Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sedona

Grand Canyon.Well, it’s been more than two months since our mega vacation trhough the southwestern canyons has started and we haven’t posted a thing yet beside our large photo stream that was going throughout our trip. Overall everything went well. It was a bit harder in the beginning, but our schedule settled in pretty quickly and we enjoyed exploring the southwest.

Road to Sedona. Saguaro forests.The hard parts pretty much consisted of Anna throwing up on the plane, Arosha had an accident in bed during the first night from being overtired — it really hasn’t happened to him in years now, Anna throwing up in the car — we think it was from motion sickness and Arosha throwing up during the night — we have no idea why, but he was fine in the morning. All that happened pretty much in the first 2 days, but everything went well afterwards.

Our hotel at Sedona.The flight went OK. Anna even took a nap. Having two large suite cases, two car seats and a stroller appeared to be challenging beforehand. But we basically had to just get it to a cab, from the cab to checked baggage and from there into our rental car. And vice versa on the way back. Not too bad at all. Costco seats are pretty crappy, but they are also very light. They served us just fine throughout the trip.

Arizona capitol building in Phoenix.As far as the car rentals go — it’s always a rip off and always ends up being much more expensive than you expect. To begin with our rental company Sixt didn’t have any cars that we reserved that would work for us. So they pawned us off to Payless which agreed to honor the same price. But then adding a different driver, adding an extra hour (our flight was leaving later in the day) and so on added up to a hefty sum.

Sedona from the top.Adding a second driver was not really needed. Alёna drove for all of 30 minutes or so during the trip. I thought that should would enjoy the open roads, but she was afraid to drive at 75MPH speed limit, and was a nervous wreak. Also our VW Passat seemed all kinds of wobbly. I was hoping for a Chrysler 300, but that wasn’t available either. VW was really bland and unexciting in every way possible but it did get us where we needed to go without any issues.

Looking up at Montezuma Castle.On our first day we started with a short stop at Arizona capitol complex at Phoenix. This time we actually managed to get inside for the first time ever — our 3rd trip there — and got ourselves an official capitol stamp. Otherwise it wasn’t anything special inside. And it was very very hot outside in the sun. Our kids expired very quickly and we decided to proceed.

To Sedona


Entering Sedona.Our main objective for the day was to reach Sedona. But since everyone was really hungry after the flight we decided to get a bite before heading out of Phoenix. We couldn’t really find any place to eat for some while. I guess the main highway runs through shady parts of town and nothing looked appealing. Kids were getting really tired by the time we ran upon some nice Greek place. Of course after we did eat every next exit had plenty of eateries.

Montezuma Castle.Also on our way to Sedona we made a stop by Montezuma Castle. The light was much better this time around for a better photograph and there was plenty of shade for a nice hike. What interested Arosha the most though was a lizard that he spotted. Lizards, you see, are much more exciting than some 900 year old building in a side of a cliff.

Sedona cliffs.Along the way we were driving through mountains covered by saguaro cacti. Very unusual landscape. By the time we started approaching Sedona landscape becomes even more unusual in a different way. Gray mountains turned into red cliffs of peculiar shapes. Sun was setting and everything looked very beautiful.

Arosha at one of the many souvenir shops in Sedona.We were all pretty tired by the time we arrived, but when the kids discovered a pool at our hotel they got second wind. We spent the rest of the evening swimming and chilling out in cool waters of the hotel pool on a hot day. Later in the evening Arosha and I picked up some Mexican food at a nearby place while Alёna put Anna to sleep. That was the end of our day.

View of Sedona from the local airport.In the morning we drove up to the local airport which is located above the mountains and has a spectacular view of the town down below. Sedona really is a beautiful place and if you’re going to be driving through from Phoenix to Grand Canyon it really is worth it to make a small detour to see it.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Summer Southwest Road Trip

Grand Canyon Road TripAfter a lot, really a lot, of thinking and picking through our choices we have settled on the route of our next road trip. And now it’s all booked. The centerpiece of our trip is going to be Grand Canyon — probably the most beautiful place on earth that I’ve been to. We’re going to visit some other natural wonders that southwest of this country has to offer.

The road trip will start in Phoenix and will end in Las Vegas. Only four of us will go — Arosha, Anna, Alёna and I. We haven’t flown anywhere with Arosha without parents yet, and this time we’ll go with both kids. We’ll have to bring a lot of stuff (like two car seats) and we’re hoping we’ll be able to manage it all. We do have a lot of stops in our plan, but the drives themselves are relatively short and should be easy enough on the kids.

The plan is simple. We fly1 out to Phoenix early in the morning of Friday, July 10th and we will be back home on the late night of July 21st flying back from Las Vegas. Right upon our arrival to Phoenix we rent a car and go an a mandatory tour of the capitol. Without spending the night we drive out to Sedona2 where we are staying for 1 night.

After Sedona we drive to Grand Canyon National Park itself. We’ll spend 3 nights3 on the southern rim staying right inside the park. I only hope that the canyon doesn’t make Arosha experience his fear of heights. He was never afraid of any mountains or anything in nature, but who knows.

After the southern rim we go to Page, Arizona where we spend another 3 nights4 on the eastern end of the canyon. While Alёna and I have been to all the other places of our road trip, this will be one new location for all of us. We want to see the famous Horseshoe Bend and take a hike through Antelope Canyon.

The next destination of our trip takes us to another gorgeous place — Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon has a very unique look due to the natural structures called hoodoos. We’ll spend 2 nights5 at Bryce and we’ll take off to our final destination of Las Vegas through a scenic road that runs right through Zion National Park.

And our final 2 nights6 we will spend in Las Vegas which has been becoming a family destination for a long time now. There are a lot of things to see for kids there such as a pirate show at Treasure Island, or a volcano eruption at Mirage. It would be great to go to some Cirque du Soleil show, but Anna is way to little to be able to sit through something like that, so not this time.

Overall our nature loving kids should have a lot of new impressions on this trip and we’ll be seeing all the old places anew through their eyes. Should be a fun one.

  1. Delta flight, non stop from JFK at $334 per person. Anna flies for free in Alёna’s lap. Total price for the flight is $1,002. []
  2. Hampton Inn Sedona, $204 total with taxes included. []
  3. Yavapai Lodge, $548 for 3 nights plus tax. []
  4. Best Western at Lake Powell, $767 total with tax for 3 nights. Not cheap at all. []
  5. Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, $445 total for 2 nights. []
  6. Elara by Hilton Grand Vacations, $260 total for 2 nights. []

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sedona

Sedona under heavy rain clouds.It’s been almost 6 months since our southwest trip, but there is one place that we still haven’t said a word about — Sedona, Arizona. And I’d like to try to remember some things about it and write these memories down before they completely fade away.

Sedona is a town located in the heart of Arizona, surrounded by beautiful red mountains. It’s a very touristy town with a lot of shops, restaurants and swarms of visitors. At the same it seems very cozy with its small streets, uplifting colors and architecture.

One of cozy Sedona streets.For Alёna and I this was not our first time here, so originally I didn’t even want to repeat the trip. We’ve been here on our Arizona trip in October 2005 and liked it a lot. But after driving through most of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona I thought it would be boring to revisit. On the other hand we had nothing to do and papa and mama haven’t been there, so off we went.

A simple BBQ place located at one of the back streets.It turned out to be a good decision. Papa and mama liked it very much and I found it, as I said, much cozier than I remembered. It was nice to remember some of the places in this town. We even managed to find a cheap BBQ place where we all ordered pulled pork sandwiches, just like we did with Alёna in 2005.

Toozigoot National Monument and papa on top of it.On our way to Sedona we drove by Tuzigoot National Monument and got our mandatory stamps there. The monument itself wasn’t all that interesting — just some old dwellings that mostly fell apart.

And after Sedona we managed to get our stamps at Montezuma Castle National Monument. It consists of 2 distinct parts — the well and the castle. We were on time at the well, but castle was 10 minutes away and it was almost 5pm on the clock — that’s when they close it down.

Castle at Montezuma Castle National Monument.So we flew by the ranger right into the gate of the 2nd part, managed to get our stamps there as well and even had the time to run to the castle. On our way back I was worried that the ranger was going to be pissed at us for doing this, but when he saw us again he actually started smiling and waving. I guess he understood why we were seriously speeding.

And that’s pretty much all of the trip that I remember.
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Monday, September 29, 2008

Southwest Road Trip

Southwest Road TripWe have booked yet another one of our mega road trips yesterday. Planning and booking1 this kind of trip took us 5 hours of labor and that’s considering that we had a good idea of the route2 already. I want to do a full write up of the current plan as I did the last time for future references.

On the early morning of Saturday, November 22nd, we fly3 out to El Paso, Texas. We rent a car4 at the airport and proceed to check out the city and the local parks. We spend our first night5 here.

On Sunday morning we drive out east in the direction of Carlsbad, New Mexico. We’re staying in a hotel located in a near by town of Artesia, New Mexico for the next night6. On our way we plan Continue Reading

  1. This time we’ve booked 2 rooms at every hotel. All of them come with a king size bed and full breakfast. []
  2. Full size diagram of the trip can be viewed at Google Maps. Blue pins are for hotels and green pins are for places we plan to visit. Full driving map is also available at Google Maps. []
  3. United Airlines, $505 per person, round trip. []
  4. Dollar Rent a Car, estimated at $508. []
  5. Embassy Suites El Paso, $102 per night, per room. []
  6. Best Western Pecos Inn, $90 per room, per night. []
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