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Trip Report 12 days Ariz/UT/LV and we still love each other!

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Just returned from a fabulous trip with 2A, 2kids (13 and 9) doing an amoeba shaped loop in/out of Phoenix. We started there because the D-Backs early July homestand allowed us to catch a game at the tail end of the trip. Sick, I know.

Day one/two - into Phoenix and over to our eventual hotel to pick up a rental car. MUCH better deal than renting at the Sky Harbor airport where the taxes would have added +$150 to our bill. Nice drive up to Sedona. Funny how the first pix we took seemed so beautiful at the time but now on review they were "hills" outside the city. Little did we know what was waiting for us! Best Western Inn in Sedona was just right for us. Van service into town, decent pool, beautiful terrace views (ask for an upper floor room off the terrace - awesome).
Highlights - Pink Jeep Broken Arrow tour has to be the best! Great guide and nice intro to the area. A little pricey but worth it. Chapel of the Holy Cross - beautiful (and by the way who the heck lives in that ridiculous castle down the street???) Great soup/sandwich "fast food" place - Wildflower (I think). Slide Rock park on the way out of town was too crowded for us but fun for a few hours. Took a quick flip through Flagstaff - old Route 66 of interest. GREAT burgers and local growns at Diablo Burger.

Day three/four - GC Bright Angel Cabins. Loved the building but not the assigned cabin which was right next to the construction site in front of BA. Don't expect glamour but the rustic feeling was cool. Loved the Hermit Trail rim walk back from Hermit Rest as well as the hike down South Kaibab to Cedar Ridge. Sunrise was a disappointment but felt obligatory. At least we made it back for El Tovar breakfast - skip dinner it's too pricey but breakfast was great. Same high level of service but much better for kids and better chance of table with a view. Can't beat the ranger talks or the Junior Ranger program. Best souvenir - the book "Death at the Grand Canyon". Saw several candidates for the next edition hanging over the edge for that perfect photo!

Day five - Goulding's Lodge - Monument Valley. Exceeded expectations (which admittedly might have been low). Make sure you try the fry bread in the restaurant! Museum was very interesting, watch the intro movie in the little theater, decent pool for a quick dip. Beautiful views of the monuments. Loved the story of Harry and Mike Goulding..... could never have led that brave a life! MV drive was white knuckler for me in our low slung rental car. If only the Enterprise guy could see me now! AWESOME drive on the way out through Moki Douglas switchbacks. Natural Bridges monument was a great stop with lots to learn in a few hours. Great ranger.

Day six - Torrey UT and Capitol Reef NP. What a pleasant surprise! The drive here has to be evidence of UT at it's best. Beautiful. Hite Overlook was super. In Torrey, the Chuckwagon Lodge was just right. Clean, very reasonable, nice new pool. Try the Capitol Reef Inn and Slacker's Burger Joint. Walked right into the 4th of July parade - Americana superiorus. Half the entries would have required permits and helmets and permission slips and such here in NJ but there it just all worked fine. BEST apple pie on the planet - the Diablo pie wagon in the parade from same named restaurant. The guy hopped out and handed people little mini apple pies as part of the parade. Awesome. Capitol Reef is under the radar and well worth a visit. Route 12 is the way to go to get to Bryce.

Day seven/eight - Bryce cabins. Much better setup than the actual lodge buildings. Gas fireplace was welcome. Beautiful geology, splurged for the horses, good ranger program, more stars than you will EVER see anywhere else, fireworks over Ruby's on the 4th, great hikes. Make the trip to Mossy Cave - it's worth the effort. Bring watershoes on the hike to the waterfall and play in the river. GREAT day. Bring pants and a jacket!! Only downside here is the Lodge dining room. They need to get their act together at these prices!

Day nine/ten - Las Vegas. Desert Rose Resort was a great pick for us. No casino, no smoking, no crazies, decent breakfast and happy hour (don't go for the snacks), decent pool. Walk to the south end of the strip for your casino, smoking and crazies. Lots of free fun if you have kids (MGM lions, Circus Circus acts, Bellagio fountains, Ceasar's Palace fire/water show).

Day eleven/twelve - off to Phoenix via as much of Route 66 as we could cover. It's tacky but fun. BTW, when is that bridge over Hoover Dam going to be finished??? We were not prepared for 6 miles of traffic there. Stayed around the Hilton Pointe Squaw Peak because who would want to leave? At this point no one can get up in the morning, the River Ranch with waterslide, sports pool, lazy river and waterfall did the trick. Maybe wouldn't work on the weekends as it seems to be a place where locals would come for the day to use the pools. Dbacks won! All is well.

Loved this trip, pause to reflect on the beauty and breadth of this great country! Met so many nice people. Ideas for next year???

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