Apparently, my childhood memories failed me...either that or I must have talked it up a bit too much because both Ben and I weren't too impressed by our Whataburger experience. However, the fact that they serve freshly brewed ice tea definitely made the stop worthwhile in my book.
We continued to drive through northward and made our first stop at Montezuma's Castle: a preserved Sinagua Indian cliff dwelling.
We walked around for a while before coming to the conclusion that we did not bring nearly enough water along for the 105 degree temps we were experiencing. So, we hopped back into the car, stopped at a gas station in Flagstaff to re-hydrate and made our way up to Grand Canyon.
After driving through the mountains, we finally arrived at Grand Canyon at about sunset.
Our first views of Grand Canyon were from the Watchtower at sunset and we were completely speechless. A picture simply does not do justice to the beauty and grandeur of this place.
Because the sun was setting fast and we were anxious to see more, we drove along the rim and made several stops along the way at different viewing points within Grand Canyon National Park.
We spent the night in Tusayan, AZ before heading out early the next morning for a flight tour over Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, I had the most difficulty adjusting to the two-hour time change and was wide awake by 4:30 am (which would have been 6:30 am in Minnesota). Needless to say, we arrived in more than enough time to board our small plane.
The views from above were absolutely amazing. We flew completely over Grand Canyon and all the way up to the North Rim where we saw snow on the floor of the pine forests. At one point, I thought I spotted a few large black birds flying in the distance, but as I looked closer those birds were really helicopters! I just chose a few pictures, but again, none of these really do Grand Canyon justice.
The rest of Tuesday morning and early afternoon we spent walking on the paved trails inside Grand Canyon National Park. We were shocked at how steep some of the drop-offs were! We would have loved to have more time, especially to hike down into the Canyon, but we made the best of the short time we did have. We even ate lunch at El Tovar, a restaurant and hotel overlooking Grand Canyon.
After our time at Grand Canyon, we made our way south, again through the mountains....
...and for a little while along the infamous Route 66...
and down the treacherous switch-backs to the Red Rock Country otherwise known as Sedona.
Our hotel in Sedona was beautiful and the views from our balcony were amazing. We both wished we had about a week in Sedona to relax and explore.
We did have some time to browse the shops in downtown Sedona, eat some fabulous Mexican food and indulge in some delicious homemade fudge.
Wednesday morning, before heading back to Phoenix for Ben's work conference, we stopped at a small chapel built into the red rocks for one last Sedona hurrah.
We both decided that Sedona is definitely worth a longer visit someday. Heck, we might even just move there and live in a quaint little home amongst the red rocks, complete with waterfall, flower garden, outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, and hired help.....
The rest of our time away (Wednesday-Friday) was primarily spent in Phoenix. While Ben was at his conference, I took advantage of the hotel pool and exercise room. It was relaxing to have so much free time on my hands without one single demand placed upon me.
On Thursday, I ventured out on my own to visit Phoenix's International Music Instrument Museum. Although I realize not everyone could spend an entire morning enjoying looking at instruments from every single country throughout history, I really had a great time. I was definitely impressed by the amount of instruments the museum had on exhibit and the fact that I was given a headset that played examples of each type of music or instrument as I walked around to each exhibit.
Ben and I enjoyed our evenings together and we definitely indulged in the Phoenix cuisine!
Ben's conference ended on Friday at noon, and since our flight back to Minnesota didn't leave until evening, we spent the afternoon at a wildlife zoo and aquarium close to our hotel in Glendale.