Monday, February 08, 2016

72 Hours in Arizona: Day 1

Visiting Arizona was extremely rewarding. We comfortably managed to squeeze a lot into three days. In fact, we did so much that it felt like we'd been there for a week. We had a couple of 'musts' that we scheduled for ourselves but we were so casual and spontaneous about the fringe activities so there was zero stress; it was 100% enjoyment. The state is so vast and we experienced totally different topography and plant life and weather from our starting point in Phoenix to our northernmost stop in Page. It was definitely a whirlwind experience and I loved every minute of it.

We both woke up early on Friday morning in our respective homes and met at the airport. Security went super smoothly, we boarded our flight, and landed an hour earlier than expected in Phoenix.
Here's what I packed:

72 hours in AZ
I'm not going to lie; I was seriously tempted to pack every item of plaid flannel I own, but I stuck to one plaid shirt and one scarf and went for a relaxed vibe as the theme. The key to packing for this trip was to focus on layers because the temperature in the desert changes drastically with the sun. And I did a little bit of repeating so that I could pack a tiny little bag.

As soon as we landed, we hopped onto a free shuttle bus over to the rental car center (which was a 10 minute ride). We grabbed an adorable compact car (a light blue Toyota Yaris) from Dollar Car Rental (about $100 total for the three days). The salesman tried to upsell us by telling us the compact car would only be able to do 45mph on the mountainous roads heading towards Sedona. What a bozo. Our little Yaris managed just fine and we were actually reprimanded for speeding at one point (more on that later) so hah!
We hit the road and made a beeline for In-N-Out to grab some lunch. We headed to the location on Tatum Boulevard, which was kind of perfect, as D is a huge Channing Tatum fan. With our early morning flight and the time difference, our stomachs were roaring for some sustenance and I don't think there's anything better than a good quality burger and fries to quell that growling. I was in heaven with my cheeseburger (animal style) and fries and pink lemonade. D opted to leave her burger plain and got her fries animal style.

A photo posted by ra¢h ๐Ÿ’‹ (@racheerachh) on
After lunch, we climbed back into the car and drove straight up to Sedona. It was about an hour and a half ride, during which we marveled at the saguaro cacti, faroff snowcapped mountains, and eventually the red rocks surrounding our destination.
SOUTHWEST INN AT SEDONA
We checked into our hotel, the Southwest Inn, and dropped our bags off in our room before heading out to do some exploring. The inn was a bit kitschy, with its pueblo-mimicking architecture and the overly western decor. However, our room was clean and comfortable (I especially enjoyed the fireplace) and the hotel itself was quite conveniently located. Plus, it was a pretty affordable option (at $160 per night).
CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS
Our first stop was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The chapel was built in the 50s, commissioned by a local rancher who was inspired by the construction of the Empire State Building. It's an incredibly gorgeous structure worth visiting, whether you are religious or not. This sleek, clean style of architecture is harmoniously built into one of Sedona's vortexes. The location gives off such serene energy.
There are a few areas around the chapel for parking and though we easily found a spot for our car, I can imagine that it may get quite crowded in the high season. We parked at the base so that we could slowly climb up and experience the chapel from all angles.
The contrast of the blue sky to the red-orange geology is one of the prettiest natural wonders I've ever experienced. And of course, a similar view of the Sedona landscape can be experienced from inside the chapel too. Imagine worshipping in that environment; it'd be impossible not to believe in a higher power after that.
TLAQUEPAQUE ARTS & CRAFTS VILLAGE
As we were driving back towards the center of town, we saw the Tlaquepaque shopping area so we stopped by just to browse a little.
Though the wares being sold in the stores were somewhat underwhelming, I loved the shopping center itself. It was rather serene and quite pretty and that made the browsing experience much more enjoyable.

RED ROCK CROSSING
Our next little adventure was to hit up Cathedral Rock, another one of Sedona's famous vortexes. However, due to some flooding, we were unable to do the hike we wanted. Instead, we enjoyed the landscape from a bit farther off at the viewpoints along Red Rock Loop Road.
TII GAVO
We booked an early dinner so that we could enjoy the sunset whilst we dined. We rode over to the Enchantment Resort around 17:15, which put us there in time to enjoy the light bouncing off of the red rocks all the way until 18:00 when the sun dipped low enough to put us in darkness.
I started my meal with a honey crisp apple artisan soda, which was lovely and crisp and sweet. For my main, I went for the taco platio which allowed me to try one of each taco (prime rib, swai, pork, and chicken). The tacos were amazing and built on top of deliciously soft and pliable fresh corn tortillas. D opted for the shrimp & grits and she generously allowed me a taste. The grits were super creamy and the sauce and seasoning on the shrimp was really lovely and flavorful. This place was a little chintzy, considering they charged $6 for chips and salsa, which most restaurants gave us for free but other than that, it was a delightful meal.
For dessert, we shared the chocolate cake with "grandma's frosting" and vanilla bean gelato. The cake was warm from the oven and the accoutrements were super decadent.
STARGAZING
After dinner, it was basically pitch black outside (thanks to the lack of light pollution) so we took a short ride over the hill to the Doe Mountain trailhead where we sat around staring up into the night sky.

I made a sad attempt at doing some star photography. But, with my limited photography skills, the absolute lack of light to set up my camera, and my fear of potentially dangerous wild animals lurking in the darkness, I only stayed outside long enough to capture about a half dozen shots. Even though they're not quite right (I didn't focus "to infinity" so the stars are more like bokeh than pinpoints of light), you hopefully you can get an idea of how beautiful it was. The stars out there are unreal and ridiculous. Some were different shades of blue and green, some would twinkle ridiculously hard, and a few of them were shooting stars.
The best part though, was the sheer quantity of them. It made it difficult to point out constellations; the only one I could recognize was Orion's Belt. I see Orion's Belt at home all the time, but out in Sedona, I was also able to see his shoulders and his legs.
After our date with the heavens, we drove back to our hotel to get some sleep. Saturday had a full itinerary and we needed to get up early. Luckily, with the time difference, I knocked out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

xoxo.

2 comments:

  1. Following your adventures as we get ready for our trip. What were the temps? Day and night?

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    Replies
    1. The temperature fluctuations were one of the weirdest things and I couldn't get used to it!

      In Sedona, it was probably mid-60s during the day, but it was that perfect dry and mild weather where there were people wearing scarves but no coats (like me) and there were some people in shorts and a t-shirt and all of us were perfectly comfortable. Our first evening there was freezing cold (felt like 30F) but the second night was milder (felt like 45F).

      We got lucky in Page; there was a warm front so it was 60F and sunny and gorgeous but I believe it snowed the next day. So unpredictable.

      Phoenix felt like it was boiling (75F) but we'd also just come from a snowstorm in the tri-state so our bodies were shocked by the sun.

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