another state (Las Cruces, New Mexico).  Though for us, that “challenge” is actually an “opportunity.”  Over the years, we’ve targeted some awesome midpoint destinations like Duncan and Willcox.  This time, we decided to head to the historic Mexican border town of Douglas, Arizona.

Incorporated in 1905, the town was named after a mining pioneer named James Douglas and was home to two copper smelters.  Perhaps its most significant architectural structure is the Gadsden Hotel which opened in 1907, destroyed by fire, and then rebuilt in 1929.  The Gadsden name comes from James Gadsden, who was the U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1853 when the United States bought a 30,000-square-mile region from Mexico via treaty.

The hotel itself is a five-story, 160-room building with elaborate features like a Tiffany & Co stained glass mural across one of the walls in the lobby.  It seemed like the perfect destination for our Saturday lunch jaunt.

And short of being inside Mexico, wouldn’t you think that the best (or at least most authentic) Mexican food would be found as close to the border as possible?  So it worked out perfectly that Casa Segovia at the Gadsden is less than one mile from the international border checkpoint.

My drive started out around 8:00 on a Saturday morning – a little earlier than anticipated because we’d forgotten about the time zone difference between NM & AZ.  Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, so Jason got a jump on me, and I hurried to hit the road as well so that we could arrive in Douglas around the same timeframe.

The Integra GS-R whirred to 4,200 RPM happily and stayed there for the next 3.5 or so hours.  I did make just one stop, at Picacho Peak along Interstate 10 about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, for some Lunchables and a Vitamin Water.  Judge away!

Meanwhile, Jason was on his way, too, but from the opposite direction.

The last hour or so took me through some of southern Arizona’s famous old western towns, including Tombstone (“The Town Too Tough to Die”) which was bustling with tourists who were probably headed to the O.K. Corral to see a gunfight reenactment.  I motored on through town and found my way via Highways 80 and 191 to Douglas – so close to the Mexican border that I could see the international fence toward the end of the street.  Jason was already there, snapping pictures and getting acquainted with the lay of the land.  I parked the ‘Teg behind his 2004 Mazda 6.

The Gadsden was elaborate by even today’s standards, so I had to imagine that it must have been home to some really wealthy guests back in the day.  When we walked through the front entrance, we saw that the interior of the lobby had been decked out in a dozen or so round tables with silver place settings and turquoise napkins.  We later found out that this was for a wedding to be held later in the day.  We had the place largely to ourselves – and clearly we had “tourist” painted on our faces because the gal at the registration desk asked, “Can I help you?”

I was a little star-struck at how intricate some of the architecture was – a large rounded staircase dominated the foyer and for some reason reminded me of the movie Titanic.  The woodwork was detailed, and the stained glass mural lined the entire east side of the roofline.  There was a photo album on the front desk that I thumbed through to see some of the historic photos and newspaper articles that the Gadsden had been featured in.  I also confirmed my suspicions about the hotel being primarily an escape for the elite:  Eleanor Roosevelt was noted as having stayed there.

I loved seeing all the brass keys hanging behind the registration desk.  Real keys, from long before the days when we started using those newfangled credit card ones.

To our left was an entrance to Casa Segovia, the Gadsden’s in-house restaurant.  Jason commented “I feel under-dressed for this,” and I muttered, “I don’t know how much this is going to cost,” as we walked inside.  We were both pleasantly surprised:  I honestly expected most of the entrees to be about twice the cost they were.  Score.  There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted something substantial and Mexican, so I went with the chicken fajitas, which came out still-sizzling along with two tortillas and some sides like guacamole and sour cream.  TDF, they were.  That means “To Die For,” a phrase I learned from my mother.

Meanwhile I caught up with Jason who’d driven nearly an identical distance to Gadsden as I had, in his tried and trusty Mazda with 249,000 miles on it.  Considering my Integra had 248,000, we collectively showed up in Douglas with about half a million under our belts.  We took a few photos of the cars at other locations on “G” Street, including the Grand Theatre just a block north.  The theatre’s marquee said, “NOW SHOWING,” but based on the looks of things, the only thing it was showing was its age.

Next, we buzzed the 8 or 9 blocks south to the international border fence, but without a passport I wasn’t able to (nor had I intended to, for this trip anyway) cross into Mexico.  And lastly we stopped in at the Visitor Center, equipped with stacks of pamphlets of brochures and a sign-in guest book which Jason and I of course tagged.  Our visit was short but sweet in nature – all of 90 or so minutes spent together until we split ways and sailed to our respective homes in opposite directions – but we enjoyed catching up.

Next time I’ll make it an over-nighter and request whichever room Eleanor Roosevelt stayed in.

Tracking Jason’s location while en route

Fork in the road at Benson, Arizona where I headed south on Highway 80

Getting close!

Davis Road which cuts across from Highway 80 to Highway 191

Just about there

Arriving in Douglas, you see the sign pointing you to Mexico

Parked and ready to eat!

Historic image showing the hotel looking largely the same as it does today.

Dinner specials from July 3, 1969.  It’s $3.25 for rib eye steak!

Exterior shots

International border fence at the Mexico line

Stopping in Tombstone on way home to get a little dust on my cowboy boots, err… sneakers.

Thanks for coming along!