Dirt Playground: “Willcox Playa” in Southeast Arizona

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

Odometer (Legend coupe):  549,086


Odometer (Legend sedan):  150,755


Odometer (Integra):  238,331


Odometer (Vigor):  106,387


Odometer (ILX):  188,457


Odometer (NSX):  106,412


Trip Distance:  390 Miles


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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

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

Fueling up at Picacho Peak, midway between Phoenix and Tucson


Entering Grandma D’s in Willcox


The Cochise Burger at Grandma D’s


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


Park near the railroad tracks


Arriving at the Willcox Playa


Clearly James was having a good time!


Where’d those skid marks come from?


Getting down and dirty.



Wide open spaces, just like that Dixie Chicks song.


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


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


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




A perfect addition to the garage!  Thanks Darren!


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


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


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

Quick Northern Utah Trip & A Few Links for Light Reading

Posted in Utah on December 16, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  187,981


It’s uncommon for me to ever have to navigate a vehicle on snowy roads these days.  I love to joke with my friends in snowy regions about how much of a chore it is to shovel the sunshine off my driveway each winter here in Phoenix.  But for a couple of my college years in northern Utah, I did get a hefty dose of “Slick Road 101” and the Legend and I both survived it.  Here are some photos from January 2005.


The Legend had 150,000 miles on it at the time.  I’d barely gotten my journey started.


Sometimes, even I opt for a flight over a drive.  In this past weekend’s case, the choices were a 12-hour drive (that could easily turn into many more in inclement weather) or a 90-minute flight.  Given the short timeline, it made the most sense to hop on Southwest and let my pilot do the driving.  The ILX got left at Phoenix “Sky Harbor” airport.


My rental car at Salt Lake City International Airport was a “gutless wonder” (I think my dad coined that phrase) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta with 48,000 miles on it.  It took a lot of coaxing to get it to freeway speeds, but comfort was OK and it got incredible MPGs.  My dad and stepmom live in a community called Providence, nestled on the east bench of Cache Valley at the tip-top northern end of Utah.  It’s a college community, home to my alma mater Utah State University, and I usually make it up there about twice a year.  The valley is a beautiful place, as seen from my dad’s backyard.


After an overnight stay at a friend’s house in South Jordan (SLC suburb), I made the northbound drive about 100 miles to Providence.  My 87-year-old grandmother is recently widowed and needed a lift to run a couple of errands in town.  We also met up with some other family members for lunch at one of my favorite pizza joints near the USU campus called Fredrico’s Pizza.  The garlic bread is always dripping in delicious butter.


Cache Valley got a dusting of snow on Saturday night and I got the chance to use that unfamiliar object called an ice scraper that Advantage Rent-A-Car had conveniently left in the passenger seat of my Jetta.  I paid a visit to my uncle Jeff in Taylorsville, south of Salt Lake, who’s been building and racing hot rods for as long as I remember.  His current projects are a Chevy Corvair and a 1965 Chevy II Nova.  I captured a short video of the Corvair.  I’m quite confident its growl woke up everyone in Jeff’s neighborhood from their Sunday naps.  Here’s a very short video I took:

Arrival at Salt Lake City International Airport.


Incidentally, this airport was the one featured in the classic 1994 film “Dumb & Dumber,” though the movie was supposed to have been set in Rhode Island.

Northbound to Logan on snowy roads


Morning in Cache Valley


My workplace has become ultra festive.  Here’s a collage of photos taken the other night.

Had a couple of nice visits this past week from friends, including Chase and Michael who are both from Texas.


And Matt who’s local and who drive a 2001 CL.


Special thanks to my friend Kevin for sending me some classic Acura ads.



And here are few more decade-old pictures from my time at Utah State in the wintertime.




Lastly:  Check out a few cool links on articles that you might find interesting:

  • My friend Brendan Saur’s article about a 1995 Legend L coupe on Curbside Classic
  • My friend Ben Hsu’s article about Ryu Asada, Hot Wheels designer, on Japanese Nostalgic Car.
  • My article about a guest speaker at the upcoming Arizona Concours d’Elegance on ClassicCars.com

Have a great weekend!

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

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

Odometer (Legend):  549,077


Odometer (ILX):  187,814


Trip Distance:  232 Miles


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


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

Sounded like a road trip opportunity to me!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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




And showing them off




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

And thanks to the rest of you for reading!

Abandoned gas station in Eloy, Arizona


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


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


Guard rail in the middle of nowhere!


Arrival at Musselman Honda in Tucson


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


Vintage pic of Musselman Honda


Thanksgiving 2016: Zion National Park in Southern Utah

Posted in ILX, National Parks, Road Trip, Utah on November 27, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  549,008


Odometer (ILX):  187,248


Trip Distance:  849 Miles


What are some of the most expensive toll roads you’ve driven?


On Thursday morning, I paid $30 to drive 14 miles on State Route 9 in southern Utah.  $2 per mile!  But that’s a small price to pay for this kind of scenery-per-mile, right?


Truth is, that fee was actually the cover charge for Zion National Park, and it just so happened that I needed to pass through Zion in order to get to a Thanksgiving feast that was awaiting me at Aunt Jodi’s house on the other side in Rockville.

Knowing, though, that I wouldn’t need to re-enter the park since I’d be taking a different route home, I decided to “pay it forward.”  It was Thanksgiving Day, after all.  As soon as I got through the park and exited its west end, I hit the brakes, threw the hazards on in the ILX, and rushed out the driver door to hand my park pass to an unsuspecting motorist going the opposite way who was waiting in line at the ranger station to enter.  “Do you want a free park pass?  It’s good for 7 days,” I told the driver of a white SUV.  “Umm, sure!” he said as he took the brochure and receipt.  “Happy Thanksgiving!” I yelled as I ran back to the ILX and drove away.


Growing up in southern Utah, my family’s home was only 45 minutes from the gates of Zion National Park.  Zion is one of Utah’s 5 colorful national parks, established 97 years ago and covering over 200 square miles in the southwest corner of the state.  There are some key features including waterfalls, gardens, and picturesque sandstone cliffs carved away by the Virgin River at the base.  Holiday tourist traffic was heavy on Thanksgiving but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the scenery and stopping for a few photos on my quick drive through.


My favorite feature of the park is 1.1-mile-long tunnel called the Zion – Mount Carmel Tunnel.  It was carved away in 1930 and shortened the distance from Zion to nearby Bryce Canyon by 70 miles.  The tunnel is narrow and requires a special escort for oversize vehicles.  The interior of the tunnel is completely black except for 3 or 4 spots where there are ‘windows’ opening up to the outside canyon.  Unfortunately cars are not allowed to stop at those windows.

We dined heartily on turkey and trimmings at Jodi’s.  It was good to see my brothers and a couple of my cousins.  Here are a few photos and a short video from my Thanksgiving weekend.  Check out my cousin Dillon’s dance moves at 1:46 in.  I hope you and your families had an enjoyable one.


Highway 89 northbound just south of Page, Arizona


Utah state line near Lake Powell in Page


I liked this Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah


Highway 9 westbound


Curvy road after exiting the tunnel


These backdrops never get old


Quick jaunt to Salt Lake to visit a family member in the hospital


Sunset off mom’s back patio on Saturday night


Visiting a couple of my favorite little people, nephew Rex and niece Vivienne


I was shocked on Thursday evening when my friend Chris messaged me about an article that had just been posted on Jalopnik about my garage and Acura collection.  Jalopnik is one of the largest automotive media pages around – with over 300,000 followers on Facebook, 150,000 YouTube subscribers, and a huge presence overall.  A couple of months ago, I had shot a quick email over to editor Andrew Collins who I also knew to be an Acura driver (with a > 200,000-mile TL).  He took enough interest in the story to put together an article about it.


The level of response was pretty nuts.  My blog had its best view day in its 5-year history, with 2,558 views and over 1,200 visitors the following day.  Both the Facebook post and the article itself got about 300 comments each. I was terrified of reading them but eventually got the nerve.  To my surprise, most were overwhelmingly positive.  I’m glad a few people out there can relate to a my madness or at least consider it a little bit entertaining.


The blog, by the way, is sitting at around 496,000 views overall since I started it in March 2011.  That means we are shortly coming up on a Drive to Five milestone of a completely different nature.  Thanks for being part of it!

Quick Trip to Los Angeles: Historic Honda Roots & Dinner in West Hollywood

Posted in California, Car Show, ILX, Integra, Maintenance, NSX, Road Trip on November 20, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  548,869


Odometer (ILX):  185,579


Trip Distance:  758 Miles


Would you believe that American Honda, the powerhouse that sold a record 1.5 million vehicles across the Honda and Acura brands in 2015, got its humble roots selling just motorcycles out of this small office space in Los Angeles?  Some 57 years ago, here at 4077 W. Pico Boulevard, the company first took root in the United States, but it has forever since changed the landscape of the powersports and automotive industries.

American Honda's first corporate office - Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA.jpg

Today, that same office space has changed hands probably more times than one could count, and is currently leased by an acupuncture & wellness facility.  Sadly the condition has deteriorated substantially and the neighborhood isn’t all that great.  I happened to be in the area yesterday morning so I stopped by for a pre-sunrise photo.  The building is available for lease, and it would sure be a lot of fun to move in and create a museum or replica of the way things used to be.  Dreams.


Looking westward down Pico Boulevard.  The roads were surprisingly quiet at this hour.


Thanks to the lady selling tamales on the street next door for taking this quick shot of me.


Last Sunday, I met up with a few fellow second-generation Acura Integra drivers at a park in Tempe, Arizona for a little meet & greet.  Now 26 years old, this bodystyle has aged pretty well and the few that survive are in the hands of enthusiasts like the handful of guys I met that day.  It seems most people consider the Integra a blank canvas upon which to express his or her own sense of style, but I’ve decided to keep mine original to its 1992 factory configuration.


It’s always fun to meet with other car-nuts at events like these.  Especially in cases, like this one, where the host brought out Dunkin Donuts to share with everyone.  Thanks to German for that!


For years I’ve waited for the right opportunity to take a photo of my “Vig” at “The Vig.”  The Vig is a restaurant on 16th Street in central Phoenix that has some of the best brunch in the valley.


The 1992 NSX has been under the knife for the past week or so, getting a completely refreshed Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) to rectify a warning light that’s been showing up for a long time.  Braking performance under normal circumstances have been unaffected, but the ABS is deactivated when the light is on.  This is a very common issue for the early NSX models like mine, and luckily Science of Speed offers an upgrade kit designed specifically for this application.  It involves retrofitting the later model year (2002-05) NSX components.


I’m picking up the car the first part of this coming week.  SOS did also recommend a few other maintenance items that will wait until my next major “90K” service coming up in 4 years.  The timing belt and water pump were changed in January 2011 under the previous owner’s ownership, so they aren’t quite due yet.  That was a $2,200 service at the time.

For having driven the NSX 26,000 miles in the 5 years I’ve had it, it’s actually been relatively inexpensive to own & maintain.  GEICO did just raise my 6-month premium to $179 because the street address at which I now reside is higher risk.  Interestingly enough, the NSX is still far cheaper to insure with full coverage than the 2013 ILX (which comes in at over $300) even though the NSX is certainly worth much more.


This weekend’s travels took me to California on Thursday afternoon.  The Los Angeles Auto Show kicked off last week with Media Days being held on Wednesday and Thursday.  Typically, I would have been there as a journalist with the Redline Reviews team to cover the event’s new car reveals, but my work time-off situation wouldn’t quite allow for it.

Still, I was determined to participate in the after-hours stuff so I set out in the afternoon for what should have been a six-hour drive to Hollywood for a dinner engagement with about 30 other people.  Lucky for me, I also gained an hour due to time zones because that drive in reality ended up taking over 8 hours.  Construction zones in multiple places on Interstate 10 and the expected LA rush-hour traffic made for slow going.


My Garmin Nuvi GPS unit crept up its ‘delay’ timer the closer I got to my destination.


At least red is a pretty color!


I did finally make it to the venue at “Tortilla Republic,” though, and just 15 minutes before it started.  Here, I’m pictured with Sofyan, Aaron, Rob, and Peace who are the backbone of the Redline media group.  I’m hoping to partner with them in two months at the Detroit Auto Show if I can play my cards right with the time-off request.  Cross your fingers!


Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame” is home to 2,500 stars like this in the ground.  It was walking distance from my motel and I happened to snag a picture of one of the stars, Mariah Carey’s, while en route to breakfast on Friday morning.


Sunrise in downtown Los Angeles


I made one major pit stop on the way home, to see some friends in Palm Springs.  Scott & Sandy are a couple who I’ve featured on the blog previously.  Their ever-evolving automotive collection spans a wide variety of tastes, from their 1992 NSX to a 1980s Mercury Bobcat (rebadged Pinto), to their latest:  a 1964 Mercury Park Lane which they just had brought over on a transport truck from Houston.  It’s waiting for some brake work so we didn’t take it for a spin, but those guys sure have some great taste in cars!


I took a spin in their 41,000-mile (!) 1976 Cadillac Seville which rode like it was on a cloud.


Also checked out Scott’s latest toy:  a 1991 Civic “RealTime 4WD” wagon that he’s going to restore.


Many thanks to Scott and Sandy once again for their hospitality.

Finally today – I’d like to make a quick introduction to my friend Melissa, who has launched her own blog.  It’s called “Working from Home.”  In today’s workplace, thanks to the advances in telecommuting, you can be in virtually any part of the world and still be connected to your day job.  I’ve participated in conference calls from the road, logged into my email from airplanes and hotel rooms, and been on Skype meetings while in another state.  It’s starting to matter less and less that you’re seated in desk 4S018 at Phoenix Plaza Corporate Office staring at 4 cubicle walls.


Case in point:  I worked with Melissa on a daily basis for over 4 years, but I never met her.  She was over 2,500 miles away at our Rhode Island office and I was based in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Did the geographic distance make us any less productive as coworkers?  I honestly don’t think so.  And herein was born the opportunity for Melissa to create an outlet where she could share some of her learnings over the many months of working from home.

Be sure to check out the article “Are You On Mute?” under the “Real Work” section.  It’s one of my faves.

Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Saturday Drive: Remember the Alamo (Lake), Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on November 13, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  184,729


Trip Distance:  303 Miles


Nature’s peaceful silence was remarkable as we looked out from the Bill Williams Overlook upon one of Arizona’s most remote bodies of water, some 40 miles out into the desert northwest of Wickenburg.  Aside for the crunch-crunch of shoes on the gravel when someone walked, it was perfectly quiet and there wasn’t another soul as far as the eye could see.  We had to stand there and appreciate it for a few minutes.


Just then, the growl of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle broke the silence and we were joined by what may very well have been Alamo Reservoir State Park’s only other visitors that day.  Lance from our group called the biker couple “Merl and Pearl.”  And they were pleasant company!  Nice enough, in fact, to snap a photo of us.


It had been awhile since I did any exploration in the Great State of Arizona, so I pulled out Google Maps a few days ago to see what I could dig up.  A search for “Arizona State Parks” gave me a myriad of results so I started looking at places I hadn’t yet been.  One such destination was Alamo Lake, tucked deep into the wilderness of La Paz County and far from any sort of modern civilization.  The map, in fact, reveals just how far away it is from everything.  And – how far it is from Nothing.  Seriously,  “Nothing, Arizona.”  It’s on the map, right there to the north.


The lake covers 4,900 acres and was created in 1969.  Today, it’s occasionally open for water skiing and other recreational sports, but due to exceptionally low water levels currently (some 45 feet below normal), only fishermen and swimmers are allowed out on the lake.  Darn, I forgot my swim trunks.


Our day started out in Central Phoenix where my friend Mike and his family met up with me, James, Lance, and Miles to set out in 3 vehicles for the ~300-mile round-trip loop to the lake and back.  I took the lead in my ILX, with James and Mike following in a 2017 Cadillac XT5 and a 2017 Acura TLX (a loaner thanks to Pauly Acura in Chicago since they have Mike’s 2009 TSX captive for an airbag repair).


The first 100 or so miles of the trip were on the highly-traveled Interstate 10 corridor which connects the Phoenix area to Los Angeles.  From there, we headed north on Vicksburg Road which would soon connect us with US Highway 60.  The 60 was once the main thoroughfare from Phoenix to LA long before the interstate punched through the desert.

One of many oases (I think that’s the first time I’ve used that word in plural form) along the path was the teeny town of Hope, Arizona.  It consists of little more than an RV park, gas station, church, and antique store.  But perhaps its most remarkable feature, for me anyway, is the sign greeted by visitors as they exited the east end of town, which in gramatically-incorrect form, tells people they’re now beyond hope.


Our trio of vehicles headed north on Alamo Highway from Wenden and ventured deeper into the desert for the next 35 miles until we arrived at the park entrance.  I counted just a couple of other vehicles along the way.  The park ranger at the small visitor center was very friendly and gave us some tips on how and where to navigate our way around the area.  He even waived our $7-per-car entry fee and gave us passes for free.  He recommended hitting up the Bill Williams Overlook, which was our next stop 1.4 miles up the road.  That’s where we met Merl and Pearl.


By now, everyone had worked up an appetite.  I’d noticed a couple of small blue signs alongside the road on our way to the lake which read “WAYSIDE.”  I’d also asked the park ranger about this.  It’s a restaurant, he told us.  But it was about 3 miles down a dirt road.  I looked to Michael and asked if he’d be okay taking his 2,700-mile (loaner) TLX on such a road, and he said he didn’t mind.  Of course he didn’t!


Wayside was indeed quite the oasis.  I couldn’t help but wonder as I kicked up a cloud of dust on the dirt road headed toward it, passing massive Saguaro cacti, “There’s a restaurant out HERE?”  We had the entire wait staff’s attention as we placed our orders for green chili burgers, chili cheese fries, and fried zucchini.  There was a surprising selection of food for being in the middle of nowhere.  Our orders took a while to prepare, but we enjoyed the downtime because it gave Lance a chance to battle me in a game of billiards (in which I beat him).


Heart attack, coming right up!


The return trip took us through more of Arizona’s oft-bypassed and cowboy-themed Western towns including Aguila (Spanish for “eagle”) and Wickenburg.  The sun was starting to creep below the western horizon in our rearview mirrors by the time we arrived back in the Phoenix Valley.  It was a long day but enjoyable thanks to the great company we had.  Thanks for coming along for the adventure!

Group shot at the entrance/exit to Hope


Lonely desert backroads


Entrance to Alamo


Map of the Alamo Lake area in the Visitor Center


Narrow road toward the dam (damn) overlook


Some dam facts for you


You can see how low the water level is right now


ILX & TLX with their occupants, minus Michael’s 7-month-old baby Benjamin


Looks like a nice swim


5 MPH, 5 MPH, 5 MPH.  Do you think Wayside Oasis doesn’t want people to stir up dust?


Arrival at our lunch spot


The Wayside doesn’t look like much.  The staff members were nice, though!


…. Plus you can get gas there.  87 octane for $3.65.  No Premium available.


Pennies on the men’s room floor!


NSXPO 2016 in Orlando, Florida

Posted in Car Show, NSXPO on November 8, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  150,724


Odometer (Legend Coupe):  548,850


Odometer (ILX):  184,321


Today, I’m taking you to Florida.  I sadly missed the opportunity to drive 2,140 miles each way from Phoenix to Orlando this past weekend, but it was for the best.  With my new job giving me very limited paid time off, I had no choice but to catch a flight on American and fly the friendly skies to this year’s annual gathering of crazy Acura NSX enthusiasts.  It was still very much worth it!


It’s hard to believe that the last NSXPO in Palm Springs is already a year behind us in the rearview mirror.  The Orlando planning crew raised that ever-lofty bar even more so:  This year’s event has introduced some of the biggest venues and the most organizationally “put together” agenda I’ve ever seen.  On Thursday, a group of 200-someodd NSXs cruised together to the Kennedy Space Center for a special tour.  And on Friday, that same group took to the world-renowned Sebring Racetrack for a performance driving event.


My Friday evening flight took about 4 hours, but seemed like 7, thanks to the time zones on my west-to-east travels.  Longtime friend and fellow Legend lover Alan Jackson was kind enough to leave me a “rental” vehicle at the Orlando airport:  the 1994 Acura Legend coupe in Milano Red that he’d purchased from my mother back in 2010.  The odometer at crank of the key was just under 170,400 miles and it fired to life like new.


Fellow car-nut Brian who’s local to Orlando was kind enough to show me around that evening.  While certainly not a “fun” destination like Disney World nearby, one very important Orlando place in recent news is the Pulse nightclub where dozens of people were killed in June.  It happened to be literally around the corner from Brian’s home so I got a photo there while paying my respects.


One of the traditional NSXPO events is the “Concours d’Elegance,” which is basically a car show.  The entire northeast section of the Springhill Suites hotel parking lot in Winter Garden was overtaken by NSXs when I arrived on Saturday morning.  Right off the bat, I received a text message from my friend Jermaine from New Jersey.  “When did you get here?”  He’d seen me wandering around outside from an upper floor of the hotel.  Jermaine is one of many former Legend owners who have taken their Acura ownership to the next level by getting involved in the NSX game.  Check out his Rio Yellow 2000 NSX here:


There was a BBQ between 11:00 and 1:00 in the parking lot.  I attended a panel discussion in one of the conference rooms and learned some very insightful information.  Among the participants was Chris Willson, owner of Science of Speed, an NSX performance shop located in Chandler, Arizona.  Chris and his team have taken the initiative to create the “Heritage Program” which focuses on sourcing or reproducing critical parts which have been discontinued.  For example, the NSX “twin disc” clutch has been discontinued from American Honda so owners who are seeking to buy a “factory” replacement part are left having to seek other aftermarket alternatives.


Just a few miles up the road, the Orange County National Golf Club hosted our large group in a banquet room for a formal dinner and program that evening.  Keynote speakers included Ted Klaus, Project Leader for the NSX, as well as seasoned race veteran Peter Cunningham who has recently taken a new role in leadership for the RealTime team, as well as others from Honda R&D.  Peter will be at the helm for the 2017 season race campaign of the NSX “GT3” racecar.  I happened to be seated at dinner across from a guy named John who’d just finished a 13,000-mile cross-country road trip in his own Berlina Black 1991 NSX.  I was in good company!


Oooh, fancy awards.  Everything about NSXPO was high class.


No trip to Florida would be complete without a stop at the state’s most exclusive and exciting theme park:  “Legend Land.”  Otherwise known as Alan Jackson’s house in Floral City, Legend Land has become a mecca of sorts for the Legend enthusiasts.  Alan and his wife Nancy welcomed me to their beautiful estate where we enjoyed a lakeside lunch of Italian sausage and homemade potato salad.


I also got to witness firsthand the replacement of a left rear wheel speed sensor on a 1994 Legend coupe belonging to local enthusiast Thomas.  My friend Alex took me back to the airport in his 6-speed BMW 5-series.  It had quite the roar thanks to its V8 and custom exhaust system.


Though short, my visit to Orlando was definitely sweet and I was glad to reconnect with old friends as well as make a few new ones.  Thanks for coming along for the adventure!  Enjoy a few pics & a short video.

Hanging with my buddy Brian


Interesting ‘wizard’ gift shop on Irlo Bronson Road in Kissimmee, FL


Hey, that doesn’t look like an Acura ZDX to me!  Nice try.


Few shots from the parking lot at the host hotel in Winter Garden


Love this “Monaco Blue” color.  It’s rare!


My friend John Komar (right) and his brother both brought their NSXs out.


Brooklands Green:  1994-95-only color.


Check out this odometer!


Original engine.  That was on this 1991 NSX:


I got a kick out of his comment on the judging form in response to “why he should win” the Best of Show.


Racing legend Peter Cunningham selling T-shirts


Imola Orange Pearl.  Pictures don’t do this color justice!  Notice, even the leather interior was orange!


Doing a drive through Walt Disney World


Tee time, anyone?


A few 2017 NSXs were on hand, including this Valencia Red beauty.


Poolside at the host hotel.


Orange County National Golf Club, cocktail reception.


Sunday morning drive to Floral City to return my rental car.


Arrival at Legend Land, pictured here with Alan and Alex.


Working on Thomas’ Legend coupe.


Quick shot with Abby (the pup), Nancy (Alan’s wife) and a gator statue.