On Saturday, March 16th, we flew from Orlando to Phoenix to start our Adventures by Disney Spring Break vacation to Arizona and Utah. We went from the airport to the Phoenician resort and went to bed after our long day of travel.
On Sunday morning we ate breakfast at the resort and then we took a bike ride and got to see the area around the resort. Once it warmed up a little we went swimming and spent most of the day out by the pool.
On Sunday morning we took a walk to the Cholla Trailhead and hiked partway up the Camelback mountain, which was situated just behind the resort. We took in the great view of Scottsdale and got a pretty good workout too. We got pretty high at one point and decided to turn around when the drop from the side of the trail got steep and a little scary.
On the way out of town Doug and Tiffany told us about the region, climate, and cactus. Since the tall saguaro cactus disappear once we got to a higher elevation, we made a stop off to snap some pictures before we headed out of town.
We made a stop at the Montezuma Castle National Monument and got a history lesson on the people that used to live in the area.
When we arrived at the Enchantment Resort in Boynton Canyon in Sedona, we unpacked a little and then we got ready for dinner.
Prior to dinner we met outside and received our name tags and lanyards, and then we met the rest of the guests that hadn't flown in to Phoenix. We took our first group photos with the entire group and then went inside to eat.
We enjoyed a southwest style dinner and one member of each family introduced themselves and their family to the group. On our Costa Rica trip, I introduced the family and was prepared to do it, but Connor said he wanted to. We were pretty surprised that he volunteered, but we were happy to let him and he did a great job. At the end of dinner, a Hopi tribe member performed for us and talked to us about their history.
On Tuesday morning, March 19th, we got up pretty early and went for a hike on the trails near the resort.
After our hike, we ate breakfast and then we boarded some pink jeeps for a ride through the desert. It was a bumpy ride, and the kids were bounced around quite a bit sitting all the way in the back. We were lucky to have Doug with us and with the pink jeep driver we had double guides for the day.
After our tour, Andrea and I went for a longer hike and then we relaxed and swam at the pool. The Enchantment Resort was probably our favorite place to stay on the entire trip. The room was cozy and decorated in a unique Southwest style. The restaurants had lots of options and instead of a typical buffet we were able to order whatever we wanted from the menu. We liked trying different things for breakfast. Connor fell in love with oatmeal with brown sugar, and Andrea and I liked the Mexican style hot chocolate which had whipped cream and a hint of cinnamon.
On Wednesday, March 20th, we ate breakfast and then boarded the bus for our drive to the Grand Canyon. We made a stop at a rest area and did some shopping with the Native Americans and took some pictures.
Our next stop was at Bearizona, where we saw a lot of the local wildlife, and had lunch. We learned about the different animals and the kids fed the otters some little fish.
The kids did some souvenir shopping and unsurprisingly they both chose stuffed animals.
In the afternoon, we arrived at the South rim of the Grand Canyon. Our tour guides took us all up to the canyon with our eyes closed and then we all opened them at the same time so we could experience seeing the canyon for the first time right up at the fence, able to take it all in at once. It was windy, cool, and the view was amazing.
We were given the opportunity to walk along the edge on our own, and then we got back on the bus to head to our hotel room, which was near the Bright Angel trailhead and had a view of the canyon from our room. We all ate together at the hotel, and after dinner we had some Native Americans come to talk to us about their music, culture, and weaving.
On Thursday, March 21st, we woke up for our day of fun at the Grand Canyon. Paige was super excited in the morning to see the snow, which was a little unexpected. The weather was cold, windy, and throughout the day it changed many times rapidly going from sunny to hail to snow to cloudy and then back to sunny again.
March 22nd, we ate breakfast and then we took one last picture at the canyon.
After breakfast we boarded the bus and started the drive to Monument Valley. On the way we stopped a roadside Dino Tracks attraction which was run by some local Native Americans. They took us on a tour showing us a number of fossilized dinosaur footprints, eggs, and even some bones.
Once we arrived at Monument Valley, we ate lunch and then boarded some jeeps for a drive out through the desert.
We stopped to tour a Navajo Hogan house and the lady that lived there gave us a tour and showed us some of their traditional crafts.
We snapped a bunch of pics, then ate Navajo tacos for dinner and went to our rooms at Goulding's Lodge.
In the morning we boarded the bus and drove out of Monument Valley. We made a stop in the road for some pics at a famous spot that was featured in the poster for "Thelma and Louise" and was also the spot in Forest Gump where Forest decided to quit running.
In the afternoon we arrived at Red Cliff's Lodge in Moab and had lunch and then got ready for our rafting journey. Apparently in the summertime it is so hot that people often will just float in the water and enjoy the cool water. On our trip, many people were very apprehensive about getting wet, and we made a special stop on the way in so people could get water shoes and plastic bags. Some people wrapped their legs and feet with the bags, but it turned out to be nice sunny weather and we were able to keep our feet pretty dry and it didn't bother us that it was cool.
The raft ride was fun, but probably would have been even more fun on a warm day. After rafting many people went for a horse ride, but unfortunately Paige was still too young, so we just relaxed at the room. In the evening, Tiffany and Doug took the kids for a kids dinner party and movie. At this point in the trip, Connor and Paige both were more comfortable with the other kids and they had a great time at the party. Andrea and I didn't feel like getting dressed up for dinner and we just decided to stay in for the evening.
On March 24th, we took the bus to the Arches National Park. We were given two options for the day. The first was a 3 mile round trip hike to Delicate Arch. The second option was a less strenuous hike to see a variety of less popular arches. We decided for the Delicate Arch hike. The weather was perfect and the kids did well on the steep trail. There were a few areas where it was a little treacherous, with a steep precipice, but most of the trail was not too bad.
The trail had an awesome payoff, with an amazing view of the delicate arch and the surrounding hills and mountains. There is often a long line to walk to the base of the arch, and the rocks down to the arch were a little steep and I was worried that the kids would fall. We took some family pictures together with the arch as a backdrop and I went alone to the arch for a solo pic underneath it.
Andrea snapped a pic from a more distant perspective, and Doug took some pics with my phone from closer up.
After our hike we went to downtown Moab for lunch and then we did a little shopping and goofing off.
In the afternoon, we got ready for our UTV offroad excursion, which was an optional add-on to the trip. We took some buses out in to the desert and then got a very brief orientation on the UTV's and got fitted for helmets.
The UTV ride was actually a lot more fun than I anticipated. The trail was absolutely stunning. We had 32 stream crossings, a windy trail through rocky cliffs, amazing views, and the UTV's were very exciting to drive. The only downside for the trip is that it's possible to get absolutely muddy and wet. Many on the tour group were blasting through the water and enjoying the messiness. We hadn't brought any junky clothing, so we babied the UTV through the stream crossings. It probably would have been more fun on a hot day with clothes we didn't care about.
After our UTV ride we had a very brief break to get ready for dinner, and we had a Cowboy singer serenade us as we ate our farewell dinner. Doug and Tiffany showed the slideshow they'd put together and then they also showed us a video that they'd edited together with lots of moments from the trip. It was the first time they'd done a video, and it was well done and shows how much work they put in to the trip and what fun guides they were.