Category Archives: Arizona

Route 66

The drive to Hualapai Hilltop took us on the historic route 66 for several miles. The historic signs boast of the route’s glory days, but the empty roads and dilapidated shops are a reminder that Seligman, AZ is little more than a pit stop and a chance to take a bunch of photographs.

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My favorite part was the old Burma Shave signs that cracked me up. The below photos are compliments of The Boyfriend as I was driving.

Burma Shave Slogan

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 4

If you missed previous installments, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

We woke up the next morning around dawn, which was felt like 8:30 a.m. for the east coasters among us so it wasn’t so bad. Packing up all of our gear was time consuming and yet another reason to sleep in the lodge. By the time we left the camp grounds it was 7:00 a.m. It was an hour’s hike to the village with all of our gear and me stopping to take pictures. Yes, it’s a sickness.

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Now, I have to pause to tell you how brilliant I am. The Havasupai people fly people and supplies in and an out of the canyon everyday via helicopter. After I purchased a much needed and obscenely expensive diet coke, I took all of our rented gear — our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and tent — and hooked them together with some cheap climbing hooks. I handed them to the kind village man at the helicopter pad along with a $10 bill. For a mere $10, he flew our gear up in the helicopter and we picked it up at the top of the canyon. It was one of the smartest things I have ever done in my life. If you ever hike Havasu Falls and choose to camp out, I highly recommend it.

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After eating breakfast and dropping our gear off at the helicopter pad, it was already 9:00 a.m. We were off. It was a beautiful day as we made our way through the canyon floor.

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What The Boyfriend does while I take pictures…check for service.

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It didn’t occur to me until we reached the start of the grueling hike up the last 1.5 miles that there was a price to pay for our dilly-dallying. It was 1:00 p.m. and about 90 degrees with a hot and heavy sun beating down on us. I was also low on water, exhausted, and close to full-on panic mode. 1.5 miles does not seem like a lot of miles. But when it’s straight up hill, it quickly becomes an eternity. And when your brain starts saying things like: “I”m going to die here of dehydration and never get to brag about hiking the Grand Canyon,” you start to believe it.

In the end, I did not die of hydration. The Boyfriend gave me plenty of his water  and even carried my backpack for me (he’s a keeper). As we neared the top, the weather cooled thanks to the increased elevation, and when I finally collapsed on a log in the parking lot, i felt a mixture of extreme euphoria, exhaustion and pain. It was a thrilling experience, but also a grueling one. While the elevation is not that great compared to other hikes we’ve done, the heat, the lack of water, and the 17.5 miles we had hiked in order to reach that point all played a role in pushing me toward my limit.

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A map of the elevation by distance

But all the exhaustion and pain is worth it when you get to set your eyes on this awesome sight:

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One day, I’d like to return to Havasu Falls and see the beautiful blue-green waters the Havasupai people are famous for. When I do, I will be mindful of these lessons I learned.

1) Book a room at the lodge in the village months in advance.

2) Bring plenty of water – even if you think it’s too much.

3) Wear super thick hiking socks that will (hopefully) prevent blisters.

4) Bring less food.

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 3

If you missed previous installments, check them out here: Part 1, Part 2

When we arrived at the campgrounds, we continued walking until we found an empty spot on high ground to pitch our tents. I happily dumped my backpack on a picnic table and emptied out all of our gear. Then came the obvious problem: I had no idea what to do with it.

I’ve slept in a tent once in my life. I was 11, maybe 12, and it was an overnight  summer camp trip. I’m fairly positive I did not pitch my own tent. Needless to say, I was useless. So I stood around taking pictures while the rest of the gang got to work.

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I did manage to help a little bit. Here is me using a rock to drive a stake into the ground.

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Here are my thoughts on sleeping in a tent: It’s not that special. Given the fact that we had to rent the equipment, we didn’t actually save any money over the ramshackle lodge in the village. And the lodge has a shower — which I badly needed — and AC — which I badly wanted. Plus we had to carry all the equipment, which weighed a ton. The thing that bothered me most about the tent was not the hard floor and the occasional bug, but the suffocating heat. I didn’t use my sleeping bag, except as another layer between my back and the floor, and still, I woke up the next morning drenched in sweat.

Finally, stumbling around in the dark with a headlamp, looking for the outhouse is not the most fun activity in the world.

I’ll confess, despite all my grumbling, camping in the Grand Canyon is one of those off-the-beaten-track experiences I’m glad I have under my belt. It’s a story to tell at cocktail parties (if I went to cocktail parties). But it’s not something I will make a habit out of doing.

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 2

If you missed part 1, check it out here.

There is a major reason people hike 10 miles to Havasu Fall: The stunning blue green water unique to the Havasupai reservation. This is what Havasu Falls normally looks like:

havasu falls

Breathtaking, right? Well, this is what the falls looked like when we got there:

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WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?! That was my reaction plus or minus a few blasphemous words. I quickly learned that we were hiking in monsoon season and the massive amount of rain the night before pushed the red canyon mud into the river, turning the water a lovely red/brown color. I was disappointed, but still managed to take a bunch of pictures.

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And here’s the crazy thing. As we were hiking out the next morning, I was stunned by the color of the water. It was starting to normalize!

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A hiker standing next to me pointed out that if we stayed one more night, we’d probably get to see the stunning blue-green waters Havasu is famous for. Alas, it was not in the stars. We were off.

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 1

After we parked the car and I oohed and ahhed over the sprawling Grand Canyon before us, I lugged my massive backpack out of the car and managed to hoist it on my back.

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My massive backpack

That moment was a rude awakening. We had rented our camping equipment from REI and divided up the tent, two sleeping bags and two sleeping pads between the The Boyfriend and myself, and despite all the advice about how “you’ll get used to the weight,” let me tell you – you don’t.

It hurt. A lot.

Our hiking companions assured us that we weren’t wearing out backpacks right. Well, there are only so many ways you can wear a backpack. And they all hurt.

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The aforementioned hiking companions. The Boyfriend is the cutie on the left.

But we were at the point of no return. So I groaned and moaned and set out into the canyon. It is an 8 mile hike from the trail head at Hualapai Hilltop to the Indian village of Supai, where you have the luxury of a bathroom, a water fountain, a small cafeteria and a general store. If you are smart, you will have booked a room in the humble lodge in the village. If you are pretending to be adventurous, like myself, you will continue another 2 miles to the campground, passing three beautiful falls along the way.

The first mile and a half is a series of switchbacks that take you down 1,000 feet in elevation – which isn’t so bad, until you remember that you will have to do the reverse on the way back. But we quickly banished that thought from our head and enjoyed the gorgeous views. And they are truly gorgeous.

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After 1.5 miles, the trail flattens and we walked for 6.5 miles through Havasupai canyon along a rock-filled bed. While this is relatively relaxing in comparison, the path is filled with rocks and they did a number on my toes and feet. I had some lovely souveneirs the next morning in the form of several blisters.

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Only 6.5 miles to the Diet Coke I so desperately want…

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The Boyfriend hiking through the canyon

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The church in the village of Supai

Next up: The waterfalls and how not to pitch a tent…Stay tuned.

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My Favorite Place: Sedona

Sedona, AZ is one of my favorite places in the world. For starters, it’s beautiful. Sure, there are lots of beautiful places in the world, but I have a soft spot for towering red rocks and desert cacti. There’s tons of hiking at all levels so you never feel like you’ve “finished.” This was my third trip to Sedona and I still felt like there was plenty to see. Finally, it’s warm year round, but not quite so hot as Phoenix since Sedona sits at 4,500 feet elevation. If I am ever wealthy enough to own a second home, it will be in Sedona.

The Boyfriend and I made a quick one night stop in Sedona en route to our adventurous Grand Canyon hike. There wasn’t a ton of time, but enough to snap a few (okay, more than a few) photos and dream of coming back.

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Review: Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, AZ

When the plane touched down in Phoenix last week, the pilot announced that it was a balmy 106 degrees outside and I gasped. The couple sitting next to me chuckled and said, “Oh that’s nothing.”

The advantage of going to Phoenix in the heat of summer is that hotels are reduced cheap. I mean fancy shmancy hotels that normally go for $300 – $400 a night are dirt cheap. So I took advantage of this fun fact.

I booked two nights in the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale which is a category 5 SPG hotel located on a sprawling property with a golf course, pool, lazy river and spa center.

Although I didn’t take advantage of most of the resort’s amenities (I don’t golf, did not have time for the lazy river or yoga classes) I thought the hotel was great, and all for $129 a night (though the second night was free thanks to a free night promotion I had saved).

The room was nice sized – but nothing special, but very elegantly outfitted with small southwestern touches, and this lovely view of the golf course at sunrise.

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Thanks The Boyfriend’s platinum status we got free internet and access to the club lounge, which offered free breakfast and free snacks throughout the day. I wouldn’t call it a lavish spread, but there was a refrigerator stacked with free water bottles and diet coke, and that is really the most important thing. A girl’s gotta have her priorities.

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The lobby area

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Snacks in the club lounge

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The club lounge

room

The room

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The grounds

outside

Cacti!

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The hotel from a distance

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Travel Plans: Hiking Havasu Canyon

Hiking the Grand Canyon is an iconic trip. It’s on most people’s bucket lists — it’s definitely on mine. But there is another part of the Grand Canyon that is less well-known.

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is home to the Havasupai Indian Tribe. Located smack-dab in the middle of Grand Canyon National Park, the hike down to the Colorado River takes you to the Havasupai capital, Supai, and introduces the lucky hiker to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world (I say this based on Google research, not experience).

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Come on, doesn’t this look incredible? Is should not be surprising that Havasupai means “people of the blue-green waters.”

Havasu Falls and the surrounding areas are not technically part of Grand Canyon National Park, but part of the Indian reservation. As a result, hikers must make reservations through the Havasupai Tribe.

The Boyfriend and I will be traveling with a large group of friends. We will start out at the crack of dawn Sunday of Labor Day weekend, hike the 10 miles from Hualapai Hilltop to the campground at the bottom, and camp out for the night. I should note that I am not a fan of tents and sleeping outdoors, but it is a small price to pay for the opportunity to see Havasu Canyon. We’ll hike back up Monday and take a flight back to the East Coast Tuesday morning. Exhausting? Yes. Worth it? Hell, yeah.

I’m sure there will be many hysterical pictures of me trying to set up a tent and failing miserably. But hopefully, there will be some beautiful pictures of the blue-green waters and canyon’s red rocks.

Havasupai Falls Map

Click on pic for a bigger version

Havasupai Map - overview

Really cool aerial map of the hike down

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: HOME

I missed last week’s challenge due to traveling and being sick, so I guess it’s appropriate that this week’s challenge is “home.” But these pictures are not actually pictures of my home; they are pictures of where I would like to live when I’m rich enough to own a second home: Sedona, Arizona.

A girl can dream, right?

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

 

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: BEYOND

This week’s photo challenge is beyond – photos that pull the eye beyond the focal point. Not sure these fit the bill, but I’m giving it my best shot. Which one do you like best?

Croatia

Looking out on the old city of Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

Arizona

Mountains in southern Arizona

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