Exploring Arizona

IMG_1313Anyone who knows J and I knows that we love a good adventure. Between the two of us we have visited over 45 countries — around 7 countries just in the time since we’ve been together. Our goal is to take one big trip every other year, then take smaller trips on other year. That means that since we visited Patagonia in 2012, this year we stayed a bit more local by going on a cruise and taking our yearly trip to Yosemite.

By this fall we were feeling a bit antsy to get out there and see new places, so we decided it was time for a little road trip. Neither of us had spent much time in Arizona (I’d driven through and J had visited the Grand Canyon) and since it’s not that far away, we thought it would be a perfect destination.

This was a bit of a last minute trip for a planner like me. I think J mentioned us going to Arizona and two weeks later we hit the road. We decided that we were actually going about 4 days before we left and booked our hotels the day before. If you want great hotel deals, this is the way to go.

Our trip started on a Thursday morning. We dropped the puppy off and headed west, stopping for lunch in Yuma. I absolutely LOVED these sand dunes near Yuma. I could have spent a day just playing in this sand.

Arizona Sand dunes

Our first night we stayed in Scottsdale outside of Phoenix. We heard mixed thoughts on whether we should stay in Phoenix (young and hip) verses Scottsdale (rich, fancy and older) but in the end, Scottsdale seemed to have the most fans. Seeing as we waited until the day before to try to book a hotel, we were able to snag an AMAZING deal on Priceline — $55 at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. This place was SO nice…margarita at check in, comfortable lobbies, ten swimming pools including a huge water slide and sandy beach, plus Italian style gondola rides. We never would have been able afford staying here without Priceline, so this was a huge score.

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For dinner in Scottsdale we ventured into Old Town. Yelp recommended Bandera and we approved. Dinner was SOO good that I came home and recreated the salad that we ate — recipe soon to come.

The next day after some relaxing pool time — we had to spend some time by the epic pools…and try out the slide…twice…we headed north towards Sedona. It was only a two hour drive so we wanted to take our time and check out some things along the way like this ancient dwelling. Cool, right?

IMG_1259And I spotted this hairless wonder while we were checking out the ruins…

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Back on the road it wasn’t long at all before the beauty of Sedona started to reveal itself. I was so giddy once I started to see the red rocks ahead.

IMG_1275 IMG_1274If you’ve never been to Sedona, it is totally worth visiting. This place is just STUNNING. While Sedona is known for being a very New Age-y kind of place (vortexes and energy and stuff), I couldn’t help but seeing God’s power and beauty everywhere. It was late November so the leaves had turned a bright, golden yellow and the air was a bit crisp, a perfect change from San Diego. We spent our time in Sedona hiking and exploring all of it’s natural beauty. There were all sorts of “ooh’s” and “aahh’s” coming from our car.

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The view from our bed and breakfast. Pretty magnificent.

IMG_1312IMG_1328 IMG_1287My favorite hike was to Devil’s bridge. We first tried to drive our new car on the rocky path to the trail head…but after a few attends, we gave up and left the car and walked the extra mile. Standing on the bridge wasn’t as scary as it looks, but it was high enough that I wouldn’t have wanted to be there on a windy day.

IMG_1320In Sedona we stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast called the Penrose. Not only did they have the best views in all of Sedona (see above) but the rooms were just so lovely — dark woods, white linens and clean, each with amazing views. They had baked goods at night, a divine breakfast, a fridge stocked with drinks for your hikes, tons of info on what to do and things to see, and a bunch of movies you could borrow to watch in your room. I got a little freaked out when they warned us about scorpions at night, but thankfully none were spotted.

The funniest part of staying at the Penrose, though, was the end. The inn-keeper…after telling us that his son is friends with none other than Kanye West (random fun fact), told us that they like to take pictures of all their guests. They set up a wobbly tripod outside with a tiny point and shoot camera on it. It took a whole lot of self control for J not to say anything…like that they don’t need a tripod with their tiny point and shoot camera. Then we came inside and he said they had a t-shirt for both of us, then proceeded to open up a closet to show us the options. Friends, he has HUNDREDS of Arizona tshirts for us to choose from in all sorts of bright and shocking colors. J and I ended up choosing matching shirts because that seems the funniest. 🙂

Moving along, we continued north to Flagstaff for a final night. I had stopped in Flagstaff on my drive across the country a few years back and thought it was charming. By the time we got there this time, J and I were cold and tired and not up for wandering around any town. We grabbed a quick dinner and headed back to our not so lovely room at the Ramada (also Priceline but just not quite the score as Scottsdale. You can’t win them all, I guess).

Our last morning we stopped at a great lil coffee shop for breakfast and began the long looooong drive home.

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Arizona was a great trip. It was just the getaway we needed to breath in some fresh air, reconnect and discover a new place. Now it’s time to pick the epic adventure for 2014. I’m voting for Thailand and Cambodia or Vietname, J wants to go to Iceland. What do you think?

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