Monday, August 26, 2013

Grand Canyon Adventure Part 1: Peach Springs, AZ

This is the beginning of a series of recaps of our fabulous Grand Canyon vacation.  The posts might be long and/or photo heavy, which I make no apology for.  

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This last Christmas, Little Helen gave us an all-expense paid trip to the Grand Canyon.  She planned the entire thing and boy oh boy was it the adventure of a lifetime!

Our adventure started out with a drive to Boston, where we stayed overnight prior to an early morning flight.  It also happened to be our anniversary, so Mr. Helen and I had dinner at Abe and Louie's to celebrate.  Abe and Louie's had literally just reopened the week before we got there as they were one of the businesses right in the area where the Boston Marathon bombings took place!


The next morning we got up bright and early and flew into Phoenix where we met  up with Little Helen and picked up a rental car.  From there we drove to Peach Springs, AZ - which took about 3 1/2 hours.  The best and last part of that drive was on Historic Route 66.

On our drive we found out we had come during the Route 66 Fun Run, which has nothing at all to do with running and everything to do with classic cars.  Color Mr. Helen very happy when we realized this. We stopped in Seligman for a bite to eat and got there just as the parade of cars was beginning so we watched that, then ate and got back on the road.

Once in Peach Springs, we checked into the Hualapai Lodge which is a beautiful, modern lodge with all amenties - including a pool and fitness center -  run by the Hualapi Indian Tribe.  (Why I didn't take one single outside shot, I don't know, but if you click on the link, it will take you to the Trip Advisor site that has some shots.)  We didn't arrive there until about 8 p.m. which our bodies thought was 11 p.m. as we were still on east coast time, so we pretty much just said goodnight and went to sleep.

Woke up bright and early to go to breakfast and get onto our first adventure.  The Hualapai reservation is the only place that has a road where you can drive, then hike, to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon!  All you have to do is buy the permit and off you go.  When we went to buy our permit, the lady asked us what sort of vehicle we had and we told her a four door sedan.  She said, "No Mustang? No Jeep?" which maybe should have been a clue for us but we just answered no, bought our permit, and headed off to Diamond Creek Road.  The first three miles of the road are paved and then you hit graded dirt road for 18 miles.  No biggie right?

It was simply a beautiful drive, but S-L-O-W.  I was driving and the further along we went, the less stable the road seemed which took all my mad driving skillz.  Anyway here are a few shots as we meandered our way along.











Eventually, we began to wonder just where it was we were supposed to park then hike the rest of the way in, which is what we were told to do.  We started running into areas where it seemed like the creek was crossing the road - and Mr. Helen would jump out of the car and motion me left and right to get through the water.  Finally, we hit a "stream" that really was creek like and could go no further so we just pulled over to the side of the road.  Mr. Helen hopped out and said he would walk around the bend in the road to see what was there... he came back laughing and said, "Girls we managed to drive all the way to the river!"  Evidently when we saw the grading equipment in the photo up there, THAT was where we were supposed to pull over and hike the last mile in lol! So we parked the best we could, and took off to see the mighty Colorado.

Mr. Helen and Little Helen standing at the bend in the road

We made it to the mighty Colorado!






What fun it was to walk around down there and explore and enjoy the beauty of that river and the canyon walls!  Our drive back was a lot faster than the drive in - for some reason the car handled better going up than it did down.

When we got back we discovered that the Fun Run had landed in Peach Springs for the day and the tribe was having a BBQ and entertainment and craft fair at a park right across the street from the lodge. We decided that since this was unexpected added fun we should definitely partake.  

My Indian Taco - so much food I didn't come close to finishing it!


There was Native American dancing too - so beautiful.  Here are 2 short video clips you can  wathc of a 13 year old boy doing the Hoop Dance - he is the National Champion in this right now. It's in two parts because I thought he was done then he started again.




Mr. Helen also got to see some of the classic cars up close and personal because, friendly guy that he is, he chatted up those people sitting at the table with us and they were in the Fun Run!



After all that excitement, we headed back to our rooms for an afternoon siesta as we were headed out to meet one of my long time virtual friends who'd I'd never met in real life.

We drove about 40 minutes to Kingman, AZ to meet at a Mexican restaurant.  On the way, we happened to find the only distillery in Arizona (maybe in the world?) that makes rum and vodka from agave.  They offer free tastings so we decided to add the Desert Diamond Distillery to our adventure.  It's a small, family run place and the owner does the tasting.  We actually ended up buying a couple of bottles which he packed for us to take home in our suitcase.  Again, unexpected fun!


Finally we got to the restaurant where I got to meet my friend Lori, who I first met through Sparkpeople years ago and who now blogs at Mama Bean's World.  She actually drove a couple of hours as she lives in the Las Vegas area.  I was so overwhelmed by the long stretches of desert with nothing to look at, I can't even imagine driving that far but her husband is native to the area and thought nothing of it. We had a wonderful but too short time together.


And that was the end of the first 24 hours in Arizona.  We slept really well that night.

Next up, the hike I worried about from the minute it was planned...

16 comments:

  1. SO SO SO SO SO SO SO FUN!!!!!!!
    and I cant wait for the next installment as, now that Im a west coaster, Im hitting GC up at some point too.

    xo

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  2. Love the way you go with the flow!

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    1. And I am sooooooo NOT a go with the flow person so when I'm able to do that it's nearly a miracle!

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  3. Cracking UP at you driving all the way to the river! Too funny...but really, there should have been a sign if they really wanted you to park somewhere.

    The shot of Mr. H and the classic car made me giggle - remember the picture I posted of the running club men looking at the yellow car? It's like they can't help themselves!

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    1. Exactly on the parking! It wasn't marked in any way... maybe they thought if you got to the point where you couldn't drive you'd turn around? Men and cars... another difference between us and them!

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  4. So happy to finally see a recap post of your vacation, although I did follow you on Facebook so I did see some shots. I used to drive to Iowa all the time to visit my brother Charlie when he lived there - there were LONG stretches of nothing to look at, I can't imagine driving through the desert!

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    1. It's horrifying. I suppose you get used to it but I never did while we were there!

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  5. Ha, I left a comment as Beth - it's Biz! :D

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  6. SO glad you are back and blogging again! My life is the complete opposite of yours. I have metastatic breast cancer and am in treatment for life (which is not long, believe me!). You make me smile, laugh out loud and just enjoy your daily adventures.

    Welcome back, Helen. I missed you very much

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  7. Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you can live vicariously through me while you go through your treatments.

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  8. And this was just the first day? Can't wait to read the rest about this beautiful, beautiful trip. I enjoyed it very much.

    And what a great gift from Little Helen.

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    1. You'll be happy to know I've broken it up into several installments, so lots and lots of photos on the way.

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  9. I have been waiting for this!!! Thank you for sharing. I would be the one to get totally lost on a desert road, too.

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    1. So sad... it's the only road. But seriously there was NO signage. How were we supposed to know when to stop? I guess when the car could no longer cross the the creeks going over the road lol!

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  10. I'm so glad you're back and I'm SO excited you had a GREAT summer! Your pictures are so much fun - thanks for sharing!

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  11. How did I miss this? It was fabulous to meet you!!!

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