30th Anniversary Trip – Part 3 – Grand Canyon


Our final destination of this trip was the Grand Canyon. This was about 2 hours north from Sedona. We took the scenic route out of Sedona. This route was a 2 lane road up the mountain to Flagstaff, the further north we went the more snow we saw. We got back on the interstate around Flagstaff and went on to Williams. We stopped for lunch in Williams on Historic Route 66 at Goldie’s Route 66 Diner. Jeff had breakfast and I had a burger and fries. The waitstaff’s shirts said to “order what you want and eat what we give you”. Our orders were thankfully what we ordered. But as you know from other restaurants in the past I would have eaten what they gave me. LOL!

After lunch we headed on to the Grand Canyon South Rim. The line wasn’t awful to get in, but was slow and we did have to wait a bit. We had bought our pass online before we got there so we were able to go to the “pass lane”, but it was still slow. We finally made it thru and we saw some Elk crossing the road before we got too far. We made it to our hotel for the next two nights, the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon National Park. My first stop was to look out at the Grand Canyon. I’m pretty sure that my arm was bruised from Jeff pulling me back. LOL!! It is just surrounded by a knee high wall, so it would be easy to topple over. You have to stay alert as you are looking, that wall is not very high and most places is a straight drop, nothing to catch you.

Our room wasn’t ready when we stopped at the front desk. So we looked around a bit and then we sat in the lobby to wait, as it was very cold and windy out. We finally got the call that our room was ready. The room here seems to not have been updated in quite some time. They may be trying to keep that nostalgic charm. All of the wall decor was pictures of the Grand Canyon from different view points. The room was clean, just had not been updated in quite some time. There was a step up going into the bathroom. The shower was like your tub at home. I swear these last 2 hotels are making me have to be alert if I had to get up in the middle of the night so I didn’t hurt myself. LOL!

Our room was the first room closest to the front desk. We settled in and then decided to go find the check in for our tour. It was at the Bright Angel lodge down the walkway from ours. We got checked in and checked out a museum that had signs that they gave free samples of fudge. Well it was close to closing and they had put everything up and was serving a large group from one pan. When they were done they put it all away for the day, so we missed out on a sample day one. We checked out the gift shop and then decided to find dinner. We looked at our nearby options and decided to eat at Fred Harvey Burger in the Bright Angel lodge. This restaurant also had sweet tea. I had pot roast with mashed potatoes and root vegetables and Jeff had spaghetti western, it was spaghetti and meatballs with zesty marinara. We finished up dinner and then headed back to the room. We stopped in at the gift shop so that I could pick up a toboggan, I had packed a scarf, but not a toboggan. It was cold and windy as there is nothing to block the winds since it’s so open.

The next day, which was our acutal 30th anniversary, we had scheduled the Hermit’s Rest bus tour and had late dinner reservations at the El Tovar Restaurant. So first up was our bus tour from the Bright Angel Lodge. Our guide told the story of buildings and everything in the area that was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter in the early 1900’s. Some of her buildings are still in use. She took us to various scenic stops. At Hermit’s rest she told us that they had really good hot chocolate and cookies. She really talked up the hot chocolate. We get there and the machine is down so no hot chocolate. We did get some cookies. On the way back we did make a couple more stops.

There was a kid on our bus tour that didn’t sit with his parents on the bus or wait on his parents to get off the bus. He constantly jumped up and got off the bus when we did. Our final stop was a cliff area and our tour guide went out to read a plaque to us and recommended that we all stay back as there was no wall or railings in this area. Well this kid got on his belly and tried to shimmy out to the edge where she was. She got on to him and his parents had to drag him back. He was probably in the 8-10 age range and was either courageous or a daredevil. LOL!

It was really cold and windy. I had worn a pair of flair leg jeans and I swear at times I felt like I was going to turn into a kite. But thankfully I didn’t. When we got back we grabbed lunch from the El Tovar Restaurant. I had the Traditional Navajo taco, it was a flat crispy tortilla with all the fixings on top and Jeff had the signature beef stroganoff. After we got back from the tour we were so cold from being outside that we didn’t want to have to walk somewhere else to look for food, and we didn’t want to drive and give up our close parking spot since we knew it was probably going to be cold the following morning when we’d be dragging our luggage to the car.

We had late dinner reservations, we made them the month before, but not on the first day available and we ended up having to take an 8:00 pm reservation. For dinner I had the chicken El Tovar and Jeff has the Linguini alfredo.

That afternoon a blanket of fog settled over the Grand Canyon and you couldn’t see anything. Glad it wasn’t this way the entire time we were there. This was the snow moving in.

That night there was a chance of wintry precipitation. We thought ok it’s going to be rain and a little snow, well we got up to a blanket of snow. Thankfully it was just a dusting. We were able to watch cars come and go from our room. When we went to breakfast at the El Tovar Restaurant and while waiting we heard others asking the front desk for an update. So, after breakfast we checked in with the guy at the front desk and he looked at the cameras on his computer and told us that the roads were clear once you got out of the park. So we waited as long as possible to check out and start on our way. We were able to follow the tracks of the cars in front of us. When we made it to the main road out of the park we had to wait a bit. Not sure it something had happened and we were waiting on it to clear or what, but when we finally started moving we made it out fairly quickly. It was just like they said. Once we got a few miles out of the park there was little signs of snow.

So we thought we were in the clear. But when we got on the interstate headed to Flagstaff, which is where we planned to stop for lunch, we went thru some really heavy snow. You could tell that they had treated the road because what was hitting the windshield was like gray slush. We checked our weather app and it showed that the snow would stop within an hour. So we looked at Yelp and decided to get lunch at Fat Olives in Flagstaff. It has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Our waitress there was the only one that said anything all week about our accents. She said that she picked it up as soon as we started talking.

After lunch the snow had stopped and we made our way back to Scottsdale and stayed at the Talking Stick Resort. Our room overlooked the pool and we had gorgeous views of the area. There was a casino in the lobby that we had to walk thru to get to the elevators to the rooms. I can say that we did not spend a penny gambling. We checked the dining options and decided to have dinner at Blue Coyote on site. Jeff had boneless wings and a pretzel, that came out looking more like a baseball bat than a normal pretzel, and I had a salad with steak. That salad was probably one of my best meals of the week.

Unfortunately it was late afternoon when we got to Scottsdale and we did not have a chance to check out the area. We’ve heard from several that they really liked that area.

Our room here was the nicest that we stayed in the entire week. We were up early the next morning for our drive to the airport. We got there and got the car turned back in. It was nasty from all the snow. Had we been able to find a carwash we would have washed it, just to not have to turn back in an almost gray car instead of the burgundy/red one that we picked up day one. We hopped on the plane tram and headed to our terminal. Got checked in and waited on our plane to arrive.

We made it to DFW and there we had 3 gate changes, 2 different terminals and a weather delay. We finally made our way back to Birmingham thankfully with our luggage. This was a long time planned trip that went by all too fast as usually happens with vacation.

We did not have many memorable meals on this trip. We were actually disappointed in the options that we found while traveling in Arizona. We do still talk about the prickly pear everything from Sedona.

We can check this off our bucket list. Is it something we think everyone should see in their lifetime? That’s debatable.

Now to think about where we are venturing off to next!!!

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