This was our first trip to Arizona and we loved it. We flew into Phoenix and rented a car from Thrifty. I had gotten a Blue Chip membership card on line prior to arrival and did not have to stand in line at all. We were able to go straight down to car level and we had our car within 10 minutes. We got a great price on line from Thrifty for a Dodge Charger for the week for $245. My husband's brother lives near Mesa and we headed to see him. He actually arranged for us to stay at the Goldfield Ghost Town in the boarding house our first 2 nights. We had a great afternoon touring and then settled in at the Goldfield Saloon for a drink. They had live music and we sat on the back deck and watched the sunset with the Superstition Mountains in the background. I watched as 2 locals rode up on their horses and tied them to a hitch post and went inside to have a drink. Not sure that I will ever see that in my lifetime again. The next morning we headed down to Tombstone for a day trip. It was Memorial weekend and they were celebrating Wyatt Earp Day. They had lots of re-enactments and tons of locals dressed in period costumes. We thouroughly enjoyed this day. We watched the re-enactment of the OK Corral and went to the Birdcage Theatre as well as the print shop. There were tons of tent vendors set up for the special weekend. We made lots of new friends that day and then headed back to Goldfield.

The next morning is was off to Sedona. We had an early start so we stopped at Rock Springs Cafe on Exit 242 for a FABULOUS breakfast. We browsed the little open air market next door and then set off for Montezuma's Castle. This was a beautiful stop and well worth the small detour we made. The next stop was the visitor's center for Sedona. Here we got our first real view of Red Rock country. What can I say but WOW! They were selling the book Secret Sedona at the visitors center and had the photographer there signing. Great book at a great price. We were able to get some more info on Palatki Indian ruins. We headed straight there. It was a beautiful drive along Dry Creek Rd and Boynton Pass. These were spectacular ruins along with pictographs. The rangers were very informative and every where you turned were spectacular views. From here we headed to our hotel, Sky Ranch Lodge. This place was so special. We had a deck overlooking Sedona and watched the sunset from our own deck. People drive up here every day to watch the sunset and we were able to do it from the comfort of our own room. I would definitely stay here again. We walked to the Airport Restaurant for dinner and it was very good. The next morning we woke very early to fabulous views of hot air balloons over Sedona.

Our Pink Jeep tour was this morning and we took the Broken Arrow Tour. It was worth every penny and we had a great time with a great guide. Next we set off through Oak Creek Canyon and stopped at the Indian vendors along the road. Nest stop was lunch at Junipine. It was a lovely lunch in a lovely setting. Onward to Flagstaff where we had reservations at the Marriott Fairfield Inn. This was a nice hotel with a GREAT free breakfast each morning. I was able to stay here for 2 nights free with points. We had an early night after walking to a nearby Sizzler.

The next day we set off early after packing a picnic cooler. We headed first for Sunset Crater. This is amazing to see and not anything you will ever see. I have seen volcanoes in Costa Rica and St. Lucia but this was very different and unique. It does not take long for the views so worth the stop. Next stop was Wupatki Indian ruins with fabulous views of the Painted Desert along the way. We had our picnic lunch here as they have picnic tables. Lots of history here in the visitor's center. Bought a great book of the very first married park rangers that lived here and actually lived in one of the pueblos. It is letters that the wife wrote to family. Fascinating reading. We headed up to Cameron Trading Post to look for trinkets but must say I was a little disappointed. Definitely a tourist trap in my opinion but good if you need to take back a lot of goodies. From here we back tracked to Walnut Canyon. This place is simply amazingly beautiful. You must however be in relatively good shape as the steps down into the canyon are steep and coming back up can be a bear. We were there at the end of the day and it was truly pleasant and unbelievable that the Indians lived in the cliffs. Apparently they migrated to Walnut Canyon after the volcanoe exploded at Sunset Crater. Back to Flafstaff, only about 10 minutes and to bed early from our exhausting day.

Now we are off to the Grand Canyon. We have reservations for one of the rim cabins at Bright Angel. We arrive early and get our first glimpse out in front of the Bright Angel. It is so splendid that it looks like a picture...something that beautiful just does not seem real. We hiked down the rim for about 1.5 miles to the first rest area. We were advised not to hike any farther by the ranger as we were in the heat of the day. We hiked back out but we saw many people along the way that had over estimated their abilities. The hike down is easy but coming back takes twice the time and is very strenuous. We did see a rattlesnake on the way out chasing a chipmunk and saw 2 hummingbirds mating. The views are etched into my memory. We went to our cabin and rested up from our hike and then headed to the Arizona Room for a late lunch. We walked around the rim and saw a couple of condors. We then had a drink at El Tovar and enjoyed the scenery. We were in bed early exhausted from our day.

We woke before dawn and went to the edge of the rim in front of the cabins and watched the most fabulous sunrise. What a priveledge to experience such beauty that God created. Probably the highlight of my trip. I walked along the rim this morning with my coffee and just soaked it in. Next we checked out and went by the General Store. I was very impressed with their selections and I thought their prices were very reasonable. As we were leaving the park along the wooded area my husband spotted an elk in the woods, of course no one else in the car could see it and thought he was seeing things. He is a hunter here in SC so I should have known he was spot on. We stopped the car and crouched down on the edge of the woods and sure enough there was a big femake elk bedded down in the pine straw. We got some great pictures as she looked directly at us. We kept our distance so as not to disturb her and quietly left her to her nap. Next we stopped at the IMAX and watched the show on the Grand Canyon. Well worth the stop and admission.

We made our way back to Phoenix stopping at the Chapel of the Holy Cross one last time as we went back through Sedona. We stayed at the Hampton Inn near the airport and spent the afternoon lounging at the pool. The hotel recommended a great authentic Mexican restaurant and then off to bed for an early flight. Sorry for the long report but I hope you enjoy.