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Trip Report: 1 wk in Arizona

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Nov 18th, 2006, 06:14 PM
  #1
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Trip Report: 1 wk in Arizona

Hey guys. I'm back from a one week trip to Arizona and used lots of help from everyone's postings.

Flew nonstop Newark to Phoenix on Continental and arrived at 7:30 pm Friday 11/3. Picked up car and upgraded to a convertible, the better for seeing wide spaces. Stayed 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Express outside Old Town Scottsdale. Good location, within walking distance of Old Town It was recommended as both an inexpensive & convenient alternative to the unavailable Biltmore, our first choice of lodging for its history.

Sat 11/4 we toured Taliesen West in the a.m. Loved it, we're big Frank Lloyd Wright Fans and have toured his buildings in Chicago, Fallingwater and elsewhere.

Next, lunch at the Biltmore and a walk through the hotel. Perfect. Refreshed, we visited and loved Desert Botanical Gardens, overheated after 1.5 hrs., fled to hotel pool to swim laps and cool off and had a great dinner in a great Sushi restaurant on Old Scottsdale Rd. Walking distance, so we both could drink freely.

Sun 11/5 drove in a.m. to Sedona. Stayed in Oak Creek at the Hilton Resort, also recommended by Fodorites. Great place! I don't do spa, but we had a beautiful suite, reasonable price (229 per night), small balcony with beautiful views of Bell Rock and mesas. Lunch in Oak Creek Brewery, Tlaqupaque was fun, after we drove to Red Rock State Park and hiked a few miles all over. Back to hotel, where we had a light but tasty dinner.

Mon 11/6 Early a.m. hike up Doe Mtn was really gratifying, gorgeous red rock, stupendous views. In the p.m. we hiked around and part way up Bell Rock. Dinner in Oak Creek, at an Italian restaurant down the hill (walking distance) of the resort yielded mixed reviews. Lousy T-bone, but a decent special pasta with seafood. Pricing was a little tricky.

Tues. 11/7, another major a.m. hike into a canyon with a scramble up to an arch. Lunch at a vegan restaurant was interesting and felt healthy. HOT but beautiful afternoon hike around Chimney Rock left us pooped. Back to the resort for swimming laps (brrr, the air cooled quickly as the day waned - didn't want to get out of the water. For dinner, we feasted on delicious elk chops at the hotel, feeling especially entitled after our vegan lunch!

Wed 11/8, we left Sedona by 9 a.m., a bit sadly to drive along Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and on to the Grand Canyon. The air was hazy and grew very smoky. Planned burns. Remember, we were in our convertible. We arrived at Sunset Crater, hiked it, drove to Waputki, explored, then on to the Grand Canyon, where we were booked for 2 nights at the Kachinka Lodge.

We walked along the south rim for 3 or 4 miles in the afternoon, checked into our room at 4 pm, 5:45 dinner at the Tovar Hotel, followed by another walk and saw the waning half moon rise over the canyon.

Thursday a.m. I was up at the crack of dawn,too early, to see the sunrise. It took forever and was too far south in the sky. Worse, there were too many buses out of sight generating diesel fumes. I saw the sunrise over the north rim 13 years ago, and it was superior. However, 13 years ago the snow in late May prevented me from entering the Canyon. This time we hiked down South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Edge, 1.5 miles and almost 1200 feet in descent, then back up again. This hike was memorablely awesome, the highlight of our trip. In the afternoon we visited and walked several spots along the south rim west of the village.

We were supposed to drive Friday to Las Vegas, see parts of Rt 66 and leave from Las Vegas to Newark nonstop Saturday a.m. But all the hotels were booked or extravagantly overpriced!! Despite dozens of Fodorite recommendations, the best we could do was the MGM Grand for $512 for one night!

Instead, we canceled the MGM Grand, rescheduled our return flight and took the Friday red eye special back to Newark,arriving 12 hours earlier. Great decision. We returned to Phoenix on Friday, drove through downtown (nothing there), dropped by ASU to visit its theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, his last building,but it was closed for Veteran's Day.
By now the heat was killing us, so we drove to Fashion Mall to cool off and saw a movie, Borat. We never see movies more than once a year, and never when traveling, but this ari conditioned bread was well timed and the movie had us in stitches.

After another great dinner on Old Scottsdale Rd, chicken BBQ,we reluctantly drove to the airport and endured the grueling return trip.

Great trip. We will back in Arizona again, to go south towards Tucson and north towards Canyon de Chelly & Monument Valley.

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Nov 19th, 2006, 03:39 AM
  #2
emd
 
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Glad you liked the Hilton in Sedona. I agree about the Doe Mountain Hike. Sounds like you really enjoyed the pool. It must be unusually hot for Nov., usually it has cooled down more by this time. I think your arch hike was Fay Canyon Arch if you were scrambling up the rock to the arch.

Glad you gave the wave to MGM. I participated in your >$500 a night thread and thought that would be enough to ruin an AZ outdoorsy vacation.

What was the name of the Italian Restaurant in Oak Creek in walking distance to the arch (so I can avoid it). Did you just happen upon the place or did the hotel send you there? Food in Sedona can be quite good or quite bad, and it is better to reserach and plan that portion of a Sedona trip rather than to wing it.

I am certain the vegan restaurant was D'Lish, at the corner of 89A and Dry Creek Rd., as you exit after the Dry Creek Rd. hikes. I ate there last Dec. also after hiking. They are not only vegan, but they use no refined flours or sugars.

How was the dinner at El Tovar?
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Nov 22nd, 2006, 09:15 AM
  #3
FLmom
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Hi woodstockguy, what was your impression of Waputki? Could you share a little bit more of your thoughts and experience there, please?
 
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Nov 24th, 2006, 06:04 AM
  #4
 
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Great trip report woodstockguy. We also rented a convertible and it proved to be worth the additional dollars. Other than the bad hair! I am curious as to why they were doing planned burns in Oak Creek Canyon. Is that normal or is it related to the earlier fires in that area?

FLmom - Here's my impression of Wupatki pasted from my trip report.

Next stop was the Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano. Since we were going north to south it was a little confusing. We didnít have the park guide since coming from this direction you donít pay at the entrance. We first stopped at a couple of smaller pueblo ruins and climbed the Dooney Mountain (itís really a big hill) where we watched a storm with a lot of lightning that appeared to be heading our way! We climbed down and made it to the Wupatki pueblo. I thought this was most interesting of all of the archeological sites we visited. They give you a guide to do a walking tour of the pueblo and it was so well done. It really gave you a sense of the people who lived there. The Sunset Volcano also had a walking tour over the lava field. This was beautiful in a very surreal way. The ground is black and if you trip and fall you would be severely cut up on the lava. I would absolutely recommend these national monuments.
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Nov 25th, 2006, 05:26 AM
  #5
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Hi everyone. Sorry to be so slow responding to your posts but the Thanksgiving holiday caught me short.

emd - thanks for being one of the many helpful fodorites who responded to my Las Vegas question. We definitely did way better changing our plans.

You were right, we hiked Fay Canyon Arch and loved it. We were surprised at how hot the afternoons became, but by the time I left the pool in Sedona around 4:30, the air was cold!

The Italian restaurant in Oak Creek was Cucina Rustica. We got the specials. Good seafood pasta but a T-bone of thin cheap quality - just a bit better than Ponderosa. We erred by not asking the price of the specials, which were $35 and more than all of the menu entrees. D'lish was the interesting vegan restaurant. The El Tovar dinners were better than we expected. Delicious duck one night, fish the other night. 5:45 dinner was not too early for early November.

BlackandGold - I don't know why the planned fires were taking place. Being from the east, they took me by surprise and encompassed the entire Oak Creek Canyon from Sedona to Flagstaff. I shot a few photos to try to capture the extent of the smoke, but of course it can't.

FLmom - BlackandGold's impression of Wupatki and Sunset Crater matched my own. Great stop. Loved the Sunset Crater hike. And the main Pueblo ruins at Wupatki were top notch.

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Nov 25th, 2006, 07:40 AM
  #6
emd
 
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Wow, I am surprised and sorry about your steak at Cucina Rustica. We had wonderful food and service there last yr. on New Year's Eve, by far the best dining experience we've ever had in ten yrs of going to Sedona. But we did not order steak- we had veal, pasta, and a vegetarian entree at our table.
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Nov 25th, 2006, 08:37 AM
  #7
FLmom
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Thanks woodstockguy and BlackandGold - I appreciate your thoughts...I'll be out there this summer, hopefully we'll be able to fit this in!!
 
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Nov 25th, 2006, 04:20 PM
  #8
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emd - my seafood pasta special at Cucina Rustica was excellent, only the Florentine T-bone was disappointing, the cut of beef not up to par. And service was polished. Perhaps it was our error not to inquire about the price of the special entrees - but we would have appreciated the info upfront. I thought the ambiance was excellent, and would return if in Sedona again, a little wiser.

It was nice to be able to walk out of the hotel to the restaurant.
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