Arizona + sharing some tips from our trip

Old May 12th, 2021, 07:32 PM
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Arizona + sharing some tips from our trip


Downtown Old Town Scottsdale

Lava squeeze at Sunset Crater Volcano Monument

Lava fields

Wukoki ruins

The Chapel of The Holy Cross, Sedona

Page Spring Cellars, creek side

Downtown Flagstaff park

The Grandest of Canyons

Along the Grand Canyon Trail of Time

Boating Mecca, London Bridge, Lake Havasu

Hoover Dam and Lake Meade

Hoover Dam, river side
With our vaccinations complete, my husband and I quickly booked flights and accommodations to visit my daughter and grandson who live in Phoenix, plus give my husband the opportunity to see the grandeur of Arizona. A bonus was being able to coordinate a meetup with a childhood friend from California after 23 years being out of touch.
Our itinerary: Tampa to Phoenix, two "family nights" in Phoenix; drive to Flagstaff airbnb with visit to Montezuma Castle en route; 8 nights in Flagstaff with family trip to Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument, the Grand Canyon, and day trips to Sedona; drive west to Lake Havasu City for three nights, including trip to Hoover Dam; drive southwest back to Phoenix and fly home to Tampa.
Day 1: Wednesday flight into PHX from Tampa, a brutal 14 hours of constant mask-wearing was wearying - from the Uber at our doorstep to my daughter picking us up at the curb at Sky Harbor Airport. We particularly "enjoyed" the admonishes from United flight crew to keep our mask on "between bites and sips!" Nonetheless, seeing my daughter and grandson for the first time in almost two years was worth it!
Tip one: since we were spending a day in Phoenix, I didn't rent a car at the airport, but rather at the excellent Enterprise facility on 7th St N. - and the savings was close to $300 from what it would have cost at the airport for the same time period. (I first reserved our rental from the a further north Enterprise and they kindly shifted my reservation to one that could "Pick Me Up" ) I am so glad I planned and reserved in advance as we were there when the crush for rental cars was at its peak!
Tip Two: We spent the first two nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Midtown on N.Central Ave. (we have a reward card and used points) which was okay, but if you want a better experience, with an airport and 5 mile radius shuttle, plus restaurant and bar on the premises, do check out the Hilton Garden Inn Airport on Elwood. This hotel is newer, with larger, more modern rooms at the same number of points/price.
Day 2: A walk around Old Town Scottsdale, free parking in a garage off the main drag. There is a windy road that gets you up close and personal with Camelback Mt (E. Redrocks Drive via N. Dromedary Rd.) but do drive it with caution!
Day 3: Headed north to Flagstaff with a stop to see Montezuma Castle - so moving and beautiful. Be sure to get your National Park Pass here if you hadn't already, to be ready for all the great parks beyond! I inquired in an earlier thread about Altitude Sickness and purchased some canned oxygen, which I used after walking about here and having felt a tad nauseous. It did help!
Tip Three: since we were staying eight days in the area, I signed up for a "rewards" cards for Safeway, Basha's and Fry's in advance, and was able to save $19 on our "stock up" shopping at Basha's!
Day 4: Packing a picnic lunch we headed to Sunset Crater (30 min drive from Flagstaff) and my Senior Annual America The Beautiful National Park Pass covered all five of us for the entrance fee. The Rangers at the Parks are so very helpful and friendly, do grab a map and chat! We hiked the Lava Flow and Bonita trails on the paved areas, then continued on the Loop Rd (395) north to the Painted Desert Vista (on the left side of the road) and found picnic tables to have our lunch. We turned off to first visit the Wukoki Ruins, and then stopped at the visitor center and walked the Wupatki ruins, but not all the way to the "blow hole" . This entire park is a Must See! The wonder of Nature's power in the lava fields and the ingenuity and perserverance of mankind witnessing these magnificent pueblo ruins.
Day 5: Downtown Old Town Flagstaff: I loved the rumbly background "music" of the constant trains (close to 100 per day I read!) passing through town. We visited the Arizona Handmade Gallery at 13 N. San Francisco, and the Sweet Shoppe (it was packed!) and found a great spot to rest and people watch at Heritage Square on Aspen St. while our family cruised the other shops.
Day 6: An at home day as family returned to Phoenix and we cleaned up.
Day 7: Day Trip to Sedona: Since I had experienced it two years ago with my sister, I gave my husband the passenger-seat thrill of the ride down 89A through Oak Creek Canyon. What a view and such a gorgeous day too. We stopped at Clear Creek Trading Company to purchase some Native American items for family back home and were assisted by a most knowledgable and charming woman named Supaya. There are seven rooms full of "treasures" -do explore! We parked for free on upper Jordan Rd and stretched our legs a bit poking into the shops. It seemed way too crowded to expect anything but a long wait for lunch, so we drove to lower Sedona and had an excellent lunch of soup and 1/2 sandwich at The Golden Goose American Cafe. Finding a parking spot back in uptown proved impossible so we headed back up the canyon to Flag.
Day 8: Aaaaaggghh!!! These Floridian retirees were shocked to wake up to SNOW the next morning. It was pretty to see, and we even ventured out later in the day to walk the Flagstaff Mall. We were highly impressed with Jack's Antiques, his knowledge about Native American crafts and jewelry was an education in itself and we purchased some earrings crafted by a Hopi artisan.
Day 9: The Grand Canyon: having been forewarned, we packed a lunch, lots of water, layers of clothing and headed out at 8:00 a.m. to beat the crowds and find parking (arriving a little before 10:00). From a tip on a thread I posted in advance, (thus TIP Four) I turned off at Center Rd., the first street on the left and headed to Parking Lot C, which had several open spots and we hiked across the railroad tracks (there is a walkway and stairs) and approached the canyon through the back door of Bright Angel Lodge. This was my third visit to the GCNP and the first time I heard of The Trail of Time which is 2.8 miles one way (just east of El Tovar, or from Yavipai Point) and marks the age of the canyon in increments of 10 million years with medallions in the sidewalk and sample stones of its layers at intervals representing their relative position in the canyon wall. There were no shuttles this early in the year, so it was hiking both ways, but it is paved and in fact wheelchair accessible. We ate our lunch in the car, then headed back - thrilled to see three large elk grazing along the roadside as we left the park. On the way back, I stopped to fulfill my RockHound urges at the ROCKS N' MORE, at the Mobil station in Valle. All the bargains for those who do their own stone work are out back, sold by weight. Josefina at the front register was so helpful and friendly!!
Day 10: Back to Sedona - but via 17 and 179 to The Chapel of The Holy Cross. We found a spot to park right away about half way up and were immediately approached by a cart driver and offered a ride (which is free, but tips are welcome) and he gave us a mini tour of the rock formations that inspired the chapel. It was so moving, and the views from the plaza were expansive! From there we doubled back to Cornville and Page Spring Cellars for lunch (I cannot imagine how people can do a wine tasting then negotiate all those curves and hills!) We had paninis from the Bistro menu then walked down by the creek. Lovely spot! With more time we would have visited the nearby Fish Hatchery.
Day 11: A lonnnggg drive to Lake Havasu City, first via 40, but when we got off in Seligman for a rest stop, the very ascerbic, yet friendly woman at the front told us that NO ONE takes 40 to Kingman, the way to go (TIP FIVE) was by way of Iconic Route 66. And oh my gosh, there were the Burma Shave signs I read about as a kid! What a hoot! It truly was more scenic than 40 and after a spell almost as smooth a road too. Kingman was a zoo of backed up traffic, then it thinned out when we got back on Rt 40. Lake Havasu City was did not present the "oasis" look I was expecting (Parker is much greener) but I also respect the conservation of water vs. "Eastern" style yards and landscape.
We stayed at the Quality Inn and Suites on Lake Havasu Rd. and while we may have preferred the more modern Hampton, it was where our friends were staying. We hit town along with a Bass Tournament, Rockabilly, and the Kentucky Derby (there is an OBT booth at the hotel in their lounge) plus a group of motorcycles parked outside our door, it wasn't the most quiet of accommodations, but it was entertaining!
Day 12: I suppose that walking around the London Bridge on a record 103 degree day is not the best time to enjoy it and comment favorably. Definitely this is a boating town. There are few shops and little to see or do otherwise.
Day 13: The two hour drive to the Hoover Dam was not as scenic as the trip coming over to LHC, but the dam was impactful! No tours are offered due to covid, but just walking across the dam and reading the plaques was fascinating enough. Downtown Boulder City was jumping with a street fair and no parking to be had, so we found a local's restaurant, the Pit Stop on Bus. 93 that was fantastic!
Day 14: Loonnnng drive back to Phoenix. Driving past Parker was amazing to see such greenery and turquoise water! But not much but tumbleweeds and 5 mile long trains to see along the way other than the astounding Vicksburg Ranch and acres and acres of cattle barns. A beef factory pretty much. Could almost make one a vegan. Buckeye was the first available stop for a quick bite to eat, on the edge of the urban sprawl of Phoenix. The Ten as locals call it is as bad if not worse than driving in L.A., or outside Chicago. The Hilton was such a peaceful reward at the end of a long day of driving. All in all, a fabulous trip through a most amazing, geographically diverse and beautiful state. But it sure was great to click our heels and say, there's no place like home the next day!
SueBSouth is offline  
Old May 13th, 2021, 03:33 AM
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That sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for reporting, and the tips.
oldemalloy is offline  
Old May 13th, 2021, 08:31 AM
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You covered it all, great job and planning. Well written report too which will be helpful to others heading to AZ.
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Old May 13th, 2021, 10:21 AM
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Thanks for the report, sounds like you did well. Interesting about using the O2 in Sedona. I wouldn't have thought it would be needed, it but no reason why it wouldn't help, and glad to hear it did. Nice photos.
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Old May 29th, 2021, 12:22 PM
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Thank-you Sue for the helpful tips and great photos!
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