The Cool Car Club’s first overnight road trip of the season began on November 6 as an idyllic crisp fall day under a blue sky. Spirits were high as we met in the Arts and Tech parking lot to check in for the drive. New club members Rick and Peggy Mykins arrived in their expertly restored 1934 Ford Coupe, a pristine, beautiful yellow hot rod show car. Last minute instructions were given, questions answered and we were off. Destination: Sedona. Deborah and I decided to park our two-seater for this trip in favor of our SUV so as we visited our planned venues another couple could join us if they chose.
An hour into the drive I was in the left lane on I-10N passing slower traffic. Less than a quarter mile ahead I spotted a long truck retread tire on the left side of the passing lane. Traffic was clear and I moved into the right lane. An 18-wheeler was where I had been moments ago and the elements of a Perfect Storm were now in place. The truck moved the long retread into the travel area of the left lane. Watching in my left side mirror I saw that club members Wynn and Cathy Swanson had no time to react to the retread and passed directly over it. The retread was now airborne and hit the Mykins’ ’34 coupe mid radiator and apparently grabbed their left tire. The coupe instantly departed I-10N for the median. Exiting the resulting dust cloud created in the median the coupe rolled onto I-10S and came to rest on its right side in 75 mph oncoming traffic.
I pulled off the road as did Dennis and Amy Giannakakis. Deborah called 911 as Dennis and I ran back to the accident. When I-10N was clear we ran across. In the interim a south bound car struck the coupe and then hit an 18-wheeler before coming to a stop further down the highway. Stepping onto I-10S there was no sign of the Mykins. Waves of relief and joy swept over us when Rick popped his head out of the driver’s side door. Moments later Peggy exited from where the windshield used to be. The fuel-soaked debris field of car parts and luggage stretched to the south for a hundred yards. The driver of the other car was now on the highway and he, too, was OK. The Mykins’ seatbelts and shoulder harnesses as well as a reinforcing shell inside the car body saved them.
The Arizona Highway Patrol was quickly on scene as was a passing ambulance crew. The highway patrol officers could not have been more caring and helpful. Our heartfelt thanks to Capt. Dave Nilson who took charge of the scene. The ambulance crew examined the Mykins and other driver and recommended they go to the Casa Grande emergency room for a more complete check out. Once the totaled coupe was loaded for transport to a salvage yard, we collected the Mykins and their luggage and headed for the emergency room. Their initial check disclosed they would be OK but they remained behind for more tests and arranged for Peggy’s sister who also lives in Quail Creek to pick them up.
Meanwhile, the Swansons had traveled a short distance and exited I-10N to investigate a leak. As it turns out when they passed over the retread it gave their engine compartment a sound thrashing and dislodged a fuel line. They estimated they lost three gallons of gas in the short distance they traveled after hitting the retread. This is the absolute worst gas mileage their Prius has ever registered. As a former owner of a Prius I can attest that it, too, is a very cool car. Since there was not room inside the car carrier on which the Prius was loaded, Wynn returned to Quail Creek inside the Prius atop the carrier. In the spirit of the club, this was very cool transportation. Once back at Quail Creek, the Swansons boarded their other car and headed north for Sedona.
Secure in the knowledge that our friends were safe we proceeded with our trip and enjoyed our planned dinner that evening in Sedona. The next morning after breakfast we caravanned into Old Town Cottonwood for a brief stop in the historic section to peruse the shops then traveled six miles up the road to go back in time 1600 years. The Tuzigoot ruins are a National Park site that preserves a southern Sinagua village that at one time included a second story and 87 ground-floor rooms. Next stop – the Verde Canyon Railroad. The Railroad very kindly reserved special “Cool Car Club” parking for us and the crew in our first-class car were very accommodating with a champagne toast and nice selection of light hors d’oeuvres for lunch. The 20-mile, four-hour trip travels through the scenic Verde River Valley providing access to the geology and beauty of the Verde Canyon that is only accessible by rail.
Our next day out included a scenic drive down Hwy 179 for great views of the red rocks of Sedona and stops at the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque, a collection of courtyards, beautiful galleries and restaurants in a setting of large sycamore trees.
Next month we’re local once more for a visit to Tanque Verde Ranch for lunch and a horseback ride. If you’d like to join us contact me at [email protected]
While the loss of a magnificent show car is disappointing, I’ll take my friend’s wellbeing any day over a cool car. Drive safely everyone; we want to see you on the road with us…and safely home again.