Sunday, June 3, 2012

Arizona and the Grand Canyon

Sunday. Back to reality. An amazing vacation is over and I'm back to work tomorrow! But let's relive that vacation together, shall we? I apologize in advance for the sheer volume of pictures this post will contain. Sorry I'm not sorry. I like having memories! :)

Saturday - there was an airport, or two, or three. GSP --> ATL --> PHX. Katie flew from San Francisco and met us in the airport, just in time to pick up our rental car. We still had a two hour drive to Sedona and we were already a little hungry. Does anyone else get thrown off by the time change and an eating schedule? And so, this happened:

Oh, In-n-Out, how I wish I could get my hands on you more often than every few years. On second thought, it's probably better for my waistline.

We arrived in Sedona around 7 pm. We stayed at The Enchantment Resort. This hotel was beautiful! It was located right in the middle of Boynton Canyon. The views of the desert red rocks were incredible.

Since we were a little tired of traveling and it was getting too late to find a place for dinner, we decided to eat at one of the restaurants at the hotel, Tii Gavo. We had a prime seat to watch the sunset and the food was delicious! We settled for three different salsas, guacamole, and queso (the REAL kind, according to Ryan) and a mushroom flatbread. My parent's anniversary was Saturday (May 26th), so we celebrated their 33 years with a little margarita cheesecake!

I fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow (it took me the entire trip to adjust to the time zone - I woke up every morning before 7 am)!

Sunday - I woke up before the rest of the family, and kept myself busy by reading on my phone. My mom, sister, and I had appointments at the spa in the morning, and I was so excited to get a massage! We had breakfast at the spa, too, which was a treat! We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool. My dad had made reservations at Dahl and Di Luca, an Italian restaurant in town. I had the most delicious gnocchi and we finished it off with Italian creme cake and Limoncello. Man, I miss Italy.

 Monday - We were getting antsy for a little exercise, so we planned a morning hike. The resort had several trails right off the property, so we set off, cameras in tow. Have I mentioned my dad is a photographer extraordinaire? He travels with no less than 3 cameras and even more lenses. This 4 mile hike took several hours, with the trail ending in an opening to the canyon. I hadn't been on a hike in a while, which is sad considering I live so close to the mountains! We headed back to the pool after the hike, exhausted. We had dinner at Shugrues Hillside Grill. The restaurant had a great view of the rocks and we got there just in time for sunset. It's such a shame the camera couldn't catch the whole scene! Dinner was just so-so, while the food was good (Katie and I shared the panko shrimp), the service was incredibly slow. But the view did make up for it!

Tuesday - We were off to the Grand Canyon! The canyon was almost 3 hours away from Sedona, so we left early. The Grand Canyon was really cool. It's unbelievable how the river has changed the landscape through the years, and all the layers of rock it left in its wake. We had a classic pb&j picnic at one of the lookouts, complete with Grand Canyon Pilsner. As the day went on, the lookouts got much more crowded, and no one spoke English! Katie and I started playing a game called, "Let's guess what language they're speaking." It's definitely a sight worth seeing once in your lifetime, although these pictures don't dare do it justice. It's impossible to capture the depth and width of the canyon in photographs. We had dinner at Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff. They had delicious craft brews and pizza!

Wednesday - It was our last day in Sedona, and I was sad to go. It felt like leaving a small little piece of paradise. Then we were off to Scottsdale!

Wednesday (continued) - We arrived at The Royal Palms Hotel in Scottsdale around 3 pm. This resort was a little haven in the middle of a big city. Once you pulled into the palm-lined entrance, you forgot you were in the middle of the desert. We had dinner at the most amazing restaurant. I would walk from South Carolina to eat at The Mission again. The restaurant was attached to a mission in Old Town Scottsdale. The cuisine was a French chef's take on Latin fare. I have honestly never had better, more creative Mexican/Latin American food. We started with the tableside guacamole. I had "The Missionary," their signature drink. It was a mix of their classic margarita and house-made sangria. It was delicious - how have I never thought of this combination before?! Katie and I shared pork shoulder tacos and I had a side of chipotle honey grits. We finished off the evening with mini frozen margaritas. I could not move after the meal, but my gosh, it was amazing.

Thursday - We had a relaxing morning then went to the Heard Museum, which showcased Native American history. We drove around Scottsdale looking for a place to have lunch. We happened upon La Grande Orange Grocery, recommended in Fodor's travel book. (We used Fodor's for most of our meal choices, and not a single one disappointed. I love his travel books. We always buy them for a location we're unfamiliar with. If you haven't tried them - you must!)  This deli/grocery/gift shop was incredible. The food was fresh and the atmosphere was really cool. You could shop around for cookbooks, wine, and other accessories before getting in line to order. The chicken salad was to-die-for. I don't even like chicken salad, and I ate this sandwich for two lunches while we were in Scottsdale. Another amazing meal! And I picked up another coffee mug as a souvenir - you can NEVER have too many coffee mugs! Mom, Katie, and I went shopping in the afternoon (where I made purchases at Anthropologie and Sephora). We had dinner at the hotel on the patio; they were having a happy hour special with $2 tacos! I could never get enough Mexican food on this trip! On a side note, it was over one hundred degrees every day we were in Scottsdale. It always drives me nuts when people say "but it's a dry heat." I don't care who you are, 108 degrees at 7 pm is HOT. Thank goodness for misters on the patio and by the pool! After dinner, we then went to see Men in Black III at Katie's request. We had no idea the theater we picked was one where they serve dinner and drinks and you get to sit in your own recliner! I wish Greenville had one of these movie theaters - they're so awesome! We also got to see the hotel bunny on our way out! 

Friday - We spent all day by the pool, in the blistering heat. I had to get in the pool every 30 minutes or so to cool off. Except the servers at the pool were great about keeping our glasses full of ice and water. It was a welcomed thirst quencher! While I was reading by the pool, a woman who was close by said over my shoulder, "Did you graduate from Clemson?" I was startled at first, but then realized she recognized my Clemson class ring! Small world - they were from Texas but their daughter had gone to Clemson and was a ZTA, too! I love the Clemson family - and having an instant connection with a stranger several states away! We had dinner at Wildfish, a delicious seafood restaurant. The servers were so attentive. We ordered the calamari and special sushi roll as an appetizer. Then I had a chopped salad with shrimp and crab. We celebrated Mom and Dad's anniversary one last time with a berry cobbler on the house! Another great meal - too bad the family pictures are on Dad's camera! I'll have to update this post when I get more of those pictures!

And that concludes my wonderful vacation to Arizona! I crossed another state off my list! Sorry for the length of this post; it took me over two hours just to write it! I wanted to keep a good record of all the delicious places we ate, in case I ever go back again. However, I don't think I can stay away from the Enchantment Resort forever - it was too gorgeous not to return! 


Anna said...

Awesome post!! Arizona and the Grand Canyon are on my list and it looks like you had a great time. I've only been to AZ on a layover in Phoenix but if it was beautiful from the airport I can't imagine actually spending time there!

Charlotte said...

Thank you! It was so much fun - I already want to go back! I had only been in the PHX airport too, prior to the trip. Fodor travel books are awesome for figuring out what we wanted to do while we were there, though!