trip report : Arizona sampler (5 days)

Old Aug 12th, 2003, 08:29 AM
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trip report : Arizona sampler (5 days)


here is my trip report. thank you for your advices when I was in the planning phase.

part 1: Thursday 7.

9.40 am #### Flight usair on time. (after a we in NYC and being delayed for 6 hours total...)
It was one of the plane where they experiment with the "inflight cafe". Didn't try it, but it looked good and plentyfull.
It was a great flight. I have the feeling that USair is learning that being nice and corteous to people doesn't cost much and enhance greatly a traveller's experience.
We were in PHX 25 minutes early.
Of course : great weather.

10:30 am ####We proceed to the hertz counter. So easy to spot !
I had a double upgrade coupon. The lady at the counter was very nice, smiling and so on. but, she didn't see my coupon and wanted us to rent a better car (to climb up to Flagstaff) for $10 more a day. I told her about the coupon. She was going to give us a one upgrade, I had to show it again to her, and she read it and gave a us a Mercury Cougar.
Waited for the shuttle to go to the garage (10 minutes drive with stops)... I didn't know that we couldn't pick up the car on site. a bit annoying.
We saw the car, very cute but very small for 3 adults. I went to the customer relation booth and explained the problem to the guy on duty. He gave us a toyota camry (white !) right away.
The car came with CD players (and we brought CDs along with us) and a neverlost system.
At first, I was annoyed by the system. I AM A VERY GOOD CO-PILOT !!!! and "she" was spoiling the fun of it...I was a bit vexed. we named her "mireille"... and after a while I got used to Mireille and it was so good to have her with us...

11.20 am ####We were on road on the 17, toward Flagstaff and hopefully Target. Why target? because my dad's luggage did the trip from France in 3 days ! he definltly needed to by a pair of pants and so on...

1.45 pm ##### shopping in Flagstaff
The day before we left, Target's web site store locator didn't work and I didn't have the correct address with me, and "mireille" didn't know where it was.
We only found a hugly Wallmart, which was good enough to stock up on water, socks, coockies...

2:45 #### on the road again toward the grand canyon.
We used the south entrance. We went through it around 4.00pm : no queue. We drove direclty to the thunderbird lodge.
BEfore checking in the Bright Angel, we walked to the edge, and I was waching nmy dad very closely. He suddenly had big eyes and said "haaaaa ouaiiiiii, haaaa ouaiii" several times...
4.30pm #### we were in the room.
Thunderbird lodge: we had a second floor room, which has a better view of the canyon. We didn't stay a lot in the room, but it is very nice to check during the night if the sunrise is coming.
One of the bed sheet had a hole in it. The AC was a it noizy, but beside that the room was great : spacious, enough towels, shampoo, lotion...

5.00 pm #### bright angel trail.
We walked down the trail 20 minutes and came back. Then we took the shuttle and went to hopi point. we waled slowly, stoppoing sooo many times for pictures toward Mohave Point. We waited for the sunset. I almost wanted to applaud !

8.00pm #### dinner time.
we were tired, but so happy. We had a beer outside the arizona room and then dinner. We had steack, ribs... The complementary salad would have been enough. But the meat were very good. It was the first time my dad had ribs, he loved it. We thought the food was reasonable priced and good. (i had the veggies tacos or burritos, they were so-so)

that's all for day 1. At 10.00 we were in bed.

Day 2 coming next
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 08:59 AM
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Day 2 : friday 8/8

5.45 am #### thanks to the jetlagged I waked up early and decided to go for a jogg. Many people had the same idea... and it is a great idea. there is no one in the park at this time of the day. Weather is fresh, sunrise is great. I saw a deer... I prefered the sunset, but enjoyed more the early morning.

7.15 am #### breakfast in the coffee house. Cheap and correct.

8:15 #### check out. super smooth.

Oups, I forgot to was invaded by French people. I am not used to hear french in the US and there , my "compatriotes" were everywhere !

8:45 am #### east rim trail. (in the meantime we got hiking pants for my dad in the market place)
It took us almost 2 hours to drive alont the rim. We stopped at mather, grand view, moran... I had a print out from National Geographic for this. It was a very nice finish.
the first time I want to the canyon, I only stayed 3 hours. I say that I tasted it 3 years ago, this year I enjoyed it, and next time I'll experiment it !

10:35am #### we exited the park, driving toward Cameron.

11.10am #### cameron. Lunch. VERY good... HUGE portion. a small taco would have been enough for 2.

12:20pm #### fill up the tank and drive to kayenta. I loved the painted desert between Cameron and Tuba city... and later on around kayenta , there was big red smooth rocks... I just wanted to climb them.

1:45pm #### check in at the hampton inn... oups, it's 2.45 pm... we are in Navajo nation ! they obvserve the day light saving (or az does and not the navajo). I read about it but when I checked the time in Cameron there was no difference, I assumed I didn't understand...
Hampton inn: very nice place. large clean room. bad inroom coffee, but there was free and good coffee in the lobby

3:30pm #### let's drive to Monument Valley.
We first drove a bit in Utah to have a different view of the valley, and also because I missed the entrance ;-)
It wasn't as packed with tourist and souvenir merchants as I expected.

4:15 pm #### we did the tour and stopped several times. once again : so many french people ! I got a necklace. The first time we looked at jewelwry the guy wasn't very nice, but the second time, the woman was...

6:30pm #### we stopped in the snack area for a coke and to write postcards.

We had a light dinner (we could have lived on the tacos from lunch !) at the hotel. far away over MV there was a storm, it was beautiful to look at.

10.30 pm #### in bed.

end of day 2
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 09:28 AM
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day 3 8/9

that was a long day, from Kayenta to Phoenix.

Free breakfast buffet at the hotel. it was plentyfull, there was choices and it was good.

8:50am #### we checked out using the express service.

9:20am : we stopped at the navajo national monument to look at the ruins of betatakin. We walked on the nice smooth red rocks ! the scenery was great. reminded me a bit of provence . I think I love AZ so much because there are so many diff. sceneries.
At the overlook location there was some binoculars to have a closer look.
Nevertheless, I guess I will have to take the hike with a ranger one day...

11:15am #### back in AZ time. we are leaving from cameron with more water, and picnic food.
I suggest to stop in the desert at Wupatki or in the shade at walnut canyon. The vote goes for Walnut canyon.

12:15 #### walnut canyon.
We had a lovely picnic under the pinetrees. We started to walk down the path when a storm arrived. We had to take refuge in the ruins, that was so cool...for the first 30 minutes. the rain was heavy, the lightnings stroke very close by. Eventually, it lasted a bit more than 1 hour, and we were very cold.
But it was a very nice visit: once again a very different ecosystem

3:00pm #### we leave the canyon and we stop at Flagstaff mall. We used a bit of the road 66!
My dad needs a swimsuit... Huge sales at sears : Great ! Stores at bilingual there, I never noticed it before.

Around 4.00pm #### we are on the 17 south, expecting to be at the hotel around 6pm. But close by the exit 244 there was a huge traffic jam. We moved 5 miles in 40 minutes. It was 45*C outside, so many cars were dead on the side of the road, because of overheating.

7:30 pm #### we arrived at the Camelback Inn.
I liked the fact that the ground were all stony and rocky and not green. this is the desert after all !
The lobby was very nice. It can't compare with the 2 previous hotels, but it was the cheapest one !
Our room smelled (stink!) of cigarette. It was supposed to be a non smocking room. I called the front desk and they reassigned us right away. A staff member brought us the new keys.
Rooms are very nice, tasty, not overdone. the AC was quiet. I loved the poterries around the room and bathroom. The closet was huge. in the bedroom there was a mini bar, an empty fridge and a microwave. On the bed there were almost 10 pillows !

Dinner at Chapparal. We had beef. one of the best meat I ever had: perfectly cooked, tasty, smooth...It is too bad we were a bit tired to enjoy it totally. Only the service wasn't very good.

After dinner I went to the pool, it felt amazing. Phoenix is really hot right now (116*F), didn't go lower than 80*F at night. The water was warm but still it was refreshing and looking at the stars while floating is just wonderful.

end of day 3

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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 09:43 AM
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day 4 8/10

I won't put the schedule anymore.

We visited Taliesin West. We have seen fallingwater: it nice to be able to compare. We did a 90 minutes tour. Our guide was telling us how hot it was, she wasn't used to it. But the tour was both inside and outside. They gave us bottled water on the way.
We learned about FLW, the desert, his school.
The giftshop was one of the nicest one I have seen in the US

then we went to the Heard museum. It took us 90 minutes to do the tour. We played a lot with the interactive exhibits, even if they are designed for kids ! One more thing we love...
the gift shop was nice too, but I don't understand why navajo carpet are so expensive and same for the potteries...

Dinner at Z'tejas. My HB didn't like his mushroom enchiladas. I had the BBQ spring roll : yummy but we were not impressed...maybe due to high expectations.

later: more swimming under the stars...

was a bit disappointed with the cleaning of the room. I walk in dirty water the day before, and there was an ugly stain on the wasn't cleaned... and our toiletries were not refilled...
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 09:58 AM
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day 5, last day. Plane back to PIT at 11.30 pm...

We went to old scottsdale. so many things were closed. We stopped at the sugar bowl for ice cream and shakes.

We had a late check out at 2, so we could enjoy the swimming pool a bit more.

At 2.00 pm we went to the fashion square mall...and what a mall. I went there 3 years ago, and definilty wanted to go back. I wanted to make a bear ! I could do it in Pittsburgh, but I have said for 3 years that teh next time I am in AZ I'll do a bear ! I am now the pround owner of "l'AZ Ari" (with a french accent)

After the mall (around 5.30pm) we went to the desert botanical garden. It seemed a good idea to go there around 6, since it's open until 8...I hoped it would be a bit fresh...but it wasn't. Still the garden is very well done. We were all alone it it. We spotted many animals. I could gring some mesquite, make a yucca brush.
Around 7.30 we were done with it.
We decided to go to the rustler rooste for the dinner as it was in the same area and not to far away from the airport.
It was a family restaurant, cowboy type. We enjoyed the live music. We only wanted to have salad but there wasn't such a thing on the menu ! We tasted the snake.

9.30pm : back at the aiport, to drop of the car, very fast...

11.00pm boarding time, 11.30pm take off...
1.57 pm, pittsburgh time, finishing review and leaving to eckerd to get the photos !

Celine, want to go back. love the heat, love the cactus...
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 10:40 AM
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Thank you for the lovely trip report.
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 10:54 AM
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Celine, nice trip report. I read it and could "hear" you talking about it with your french accent. It made it a fun read. Glad you had a good time.
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 11:00 AM
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Thank you for the great report, celine! So glad you enjoyed your trip. We also ate in walnuts canyon's pine - shaded picnic area - one of the nicest we've seen in the nat'l parks.

So glad you got in an early morning run /jog by the canyon. I too, remember the freshness and calm of the hoo i wanna go back, too!
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Old Aug 12th, 2003, 12:29 PM
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thanks for your messages.
Just got the pictures back.
It's incredible how the canyon is different depending of the time of teh day.
The sunset picture, facing the sun look like chinese watercolors. The best colors and effects are on the sunrise one.
I got nice colors on the Monument valley pictures too.

Tomorrow, I'll drive to Michael's to get a scrap book... I don't want the trip to end ;-)

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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 06:22 PM
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Celine! I've been wondering how your trip went. Thanks for the report. You've made me miss Arizona.
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Old Aug 15th, 2003, 05:46 AM
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MaryZ, I miss it too already !

I forgot to mention how nice the xanterra employees and the rangers were at the grand canyon.
They see tourist all summer long, some who don't speak english very well, and they keep on smiling, being friendly helpfull and funny.

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Old Aug 15th, 2003, 06:42 AM
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Celine: I'm doing a similar "Arizona sampler" trip in October, although for a little longer (10 days). I definitely wanted to see Taliesin and the Heard Museum and hoped to be able to do these in one day. Is this reasonably doable? I want to take the tour at Taliesin (I think it's a 1 1/2 tour starting at 10 a.m.?) Is the Heard a "must-do"?

Also, it sounds like the Botanical Gardens were so-so?

Overall, were going to Sedona (3days), Grand Canyon (2 days), Monument Valley (1day), Canyon de Chelley (1day), and Phoenix area (3days).
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Old Aug 15th, 2003, 06:54 AM
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10 days, that's a deluxe sampler !

we did both taliesin and the heard museum in one day.
We spend a total of 2 hours at taliesin (tour + waiting time + gift shop) and 1:30 in the heard museum.
I am looking at the brochure I got at Taliesin : yes, it says that in october there is a 90 minutes tour starting at 10:30am

It was a 15 minutes drive in between Taliesin and the Heard.

We arrived at the museum, 1 hour 30 befoe the closing time. We didn't feel hurry or anything. In the "WE ARE!" exhibition dedicated to the native culture we stopped at all the booth to play with the hands-on exhibit. (i did a very nice flower and a fabric doll ;-)) We also spent quite some time in teh very nice gift shop. We were pleased to notice that you don't have to go through the gift shop when you exit the museum.

The heard is defintly a must do.

The botanical garden was great. We really started to enjoy it around 7.00pm when the sun was lower. It was VERY hot and the water out of the water foutains was hot and had an appropriate sand taste. iF you want to learn about the desrt flora it's the place to go. It's very well done. and they also have hand-on stuff. I did a yucca brush !
(The first time I was in AZ I went to the desert museum near tucson, that's the one I prefer, but it is dedicated to the animals.)

Hope this helps

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Old Aug 15th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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Thanks so much Celine!
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Old Aug 18th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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Cher -- nice to see you are going to Arizona for vaca -- you must give a trip report when you sister's husband has relatives in Arizona, and they've always wanted to go, so I'm sure your report would prove helpful to them for future reference! Take care, ET
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Old Aug 18th, 2003, 08:57 AM
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Dear Cher, lucky you to be in Arizona soon...
With the other states of the 4 corners area, this is on of our favorite destination in the US.We're just back from this area(see "2 weeks in the four corners").
I've seen that you'll be in Monument valley and Canyon de Chelley. I don't know if you are good hikers, but if it's the case try to do in one or both of those sites some hikes...
There are a lot to do in both, easy or strenous but it's really a "must" to get
the entire atmosphere...
It's cheaper in Canyon de Chelley(it was cheaper-it's 3 years that we've not been there)and to hike in those canyons
is magic,and in some parts of the canyon, as you are alone with the navajo guide, it's really like being a
"discoverer"(don't know if this expression is correct...).If you take a
"tour in car", try to obtain a drive to Mummy cave, bacause this part of the canyon is really trmendous-the possibilty sometimes depens of the emptiness or not of the "wash"...
In Monument valley, the rate are more expensive...The website" monumentvalley.
com" of Keyah ozonhi tours can give you some very interesting informations and ideas on what to see, what to do.Their
guides are very impressive on their knowledges of the navajo life and how to use the flora in desert.
They have changed the way to get guides in Monument valley and so or you phone before(n? is in the website or you insist to get them at the "booth" at the visitor center...Try to get Tom Jones or Alex.)
I agree with Celine : Heard museum is great, taliesin also and if you have time, try to go to the arizona Biltmore
another great "chef d'oeuvre" of Wright : lobby, pools and gardens are great to see...
The desert botanical garden was also one of our favorite.
Try to give us a report when you'll be back...
Erik and Anny Monpetit-France.
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