30th Anniversary Trip – Part 2 – Sedona, AZ

On Friday morning we got up and headed almost 2 hours north to Sedona. Getting out of the city we were able to see the surrounding mountains and all of the cactus that grow in that region. It also got colder the more north we went.

We arrived early to Uptown Sedona. The area looks like downtown Gatlinburg but with newer buildings. It is all souvenir shops, restaurants, tour companies and those that try to sell you pieces of the area, rocks, crystals, etc. We were too early for check-in so we decided to find parking and some lunch.

We located a free parking area and made our way to Open Range Grill and Tavern for lunch. They had SWEET TEA!!! It wasn’t the same as the sweet tea in the south, but it was actually sweet. The dining room and outdoor seating faces some of the iconic red rocks. We also found out that in Sedona and northward that almost every restaurant has some kind of prickly pear flavored food. We started our lunch with their signature cornbread with prickly pear butter. It was really good. I had the turkey wrap with sweet potato fries and Jeff had a burger and sweet potato fries. After lunch we walked around the area for a bit and then went to our hotel, Orchards Inn, and checked in a little early.

It is not what you’d think looking at it from the outside. The rooms have all been updated at the Inn. The room had the folding glass doors to the balcony so that you could open the entire wall. We did that once, but the doors don’t move or close very well so we left them closed the rest of the time and just used the one door out to the balcony. We also didn’t want a bird in our room. We saw quite a few from our room. The room had a platform bed, which took me some time to figure out the best way to get on and off of it. It also had an open shower and there was frosted glass to separate the shower from the bed. It was different not being able to close a door to keep the warmth in, in the shower.

We just napped and hung out in the room for the afternoon. We found out as we were heading to dinner that pretty much everything closes early in Sedona with the exception of restaurants. When it was time for dinner we turned to Yelp and found a restaurant called Elote. It was not a far walk. It was a block or two off the main road, we walked there only to find out that they were reservation only and had nothing available. When walking back down towards our hotel we found a Mexican restaurant called Oaxaca. We were seated right away. Jeff had enchiladas with rice and beans and I had a chicken taco salad. The food was good but pretty spicy.

Our second day in Sedona we started out with a Pink Jeep tour of the area. We chose the scenic tour and our version of a “pink jeep” was a Mercedes van with a retractable roof. He drove us around and pointed out the iconic rocks, took us to Chapel of the Holy Cross , drove us through the Tlaquepaque (tuh·laa·kay·paa·kee) shopping area and up to Airport Mesa.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was a lot smaller than we expected. They had a gift shop in the basement, but it is so small we walked down the stairs, looped around and headed right back out. There were too many people in such a small area to be able to look, much less buy something and make it back to our pickup spot on time.

Our driver gave us a time limit and he was pulling up as we all got back outside. The turnaround spot at the top is really small and just barely big enough for him to get the van turned around. There are people directing traffic to keep it moving as people drive up to let people out and then back to go back to the bottom to find parking. Parking is very limited. Good thing we had someone that could drop us off and pick us up. We’d have probably given up on trying to find a spot had we went there ourselves.

He gave us some history of the area, explained the difference in the colors of the rocks that is caused by iron oxide or rust, a butte (flat top mountain with steep sides), mesa (isolated flat top mountain with one steep side) and plateaus (elevated landform that rises sharply above surrounding areas on at least one side). He also told us that all homes and businesses in the area must use neutral earth tone colors on the outside of all buildings and that they can’t be more than 2 stories high.

After our tour we had lunch at Sound Bites Grill. We opted to sit inside since we had just been out on our tour. We were actually some of the few sitting inside as everyone wants to be outside for the view. We had the same views as the ones outside, but we had ac. LOL!! I had the Smokey Chicken BLT with garlic parmesan fries and slaw and Jeff had a burger and fries.

After lunch we walked down to the Tlaquepaque shopping area to check it out. While there I had a prickly pear smoothie. The only downside is that going back to our hotel was an uphill walk. But we survived and enjoyed the scenery along the way. There is a bridge area heading into the uptown area that has plaques along one side that the tells the stories of various western movies that were filmed in the area and the movie stars that were in them, and that tells the names and facts about some of the formations that you can see in front of it.

We stopped in to one of the souvenir shops, Cheers, and picked up a couple of shirts and then we walked to Pussycat Gelato and Jeff had some gelato since I had already had a smoothie, I opted not to get any gelato. We started walking back to the room after Jeff got his gelato, so we apparently didn’t get a picture of the actual gelato.

For our last dinner in the area we went back to Open Range for one more round of the cornbread and prickly pear butter. I splurged and had the ribeye with mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots and Jeff had a patty melt and sweet potato fries and a prickly pear margarita.

Each afternoon the hotel and the Mexican restaurant in front of it delivers fresh baked cookies to each room. On our last afternoon she caught us coming out of our room and since she gave us each a pack of cookies. We packed those and carried them on with us to our next stop.

The next morning as we were leaving we drove around the area and found the worlds only non-yellow golden arches. They had to follow the requirements for the area and yellow is not one of the acceptable outdoor colors.

We got gas and headed on north into the snow covered mountains! Next stop the Grand Canyon!!

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