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From the Desert to the Canyons…

We just got to Vegas this morning and finally have internet connectivity again. Below is a recap of the last 4 days and what we’ve been up to…..enjoy!

Tuesday morning we packed our bags, left the luxury of The Boulders behind us and started our journey north to Grand Canyon. The drive takes about 5 hours so we decided to do some sightseeing along the way. Our first stop was Sedona, about an hour north of Scottsdale. We drove through the clay colored rock formations as we passed through brush and desert along the highway. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and we stopped along several inlets to capture the views. After a little sightseeing, we had breakfast at a restaurant who’s claim to fame is serving 101 different omelets. The restaurant was much what you’d expect, rustic tables, with a south-western feel. The food was just okay, not great – the eggs were a little too watery for my tastes and the coffee was awful. Oh well. Check out our Sedona pics.

A few hours later we rolled into the tiny town of Williams, AZ where we had lunch (well, pie) at the Pine Country Restaurant on Route 66. Darren was in heaven with all the pie choices and his mouth was watering before we even sat down. Frommer’s recommended this restaurant and we couldn’t agree more. Darren opted for the apple-peach-cherry pie and I went for the dutch apple – both of which were incredibly fresh and delicious. After a generous helping of pie, we took a little stroll around town where we saw the Williams train station which is the origin of the Grand Canyon Express. We then headed back to the car and continued on our journey to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Click here for pics of our time in Williams, AZ.

We arrived at Grand Canyon mid-day, checked into our cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge (which was surprisingly clean and charming) then caught the IMAX show just past the south entrance to the park. The 34 minute show told the story of the Grand Canyon, providing historical as well as geological and philosophical context to the park. It was well worth the time and the $12 entrance fee.

After the show, we only had a few hours before nightfall, so we headed down the Desert View Drive stopping at several lookout points (Yaki Point, Grandview Point and Mather Point) to take some pictures. We ended the night with a surprisingly delicious dinner of prime rib and barbecue ribs at the Arizona Room at Bright Angel Lodge.

Wednesday morning we were up at 6am for our trip to Glen Canyon for our smooth river raft day trip. We started out with a little sightseeing by stopping at the Watchtower at the Desert View which is the highest point at the south rim (7,522 above sea level) for some early morning views of the canyon. We then drove 3+ hours to Page, AZ, passing thru Indian Reservations, grazing farm animals and beautiful mountain ranges where the rock formations were rich in red and pink hues.

We arrived at the Glen Canyon Dam around 11:30am where we boarded our raft. Luckily, for us there were only 6 of us, so we had a semi-private ride down the river. For 4 hours we meandered through the calm waters of Glen Canyon, taking in the indescribably beautiful rock formations that were created by water erosion thousands of years ago when the canyon was under the ocean. Before we knew it, the hours had passed and we were docking at Lee’s Ferry to meet our bus and head back to the Canyon. It was an awe-inspiring day.

For our final evening at Grand Canyon, we strolled Bright Angel Trail, caught the sunset from El Tovar and grabbed a light dinner at the Bright Angel Restaurant which was fair in comparison to the previous evening but certainly much cheaper – the two of us ate for $23!

To see our adventures in Grand Canyon, click here.

Thursday morning, we were up and at it, ready to hit Highway 89 for our trip to Bryce Canyon. We traveled another 5+ hours, and 277 miles from the vast hole of the Grand Canyon through some desert before crossing into the prairies of Utah. We stopped briefly for lunch at Grandma Tina’s Coffee Shop in Kanab, Utah. The food was fair but expensive for what we ate – sandwiches and salad for over $20. A couple of more hours in the car and we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park.

We only were staying one night at the Bryce Canyon Lodge so we needed to make the most of the time we were there. After checking into our room – a corner room on the second floor of the Sunset Lodge with a nice balcony, we geared up for seeing the canyon and a nice hike to the canyon floor. We began our exploration at Sunset Point and started to descend the canyon on the Navajo loop trail. The Navajo trail is a moderately difficult hike but only1.3 miles in total. With our camera and Nalgene’s in tow, we ventured down the path to the bottom. The views were spectacular and we marveled at the different rock formations of the hoodoos. The 0.6 mile hike back up to the top of the canyon wasn’t as easy as you’d think and I totally disagree with Darren that going down is harder than going up! We made it back to the top though – doing the hike in just over an hour although the guide books say, it takes almost 2 hours to complete. Maybe we are in better shape than I thought!

Friday morning we drove the scenic loop of the park passing Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, the Natural Bridge and Rainbow Point before stopping at Bryce Canyon Pines for a delicious country breakfast. Frommer’s called this little restaurant a ‘find’ and we couldn’t agree more. A charming country front store, motel and restaurant, this place is known for its homemade cooking, especially their pie and soup. Since it was breakfast we order traditional fare – eggs, hash browns and pancakes. It was by far the best breakfast of the trip so far! For pictures of our hike and the canyon, click here.

We then ventured back to the car for a two hour drive to Zion National Park. We rolled into the park just after noon-time, checked into our Western Cabin and geared up for another hike. We explored the Emerald Pools (lower, middle, and upper) ascending over 400+ feet while hiking 2.7 miles. The climb to the top was amazing and the pools and waterfalls were inspiring. We completed the hike in 2 hours, much shorter than we expected. We spent the rest of the day exploring the park and Springdale, the neighboring town just south of the park and then playing several challenging games of chess in the lodge. Darren whipped my butt! To see the park and the Emerald pools, click here.

Early this morning we headed to Interstate 15 for our favorite city…..VEGAS BABY!!!!!! We are destined to have a great weekend here at THEhotel before heading to the wilderness again.

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