USA Road Trip 2013…Sept 2nd – Phoenix to Grand Canyon

OK, so before we get into it, a quick review on our Hotel in Phoenix. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Scottsdale, so just outside Phoenix really. We arrived at about 5pm, so room was ready of course. We checked in, and made the mistake using our Thomas Cook Cash Card for incidentals.

Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale

Our room at the Hilton Garden Inn, Scottsdale

The Thomas Cook cash card is a Debit card type bankcard, pre loaded with Dollars, at the set exchange rate given before you leave home, meaning there are no nasty surprises when you buy something. Only problem is, it took 3 weeks for the $40 they reserved to be credited back to the card, by which time we were back home, and therefore couldn’t spend this $40 dollars!! This happened on the next nights hotel too, at which point we had realised, so stopped using it.

The hotel was as you’d expect for a Hilton, decent size rooms, nice staff, somewhere to eat and drink, and very clean. No complaints really, would definitely stay again if we had to have an overnight stop near Phoenix.

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A tired me…with our evening refreshments

Anyway, back to the main event…after we checked in, we headed off to the shops to by some supplies for the start of our road trip. Drinks, car sweets, snacks etc. The local Walmart proved more than adequate for this!! After this, we headed back to the hotel, as by this time it was 7.30pm (although our bodies thought it was 3.30 in the morning!) We had a quick drink and a snack in the hotel bar, before heading off to bed, for a much needed sleep.

After our Flight yesterday, and the obligatory jet lag, we were up and on the road by 7.30am, which is good as we had 266 miles to drive!! We were on the road this early, despite me fiddlling around for the best part of 20 minutes to get the GoPro set up on the windscreen of the car!! Before we left, we had considering hiring a sat nav from the hire car company. $9 a day. 15 days. $135. We had a sat nav at home, just no maps. We downloaded the maps from Garmin for £35. about $52 in USA money.

Not bad or so we thought…until the maps sent us down a car pool lane on the bridge into San Francisco with a possible $250 dollar fine for offenders…more on that later.

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Sat Nav and GoPro.

As I said, we woke early, and we packed, out of the hotel by 7am. With a couple of things suctioned to the windscreen, we headed off North, with a bed booked in Tusayan, just outside of the Grand Canyon National Park being our target for the afternoon. We wanted to get to Grand Canyon by 3 or 4 pm, so we could enjoy the sunset at 6.56pm. However, we had decided that we couldn’t really bypass Sedona without taking a bit of a whistle stop tour around the town, and we are glad we did.

Enroute, we saw a number of hot air balloons above us, in the distance. After a bit of research, it turns out there are a couple of sightseeing tours offering these rides, perhaps they were either www.phoenixballoonrides.net or www.2flyus.com, or maybe another, I don’t know…. these are just the first 2 I came across after Googling hot air balloons phoenix!!

hot air balloons phoenix

The Hot Air Balloons, Phoenix

Phoenix to Grand Canyon 2nd Sept-1006One thing that sticks in my mind as we were getting used to the wonderful weather, and driving on the other side of the road, was a very shiny truck we came up behind…so shiny, you could see us clearly in the back of it, just as we overtake!! We pulled into Sedona, and could instantly see where the many Red Rock references comes from. I must admit, the Red Rock, set against the stunning blue sky, made for some great contrasting photograph’s, like the few (or loads) you see below!!

Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city’s first postmaster, who was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness. 

Our first sighting of the Red Rocks, came at around 9am, about 30 minutes outside of Sedona. We realised at this point how hungry we were, so our first port of call was to find Phoenix to Grand Canyon 2nd Sept-1008breakfast. One thing I have forgotten to mention at this point, is the fact when we do these trips, we take a book with us. Lonely plant, Rough Guide..something like that, and always try to make a point of listening to it. For this, and the next XXX posts, this will be referred to as THE BOOK. So, THE BOOK recommended a place called the Coffee Pot Restaurant, but warning us that at peak times, there could be queues. We arrived and found…there were queues of 40 minutes. Being on a bit of a schedule, we reluctantly got back in the car, in search of another. We found a place called Hitching Post Restaurant, and decided to give this a go.

This was more like a traditional American diner, with nice portions and friendly people. We then had three things on our list to see. We visited Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and The Chapel of the Holy Cross, all popular tourist attractions / sights, all well worth the visit.

We then decided to hit the road again, heading north towards Grand Canyon. We were going to drive on a twisty road called Schnebly Hill road, but when we got there, it seemed nothing more that a dirt track, so as we needed to make good time, we decided against it. I assume this road was named after Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city’s first postmaster, mentioned above.

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to our hotel, just 2 miles outside the park entrance. We made a slight detour on the way. The reason? More sights to see?….Maybe a lunch break?..Perhaps a toilet break?…No, it was due to erroneous sat nav programming!!

Grand Canyon Visitors CentreAfter checking into our Motel, we dumped our bags, and headed off towards the Park entrance. We paid our $25 to get into the park, and set about enjoying all the wonderful views. And they were wonderful views I had been before but when I was about 7 I think, so probably didn’t appreciate it too much then. There were plenty of opportunity for views. Views that could be enjoyed without risking life and limb to stand on a rock. This lady took more of a risk than us, as we had plenty of ground around us incase we took a tumble!!

We looked at the usual places in and around the visitors centre then jumped on a shuttle bus to go to Mohave Point to see the sunset. We arrived an hour early to get a good set up position and gradually over the next hour, the numbers arrived and by the time the sun set, officially at 6.56, there was quite a crowd!!

The sunset was not too spectacular, but still gave us wonderful views. After the sun set, we managed to squeeze onto the second shuttle bus, which took us back to our car, for the short drive back to the Motel.

We had dinner at the Big E Steakhouse, where they had a stage and various mini shows going on while we were eating. We were in bed by 10pm, as we were getting up at 4am the next day to head back to Grand Canyon to see the sunrise!! Enjoy the photos….

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hot air balloons phoenix

The Hot Air Balloons, Phoenix

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Grand Canyon Visitors Centre

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