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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default Vacation 2017, Trip #1

    GRAND CANYON OR BUST!

    Normally, I write my trip reports as we're on the go. Not this time -- this time, we're already back. It will still take me a couple of days to write all this and to include photographs.

    DAY 1 - SAN DIEGO TO TEMPE, AZ - 363 miles

    First thing in the morning, we picked up a mini-van from Avis, to keep for about 9-10 days. We needed the seating space, so we rented this one through Costco Travel. Normally we use Enterprise or Alamo, but neither of them had a mini-van for the time period we needed. It was a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica -- the kind with the under-floor storage -- but it was a real learning curve for folks with only older cars at home.

    We went back home, loaded up our own things, keeping it light because we were picking up four family members along the way and they'd have luggage, too. We found construction along I-8 between El Centro and Yuma, ending right at the state line on the bridge over the Colorado River. At Yuma, we stopped at Golden Corral for lunch, our "happy medium" between something fast and a sit-down restaurant. You can eat fairly cheaply and healthy as well.

    Got into Tempe late in the afternoon and spent the evening visiting with my family members in Tempe.



    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 07-21-2017 at 12:55 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Day 2

    DAY 2: TEMPE AZ to WILLIAMS, AZ, via SEDONA (but not Oak Creek Canyon) -

    We kept track of our Missouri family members' flight online, so we left our Tempe family members with just enough time to spare at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. I was glad we'd left a *little* extra time, because the airport doesn't say "Arrivals - Parking", it just says "Arrivals" (which takes you to the doors by the Baggage Claims) and "Parking" (which we did not follow). We ended up parking in a sunny lot labeled "Oversize Vehicles". We felt right at home, though, because there were a number of pick-ups, SUV's and mini-vans in there, and it was close enough to the Baggage Claim area.

    Our family members were just a few minutes late, and after picking up their luggage, we walked outside into the hot, 108F dry weather that Phoenix was experiencing at the time. Parking where we had to, and having leather seats in the vehicle, made me very glad that I had thought to throw in some beach towels to be used as both car seat covers and pool towels!

    Loading up the vehicle, we all hopped in and were going to head north on I-17 eventually. One learning curve: trying to figure out why the sliding doors would not close using the button inside. We never figured out that it was locked up on the rear-view mirror console, until later in the week. Avis did not provide the owner's manual or even a little cheat-sheet, FAQ or Tip Sheet.

    We drove north and took lunch (rather late by their body-clocks) and then headed north again. At AZ-179, we headed towards Sedona. Our intent was to drive into Sedona, look around a little, take our family to the Chapel, then drive north on 89A into Flagstaff through Oak Creek Canyon.

    Sedona and Red Rock country was absolutely beautiful.

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 002

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 005

    Shopping in Sedona was fun, finding parking was not. There was no parking available at the Chapel, so we had to skip it, sad to say. Several souvenirs, including a T-shirt or two, were purchased. Along the way, I had seen signs about road construction along 89A between two mile-markers, so I enquired locally. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and recent travelers said they experienced delays of 2 hours waiting for the pilot cars to get to them, as it was 1-lane traffic for 8 miles. Discussion followed, and the 6 of us went back to I-17 via the same way we came in.

    This was the traffic we found through Sedona, not in a construction zone.

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 007

    Pulling into Williams at dusk, we found our accommodations easily, sitting right by the freeway. I had reserved several months ago and found quite a few places in Tusayan to be full or unaffordable. The Quality Inn at the Grand Canyon, located right by I-40, was just fine. It was clean, parking was plentiful, and it had a pool for the teenagers. Unfortunately, the supposedly "heated pool" was not very heated; it was COLD. The hot tub was pleasant, though. Our reservations were for two nights, two rooms. We shared our room with our niece, and my SIL and BIL took her friend.

    Went out for dinner as a family at a place called "Kicks on Route 66 Restaurant" in Williams. It was a bit pricey for the ambiance, but I supposed that everything was at this time of the year. Food was fairly good, though. Normally I don't go to a sit-down place and order a burger, but this time I did, asking for steamed vegetables rather than French fries, which the restaurant was happy to do.

    It was late by the time we got back to the room, as we took a little time to get back in order to savor a bit of Route 66 lore for my niece's friend, whose mother had been born in Flagstaff and raised in Seligman. (We never got down to Seligman.)



    Donna

  3. #3
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    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    ADDENDUM TO DAY 2: It was 200 miles from the airport to Williams, through Sedona

    DAY 3: GRAND CANYON DAY! - 200+ miles round trip/sightseeing

    Up early and out the door before 7:30, on our way up AZ-64 to the Grand Canyon for a day of sightseeing. The Missouri 4 have never seen the Grand Canyon except from the air; my hubby and I have been there 2 times together, the last visit in 1995. So it was high-time for another visit. (One of these times, I'm going to have to get hubby to the North Rim. I've been there, but it's been far longer than 22 years ago!) It's a little over an hour drive up to the South Rim from Williams, and it costs $30 to get in, these days.

    Once inside the park, our mini-van headed right for Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point. Because it was still early, we were able to get a parking spot in Lot 2 there. The car stayed there until well after noon. Our family's reaction to seeing the GC for the first time ranged from "Holy cow!" to "that's one massive hole in the ground!" We walked along the Rim for a little bit.

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 026

    The shuttle bus system is very much the way to go, though not everyone agreed with me. We got on the Blue Line, which takes you to the start of "Hermit Road", and you change to the Red Line. The Red Line, along West Rim Drive, has 9 stops outbound, but only 3 stops coming back. We took two of the stops plus Hermit's Rest, taking time to take photos.

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 029

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 030

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 031

    We rode all the way back on the Rim Drive to the transfer point, then jumped onto a Blue Line Express, which only runs during the busiest times of the day and goes from the Transfer Spot back to the Visitor Center without stopping. (YAY!)

    Lunch was disappointing. We should have gotten on the regular Blue Line and stopped at the El Tovar Village area, and picked up something for lunch there. Also, Grand Canyon does NOT sell bottled water for some odd reason. Stores will sell bottled soda but not water. (Puzzling!)

    Got back in our mini-van and drove out on East Rim Drive all the way to the Desert View Watchtower area. We were grateful that the park had fuel and that it was priced right around "California prices", as we hadn't looked at the status of the tank before departing Williams. Otherwise it was out to Cameron or back to Tusayan.

    There was a new monument (for an older disaster) out there, since our last trip to the GC:
    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 035

    Donna - Sedona Grand Canyon 2017 047

    My dare-devilish husband went down a small trail to take this photo. The ranger was right there and not saying anything, so I guess it was legal:
    Warren - Grand Canyon 2017 069

    Continuing west down East Rim Drive, we checked out a couple more points, but tummies were starting to growl after such a light lunch. So we decided to take dinner in Tusayan, at t the Big E Steakhouse. The food is pricey, but it was good and there was plenty of it. My husband and I shared a steak, the teenagers shared a meal, as did my SIL & BIL. While we were there, a very young man (probably 9 or 10 years old) got on the piano (with permission of management). He played 3 classical piano pieces and was absolutely amazing! I stopped the manager and asked how they got by with that, he was too young to be working -- manager said that his family travels, finds pianos like this for him to practice on. Since our family is very musical, it was appreciated!

    Back to the park to do up Sunset. We drove back out to Lipan Point, waited to get a parking spot, and sat. Sunset, due to monsoons, was kind of a wash. But the sun peering through the clouds at that one spot, was really worthwhile to see.

    Warren - Grand Canyon 2017 090

    By the time we drove back to Williams and went into our respective motel rooms, it was rather late. We knew we had to be up early the next morning, for it was going to be a long drive back to San Diego.


    Donna

  4. #4
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    DAY 4: WILLIAMS AZ to SAN DIEGO CA via PHOENIX/TEMPE - 535 miles

    We were up early again and on the road by 7:20 am due to the long drive and a planned stop in the Phoenix area. For the Missouri family, it was a big windshield tour. Stopping for breakfast in Flagstaff (since everyone wanted something more substantial than the motel was offering), my niece's friend was able to photograph the NAU sign -- family ties to that spot, something about where the grandparents met.

    Both Scenic Views along I-17 heading south, including Sunset Point, were open. So we stopped, as they are a great place for a good stretch of the legs. Our next stop was a 45-minute stop in Tempe, so our MO family could visit with our AZ family -- they hadn't seen each other since the last wedding, 9 years ago.

    My SIL and niece both *love* gift shops. So we stopped at Holt's Shell, where they have displays of Mexican hand-made things for sale. Not much was going to fit in her suitcase for fear it would break, so she didn't buy anything. But I have a good idea about gifts next summer!

    Another meal at Golden Corral, a place they don't go to very much, but you can always find something there to please everyone. Then one more rest area stop, and the next stop was our home!

    The trip report will now continue as a "Stay-cation" more than a "vacation", so stay tuned.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,698

    Default Enjoying your report.

    Great report Donna that's bringing back some nice memories of the South rim and love the picture of the sun rays bursting through the cloud. Sedona area is still on our 'to do' list but it's just moved up a couple of places.

    Dave.

  6. #6
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    Default Days 5 and 6

    DAY 5: FAMILY DAY -- a day spent swimming in a condo complex pool, eating In-n-Out burgers for lunch, and Mexican food at Miguel's Cocina for dinner.

    DAY 6: ZOO AND OCEAN BEACH PIER DAY.

    The entire San Diego bunch, minus my son-in-law, and the Missouri bunch, gathered together at the San Diego Zoo right after it opened in the morning. It promised to be a pretty nice day. Our first order of business was to ride the bus tour. None of the San Diego bunch had done that in a long time, and we thought it would be a nice way for the Missouri bunch to see what our zoo was all about. Hubby and I had upgraded our membership cards this year to a level that included Priority Boarding -- yay! It's a double-decker bus, so we opted for the top level.

    One of the views from the top of the bus:
    giraffeszoojul192-17

    Once off the bus, we chose which animals we wanted to see, as we knew we weren't going to be staying all day.

    We went back to the giraffes:
    giraffezoojuly192017

    Then just down the road apiece to the red kangaroo, a fairly-new acquisition by the Zoological Society. Eventually, Jirra will be moved to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, into the new Australian exhibit which is being constructed as I type.
    redkangaroojuly192017

    Of course, we had to stop and see my favorite, the flamingos.
    flamingozoojuly192017

    We decided to leave the zoo and have lunch out at the Ocean Beach area. Daughter and the boys departed, leaving just the 6 of us to enjoy lunch. After that, we headed back to the house. Later, we had the whole family back together to grill up some hamburgers and hot dogs.

    oceanbeachpierlunchjul192017


    Donna

  7. #7
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    DAY 7: BREAKERS' BEACH DAY

    We spent the day at our favorite San Diego beach, which is Breakers' Beach on Naval Air Station North Island. The reasons we like it? It's not crowded, there's plenty of parking unless it's Friday and some commands have a picnic out there, and there are great views of Point Loma and of the sounds-of-freedom flying in the sky. We saw plenty of helicopters and a few other types of aircraft.

    IMG_5380

    Unfortunately, we also saw the remains of a sailboat wreck, near the boundary between NAS North Island, and the townsite of Coronado's beach.

    IMG_5382

    After getting our fill of sand and ocean, we headed back to the house. Hubby is known for his great steaks, which he grilled outside. Yum!


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default Day 8

    DAY 8: GET-AIR, CABRILLO, and a HARBOR TOUR

    This was our Missouri family's last full day with us, so they planned the day with their 2nd choices. Unfortunately, the first choices were rather difficult to fulfill because ComicCon San Diego was in full swing and getting parking at one of the shopping places was going to be next to impossible. Instead, we took the teenagers up to Get Air, a trampoline place, for an hour of jumping and playing. They had a ball.

    After a quick lunch at home, we set out for Cabrillo National Monument, out at the end of Point Loma. Though my niece's friend would have liked to have gone on the submarine base, we had no "need to" reason, so that had to be passed. Instead, we all took a good look at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery before getting to the CNM gate. That pass has gone up to $10.

    Our first stop was at the Tidepools. It wasn't exactly the lowest tide -- that's at 2 in the morning -- but a little lower than it has been in our past visits. The teens had a great time!

    IMG_5383

    IMG_5385

    Then it was up to the main area of CNM. Hubby, BIL and I all walked to the Military History House, which is a relatively new exhibit, and then we all walked up to the Lighthouse. I've been inside many times before, so sat out and enjoyed the view of San Diego.

    IMG_5386

    I had to laugh a little at the sign inside this planter. Our drought, you know...

    IMG_5388


    We ended the day with a dinner out at Tom Ham's Lighthouse. The updates have been done. The food was delicious, but others should be told that there are only 4 entrees that are fine for someone allergic to fish or shellfish, and that it's a bit pricey. The 4 entrees are two steak dinners, one duck dinner, and one chicken dinner.


    Donna

  9. #9
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    DAY 9: DEPARTURE

    Our family left from San Diego Lindbergh Field, as they'd taken open-jaw tickets in order to enjoy the Grand Canyon without 2 full days on the road.

    Once they were gone, we took our rented van to our usual car-wash place, using a 2-for-1 coupon. Our Trip #2 is coming up, so we thought we'd take our usual road-trip ride in for a wash and vacuum as well. Honestly, I'd never heard of a car rental place (Avis) collecting a cleaning deposit, but after hearing some of the stories my brother would tell about the way folks return rentals, I'm thinking that this may be the wave of the future. Anyway, we wanted our $75 cleaning deposit back, so we made sure all of our own stuff and trash was out, and had it washed and vacuumed. After a day at the beach and one at the tidepools, it was probably sandy anyway.

    The vehicle was returned a day later, and we are proud to report, we got our cleaning deposit back.

    IMG_5330

    If we were to buy a mini-van, we would probably give serious consideration to the Chrysler Pacifica. It was a nice ride!


    Donna

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