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Driving SW AZ and a dribble into NV-10 days

Driving SW AZ and a dribble into NV-10 days

Old Apr 4, 07, 12:40 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: May 1998
Location: Escondido CA USA
Programs: AS, UA, HY, Hil, Merr
Posts: 3,130
Driving SW AZ and a dribble into NV-10 days

Our trip to AZ by car from Escondido CA, 33 anniversary ride.

This will not be as long and detailed as the reports I usually file. I was lazy and did not take detailed notes this trip.

As usual, Leslie took all the pictures and they will follow when she gets them done. A link will be added to the end of this report at that time.

We went to Scottsdale, Sedona, Flagstaff, Cameron, Tusayan, Kingman, and Laughlin. Lots of museums and nature included in our trip.

Leaving March 18 (a Sunday for an easy get away from San Diego). We drove to the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch. This is Leslie's and my 2nd favorite Hyatt property (Kauai is #1). We stayed in Regency Club with the last of our Hyatt points (another program hits the dust in retirement). Our three night stay was for leisure. We did little as we have stayed in the area many times before. We did include a trip to the zoo (things we do) which, is nice, but not spectacular. They have done some work with endangered species that is important, especially with the condor.

The Hyatt is well maintained. The RC is open 7 days, all day. It is staffed mornings for "breakfast", and after 5pm for snacks, drinks and sweets. NOTE, this RC is not open to childeren after 5pm. Makes me happy!!!! Food was being shuttled back to rooms during that time to feed the families! Drinks are on the expensive side. $9 for wine per glass. The staff did a good job. Especially a 26 year old gal who is planning a career in hospitality and took time in the lulls to take to guest. No name, did I mention I did not take notes. Sorry.

The dinner at Sandolo was excellent and still quite reasonable. We split a starter salad, each ordered pasta with meat sauce and had a bottle of wine for under $75. We played the anniversary card and received a nice dessert on the house. The waiter, Branden was EXCELLENT. His serving skills were perfect and his comunication skills even better. Well worth asking for, if you like. The gondola ride (included with dinner or $10 each without) was good, but only one gondolier, so there was a wait. The opera sung was okay. Impossible to match the perfect ride we had eons ago at Gainey Ranch with wine and "Music of the Night" being sung by a long time opera student to 4 boats gathered around.

The Hyatt has some new events from past stays. They had a petting zoo set up for a couple days. One day they has a birds of flight show. We missed the garden tour. The pools, as always, are perfect. A sandy "beach" for the tottlers. Quiet areas for adults. Shade somewhere always for we who worry about skin cancer. Food and drink service without any pressure.

This is...well just a great property...you need to stay there sometime!!! David Phillips is the GM, he is to be commended for keeping a great place, great and for adding more!!!!!!!!!!!!

Next we drove to Sodona. While we have driven thru before, we have never stayed in Sodona.

On the way to Sodona we stopped at Out of Africa (www.outofafricapark.com), in Camp Verde. Previously located nearer to Mesa somewhere on 15 acres, they have relocated to a parcel well over 100 acres. They have two rides. One is a "bus" adventure thru an area with giraffe, ostrich, goats, etc. You get carrots to feed the giraffe out the window. This is a safari adventure. The other ride is basically transportation through the grounds with several stops to see the wild cats (lions, tigers, leopards, etc), bears, wolfs (3 type), a reptile house, etc. that fill the multiple large enclosures. The drive often feeds chicken to the animals to get them up close and personal. Adults $28. A private non profit. Modest food availability. The pool plunge show they had at the old location will be revived as funds become available. Plan 3 hours or more, especially if you go back on foot.

Our stay in Sodona was at the Amara. We stayed on a Hyatt Vacation Stay presentation program. The net cost was free. The Amara was okay. Our room had a very modest view. The location is tucked inbetween and behind some commerical buildings. The dinner at the Gallery (in the hotel) was both good and expensive. They were short one waiter and so the service was good, but a bit off. Our tour of the Hyatt Vacation Club was more pressure that they said. It is a one on one. The deal is too overprice for me, and failed to meet our traveling needs. While the new phase is pending, they only have 2 bedrooms to sell now. They did have 1 bedrooms. They also rent studios (the second bedroom of the 2's, that have no view).

Sodona has beautiful views. The Loop roads are basically rural residential roads and not marked or labeled for tourists. The Ranger station opens at 8am, but the visitors station does not open until 9. A fee is required. Some hiking trails are available, but it rained on us. The movie was good and the displays in the visitors center were of average to less of interest. If you choose, the jeep tours get great review (including from my brother who was there 3 weeks before). They also played golf. We visited the museum (www.sedonamuseum.org/museum). It was will worth the 2 1/2 hour visit. Adults $3. Limited hours. Our second dinner was at a Mexican place, (upstairs) directly accross from the driveway that leads into the Amara. Reasonable priced and good (We had cheese and beef enchiladas with ice tea).

In the morning we set off down 179 toward Oak Creek, the 17, and the Oak Creek Factory Outlets. We are on our way to Flagstall (better to go North on 89a), but want to stop at the outlet mall to see if we can find some southwestern placemats. This is the long way! The highway is being worked on, and may be for quite awhile so be prepared for some delays. We stopped at the church and drove up the hill to the parking lot. The grounds include fantastic views. The church is basic, but was a great haven from the rain. The view out the church window could be quite awe inspiring to some, I am sure.

The Outlets (www.outletbound.com) had a couple stores of interest to us. Oak Creek Indian Traders, Casa de Sedona and Factory Brand Shoes. Leslie found her placemats, a couple of gifts, a night light and I found the Dr Scholl's tennis shoes with velcro closure that I wanted. They even sent me a second pair (not in stock) in the mail with no extra charge for deleivery.

It was really starting to get cold as we approached Flagstaff.

Stopping here, will return to finish after lunch.
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Old Apr 4, 07, 2:45 pm
  #2  
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We left off on the way to Flagstaff. This trip we will visit a few of the museums for the first time.

The Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N Fort Valley Rd. is open 9-5. We spent about 2 hours in this museum. Excellent history of the area. The AZ Historical/Pioneer Museum adds the history of Andy Devine (one of the two museums), a Flagstaff native. It is located several blocks further on the highway is good for another 1 plus hours. We passed on the Reordan Mansion, and the Arboretum is not open until April 1.

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn (marriott program) for $69.51 w/tax. After reading all the nightmares of staying in Flagstaff and the train noise, we were delighted in our efforts to locate a quieter place. We had no problem at this hotel located at 2005 South Milton Road. Note a Hilton is next door. Light breakfast provided.

Today it is a full adventure headed to the East side of the Grand Canyon.

Our first stop is the Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments of Arizona. As we have just reached our "62", we purchase our $10 Senior Pass good for life!

Our first trek is a mile or so on the Lava Flow Trail in the Sunset Crater. It is a fairly easy trail, with some altitude changes and uneven surfaces. NO PETS. It took me about 55 minutes or more. A guide booklet can be borrowed or purchased for $1. 13 stops are identifed and the view explained along with the history. Binoculars optional, but somewhat useful.

Throughtout the rest of several hours we drove and stopped at several Indian ruins from the 1040-1100 period. Each require some modest hiking. Bring comfortable shoes for most of this vacation. Especially the red rock in Sedona. Take some water too. No souvenirs, stay on the trail, don't touch or step on anything you do not have to. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather. A wupatki Pueblo Trail Guide is available on loan or for $1 at the main Ruins. Here 20 locations are identified and discussed. Plan on an hour and 1/2 plus some time in the Visitors center.

We next continue on our way to Cameron, and the Cameron Trading Post where we will spend the night. Located on an Indian Reservation, this property has a area for trailers and motorhomes for under $20/night. Hooks ups are available. We stayed in the motel units, for $84.xx with tax (AAA). Our unit was on the top floor (3rd) and had a huge balcony. The room was also quite large (room 304). Not lavish, but really servicable. Dinner in the main building was very good. About a 14 ounce rib eye steak for $15.99. Included indian bread, soup (chicken noodle) or salad (large) and potatoes (fries). Lots to eat. Meat a bit fatty, but quite tender. Breakfast was also very good and quite reasonable. In the evening we sat on our balcony and had some wine. Service was very good. No Indian jokes from me. They are professional and skilled.

The Trading Post has a very large building that houses the eatery, a grocery and a huge assortment of modest to high quality Indian goods. Could easily spend an hour or more looking in the store and many thousands of dollars!
We spent the time and kept the dollars.

After breakfast we set off to the Grand Canyon East entry (half hour drive). The cost to enter the park is $25, but included for free with our newly acquired senior pass!! A very informative "newspaper" is given with admission to explain the activities in the park, the stops, the rules, the history and the parking. Coming the East entry you can drive to several viewing points and park. The view points are usually very close to the parking area. Eventually you get to the village, where auto driving becomes much more restricted. Now it is time to take the free buses. The Hermits Rest Route takes 75 minutes round trip without getting off. The Village route takes 60 minutes without getting off. Buses start before sun up and continue beyond sun down. They run every 15-30 minutes, but often we found them only 10 minutes apart. Plan your day as we did and start early. You will want to get off that bus and do the viewing often adding to the time it takes. Better yet is to spend the night in the Canyon, perhaps. Also available is the tour of the Tusayan Ruin. This tour takes about 1 hour at the most. A tour guide book is available on loan or for 25 cents.

After a full day oohing and aahing the view in the canyon, we leave to our hotel for the night, the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan on Hwy. 64. We paid 102.86 with tax and breakfast (Holiday Inn program) thru Cheap Tickets. Before dinner we headed for the Imax Theatre for the Grand Canyon movie. The movie is $12 less AAA discount or similar from the hotel. Family prices are available. We were tired and dirty so it was ff for dinner.

Today it is off to Laughlin thru Kingman and another group of museums and a historic house visit. The Mohave Museum of History and Arts is located at 400 W Beale ST. Open 9-5 during the week. Save your receipt good for other admissions later. This museum is good for 2 hours plus, including outdoor exhibits. The next stop is the Historic Route 66 Museum, located in the old powerhouse building at 120 Andy Devine Ave. You can also visit some locomotives across the street in the park (we passed). We next went to the Bonelli House. Open very limited hours. We were the only visitors went we stopped so we received the grand tour of 1 1/2 hours (perhaps 3 times the time we would have done self directed). The guide was very knowlegeable and fun to listen to and interact with. Donations, please $5, this place needs some funds to maintain some treasured possessions.

Get gas in Kingman, not the historic side of the mountains, but back a couple ramps. Look for the In N Out and dine there. Then go to the ARCO station, $2.55 versus 3.15 in Escondido at the time. Oh, while on gas. $2.79 in Flagstaff. $2.59 in Scottsdale. Highest price in AZ that we saw was $3.18.

We continue on our way to Laughlin. Our stay is at the River Palm. 2 nights, NS, King, riverview $71.22 Tripres, with tax total. We were too tired to attend the Magic show, but did manage to have some wine and snacks along with a tuna sandwitch from Subway (forget your coupons, they do not accept them). We did the river walk. It now requires a couple detours thru hotels, ie Colorado Belle, to walk. We ended at the Riverside. The car museum is free and well worth the 1-2 hours (depenfding on interest level). I am 62 and spent some time drooling over the 1963 Stingray. It was nice to see a Reo, after inserting it into so many crossword puzzles. They also have some motercycles and bicycles. The cars are owned by outsiders and some are for sale.

Next we headed off to the outlet mall. It was a bit of a hike but not too far. We spent an hours or so in the maul and then waited for the free shuttle to take us back to the River Palms (services very few hotels). Breakfast buffet is only $5.99 (less 60 cents with a gamblers card). The card is free and includes a free show.

That was our trip...we had a great time. Dined casual, dined fancy. Stayed in economy and in richie. Saw priceless nature.

Again as a reminder a LINK to pictures will be posted in a week or a month, depending when Leslie will get the package put on the internet...before or after our next trip in less that two weeks.
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