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BEST DRIVE WORTH THE PHOTO RADAR TICKET Phoenix 2004 - Lincoln Drive between 24th Street and Scottsdale Road

In this sprawl-happy burg, it's hard to find someplace untouched by the hands of man, where one can flee from reality, if only for a few minutes. If you're like us, you've found an escape route, like the six-mile stretch from Phoenix into Paradise Valley, after dark.

As we head east from 24th Street, the chain stores start to lessen, the road gets curvier, and we open our baby up for a little speed. If it's well past the witching hour, the road's empty except for the sweet smell of a just-completed monsoon squall. An occasional entrance to some gated estate zips by, but thanks to the cover of darkness (and fewer streetlamps along this drag), the gaudy homes of the ultra-rich are nowhere to be seen. With the windows rolled down, the cool moist air whips around us as we come up a gently sloping hill, presented with a panoramic view of the sodium-lighted grid below us.

Oops, a stoplight camera just tagged us after we rolled through the Tatum Boulevard intersection, well over the 40 mph limit. When we get that surreptitious snapshot in the mail in a few weeks, the look on our face will probably be one of delight.

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