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Grand Canyon to Sante Fe

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21. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Ladymacwil--so you are artistic as well as fashionably chic!

Well now I may have to actually reconsider my travels to fit in a visit to a Santa Fe art museum or two between the time spent out at the Mandalay Bay pools in Las Vegas in two weeks and the trip to the Moonshine Festival in Belt Buckle, Tennessee at the end of the month.

Don't know if I can handle that much culture all at once, though. Maybe I'll have to cancel the trip to Tennessee.

P.S. Can we fill one of your fountains with moonshine instead?

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Jun-2009, at 02:08 by Calcruzer ]

22. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Cal, you always know you are welcome here, Let me take you and the wife out to lunch!

I'd hate to think of you missing out on Tennesee but......

BTW, what happened to DaveinMD? Here we are, yet again, giving "expert advice", (naturally), and he drops off the face of the planet. Yeesh! I still hope he comes back with his assesment of Sedona, ( those little "wanna-be's) and Santa Fe. (You don't think I clouded his decision too much, do you?) LOL!

Oh well, the one thing I should have mentioned to him was, bring a sweater! I don't care how hot it is AZ, but in Santa still get's cold at night, (We're almost 7,000 ft up peeps!)

LadyMacWilly ^..^ ~

23. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

BTW, Cal,

Las vegas, mid-June??? (Wedding?? convention?? Funeral or something?) No one goes to Vegas in the summer unless they have to, you know that better than anyone, you're a Californian for God's sakes!

24. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


I'm timing my trip for the only cool time in Las Vegas as per my fortune-teller and the Farmers Almanac. Seriously, the current forecast is for highs of 85, 86, and 87 when I'm there (this coming Sunday through Tuesday), and 94, 99, and 101 the three days after I leave.

I'm going to have to postpone any trip to Santa Fe--and even to my make-believe Moonshine Festival until a bit later, though. I have some business that necessitates my return to SF on Wednesday. My wife and I will take you up on your offer at some future time, hopefully sometime soon.


P.S. I'm hoping that DaveinMD is at the Grand Canyon or Sedona as I write this. Otherwise, this advice column is looking more like a gossip blog between friends

25. Posted by DaveinMD (Full Member 199 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Part I

OK OK I'm back, just got in last night. So here is my review. I hope it's not too long but I've got a lot to talk about.

We started our trip by landing in Phoenix with a temp of 107. When we went outside (under cover of a roof) I couldn't believe it was 107, felt more like 85 in the east. I was so astonished I actually pulled over on the side of the highway to do another check, figuring that there is no hotter place than the side of a highway in 107 degrees right? Well at the risk of sounding like a cliche the dry heat really is different. Now granted it wasn't the noon day sun but seeing as I prefer hot weather there is no doubt I could handle, and probably enjoy, Phoenix weather.

Here are my thoughts of the places we visited, in order of appearance.

Sedona. What struck us immediately was the obvious: the Red Rocks. What I found interesting is that they literally come out of nowhere. Instead of the mountains gradually changing colors you come over a hill and BOOM! there they are. Reminded me of the old Clint Eastwood movie where they painted the town red. While we both really enjoyed the area surrounding Sedona neither of us were a big fan of the town. Right of "The Y" found the usual tourist area. Now don't get me wrong, we played our roles and bought the obligatory tee shirts and ice cream cones. But still it was a bit too "touristy". The other side of The Y was the infastructure that the locals no doubt utilize. But this consisted of a 4 lane highway lined with KFCs and the such. Wonderful area, highly recommend a stay here, but after 4 days were were ready to move.

Highlights: The obvious: Red Rocks and the not so obvious: the hotel restaurant (Ellote's Cafe) was WONDERFUL. When I combined the quality of the meal with the view from the deck of the rocks it may in all honesty be the best dinner experience I've ever had.

Lowlights: Weather stunk. Mostly cloudy, cool and so windy our scheduled balloon ride was canceled. Yes sir, nothing like going to bed at 8:30, getting up at 3:30, pumping yourself with coffee and adrenaline only to receive a call telling you to go back to bed. The Sedona Golf Resort was also a disappointment. I am a huge golfer and I know the difference between a great course and an ok/good course and this was NOT a great course.

Flagstaff. As the weather was lousy we decided to take a drive up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. The ride was beautiful but my first impressions of Flagstaff weren't so positive. Hard to explain but just the initial feeling I got. The downtown shopping area didn't seem to have stores for regular folks. Every outdoor store we visited, and they are on every corner, seemed to be the high end REI knockoff that sold $200 boots etc. We wondered were the local hikers go to get everyday stuff. But I'm happy to report I had the wrong impression. Pardon me while I go off on a side note. Back in "The Day" my best friend and I would end a night of partying by taking the 20 minute ride 2-3 times a week to the closest Jack in the Box to gorge on our standard order of 10 tacos and a Dr. Pepper. Sadly I lost my friend in 1995. I haven't been to a Jack in the Box since the late '70's as they moved out of the east decades ago. But damn if I didn't find one in Flagstaff. As a tribute to my lost friend and for nostalgic purposes I made it a point to go through Flagstaff again on our way to the Grand Canyon and order a meal of tacos and Dr Pepper. Not only did the tacos taste EXACTLY as I had remembered but it also gave me another look at Flagstaff. At the gas stations where we filled up were 2 young kids dressing in Deadhead clothes and asking for "gas money". Knowing fully well that their gas story was BS and that they would end the day clearing twice as much as the guy on the other side of the glass with an actual job I gave them $5 anyway, telling them that I've always had a soft spot for hippies. While eating lunch I saw a Tom Petty look-a- like driving a beat up pickup, a block later we saw a 400 pound man with a 12" beard getting into a compact. It was then that, like Boulder Colorado, I realized Flagstaff was a town full of interesting folks and I love towns like that.

26. Posted by DaveinMD (Full Member 199 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Part II

We took the scenic route to the Grand Canyon and stopped at a ski resort to take a chair lift to the top. Wonderful experience but not the smartest move by Dave. Thinking I was on top of things I grabbed a light coat. Wasn't long before I realized that I was the only one on the lift wearing shorts and sandals. About froze to death but it was still a very good ride. At the bottom was a frisbee golf tourney going on with all the young locals. Tell me something? Why do all the dogs in the west look like dingos? Haven't you guys heard of golden retrievers? Anyway it was at the base of the mountain that I had a rare melancholy moment. I'm 50 and am not hung up at that fact at all as I've had a great life. But looking at all those young people living in a wonderful place with their whole lives ahead of them and I found myself a bit envious. It was a weird experience.

Anyway, next it was on to the South Rim. Now this was the whole reason for the trip. And seeing as I have been planning to see the Grand Canyon for decades I was convinced that it couldn't possibly live up to the build up and I prepared myself for a possible letdown. Happy to report that it was as good, or better, than I had hoped. My first look over the rim made me feel like an 8 year old on Christmas morning. I couldn't stop smiling. 2 big surprises: First, the images I remember were of a giant gorge with a tiny river at the bottom. What I wasn't expecting were all the bluffs and rock formations inside the canyon and that the river was only visible from certain vantage points. Secondly, and this was pure ignorance, since all the pics show the inside I had assumed that the area around the rim was also barren rock/dirt. Shocked to see so many trees. We stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge in a rim cabin and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Some of the other lodges were not close to the rim and only had cafeteria food. We were 50 yards from the rim and close to the restaurants.

Highlights: The helicopter ride over the canyon. I had reservations at participating in something so invasive but since the balloon ride fell through we decided to go for this. One of the coolest experiences of our lives.
The food/wine was surprisingly good and affordable seeing as you are a captive audience and there are few options.

Lowlights: Weather sucked. We spent the entire time in jeans and sweatshirts under cloudy skies in temps 15 degrees cooler than normal.

Drive from GC to Santa Fe. Not to complain too much about the weather or anything but when your windshield wipers are on on as you drive through the Painted Desert something's whacked. We did in fact stop for lunch in Winslow Arizona so I naturally stood on a corner. But I have to say that on my list of the "Last Places Dave Will Ever Live" I have to place Winslow Arizona somewhere between Newark, NJ and the North Pole.

Sante Fe. Now the moment one of us has been waiting for. Santa Fe, in all honesty, was one of the nicest places we've ever visited. The only drawback for me was the temps, as I said I am a hot weather guy who prefers 90 to 60. But I also understand that I am in the minority in that regard. I'm sorry I didn't read rby's suggestion to come in another direction but in all honesty it was a long day on the road and we needed to get there fast. We stayed in a really nice motel, the El Ray, on Cerrillos a few miles from the plaza. VERY nice place with a Spanish Villa feel to it with courtyards etc. Recommended place if you have visitors from out of town.

If Sedona had it beat by the scenery that was the only check I'd give in it's column. While Sedona is a nice place to visit Santa Fe is where you want to live. Just a wonderful feel to it from every direction. On a side note we arrived the night of the tragic helicopter crash which took the lives of the pilot and the woman they had rescued. My heart goes out to your community for this horrible loss Ladymacwill.

Highlights: Too many to list but The Plaza was obviously wonderful. The museum was closed as they were in between shows but we did tour the church etc. The drive up Hyde Park Rd. was really pretty until we came across the road closure due to the ongoing search and turned around. Another highlight was Black Mesa Golf Course. As disappointing as Sedona Golf Resort was Black Mesa made up for it, my only regret was I only had time to play 9 holes. I am a pretty good player (8 handicap) but the combo of playing a course this difficult for the first time alone was very humbling. It was the 6th hole before I recorded my first par and I was only able to scratch out a pedestrian 43 by parring 3 of the last 4 holes. I was also stunned to find that the altitude did little to change the distance of the shots. An 8 iron for me goes 150 yards at sea level as well as at 7,000 feet and that was very surprising.

Lowlights: Again only the weather. We finally got a nice day on our getaway day of Thursday. Since we only had to go to Albuquerque to find a room for our AM flight the next morning we spent a good portion of it at the pool in Santa Fe. Didn't spend a lot of time in Albuquerque (well expect for the airport as our flight was cancelled and the next flight was 6 hours later but that happens when you travel) but the beauty of the mountain range directly next to town was hard to miss.

Got in very late last night and it was good to see our dogs and home again. I want to thank my new friends here for all their advice and I plan to be a regular poster here if you'll have me.

By the way I can't believe I misspelled Santa Fe throughout this thread. Damn, what an idiot.....

27. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


First of all thank you for your great review! Secondly, sorry the weather did not cooperate, (Tho' I was a little scared when you thought 107 degrees in Phx. was "cool". Uh-oh...).

Yes, Sedona is rather "touristy" but the vermillion cliffs do make up for that. If you rounded the mountain climb and looked into the valley below, (right before Camp Verde), especially in the late afternoon truly is spectacular! So is the Grand Canyon, as you noticed. I never mentioned this before, as I thought you probably were not going to the North Rim, but perched on the Lodge on my eldest son's 13th birthday, we actually saw lightning shooting BELOW us into the Grand Canyon. Of course, that was August during the Monsoons, but really an amazing experience.

I had to laugh about your Jack-in-the-Box, experience. Glad you enjoyed your tacos and Dr Pepper! Also had to laugh about all dogs looking like Dingos there, (I have a Scottie

They El Rey is an old "classic" hotel, I'm glad you enjoyed your stay. Also happy to hear about you're enjoying the Plaza and you making up for your "pedestrian" golf game. LOL.

Yes, the helicopter news was quite sad. We know a guy who is friends with Officer Cox, (The lone survivor who walked two miles with a crushed leg, broken back, internal injuries, and severe hypothermia). He was hit by a drunk driver a few years ago and had surgery on his knees back then. An amazing story of survival. He has a wife and two young kids and his recovery will be a long one. Our friend visited with him Thursday morning.

Did you take a lot of photos? We'd love to see you post some here. And yes, we would LOVE to see you continue posting on TP, my friend. Didn't even notice you spelled Santa Fe wrong until you brought it up. LOL. That's pretty common tho' so don't be so hard on yourself. I'm glad you're home safe and sound and enjoying your doggies, (I take it at least one may be a Golden Retriever?) We're actually watching the movie, "Raising Arizona" tonight, (My husband has never seen it), which reminds me of another quirky movie, "Red Rock West".

Anyway, thanks again for a great review!

Cal, sorry I won't have the chance to meet you and your wife in person. Maybe someday as we plan on returning to the Bay area soon and on up to Mendocino. Let me know whenever you may make it to Santa Fe or I'll let you know when we get back to N. Cal.

Great conversation all!

LadyMacWilly ^..^ ~ <------ and her Scottie-dog, Watson. The first one which was Willy, hence my "handle" and the fact my maiden name is McWilliams, originally MacWilliam hailing form the Island of Harris and Lewis, in Scotland. (Then the family fought so much between each other some left for Ireland way back when and the name was changed to McWilliams).

28. Posted by DaveinMD (Full Member 199 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Quoting DaveinMD

(well expect for the airport as our flight was cancelled and the next flight was 6 hours later...

Seriously, who is this idiot and where did he go to school? Oh well, guess that is expected when you post a novel on 4 hours sleep.

As for the pics I've got to get around to that soon but I've got a garden that is overgrown with weeds, a field to cut and a bike ride to take before my vacation ends today so it may be next week. We live in an old farmhouse and I have a lot of grass to cut but that's ok, I love cutting the grass.

Regarding the dogs while I can see why you'd think we have a golden the truth is our dogs are a shepherd/collie mix named Jessie and a rescue named Molly that we can't figure out what she is. As you can see from the pic she looks like a white shepherd, swims like a retriever but is smaller than both at 50 pounds. Here are our babies:

Jessie behind our house:


And since I've always been a full disclosure kind of guy this is me with the 2 of them:

Edit: Sorry, I don't know why these don't post as direct links, they work that way on other boards I have posted them on.

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Jun-2009, at 05:48 by DaveinMD ]

29. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

QUOTE: "Seriously, who is this idiot and where did he go to school? Oh well, guess that is expected when you post a novel on 4 hours sleep."

LOL! I've been there before. Not to mention 6 hours in the airport, Ugh! And there is so little to do at ABQ airport.

The doggies are so cute and they look so happy with you! One habit I got into, (As I always do these elaborate photo albums after a nice vacation.), Is to send our dog a postcard from WHEREVER it is that we may be visiting, but it MUST be doggie themed, (It's really quite a fun self-assignment!) Then of course, the postcard, (Labled as "Watson's Postcard"), makes it into the photo album with other stuff like receipts, metro cards, etc. Oh, and photos, of course.

I don't know why this site does not allow direct links. I'm also a little unclear as to their policy of referring people to other websites. At least they are very user-friendly with uploading shots onto this site.

The farm sounds beautiful, I take it you have a riding mower! We're on about 3 acres of land in Santa Fe which must sound absolutely miniscule in comparison. (Just enough land for the occasional mountain lion, brown bear, bob-cat, coyote pack, and my least favorite of all....Snakes!)

Look forward to your photos. Enjoy the rest of your vacation!


30. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

This must be the doggy thread. We had two cocker spaniels, now only one, since the older one (Maitai) recently passed on at the age of 18. (The younger one, Daisy, now 16, a parti-colored black and white, misses her buff-colored companion.)

Hey, Dave, I loved your description of Winslow. Almost fell off the chair from laughing so hard.

If you want a golf challenge--and like the hot weather, go check out Palm Springs in California on your next trip out west (maybe after passing through Santa Fe again)--and try out PGA West or La Quinta. There are bunkers longer than some par-4 regulation golf holes on PGA West--and one on the 16th hole deeper than at the Road Hole at St. Andrews. (Personally, I'm thinking I'm not playing PGA West again, since it is my view that needing to chip a ball 19 feet straight up just to clear the lip of a bunker is a bit much.) Over at La Quinta, the par-4 14th hole requires a drive over a rock gully followed by needing to hit a 160 yard second shot into a 3-tiered green. The temperature hits 121 during the summer--but it's a dry heat--so you'll only need to drink two gallons of your favorite beverage over 18 holes to keep from passing out.

Don't bother coming to my home area, Monterey, CA for golf, though. While Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills and Spanish Bay and Cypress Point are challenging, it only gets into the 90s here about 8 days a year.