October 22, 2004
Now that it’s cooler, you want to hit the road this weekend and feel the wind in your hair, but the wheels in your driveway are more Al Bundy than Al Unser.
Or perhaps you’d like to explore the area in a way you’ve never done before — from the waters of Tempe Town Lake, or the sky above. Luckily, several companies offer the chance to tour the East Valley by land, water or air.
• RioLago Cruise, 990 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe Although the East Valley isn’t known for its waterways, RioLago Cruises offers novice boaters a chance to practice their nautical skills. Rent a kayak, paddle boat or electric-powered boat by the hour and explore Tempe Town Lake. If you’re looking for a group experience, RioLago offers 30-minute guided tours and a cocktail cruise 7:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Cruising the periphery of the lake is another way to view the remaining vestiges of ancient Salt River communities, said Roberta Brayer, general manger of RioLago Cruises. The details: Renters must be at least 18 years of age. When: 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Cost: $10 per hour for kayaks, $12 per hour for paddle boats, $40 per hour for electric-powered boats and $65 per hour for cruisers. Information: (480) 517-4050 or www.riolagocruise.com
• Rent-A-Vette, 1215 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe
Die-hard fans of the film "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" know there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than tooling around town in an exotic car. Rent-A-Vette in north Tempe offers everything from Porsches to Hummers and, of course, Corvettes.
"They’re fun cars," said Rick Cox, manager of Rent-A-Vette in Tempe. "It’s for status, for being seen."
For the most part, Cox’s clients are vacationers who drive these cars at home and aren’t willing to give up that luxury just because they’re on vacation. But "we get locals, moms and dads who don’t want to take the minivan out," he said. The details: Rates vary from $269 to $499 a day. Information: (888) 308-5995 or www.bnm.com/ravp.htm.
• Luci’s Joyrides, 4400 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 6, Scottsdale
You really can’t beat scooters and mo-peds if you’re looking for a no-hassle means of exploration, says Marguerite Williams, owner of Luci’s Joyrides in Scottsdale. Parking is easy, there’s no shifting and scooters usually get 100 miles to the gallon. They’re ideal for seeing the natural beauty of north Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Carefree.
"I’d rather be in a scooter than a (BMW) Z4," says Ivan Hannel of Mesa. "As you drive around, you feel these microclimates. So in the summer you feel pockets of cool air, and in the winter you feel heat."
Hannel bought his first scooter from Williams, but keeps coming back to try out other models.
"It’s addictive," Hannel says. "Scooters are one of the best ways to get a feel for the East Valley. You can’t beat it. The views are fantastic, and you can stop on a dime."
The details: Day-rentals only. Anyone 18 and older can rent a mo-ped with a general driver’s license, but scooter renters must be at least 21 years of age and have a motorcycle endorsement on their license. Renters must also bring sunscreen, sunglasses and closed-toe shoes. When: 10 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. $75 for scooters, $45 for mo-peds. Information: (480) 990-1913
• Unicorn Balloon Co.
From the basket of a hot air balloon, you’ll see things you might miss from the road — the tops of saguaros, javelinas, coyotes and other desert dwellers.
"It’s pretty spectacular," says Greg Wellens, owner of Unicorn Balloon Co. "You’re only flying along at 2 miles per hour. You get a bird’s-eye perspective and a slow, tranquil, floating experience."
The balloons do climb above the tree line, reaching up to 3,000 feet. Balloon riders will see as far north as the snow-capped peaks of Flagstaff, says Wellens, a hot air balloon pilot for the past five years. The details: Hourlong balloon rides over the Sonoran Desert cost $150 per person, including a champagne breakfast. Company provides transportation to the launch site in Scottsdale. Information: (800) 755-0935.