IMAGE: Driver Douglas Guldeniz and Bob and Betty Matas
Jake Bacon  /  AP
New York City cab driver Douglas Guldeniz, left, stands with Bob and Betty Matas by Guldeniz's SUV taxi after arriving at the Junipine Resort in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, Ariz., on Monday..
updated 4/16/2007 9:52:39 PM ET 2007-04-17T01:52:39

A New York couple who wanted to spare their cats a trip in an airliner cargo hold during a cross-country move completed a 2,500-mile cab ride to northern Arizona on Monday.

Neither Bob nor Betty Matas had any regrets about making the move to the region known for its beautiful red rock landscapes in such an unconventional fashion. But Bob Matas said he has no desire to take another road trip any time soon.

"It was pretty tiring, for my wife especially. ... We're happy where we are. We're happy and that's it," Bob Matas told The Associated Press.

The Matases, who are retiring in Arizona, met cab driver Douglas Guldeniz when they hailed his taxi in Manhattan after a shopping trip three months ago and jokingly invited him to come along on their upcoming move.

As the three talked over the ensuing weeks, the gag became reality. The Matas, their two cats — Pretty Face and Cleopatra — and Guldeniz left the couple's Queens neighborhood April 10. They arrived Monday in Sedona, about 90 miles north of Phoenix.

"It's quite thrilling to be in the place we want to live and retire, said Bob Matas, 72, a former audio and video engineer for advertising agencies. "There's beautiful red mountains and weather and friendly people."

$3,000 flat rate
Guldeniz drove his canary-colored Ford SUV cab about 10 hours a day for a $3,000 flat rate plus gas, meals and lodging. The SUV is a hybrid-electric vehicle, which helped lessen the cost of fuel.

Matas said he was "flabbergasted" by the attention surrounding the couple's trip. Passers-by recognized them when they saw the New York cab, he said.

"Every state that we hit, people would say 'Are you the ones?' and we would say 'Yes, we are the ones,' " Matas said.

The Sedona mayor welcomed the couple at a noontime ceremony Monday, presenting them with a bag of Sedona souvenirs. Their real estate agent presented them with the keys to their new home.

IMAGE: Cleo the cat and Bob Matas
Jake Bacon  /  AP
Cleo the cat gets up close with a TV camera as she sits in her owner Bob Matas' arms at the end of a 2,500-mile taxi ride from New York to Sedona, Ariz., on Monday.

The Matases will stay at a hotel for a few days until all their belongings can be moved into their house. A friend followed the cab in a rental truck carrying the couple's possessions.

Since neither Bob nor Betty Matas, 71, a retired executive administrative assistant, know how to drive, this won't be their last taxi ride.

"There are taxi services to take us around. We're only a couple blocks from the Hilton Hotel," Matas said. "I'm sure we'll manage. There shouldn't be any problem. We can always get a golf cart."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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