Our 1st Anniversary & Baby-Moon – Arizona 2016
So a weird thing about Thomas & I. We’ve never been on a trip just the two of us in our 10 year history. Don’t ask me how that’s possible, but it hit us right after our wedding, that we’ve never gone on a trip just the two of us. We just love our friends and family so much, we always seem to be traveling with someone or traveling to meet someone. So we knew in 2016 we wanted to do a trip. And when we found out we were pregnant, we knew we had to get this under our belt because it would be so hard to get away solo and kid-less for the next couple of years. And while I would normally always vote beach/tropical destination, with the Zika virus being what it is right now, and I’m pregnant, we knew we had to avoid the south and tropical climates. So we headed west.
The Grand Canyon was on our bucket list to go see so it seemed like the logical choice. After researching hotels, I found L’Auberge de Sedona and fell in love. It’s in the middle of the Red Rocks, which is what Sedona is famous for. I cashed in years worth of points for first class tickets, cashed in more points for a rental car, and that way we only had to pay for a hotel and food so I didn’t feel as guilty splurging on our hotel a bit more. Plus, I knew I’d be about 6 months pregnant when we went and wanted a nice room to relax in. When I saw their patios that overlook the Red Rocks, I was hooked. I mean how relaxing does Thomas look below? We basically bought a bunch of wine for the week for him, and a bunch of desserts and water for me, and spent every evening on this porch looking at the stars and having life talks.
Many people have asked what we did on our trip so here’s a rough itinerary. Granted, I would have done SO much more if I wasn’t pregnant, but I was hitting a point where I just can’t walk around that much and my body was really starting to feel the Relaxin hormone, which makes your ligaments looser. I could really tell on the few hikes we did how unstable my ankles were.
Flew into Phoenix. Drove to Sedona (about 100 miles north). Explored our beautiful hotel (they have duck feedings, outdoor yoga, artist workshops, stargazing activities, and so much more), then walked around the shops in downtown Sedona.
So…we kind of packed in a ton of stuff on Tuesday, but we were too excited. So this is pretty lengthy. We had breakfast at the restaurant at the hotel, which sits on Oak Creek, and is possibly in the top 10 of my most favorite places on earth. Then we hit the road. First we drove to Bearizona, which everyone raved about to us, so we figured why not. We had no plan and no itinerary except to explore. Bearizona is a wildlife preserve that you can drive through. They have all the animals that are native to that area: wolves, moose, bison, bears, owls, goats, deer, and so much more. So you can drive through the zoo and keep your windows down until you get to the more aggressive animals, then its windows up. We had deer come up to our car. We were less than 5 feet away from a bear. If you love animals (which we do), it really is something to go see if you’re out that way. I think it cost about $20 for us both to get in.
Bearizona is right next to Williams. And if you go to the Grand Canyon, you’ll hit hear about Williams constantly. It’s a major train station (like the original western railroad type of train station). And if you’re so inclined, you can take a train all through the Grand Canyon. Williams is about an hour-ish from Sedona, and to take the train you have to be there around 9 I believe. We debated on doing the train (I mean hello air conditioning and snacks, plus its a train), but we personally don’t like being on an itinerary. And since we rented the car, we wanted to explore ourselves. However I’ve heard nothing but good things about taking the train to see it. Especially if you have kids. Anyways, so Williams is a cute town that we walked around for a bit. We ate at a local brewery, and it was phenomenal. It was actually the town’s saloon back in the day, and all the hooligans, mine workers, etc would come there to drink and get rowdy. Some real Western bad asses. Instead of tearing down the bar, they turned it into a brewery and made it a historical site, which I think is the coolest thing ever. And the food was delicious! There were a couple of breweries there, but they were dead. If you go, it’s the one directly across from the railroad tracks. Its called Historic Brewing Co. They had fantastic beer (according to Thomas) and me being the design nerd I am, I was obsessed with their branding and look.
I also had a mild obsession that we were on Route 66 and couldn’t stop making “We’re getting our kicks” puns. Don’t ask me why.
After checking out the trains and Williams, we headed off to the Grand Canyon. I believe it was about 90 minutes away from Williams. So clearly, there are 100 things to do at the Grand Canyon. You can go down and hike in it (but they really stress that you’re an experienced hiker to do this. Apparently they life flight hundreds of people out of there each summer who over-estimate their abilities). Whenever we go back, I do plan on hiking in it to see some of the waterfalls, but thats for another time. But if you make it to the river, you can raft and kayak. You can do helicopter tours, jeep tours. The train. There’s literally hundreds of ways you can see the thing. What I did not expect (and was really concerned we were going to miss out on) was that you can actually just drive the thing. So there’s the South Rim (the most popular) and the North Rim. Sedona is closer to the South Rim, so we stuck with that. It’s about 35 miles to drive with numerous lookouts to pull over and check out. You can hike in between the lookouts also. But driving and stopping was actually perfect for us. And the beautiful thing was, each lookout gave you an entirely new view of the Grand Canyon. Honestly pictures don’t even do it justice. It’s literally one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever witnessed in my life and I’m so glad we got to spend the day checking off this bucket list item together.
Arizona is pretty new age-y. And me personally, I’m just not into that as much – the crystals and chakras and all that jazz. But one thing everyone can agree on, is you can’t be around such beautiful surroundings without contemplating and reflecting on your life. And looking at the Grand Canyon, it just melts everything away that’s causing you stress in your life. And 2016, while its been a blessing, has probably been the most stressful time in our life. But we came away from the Grand Canyon more refreshed, relaxed, and on cloud nine than I’ve felt in a very long time.
And yeah, that’s a moose just standing on the side of the road.
So the entire trail took us about 3 1/2 hours to do (because we stopped every chance we could). I think to drive through the park cost us about $20. Now one thing I was told too late into our trip, is that you can buy a week-long Arizona state park pass. I WISH I had known that before considering it was the majority of the stuff we did, but for those of you wanting to go out there, definitely check it out. Otherwise, $20 to drive it ourselves compared to $100 per person tours and we got to do it on our own time. I’ll take it.
We debated staying for sunset, another thing we’ll have to do next time we go out. But this momma was getting hungry and ate her way through her snacks already. Plus since we had such an early start to the day already, staying till 9pm for sunset just didn’t seem like an option with a 2-ish hour drive home. So if you can plan your day around that, I would highly suggest it. I can only imagine what the stars at night look like there.
However the drive home during sunset was absolutely stunning. We had the Grand Canyon to our left, and a whole desert in front of us lit up in such beautiful colors. We stopped in Flagstaff for dinner and then headed home.
After Tuesday, we joked about going home because we think we saw everything. Which is of course nonsense, but we were exhausted! So we decided to have a lazy morning and then we headed to Sliding Rock State Park. It was not 20 minutes outside of Sedona (and the most gorgeous drive to get there), cost about $15 for us to get in, and we spent the entire afternoon there. You can hike, you can hang out on the rocks and watch everyone in the freezing river (which in the heat of the day is really nice), and of course, you can go down the natural water slide. It’s not like amusement park status in terms of speed and height, but it is pretty cool to see this natural formation in the gorge. And of course, where there is water…and cliffs…there’s people jumping.
So we started off on a mild hike and went as far as we could without it getting too steep for yours truly. We then found a great lookout spot and watched all the people having a blast in the river. Once we decided to make our way down there, we started hearing the biggest splashes I think I’ve heard in my life. Right beneath the overpass of the gorge was a cliff, and beneath the overpass, probably about 30 people waiting to jump off the cliff into the water. We watched these people debate back and forth for at least an hour. I don’t know how tall this thing is, but its higher than anything I’ve seen someone jump off of. The pictures don’t even do it justice. You could tell Thomas was itching to jump off it, so he took off his wedding ring and watch and I watched him make his way over to the edge and just prayed I wasn’t about to be a widow. Of course, he was fine. Now that his adrenaline was pumping, we made our way to the slide and I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at him making his way down it. I can’t wait to take our little girl back there one day…
So we debated heavily on what to do this day. We really really wanted to see Antelope Canyon, but it was like 4 hours away which was just too much, so that’s definitely on our list to see when we go back as well as Horseshoe Bend, which is up that way as well. So we decided to hop in the car and explore the area around us because there was still so much to see. The Petrified Forest was on the list, but once we hit the road and made some random pit stops, it too was too far for us. Instead we went and were “standin’ on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona,” and if you don’t what thats in reference to, click the link. And while it was cute….that’s literally all there is to do in Winslow. So we had lunch at Jo-Jo’s cafe, heard a man in front of the ice cream parlor say how busy the town was today (there were 3 cars at a red light), took our touristy pics, and headed out (on Route 66!).
From Winslow, we passed signs for a Meteor Crater site, so naturally we just followed those. This thing was crazy. We walked up to the top viewing deck (and I was so out of breath lol) and the people in the lower deck looked like ants. If you go to the lower deck, they have all these telescopes that are focused on various parts of the crater to give you a reference for size. Like a rock that from above looks like any old rock, but if you stood next to it is really the size of a 2 story house.
From Winslow, we went back to Flagstaff since we only had dinner there on Tuesday and didn’t get to really see the town, which was super cute!! Thursday was the first time we actually had the chance to get dressed for dinner vs stopping somewhere on our way home from road tripping all day. We ate at a place across from our hotel in Sedona. The food was fantastic and their was a live band, but the hippie ladies dancing their life away was probably the best part.
While we came to Arizona with absolutely no plan, we agreed that Friday would be our relaxing day at the hotel. A spa day, pool day, stay in bed day. Whatever we wanted. And that’s pretty much what we did. Food, Spa, Pool, Lunch, Nap, then we drove out to the Chapel of the Holy Cross to get some belly pics. One thing I’ve kind of skipped over is the scenic route from Sedona to the Red Rocks by Oak Creek…any excuse we could find to get on that road we did. After 5 days, it never got old. And I knew I wanted at least one pretty maternity pic out in the desert. Then we circled back and ate at Elote, which came highly recommended from a friend. And that place did not disappoint. Southwestern corn with cotija cheese is my everything.
After dinner, we sat on the patio by Oak Creek at the hotel to have some wine/water and listen to the river. The hotel also does live music on fridays. That friday the musician was some guy from the Voice. I don’t watch that show, but he was fantastic and even posed for a pic.
We then went to our room and proceeded to finish our wine/water one last night on our beautiful patio. We talked about our goals for the year, what we want for our baby girl, and so much more.
Saturday we headed home. At first, we were in vacation depression of having it all end, but once we hit Phoenix and the temperature jumped to 110 degrees….we were ready to get out of there. So there you have our trip! For those of you who asked for recommendations on what to do, I hope this was helpful! I can’t brag about our hotel enough. Definitely eat at Elote. Get a weekly park pass if you’re driving yourself. Bring sunscreen and a light jacket for night or for when the sun gets too much out. Poor Thomas’ left arm was so burnt from driving. And water….you can’t drink enough water.
And something I’ve wanted to create for a while was videos for each vacation/milestone we have. So if you have the time, check out the video below. Its a mix of photos and our Go Pro videos. Enjoy!!