2 Dayz Exploring AZ: 300-Mile Road Rally to Sedona & Flagstaff

Odometer (Vigor):  113,079

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  251,087

Trip Distance:  316 Miles

Sometimes you just need to get away on a road trip to clear your head on an open interstate.  And sometimes that relaxing road trip morphs instead into an energetic hodge-podge of friends & vehicles, romping through the hills, braving tourist traffic, and occasionally getting a breath of fresh air.  I joined about 20 friends this weekend on a 300-mile excursion that became just that type of experience.

This group outing was born as a creation of my friend Saifonh, who emerged as a planning leader for what started as an overnight rally to view the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The route was later modified, the pit stops solidified, and the invites distributed.  Unlike most of the travel adventures I write about on this blog, this one wasn’t just for a specific make, model, or era of car.  This was open to anyone and everything – from a 415-horsepower Chevy SS muscle sedan 6-speed to a people-hauler Toyota Sienna XLE.  And that’s what made it fun.

We joked over the walkie talkies during a particularly technical section of Highway 89A that the Sienna, owned by my friend Ben, was doing a great job at hustling through the curves while keeping all of its juice boxes safely contained in cupholders.  And to be fair, the Sienna was likely the most comfortable ride of the entire bunch.  Between it and Corey’s LX450, there was room to pick up a few hitchhikers (or a soccer team) but the need never came up.  Maybe next time.

The drive route itself started on Saturday morning at my home in Central Phoenix, which happily opens its doors for friends and visitors as long as they agree to sign my (now 36-page) guest book.  I added a few line items to it as friends poured in and sampled pastries and orange juice before saddling up for the drive.

My friend Ryan made the trip from Utah to be a part of this adventure, so it seemed only fair that I’d provide his rental car.  Of the 7 available vehicles for the picking (my SLX is in for a transmission service), his weapon of choice was the Vigor.  I decided to take the Integra GS-R.  Joining our Acura family for the trip was Brandon in a TL Type-S.

We made our ascent on Interstate 17 and moved toward Prescott Valley, where the first checkpoint of our rally would have us meet up with Dane from Las Vegas in a red hot 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T.  Dane followed in line as we moved on through Highway 89’s twisties to the old mining town of Jerome which was bustling with tour buses & rental cars.

Knowing that a group of our size was unlikely to find a place for lunch there, we pressed on to Sedona just 28 more miles away.  Our lunch spot couldn’t have been prettier:  We were perched atop the mesa adjacent to the Sedona airport – luckily “Mesa Grill” was able to accommodate us on the patio.  Even Chepe the pup was welcome.

The last piece of road we got to experience on Saturday was my favorite of the day:  Oak Creek Canyon.  It winds through hairpin two-lane curves through the wooded forests and past dramatic red rock formations.  Though certainly best experienced in a sports car in fast motion, poor road conditions and heavier traffic forced us to take a leisurely pace, but I actually didn’t mind.  I had my moonroof open and a buzzy little 1.7-liter go-kart at my command and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our evening was spent at Southside Tavern on San Francisco Street, which graciously opened its entire back room for our party.  The group had a chance to relax and unwind after a hectic day on the road, and the mac & cheese bites offered a tasty snack.  By the time I got to Econo Lodge on Milton Road, I was ready to call it a night.

Ryan and I made a move pretty early the next morning and fueled up the vehicles (frosty from the night’s cool temps) before heading southbound for the 140-ish mile trip home to Phoenix on Interstate 17.  Thanks to our walkie talkie communication mechanism, we were able to banter back and forth for a couple of hours and it made the time fly by.

In fact, I think in the entire 300-mile loop and nearly 6 hours in the car, I never even turned on my radio.  Not that the AM/FM cassette would have given me much entertainment anyway.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!

Here in alphabetical order was the list of 15 participating vehicles.

  • Acura Integra
  • Acura TL
  • Acura Vigor
  • Chevrolet SS
  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Stealth
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Lexus IS350
  • Lexus LX450
  • Mercedes-Benz ML430
  • Mercedes-Benz SL500
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Porsche Cayman
  • Toyota Sienna

Pre-departure breakfast

Kevin’s Accord Sport – loved this car!

Driver meeting hosted by Sai

Sai and George

That’s an experience – getting passed by my own car.  I enjoyed the view.

First checkpoint – Prescott Valley, Arizona

Corey’s LX at 270,000+ miles was the high-mileage king!

Onward we go.  I was behind the Cayman.  Far behind at times, haha.

Green machines atop the hill in Sedona.

Mesa Grill – our lunch spot near the airport.

And dinner spot – every good road trip revolves around the food, right?

Corey and Sai

Crisp Sunday morning in Flagstaff.  It got down to about 30 degrees.

I’m used to seeing all of this in my Integra.  Check engine, ABS, and 4,000+ RPM.  It’s fine.

Dropping off Ryan at the airport later that afternoon.

Couple last bits of news:  Check out this cool article written by my friend Nyko de Peyer about his recent inside look at the Acura Design Studio in California.

And get over to Bring a Trailer right this instant so you can view (and maybe bid on) my friend Dave Ekiss’ 1999 Integra in Supersonic Blue.  You need this car.  I need this car.  Some lucky person is going to buy this car.

Have a great week!

17 Responses to “2 Dayz Exploring AZ: 300-Mile Road Rally to Sedona & Flagstaff”

  1. telafonic Says:

    Great drive with great people!! The Vigor has a unique feel to it, and I genuinely looked forward to driving it. It was also a blast to turn the stereo on. Not for the music, but to see the fully functioning power antenna extend upwards.

    • I love that you notice those details! Come to think of it, the Vigor is the only car that still has its antenna connected – the rest, I’ve disabled because the masts go out and I get that grumble grumble grumble, haha. Thanks for showing the Vig some love this weekend, and hope you’ll come back again soon.

  2. I’m already following the BaT teggy auction. It’ll probably go for way over my budget, but love it! Glad the Vigor got some miles this weekend.

    • Yeah, it needed them! The car hadn’t left town (I think) since Radwood in Sonoma, CA a year ago. Will be interesting to see how Dave’s Supersonic DC2 does in the final minutes – I’ll be watching and probably trying to stoke the fires a little.

  3. TH with the flannel!! Looks like a fun trip

  4. What a great idea for a group drive! Not being from the southwest, it’s always surprising to see “east coast” temperatures out west – 30 degrees, brrr! I think Flagstaff got significant snow a few weeks ago, right? The views in that section of the state are (obviously) amazing- terrific location for a drive!

    What’s causing the CEL on the Integra? I’m assuming it’s nothing serious, given that you just did a 5+ hour round trip drive with it.

    • I remember having Hon-Man pull the CEL code a while back but I don’t recall specifically what it was saying. The light typically does not come on around town; only on extended highway drives. Performance seems unaffected. Old car probs! Thanks for reading!

  5. Pity – A bit more notice and I could have shipped the Ratmobile out there and joined you hahahahaha! 😀 (just thinking about the container cost – It would be cheaper to buy another…)

    What an awesome sounding trip, I bet it was great to do that as a group – what a laugh. It sounds like a brilliant drive and the scenery looked stunning – great stuff and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    1 don’t blame your friend for taking the Vigor – that’s a great looking car!

  6. Jeremy Ridgway Says:

    So awesome, love the Vigor

  7. So many people… so many cars! Looks like that Supersonic Blue Integra went for a pretty penny. Were you bidding like a madman? 😀

    • Haha, I didn’t place a single bid, but it sounds like it went to a good home. I believe Dave’s reserve was set at $12k so he came away just slightly ahead of his ‘bottom dollar’. Love that color for sure!

  8. I’m a sucker for any car sitting on Kosei K1 wheels, and electric blue paint is the cherry (blueberry?) on top! LOVE that Integra!! Two friends had that final-gen in college and I always enjoyed random times behind the wheel.

    What a great weekend trip, too! I’m headed south to my college town for their annual car show and we’ll get to hit some local mountain roads as part of the weekend. Cannot WAIT after spending most of my winter around DC.

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