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Old 05-08-2013, 01:15 PM   #1
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A Whirlwind Trip to Arizona/Utah and the National Parks - COMPLETED 4/1/15

A Whirlwind Trip to Arizona/Utah and the National Parks!

Cast: Me (Marnie)
DH (Matt)
DD (Alexa - 13)
DS (Colin - 11)


This trip came about at the last minute, about 6 weeks out. The question came up on what to do for spring break. We did WDW last year (when we had planned to do the Grand Canyon). We waited until the last minute, as DH has been getting bonuses at work the last few years, but they don't pay out until mid-February, so I'm never sure if we'll have the extra money for a spring break trip or not. It also usually prevents us from flying out of our home airport (BDL) as it's spring break week and 6 weeks out, airfare is outrageous. Fortunately, my in-laws live 15 minutes from ISP on Long Island, and spring break is not the same week down there, so airfares are reasonable even 6 weeks out. I started doing research, and found out that spending a week at the Grand Canyon would be a LONG time, so I looked at other sites in the area that we could see. My first plan was to fly into Phoenix, head to the Grand Canyon, and then head up to Bryce National Park and Zion National Park, flying home out of Salt Lake City. At the moment, Hertz was having a huge sale to “drive out of Arizona”. I ended up getting the rental car for $225 for a mid-size SUV for the week, when everyone else wanted $1300 or more due to the one rental. Along the initial planning, I decided to change the direction in Utah, and instead of heading to Bryce and Zion, to head to Monument Valley and then Moab (Arches NP and Canyonlands NP), still flying out of Salt Lake City. We are traveling to Vegas in July for a family reunion, so I decided if we wanted to, we could knock off Zion or Bryce at that time.
I spent a lot of time on Trip Advisor, trying to figure out our plans and where we’d stay. The main point was to get a room at the Grand Canyon (south rim). I was able to initially secure a room at Yavapai, and then moved over to Maswik. The other issue was at Monument Valley, as there is only 1 hotel on the reservation, and another a bit aways. I was able to get a room at The View http://www.monumentvalleyview.com/ so that was all set. In researching Arches National Park, there is a Fiery Furnace Tour which is supposed to be fantastic, but with a limited number of tickets. http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/programs.htm I was able to get tickets for that, so everything was in place.

Here were our plans:
Friday, April 12th – 5:30 PM flight from ISP to PHX. Pick up rental car. Stay at Holiday Inn Express near PHX.
Saturday, April 13th – Drive from PHX to the Grand Canyon, with a few hour stop in Sedona. Check into Maswik.
Sunday, April 14th – Tour the Grand Canyon
Monday, April 15th – Tour the Grand Canyon in the morning, drive to Monument Valley in the afternoon.
Tuesday, April 16th – Drive from Monument Valley to Moab. Check into Best Western Plus Canyonlands. Arches National Park.
Wednesday, April 17th – Arches National Park. Fiery Furnace Tour at 10 AM.
Thursday, April 18th – Canyonlands National Park in the morning, Arches in the afternoon.
Friday, April 19th – Drive to Salt Lake City. Check into Hyatt Place Downtown. Visit Temple Square and the Great Salt Lake.
Saturday, April 20th – Flight back to ISP at noon.

Coming up………A long day of travel!
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:42 PM   #2
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I'm so glad you've started this Marnie, as I've been so looking forward to reading all about this trip.
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:21 PM   #3
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Great Start!!
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:12 PM   #4
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So glad to see this! I've been curious about this trip since you changed your sig pic and was hoping you'd do a report.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:17 PM   #5
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Great start! Can't wait to here all about it.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:19 PM   #6
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Great start!
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:26 PM   #7
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Great start! Can't wait to here all about it.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:51 AM   #8
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This should be a good one. You did a great job setting everything up on relatively short notice.
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:38 PM   #9
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When I saw your new Sig pic , I wondered if there was a new TR too! Sounds like a great trip. I have just been watching a PBS dvd from the library about US national parks so I'm anxious to hear how your trip went.
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Old 05-11-2013, 10:47 PM   #10
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Can't believe you we're able to get this all planned in such a short time! Well done! Looking forward to hearing all about it.
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:54 PM   #11
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OK, I need to get going on this or it will never get done!

Friday, April 12th – A Long Day of Travel

It was the usual day that you leave on vacation. Lots of packing, running around finding things you forgot, etc. Colin had all his stuff into a small carry on bag. Alexa and I could have done the same. Matt had taken up all of one suitcase, and half of another. For just himself. I told him he better start taking things out or I would take them out for him! We finally got it right, weighed the cases, and set off to get the kids at school as they were being dismissed early. We were also in the middle of a monsoon. The winds were blowing and the rain was coming down, which did not bode well for our drive to Long Island, nor our flights later on. We got to the inlaws and basically said a quick hello and headed for the airport. Check in was easy (is there really any traffic at ISP?), we found our gate, and found a spot to sit down. Our flight was now delayed half an hour. There were lots of others that were delayed longer than that. It was only sprinkling now, but the damage had been done. Dinner was pizza from Momma Lombardi’s

We had a two hour layover at BWI so we had plenty of time. Unfortunately our flight to PHX was also delayed. By the time we took off, it was 9:40 (we were scheduled for 8:50). Ugh. I decided to buy internet for Colin’s iPad, which proved to be a wise move for me. Colin fell asleep about an hour into the flight. Alexa was diligently working on her homework that she was given for break (who gives homework over spring break?)!! She finally finished up around 3 hours into the flight, which was now 12:30 EDT. Colin was leaning on me, and I could not find a comfortable position, so I was thankful for the iPad! With about 90 minutes left to go, the flight attendants come on the intercom asking for a doctor or nurse. Great. I think a woman had passed out and hit her head, but she was conscious. Someone did get up to help her. The only issue of flying out west is that there are few airports for you to land at if an emergency arises. We finally landed around 11:20 PDT which was 2:20 AM to us. We had to wait for the paramedics to come onto the plane to take the woman off (she walked off on her own power) and then we could get off. Our luggage actually came off pretty quickly, and we took the shuttle to the rental car area which is offsite. I had signed up for Hertz membership before the trip, so all we had to do was look for my name, find the car (although I did get an email from Hertz telling me the car and the space number ahead of time) and we were soon on our way to the hotel, after a minor wrong way turn. Check in was a breeze and we were soon up to our room and then fast asleep. The kids and I took the king bed and put Matt on the sleeper! Exhausted!

Coming up: The desert and the canyon!
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:06 PM   #12
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Great start! Can't wait to hear how you liked the Grand Canyon. DH and I were there a few years ago and we had a great time. You'll find a big difference if you are able to visit Zion this summer!
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:35 PM   #13
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Saturday, April 13th – The Desert and the Canyon!

Disclaimer: The pictures are from my iPhone, my camera, and Matt’s camera. There will be pictures out of order because there are in 3 different libraries so I’m trying to go back and forth and they won’t always mesh up!

I think the kids and I were up around 6:30. Matt was already up and in the lobby using his laptop. I took a shower, and then took the kids down for the free breakfast. It was fine, no complaints. While we did that, Matt took the luggage and put it into the car. We were on the road around 8:30 or 9. We stopped at a super Walmart in Anthem to get water, some snacks, fruit, and wine! And for Matt a new watch as he couldn’t find his before we left. We had about another hour + before we got to Sedona. Some pictures from the drive………….









We stopped at the Visitor Center in Village of Oak Creek to get a map of the “must-sees”.



We first headed for Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. There is a trail that you can walk to both of them, although we didn’t go down all the way.


Courthouse Butte


Bell Rock



































Next we headed up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It’s a church/chapel built into the rocks! Thankfully we got a parking space up at the top of the hill so we had a shorter walk up. The pictures are from the top of the hill where the chapel sits, which also gives you a great view of Sedona itself.












My Retirement House!































There were some other overlooks that were on my list of things to see in Sedona, but we were getting hungry and I felt like we had a great view of the area up at the Chapel. We drove into town and ended up having lunch at Sound Bites Grill, which had a great view of the area. The kids ended up with pizzas, I had a cobb salad, and Matt had a burger. They had great garlic fries! I filled up at Starbucks with a passion iced tea for the ride to the Grand Canyon, and we were off.























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Old 05-12-2013, 05:36 PM   #14
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We arrived at the Grand Canyon around 3:30, thru the southern gate (Tusayan). The first views of the canyon from the car were just awe inspiring. I don’t think you’re ever prepared to see something like that! We took a wrong turn at El Tovar (which had a live elk on the green in front of the hotel) but quickly made it to Maswik. I went inside to check in, and we were given our room in the North section (Willow building). There was ample parking down by the room, which was good as there was none near the main lodge building. The only issue is there isn’t an elevator, and we were on the second floor. We lugged our stuff up to the room, and just rested for a bit. I think we headed out around 5:30 or 6. My goals at the Grand Canyon were to see a sunset and a sunrise. We walked the short distance over to the rim, right to the left of the Bright Angel hotel. Alexa started to freak out a bit, as she is afraid of heights and apparently, the thousands of feet drop at the edge was not sitting well with her! We decided to walk along the trail and see where that would lead us. The trail would lead us up, and we took pictures along the way, and waited for sunset. The pictures really don’t do it justice, which was pretty much the saying for the entire trip!


Holding on for dear life!




Bright Angel Lodge
















































El Tovar (hotel) is in the middle of the pic!









We noticed that there were quite a few people on the trail that leads down into the canyon, which we would be hiking on tomorrow. It was sunset, and would soon be dark, and they’d be hiking in the dark! Oh well, not me! We had hiked to either the first or second stop on the shuttle bus, so we went up to the stop and waited for the bus. Thankfully he turned around at stop 4 and we didn’t have to spend another half hour going all the way to the end. We walked back to the hotel after getting off the shuttle, and stopped at the cafeteria to pick up something light. We were still full from our big lunch. Then it was time for bed as we still hadn’t adjusted to west coast time. Lights out at 8 PM!

Coming up: Sunrise, El Tovar, and hiking down into the Canyon
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:51 PM   #15
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Fantastic! The photos of the canyon are just amazing. You're right, the first sight of the canyon is almost too much to take in. No photo will ever capture that feeling, but yours are beautiful. Poor Alexa-- I'm not good with heights, either, and wouldn't go near the edge. I know I say this every time you do a TR, but look at how those kids have grown!
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