Travel Journal // Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff Greetings everyone!  Welcome to Destination #2 in my Anniverary series.  The hubs and I ventured to Flagstaff for our 2nd anniversary (2009).  We both use vacations as a means to EXPLORE, instead of relax!  We are usually running around 4 or 5 of the planned 7 days…making sure we cram as much as possible into one trip!  Here is a photo re-cap.  Enjoy!

Mario making sure we packed everything!

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As Arizona was a new state for both of us to explore, we decided to drive the 7 hours between Bakersfield, CA and Flagstaff, AZ.  We were very fortunate to stay the week at the Flagstaff Wyndham (through my father-in-law’s timeshare).  We had our very own “cabin”, including hot-tub, fireplace, and access to game room, pool-hall, and putt-putt course.

Our cabin!

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Day 2 included a full pass to “Flagstaff Area National Monuments.”

1st stop was Montezuma Castle, about an hour south of Flagstaff.  This is one of the best preserved American Indian cliff dwellings in the U.S. and is an excellent source of history on the prehistoric Sinagua people who lived in the region.  This was fun to see once…but honestly, we were not too impressed.  The actual dwellings were REALLY far away – so you had to use your imagination…  We ended up coming back to the cabin early this day to relax a lil’ bit and explore downtown Flagstaff.

Castle in the cliffs

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Day 3 consisted of a 2-hour trip North.  We ended up finding the Wupatki Ruins and the Wukoki Ruins.  Situated in the shadow of Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks, Wupatki National Monument was once home to prehistoric Anasazi and Sinagua farmers.  By exploring the ruins, one could see how they survived by farming, hunting, gathering, and trading.

Hubby crouching in the lil’ doorway!

Wukoki Ruins

In the early afternoon, we made our way back south to hit up Sunset Crater Volcano.  At 900 years old, it is the youngest volcano on the Colorado plateau.  We had a bird’s-eye view of the Volcano from the back porch of our cabin, and we thought it would be pretty cool to explore!  We were able to park the car and hike a mile-long, self-guided Lava Flow Trail around the entire Volcano! It was insane to see one half of the mountain still completely covered in ash –  We walked along some fissures, and even sat in a “hornito.”  Overall, one of the coolest parts of the trip!

Hiking around the volcano

Me posing in a “Hornito”

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Day 4 trip was “Out of this world!”   We made our way east over to Meteor Crater – the “Best Preserved Meteorite Impact Site on Earth!”  Formed 50,000 years ago, this crater is 550 feet deep, 2.4 miles in circumference, and almost one mile across.  There is even a little science museum you can walk through in order to educate yourself. (It was SUPER windy at the top!)

Wind…what wind?!

Since the museum and crater tour only took about an hour, we decided to keep travelling east, until we came to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.  We stopped at the Painted Desert Inn, where a friendly old couple were running the place, and learned a bit about the history of the place.  The wind was so fierce that day that I felt like a tumbleweed crossing the desert!  It was pretty cloudy, but even with the bright colors of the desert, there just wasn’t a whole lot to see.  So we ended up at the Petrified Forest National Park.  Here, ladies and gentlemen, we had a little bit of fun!  We even brought back some souvenirs for the mantle.  On the way home, we decided to take a detour onto Route 66, where we found some awesome little restaurants and tourist shops. (Do you recognize the last picture…a scene straight out of Disney’s CARS!)  Woo-hoo…Get Your Kicks on Route 66!

Painted Desert Inn

View of Painted Desert!

Petrified Wood

Dinosaur!

Route 66!

Disney ?!

Under the watchful gaze of the San Francisco Peaks, famed Route 66 (a.k.a. the Ghost Highway) winds its way around northern Arizona’s dramatic landscape, past Walnut Canyon, south of Sunset Crater and the Painted Desert, and right through the heart of downtown Flagstaff.

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By this time, we were winding down a bit ourselves, so we decided to stay in on Day 5 and *GASP* – Relax.  We did a little bit of shopping downtown, and got some groceries so we could cook a few good home-made meals.  We ended the night with some beer (for the hubs) and some wine (for me), sat in the hot-tub, watched the sunset, then headed in for an evening movie.

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Day 6 was the GRANDest of all.  That’s right folks, my first trip to the GRAND CANYON.  I got to fully enjoy the breathtaking collection of colorful rock layers, hike a trail, observe the wildlife, follow an ass (or more precisely, a donkey’s ass!), and immerse myself in the beauty and wonder that is Grand Canyon National Park. 🙂

So stunning…pictures cannot even capture it!

Living on the edge!

Oops! 🙂

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Day 7 was our other Relax day.  We decided to hang around the resort and have a little fun by acting like 4-year olds 😛  OK – it wasn’t just me that acted like a 4-year old.  What you don’t see is the hubs trying to out-jump me on the Swings!  Or dancing with the Putt-Putt Bear.

Don’t eat me!

Teeter-Totter Fun!

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Day 8 brought our week to an end…we checked out of the resort and started our 7-hour drive back to Bakersfield, CA.

Wow…that was a long re-cap!  I hope you enjoyed your 7-minute tour of our 7-day trip 🙂

Arizona Sunset

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