My family, along with my mom, spent our Spring Break touring the many different sites to see in Arizona. Overall, we had a great time, minus a stomach bug that decided to join us. We posted a few pictures along the way on Facebook and I had many people ask for our itinerary. I decided to just do a post on our vacation to document our wonderful week! I’ll get right to the point and cover our itinerary. I’ll also share some good restaurants we visited. But first let me mention a couple things:
- If you’re gluten free, I always use the app “Find Me Gluten Free” it has helped me find many, many great places to eat!
- Every 4th grader has the opportunity to get a FREE National Park Pass that is good for their 4th grade year!! It’s super easy to complete and print your pass. It will get in all children under age 16 AND up to 3 adults! Visit www.everykidinapark.gov This was the inspiration for this trip since Nora is in 4th grade. We asked the girls which National Park they wanted to visit and we decided on the Grand Canyon! (My mom was with us on this trip and she also had her Senior National Park Pass which allowed all of us to get in under her pass)
Thursday: We flew direct from Cincinnati to Phoenix on Delta and drove to Flagstaff. We used my mom’s timeshare points and stayed in the Wyndam Flagstaff Resort. A wonderful condo that I would highly recommend.
Friday: We drove up to Page, Arizona (about 2 hours) to see Antelope Canyon. You do need to purchase tour tickets ahead of time.
Saturday: We drove out to the Petrified Forest National Park (about 1hr and 45 min) and stopped in Winslow, AZ and stood on the corner. On the way back we stopped at the Wigwam Motel and Meteor Crater National Landmark. We ate at Fat Olives in Flagstaff for dinner and it was really good, authentic Italian food (with gluten free pizza!)
Sunday: We were supposed to do the Grand Canyon but I ended up getting sick so we stayed in on Sunday. The girls were getting tired of being in the rental van for the past two days so it worked out ok. We ordered carry out from Oregano’s in Flagstaff. (More Italian with gluten free pizza and pasta!)
Monday: We drove to the Grand Canyon (about 1hr 30 min) starting at the Desert View Watchtower and following the Southern Rim to Grand Canyon Village. Then we drove down to Sedona, AZ and checked into our condo outside of Sedona in Cornville. It was the Highlands Resort at Verde Ridge. It was ok, not sure I would highly recommend it.
Tuesday: We drove to Red Rock Canyon State Park just outside of Sedona. You can play in Oak Creek here and visit the energy vortex around Cathedral Rock. Brandon golfed in the afternoon and the girls wanted to swim in the resort pool for the afternoon. We went back to Oregano’s in Sedona because the girls loved it so much. It’s a fun restaurant and they give the kids dough to play with while you wait.
Wednesday: We did a Pink Jeep combo tour of the Scenic Rim and the Broken Arrow Trail. After the tour we walked around in Sedona and did some souvenir shopping. We ate at the Tavern Grille in Cottonwood, near our resort that night. It was really good with gluten free buns!
Thursday: We hiked Bell Rock which is another energy vortex known to have the strongest energy. We had lunch at the Secret Garden Cafe in Sedona. Really yummy food with gluten free buns and breads! Then we visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We came back to the resort to let the girls swim again. I found a little family owned restaurant for dinner called the Cork and Catch in Cottonwood. They made everything from scratch and had gluten free pasta and buns! The food was excellent!!
Friday: We decided to check out a wildlife park called Out of Africa outside of Sedona. Our resort didn’t have availability for Friday night so we headed back to Phoenix to stay close to the airport.
Saturday: We ended up meeting up with a car buddy of Brandon’s for brunch and then headed to the airport to fly home!
When we reached Flagstaff we were at an elevation of over 6000 ft. We stopped into the grocery store and I was cracking up at all of the chip bags inflated. My Chemistry teacher background came out and I took the opportunity to explain Boyle’s Law to my girls! Ha! With the lower atmospheric pressure at the higher altitude the air trapped inside of the chip bag is able to expand. Boyle’s law states that pressure and volume are inversely proportional at a constant temperature.
Our condo in Flagstaff was really nice with plenty of room. It even had a hot tub on the deck!
Once we were settled into our condo, Nora started to complain of belly ache. She spent the rest of the night with vomiting and diarrhea. Not how we wanted to start our vacation. 🙁
I first heard of Antelope Canyon when a friend from high school had visited there a few years ago and posted a picture on Facebook. I immediately thought “Where is this?! I need to go there!” I put it on my list of places to visit at some point. When we decided to go to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon I looked around on a map of Arizona to mark off different places to visit. I saw that Antelope Canyon wasn’t too far away so I made it a priority for this trip. My mom was helping us plan the trip and discovered only a few weeks before our trip that we needed to book tickets to go to Antelope Canyon. I hadn’t realized that and thought we could just show up and walk around. Tickets were limited at that time because of the Spring Break season but we were able to get some! So take note if you would like to see it to get your tickets ahead of time. We went through Antelope Canyon Tours.
So when Nora was sick I was starting to think that we weren’t going to see Antelope Canyon at all. We decided to see how she was feeling in the morning. I had been showing the girls pictures of the canyon and they were just as excited to see it as I was. When Nora woke up on Friday morning, she asked me if we were still going to see the canyon. I told her it was up to her. She said that she REALLY wanted to see it. I was thinking the same thing but was wiling to pass if she wasn’t feeling up to it. She decided she was up for it. We gave her some ibuprofen and brought along the Pepto just in case. We had pillows in the back of the van so she could just rest on the drive up and back. She was such a trooper. I knew she didn’t feel well but we made it through the tour.
The day we toured the canyon wasn’t perfect conditions. If you look online you will see amazing pictures of the sunlight beams shining through the top. It was a bit overcast the day we went so we didn’t see the crisp sun beams but light was still entering and it was still beautiful. Every turn there was something special to see. Looking in all directions you would find a different view looking up, back the way you came or straight ahead. It is pretty amazing to dream about seeing a place and then getting to see it with your own eyes. A feeling I will never get tired of!
In the rainy season, during the summer, the canyon will have flash floods. There have been a few storms where the ENTIRE canyon fills with water! They said the floods can wash sediment in or take it away. The floor of the canyon can fluctuate 5-15 feet after a flood! Amazing what Mother Nature can do.
When we finished the tour we realized the state of Utah was only 10 minutes away so we decided to drive there to check another state off of the list for the girls! The drive also took us by Lake Powell which is another impressive site to see.
Petrified Forest National Park
We took off Saturday morning and headed towards the Petrified Forest. You drive right by Winslow, Arizona, and there is a corner that you can stand on to take a picture!
Our first stop in the National Park was to stop and view the painted desert. The land goes on and on as far as you can see! We hiked down to the bottom. The girls loved it!
So the petrified wood in the park is over 200 million years old from trees that washed into an ancient river system. They were buried deep and oxygen was cut off and the porous wood absorbed minerals over time. The wood is mainly quartz with different impurities, mainly iron, that give it the different colors. Very, very cool!
We drove through the park and made some stops through the different sites to see. We really enjoyed hiking around Blue Mesa. I love being able to see the beauty of our world but sometimes I find the most beauty when looking up. I love the sky. I love the sun. I love the clouds. I love the colors. I love it all. The sky in Arizona was unreal!
We ended the park at the visitor center where there were lots of petrified wood!
On the drive home we stopped by the Wigwam Motel. Fun to see for their inspiration in the movie Cars.
As we drove back closer to Flagstaff, we saw signs for the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark. We discussed stopping to see it and were getting a little tired from the day but Nora, my space loving little girl, wanted to see it. So we stopped. It was massive! A meteor struck this location over 50,000 years ago. In the early 1900s, Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer and business man, argued that the crater was a meteor crater and not a crater from a volcano explosion, as previously thought. He later mined the crater hoping to find the meteorite and all of the profits that would come from a piece of iron ore big enough to cause such a massive crater. No meteorite was ever found. The crater is still owned by the Barringer Family today.
Grand Canyon National Park
We headed into the park on a beautiful Monday morning. My first impression of the canyon was how massive it was! It really makes you feel like such a tiny little being on this earth.
Caroline was up for hiking a little down the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon. So her, Brandon and I headed down the trail a bit. Grammy and Nora stayed up top. As we headed down the trail I noticed donkey poop. That’s when I realized the mules go down this trail and it was not very wide AT ALL! Plus, it was straight down on the other side. If I thought riding a donkey down into the canyon sounded fun, my mind changed right then!
On the rock ledge behind us in the picture up above, there were a group of young guys that went beyond the barrier to get to the edge. Caroline couldn’t believe that they weren’t following the rules. We actually saw one of the young men do a handstand out there!!! Caroline says, “Welp, they make their own choices.” Ha! We had talked to both of the girls about how important it was to pay attention and be careful when walking around the canyon. We made it clear that you.could.die. I think she was listening! After we wrapped up at the Grand Canyon we hit the road to head down to Sedona!
Sedona has been a place that I have wanted to check out for the past couple years. The more I have learned about yoga, energy, religion, spirituality the more it sounded like Sedona would be a place right up my alley. I thought I would head out there on a girls trip and I was very close to booking a trip with my friend, Jennifer, two years ago but I couldn’t pass up a chance to go to Ecuador and I ended up going there instead. When we were planning our trip to Arizona I knew it had to include Sedona.
I didn’t do a lot of research before going out there. My mom was going with us and she has been to Sedona a couple times before so I just let her plan out what we needed to see. The only thing we booked ahead of time was the Pink Jeep Tour that everyone says you need to do. The jeep tour was a cool way to see Sedona but I enjoyed hiking on our own just as much.
One of the things that I knew I wanted to check out were some of the energy vortexes. An energy vortex is where subtle energy is coming out of the earth. The vortexes are known for great places to ground yourself, clear your energy and meditate or pray. Again, I didn’t do any research on the vortexes before we went to Sedona. I thought I would just learn about them when we got there.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
When we checked into our condo outside of Sedona, the concierge recommended a few places to check out. One of the places was a park that she said the girls would love to play in the creek. She said in the summer families often will swim in the creek. It was going to be a little too cold for swimming but the girls would still have fun. So, we set out on Tuesday to check out the Red Rock State Park. As we found our way to the entrance, the gatekeeper told us where to park and then said the vortex is towards the back of the park and to just follow the creek. WHAT?! I didn’t know we were going to one of the vortexes!! I have heard that it’s not uncommon for you to be drawn to a vortex, so maybe we were that morning. We walked around the park and checked out the different views. Many of the rock formations around Sedona are named and this park was in front of Cathedral Rock. The creek was FREEZING but still felt refreshing to put your feet in.
After we played around for a bit, I was ready to find the vortex. We decided to head towards the back of the park and continue to follow the creek. I wasn’t sure what the vortex was going to look like or how we would know if we found it.
We came to an open area by the creek where quite a few people were gathered. We all looked at each other like, “Is this it?” I looked down and I had goose bumps on my legs. I took that as a good sign. Just then, my girls were both asking to take off their shoes. I took that as another good sign. From what I have learned about energy, the best way to feel energy from the earth is to put your bare feet on the ground. I have also learned that both of my girls are very sensitive to energy so I wasn’t surprised that they both were sensing something. Then I looked up in the sky and saw a big X. I thought, huh, X must mark the spot! I snapped a picture and later noticed there was also an X on the ground! I went over to a woman who was walking her dog and asked if she knew where the vortex was and she pointed down to the ground and said, “Right here!”. I said, “I thought so!”
We played around the vortex for over an hour. It was so peaceful to hear the creak rolling by. I can definitely see how the vortexes are known as “happy places”. They are also some of the most scenic views around Sedona. Just beautiful!
Pink Jeep Tour
We booked the jeep tour ahead of time and went with the Scenic Rim and the Broken Arrow combo tour. The Scenic Rim is the roughest trail they go on. It was ROUGH! It was pretty but I think we all got a pretty good core workout from trying to hang on inside of the jeep. The views were pretty and I saw people hiking along and I was thinking I would have liked to have been down with the hikers rather than being thrown around on the jeep. Our tour guide mentioned that you can find some prehistoric fossilized coral if you look into the hillside. He found us a piece and gave it to the girls. That was pretty cool! He told them they could take it back for show-n-tell.
After the Scenic Rim we headed to the Broken Arrow trail. It is the trail the Pink Jeep Tour is famous for. A great place for off-road vehicles to play around and have fun.
When we were in Flagstaff eating at Oregano’s, the waitress had told the girls about a guy that is in Sedona that has a bunch of animals out on the sidewalk. After the tour the girls were determined to find the animals.
My friend, Jennifer, is my energy healer. I started seeing her over 5 years ago to see if she could help me out with some arthritis, joint pain I was having. Shortly after I started seeing her I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. She has been by my side ever since and has helped me through the toughest moments in my life. She has been a, literal life saver for me. I know I would not be where I am today, or doing as well as I am today, if it hadn’t been for her influence in my life. By working with my energy she has helped me deal with my unprocessed emotions from my past, as well as, dealing with the emotions that are involved in my current day to day life. She has drawn me closer to God and allowed me to see how everything that is happening in my life is all part of God’s plan for me. I am forever grateful for her influence in my life.
Because of Jennifer’s influence in my life, and all that she has taught me, from what I knew about Sedona, I knew I wanted to experience it with her. A couple months ago during an appointment with Jennifer she asked if we had plans for spring break. I told her that we were going to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. She said “Really?! Did I know that?! We’re going to Sedona, too!!” I thought, no way is this going to work out? I asked her when she was going to be there (knowing that Sedona was only part of our trip) and we were going to be there the same time!!! I love when God knows just what we need. So we decided to meet up one day to check out one of the energy vortexes together. I wanted to go to a vortex with Jennifer to see if she felt anything. I don’t have the gift, or maybe it hasn’t developed yet, to feel energy. Nora can feel energy from time to time but not so much me. I thought it would be so cool to experience a vortex with someone who works with energy everyday!
We decided to go to the Bell Rock vortex. It is supposed to be the strongest of the vortexes. There is a trail leading to the rock but once you get there it’s pretty much a free climb all the way to the top! My girls LOVED it! They loved trying to figure out which way was the best way up. I was thinking I might be crazy letting my girls free climb their way up and was thinking the whole time we would eventually have to turn around and come down! We went up as high as we thought was safe, not all the way to the top. I asked Jennifer a few times what she felt and she said she just felt really grounded. I think that just confirmed what I had read… they are places to visit for a little reset. A place to refresh and leave happier than when you came. I definitely felt that way.
After we finished at Bell Rock we dropped Brandon off so he could golf for the afternoon and the girls went out to lunch. After lunch we went to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It was an absolutely beautiful day spent with the best company.
Out of Africa
For our last day around Sedona we decided to check out the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. It was recommended to us by a few random people. They thought our girls would really enjoy it. They take in a lot of rescue animals and the habitats for the animals are really big. There is an interactive safari, too. The girls really enjoyed it and said it was their favorite part of the trip! We saw, giraffes, lions, tigers, hyenas, zebras, water buffaloes, a camel, snakes, iguanas, leopards, bears and a few others. Very cool to be up close to those big animals.
We made a stop into the reptile house. There was an entire hallway of snakes. They had quite a few pythons and boa constrictors. This one was working on a rabbit! We were so disgusted by it yet so fascinated!!
In the middle of the day we checked out the Tiger Splash show. It was impressive and scary to see the people up so close to the tigers. After the show the girls got to feed a tiger!
After the tiger show we loaded on our truck for our safari. The first stop was to feed Kebo!
It was an awesome week in Arizona. A memorable vacation, for sure! After seeing just a little of what this great land has to offer, we have already started planning another trip out west! Thanking God for a wonderful vacation full of amazing memories!