Archive for the Trains Category

Utah Roadtrip Weekend: 7 Highlights

Posted in ILX, Road Trip, Trains, Utah on May 6, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,301


Odometer (ILX):  78,563


Trip Distance:  1,603 Miles


My grandpa gave me a look of disgust on Monday morning when I pulled into his driveway in southern Utah.  “You’ve got so many bugs on the front of that car, they’re causing wind drag!” he said.  He had a valid point.  I had slain a fair number of insects on my travels of Utah and Idaho over the course of a long weekend.


Last Thursday, I said sayonara to the desert and headed for northern Utah’s Rocky Mountains.  I had a lot time in the driver seat and enjoyed every minute of it.  In honor of hitting 77,777 miles on the ILX, in this post I’ll share seven of the memorable highlights from my nearly 2,000-mile, 4-day adventure.

1)  Driving a 1931 Ford Model A.  The award for the oldest vehicle I’ve ever driven can now go to this 1931 Ford which my uncle recently purchased.


I’m standing here with Russell, after taking my uncle Brett’s car for a drive.  It’s a 3-speed on the floor but the transmission requires a great deal of finesse to operate.  It’s the first time I’ve ever made an attempt at “double-clutching.”  I learned (quickly) that this old Ford does not like to down-shift.  I ground a few gears!


2) Getting up close & personal with a 1.2 million pound steam locomotive.  Ten years after that Ford rolled off the production line, another piece of vintage metal was born.  This Union Pacific steam locomotive was on display in Ogden, Utah when I was rolling through the area this weekend so I stopped at Union Station to take a look.  A lot of other folks had the same idea, apparently.  It was busy out there!


The reason for the excitement was that this locomotive had been parked in southern California since 1961.  It’s now being moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming to be fully restored.  UP 4014 is one of 25 “Big Boy” locomotives built for the Union Pacific Railroad.  It was delivered in 1941 and weighs in at 1.2 million pounds.  This locomotive is so long (132 feet) that its frame is articulated and thus able to better negotiate curves.  And perhaps the most important statistic of all:  From 1941 through 1961, UP 4014 traveled 1,031,205 miles.  That’s my kind of high-miler!


The size of the wheels is more readily appreciated when a young child stands next to them.


Impressive engineering for being 73 years old!

3.  Taking my Grandma and Russell to dinner.  These two are great company.  I provided the shuttle ride to Olive Garden; they covered the bill!  That’s my kind of arrangement.  Grandma made sure our waitress brought out fresh/soft breadsticks.  Before we all headed to the restaurant, I pulled the ILX around to the backyard for a picture.


In we go!


And enough leftovers for at least another couple of meals.


Back to the house.


4)  Trying out the world-famous (okay, maybe just state-famous) restaurant called Angie’s.  Angie’s, in Logan, Utah, serves breakfast all day.  I highly recommend the meat omelet.  But the menu item Angie’s is best known for is the “Kitchen Sink.”  It’s a gigantic banana split-type dessert, served up in a metal mini sink.  Anyone who can finish the $13 item is awarded a bumper sticker that states “I cleaned the sink at Angie’s.”  Someday I’ll attempt it.


Todd, Tia, me


Here’s what that bumper sticker looks like.


Not my picture, but here’s an example of a Kitchen Sink.


5.  Hitting lucky 7’s on the ILX near Brigham City, Utah. If only the outside temperature had been 3 degrees higher, I would have really hit the jackpot.


6.  Paying a visit to a friend who’s an Acura-holic like me.  In St. George, Utah, I visited my friend Blair.  Here, you can see his 2008 Acura TL Type-S in Kinetic Blue Pearl (my favorite color!) as well as his 1989 Acura Legend L coupe.  What you don’t see are his other 1989 Legend coupe and his 1991 Legend coupe which are in the garage.




Blair recently turned 100,000 miles in the TL and he shared a picture with me.  I’m catching up quickly.


7.  Visiting Utah’s original statehouse.   Here’s a little trivia:  Utah’s original capital was actually located in the middle part of the state, in Fillmore, before it was moved to Salt Lake City.  The 1852 statehouse still stands.


A few final photo randoms:

Mantua, Utah along Highway 89-91 in Sardine Canyon leading into Cache Valley.


My friend Ryan who was working on his Honda S2000 (which he later let me drive!).


Quick pic at the 1884 Logan, Utah Mormon temple.


A couple of scenes from Jacob Lake, Arizona (7,920 foot elevation).



What a blast this weekend was!  There’s one more feature story on the way.  Come back Thursday.


ILX Drive to Clarkdale, Arizona: Verde Canyon Railroad

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip, Trains on December 23, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  62,831


Odometer (Legend):  528,242


Trip Distance:  232 Miles Round-Trip



Chugga chugga choo choo.

This weekend I decided to change things up a bit and hop onboard a train instead of hitting the highways for a long distance.  The Verde Canyon Railroad is based in Clarkdale, Arizona and operates 20 miles of track.  The company’s slogan is “It’s Not the Destination; It’s the Journey.”  Sounded like the perfect type of experience for me!

My friend Chris and I headed northbound in the ILX on Saturday morning despite inclement weather.  The car was surefooted and easy to control on the wet surfaces of Interstate 17 which climbed several thousand feet in elevation out of the Phoenix valley.  By the time we reached a summit near Camp Verde, the rain had transitioned into snowflakes but thankfully they weren’t sticking to the roadways.  Once we arrived in Clarkdale, Chris and I enjoyed some lunch what appeared to be the only place in town that was open:  Main Street Cafe.  We were the only ones there, and as a result had the attention of the entire wait staff.  Score!


Clarkdale was founded in 1912 as a “company town,” much like the mining town of Bagdad which we visited this summer.  It was named for Senator William A. Clark who owned the United Verde Copper Company.  In its day, Clarkdale’s amenities were cutting edge, with electric streetlights, telephone/telegraph, sewer system, and public parks being some of the features of the master planned community.

The mine closed in 1953 and there were tough times for the town, but it was incorporated in 1957 and lives on today, with the Verde Canyon Railroad as one of its hub attractions.  In fact, the railroad was originally built as a means of serving the mine.  It connected Clarkdale with two other small towns, Drake and Perkinsville, which are now ghost towns (making notes here so I can visit both of those at a future date in the ILX).

Chris and I made our way to the railroad station and checked in, then met up with our friends Matt and Alan who would be joining for the experience.  Our out-and-back, 40-mile round-trip ride took about 4 hours.  The train’s pace was perfect to allow us time to soak in the great scenery along the way, as we followed the path of the Verde River westward.  First Class accommodations were very comfortable, affording two plush couches to our party of four.  Select beverages, snacks, and appetizers were included with the $79 fare, and each of us made multiple trips to the concessions area of our car, which was named “Sycamore.”


Power was provided by two vintage FP7 diesel engines, built originally by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors for the Alaska Railroad in 1953.  It’s amazing to me that 60 years later they are still providing reliable service.  Connected to our passenger car was an open-air “gondola” car with small canvas umbrellas and wooden benches in the center.  As long as we had our sweaters on, it made the best place from which to view the Verde Canyon’s scenery.  We had a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus along the way.  Oh what fun it was to ride!

My favorite part of the trip was going through the 680-foot-long (curving) tunnel that took 6 months to carve out in 1911.  At times, the train came within only 6 inches of the walls.  Our ride was full of other attractions along the way, including cliff dwellings, caves, bald eagle sightings, and an up-close view of the abandoned train depot building in Perkinsville, Arizona that has fallen into disrepair.

Check out the many pictures and video below for a more detailed look at our Verde Canyon Railroad experience.  Thanks for joining!


Jump starting our morning with some beverages from Starbucks.  The ILX has some of the best cupholders in the industry!


Happy campers, heading northbound.


The Prescott National Forest welcomed us with its 1.25 million acres of land in north-central Arizona.

Camp Verde, Arizona.  Bathroom break at the BK with rain that was just a few degrees away from becoming snow.


Backing out… err… guess that rearview camera won’t be doing us much good!


Highway 89A weaved through a neat historic business district in the town of Cottonwood.


Soon we pulled into Clarkdale town limits.


It’s been years since I saw a gas pump with “rolling” numbers like this instead of digital ones.  Believe it or not, this one in Clarkdale is still in service.


Our train was waiting for us when we arrived at the station 15 minutes prior to departure.


Beauty shot before getting checked in.


All aboard!


We were assigned to the Sycamore car.


Among our first attractions were these ancient Sinagua Indian ruins, high in the canyon walls.  These date back to around 1100 – 1125 AD!


We got settled in for the ride in our comfortable couches.


The gondola car was an inviting place to hang out, though a little chilly when we were rolling through the shade.


Don, one of the many guides who we had, was pointing out something to Matt here.


For 20 miles, we curved along the Verde Canyon crossing trestles and bridges.


Red rock scenery is similar to that of neighboring Sedona.


This is what the inside of our First Class car looked like.  These passenger coaches were originally built in 1946 and used in a commuter capacity.


It was great to kick back and relax.  The train is a slow-paced way of travel but it’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.


More from the gondola car.


This was my favorite part of the train ride:  the 650-foot-long tunnel.  Photo scanned from Rail Magazine, the official magazine of the Verde Canyon Railroad, page 32.


Matt, Alan, Tyson, and Chris


Chris taking a peek at something in the distance.  It was neat to see some snow on the ground outside.


This is the old 1911 Perkinsville Depot that we passed, just before the diesel engines uncoupled and switched ends of the train for our return trip.  Perkinsville is now a privately owned place, with a population of 10.


The Perkinsville Depot was featured briefly in the 1962 film “How The West Was Won.”


Heading back on the return ride!


View toward the front of the train, showing the alternating passenger cars & gondola cars.


Alan looked a little too excited to be there.


Chris captured a photo of two of the bald eagles that reside in the Verde Canyon, on top of a dead tree.


Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, for a great ride!


Closing out a memorable adventure with a sunset drive back to Phoenix via I-17 in the ILX.


Hope you enjoyed the ride!

Arizona Railway Museum

Posted in ILX, Trains on March 5, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  520,096


Odometer (ILX):  30,203


Any mode of transportation that involves a set of wheels interests me. Well, and even some that don’t:


On Saturday, friend and I took the Acura ILX to a place in Chandler, Arizona called the Arizona Railway Museum.  We’re both train nerds, having completed two train rides on Amtrak last year.  The ARM is home to a dozen or more historic train cars (and a couple of locomotives) that are on display for the public to view for a $2 entry fee.



Original sign from Southern Pacific showing departure times.


Entering the yard where a series of display cars awaited us.



Here’s a bedroom with bunk beds inside the car AT&SF (Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway) #405, built by Pullman and delivered in 1927.


This is one of the dining rooms.  This particular car was vandalized and lit on fire a couple of decades ago.  It’s since been restored and repainted in period-correct colors.


Our tour guide described this 1910 car as a “men’s smoking car.”  Only men were allowed to smoke, apparently!


Here’s a feature that I thought was pretty innovative.  A “shoe locker” is located just inside the entrance to each of the bedrooms.  At night, attendants would go down the hallway, open up the locker from the outside, and polish the passengers’ shoes!  “But yours don’t look like they’d need shining,” said our tour guide as he looked at our sneakers.


Check out this hand-operated “bike” that was used to survey tracks.  Kind of like an early 1900’s exercise bike!


This room is set up for “day” use.


Below, I’m seated in the lounge of a Pullman car that was built in Massachusetts in 1879.  In 1901 it was the president’s car on the South Carolina & Georgia Railroad.  Accommodations are pretty nice!


For some reason the wood paneling in this hallway made me think of the Titanic.  I guess this train car would’ve been in service right around the same time as the ship was built in the early 1900’s.


Before the days of freon, cooling of the cars was achieved by blowing air over ice!


We crawled up inside the below diesel locomotive dating back to July 1950.  Quick stats:

  • 1,625 horsepower
  • 900-gallon fuel capacity.
  • 58 feet long
  • Weighs 292,000 pounds (146 tons)
  • 60 mph maximum speed


Here’s Matt pretending to pilot (engineer) the Southern Pacific #2562 steam locomotive which has a fascinating story featured here.  It dates back to 1906 and at one point in its history was nearly sold as $1,500 worth of scrap metal.


Our next stop on the train to-do list was a place in Mesa, Arizona called Roy’s Train World.  I found a couple goodies for my N-scale train layout there, including a used Amtrak Bachman locomotive for only $20.


Here’s my train set in action.

Speaking of rail, my friend Ryan shared the below graphic with me recently.  It illustrates a potential route network for a high-speed rail system in the United States.  Could you imagine taking a 220 mph train to get from A to B?  Ryan’s skeptical about the viability of such a system.  “They might have oversimplified the route over the Rockies. Not sure if a train can go 220 mph through snow drifts at 11,000 feet.”  I tend to agree with him.


New Car Mania

The Acura fever is contagious!  After spending the last several years driving a Honda Pilot, my step-mom traded up to an Acura MDX last Friday.  She picked it up from Jody Wilkinson Acura in Salt Lake City, Utah – the same dealership that hosted the National Acura Legend Meet in 2010.

Here is one of the pictures pulled from the online ad.  This MDX is in a new-for-2013 color called Graphite Luster Metallic and it has the Ebony interior.  It’s equipped with the Technology package so it has navigation and all the goodies.


Here’s the traditional key handoff picture with Tanya and the salesperson, James, who she worked with.


When my dad called me to tell me about their purchase, I instructed him immediately to take a picture of the odometer.  They were just getting on the freeway after leaving the dealership and the MDX had 13 miles on it.


First fuel-up in Beaver, Utah.  They wasted no time getting started on the break-in for the new ride, leaving directly from the dealership to take a 303-mile drive to St. George, Utah to spend some time with the grandkids.  As you can see, the MDX got some dealer-installed accessories before leaving the lot, including the roof racks and the running boards.  Looks great!


Congrats, Tanya!

The MDX has consistently been Acura’s best-selling model.  However, when put into perspective with the Honda brand, Acuras are still pretty rare. In February 2013, it sold 2,946 units which was fewer than a third of the number of units as the Pilot sold (9,614) in the same timeframe.  The Honda Media Newsroom release is here.  The ILX also had a pretty good month at just under 2,000 units sold.

Another new car story took place this week, when my friend Matt (who works for Nissan / Infiniti) traded in his company lease vehicle, a silver 2012 370Z Sport for a new 2013 model this afternoon.


This is a new color for 2013 called Magma Red.  Also new are the LED lights integrated into the front bumper which serve as daytime running lights.


Left:  80 miles on the odometer.  Right:  520,080 miles on the odometer.  The Z is powered by a 3.7 liter V6 engine that produces 332 horsepower.


Matt’s car is equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission and the Sport package which includes upgraded brakes and larger diameter wheels which are a new design for the 2013 model year.


This car is also equipped with a backup camera within in the rearview mirror.



First fuel-up at Costco – the same exact pump, in fact, where Matt filled up his old Z last year.


It’s only a matter of time until he heads for the hills in this canyon carver!

Legend Updates

I spent a few minutes working on the Legend this weekend.  The front passenger side bumper light lens was cracked and had taken in water.  I found a really nice one on Ebay that had arrived, so I went ahead and installed that.  Here is the comparison between old and new.


Speaking of the front end of the Legend, I was reminded of a day in August 2008 when a curb stone in a parking lot “grabbed” my bumper as I was backing out and detached it.  That was an embarrassing day.  Legends are kind of notorious for this due to the design and the low clearance.

Seeing the car all bruised up like that reminds me of 2007 before it went in for bodywork after I hit those deer.  Here’s a picture I recently dug up of me and my dad on the day I sent the car in for rework in northern Utah.

In ILX maintenance news, at 30,047 miles the car went in for an oil change at Acura of Tempe.

The engine air filter was changed as well.  Tires are still original and were marked as “yellow” status for wear.  The only recommendation that the technician made was for a manual transmission fluid service due to the mileage.

For any who might’ve missed it, here’s a video documenting the build of the 2013 Acura ILX that competed earlier year in an endurance race called 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

I leave you with this!  I might have nightmares about it tonight :D.


California Zephyr Train Ride

Posted in Trains on December 9, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  21,594



The Acuras got a break for a few days!  The ILX was parked at the Phoenix airport since Thursday night.  Some may remember this September’s “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” trip that involved a Southwest Flight, an Amtrak ride, and an ILX drive.  Well, I’ve done it again.  This weekend, I flew from Phoenix to Denver, rode a train from Denver to Salt Lake, and flew from Salt Lake to Phoenix.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr is a 2,400 mile rail line that goes from Chicago to San Francisco, but I only covered a 15-hour, 570-mile section of that.


Here’s what the entire weekend’s route looked like, starting at the lowest point in Phoenix.

12-03-2012 9-55-36 AM

All aboard the California Zephyr!


Thanks to our gracious Denver host Ryan (and his pup Charles) for having us in his nice 1900 home and shuttling us to the Amtrak station on Friday morning.



Check-in and seat assignments (seats 37 & 38 were our homes) took just a couple of minutes.  Our print-out was scanned, we were directed to car #511, and we stashed our gear onboard.


Here I am standing in front of 1 of the 2 GE Genesis Series 1 diesel locomotives that dragged us to Salt Lake.  This one was manufactured in June of 1997 and has 4,250 horsepower.  I wonder how many miles it’s traveled in 17 years?


First order of business once onboard was getting some breakfast!


One of the great things about train travel is the sense of community & friendliness onboard.  Matt and I were paired with a couple of nice guys at our breakfast table in the Diner Car.  Merv (22) and Amos (21) had been onboard for a couple of days already – they’d started in Delaware and were heading to Emeryville, CA (San Francisco Bay Area) and then taking a shuttle to Tijuana, Mexico.


Merv and Amos are from an Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The farthest west they’d traveled until that day was Nebraska – with wide eyed wonder they took photos out the windows of our car as we rolled along the Rocky Mountains.  The two of them looked like they could be related but told us they were just friends.  They’re traveling with 14 other people and the trip will take them 2 weeks to complete.  My perceptions of the Amish as a technology-averse population were quickly abolished when I saw Merv pull out his cell phone that looked like its capabilities could put my iPhone 4 to shame.

Our train’s conductor told us about the upcoming route via the PA system.  We’d be passing through a total of 42 tunnels throughout the day – 27 of which would be in a 30-minute window of time.   As we made our way west from Denver, the train slowed to 35-40 mph at times on some of the tight corners.


View from the lounge.  We spent most of our time in here. The seats face outside and there are ceiling-to-floor windows.


One of my favorite features of this train ride was getting to travel through the Moffat Tunnel.  This 1928 passageway is just over 6 miles long and lies at the Continental Divide west of Denver.  When it was completed, it saved 154 miles of travel distance because before that the tracks had to go south and around the mountain range.  The Moffat Tunnel’s summit (at 9,000 feet) is the highest elevation of any Amtrak train in the U.S.


Here’s another tunnel we went through.




At higher elevations, the weather outside turned colder and there was snow on the ground and in the air.


I took the chance at Winter Park, Colorado, to step outside for some fresh (cold!) air.


And again at Granby, Colorado as we worked our way through the Rockies.



Some other folks from Merv & Amos’ party joined on the platform as we waited a few minutes before heading out again.


Back underway, we start to parrallel the mighty Colorado River.


Lunch was an $11 penne pasta special with meatballs.  We were seated with Claudia who hails from Berkeley.  She was riding Amtrak because she doesn’t like to fly – and who could blame her?  The views of the iron red cliffs with a dark green river in the canyon alongside us were better than any restaurant could offer.

The conductor again alerted us to some trackside vistas – above us on the cliffside our sights were directed to a small cut-out road high in the mountain.  “Dead Man’s Curve” is a particularly tight corner that has claimed the lives of many.  One blue station wagon lies halfway down the hill – it’s sat there since the 1950’s as a reminder of just how dangerous that highway is.  See that speck in the middle of the picture here?  There’s the wagon.


As we crept closer to the western border of the state, we parralled Interstate 70.


We spent a good chunk of the afternoon in a 2 hour “black hole” of cell phone service.  It was a great excuse to turn off our phones and enjoy the scenery as it passed us by.  As we approached “No Name, Colorado,” I was amazed at the construction of Interstate 70 that weaved alongside us.  This is reportedly one of the most expensive stretches of interstate that’s been made.  Here’s video showing a small piece of it – notice the eastbound and westbound lanes are on split levels.


Glenwood Springs, CO – our next stop.  This one was complete with a gift shop inside the station and a museum with model railroads on display.



Here I’m pictured with our conductor, Doney Stewart who loves his job!



This is what the accommodations look like in Coach.  The seating arrangement here is actually better than most first-class airline accommodations.  Footrests, reclining seats, TONS of leg room, an abundance of overhead storage space, and plugs for our electronic devices!  This is the life.


Union Station in Grand Junction was a memorable site.  Running ahead of schedule, we had 30 minutes to spare while new passengers boarded and remaining passengers took their smoke breaks.


Two run-down building relics stood as memories of what was probably at one time a thriving railway station.  Most of the windows were boarded up but we were able to peek inside and get a look at the interiors.



I was able to peek through an opening in one window at the interior of the station.





Old boxcar on display in Grand Junction.





There was a shift change with our engineers and the new guy was a living deck of Trivial Pursuit cards.  With each noteworthy railside attraction the conductor would come on the intercom and tell us what we were looking at.  “Ruby Canyon,” known for its red sandstone rock formations and the jewel green river, was an amazing sight at sunset.



We passed by a ghost town called Cisco, Utah – former 2,000-resident uranium mining town with its heyday in the early 1900’s that’s now become nothing more than a handful of decrepit wooden buildings and three (3) residents.  Our conductor mentioned that even the buildings that do remain are slowly being torn down by residents as a source of firewood.  I made a mental note that I need to return to that place when the Legend or ILX when I’ve got some time to spare and feel like trekking to the Colorado/Utah border.  More on Cisco here.


Dinner reservations were at 5:30 p.m. and again we were joined by Claudia, but also met another new friend – Peggy who was on her way from Denver, CO to Davis, CA to visit her daughter for the holidays.


I was dining on salmon when we rolled into remote Green River, Utah for a couple minutes at the station there.  Green River is a town on Interstate 70 which parrallels the train tracks.  By this time, nighttime had fallen and we could see nothing outside except for a strand or two of Christmas lights on some of the homes.  As we were stopped, Peggy remarked, “Where’s the station?  It feels like we’re parked in the middle of a wheat field!”


The next several hours were relaxing as the lounge car cleared out from the earlier hustle & bustle.  The “observation” windows don’t hold nearly as much allure when there’s nothing to view through them except pitch blackness.  But I enjoyed the peace and quiet.  We arrived in Salt Lake 30 minutes ahead of schedule!

All in all a great trip.  The rest of the weekend was filled with family and friends in northern Utah.

Many thanks are due to my good friend Tyler who shuttled us the 80 miles from Salt Lake City to Logan, Utah in his 1989 Honda Accord LX-I coupe.  Tyler’s old Honda has only 96,700 miles on the odometer and is truly a time capsule.  It looks and rides amazingly for its age, and that’s due in large part to Tyler’s watchful care.


Bonus points to anyone who can identify this “period correct” song we were jamming out to in Tyler’s coupe.


Hot cocoa for all.  This is something I don’t often indulge in when I’m in Phoenix.  It’s just too warm for that!


After a viewing of Christmas Vacation at my mom’s place (and competing with her to quote just about every line!) it was time for a party with my dad’s side of the family.

The location for the party was Herm’s Inn – a now-restored building that was at one time a gas station at the mouth of Logan Canyon but now serves as a restaurant.  The building once lied on the main highway that’s since been bypassed by a larger, wider one to the north.  It sat vacant for decades until opening just a year or two as a restaurant.  It was a great evening to spend with my cousins and other extended family who I sometimes only see once or twice a year.

Here I am pictured with my brother Payton and sister-in-law Kali.


Airport shuttle for today’s Salt Lake City – Phoenix flight was provided by Acura – my friend Jeremy’s Acura MDX, that is.  His 2007 with the Sport package and 93,000 miles is equipped with more gadgets and gizmos than I’d know what to do with.  The SLC area got a dusting of snowfall last night and my favorite feature on the MDX was the heated (and individually climate-controlled) rear seat.


Thanks, Jeremy!



And last but not least, a window seat on Southwest for my return to the desert.  Exhausted yet smiling from all the great memories from the weekend.


Thanks for being a part of the journey.

Choo Choo Trains

Posted in Trains on July 22, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  5,356

Papago Park on a Sunday afternoon is a pretty quiet place when it’s this warm, but it makes for a nice Acura ILX backdrop.

I traveled to the “Mile High” city of Denver, Colorado this weekend.  I didn’t take an Acura, but time was short so flying was the best bet for travel logistics.  The last time I was in Denver, I did drive the Legend.  It was February, 2011 and my car had about 462,000 miles on it.  I drove out to visit my friend Josh who had recently moved there from the Phoenix area.  The drive was 850 miles each way and took about 14 hours.

A few photos from that 2011 journey follow.  This trip was just one month prior to starting this Drive to Five blog.

Flagstaff, Arizona on I-17 northbound

Check the sign – “Highway of Legends”!  This is just off I-25 north of the New Mexico state line.

The sunset-in-the-mirror shot is one of my favorites.

Ever heard the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy“?  It talks about standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.  Well, I stood on a corner in Winslow:

Somehow I even had time to meet up with two fellow Acura Legend owners.  First, my friend Sean in Albuquerque.

And in Colorado Springs, Adam with his super clean 5-speed coupe.

I love that everywhere I go, I can find people who are just as crazy about Acura as I am.

The purpose of this latest weekend trip was to do a little “train chasing.”  Union Pacific #844, a steam locomotive that’s been around since 1944, makes an appearance each July at a “Frontier Days” event.  The train departs Denver, Colorado and travels around 100 miles to arrive in Cheyenne, Wyoming just in time for a Wild West parade, chuckwagon cookoff, and other festivities.  My friend Matt and I cared more about the locomotive itself than sticking around for the rodeo.  Our day started off by staking out a couple of locations along the track north of Denver where we were able to watch the train go by en route to Cheyenne.

Our rental 2012 Chevy Malibu was not a pleasure to drive but it did the trick.

Here she comes!

Lots of other folks were out there with the same intentions.  It’s pretty incredible to hear (& feel) this huge locomotive passing by.  Lots of momentum!  Here’s a video I shot with my iPhone.

Hot pursuit!  Well, track speed was really only a max of 65 mph or so.

Finally – our arrival.  Cheyenne, Wyoming is home to about 60,000 people.

Nothing like a bowl of ice cream made by a 1927 John Deer 3-horsepower engine:

We also made a pit stop at Holliday Park which since 1963 has been home to one of the world’s largest steam locomotives.  This particular example, “Big Boy,” weighs 1.2 million pounds with the tender & locomotive combined.  It is one of 8 survivors from the original 25 units that were built between 1941 & 1944.  Big Boy gets a lot of respect from me, because it’s a high miler in its own sense:

During its 14 years of service, it traveled 440,545 miles.  That’s 31,467 miles per year.  Still not the ~45k that I was averaging in my Acura Legend until its retirement, but still a very impressive feat especially considering the level of upkeep and maintenance on a beast of this size.  And unlike Big Boy, the Legend is still going strong and will continue to accumulate miles rather than becoming a museum artifact.

Denver at dusk

Enjoyed the weekend trip and hope all my readers enjoyed theirs too!

Pandora Internet Radio

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but it took me over a month to take the time to investigate how this works and actually get it set up in my ILX.  I must say I’m in love.  I downloaded the Pandora appplication (for free) from the App Store to my iPod Touch.  From there, I simply had to launch the app, plug in the USB connector, and then hit AUX on the instrument panel to select it as the media source.

Next, all controls can be managed from the dashboard.  I can go to my main menu of custom-built stations which pre-populate on the screen, select my preferred, and start rocking out.  The system even lets me “Like” or “Dislike” songs using the Select button.

Best of all, I get to see the album art.  This is nifty!

And another feature I discovered:  “SVC.”  Speed Volume Control.  The ILX audio system can modify the level of volume depending on how much noise is in the cabin.  I’m a little bit proud of myself for actually figuring some of this high-tech goodness out!

Door Latch Recall:

I received an email this week about a recall on the front door latches of the 2013 that will affect 6,200 vehicles.  My service advisor at Acura of Tempe was quick to notify me and get the parts on order. I’m taking the car in tomorrow to have the corrective action performed.

Another Acura Brother

My local friend Devan swung by this past week to check out my latest ride.  He’s got an ultra clean 2003 Acura TL in White Diamond Pearl with just over 160,000 miles.  Devan by trade is a professional at auto detailing.  In fact, he’s got his own business called DNA Auto Detailing.

I first met Devan last November at a car show held at SanTan Honda in Gilbert, Arizona:

His TL looks just as phenomenal today.

If anybody in the Phoenix area is looking for a detailing pro, he’s your man.  Thanks for the visit, Devan!

Just two more days until my departure for the Wisconsin trip for the 8th Annual National Acura Legend Meet (NALM).

Hang on for the ride!