Adventures in Arizona

February 12, 2016 by NJPainter

To soften the blow of our Hawaii Honeymoon coming to an end, we immediately started talking about where our next trip would be on the plane ride back home. Our friends Matt & Amy had moved to Arizona a few months ago and that seemed as good a reason as any to plan a road trip of antique shops, kitschy hotels and monuments for Barry’s birthday.

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What can I say? I excel at handmade cards.

This past week we set out on a trip that had been planned over a few months worth of emails with Matt and Amy. But when we arrived, Amy was sick! She had to stay home. It was a total bummer.

So the three of us set out…

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Day 1: Phoenix < Prescott (which is apparently pronounced PRESS-KIT) < Jerome

Prescott was a treasure trove of antique malls. We didn’t buy anything… but we did make some friends.

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We spent the night in Jerome, AZ – an old mining ghost town in the mountains. I wouldn’t exactly call it exciting, but there is good dinner, wine, the gold standard of themed hotels and views of the sun rising over Sedona the next morning.

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Day 2: Jerome < Sedona < Flagstaff

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I swear I researched hikes in Sedona before this trip and Red Rock Crossing seemed to have great Tripadvisor reviews. But I am hear to tell you they are all lies. LIES! We basically went out of our way and paid $10 to park in a lot that didn’t offer as good of a view as the free road at the top of the next mountain.

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$10 lot.

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Free lot.

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Either way, Sedona was beautiful! It was full of new age coffee shops and vortex crossings and structures built into enormous mountains. It was also the town where we (I) became very committed to the threesome selfie.

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We landed in Flagstaff for the night and stumbled on The Museum Club, a real deal honky tonk saloon filled with whiskey and two-steppers!

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Day 3: Flagstaff < Winslow < Page/Lake Powell

Day 3 is when we really fell into road trip mode. We detoured to a meteor crater in the middle of the desert… and then to Winslow to see the Glen Frye statue. (We cranked the Eagles song on the way and got a speeding ticket). We pulled over to set the self timer on our cameras and sniffed around a few roadside “trading posts” which everyone kept telling us we had to stop at but all seemed to be filled with the exact same items. We braked for sunsets and Twizzlers and anything that looked fun to climb.

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We stayed in Lake Powell but I refuse to post any photos or give it credit for any fun that may have been had because the hotel was so bad. It was the off season, but it was like being caught in The Shining.

Day 4: Page < Grand Canyon

After spending an hour looking for a decent breakfast in postage stamp Page (we ended up at the Starbucks in the grocery store), we headed to Horseshoe Bend which was awesome and my photos do it no justice so I won’t even bother…

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…because I’m about to overload you with photos of Antelope Canyon.
I was really excited about this part of the trip but there was still part of me that expected it to be not quite as amazing or vibrant as the photos I had seen. Exhibit A.
But I was wrong. It was incredible.

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… have you booked your tickets to Arizona yet?
No? How about some photos of the Grand Canyon!

“$30 for a pile of rocks” is a real Yelp review. One of Barry’s favorite hobbies is finding the negative feedback on our nation’s treasures.

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before… and while it does start to look the same after awhile, it’s still pretty impressive.

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Day 5: Grand Canyon < Phoenix

We woke up early to catch one last sunrise over the canyon, ate breakfast at our wonderfully Roosevelt-era hotel (El Tovar) and casually strolled down to what we were told was a “half mile or so hike below the rim of the canyon that only 5% of visitors get to.” For the record, it is three miles, the air is very thin and you should really bring some water.

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‘Is that ice lining the narrow paths with an 8,000 foot drop to the side?,’ you might be thinking. Yes. Yes it is.

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It was a spectacular sight and literally all we could talk about at the end was how we were so glad we didn’t go further down.

It was time to head back to Phoenix… but not before finding a sticky bun the size of my face.

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Day 6: Get depressed, go home.

The last day of vacation is always the worst. Even though it’s nice to walk in your door and feel like you’re home, you’re left wondering why you don’t get to spend more of your life hiking around the world’s natural wonders with your friends.

Also, despite our barrier around Amy all week, at least 10 people on our flight home had colds and we promptly caught them this week. I am writing this post from a Dimetapp induced stupor on the couch.

Anyways, add Arizona to your list.
It surprised the heck of out me. It’s a landscape that changes from cacti to evergreen trees to snowy mountains to red rock valleys and it’s filled with some of the last real American cowboys and authentic saloons. While all your friends are booking trips to Croatia and Tulum, remember that all the places in our backyard are just as amazing. We were the minorities in a lot of these places, trying to keep track of one another among busloads of Asian tourists. And there was something called Navajo tacos that everyone talked about but after 5 days in town, we had yet to come across or figure out what the ingredients were… so I suppose we have to go back for that reason alone.