Having slept/rested on Sunday and accomplished much yard work yesterday, I am now ready to summarize the trip and offer advice on making such a trip yourself..
If you’re traveling to the Grand Canyon, your only practical option is to fly into Phoenix. The airport is nice and modern, though as always we Atlantans are shocked at how small other people’s airports are. Of the city itself I can say nothing; we just rented a car and drove out of it.
re: rental car—Get an SUV, for real. We ended up with a gigantic Suburban LT which was a pain to park and navigate with, but with four of us we needed that third seat for our water, snacks, coats, etc. Make sure whatever vehicle you get has at least one USB port, and leave a charging cable in the car at all times.
Flagstaff is fun, kind of a miniature version of Asheville, NC. Stay if you can at one of the restored downtown hotels. They’re not as modern—doh—but you can walk everywhere you need to go. Shopping/dining are primo. Our two best meals on the trip were dinner at Brix on the way up, and lunch at Criollo’s (a sister restaurant) on the way back.
If you’re going to Sedona as well, you might put off purchasing anything until then, but if it’s just Flagstaff and the Canyon, shop away!
This was our second trip to the Canyon and it was just as amazing the second time as the first. And we will return for at least a third time. There are no words to describe what this place will do to your soul. For general tips, see my post mortem from our Cross Country trip in 2013.
New advice from this time: get up early one morning and drive all the way out to the Desertview Watchtower, then work your way back in through all the overlooks. Take a snack, because you won’t get back to the Village before lunch! The Tusayan Ruin and Museum is worth stopping at along the way.
The Yavapai Geology Museum is marvelous. As I advised before, do this after your mind has been stomped flat by the Canyon.
Spend as much time at the Canyon as you can. Even though we’ve been twice, there are still areas of interest we couldn’t get to.
Commit to the funding for a helicopter ride through the canyon. It will change your life in ways that Rainer Maria Rilke couldn’t even begin to imagine.
If you have time and money, go up to Page, AZ, and tour Antelope Canyon. Your camera will thank you. (Remember to keep that charging cable in the car!)
Things we will do next time: visit the points of interest we haven’t visited yet; find a way to get to the bottom of the Canyon—I’m fine with donkeys, but the LFW would prefer a helicopter with a champagne lunch.
Sedona. Oh, Sedona…
The landscape is only a little less beautiful than the Canyon, and that’s mostly a matter of scale. Food is good, shopping is solid, and the atmosphere is just plain fun.
However, the only real reason to go to Sedona is for the woo. You can dine, shop, and hike at the Canyon or Flagstaff, so do Sedona just to buy crystals and have your chakras balanced. I am not scoffing—as you’ll see as I post my world-changing analysis of personality-based/biased approaches to woo.
Pro tip: there are dozens of crystal shops in Sedona, almost all of them with psychics attached. The more upscale ones are generally overpriced, but they will have little cards in the bins explaining what the crystal is “for,” and you will be given one of those little cards in the plastic bag with your stone. Very handy.
Here’s why crystal selection is fun, even if you are a Existential Realist:1 it’s like the saying that flipping a coin is useful in making a decision mostly because while the coin is in the air you will realize which side you’re hoping it will land on. When faced with a hundred or so very pretty little rocks, you will see Fancy Jasper and think, “Boy, if it can encourage me not to procrastinate, I want me some of that!”
If you’re not a woo-based lifeform, do a little research on all the available services before you go, then pick one or two and go for it. A gifted tarot card reading can really be amazing. The Lovely First Wife was most impressed with her aura reading. The chakra balancing with Eyea was interesting, though it’s probably more fun to do something where your eyes are open so you can watch. Don’t worry about looking stupid or getting it wrong—the people we encountered were all lovely professionals and are used to dealing with the cautious, the curious, and the embarrassed.
On the whole, our spa experience was solid, but it simply wasn’t as woo-ful as we had hoped. You can get a good massage and facial back at home.
Do visit the vortexes, and my recommendation is a personal tour with someone like Rahelio rather than a bus or jeep tour.
Do the Woo™!
Only if you’re on your way between Flagstaff and Sedona. It’s cute, but it’s not that cute.
Worth getting off the interstate for! Since it was spur of the moment and we got there at closing time, we couldn’t get to Montezuma’s Well, but if we’re back in the area we’ll plan to do that.
We had a great trip, obviously. The weather cooperated the entire time, and all the places were interesting enough to make it worthwhile. The Grand Canyon reigns supreme, however. If you only have time and money for one, do the Canyon.
1 One of the four personalities in my world-changing system.