Archive for the Road Trip Category

NSX Performance Driving Event at Honda Proving Ground – Cantil, California

Posted in California, Integra, NSX, Racing, Road Trip on January 1, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  557,630

Odometer (Integra):  245,708

Odometer (ILX):  203,182

Odometer (Legend sedan):  156,131

Odometer (NSX):  109,664

Odometer (Vigor):  108,672

Trip Distance:  874 Miles

Happy New Year!

I haven’t been to a theme park since 1994.  This is a picture of 12-year-old me (in socks & sandles — that fashion was OK back then, I think) with my brother Bentley trying out the mini golf course at Disneyland in California.  We got our fill of roller coaster rides, cotton candy, and entertainment.  Fast forward 13 years and I think I found an “adult” Disneyland.  It’s a 45,000-acre playground in the middle of nowhere in the California desert, and it’s called the Honda Proving Center.  I got a behind the scenes look at this magical place on Saturday, December 9th.  It may just be the happiest place on Earth.

It’s not every day you’re sitting in the driver seat of a $180,000, 573-horsepower supercar with a professional coach in your passenger seat.  Doing 118 miles per hour on cruise control on a 7-mile-long high-speed oval track.  And getting to the straightaway and having the coach say, “Ok, put the gas to the floor and hold it there.”  My eyes got as big as pie plates.  “What?!”  “Punch it.”  I obeyed, and we shot to 155 miles per hour – a personal land speed record for me – in a matter of a few seconds.  By the time I’d completed two laps and we exited the track, 80 miles per hour felt like idling through a school zone.  My sense of speed was completely out of whack.

My track time was part of an “NSX Drive Experience,” made possible by special invitation by some of my friends at Acura.  It catered largely to folks who are long time brand advocates or potential NSX shoppers.

My track experience credentials prior to this event were pretty pathetic.

  • I did a 105-mph open-road race in 2007 & 2008 (Bonneville 100 in northern Nevada)
  • I did an SCCA autocross course in 2009 (NALM – Branson, Missouri)
  • I drove on a road course in 2010 (Miller Motorsports Park – Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • I 1/4-mile drag raced my car in 2016 (Atlanta Dragway – Atlanta, Georgia)

Needless to say, I’m still very much a novice when it comes to putting on a race helmet and getting out on a racetrack.  That changed to a small degree this weekend when I took advantage of the opportunity to experience 2 hours in the seat of a Nouvelle Blue Pearl 2017 Acura NSX.  And my coach – professional driver Ken Hill – actually said my skills were pretty impressive.  “Quick hands,” he told me.  I’ll take it!

I drove out to California City late Friday night in the Integra, whirring at 4,500 RPM all the way to the Riverside area, then on up the Cajon Pass to Victorville on I-15, then taking two-laners the remaining 80 or so miles to my hotel, the Best Western.  Roads were lonely and it was a clear night for the 7-hour drive.  The following morning, I made my way north to the entrance to Honda’s facility in Cantil – a nondescript turnoff after miles and miles of nothing but telephone poles, where a white sign and HONDA in red block lettering guided me in.

Honda has owned the property since 1990 and it was used by the company’s Research & Development team for its first 20 or so years.  It went through a $28 million renovation in 2015 as part of a conversion from “durability” testing to “dynamic” testing as its focus.  Today it’s a closed course that allows test engineers to put prototype vehicles through their paces.  I saw a couple of vehicles in camouflage while behind closed gates, but any photography was of course strictly prohibited.

The session kicked off with Acura Senior Manager John Watts and pro driver Ken Hill giving us the lay of the land – some NSX model-specific background, the story on the facility, and some safety briefings along with a description of what we were about to experience.  Our “class” of 8 or so people was able to see inside the building’s operations center, with its wall full of TV screens capturing surveillance of every jackrabbit or tortoise that moves on the property – along with each and every vehicle, of course.

My first of four track experiences was the oval, followed by a demonstration of a zero-to-100-mph-to-zero acceleration and braking exercise.  Ken showed me how to activate the NSX’s “Track / Launch” mode by holding the selector knob to the right for 5 seconds.  The power and grip that this unleashed was unreal.  From a dead stop, 60 miles per hour came up in only 2.7 seconds, my helmet deeply planted against the headrest.  We rocketed to 100 miles per hour, then clamped down on the brakes.  The carbon ceramic brake equipment brought us to a sudden and controlled stop.  Nausea anyone?  It’s a good thing I wasn’t doing this on an empty stomach.

We made our way to a small autocross track where I tried my hand at keeping an NSX inside some painted white lines while dodging cones, and finally went to the Winding Road course which is a true simulation of what a curvy mountain road might look and feel like.  The road itself has a few tricks up its sleeve, like a steep hill that makes you feel like you’re going to launch the car, and a decreasing-radius turn that catches a lot of people by surprise.  Ken and I took several laps and with each one, I became more and more comfortable with the car.  This picture is not me!

My heart raced and my palms were sweaty but I gained confidence and continued to be blown away by the NSX and its capability.  My skills were so good, in fact (patting myself on the back here), that I caught up to the car in front of me and we had to pull off the track to wait for them to get more of a head start.  After this segment, we went to a reception where lunch was served and iPads were available for surveys and NSX Build Configurator access.  All participants were provided a poster and goody bag for their participation which was a nice souvenir to take home.  Organizers even offered to top off my fuel tank prior to departing, but my Integra was already sitting at full capacity.

It was a dose of reality to get back into my 4-cylinder, 160-horsepower, 244,000 mile Integra to start heading home but my nerves needed a break anyway after so many thrills.  I had just one more sight to see on my drive home, so I made a special point to visit the “Musical Road” off Highway 14 on Avenue G in Lancaster, California.  It’s a road paved with grooves in it that when driven across, plays a song.  I tried it at 60, 45, and 75 miles per hour.  Check out the video below for what that ended up sounding like!

Many thanks to the folks at Acura for such an awesome event.  More to come in the next couple of weeks as I play catch-up on current events and get 2018 off to a timely start!

Late night arrival into California City

Chilly day the following morning!  The Integra took an extra crank to start.

Departing my Best Western

Long and lonely road to get to the proving ground

Made it!

Parked next to a “Still Night Pearl” 2018 TLX A-Spec.  I knew I was in the right place.

With my friend Curtis from Acura’s agency

Pre-drive briefing in the lobby

VIP status!

Photo on display from Mr. Honda’s visit to the facility in the early 1990s

2018 RLX out front

Detail on the different driving experiences available at the track

Heading out in the afternoon!

Arrival at the Musical Road in Lancaster

Visiting my friend Jerry in Palmdale who has a 1993 Integra GS sedan

I thought this spot on the top of a pass on Highway 138 was pretty cool.  Mountain Top Cafe.  It’s been there since 1940.

Descending toward my junction with Interstate 15.

“Mormon Rocks” along the San Bernardino National Forest.

Swag that I brought home!  Nice shirt + some reading material.

I sent a text message to Ted Klaus, project leader for the NSX, and thanked him for building such a magical machine.  He had a nice reply!

It made me appreciate my generation 1 NSX even more.

I liked this image showing the NSX, Vigor, and Integras.  Missing Legends!

A couple of weeks ago there was a ‘twin’ to my Legend coupe (one VIN apart, in fact, #833 and mine is #832) for around $2,900.  I was tempted to grab it and keep for eventual restoration.  Or spare parts!

Speaking of blue NSXs, I wanted to share this sweet one that ScienceofSpeed in Chandler, Arizona built for this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.  Shout out to my friend Erik for sharing the pics.

When was the last time you saw a 1989 Honda Accord SE-i coupe?  This beauty has only 42,300 miles on it, and was recently acquired by my friend Kai who is doing some mechanical restoration work on it.

The local Arizona NSX Club of America chapter members got together last month for a holiday dinner at ScienceofSpeed.  I got to park my 1992 indoors next to our dining tables.

It was nice to reconnect with the 20 or so members who came out.

That Audi R8 on the lift was a little out of place!

Talk soon!

Best Hits of the 80s & 90s: “Radwood 2” Car Show in Anaheim, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip on December 3, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  557,148

Trip Distance:  356 Miles

Let’s take a moment to appreciate my fashion sense in this photo from circa 1990.  I’m pictured at left here with my two brothers.  Rolled up jean shorts?  Check.

Popped collars, fanny packs, and porn-staches greeted me upon arrival to “The Phoenix Club” yesterday morning just a few miles from Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  It was almost as if I’d gotten stuck in a time warp and traveled back in history 20 years.  When I saw this Delorean a few minutes later with license plate “BKNTYME,” my suspicions were confirmed.

Yesterday’s event was the most brilliantly-executed and exciting car show I have attended in years.  It was something different, and something very “me.”

Radwood” was a contrast to go from the white-collar LA Auto Show media days which I attended earlier this week, with its forever growing ego-contest and snooty “the coffee at our booth is better than yours” attitude, to a venue where cutoff jeans are appropriate, Bud Lights are readily available, and Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” is blasting on the loudspeaker.  I loved every minute of it.  I only wish I’d invested in a slap bracelet, Hypercolor T-shirt, or some stone washed jeans ahead of time so I could better dress the part.  One smart attendee was even taking pictures with a disposable camera!  You know, the kind that you “click,” then have to manually advance the film.

This event was born as a small show in 2016 in the Bay Area catering specifically to the era of vehicles produced from 1980 through 1999.  Now in only its second year, the event shifted venues to a place with far more capacity and still sold out well in advance.  Thanks in part to clever partnership with Jalopnik, Clarion, Japanese Nostalgic Car, Bring a Trailer, and many other sponsors, the word was spread far and wide.

Attendees traveled from all around the country to attend.  One attendee – Peter Monshizadeh – drove all the way from Overland Park, Kansas, and entered three vehicles in the show:  His Dodge pickup truck, which was towing a trailer with his Nissan 300ZX and a period correct motorcycle.  That’s dedication.

And who could forget automotive journalist extraordinaire Jason Cammisa running around in booty shorts that would make Richard Simmons jealous.  This was a sight to behold.  Jason’s immaculate BMW E30 station wagon, among many other “feature cars” including my friend Chris Hoffman’s CRX, was on display in the main tent area near the stage.  Jason ended up taking home an award – a 1985 Nintendo game cartridge glued to a plaque, of course – for his Bimmer, and it was well deserved.  His enthusiasm added to the fun and atmosphere of the program.

I was in good company in the Honda/Acura family.  My friend Rob Pia proudly showed his immaculate, 130,000-mile 1994 Legend sedan in glistening Cashmere Silver Metallic, and next to him my friend Chris Green parked his award-winning 1986 Honda Prelude with only 50,000 miles on the odometer.

I had the privilege of meeting a couple of ‘new’ Legend owners, too, and had some friends stop by who live in the area.  Cars from all regions were accepted and recognized.  Even the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville parked in our row with nearly an entire keyboard of buttons on its steering wheel attracted lots of attention.  Another guy named Tyson who drives a beautiful black 1997 BMW M3 introduced himself and his car to me – complete with a period correct cassette tape sitting on the center console.

But how about this?

Perhaps one of my favorite vehicles was Ryan Glass’ 1992 Ford Explorer, which started life as a pretty ho-hum Eddie Bauer edition but has been extensively and painstakingly converted into a Jurassic Park movie icon.  “Spared no expense,” were the words that came to mind as he described to me the custom wrap, brochures in the back seat, bumper and taillight protector guards, and even a pair of velociraptor-spotting goggles on the passenger seat.

As the day carried on, I reflected on how much I appreciated the laid-back and friendly vibe at Radwood.  I hope the event continues its great momentum and carries on for years to come.  I’m already starting to brainstorm ideas for next year’s trip, and it might have to be in the Vigor since I didn’t see one this year.  Now if I could just get ahold of some Reebok Pump footwear.  Below are some more pictures and a short video!

I knew the day started off right when I saw this pay phone outside my motel in Orange, California.

I put my custom wheelstand to use that my brother hand-built for me out of aluminum.

Roll-in shot, thanks to Chris in the 1986 Prelude.

Photo with Rob in ‘vintage’ motif.

Ran into my friend Grant with his beautiful Mercedes SL.  Check that fanny pack, too.

One of two super clean generation 1 Legend coupes on display.

And another.  Becki was awesome!  How much Aqua Net did she need for her hair?

Visit from Penny.

Shooting the breeze with Jalopnik’s Andrew Collins.

A visit from Fred and checking out the Clarion Legend coupe.

The aforementioned 1991 Bonneville!  With a “LeBra” on the front, of course.

Love me a big-body Benz 560 SEC.

Original owner 1990 Honda Civic 4-speed manual with over 300,000 original miles.

Just $6,635 MSRP for this thing.  I think he got his money’s worth!

My friends Felix and Matt

Love the 1990s Mitsubishi Eclipses.  What happened to Mitsubishi?

Good NSX representation, too.

Sweet CRX, but look what’s on the roof.

That’s right:  Boombox and some cassettes!

Reconnecting with the man himself:  Matt Farah and his now-969,000-mile 1996 Lexus LS400.  I drove this car a couple of years ago and blogged about it.  It’s on a quest to hit a million miles.

Oooh, love this old 5-series BMW.

2G Integras with a super clean 3G Prelude.

My friend Derek, repping a Mazda 929 sedan.

Late night drive home to Phoenix!

2017 “AutoMobility” & Los Angeles International Auto Show

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip, Vehicle Reviews on December 1, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  556,770

Trip Distance:  379 Miles

Greetings!  I’m jotting down a few words here from the Media Center at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  LACC is now pretty familiar turf for me, as I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of times.  Here are write-ups from my prior LA Auto Show visits:

I had to miss 2016 due to work engagements, but I still made it to some of the social eventsRedline Reviews‘ Editor-in-Chief Sofyan Bey was kind enough to extend an invitation to me so I could be a part of the festivities this year.

After two full days about about 10 miles walked between the South Hall and the West Hall to see all the latest and greatest, I can tell you there is a lot of change brewing in the automotive industry as a whole.  Personal mobility is taking on a whole new dynamic, as technology speedily moves toward an increased focus on autonomy.  As cars become faster, safer, and more efficient, similar strides are being made in self-driving technology.  It’s no mystery, though, that I’m a driver.  Is “automobility” something I should dread or embrace?

My trek to LA started on Tuesday afternoon from Phoenix in the Legend coupe.  It’s a tried and true road warrior, and certainly a more comfortable cruiser than the 1992 Integra I drove to Utah last weekend for Thanksgiving.  The closer I got to the epicenter of the 13-million-resident LA metro area, the more congested my beautiful open roads became.  I was delayed about 35 minutes on I-10 nearing Riverside thanks to a combination of accident + commuter traffic.  Gotta love it.  In all, the 379-mile one-way trip took me close to 7 hours.

Wednesday was a jam-packed day of press conferences, kicking off with a BMW presentation around 8:30 and a stampede of journalists migrating from one booth to the next throughout the day.  Some of the big news this year?  Oh just a few highlights that stuck out to me:  Lexus coming out with a 3-row RX SUV.  BMW launching a convertible i8 and new M5.  Mercedes has a new CLS.  Mazda’s next-generation 6 sedan is out.  Subaru has launched its biggest SUV yet, a 3-rower called the Ascent.  Nissan’s “Kicks” replaces the Juke, and Hyundai has its own new cute-ute called the Kona.

600 horsepower, all-wheel-drive BMW?  Hotness.  Not to mention that color.

Jeep’s Wrangler comes back again looking about the same but with a completely new chassis and lots more tech.  Kia debuts its new Sorento, Infiniti shows the QX50, and Lincoln ditches its alphanumeric naming conventions for traditional names like its new Nautilus (replacing the MKX).  That’s a step in the right direction, don’t you all agree?  It was a slow-ish show for Honda & Acura, with no formal press conferences but still plenty to look at inside the respective booths.  I can’t begin to squeeze two full days of automotive news into a few paragraphs here, but check out Redline’s YouTube playlist on the auto show for a glimpse at some of the sights and sounds we enjoyed.

The vehicles on display at LAAS are only part of the appeal of the event.  It attracts some of the world’s renowned auto journalists.  Our team ended up seated in the Media Center right behind most of the Jalopnik staff, including Andrew Collins who I can thank for this awesome piece he put together about a year ago.

The after-hours activities this year were just as entertaining, with a Hyundai-sponsored party the first evening at Novo night club, and a social event in West Hollywood the following night at Doheny Room where I connected with a few fellow journalists.  All too soon, it was time to again part ways with those colleagues.  The Redline team flew out Friday morning and I made my way (90 minutes to drive 38 miles – thanks again, LA!) toward Anaheim for a car show to be held Saturday morning.  More on that to come in a future post!

Acura booth with the redesigned 2018 RLX on display

Don’t mind if I do hang out here!

I admired some of Honda’s hardware while in the booth.  These dozen or more awards are just from this year’s LA Auto Show alone!  There are boxes and boxes of things like this sitting at the corporate office in Torrance.

Fellow car geeks Brian and Chris

Some of you may recognize this ‘other’ Brian – none other than the famous Brian Cooley from CNET.

Quick shot with the Redline team (Sofyan, Peace, Rob) and Honda’s Davis Adams.

Street parking the coupe in West Hollywood!

This might just be the best motel parking space I’ve ever had.  Huge.

Bonus:  A few pics from last weekend’s Thanksgiving trip to Utah

Brother’s redoing his living room and said I could park in it.  Why not?

My nephew Locke

Cruising around some of my old stomping grounds

HUGE shout-out to blog reader Eric who had this custom embroidered Polo shirt made up for me, with the date of my 555 milestone from back in October!  Thanks, Eric!

Over and out!




Road Trippage: Silver City, New Mexico & Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Posted in Hikes, Integra, National Parks, New Mexico, Road Trip on November 19, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  242,335

Trip Distance:  716 Miles

Imagine how simple life must have been 700 years ago.  Yesterday, I walked in the literal footsteps of the Mogollon (pronounced moga-yon) people – a band of indigenous tribes who lived off the land through subsistence farming during that era, and who left behind a glimpse of what their lives consisted of.  Being without cell signal for 5 hours gave me but a very small taste of what it would have been like to be more in tune with nature.  And I liked it.

The southwestern United States is home to some of the best-preserved historic ruins thanks to predictable weather patterns and remote geography.  Almost exactly 110 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside about 530 acres in southwestern New Mexico as part of a national monument that today resides about 40 miles north of the town of Silver City.  For us Arizonans, that makes it a pretty accessible overnight road trip destination.  And this weekend, per suggestion of (and in partnership with) Driven for Drives‘ Jason Pawela, I checked it off my list.

I broke free from the Phoenix urban grid a little after 3:00 p.m. on Friday to make my eastward trip toward the New Mexico state line.  As was to be expected, I had to fight my way out on I-10 in commuter traffic but eventually was able to set the cruise on my Integra at 75 miles per hour.  I made just one stop, at Love’s in Benson, for fuel and a stretch of the legs.  The final 50 or so miles from I-10 at Lordsburg into Silver City were lonely and even a little creepy.  My ‘Christmas tree’ of dash lights (ABS, check engine, high beams, and cruise) were the only lights I saw aside from vivid constellations under the night sky – highly visible thanks to the area’s lack of light pollution.

Saturday morning brought us crisp 45 degree temperatures and blue skies.  I met up with Jason, James L, and James Z for a hearty Comfort Inn breakfast (complete with green chili on the side – total New Mexico thing!) and then we rallied our participants for this weekend’s drive:  2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2004 Mazda 6, and 1992 Acura Integra.  It took only a few minutes to lose cell service as we headed north on twisty Highway 15.  For only a 2-liter motor, the Alfa’s 280-horsepower 4-cylinder motor develops oodles of power and James was right on my tail.  I swapped keys with Jason for a few miles and was impressed at how smoothly his (‘new‘) Mazda 6 handles given its 180k+ miles.

It’s a good thing I was a driver, because I wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes as a passenger with these curves.  For about half that stretch, the road was narrow, with blind corners and no painted center line.  NM DOT basically says “Good luck!” and to allow for plenty of travel time (they said 2 hours) between Silver City and the ruins.

After a brief intro at the Visitor Center which probably looks today about the same as it did in the 1960s, we headed to a parking lot & trailhead 2 miles up the road.  The dwellings in the area were believed to have been occupied around the year 1275 and are still remarkably well preserved.  The Gila River running nearby was the Mogollon peoples’ source of life.  By 1874 when explorer Henry Weatherbee Henshaw discovered and wrote about the ruins, some parts of them had been damaged.  But ever since President Roosevelt’s decision to make it a national monument, the preservation has been vigilant – we weren’t even allowed to take liquids other than water on the hike, and we were asked not to touch any of the walls with our hands.

To access them, we had to hike a one mile loop which crosses several footbridges.  There was a small brook running underneath them and the sound of waterfalls made it a therapeutic experience.  A steep incline further down the trail took us up the cliffside and then we walked through a series of 5 different “rooms,” each one laid out with a unique floor plan. What struck me was the savvy use of space and the distinct feeling of temperature and brightness in each room.  The south-facing openings were optimal because they would allow some summer sunshine to enter and heat up the rooms in the winter time, but kept them shaded during the summer when the sun was higher in the sky.

Much of the Mogollon peoples’ lives remains a mystery, and part of our tour consisted of a Q&A session with ranger Connie.  Connie took the time to point out a few key features and asked us what we thought they were.  They included a grinding stone, pictograph images painted on the walls, and architectural features of the caves.  Today, there are wooden step ladders leaning to the various rooms but some of the original infrastructure – including rooftops over some of the rooms – are now gone.  It took us about an hour to hike the circle.

The return trip to Silver City was once again ‘spirited’ in nature, and we made good time thanks to being a little familiar with the terrain by now.  Lunch was at Nancy’s Silver Cafe right in historic downtown, where the 3-taco plate was just what the doctor ordered to satisfy those hunger cravings.  We parted ways by mid afternoon and I sailed off into the sunset – literally, squinting at it the whole way – returning to Phoenix.  I did make just one stop along the way, in a town called Dragoon, perhaps in hopes I’d see a fire-breathing dragon.  But I did not.  I just saw a sign about some rattlesnakes and some run-down buildings.

Here are the rest of my pics from this trip, as well as a short video.  Thanks for coming along!

Getting ready to roll on out.

Welcome to the Trail of the Mountain Scenic Byway

Whoever picked purple for the lettering on this sign probably made the wrong choice.

We missed fall colors by just a few weeks…

… but in a few areas they are still very vivid.  New Mexico does get 3-4 inches of snow per winter at this elevation, according to Ranger Connie.

Visitor Center.  Entry fee is $5 per person for the hike to the ruins.

Making our way toward the dwellings.

The round hole here is where a wooden pole (supporting a roof) once would have been.

Climbing down the ladder from the largest room.

Some of the blackened ceilings in the caves are due to fires / smoke.

There’s lunch, for you foodies!

Headed home with a stop in Dragoon.

Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) 2017 – Long Beach, California

Posted in California, Legend, Road Trip on September 25, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend sedan):  155,969

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

Hey, look who came home with a second place award!

This weekend, I drove to Long Beach, California to participate in the 13th annual Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) along the banks of the Pacific.  It was not my first time being part of the event – in fact, I guess you could say I’m a bit of a seasoned veteran now.

Unfortunately, the “Neo” show – specifically dedicated to 1980s and 1990s cars – was suspended for 2017 due to a potential venue change, but special consideration was made for 20 spots in the “regular” JCCS show to allow for cars from that era, and I jumped at the opportunity.  There are awards given in a total of 25 categories — 3 of which are specific to Hondas.  By comparison, 8 are Datsun/Nissan and 6 are Toyota, so the Honda representation tends to be smaller at this venue.  I was glad to take part.

One highlight was also the fact that I wasn’t the only second-generation Legend in attendance.  Clarion, known in the aftermarket industry as one of the premier car audio companies, has just completed a build of a sound system inside a very clean 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  Jubal Leierer, Clarion’s Manager of Merchandising and Special Programs, was in attendance at NSXPO earlier this month and told me they’d have the Legend out at JCCS, which was exciting.  I’ll have a special post about that car in the coming weeks.

My trip to Long Beach took place last Friday, September 22nd.  I fought some westbound traffic on Interstate 10 getting out of Phoenix, which is to be expected during the afternoon rush hour.  Saturday morning I had a short 15-minute jaunt from my hotel in Torrance to the JCCS venue at the Queen Mary.  Right off the bat, I ran into a few friends at the registration line.

I was assigned a parking space next to a newfound friend, Daniel, who drives a 1990 Accord coupe 5-speed which he inherited from his grandmother.  It was a stunning blue color.  I also met a guy named Ryan who is the proud owner of a 1988 Daihatsu Charade.  It was the only Daihatsu entered in the whole show.  And it was mint!  Only 56,000 miles and a 5-speed manual.

The oldest vehicle on display was this 1965 Honda T500 pickup truck.

Throughout the day, I wandered around and enjoyed the scenery.  By 10:00 a.m., I was already ready to give the food truck vendor $17 for a grilled cheese sandwich with turkey and avocado.  It hit the spot.  My friends Davis and Joseph came out to say hello – Davis works at Honda in Public relations, and Joseph is a long-time Acura fan who painstakingly restored his 1992 Vigor recently.   During the 1960s, Honda ran a motorcycle ad campaign that said, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.”

Well, I’ll second that statement!

My short video here:

Here are a couple of videos that my Legend made it into.

MotoManTV piece at 19:00:

And 1:39 here:

Westbound drive on Friday evening near Desert Center, California

Crossing over a series of bridges on the way to the Queen Mary in Long Beach

Check out this lineup of ultra-clean Honda CRXs

Meeting Marcus, owner of HeelToe Automotive

Very clean Celica

A whole rainbow of colors on display

Meeting the famous Tim “Merciless” Mings who is based in Duarte, CA and who specializes in restoration of Honda N600, S600, and Z600 cars.

Windows sticker of an old Z car

With lots of brochures and literature on display

My friend Chris H’s 1980 Honda Accord

Meeting the crew including Zac from Bring a Trailer, one of my favorite automotive websites.

Logan and Davis stopping by to visit

Joseph stopping to visit

This is Joseph’s “Royal Plum” 1992 Vigor.  It’s in great shape for 188,000 miles!

My friend Chris G’s two Preludes:  1986 and 1989.  They have 49,000 and 70,000 miles respectively.

Interior of the ’89 Si

Love this little foam core display board he had up in the rear window.

Pop-up headlights!

“Made in this 80s.  Loved by the ladies.”  This sticker was on a 1980s Nissan Pulsar.

Headed back to the desert via Hwy 91, Hwy 60, & Interstate 10.

Arrival in Phoenix around 11:00 p.m. on Saturday after an easy drive.

Labor Day Weekend 2017 – Palm Springs, California Trip & TL 100,000 Milestone

Posted in California, Road Trip, TL on September 5, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,713

Odometer (TL):  100,468

Trip Distance:  542 Miles

Cue the confetti.  We have another 100,000-miler in the house!

It’s rare for me to own a car with “only” an odometer reading of 5 digits.  In fact, the lowest mileage car I’ve ever owned aside from my 2013 ILX that I got new, was my 1994 Legend coupe that had 95,000 miles on it when purchased in 2003.  That car has come out of hiding a few times in recent days, and several of you have asked why I haven’t posted any updates.  Check out this sunset last night at the Phoenix Financial Center 19-story building on Central Avenue.

The Legend is still trucking along, and the building itself is legendary in its own way.  Constructed in 1964, it was designed to look like a computer punchcard.  My favorite story about its construction is that (Legend has it!) there is a time capsule within the building that was supposed to have been removed in 2012 which has never been found.  We’re now 5 years beyond that date!  I’d be tearing the place apart to find it.  Here’s the story of what I did this Labor Day Weekend.

Nestled at the eastern base of the 10,000-foot-tall San Jacinto Mountains, there’s a city in Southern California that’s made a name for itself as a popular weekend destination.  Palm Springs is home to 44,000 people and some of the best mid-century architecture in the country.  I’d be crazy to not take advantage of a 3-day holiday weekend, and it seemed like a perfect destination.  On Friday afternoon, a friend and I hit the highway and headed westbound to see what the city could offer us.

Luckily for me, my 2007 Acura TL was about to pass a pretty big milestone.  It took the car 10 years to rack up 100,000 miles.  I had to pull over about 30 miles east of Quartzsite, near the Arizona-California state line to celebrate and capture the occasion on video.

We rolled into the Hard Rock Hotel on Indian Canyon Road and valet parked the TL before going out on the town.

The next day was primarily spent lounging next to the pool, despite the fact that it was 104 degrees outside and we had little shade to work with.  One of Palm Spring’s roadside wonders is the “pink door house,” so we made sure to stop there on the way back to Phoenix on Sunday morning.  Bubble gum pink, it sure is.

More pics below from the weekend’s shenanigans.  Coming up later this week:  A flight to Milwaukee for this year’s “NSXPO” annual Acura NSX meet-up.  No, sadly, I won’t be driving out there.  But I’ll at least enjoy whatever festivities I can from the comfort (or discomfort?) of a rental car.

Roadside stop in Quartzsite with my copilot

Palm Springs in all its glory, set against the San Jacinto peaks

Our hotel for 2 nights

Best coffee (ahem, “koffi”) shop in town!  They have 3 locations.

The frozen white mocha hit the spot.

Other news:  I got to check out & drive my friend Daniel’s 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec last week!  It wasn’t my first time behind the wheel of such a car (see Maryland trip) but I greatly enjoyed a more thorough test drive.

Daniel’s car accelerates, handles, and looks like a true sports sedan.

I must say I don’t mind it one bit!  Give it a clutch pedal and I’m sold!

Another shot of the Legend + PSC building last night.

Road trip to Tucson & back today with coworker Amanda for work.

Lastly, remember how some Hondas of old had “5 speed” badging like this?

A friend told me about these $9.99 Amazon emblems that say “6 speed.”  I got one.  As a joke, I promise.  I’m not going to install this permanently!  But I thought it would be funny to mock up with Scotch tape for a picture.

The TL needed a quick pic too!

Have a great week!

Logan, Utah Weekend Trip: Family History, Tasty Food, & Great Roads

Posted in Road Trip, TL, Utah on August 16, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,414

Odometer (TL):  99,872

Trip Distance:  1,700 Miles

Merrill Vernon Hansen was my great-grandfather.  Born September 18, 1902, he would have been turning 115 years old next month, but he passed away before I was even 4 years old.  About the only thing I remember of him was when he’d stick his big finger in my face and say, “Are you grandma’s boy?”

Merrill was a man who I wish I had gotten to know better – along with so many of my other ancestors.  But one of the highlights of the past weekend in my home state of Utah was thumbing through a few of his books where he’d written messages inside the covers.  One such example was this page from his Holy Bible.  He was 21 years old and getting ready to depart for the “Eastern States Mission” for his church when he wrote this down on Friday, February 29th, 1924.  Not a bad penman!

Grandpa Hansen had a lot of preparations to do at that time.  A week and a half later on Wednesday, March 12th, he would be departing for New York City and spending the next two years of his live giving voluntary service, with very limited contact with family and friends back home in Utah.  So on March 7th, he bought shaving cream for 35 cents.  On March 8th, he got a haircut for a quarter.  And that same day, he bought flowers for his mother as well as for his girlfriend Della – who later became my great-grandmother.  Guess they did the trick.  Here was his expense ledger.

It was later in his life when Merrill opened up what we believe to be Cache Valley’s first automotive service station.  I talked about that here a few years ago.  He lived a long and prosperous life until his passing in 1985.

I was glad to learn a little more about Grandpa Hansen thanks to a weekend road trip up north.  In the 4 months I’ve had my 2007 TL, the poor thing has been stashed away in the garage for a good chunk of that time.  I decided to change all that – in a big way – by taking a 4-state, 1,700 mile journey to visit friends & family.

I had a special guest along for a good chunk of this ride:  My 87-year-old grandmother (and Merrill’s daughter), affectionately known to our family as “Lamb,” took the passenger seat for a time.  With a bad left hip and a frail build, she’s used to being transported in vehicles with higher step-in height, like her PT Cruiser or dad’s MDX.  So when she sunk into the cockpit of my car, she said, “In these sedans, you just disappear.”

I’d only driven a mile or two northbound on Highway 89 in Logan Utah with her and had to pull over one more time – grandma hadn’t fastened her seat belt so the car was warning me with its repetitive beep.  We got that taken care of.  We completed our shopping trip to Kohl’s for some bath towels and a lunch date at Cache Valley’s best pizza joint, called Fredrico’s.  Grandma is the most savvy shopper I’ve met:  We got $36 worth of merchandise for $2.71 thanks to her gift card mailer and some clever couponing.  Score!

Rewinding to the start of the trip, I experienced one of Arizona’s famous “monsoon” thunderstorms on Highway 93 between Wikieup and Kingman – drenching me enough that visibility was next to nothing and I became grateful for fresh wiper blades and grippy Michelin Pilot tires.  By sunset, I rolled through Las Vegas and then had only two hours left until my nightly stop at mom’s place in southwestern Utah.

After a workday in St. George, I motored 4 more hours north.  The TL makes a long-haul drive pretty effortless, thanks to its torquey V6 and low revs in 6th gear.  The sound system – I’ve said this before but it deserves another mention – is absolutely rocking.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Celine Dion “Us” blasting through an ELS Surround Sound System.  Most of Interstate 15 is set at 80 miles per hour speed limits so the farmland passes by with ease and quickness.

My friend Branson and I did dinner that evening in Salt Lake at one of my absolute favorite (though very “chain”) restaurants:  Texas Roadhouse.  I’ve known Branson for 14 years now.  We initially connected – this won’t surprise any of my readers – through the car community since at the time we were both driving Acura Legends.  His current Legend coupe, in fact, inspired my selection for the TL’s license plate, so it seemed appropriate that we lined the two cars up side by side for pictures.

Finally, on Saturday morning I hit northern Utah and southern Idaho.  My friend Ryan (guess what – met him through his old Legend, too!) introduced me to his current collection of Audis.  He has 6 cars and in that sense he “speaks my language” as a car hoarder myself.

I also had the opportunity that afternoon to visit the campus of Utah State University – born in 1888, and later, the institution that granted me a Bachelor’s degree in 2005.  The Business facilities have vastly improved since my time on campus but it was fun to roam around some of the same pathways and corridors I hadn’t seen in 12 years.

Dad took me and my niece Vivienne for an ATV ride a few miles up Providence Canyon near his home and we got to check out a couple of waterfalls.  He whipped up homemade tacos and we dined al fresco on his back deck in Providence overlooking the valley below.  The sunset across the Wellsville Mountains always seems a bit like a postcard.

The reason for the trip overall came on Sunday morning, when I transported grandma to Kaysville near Salt Lake City for a church service.  My 21-year-old cousin, Cache, just returned last week from his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.  His mission assignment geographically centered around Anaheim, California.  A congregation of about 200 people, including friends, family (like me), and other “ward” members gathered in the chapel to hear Cache address the crowd.  He recounted some interesting stories and words of wisdom.

Cache’s experience was a lot like mine:  I spent the years 2001-2003 in southern California on a similar mission.  Here my assigned “companion” and I were riding a tandem bike in September 2001.

These were some of the children in a family we taught in the community of Ramona.

Cache’s mom, my aunt Shelly, hosted an open house with enough food to feed everyone (times two) and then I hit the open road to continue my long southward trek home.

It was convenient for me to spend another night in St. George and visit a few more family members on my way.  I opted to take the more scenic way home via Fredonia and Flagstaff, Arizona as opposed to going through Las Vegas again.  It was a good choice:  Open roads, stunning scenery, and a to-go lunch of a chicken salad sandwich from grandma.

Hope you enjoyed being a part of this journey!

Branson doesn’t like the camera!  Here he was taking the TL for a spin.

Those rolls at Texas Roadhouse, though!

Odometer on Branson’s coupe.  He’s had it since around 120,000.

Garlic bread, dripping in butter, from Fredrico’s in Logan.

The home in Logan where I lived until I was about 13.

With grandma, and my brother Payton, at a family member’s gravesite.

Someone likes Buicks!

Figured I might as well cross off a state for the TL since I was only a few miles away.

It was around that time that it rolled 99,000 with Ryan at the wheel.

Ryan knew about a scale that we could drive onto at a nearby manufacturing plant.  We hopped out of the car.

The TL weighs 3,540 pounds without us in it.

Saturday night vibes – having gelato from Zeppe’s Italian Ice.

Scooter race!

Another page from Grandpa Hansen’s Bible.

How many choices do you need?  Maverik in Washington, Utah.  First time I’ve ever seen 88 octane “Clear Gas Ethanol-Free.”  I just went with Premium 91.

Jacob Lake, Arizona

Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona

My favorite piece of road.  This straddles the UT-AZ state line.