Archive for the NALM Category

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 3: Dealer Day, Banquet/Awards, & Return Trip

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 25, 2018 by tysonhugie

As Cher said in 1989, “If I could turn back time….”

If you could turn back time, to what year would you set your destination?  For me, it might be sometime in the early-to-mid 1990s.  I was a fresh teenager at the Woodward Sixth Grade Center, reading Dirt Wheels Magazine and studying up on ATVs, putting miles on my Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike (pictured below in 1996), and playing games like Myst on our Packard Bell home computer.  Life was good.

It was around that time, some of Acura’s best sellers were gracing its showroom floors.  For just one day, Pikes Peak Acura in Colorado Springs chose to re-create such an occasion.  On Saturday, July 21, Manager Joel Archuleta swung open his facility’s doors for six Acura Legends to take over the spots previously occupied by ILX, TLX, RDX, and MDX models.  And the commotion drew quite a bit of attention from both staff members and customers alike.  Adding to the already-nostalgic feeling within the showroom, I requested that the satellite radio channel be changed to 1990s music, and it was.  Perfect.

On display in front, we had the two “twin” Legend GS sedans, my VIN 21413 and Chris’ 21268, configured in identical equipment, and within a few miles of each other in odometer readings.  More on that car in a future article.  Here’s our photo with Joel.

Behind the receptionist desk, we had two generation 2 LS coupes:  Mirel’s black-on-black 1994 LS 6-speed and Ben’s white-on-black 1992 LS automatic.  Capping off the ends of the showroom were Leon’s 1995 LS coupe and James’ 1988 base model sedan.  James’ car drew a great deal of attention as it was the most highly modified vehicle in the spotlight, with eye-catching custom paint, suspension, and other upgrades.  It was also the only first-generation car in attendance.

One of the highlights of having our “dealer day” was seeing a few random local owners come out of the woodwork, including Jesus in a black G2 coupe and Seth in a Desert Mist 1994 Vigor GS.  We welcomed both of them like family and invited them to join us upstairs for our catered lunch.  Dealership personnel cast votes on their favorite car, and the award was granted to Chris for his Legend GS.  Our time in the limelight was short-lived, and by noon we were rolling back out the doors and returning to home base in Woodland Park.

That afternoon, we took the cars to Woodland Park High School and held an informal car show and voting.  There were a few fun categories, like “Least Visor Sag,” and “Cleanest Floor Mats,” but my favorite was one called “Least Idle Smoke.”  In my 14 years attending this car meet, this was the first time I’ve participated in a “smoke-off.”  The concept is straightforward:

  • Park the cars in a lineup
  • Fire up the motors
  • Let the cars idle for about 10 minutes
  • Proceed down the row and have someone rev each car to similar RPM
  • Evaluate which car emits the least blue smoke

It was kind of funny, really.  I mean, these cars are 23 or more years old.  Even the lowest-mileage car in attendance, Leon’s 1995 coupe LS with 145,000 miles on it, let out a puff of smoke.  Oil burning is a common thing.  You’ll see what I mean in the video.

That evening, our NALM concluded with a BBQ banquet, raffle, and awards ceremony at the Country Lodge.  Every attendee received an item, and some received multiple.  Best of Show went to Chris for his Legend build, Longest Distance Traveled went to Alex from Florida, Best Interior went to Leon, and other awards were given.  It was the perfect capstone to an adventure-filled few days in Colorado.

Meanwhile, James L and I prepared for a long return journey ahead to Arizona the following morning.  We hit the road at our anticipated 7:00 departure time and made only a few stops along the way, including a prime photo op along I-25 southbound near the “Highway of Legends.”  Thanks to some walkie-talkie communication, we were able to stay in touch for the entire 850-mile stretch.  Sean, my skydiving friend who I mentioned in Part 2, bought us lunch in Albuquerque at a restaurant called “The Range” off Interstate 40.

Tired but fulfilled, we got back to Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. local time.  Until the next NALM!

It’s 1995 all over again

Me with my GS

Group shot

Looking spiffy

Chris’ car.  Notice how we even swapped out our plates for Pikes Peak ones!

Mirel’s car

Matt and Jesus’ cars

Dinner at Woodland Country Lodge

Home, sweet home, in Arizona on Sunday night

Until next time!

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 2: Pikes Peak Ascent to 14,115 Feet!

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Day Distance:  56 Miles

Some people love heights.  Take my friend Sean, for example.  He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is an optometrist by day but an avid skydiver on the side.  I had the opportunity to meet up with him for lunch on Sunday while passing through his area.  “So how many dives have you done?” I asked him, expecting to have him say maybe a hundred.  “Over five hundred,” he told me.  Holy smokes.

My interest was piqued, and I continued to interview Sean about what that must be like.  He told me that typical free-fall velocity is around 120 miles per hour, but he’s been known to get up to about 190 before (“The wind noise was deafening,” he said).

Sean is a thrill-seeker, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his cars.  He drives a 2017 Honda Accord and a base model white 1991 Acura Legend that he’s had since he was 16, which was over 19 years ago.  That’s some loyalty and dedication.  I’ve known Sean since the first National Acura Legend Meet in Dallas, Texas in 2005.

Speaking of heights, there have been only a couple of times in my life when I’ve conquered a “14’er.”  That’s Colorado-speak for a mountain with a summit of over 14,000 feet in elevation.  One of them was when I drove Mount Evans back in 2013.

For that trip, my anxiety was pretty mild:  I was driving a 1-year-old car (my 2013 ILX) with fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

This latest feat was a little bit of a different story:  I was about to attempt climbing a vertical mile straight up into the air over a 19-mile stretch of road. But this time, I was in a car with 562,000 miles on it, that burns oil, leaks power steering fluid, and has an original engine, transmission, and clutch.  Heaven help me.  If there was ever a time I put faith in my old trusty Legend to get me there safely, it was on Friday morning at the base of the road.  We arrived at 7:00 a.m., a full 30 minutes before the gates opened, and had some time to prepare for what was to come.

Ten of the 11 Legends that started the ascent made it to the top.  Combined, they had 2.4 million miles on them.  The only one that didn’t make it was Alex’s 1994 LS coupe (pictured above) which experienced a transmission problem with its recently installed 6-speed.  Luckily, it happened before we got to the areas with little or no room for pulling over.  The road gets pretty gnarly.

In Alex’s absence, I took the lead and set the pace for the group, alternating mostly between 2nd and 3rd gear but sometimes dropping to first on the hairpins.  A/C was off (it wasn’t needed anyway) and my eyes were glued to the temperature gauge.  With each passing mile, a sign marker on the side of the road told us our progress.

By 10,000 feet, we could start to see ourselves approaching the tree line.  The curves continued, and the road narrowed.  Eleven, 12, and 13,000 feet came and went.  By the time we passed 14,000, I gripping the wheel and wishing I’d left my sweatshirt on (windows were down).  The temperature dipped to the mid-40’s – roughly 1/3 of the temperature back home in Phoenix this time of year.  I wasn’t prepared for this!

My eyes were so laser-focused on the road ahead that I paid little attention to the drop-offs alongside me.  Alan, who was right behind me in his 1993 coupe, got on the walkie-talkie, “Hey, get a little closer to that edge!” he said.  “No thanks!” I responded.  Finally we arrived at the summit house which offered a respite from the chilly temps and winds, though being primitive in appearance.  The summit house, in fact, has been largely left in its current state since construction in the early 1960s, and it shows.

Inside, we found ourselves surrounded by typical gift shop garb:  T-shirts, coffee mugs, magnets with names on them.  You know, it’s really rare to find a magnet with the name Tyson on it.  Just saying.  I picked up a hot cocoa for $1.25 and a couple of fresh, hot donuts.  Apparently those donuts are a Pikes Peak famous tradition.  And they did hit the spot.  Our group had about an hour to kill by wandering around the summit.  In the back of the building, the views were spectacular:  Near 360-degree perspective showing the landscape below (albeit, through smoke and haze since the wildfires are really prevalent this year).

Also present is the track for a cog railway, which is currently out of service but slated to reopen around the same time as a new, modern summit house.  Here I am with Ken (New Jersey), Alex (Florida), and Waseem (Michigan).  Oh, and Alex’s dog KA8 (pronounced Kate).

A few people had elevation issues:  I watched as some stumbled or struggled with balance.  The elevation gave me a little sinus pain and you could definitely tell the air was thin because it was easy to get winded or fatigued from even just a little hiking around.  But the cars, thank goodness, all started and ran just as well at 14k feet as they had when we started up the hill at around 7k.  And speaking of the cars, someone from the staff got on an intercom while we were wandering around, “Remember to use your lowest gear when going down the mountain.”  They then went on to give instructions on how to find a “plus/minus” setting on most modern automatic vehicles.  Chris found himself some great underwear to take home as a souvenir.

And then it was time to crawl back down.  I stuck to 2nd gear most of the way, easing off the brakes as much as possible.  We were slowed down considerably a couple of times due to groups of bicyclists taking over the roadway.  At one point, we even pulled over when it was safe to do so and let them get a good head start on us so we could enjoy the road at a more comfortable pace.

At about the halfway point, there was a mandatory brake check (shown above).  A ranger stopped each vehicle and used a temperature gun to find out brake temps.  Any vehicle in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit is asked to let them cool down before proceeding.  The record low temp in our group was Waseem in his rented BMW 5-series with 140 degrees.  Second place?  Me, at 154 degrees.  That’s how it’s done!

There was a reservoir just prior to mile 7 that offered a nice backdrop of the Rockies for our photo op, and then it was back to base camp at the Woodland Country Lodge until the next NALM activity!

Oh, and as for Alex with the broken-down coupe, there is a happy ending:  Miraculously, he was able to source a used 5-speed transmission at a junkyard in Denver and swap it in a few days later.  As of this posting, he is back on the road and well on his way home!

Here is a video capturing some of the action!

Reading material distributed at the entrance station.  Our group had a $10/car discounted entry fee.

First pull-out to regroup at Crowe Gulch, with Leon in the background.

Vintage postcard showing Pikes back in the day

Our group at the summit

Taking a break during the descent

Photo ops near mile 7

Stay tuned for more – in the next episode, I’ll take you inside Pikes Peak Acura where the clock was turned back to the 1990s all over again!  Also, check out this video that Skydiver Sean put together from our meet-up in Albuquerque!

 

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 1: Kicking Things Off

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 23, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  563,437

Odometer (Legend sedan):  159,945

Trip Distance:  1,804 Miles

Please meet my friend Kiley from Kansas.

In all my years of being such a fanatic about Acura, she’s the first person I’ve met who took it to the ultimate level.  Acura emblem earrings.  Lipstick that matches her car.  Her Legend grille tattooed on her arm.  Acura from head to toe, with accessories to back it up — her purse is a leather portfolio that was originally intended to hold an owner’s manual.  Kiley is one of the reasons why I just love this community.  I love people who are passionate.  It’s no wonder she won “Most Enthusiastic” at this year’s meet.

For 14 years, the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) has been a summer tradition of mine.  In fact, I was curious how far I’ve driven just for the sake of attending this annual car club meeting.  It comes out to nearly 35,000 miles, and the summary is below by year.

This year, for the first time, the state of Colorado played host to our group.  It was the perfect getaway spot to find comfy temps, brilliant scenery, tasty food, and a bunch of really awesome people like Kiley.  You all know I don’t just do this for the cars, right?

This year, there were about 30 members, 18 cars, and 11 states registered – and not a single one of them a Colorado local.  In fact, if my math skills hold true, our group’s one-way mileage just to get here adds up to over 20,000.  That’s some serious dedication.  What is it about this car club that compels people to sacrifice lost wages, lost sleep, and risky travels to enjoy the camaraderie for a few days?  It’s that ‘Legend mystique’ and some will never understand it.  And that’s okay.

  • Take Alex, for example, who as of about a week ago undertook a complete transmission swap on this car and still pulled it off in time to drive it 2,100 miles across the country from Florida.
  • Or Chris, who drove a similar distance with his twin 12-year-old daughters, making it a family vacation including a stop at the Titanic Museum.
  • Corey, who spent 3 nights sleeping in his car on the way here from Seattle (and lost his wallet in Spokane along the way).
  • Ben, who lives primarily in Shanghai but comes back each year for this event at great time and expense.  And who locked his keys in his car twice.
  • Jay, who drove from Alabama in his 300,000+ mile Legend coupe and is now on his way to Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Mirel, who got his car out of the paint booth just days ago and was literally still installing emblems and trim pieces just moments before he began his 3-state roadtrip.
  • Waseem, Ken, and Evan, who don’t even have their Legends with them this trip but who still came to be a part of the family.

I guess I feel right at home here once a year with people who have my same level of craziness.

My 850-mile drive from Phoenix was done in a single stretch with 3 fuel / stretch stops along the way.  By the time I was making my way up Highway 24 westbound to the host hotel, the sun was just dipping below the horizon of the peaks ahead of me.  I arrived just in time to catch up with the group at Ute Pass Brewing Company on Wednesday night and then enjoy the cool breeze of the back deck at the Country Lodge after sundown.

Thursday was comprised of a road rally to Breckenridge, but I had to sit on the sidelines and stare at my laptop back at the hotel since I didn’t have the day off work.  No matter – there were still a few days of fun & festivities left.  We dined on some of Colorado’s finest Mexican food before calling it a night back at the hotel.  In the next couple of blog posts, I’ll share a little about our “main event” – a drive up one of America’s highest-elevation paved roads, to Pikes Peak summit at over 14,000 feet.  I’ll also discuss a special event at the local dealership where they allowed 6 of our members’ cars to be place into the showroom like it was the 1990s all over again.  Teaser:

I’ll also have 2 or 3 videos for you to enjoy.  While you’re waiting, check out this article by Kurt Klingensmith about the Radwood event I attended back in March, with some great photos of my Vigor!

I-40 & I-25 interchange in Albuquerque, New Mexico:  A little over halfway there!

Arrival at Country Lodge – that’s Chris’ Legend GS

Working from the hotel on Thursday, this was about as much as I got to experience the great outdoors

Headed to dinner with Chris, Callie, Sienna, and others.

Leon, Waseem, James, Kiley, Evan, October, Nancy, Alan

Ben, Smiley, Ken, Corey

Alex, Matt, Callie, Sienna, Chris, and Jay

Prep for Pikes Peak.  More to come!

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.

Announcement: 2018 National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) – Colorado Springs, CO – July 18-22

Posted in NALM on February 8, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  559,013

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  156,310

It’s official!  For its 14th annual event, the National Acura Legend Meet is heading to colorful Colorado.  The announcement was formally posted on the AcuraLegend.org forums on Tuesday, February 6th.

To get your tachometer revving, here are a few planned highlights of the event:

  • Scenic cruise to Breckenridge
  • Day trip up Pikes Peak Highway – the famous 14,000 foot peak, and one of the highest elevation paved roads in North America
  • Drag strip event at Pueblo Motorsports Park
  • Dealer day at Pikes Peak Acura

Here are the locations of all prior events, as shown on the NALM Website too.

Registration is expected to go live around April 1, and the event will be held from July 18 through 22.  The host hotel will be the very accommodating Woodland Country Lodge in Woodland Park, just a few miles up the road from Colorado Springs.  Have you ever seen such a view from a hotel parking lot before?

This one will be going for sure!

We are excited to see what this year’s festivities bring.  Attendees are slated to attend from various parts of the country, some driving from as far away as Florida.  I’ll post updates here as they become available.

Stay tuned next week for a featured review on this 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid which I’ll be putting through its paces on a trip to Utah and back.

Speaking of SUVs, if you’re in the market for something fun and quirky to have a little 4×4 fun with, go look at James‘ Isuzu VehiCROSS, currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer at no reserve!  The auction ends on Monday.

It’s one of the most radical designs of the 1990s.  Have a great weekend, all!

NALM 2018 Bidding Open, & Throwback Thursday: 2005 Meet Video

Posted in NALM, Throwback on December 7, 2017 by tysonhugie

It’s already time to kick off bidding for next year’s nerdy Legend extravaganza, otherwise known as NALM (the National Acura Legend Meet).  The event has taken place for 13 consecutive years now, spanning the country from California to New Jersey and many places in between.  I haven’t missed one yet.  Here’s a website I’ve been managing the has a few highlights and photos/videos from each of the events.

National Acura Legend Meet WordPress

Here’s the link for the announcement and instructions on how to bid to host the event:

AcuraLegend.org Forum NALM 2018 Announcement

And to get us in the spirit of things, here’s a blast from the past:  A 7-minute video capturing scenes from the event’s first program from May 27-29, 2005 in Dallas, Texas.  Special features include a car wash activity, close-ups of some special “custom” Legends, autocrossing action shots, the banquet dinner, and a night out on the town.  Check out event organizer Lee Horton getting sideways in his G1 coupe at around 5:30.  My coupe had around 171,000 miles on the odometer.

I also happened to come across this video of destruction of a G2 sedan while browsing the ‘Tubes.  Watch at your own discretion; it’s a little graphic!

And finally, on a brighter note, check out this video my friend Pat put together of his absolutely stunning 1994 Legend GS 6-speed sedan.  Drool-worthy for sure.

Happy Thursday, enjoy the rest of your week, and keep on driving.

Alex’s Legendary 6-Speed, 6-State Tour to the Pacific Northwest

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on June 19, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend sedan):  154,939

Trip Distance:  3,495.7

Who’s ready for summer?  If anybody needs me, I’ll be indoors for the next 3 months.

My friend Alex borrowed my car for a 3,500 mile road trip, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

Most of us have driven a rental or loaner car before.  What are your driving behaviors in a rental car as compared to in your own vehicle?  Have you ever heard of anyone returning a loaner in better shape than when they picked it up?  Now I have.

There’s one car in my collection that rarely goes anywhere.  I call it the garage queen for a reason:  In 9 years of ownership, I drove it fewer than 20,000 miles.  I think it was driven in the rain only twice during that timeframe.  It’s garaged, preserved, and babied.  Well, that garage queen became a road trip warrior for an 8-day span when my friend Alex flew in from Fort Myers, Florida to take an epic west coast road trip including a visit at this year’s NALM in my 1994 Legend GS sedan 6-speed.

Alex’s route covered 3,495.7 miles and took him through 6 states.  His journeys were documented with several GoPro camera clips as well as over 200 high quality photographs.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and the only thing that could have made it better would be if I had been able to be a part of it with him in person.  Experiencing it after the fact through his thorough documentation is the next best thing for me, as well as for all of you!

Alex and his fellow Floridian Alan spent a good chunk of their NALM time perusing the local junkyards for Legend parts.  After having been discontinued from production for over 22 years, you can imagine a model like the Legend does not have very robust support for replacement parts.  As a result those of us who intend to keep our cars on the road forever have to resort to dumpster diving from time to time.  Among the treasures A&A found (and installed) on my Legend GS were:

  • Master window switch with functional auto-down
  • ‘Beauty bar’ plastic trim cover over front bumper hardware
  • Uncracked center A/C vent trim
  • Radio antenna
  • Upgraded chrome door strikers and matching bolts
  • Bracket for clutch hydraulic hose
  • Battery tie-down
  • Windshield washer fluid cap

When I cut south on Interstate 5 on Sunday, June 11th when NALM concluded in Sacramento, Alex went north in my now “enhanced” Legend GS.  He continued on up toward Portland, but he took the scenic route in doing so.  Among his stops were the massive drive-thru Redwood tree in Leggett, California called Chandelier Tree and some  scenic stretches of Highway 101 in southern Oregon.  (Thus the T-shirt!)

Alex took the time to stop for photographs at each state line he crossed.  He reported that the car performed near flawlessly.  The only issues to note:  The speedometer is inaccurate at higher speeds, sometimes reading up to 10 mph faster than actual speed.  The rear brakes are squeaking.  The radio volume controls from the steering wheel don’t work.  And it might be time for spark plugs (last changed in 2009).

But Alex completed his adventure on Wednesday, June 14th after having completed his nearly-3,500-mile road trip.  He flew back to Florida later that evening, but not before we took the NSX out for a bite & drink.

Thanks Alex for giving my old car a chance to see some parts of the country that many people will only dream of experiencing!  Here are just a few of the photos Alex took & shared with me (posted here in random order), and a short video showing a few GoPro scenes just prior to hitting the Oregon state line.

Alan at the wheel

Alex and Alan about to go junkyarding in the Sacramento area

Arizona state line

Bridge crossing

California state line

Chandelier drive-thru tree in Leggett, California

With me in the rearview!

Me being cheesy!

Lots of rain – thank goodness for those new wiper blades a week before the trip!

Traveling the Extraterrestrial Highway (Hwy 93 in Nevada)

So many stickers you can barely make out the sign!

NALM group at Lake Tahoe

Idaho state line – and the car visible in the far background

Semi truck with a pretty cool name / logo

Mountain scenery

More scenery all around

Nevada state line

Pacific Ocean

Oregon Trail information

Oregon state line

Another shot from NALM

Redwood National Park entry

Alan and Alex at Lake Tahoe

Tunnel crossing

Washington state line

Spreadsheet nerd that I am, thought some might appreciate this.  It’s a quick & dirty calculation I did the other day to see how many of the 22,401 miles that my car has been driven that *I* have actually driven them.

As it turns out, roughly 1/3 of the car’s mileage accumulation in those last 9 years have been from other people.