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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: drewsky9 on June 05, 2016, 07:51:28 AM

Title: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: drewsky9 on June 05, 2016, 07:51:28 AM
This is my first trip report so I hope I got it right!

My wife and I had an unexpected vacation opportunity so we took advantage of our bucket list item to visit the Grand Canyon.  We flew first class on AA from LGA to PHX via ATL for 90,000 AA Miles. 

We left LGA on Sunday afternoon.  When we landed in ATL we used United Club passes (from the United Credit Card) to pass the three hours.  The Club was nice, even though there weren't many kosher options.  But there was soda, coffee, and beer on tap.

We landed in Phoenix on Sunday night, picked up a Jeep Renegade from Alamo (booked using Costco Travel) and drove to our hotel, Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix North.  We stayed there just for one night for 4000 Starwoods points.

Monday morning we drove towards Sedona.  Near Sedona we went horseback riding at Horsin Around Adventures.  It was a 90 minute ride through the mountainside.  Not with Sedona views but was still gorgeous.  The guide made the ride even more enjoyable.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7093/27440295496_ce9cdd2b6b_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFR3)

We then drove to Arizona ATV Adventures where we took a Double ATV tour.  This tour lasted 3 hours, and took us on a drive with stunning views of the Sedona mountains.  The guide was very helpful and provided water and chocolate bars throughout the drive.  It was really a remarkable adventure.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7234/27474713055_7c7d585286_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Ze)view from the ATV (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Ze)

After ATVing we drove to Flagstaff.  The drive was one of the most scenic drives with beautiful views of the Sedona mountains, as well as natural cliffs and caverns.  In Flagstaff we stayed in a Country Inns and Suites.  The concierge suggested going to the Lowell Observatory that night which was very interesting.  After a short explanation of the constellations, we were taken outside where the presenter showed us all of the constellations, as well as Jupiter and Mars.  They have several high powered telescopes on the grounds which we looked through and saw amazing close ups of Jupiter and Mars.  The night sky was the most amazing, or so I thought.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7487/27474713015_6c959b6a09_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Yx)The bright star is Jupiter (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Yx)

The next day we drove to the Grand Canyon.  Lonely Planet has a one day plan for the Grand Canyon that we followed and we were happy we did.  We drove from to the East Entrance of the park, rather than the more crowded Main Entrance of the South Rim.  We started our day at the Desert Watch Tower which is the highest point at the South Rim.

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7340/27474712985_e4d3071b6e_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Y2)View from the Desert Watch Tower (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Y2)

After the tower and one or two more lookout points, we drove to the Shoshone Point parking lot.  This is an unmarked and unadvertised trail.  There's a dirt parking lot that is 5.3 miles from the X trail.  After an approximately 30 minute walk, you reach Shoshone Point.  What you get is the most breathtaking views of the Canyon as well as peace and quiet.  They go out of their way to not advertise Shoshone Point, so those who do know about it are treated to the tranquility of the place.
(https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7412/27474712955_ea60ea4094_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Xv)Shoshone Point (https://flic.kr/p/HRR5Xv)

We drove to the South Rim main entrance where we ate our lunch and then took the shuttle to to South Kaibab Trail which we walked to Ooh Aah Point.  Just follow all of the precautions that they tell you about hiking below the rim and you'll be fine.

(https://c5.staticflickr.com/8/7482/27440295356_79122b81c9_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFNC)Below the Rim (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFNC)

When we hiked back, we walked along the paved path from the South Kaibab Trail back to the main entrance.  We then went to Yavapai Point for sunset.

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7324/27474713755_10a3a4b883_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR6ci)Sunset at Yavapi Point (https://flic.kr/p/HRR6ci)

After sunset we drove back to Flagstaff but with three pit stops on the way.  The first was at an ultimate tourist trap called Bedrock City.  There's nothing there but if you're a fan of the Flintstones you'll appreciate the 5 minute stop.
(https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7034/27474929935_6ab1372f80_z.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRScsx)Hi Fred! (https://flic.kr/p/HRScsx)

Once we reached US 180W we were driving in pitch black and no other cars on the road.  Twice, we stopped the car to look up at the sky.  THAT was the most amazing night sky I've ever experienced.  There are no lights for miles in any direction and you see more stars than you ever thought was possible.

Day 3, we did a quick morning hike at Sunset Crater National Park.

(https://c5.staticflickr.com/8/7789/27198022500_3e39bb9ec4_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HroYwq)Sunset Crater National Park (https://flic.kr/p/HroYwq)

Then we drove to Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde.  We enjoyed the park, but it's not a whole day activity.  The safari ride was nice, and the Giraffe literally put its head into the van.  The other animals were cool to see.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7307/27440295226_4e2fe6d3d0_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFLo)Giraffe (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFLo)

We then walked around to see the other animals.  The place is not a zoo so don't expect to see zoolike enclosures.  It's very natural.  The Tiger Splash show was great as well!

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7308/27474713715_a67117aa9a_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR6bB)Tiger Splash Show (https://flic.kr/p/HRR6bB)

We then drove back to our hotel in Phoenix.  We stayed at the Westin Kierland, a 12,000 point a night Starwood Resort.  It was a beautiful place and we were on the top floor with mountain views.  We ate dinner at Segals in Phoenix, where the ribs were delicious as was the chicken shish kabob.

(https://c5.staticflickr.com/8/7306/27198022380_1b8b809b0f.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HroYum)Ribs (https://flic.kr/p/HroYum)
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/8/7099/27440295196_8ed72c981b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFKS)Chicken Shish Kabob (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFKS)

Finally, for our last day in Arizona we spent the early AM lounging at the pool and at the (empty from people) lazy river and water slide.  We checked out of the hotel and went to Fresh Mint for lunch.  A vegetarian restaurant, it was recommended very highly even for us meat eaters.  The food was excellent and we finished our dishes clean.

We went to the Musical Instrument Museum which was one of the coolest museums we've ever seen.  It's divided by continent and county and you get to see and hear the instruments from their native lands.  There are over 5,000 instruments on display.

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7205/27440295686_e50c96ef46_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFUj)MIM (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFUj)
(https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7435/27474713475_2ef53de174_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRR67t)MIM (https://flic.kr/p/HRR67t)

We then ate a quick takeout dinner from Kitchen 18, a chicken salad and schwarma wrap, which once again were delicious.  We concluded our trip walking around the Desert Botanical Gardens at sunset, which offered breathtaking sunset views.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7486/27440295586_3ba683df3f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFSA)DBG (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFSA)
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/8/7021/27440295516_ce9cdd2b6b_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFRo)DBG Sunset (https://flic.kr/p/HNNFRo)

On the way home our flight from ATL to LGA was cancelled and we were rerouted through DC.  In DC they gave us a $24 food voucher for our trouble.  When we landed in LGA, our luggage was still in ATL but they delivered it to our home 8 hours later.

So minus the travel home, it was an amazing trip and Arizona should be on everyone's bucket list.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: rileywiles23 on June 05, 2016, 08:09:15 AM
Good job. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: 3yummyboys on June 05, 2016, 08:28:55 AM
Amazing! Thanks for the write up.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: Newcc on June 05, 2016, 11:25:14 AM
Thanks for sharing. Great domenstoc trip idea.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: mgarfin on June 05, 2016, 02:07:11 PM
Nice good job!
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: sam28 on June 05, 2016, 08:59:22 PM
Amazing TR short and to the point .
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: Joe4007 on June 06, 2016, 10:28:02 AM
Nice TR. Thanks for taking the time.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: zow on June 06, 2016, 10:41:16 AM
Very nice TR.
I found the balance of photos and text to be just right.
The narrative flowed really smoothly and the pictures enhanced it all.  I wish I could have seen the night sky that you described, but I'm sure pictures won't do it justice.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: drewsky9 on June 08, 2016, 12:00:24 PM
Noticed a typo in my report.  Shoshone Point is 6.3 miles west from the Grandview Point turnoff.
Title: Re: Arizona Trip Report
Post by: LoLo on June 09, 2016, 10:32:08 PM
Great report, Thanks.