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Experiencing Arizona by CarAuthor: Shipmatesforlife (More Trip Reviews by Shipmatesforlife)
Date of Trip: October 2007
EXPERIENCING ARIZONA BY CAR Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Williams, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Jerome October 17 - 24, 2007
We had never been to the Grand Canyon and we thought it would be fun. My niece lives in Scottsdale so we decided to make it a multi-purpose trip. I began planning.... which is what I do. I love to plan vacations, just don't like paying for them. Anyway, we decided to check with AAA for booking our entire trip but after comparing what they offered and my internet searches, we determined it was cheaper to book our own air and rental car. We booked the two hotels through AAA at a decent rate but the Grand Canyon Train Package was the same price from AAA or on-line.
We hoped we would do ok. We never ventured out on the road like this before - in unknown territory. We were apprehensive about getting the car, locating the hotels and finding the Canyon We knew the canyon was big but we didn't want to run the risk of missing any of it - thus the reason for taking the train and getting the package. It was a good move!! We covered a lot of Arizona in just seven days.
Wed. Oct. 17 Airport/Scottsdale: We got up at 4:00 a.m., had breakfast and left house at 5:10. Arrived at the airport (which is practically in our backyard) around 5:20am. Big suitcase weighed 49lbs. Cutting it close!! We boarded the plane which left on time - 6:30. We changed planes in Denver and then on to Phoenix.
We landed in Phoenix at 9:40am. We didn't have to hurry to get our rental car because our scheduled pick up time was 11:00am. The shuttle bus took us to the central car rental location - a 7 minute drive. As we walked up to the Budget Car Rental counter we noticed a board listing all the "Fastbreak" (Budget frequent flyers/riders) members who were picking up a car that day and walla - there was our name and an arrow directing us to take the stairs down to the parking garage where the cars were located and to the rental counter - by-passing all the red-tape. I would suggest enrolling in the Fastbreak - it really does save time because they already have your pertinent information on file.
We got our car, a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. The inside windows were very dirty so we had to take care of that first thing. We drove (per instructions from the Budget guy and AAA) to Scottsdale. It was a nice easy drive.
What a sight! Mountains were all around us. Cactus dotted the landscape everywhere. The ground was void of our familiar vegetation but what they had was palm trees, cactus, flowers, etc. We were so excited to be there.
As we entered the center of town (we thought it was the center because there were little shops on both sides of the street and traffic lights) I noticed a little diner on the corner called the "Sugar Bowl". I remembered this was one place my niece, Linda, said we should not miss. So of course John turned around and parked the car on a little side street. As we entered the shop we went back in time to the 50's. Then we immediately were faced with a dilemma - what to order??? The waitress was very helpful with ideas for ordering our decadent lunch. We finally decided on their special banana split. It was fantastic and the first of our many dairy treats!! What a way to start our vacation! (We found out later this section of town was called "old town".)
We had several hours until we could check into our hotel so we walked around in the little shops. After a while I decided to check with the hotel, The Day's Inn at Fashion Square, where we would be staying for 2 nights, to see if we could check in early. The desk clerk said they were really booked but he had a room for us so come on over
When we got there we gave him the voucher from AAA stating our room was already paid for. He was agreeable and gave us the key to our room. The steps and hallways were on the outside. I looked for an elevator and quickly learned - there was no elevator, so we drug all our bags up to the second floor.
As we entered our room John caught the whiff of smoke. He said, "This is a smoking room! I won't stay here." I said I would go down and see what I could do. When I arrived at the counter, it was not a pretty sight. A lady was standing at the counter expressing her unhappiness with her room assignment. The clerk explained that members of a professional sports team were staying there, taking up most of the rooms and he did not have another room to offer. He further stated they had been referring guests to other hotels because they did not have room (at the inn).
It was my turn so I explained our dilemma. He was getting stressed trying to accommodate the both of us. I then had the brilliant idea to ask, "What about us going to another hotel? Where is it and what type is it?" One of the other clerks behind the counter whispered that it was a step above this hotel. I said, "Well, could you just book us in that hotel if they have a non-smoking room available?" He said he would, he did and we left!! After, of course, dragging our luggage back down the steps and loading them back into the car.
We drove two blocks down the street and checked into the Clarion Hotel Scottsdale. What a difference. It was a two story motel that was very inviting. We were given a room on the first floor in the back corner which was fine. The first thing we did was check out the swimming pool area. It was GREAT. It had lounges and cabanas - so welcoming! Since the weather was warm, (in October) we hurried back to the room, got on our shorts and headed out to the pool area to relax and play a game of cards. (We play a lot of cards)
My niece, Linda, picked us up for an early dinner at a very nice Mexican Restaurant, Carlsbad Tavern, which has a history all its own. We had a nice meal
Linda worked for the City of Scottsdale as project manager. One of her assigned projects was the construction of their new Library - The Arabian Library. http://archrecord.construction.com/projects/portfolio/arch ives/0806arabian-1.asp. The style was very controversial among the community and she wasn't even sure they would be able to complete construction but they did and she was excited for us to see it. The outside walls of the entrance were large slanted pieces of copper-looking material representing the walls of the canyon. The style continued throughout the exterior and interior of the building with low, slanted ceilings and narrow passageways between rooms. The object is for you to feel the canyon experience as you walk in and around the facility. I thought they captured the effect wonderfully. In fact it continues to win awards for its design and it's become a local tourist attraction.
After our tour she took us back to our hotel where we eagerly got into our swim suits and returned to the relaxing atmosphere of the pool area. We got in the pool a while then into the hot tub. Back to the room and then crashed. We were exhausted after our first full day in beautiful, picturesque, warm Arizona.
Thurs. 10/18 Scottsdale: We got up early and enjoyed their complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel. I picked up some literature for things to do in the area. As we walked outside I looked around and could not believe the beauty of the mountains surrounding the city. I can't imagine ever tiring of the view.
We hopped into our nice rental car, ready for a fun day in Scottsdale. John started the engine and a message flashed on the dash "left rear tire needs air". WHAT THE HECK! We were not liking this at all. So now we had to find a gas station. We asked the hotel desk clerk and were told there was one just before the 101 entrance ramp on Chaparral Dr.
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