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As we start entering the dog days of summer, a quick escape from the heat is all we really need. Living in the heart of Phoenix, there is never a destination more than two hours away to get some fresh mountain air. Feeling the need to go somewhere, I expressed my concerns to a friend who happily obliged and suggestion doing lunch in Flagstaff. Works for me!

I had two cars on test that week, the all new Toyota Prius and the slightly refreshed Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Even though the Prius was not ideal for the steep hill we have to encounter, its comfortable attributes made it the deciding factor.

Since we were just going for lunch, we made it a late start leaving Phoenix around 11:00am – thus giving us time to finish up whatever errands we needed to do. I sprung over to pick up my friend and without even the need to stop for gas, we headed north. The drive to Flagstaff I always find interesting – the main way there is via Interstate 17, and as we head north, the climate constantly changes. It goes desert, to forest, back to desert; back to the forest again –at least it keeps things interesting.

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The entire way, we had to stick to the slow lane – especially up the steep hills – while the Prius was fine at managing speed; the hills were just a killer on its small 1.8-liter four cylinder and would eat straight through its battery power like a Gameboy on AA batteries. By the  time we made it to Flagstaff, my mpg’s had fallen from 55 to 49 – I-17 isn’t exactly ideal for mpg testing, but still not bad – I filled up as soon as we got in town and the trip computer still read 600 miles to empty – I’m satisfied with that.

Through a conversation with another friend, they mentioned that it was an absolute must we eat at this steakhouse called Black Barts – supposedly the wait staff does performances. Unfortunately, we were a little early as they were only open for dinner. So we decided to park the car, and go exploring. Our first stop we found on Yelp, Lumberyard Brewing – but after hearing a 45 minute wait we walked over to Majerle’s Sports Grill – which I guess happens to be in Phoenix as well.

Since we were meeting a friend back in Phoenix for dinner, and it’s a two hour drive back – once we had our lunch we headed out of town. But before we got back to Phoenix, we stopped in this little hole in the wall town known as Black Canyon City – my family has lived there for nearly 35 years and yet I have never really explored the town. There’s this abandoned Dog Track just outside of town, it has been there as long as I can remember but never really sure when it closed. We stopped to some urban exploration and when we entered, it was apparent we weren’t alone – with a friendly wave, we left each other alone – the place had been a graffiti hot spot and the facility has been nearly destroyed by hoodlums in hoodies with furniture in pieces, broken glass, and holes in the wall. Wondering through, we came across old prints with gambling bets that was upwards to $2,000.

Since we were exploring BCC – we decided to stop at the world famous pie place, Rock Springs Cafe – again, been coming up here for years and never thought to stop. Rob had himself a mix berry pie while I did an apple crumble with ice cream – best darn pie I’ve ever had. 

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