While sitting at a local diner, he took a bite into his omelet as I enthusiastically discussed taking a trip to Arizona. I painted the pictures of the picturesque red stone mountains, the evergreen trees and rolling desserts. He entertained my excitement and said “we’ll see” and continued to finish his breakfast.
A couple of days later he says “book it” and without hesitation I grab my laptop and we were set to go and the research began.
Day 1: Depart from Boston and arrive in Phoenix
Flying is always an adventure and most times you experience some very colorful characters. The couple that was directly behind us entertained us for most of the flight with their one liners and come-backs to each other. Shortly, 4 1/2 hours later, we arrived at our destination, Phoenix National Airport. We gathered our luggage at baggage claim, got in our rental car and started our venture to Apache Junction (a.k.a) Mom’s house. After a joyous welcome and quick gabs at the kitchen table, we rested our heads for a couple of hours before we made our journey to Page, Arizona.
Day 2: Page, Arizona and the Grand Canyon
Our alarms sounded bright, early and sluggishly we got dressed, brushed our teeth and packed up the “road trip essential pack” that my mom had made us. We were on our way, 5 hours on our way, to Page, Arizona. We had chosen Page after the endless pictures we saw on pinterest of the mysterious Antelope Canyons with their pink ripples etched into the stone canyon, and of the breathtaking photos of the Horseshoe bend. So, there we were embarking on our adventure to the Northern most part of Arizona, listening to our Road Trip Playlist Arizona Style. The first couple of hours was mostly endless highway but towards the last hour or so, we made a right turn and we were transported into a completely different landscape. The bright red rocks towered over us and as we drove along the winding road. Finally we arrive at our destination, Antelope Canyon Tours. Now we did gamble with the Antelope Canyon Tours, it is highly suggested to book your tour at least 2 months ahead of time, as wait times can be between 3-4 hours or possibly not available. So, when we were informed that wait times would be between 3-4 hours we discovered another way to see some of the canyons, an Antelope Canyon Boat Tour.
The Antelope Canyon Boat Tour lasted about an hour and then we started our way over the Horseshoe Bend, which was about a 15 minute drive. Now this was one of the attractions that I was looking the most forward to. I’ve seen endless photos of the magnificent landscape and was captivated by the colors in the canyon and the way the sun glistened on the water that surrounded the giant rock. When we arrived there was a free parking lot, and a pathway that led up the vista. After about a short mile walk, we set our eyes out to the large vast canyon. It wasn’t until we walk over towards the edge that we saw the majestic scene that I had seen so many times online. We of course did the tourist thing and took a bunch of photos and tried to find the perfect angle to take a “selfie”. Post, taking in the scenery and doing a little rock climbing we made our decent down towards the Grand Canyon.
It took us about 2 hours to get to the Grand Canyon Village, which was perfect timing to pull in as the sun was setting. As we walked to the Desert View Watchtower, I couldn’t contain my excitement for James, as the timeless beauty of the Canyon was about to engulf him. Turning the corner past a couple of trees, there it was, in all it glory, the Grand Canyon. As I looked over at James and glanced at his beaming smile I couldn’t help but feel at peace. Even though there were easily a hundred people gazing at the scenery, it did truly feel like it was just me and him. We stood at the edge and found a rock to sit on as the sun set and quietly feel into a trance of the canyons colors coming to light from the setting sun.
Day 3: Grand Canyon and Sedona
In the midst of the sun rising we threw our luggage into the back of the car and drove to the gate of the Grand Canyon National Park. Now, I should tell you that by going in August, the expectation of being surrounded by several hundreds of other tourists is pretty high. Yet, we tied our hiking shoes, grabbed our waters and ventured onto the pathway. While we only had about half a day at the Canyon we decided that the Rim Trail or know as Hermit Road, would be the best fit for us, but I do highly recommend the Bright Angel Trail if you have a full day or more. The day was beautiful, the sun high in sky, not too humid and the scenery was endless. It seemed nothing could interrupt the moment, at least that is what we thought…..
After snapping a dozen pictures at the first stop along the trail and having my heart race as James stood a little too close to the edge, we came face to face with a monster. A monster who would leave its mark on both James and I that day. The Grand Canyon Tree Monster! You may be thinking wait there are trees in the desert, but the Grand Canyon isn’t 100% a desert terrain, instead it ranges from a conifer forest to desert. So, yes there are trees and they will appear out of nowhere if you’re in a trance from the revealing rocks. This is exactly what happened to both of us within seconds of each other. I can’t stress this enough to always pay attention to your surroundings for you never know when a tree monster will come down and attack, by hitting you in the head or worse almost taking your eye out.
So, here we were blooding dripping from my the top of my head and James trying to clean my wound as I’m trying to stop the bleeding that is dripping down his face from the top of his eyelid. We looked absolutely ridiculous as we stepped on the bus and took our seats in the front. Thank goodness neither one of us was seriously hurt, just our egos a little bit. Laughing, we attended to each other’s battle wounds and got off the next stop ready to conquer the wilderness.
We hiked the trail for about three hours, making frequent stops along the way taking in the serenity and peace. Once we got the end of the trail we came upon Hermit’s Rest, which is a historic resting and gathering place with unique merchandise and a snack bar to fuel your needs. It is a great place to snap a picture in front of stone Hermit’s Rest entrance arch or at the large circular fireplace within the building. This brought us to our end of being a tourist at the Grand a Canyon for now, but we already have plans for our next adventure out there. Continuing on with our journey through Arizona, we made our descent to beautiful Sedona, known for its beautiful red rock mountains and formations. After about an hour or so into our journey we had left the desert terrain that you picture when thinking about Arizona and found ourselves surrounded by tall evergreen trees. The straight road through the evergreen trees turn into a curvy narrow pathway descending along the mountains. Neither one of us has ever felt as small as we did while driving down these gigantic rock formations and being engulfed by their power. Once we made it the bottom, the red rock formations appeared and we knew we had made our way into Sedona. Last time, when I visited this beautiful town with my mom, we stopped at a local restaurant, Sound Bites Grill. Let me tell you about how amazing this place is, the food is fresh and made from scrap, the cocktails were blended perfectly and they have an impressive beer menu and the dessert would have to be the breathtaking views of the red stone while dining on the expansive patio. As you could imagine, I had to bring James to indulge in this top Sedona dining spot.
Day 4: Tombstone
Alright we are on our last day, and after a great night’s sleep at my mom’s house we piled into the Jeep and started our journey to one of the southern most point of Arizona, Tombstone. We cruised on in to Tombstone and headed over to the Wild Wild West! Our first stop was the Bird Cage Theater, which was a saloon, theater where the town people came to gamble and watch the women perform. Legend has it that many spirits and souls are trapped in this theater and it was actually showcased on an episode of Ghost Adventures. This is a must see in Tombstone and decided for yourself if this place is haunted. Behind the Bird Cage Theater is a gun show which provided comedy with its one liners and interaction with the audience. After the gun show we headed back over to the tourist stores and did some browsing before heading on our way. However little did we know we in for a real treat, for it was Doc Holi”day”and Val Kilmer was scheduled to make an appearance! There were dozens of people dressed up as characters from the Wild Wild West and the “Tombstone” movie. After a quick appearance from Val Kilmer and a couple of reenactments, we headed back home and basked in the Arizona sun one last time before our journey came to an end.
There you have it, we made it through Arizona starting at the North, stopped in the middle and headed down to the South in 4 days! There are still many places to be seen and endless amount of paths to explore in the beautiful state of Arizona.