Let’s pick off where we ended in Southwest Road Trip Part One….
Sedona – Kevin and I hopped in our rental car Friday morning after the conference’s end and made our way towards Sedona, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Living in the midwest for all my life, I’ve been used to seeing nothing but cornfields and flat plains on long drives. The mountains and cactuses in the Arizona landscape kept me in awe throughout the entire trip. I’m usually one who is completely knocked out in the car – drooling, snoring and everything. Car rides are like my roofie. But I forced myself to stay awake this time so I wouldn’t miss a second of the beautiful scenery. (Okay, maybe I dozed off for five minutes. Maybe fifteen. Kevin is reading over my shoulder and says thirty.)
Sedona was actually a last minute add-on to our trip. It was totally not a part of our plans. After looking at our route to the Grand Canyon in Google Maps, we saw that driving through Sedona only added an extra 30 minutes to the 3.5 hour trip. Might as well check it out! We were so happy with our decision. Sedona is GORGEOUS. Beautiful stone formations jut through the desert landscape, creating mesmerizing views along the entire drive. We wish were able to hike some trails in Sedona, but we only had time to take some pictures at a couple scenic stops.
The Grand Canyon – We drove for about 4.5 hours until we arrived at my absolute best part of our trip: the Grand Canyon! We picked an intermediate trail (South Kaibab trail to Cedar Point) that was estimated to take 2-4 hours for the round trip.
One thing we didn’t realize was how much snow was going to be on the trail! Signs at the trailhead recommended crampons – would’ve been nice to have. Our shoes got pretty wrecked in the mud and slush…and mule poop. One of the really cool stopping points along the trail was “Ooh Aah Point.” I felt the name was pretty fitting, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.
The lower we hiked in elevation, the warmer and drier it became. By the time we reached Cedar Point, it was comfortably warm. It was a nice spot to take a break, nibble on some snacks, and absorb the beautiful scene surrounding us before making the climb back to the top.
I love this picture of Kevin, even though he’s glaring at me for taking a picture of him with his banana.
The round trip hike to Cedar Point took us about 3.5 hours. We wanted to keep going and make it to the last stopping point, but we wanted to be sure we could make it back to the trailhead before sunset. We would love to come back to the Grand Canyon someday and hike some longer, tougher trails. Next time we’ll bring crampons in the winter! The hike back up was definitely tougher than going down – I could feel the effects of the elevation making my heart and lungs work harder.
After spending $60 on dinner at a subpar Mexican restaurant (everything in the surrounding small town is over-priced), we were ready to hit the hay and get a good night’s rest before waking up early to drive to Vegas in the morning.
The Hoover Dam: Guess what else was a last minute add on to our trip? The Hoover Dam. We saw road signs for it pop up on our drive to Vegas and decided we couldn’t miss the opportunity to see it. (I hope it’s becoming clear to you that we didn’t do a ton of research before embarking on our trip.) We spent around twenty minutes walking around the Hoover Dam and felt like it was all the time we needed. There was a museum and guided tour options onsite but we decided they weren’t worth the cost.
Tip: if you drive past the $10 parking structure, there’s free uncovered parking about a half mile further up the road.
Here’s a little blogging gaff for you – I just realized I only took three pictures at the Hoover Dam and they were all snapchats. To top it off, none of them capture the actual dam(n) wall. I saved my snap story from that day, so I’ve screenshotted them here in all their glory.
Las Vegas: This is going to be a short one because again, I didn’t take any pictures and we really only had half the day here. Plus we were completely beat from the long days of lengthy car rides, minimal sleep. When we arrived at our hotel around 3pm, Kevin needed a nap. He had driven the whole time like a boss and the effects of sleep deprivation and long drives were really wearing on us.
We didn’t make it out to the Vegas strip until 4pm and we just walked around, people watching and taking in the sites. Speaking of people watching….check out my snap story below for some great examples.
After heading back to the hotel to change into our Vegas outfits, we got past our sleepiness and decided, “We’re going to do Vegas right, damnit!” We pre-gamed in our hotel room by taking shots of gin, chasing with limes (it’s all we had, guys), and left for the Vegas Strip at a pretttttyyyyy good level.
We had dinner at the Aria buffet. For a $90 dinner, it was pretty meh. But we still ate a ton because we were starving….then came the food coma…
Must…party….hard…we practically crawled out of the buffet with droopy eyes but determined to live it up in Vegas. Next stop: roulette table.
We lost $90 and at 12:30am decided it was time for bed. Yup that was the end of our Vegas story.
It would have been nice to have more than two days to fit Sedona, The Grand Canyon, and Vegas in one trip, but it’s all the time we had! At least my flights and week’s worth of Scottsdale lodging were completely free because of my work trip. All in all, the short vacation was worth it.
Stay tuned for details of our next vacation to Vietnam and Thailand coming up in March! Can’t wait!