The Grand Canyon was beckoning so we decided to hit the road and do some exploring of Arizona. The Roberts Family (Ben, Sarah and their kids, Bethany, Amber and Dan) decided to head east with us as well and take advantage of a long weekend that we had! So first stop to break up the journey was the border town Yuma. I think that Yuma is sustained by the military and the fact that it is halfway between Phoenix and San Diego!
We were refreshed after an early night so we hit the road to Phoenix. The poor Robert however had a sick little Dan on board – but continued on. We decided that once we arrived in Phoenix we would go to the Heard Museum (http://heard.org). This was great place to visit – with areas specially allocated to teaching children about American Indian history. Unfortunately after the visit we had to say farewell to The Roberts family as poor Dan had deteriorated and really was not well – so the Roberts headed home so Dan could get better (which he did soon after).
From the museum we headed to Scottsdale, just out of Phoenix were we stayed for two nights. We had a great couple of days exploring the local area. We found a great bike path and the boys scooted to the Railroad Park (http://www.therailroadpark.com). This was the best train museum/park have been to with the boys! Between the train sets and minute train rides, the boys (big and small) were in heaven. That evening we had dinner in downtown Scotsdale – and had an amazing sundae in an all school diner called the Sugar Bowl – it was well worth it (http://www.sugarbowlscottsdale.com).
We had a recommendation to head to Pinnacle Peak. It was such a great hike which we could do with the boys – we were able to coach them along with the regular signs of wildlife.. especially the lizards. The views from park way up were great (we didn’t get to the pinnacle itself, but close). We hit the road again to head to Sedona. On the map I noticed that we would go past Monetzumas Castle (http://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm). When we were fortunate enough to travel to US when we were kids, my sister Pip went with my grandmother and her husband on a separate road trip, and one of the places they went to was Montezumas castle. I don’t think we remember a lot from the trip as we were young, but I do remember Pip speaking of this place where the local Indian’s lived high up within the caves. So it was great to see it on the map, so we made a quick detour. I am so glad that we did as the boys were fascinated by the fact that people had built and lived in the houses within the rock face – truly amazing.
On we went to Sedona. Our friends the Moyles has told us about Sedona how much they had enjoyed it. They gave us the great recommendation of staying at the Red Agave Resort (http://www.redagaveresort.net). The view from our little a-frame house was breath taking. We LOVED everything about Sedona. The landscape was amazing and the color of the rock formations was amazing. The absolute highlight for us though was a fantastic hike that we did with the boys. The Fay Canyon Trail was a perfect distance and challenge for the boys – it was about a 2.5 mile round trip – with rock climbing involved which is right up the boys alley.
After two nights in Sedona (in all honesty we could have stayed longer), we hit the road again to the Grand Canyon. Again on the recommendation from the Moyles we went to Bearizona Wildlife Park (http://bearizona.com). This is well worth the visit – well the part where you drive through the areas and see all the animals roaming around. The bears were amazing! You could sit in your car and see the bears relatively close (with your windows up) and have a guided audio tour. It was great and we learnt so much – the actual zoo/wildlife area was not as good, but I suspect it may be better during the high season.
That afternoon we arrived at our next hotel and headed straight to the Grand Canyon – and we were not disappointed. The Canyon is truly breathtaking – once you get past all the people!! We returned early the next day and brought the boys scooters with us. We found a great scooter/bike bath which took us to the Bright Angel Trail head. Along the way we saw a HUGE elk and were able to see the mules used to trek down into the canyon. We then went back again later that afternoon to watch the sunset. That was certainly worth doing! We didn’t watch it from the main trail area (where the main carpark was) but instead walked along where we had the canyon to ourselves. It was truly breathtaking.
After two nights in the Grand Canyon, it was time to start heading home. To break up the journey we decided to stay in Palm Springs – we actually stayed in La Quinta at the Embassy Suites which were fantastic (especially the Manager’s happy hour which included drinks and food… saved taking the kids out for dinner while we were there). The Palm Springs Ariel Tramway was on our list of things to do – and it did not disappoint. It is an cable car which takes you to the Mount San Jacinto State Park (http://www.pstramway.com). This is in stark contrast to the very warm temperatures at the bottom – when you reach the top you are greeted with cool air and snow! Well there was not much snow, but it had been snowing in the past week, so we could show the boys snow. Again there were some great hikes which the boys could do.
We had a great 10 days away exploring Arizona – we have some more exploring to do. The highlight of the trip was Sedona – obviously the Grand Canyon was amazing, but I think we all found Sedona to be beyond words and I hope that we can return there one day and do some more exploring.