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Experiencing Arizona by Car

Author: Shipmatesforlife
Date of Trip: October 2007

EXPERIENCING ARIZONA BY CAR Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Williams, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Jerome October 17 – 24, 2007

We had never been to the Grand Canyon and we thought it would be fun. My niece lives in Scottsdale so we decided to make it a multi-purpose trip. I began planning…. which is what I do. I love to plan vacations, just don’t like paying for them. Anyway, we decided to check with AAA for booking our entire trip but after comparing what they offered and my internet searches, we determined it was cheaper to book our own air and rental car. We booked the two hotels through AAA at a decent rate but the Grand Canyon Train Package was the same price from AAA or on-line.

We hoped we would do ok. We never ventured out on the road like this before – in unknown territory. We were apprehensive about getting the car, locating the hotels and finding the Canyon We knew the canyon was big but we didn’t want to run the risk of missing any of it – thus the reason for taking the train and getting the package. It was a good move!! We covered a lot of Arizona in just seven days.

Wed. Oct. 17 Airport/Scottsdale: We got up at 4:00 a.m., had breakfast and left house at 5:10. Arrived at the airport (which is practically in our backyard) around 5:20am. Big suitcase weighed 49lbs. Cutting it close!! We boarded the plane which left on time – 6:30. We changed planes in Denver and then on to Phoenix.

We landed in Phoenix at 9:40am. We didn’t have to hurry to get our rental car because our scheduled pick up time was 11:00am. The shuttle bus took us to the central car rental location – a 7 minute drive. As we walked up to the Budget Car Rental counter we noticed a board listing all the “Fastbreak” (Budget frequent flyers/riders) members who were picking up a car that day and walla – there was our name and an arrow directing us to take the stairs down to the parking garage where the cars were located and to the rental counter – by-passing all the red-tape. I would suggest enrolling in the Fastbreak – it really does save time because they already have your pertinent information on file.

We got our car, a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. The inside windows were very dirty so we had to take care of that first thing. We drove (per instructions from the Budget guy and AAA) to Scottsdale. It was a nice easy drive.

What a sight! Mountains were all around us. Cactus dotted the landscape everywhere. The ground was void of our familiar vegetation but what they had was palm trees, cactus, flowers, etc. We were so excited to be there.

As we entered the center of town (we thought it was the center because there were little shops on both sides of the street and traffic lights) I noticed a little diner on the corner called the “Sugar Bowl”. I remembered this was one place my niece, Linda, said we should not miss. So of course John turned around and parked the car on a little side street. As we entered the shop we went back in time to the 50’s. Then we immediately were faced with a dilemma – what to order??? The waitress was very helpful with ideas for ordering our decadent lunch. We finally decided on their special banana split. It was fantastic and the first of our many dairy treats!! What a way to start our vacation! (We found out later this section of town was called “old town”.)

We had several hours until we could check into our hotel so we walked around in the little shops. After a while I decided to check with the hotel, The Day’s Inn at Fashion Square, where we would be staying for 2 nights, to see if we could check in early. The desk clerk said they were really booked but he had a room for us so come on over

When we got there we gave him the voucher from AAA stating our room was already paid for. He was agreeable and gave us the key to our room. The steps and hallways were on the outside. I looked for an elevator and quickly learned – there was no elevator, so we drug all our bags up to the second floor.

As we entered our room John caught the whiff of smoke. He said, “This is a smoking room! I won’t stay here.” I said I would go down and see what I could do. When I arrived at the counter, it was not a pretty sight. A lady was standing at the counter expressing her unhappiness with her room assignment. The clerk explained that members of a professional sports team were staying there, taking up most of the rooms and he did not have another room to offer. He further stated they had been referring guests to other hotels because they did not have room (at the inn).

It was my turn so I explained our dilemma. He was getting stressed trying to accommodate the both of us. I then had the brilliant idea to ask, “What about us going to another hotel? Where is it and what type is it?” One of the other clerks behind the counter whispered that it was a step above this hotel. I said, “Well, could you just book us in that hotel if they have a non-smoking room available?” He said he would, he did and we left!! After, of course, dragging our luggage back down the steps and loading them back into the car.

We drove two blocks down the street and checked into the Clarion Hotel Scottsdale. What a difference. It was a two story motel that was very inviting. We were given a room on the first floor in the back corner which was fine. The first thing we did was check out the swimming pool area. It was GREAT. It had lounges and cabanas – so welcoming! Since the weather was warm, (in October) we hurried back to the room, got on our shorts and headed out to the pool area to relax and play a game of cards. (We play a lot of cards)

My niece, Linda, picked us up for an early dinner at a very nice Mexican Restaurant, Carlsbad Tavern, which has a history all its own. We had a nice meal

Linda worked for the City of Scottsdale as project manager. One of her assigned projects was the construction of their new Library – The Arabian Library. http://archrecord.construction.com/projects/portfolio/arch ives/0806arabian-1.asp. The style was very controversial among the community and she wasn’t even sure they would be able to complete construction but they did and she was excited for us to see it. The outside walls of the entrance were large slanted pieces of copper-looking material representing the walls of the canyon. The style continued throughout the exterior and interior of the building with low, slanted ceilings and narrow passageways between rooms. The object is for you to feel the canyon experience as you walk in and around the facility. I thought they captured the effect wonderfully. In fact it continues to win awards for its design and it’s become a local tourist attraction.

After our tour she took us back to our hotel where we eagerly got into our swim suits and returned to the relaxing atmosphere of the pool area. We got in the pool a while then into the hot tub. Back to the room and then crashed. We were exhausted after our first full day in beautiful, picturesque, warm Arizona.

Thurs. 10/18 Scottsdale: We got up early and enjoyed their complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel. I picked up some literature for things to do in the area. As we walked outside I looked around and could not believe the beauty of the mountains surrounding the city. I can’t imagine ever tiring of the view.

We hopped into our nice rental car, ready for a fun day in Scottsdale. John started the engine and a message flashed on the dash “left rear tire needs air”. WHAT THE HECK! We were not liking this at all. So now we had to find a gas station. We asked the hotel desk clerk and were told there was one just before the 101 entrance ramp on Chaparral Dr.

We located the gas station but the air hose was broken. Down the road a bit further we found another gas station with a working air hose but John had a heck of a time getting the air from the pump into the tire. Alas, he managed to squeeze enough air in to bring it up to “snuff”. Now off we go! Our fun day began with our first stop at the Harley Davidson Shop to check out possible souvenirs for our friends who were Harley enthusiasts. Everything was priced out of our range but we did enjoy looking at their immense inventory. It is a “must” if you are a “Harley” fan.

From there we got directions to the Frank Lloyd Wright home – Taliesin West. It was a little tricky to find since it is tucked away in the landscape, which was Wright’s intent. He was an architect who liked his structures to blend in with nature. We had no idea what to expect. In fact we didn’t really know much about Frank but I felt we were soon to find out. We had to wait an hour for the 1:00 tour so we spent the time looking around the gift shop. Here again things were a bit pricey – nothing I couldn’t live without. They finally called our group for the tour. They had umbrellas available for those who could not tolerate the intense sun. John chose a “smiley face” umbrella – imagine that!

Before the tour we were advised to consume a lot of water because of the arid weather. You can become dehydrated quickly. If you are thirsty you are already 25% dehydrated. So we followed orders and “drank”.

The tour lasted two hours. It was such a neat house. He certainly had his own style and a very unique color scheme. He liked red – lots of red. All the ceilings were low as was the seating arrangements. I surmised he was a short man and had a “thing” against tall people. Just my opinion!!! There were a lot of glassed-in wall areas that were originally open to the air. Huge stone fireplaces were in most rooms and they all looked like that has been used often over the years.

We took lots of pictures and hoped we would remember some of what we learned. We purchased three magazines with pictures and information about this home and other famous homes he designed, one in particular located in Pennsylvania, Falling Water. (We have since visited that home. It was fabulous.) I would highly recommend this tour.

After the tour we took the long way back (not our intent) to our hotel, stopping for ice cream at a little shopping center. (We have a thing for ice cream – ya think??) We went to the grocery store to buy a few things along with a case of water – 24 bottles – we wanted to have enough. We went back to the hotel to relax until it was time to get ready for our night on the town in Scottsdale. As I was putting on my makeup I realized I forgot to pack my mascara! Oh my!! I will have to buy one at our earliest convenience. John did not see the urgency at all – just like a man.

Linda picked us up at 5:30 for the Thursday Night Art Walk that Scottsdale presents during the summer and fall months. We parked the car near the Fashion Square and began our walk. We walked to the newest art display called The Doors by artist Donald Lipski located in front of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro at the Scottsdale Waterfront. The dedication had just begun as we approached. The Doors consists of three 28ft doors standing upright, strategically placed together to form what looked like a tall tepee but actually it was a walk-in kaleidoscope. As you stepped inside your weight activated music. Then you look up to see the beautiful kaleidoscope at the point of the ceiling. We took lots of pictures. www.scottsdalepublicart.org

From there we walked and walked around the town – in and out of galleries. I must say, Scottsdale is an artsy community. Beautiful shops in the newer part of town but the “old town” held more interest for me. It was more common and down to earth. We ate at a little Mexican place and enjoyed every bite. It was crowded as were most of the restaurants. Many people enjoy the nightlife in this town. We left there around 9:00 and strolled back to the car.

We were exhausted but Linda had planned for us to return to her house. It was lovely and the dogs were incredible – she had four and was watching two others, so there were six dogs in all. She showed us two pictures my father (who died in 1988 at the age of 91) had given to her from his brief stint in the Army during WWI. She shared an interesting story my father had told her about one of the photos. “As the photographer was taking the picture of our large Army unit, he had to slowly pan from one end to the other to capture the entire group. A “clever” guy, who had been standing in the back row at the end of the group on the left, waited until he had been photographed, then he ducked and ran behind the last row of men to the other end and posed on the right end. So when the photographer’s camera finally reached the other end of the group, he had captured the same guy in the picture twice.” How innovative! Now we just do it with computers.

She took us home around 10:30. We were absolutely drained. Another full day in Arizona!

Fri. Oct. 19 Scottsdale/Flagstaff/Williams: We started the morning with another wonderful complimentary continental breakfast. We checked out and left this beautiful city around 8:15am for our trip to the Grand Canyon. Since we didn’t want to waste the yogurt and half bottle of wine we had left, we stopped at the Wal-mart near the 101 to buy a Styrofoam cooler and a much needed mascara. We filled the cooler with ice and then we were off – Northward on 101.

The landscaping along the highway was so picturesque. The plants and flowering bushes were so neatly maintained in a distinct pattern and the road appeared to be clear of litter. It did have “Big Brother” watching though. TV cameras were mounted at various intervals to monitor the traffic flow. If you were caught speeding you would receive your ticket in the mail! Not what we wanted so we observed all speed limits. At 9:22 we were on 17N to Flagstaff, AZ, our planned lunch stop.

Now we are seeing more vegetation and trees and fewer cacti. We stopped at Sunset Point Rest Area at 10:00 and experienced the beautiful view – awesome rock formations, leaves changing colors and smoke in the distance over the mountains from managed burns or mismanaged burns. We were now 90 miles from Flagstaff. Back on the road at 10:15 and on to our destination. As we arrived in Flagstaff around 12:00 we noticed the elevation had gone from 1,257 in Scottsdale to 6,900ft. We were just driving up and up without realizing it. The center of this little town appeared to be the railroad station on one side and shops/restaurants on the other. Not much of a town. I’m not sure what we expected but here we were and we were hungry!! We had a difficult time finding a place to park but finally found a 2 hour parking spot on the street several blocks from the center of town. We walked around a little and found the place that had been recommended on the internet, The Flagstaff Brewery. Even though the weather was getting a little chilly we chose to eat outside on the patio. We had a nice lunch along with a very large beer. We walked around a little more then decided there was nothing else we really wanted to see so we left town around 1:45pm and got gas outside Flagstaff for $2.69/gal.

Now, we are headed for our next destination, Williams, AZ. This is where we will spend the night before we board the train for the Grand Canyon. After a bit of a drive we found the City of Williams without any trouble. We followed the signs and drove right up to the train depot to check in (as directed by AAA). Welllll, they had a ticket for everything: hotel stay at Williams for two nights (one night before the train ride and one night when we return from the canyon), two breakfasts and two dinners at Williams, train ride to canyon, one night’s lodging at the canyon, train ride back to Williams and a $20 voucher for each of us at their gift shop.

After we got all our tickets put away we went over to the hotel, which was quite impressive with immense paintings of the canyon on the walls. The check in process was a pleasant one and included luggage tags for the bags we were taking with us to the Canyon. Since we were only staying one night at the Canyon, we planned to take two small suitcases with us and leave the large suitcase in the trunk of our rental car. We had a very nice room on the second floor.

It was still early in the afternoon so we decided to check out the down town area until it was time for dinner. It was a very short drive and easy to find a parking spot. We walked into many little shops and bought a few things for the grandkids. When we arrived back at the hotel we realized we still had time to relax before dinner. I guess we didn’t shop as long as we thought we would but we definitely walked long enough to make my feet sore. So, a little wine from our handy-dandy cooler made me feel a lot better.

We went to dinner around 5:30. We had a choice of two places to eat: a bar/restaurant in the hotel building or Max and Thelma’s, a large restaurant right across the parking lot. We chose Max and Thelma’s. The food was good and the dessert even better. Oh yes!!! I had their bread pudding with caramel whiskey sauce – two helpings – along with raspberry cobbler. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

We looked around the shop in the train depot to see what we wanted to buy with our $40. We decided to wait until we returned to spend our money. As we walked back to the hotel we felt a definite change in temperature. It was getting very cold and windy. The temperature had to be in the 40’s. Back in our room we played cards then to bed. My stomach was not too happy with me.

Sat. Oct. 20 Williams/Grand Canyon: We got up early (we were still on Ohio time) and packed our bags for our train ride to the Canyon. We were very excited about the ride since we had no idea what to expect along the way. We checked out, left our tagged bags in the lobby to be picked up by the porter and loaded on the train. We took our large suitcase to the car. Then off to eat breakfast at Max and Thelma’s. I must say, their food selection was very good. The dining room was nicely decorated and large enough to accommodate everyone without feeling crowded – and there were a lot of people there.

After breakfast and before our train ride, we watched the wild west shoot out at the corral. It was quite nippy outside and we were sitting on metal bleachers. We could have done without the “shoot out at the OK corral”. It was very “staged” but they did get audience participation which was nice for those who participated. (needless to say we did not) It was part of the package so we sat through it. We finally boarded the train at 8:45am.

We had upgraded our train seats to the dome car which was very nice. I would recommend it, at least going to the Canyon. They provided water (although we had our pouches and pockets loaded with bottles of water that we bought in Scottsdale.) The upgrade also included complimentary veggies and other little snacks but you had to maneuver down a narrow stairway and then back up – on a moving train. I sent John to get the goodies.

Shortly after we left the depot an ole cowpoke came to our car. He sat on a stool and strummed his guitar while singing old country songs including “Home On The Range” and “Happy Trails”. It sure brought back memories from my childhood. He was selling his tape (imagine that) for only $10. Well, of course, John bought one. After his performance was finished, another cowboy took his place and told old cowboy stories. It was nice entertainment, considering we were in the wild, wild, west!

It was neat to watch the countryside change as we neared the Canyon. The land was very desolate at first and then it became dotted with fir trees then an abundance of trees.

At 11:15am we arrived at the Grand Canyon Station located at the south rim of the canyon – elevation 7,000 ft. The south rim, opposed to the north rim, is the more popular destination for travelers. There were deer grazing at the station. They seemed to be everywhere. My husband is an avid deer hunter. He could not believe his eyes. We got off the train and actually walked up close to three of them. They appeared to have no fear of humans. Of course they know they are safe here John’s didn’t bring his gun!! (just kidding)

We were told our bags would be taken from the train to our room at check in time so we didn’t have to worry about them.

From the parking lot we could see rock formations off to the one side but we could not actually see the canyon. Then we noticed several buses were parked in the lot and the passengers from our train were loading onto the buses according to their scheduled tour. We hopped on our assigned bus and anxiously waited for the tour to begin. Our driver/tour guide, Oscar, was a very large Native American with many humorous stories.

At our first stop we were so excited to look out over the canyon. The feeling in my stomach standing on the edge was unlike anything I have experienced before. We were many, many feet from the actual edge (no rails here) but we acted like we were inches from the edge. We walked very slowly and held on to each other. It was a very strange feeling but the view was breath taking.

Oscar pointed out various points of interest and told some tales about those who lived here long ago. The canyon seemed to go on forever. It was so far down we couldn’t see the bottom. Mainly because we didn’t stand close enough to the edge to look “down”. We decided to wait for a look-out that had a railing.

We stopped at several other locations and again the view was spectacular. It was impossible to take it all in and to imagine the eons of evolution that created this wonder of the world. I could go on forever trying to describe the view but it would be fruitless so we took a multitude of pictures to attempt to capture the beauty. One frame of a picture cannot possibly capture the depth, width and breadth of the canyon but we tried.

The majority of the canyon does not have protective railings but at the best scenic areas there are rails and low cement walls to deter you from getting too close to the edge. Not a problem with us!!

We arrived back at the Maswik Lodge around 1:15 and had a buffet lunch, part of our tour package, which was very good. Since this was where we were staying we said our farewells to Oscar and the fellow passengers who were staying at other lodges in the area. We went to the desk and proceeded to check in at 2:00.

Behind the main lodge/dining room there were several little two-story mini-lodges with about six hotel rooms in each. Each little building had a different name. Ours was White Fir. As we opened our door we saw our bags waiting for us in the rustic but very nicely decorated room. From the window on the back wall we could see a huge wooded area. John hoped to see deer wander by.

We unpacked a little then we were at a loss as to what to do next. So we decided to walk back up to the main lodge and check out the gift shop. They had many interesting items. One was a book describing the hundreds of deaths that occurred at the canyon. We bought the book the next day. Today we bought a picture frame along with cards and other little things.

As we looked at the map of the canyon and surrounding vicinity posted in the lodge, we asked the attendant if there was a Catholic Church in the area. He said, “Certainly!” He gave us directions, assuring us it was a short walk and easy to find. So tomorrow we would be attending Sunday Mass at the Grand Canyon. But we still had tonight!

Another tour seemed to be in order, so we decided to book the sunset bus tour which was to leave at 4:00. As the time approached there was no sign of the driver and we were worried about missing the sunset at 5:30. He finally showed up and we left at 4:30. It was very cold and very, very windy. This tour went about the same places we had gone earlier in the day but we did hit a couple new spots too. At sunset (we made it!) the driver/tour guide volunteered to take our picture. He was a whiz. He took a picture (with the flash on) of us with the setting sun in the background. The picture turned out great. (Temperature: when we left Scottsdale it was around 85 degrees. It is now around 33 degrees)

The tour bus dropped us off back at the Maswik Lodge around 6:00 and we went directly to the bar. Since we were full from lunch we had not eaten supper before our sunset tour – now we were hungry. The Cleveland Indians were in the play offs but they were getting slammed by Boston. This may be the end for them but we watched the slaughter anyway with a few drinks. I had a dish of ice cream along with a vodka/tonic. John got a sandwich. That was supper. We went back to room around 8:45 and played cards and – again – to bed early.

Sun. Oct. 21 Grand Canyon/Williams: We got up early and went to the Maswik Lodge cafeteria for breakfast of oatmeal – very good. After we ate we took off for our walk to church. It was a brisk morning – just right for a little jaunt. We were surprised it was such a short walk and that we found it with just one wrong turn. We arrived around 7:20, a little early for 8:00 Mass, but better early than late.

The church was in a modest residential area and blended right in with the other homes since it was a remodeled white frame ranch. The only sign of it being a church was a large cross to the left of the door. Well, of course, there was a sign! We were the first people there so we just walked in and chose a seat. There were only four pews in the center with folding chairs along the sides and back walls. As we sat waiting for Mass to begin we were captivated by the wall behind the altar. The entire wall was a beautiful mural of the Grand Canyon with a bright blue sky and a lone condor soaring high above.

Gradually more people started to arrive. A woman asked for volunteers to assist at Mass explaining that she and her husband were the only regular parishioners. We didn’t volunteer. When Mass was over Father said a special prayer for the family of a four year old girl who had fallen over the canyon’s edge the previous week. She was the youngest person ever to fall from the canyon’s rim and die. http://www.kpho.com/news/14304861/detail.html As we walked back to our room the morning was still quite brisk and I was glad for my heavy coat, hat and gloves. It was time again to pack our bags. We checked out and told them our bags were in our room ready for pick up for the train ride back to Williams.

We had some time to kill so we decided to take the free shuttle to the other side of the south rim. (There are several free shuttles around the south edge of the canyon each with a different route) As we were waiting for the shuttle outside the lodge, a group of hikers ranging in age from 42 – 64 arrived to wait for the same shuttle. They were decked out in all the up to date hiking gear and walking sticks. They were going to hike down the south rim, across the canyon and up to the north rim, back down, across and back up the south rim. For some of them, it was their first time hiking this terrain. But they had a very experienced guide from Canada.

We took the “blue” line out to the Visitors Center and walked to Mather Point which was a wonderful look out. We then continued on the “green” line further out yet to another look out point where the hikers would begin their descent. We chose not to get off the bus here but we wished them well as they exited the bus. We switched buses again back to the blue bus which took us back to the lodge.

We had some time until our train left so we got a dish of ice cream (imagine that!!) and played cards in the dining room. We left the lodge with plenty of time to walk to the depot, which didn’t look to be too far of a walk. We headed toward the building only to discover when we walked in the door; it was just another information center. Now what!!!! The depot was not within walking distance – not if we wanted to catch our 3:45 train – the only return ride that day. They told us at the Info Center a shuttle bus should be stopping by soon. Just our luck it stopped within minutes of our “panic attack”. At least we were able to ride part of the way to the train depot. Along the way we saw a large elk with a 5 x 5 rack – beautiful. There were many deer around the depot so John was on a mission to capture all of them, including a big buck, on film as I visited with fellow passengers.

We boarded the train, this time we chose first class rather than the dome car (been there – done that). But it was still much better than the regular coach seats. We had snacks again and toward the end of the ride – champagne. During our ride, the same ole cowpoke came to our car and sang a few songs. Then two bandits on horseback got aboard and tried to rob everyone. (not really)

We arrived back at the depot, got off the train and re-registered at the hotel. There was a very long line because everyone from the train was doing the same thing – re-registering. We finally got to our room and our bags were there waiting just as they were at the canyon lodge. We still had lots of water in the trunk of our car. Our goal – to finish the water before we left. We drank lots of water.

We went to the train depot store to spend our $40. They had very nice merchandise and the prices were reasonable but we had to hurry – we were meeting friends for dinner at 7:00.

Back again at Max and Thelma’s – there was a long line but our friends were toward the front so we just slithered up front with them. We had a very nice meal.

Our friends discovered they had a broken fan belt when they arrived at the lodge so they had to pick up their repaired car at the gas station after dinner. We offered to take them rather than them getting a cab. We got in our car and John started it. Guess what – another warning light came on. We needed air in “both” rear tires. Now I am really upset! We took them to the gas station which was not far at all. John got air in both rear tires which removed the warning. Now that they were on their way, we went back to the hotel – tired little puppies.

Mon. Oct. 22 Williams/Sedona: We got up early, packed our two little suitcases, checked out, took our luggage to our car and then went to Max and Thelma’s for breakfast. It was 8:30am and 35 degrees when we left Williams for our next stop – Sedona, AZ.

We had seen so many pictures of the beautiful red rock formations surrounding Sedona and we were very anxious to experience yet another wonder of nature.

On the way to Sedona I call the Pink Jeep Company (as seen on the internet) and scheduled a very “safe” tour for 1:00 that afternoon. We arrived in the beautiful city of Sedona – elevation 4500 ft – around 10:30. We had to find a place to park then we walked around the quaint little town nestled among beautiful red rock mountains. The sun was shining and the sky was bright blue. It made you feel good just to be alive! We looked in the little shops but not buying. We got a little hungry so we got our usual – ice cream sundae.

We checked in for our Pink Jeep tour around 12:15. We had to wait 45 minutes so we looked around some more. We went into a bakery – big mistake!! We bought macadamian nut cookies. They were very good. On the walk back to the Pink Jeep office a couple tried to hustle us into a Hyatt Resort tour but John was strong and said “no”.

At 1:00 we got in our little pink jeep with one other couple and the driver. Off we went. The roads were a little bumpy but the scenery was beautiful. We agreed, though, after seeing the Grand Canyon this mountain range seemed miniscule. We took lots of pictures and the driver was very informative. [My opinion: It was an “ok” tour. I think we probably could have driven ourselves to where he took us – well maybe not everywhere but we could have seen enough on our own. If you didn’t mind being bounced around in a jeep and wanted a more rugged adventure they had off-road tours that took you on and over the red rocks and down the “Road of no Return”. But we played it safe with the least rugged and possibly the more boring tour. The scenery was very nice but I felt we kept going past the same rock formation over and over – just from different angles.]

When we returned from our tour it was time for us to check in to our hotel for that evening. AAA had booked us a room at The Radisson Poco Diablo Resort. It was a very, very nice place and just a short distance from the main road in Sedona. Our room was very nice with many unexpected amenities. This is another place I would have enjoyed staying longer.

After we checked in, we drove around looking for the local Elk’s Club. John is an Elk and he likes going to clubs in other cities and states. We pulled in the parking lot, took a picture of the building against the red rock mountain background. We then noticed lots of people coming out. I asked one woman if the bar was open and she said, “no, they had just finished playing cards. The club was closed.” Bummer – I knew John was disappointed as we left.

We took advice from the locals and drove further up the hill to the Sedona airport, which is the best spot to view Sedona and to see the sunset. We went to the little café at the airport itself and I repeat (little). We had a drink and an appetizer. The place may have been small and rustic but the prices were high – just like their location. After we imbibed in that, we drove back down the airport road to the look-out point. It was crowded with people having the same idea as us.

We watched the sunset and I even (after just realizing the camera had the capability) took a small panoramic movie of Sedona. Wish I would have realized this at the canyon. After the sunset we drove further down the road and went to a recommended Cantina. We sat at the bar, had a beer and split a delicious sandwich. Sometimes the locals really do know their town and give good advice.

We left there and went back to the hotel. Must enjoy the accommodations since we paid for them. We watched Dancing with the Stars. This was the night Maria Osmond passed out but I accidentally hit the channel changer on the remote just prior to the passing out and did not locate the correct station until the show resumed and they said she fainted. Figures! I’m sure we’ll see it on re-runs.

Another great day in Arizona – gotta love this state!

Tues. 10/23 Sedona/Scottsdale: We got up around 7:00. We showered and packed up our stuff – yet again. We checked out at 8:00 and headed for the recommended breakfast place in the area, the Coffee Pot, named after the shape of the rock formation located behind their building. We had no trouble finding it since there were lots of cars there. This was on the main street and on the way out of Sedona. We sat on the patio which was a little cool at first but warmed up after a while. We got a rather large omelet which we had to finish because we could not take left-overs with us.

We left the restaurant around 9:25. It was a beautiful, sunny day and getting warmer by the minute. Our next stop was Jerome, AZ, a city recommended by my niece. We took 89A out of Sedona toward Jerome, “America’s Most Vertical City” and “Largest Ghost Town in America”. The historic copper mining town is located high on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet) between Prescott and Flagstaff.

What a ride. It’s about 20 miles from Sedona on a two lane highway with scenery that was magnificent. John stopped several times to take pictures – one especially great picture of a stream running through the woods.

We stopped at an Information Center in Cottonwood to verify we were heading the correct way to Jerome. (Yes, John is not afraid to stop and ask for directions!!) She directed us to Historical 89A by-passing the town traffic and thus providing a more scenic drive. As we drove we could see a very small “J” painted in white on the mountain ahead of us and assumed that was the city – a correct assumption.

During the drive there were many turns in the road and the “J’ kept getting larger and larger. I assumed that meant we were getting closer and closer to Jerome. We finally arrived at the little town of Jerome and parked in a small parking lot overlooking the valley. It was getting much warmer now so I changed into capris and short sleeve shirt while sitting in the car! No one even noticed!!

We walked and walked up and down steps and inclines. We went into the many little shops stuck in every nook and cranny of the windy road that kept going up and up. We continued walking to the top of the hill and went into the old Catholic Church. It was very plain but beautiful. We agreed we had seen enough of the little town so we walked down the windy road to our car.

As we were leaving town we noticed a large sign welcoming us to visit a “ghost town” that was adjacent to Jerome. “Well,” John said, “let’s go!” This was definitely a “guy town”. They had an operating saw mill that fascinated John along with the old weather-beaten guy who was operating the mill. We found out later that “old guy” owned the entire area around the mine and he was the same age as me!!

After a wonderful (???) little tour of junk, outhouses, old cars, old dental office, deserted mines, etc. we got back into our car and drove back through the town of Jerome staying on 89A. We thought this would take us back the way we came so we could get on 17S. Wrong….

We were on 89A south going toward Prescott and there was no turning around on this road that wound around and around and down the mountain. Thank heaven we were on the inside lane. John wouldn’t look to his left. It was a drastic drop. We decided to just go with the road and go to Prescott, a little deviation from our plan but we were on vacation and we were seeing Arizona. After quite a drive we finally made it to Prescott and were heading to 17S and the road back to Scottsdale.

When we got on 17S we stopped around 12:45pm at Sunset Point rest stop again. Then onward toward Scottsdale. We were a little apprehensive about the traffic going into town but we lucked out and only had a very brief stall on the 101 just before our exit at Chaparral Drive at 3:44pm.

We arrived at the Day’s Inn (yet again) around 3:52pm. We check into our room which was very spacious and on the first floor. At least we didn’t have to lug the bags up the steps. We brought our luggage into the room along with everything of ours from the car. Our next chore was to get everything we had brought and bought back into our bags and still be under the 50lb weight limit. But first we decided to make a drink and hit the pool. It was not as nice as the Hotel Scottsdale but it was paid for and it was only for one night. I sat in the sun and John got into the pool. We were only there for a short time since we were to be at Linda’s at 6:00. We did take a little time though to hit the hot tub, and then back to the room to get cleaned up.

We were running a little late and encountered a traffic jam but made it to her house around 6:15. We had a great visit and told her all our travel escapades. I asked Linda to check us in on Frontier and to print our boarding passes for us. We found out it is best to check in as early as you can to be sure you get a good seat. We said our good-bye’s with a promise to keep in touch. We got back to the hotel around 9:00. We decided to pack and get everything ready for the morning. We then crashed. Our last night away from home.

Wed. Oct.24 Scottsdale/Airport: We got up around 6:30 and did the final packing. As I was doing my hair John went to get coffee at the complimentary breakfast. He came back to the room and waited for me then we both went to have breakfast. It was nothing fancy but was sufficient. After we ate we went back to the room, packed the car and walked to the office to check out.

Next we had to fill up the car with gas and return it full. We decided against going to the gas station on Chaparral since it was out of the way, convinced we would pass a gas station on the way to the airport which was a 15 mile drive. (ya think??) We used the AAA trip tick to get back to the airport hoping we would see signs to return the car along with a gas station. We drove and drove, no sign of gas. We stopped twice and asked locals – that was a mistake. I don’t know if they didn’t understand our question but they gave us bogus directions – no gas station. So we drove on into the airport following signs to the car rental return. We then drove past the car return building and hoped we would see a station and sure enough, several miles down the road we spotted one. John filled up the tank with gas $2.67/gal. Now back on the road with a full tank heading for the airport and the car rental return.

We dropped off the car and told them about the dirty windows, the one remote control gadget didn’t work and needing air in the tires. John got the receipt and they only charged us $197. That was cool. We went upstairs and got the shuttle back to the airport. Since we were five hours early for our flight so we could not check in. I read and John walked around. As I read the literature I had stored somewhere in my purse I noticed a piece of paper from the car rental place giving explicit directions from Scottsdale back to the car return at the airport – taking you right past the gas station – duh!! Had we only read the literature from the car rental we would have saved time and stress. Oh well, it is a lesson – read the information given to you. You may find something helpful and important within.

We checked all our bags (the big one weighed 49lbs). John had his fanny pack with several bottles of water that we had to finish before we could go through security. We downed the water and went through security and to our gate. We got a salad at Wendy’s which was good but when I was almost done I noticed a long very black hair – oouuwwhhhh ugghhhh!! John took it up to the counter and got another salad free. Of course I was full so we decided to carry it on and eat it on the plane. Closer to the time of the flight I got hungry for my daily ice cream fix. So I went back to Wendy’s (hoping they would not recognize me) and got a frosty. It sure was good.

I shopped at the airport to kill time then we then boarded the plane which left on time – 3:50pm. We had a nice flight and we enjoyed our salad. Time change ahead one hour in Denver. We only had 30 minutes between our flights so we had to walk quickly to our next gate which took about 10 minutes. To our advantage the flight was delayed 10 minutes so it wasn’t leaving until 7:20pm. We boarded the flight and were off. Next stop Akron/Canton. It was a good flight but I was so tired I tried to sleep and just couldn’t get in a comfortable position. John, of course, had no trouble.

We only got juice and bag of chips. I was disappointed we didn’t get the salsa and bread sticks like we did on a previous flight.

Thurs. Oct 25 Home: We landed at 12:10am on Thurs. 10/25. While walking to the baggage claim, I called the Taxi company. We got our bags and our taxi was waiting for us outside door. Home again – a very good feeling. This was an absolutely fantastic trip. One that we will never forget!!!

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