Well, not quite. Columbus Airport. But we’re finally heading to Yellowstone! And we have apparently picked an ideal time as we are going to arrive tonight with temperatures in the 20′s and snow falling…..At any rate, we fly into Chicago for a 2 hour layover, and then fly into Jackson Hole. Saying that sounds weird. I’m flying into Jackson Hole. I feel like I’m either flying into a large hole in the ground, similar to the millenium falcon, or the biggest piece of crap town ever. Neither is true, as Jackson Hole is supposedly one of the most scenic airports in the US.Well that’s it for now. We don’t have any pics yet, so I won’t bore you with more babble.
As I mentioned in our last entry we ended up at the sports bar for the evening. But prior to that we had our first dinner at the french restaurant, the L’Alsace.
We enjoyed an AWESOME french onion soup followed by a Chateaubriand steak which was also really good. We were so hungry we forgot to take any pics!Once we left the restaurant we returned to the sports bar. We listened to some music and found a table with Jenga ready to play. So we sat down and played several games with several drinks and it was pretty d*** fun:
An extremely strategic move on my part:
Leading to Jenn’s defeat
Ok…now this was odd…yet charming in a way. We were quite sure we were playing Jenga wrong, and that the directions required that you restack removed pieces on top of the structure. So…we decided to ask our waitress if you should in fact restack removed pieces on top. She must have understood very little english because you could see her trying to understand what we meant and then….lightbulb. She had it….she left the table and went to table adjacent to ours which had monopoly set up. She removed several houses and hotels and brought them to us with a look of sheer accomplishment. We thanked her and looked at each other for a minute to try and understand what had just happened…and then we realized she understood us to be asking for something to stack on top of the jenga structure. And hotels and houses were a perfect fit!! LOL. At any rate Jenn never won a game.
We didn’t pay a tab because there are no tabs here and decided to call it a night.
Hello everybody – we have finally had chance to sit down and upload he pics from the various cameras we have with us and update the blog.We arrived at the resort shortly after 3 and were promptly greeted with 2 glasses of champagne and cold towels to freshen up.Check-in was quick and before we had finished our champagne we were on our way to the room.Our initial impressions of the resort were very positive. Everyone seemed very friendly and the decor was outstanding. Here are a couple pics of the resort grounds (many more to come)
The resort is huge, but luckily our room wasn’t too far…and as added perk we are close to all the restaurants and bars. Before we upacked we got a few pics of the room:
Yes…that is our bathtub in the middle of the room…complete with jacuzzi jets and a view of the monster 17″ LCD TV. This has quickly become Jenn’s favorite spot.
After we (meaning Jenn) unpacked we went out to explore the different bars…and there are a lot! Here are a couple pics:
We liked the Sports Bar quite a bit and ended up playing games and having some drinks before heading to bed for the night.
Hola amigos! We made it safely to Cancun yesterday at about 2:45pm. The flights were uneventful and we got a couple cool pics as we approached Mexico:
For those of you who have not had a chance to take a trip to Mexico their customs screening process is simple but brilliant. You simply press a button. If you get a green light you’re golden…if you get a red light you’re gonna be there a while why they search all of your luggage, carry-ons etc. You can totally profile people with this little ‘random’ button and they are none the wiser. It was our turn to press the all important button and I was actually a bit nervous. Well I hit the button and BINGO…green light! Boo ya! However I was shortly stopped by security to inspect my camera bag. Apparently something made them quite sure I was carrying fresh fruit into the country. I told him I had nothing but camera equipment and he let me go without actually searching the bag.
Jenn had wisely reserved private transportation for us, so we made our way through the airport and avoided the ‘pirates’..or people who basically lie to you and say they are with whoever you booked your transportation through. We met up with the ‘actual’ transportation service and were quickly on our way as other suckers sat in the 95 degree heat waiting for either a community shuttle or a taxi..hahaha.It was a relatively short drive to the resort, Valentin Imperial Maya. We tipped the driver ad got our first look at our home for the next 8 days.
And we’re back….it’s been a few months, but we are back in the Columbus Airport waiting for our first flight. Apparently there are no direct flights to Cancun so we get to fly an hour to the always classy Minneapolis….. THEN fly 4 hours to Cancun.P.S. Delta / Northwest Airlines BLOW. What a cluster****. I could train Shadow and Bailey to be more efficient and friendly than these people. Seriously….I’m wondering if all of these employees are doing this job as some kind of mandatory court imposed employment. Oh well….we finally got through security and are now enjoying a bite to eat. One of many many meals that will take place on this trip.More to come soon!
We woke up at 6 am for our last full day of vacation. We had booked the 7 am jeep tour which is the most popular thing to do in Sedona. We booked the most popular tour – the Broken Arrow! Despite the early time, there were at least a couple dozen other people that had booked the same tour. We were in a jeep with our tour guide, Gary, and a family from Cleveland! The ride was great – and very bumpy! We were able to drive right up on some of the rocks and stopped a few times to get pictures of the wonderful scenery:
After the two hour tour we decided to stop for some breakfast. We were starving by this point, but were glad that we waited to eat until after we were done with the jeep ride! We stopped at the Orchard restaurant on the way back to our hotel. After filling up on french toast and waffles we went back to the room to rest for a bit before continuing on with our day! I (Mike) fell asleep for a bit while Jenn worked on the blog. We got going again around 10:30. We took a semi guided audio tour around ‘the loop’ in Sedona to see various sights:
Once we completed the loop it was lunchtime and we went back to the Cowboy Club since it was so good. After finishing up lunch we came back to the hotel and decided to take advantage of the pool and hot tub. We had been avoiding this because we didn’t want all the attention that comes along any time I go shirtless and show off my sculptured physique. We went anyway and within 20 minutes a group of people arrived and we couldn’t handle the attention and left.Unfortunately it was time to pack. We have been living out of the suitcases for more than a week, so it was a bit rough to reorganize and get everything to fit, while keeping the suitcases under the 50 pound weight limit. We were trying to decide what to do about our last sunset and decided to just watch it from the balcony of our room. And suprisingly we ended up with some of our favorite pics:
After sunset we got ready for our last dinner. We had an 8:15 reservation at Troia’s, which is an Italian restaurant which got very good reviews on trip advisor. The experience was great. One of the owners was actually our waitress and the service and food were excellent. Thoroughly stuffed, we headed back to the hotel, did a little more packing, and went to sleep.
Yet another morning where we had every intention of getting up early for sunrise, bud didn’t. This time it wasn’t due to the weather, but our sleepiness! We slept in until around 6:30 and leisurely got ready to check out of the El Tovar. By this point in our trip I think we’re both getting a bit tired of packing up our suitcases (not to mention lugging them up and down the stairs to our room) every couple of days. After checking out and loading up the G6 we made our way out of the Grand Canyon via the East Rim drive. We stopped at a couple more lookouts along the way. We also got to see some elk close up that Mike spotted while I was driving.
Despite seeing this sign:
we did not spot any mountain lions along our way! At our last stop, the Desert View – which appropriately was our first stop two days before, we took one last look before stocking up on snacks and filling up with gas at the gas station that was conveniently located at the lookout point. From there we made our way to Sedona about 2.5 hrs away. Along the way we saw some more elk, but this time they were in the middle of the road. Luckily we saw them and had enough time to stop and even get a quick shot of the last one jumping over the guardrail:
We got into Sedona around noon. Sedona is such a beautiful little town! Since we arrived a little earlier in the day then expected we decided to head right away to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This is the famous church in Sedona that is actually built into the rocks:
From the top you get wonderful views of not only the red rocks, but also a nearby house. It is currently on the market for a mere $12 million. Apparently the house belongs to a Romanian gentleman who was on the ground floor of Lasik surgery and has a ridiculous amount of money. The house breaks every building code in Sedona, but he continued anyway paying the fines as he goes. Note the observatory on top of the house which houses a high power telescope:
Obviously we put a bid in right away! Shadow and Bailey would love the awesome pool/pond feature with the waterfall! After touring the chapel we decided to see if we could check in to our hotel. The room wasn’t quite ready so we decided to just walk around the “uptown” area and have some lunch. We had a delicious lunch at the Cowboy Club. It was finally warm enough to sit outside and eat. I had the quesadilla and Mike had the chicken sandwich – and for those of you who are wondering, yes, we definitely have gained weight on this vacation despite all the hiking/walking!!! Here is a pic of the view at lunch:
After lunch we looked at some of the shops and made our way back to our hotel, the Matterhorn Inn. By this point our room was ready. The hotel is great because it’s right in the middle of all the action. Our room has a nice view of the main street that runs through Sedona:
We took advantage of the great weather by just chilling on the patio for awhile. We decided that we wanted to view sunset from an area called airport mesa which is right next to the small airport in Sedona. Luckily we decided to get there plenty early, because this is a very, very popular spot to view sunset! We were there about 1.5 hrs before sunset and there was already a crowd. We had brought a little picnic of wine, crackers, and cheese to enjoy while we waited. Mike got some beautiful pictures of the light reflecting off of the red rocks:
After dinner we stopped by Picazzo’s for some pizza and wings. Originally we had planned on taking advantage of the heated pool and hot tub when we got back to our room, but we were pretty tired so we decided to call it another early night! Plus, we had to be up early the next morning for our 7:00 am jeep tour!
We had originally planned on getting up early – really early…. like 5:00 am early for sunrise at the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately (0r fortunately depending on which way you are looking at it), it was overcast when we looked out the window at 5 am. So we slept in until around 7:00. I had read great things about the breakfast at the restaurant in our lodge, the El Tovar, so we decided to give it a try. Well to make a long story short we waited for 45 minutes and never got service. We ordered a hot chocolate and coffee when we initially sat down and received that, but our actual server never came around. After waiting this long we just wanted to pay for our drinks and leave, but despite asking several people if we could just get our check, pay, and leave, no one would help us out. Eventually we had to get the manager involved just to be able to get out of there!!! By this point it was almost 9:00. We were hungry and frustrated at our terrible service (or lack thereof). Luckily, we found a coffee shop at the Bright Angel Lodge nearby and just had a light and quick breakfast before catching the Hermit’s Road shuttle bus. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles, so basically you have to take the shuttle to get to the viewpoints along this road. It turned out to be a sunny day (despite still being pretty chilly) and Mike took some great pictures.
The shuttle bus comes by about every 15 minutes, so every time we got off at a lookout we had to stay until the next bus came or walk to the next stop. There are 9 stops in total, so going to each lookout took most of the morning. By the time we were done with all of the stops we were ready for lunch. We opted to eat in the Arizona Room at the Bright Angel lodge again (same place we had dinner the night before). The lunch – and service – was good! After our lunch we were filling pretty full so we decided to make our way back to our room for a little bit. Mike wanted to try to check his work email. While he was doing this I fell asleep. About an hour later I woke up and realized Mike had fallen asleep too!!! At this point it was around 3:00 in the afternoon and we decided if we were going to try to do any hiking down in to the canyon then we better get started!!! We took the shuttle (well actually two different shuttles) to the South Kaibab trailhead. This is a popular trail into the canyon because it gives you good views in the shortest amount of trail length, but that means that the trail is steeper than some of the other nearby choices. We knew from our hike in Zion that hiking uphill is a much greater challenge then going down, so we decided to only hike down about 1/2 mile before turning around to go back up. We did get some nice views though!
We were happy that we made that decision, because by the time we made it back to the rim there were some dark clouds starting to roll in. We decided to take the shuttle to a couple of different stops to get sunset pictures. At first we thought we might luck out and get a clear sunset, but as the sun got lower and lower the clouds got closer and closer. And of course the temperature also got lower and lower! It did make for some pretty interesting pictures though!
As soon as the sun set we took the shuttle back to our hotel. As soon as we were walking up to the hotel the snow really started to come down! We decided to keep our 9:00 dinner reservations at the El Tovar restaurant. We blamed our breakfast experience on one particular server and decided to give the restaurant itself another whirl. Since we had some time before our reservations we got a glass of wine and walked around the lobby area and the mezzanine area where there was a woman playing the piano. It was a great way to relax after a long day!
Dinner turned out to be a great experience and we were glad we gave the restaurant a second chance. I got the New York strip and Mike got the prime rib special. Both were excellent. After dinner we called it an early night (again) and went to bed!
Crappy internet connection right now – will add pictures and format the writing asap!! Just wanted to get something out This morning we got up at tramp stamp of dawn. Shortly before the asscrack. By that I mean 5:45. We did this so that I could get an award wining shot of Bryce Caynon at Sunrise. So it’s no surprise that when we looked outside there was snow, ice, and more falling snow with a nice breeze of 40mph. We went anyway…we are troopers this trip. Our cabin was only about 150 yards from the canyon rim. So we trekked out and it was FREEZING, with a driving wind that made the snowflakes feel like beebees on your face. Not to mention my poor camera was accumulating snow in various locations of which I’m sure are covered by Safeware Insurance. Heehee. We got out to the rim and some jackhole had already set up shop, so we went further uphill. We waited…got some neat pre sunrise shots.
We waited some. And then a little more. And then Jenn went back to the cabin to leave me freezing on the edge of a canyon. The sun never came out. ( I went back to the room and helped Jenn finish packing up for the next leg of our journey. We checked out. Left Bryce , filled up with gas and snacks and began our trip to the Grand Canyon. Jenn planned several stops along the way, first of which was Cliff Dwellers restaurant for breakfast. I’ll just let you look at the pic to see what BFE really means:
The food was actually very good, and our waiter had lots of good advice for the rest of our trip. Near the restaurant were these small rock houses that people once actually lived in. Why? I don’t know. They were white folks…what do you expect:
We made several other scenic stops, Here are some pics. Next up was Lee’s Ferry, which is one of the few places there is a direct entrance to the Colorado. This is where the all River rafting trips launch. We both touched the Colorado, and that is some ice cold water! We got a couple pics up river a bit.
After we had our fun in the river we crossed the Navajo bridge. This at one point in time, and may still be still be (no internet right now, which means no google) was the only crossing point of the Colorado for 600 miles!
Next up was Antelope Canyon. And this was just awesome. The Canyon was what they call a slot canyon and they are on Navajo land. So we paid a nominal $52 fee to enter the canyon without a guide…screw guides….we don’t need no stinking guide. This canyon is what I like to call a death trap. They warn you that the canyon is subject to flash floods, and they close anytime it rains. Well it was sprinkling earlier in the day and the clouds looked questionable, so we crossed or fingers and hoped we would not end up like the French tourists who drowned there a few years back. No we’re not kidding. Seriously, they’re dead. It’s hard to explain the canyon, so I will let the pics do the talking:
So we made it out alive and after yet another uphill hike were able to leave and grab some subway not too far away. As if this day hadn’t already been full enough, we then went to horseshoe bend. It’s pretty straightforward. A bend in the Colorado that offers quite the view:
For this particular shot I laid down on an edge rock, Jenn held my legs thinking that would help, and I put my head and camera over the edge. It was the only way to get the full horseshoe. Sorry Mom. We are in the car now on our way to the Grand Canyon and our hopes for a beautiful sunset arrival are quickly going out the window. Because out the window it just started snowing and the temperature dropped from 52 to 34 in a matter of miles. In addition nice dark clouds have decided to roll in and block the sun. Lovely. UPDATE. It’s now 32. This officially sucks. By the time we arrived at the lookup point for our first view of the canyon, we decided to brave it, despite the now 24 degrees, winds and snow. As we approached the lookout the sun broke through the clouds. We practically ran up the remainder of the path for our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. And we were not disappointed. The snow was falling in the canyon, yet the sun was coming through and hitting various spots of the canyon. It was just beautiful. Keep in mind these are straight from the camera…pre photoshop.
After watching the sunset we made our way to our hotel, El Tovar. It was built in 1905 right on the rim of the canyon. The lodge has a very rustic feel. Everything is very much what you would expect. Moose heads on walls, wood everything, giant fireplace…the whole deal. Luckily for us the rooms were updated in 2005…BUT there is no elevator. If anyone knows how Jenn packs then you would understand that means a possible hernia. So I paid the bellboy to carry it all…HA. Once we settled in we made our way to Bright Angel Lodge and had dinner at The Arizona Room. Although expensive it was quite good.
Once dinner was over we went straight to bed.
We had planned on getting up for sunrise, but were so tired from the previous days hiking we decided ‘sleep in’ until a whopping 7 am.
We packed up our things, got one last look at the view from the balcony and went to the lobby to checkout. While Jenn was in checking out, I stopped in their little café and picked up a lite breakfast.
We decided to check out a couple more sights on our way out of Zion. One was the Canyon Overlook trail.
The sign said this was an easy .5 mile trail to a nice overlook point. However I will have to Google Earth this because it felt like much much more. The view was nice, but after the 10+ miles of hiking the day before, I would have preferred an elevator.
After we hiked back from Canyon overlook, we stopped at Checkerboard Mesa. We really didn’t see the ‘checkerboard’ but oh well. We took some pics anyway:
After that amazing site we continued to our next destination. Bryce Canon National Park.
Bryce has an 18 mile scenic trail that is best viewed from the end of the scenic route to the beginning since all the pull offs are to the left. So we did just that. As we drove higher and higher the temperature dropped ad the wind increased. We finally reached the first view point. When we got out, we were quite surprised by just how cold and windy it was. We had just came from 80 degree weather in Zion to mounds of snow in Bryce.
The first overlook was beautiful, and as we continued back down the route the scenery got better and better. Here are some of our favorites:
Bryce is famous for its Hoodoo Amphitheater. Hoodoos are basically large Redstone pillars that are remnants of once solid land.
Once we completed all but 3 of the overlooks we stopped at Bryce Lodge for lunch. It was way overpriced and not very good, but they did have their own microbrewery, so that was nice. Their Pale Ale was excellent.
After lunch we had planned on doing a 3 mile hike that required us to descend about 500 ft, which while that was nothing compared to the 2,000 + we ascended in Zion, we heard hikers talking about the trail icing over…so we decided to bail on that one.
Instead we finished up the scenic drive, and attempted to check in early. The cabin was ready so we drove over and took our stuff inside.
The cabin was modestly appointed, but what can you expect from a cabin inside a remote national park. It did have a fireplace which came in handy since the temps dropped into the 20’s and snow moved in overnight.
We took a short nap to recharge and then went into town for some dinner. We ended up eating at Bryce Canyon Pines restaurant. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but the menu was pretty diverse and the food ended up being pretty darn good. They are for their pies, so we were FORCED to try them. Jenn got a banana & strawberry cream pie, while I had a peach pie with ice cream. They were both fantastic, and I fear I will forever crave homecooked peach pie.
After dinner we went back to the cabin and decided to upload some pictures to the computer, and then call it a night.