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Old 06-28-2008, 04:35 PM   #1
sayhello
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Trip Report IMAGE INTENSE -- Southwest Splendors! Part 5

After lunch, which was a barbeque with burgers and such out by the winery building, we all went & changed into our swimsuits and whatever, and drove upriver a bit to hook up with the river rafting company that we were going rafting with. Normally, this section of the river is class 1, which means you’re really just river floating. But because of all the snow they’d gotten, the river was running very high, and the curve right by the Resort had a set of rapids that were class 3. There were a couple of other areas that were class 2, but most of it *was* class 1, and that was fine by us. Allowed us to have a little excitement, but mostly just enjoy the gorgeous weather and scenery. EVERYONE seemed to enjoy the rafting.



Yep! That’s our raft back there, on the one Class 3 rapid…





The river rafting guides were great, and made sure each raft had the experience they wanted (the other boat went around the class 3 rapids). This company was different from the one they’d used before, and did not do the whole “water fight” thing. I was actually pretty glad about that. Our guide was going to slip into the water & swim over & pull Chris into the water (he was splashing us pretty good with his oar!) but she was afraid she’d ruin his camera. He was one of the few taking pictures… All in all, a *very* good time.

After the rafting, we went back to the Resort to clean up & relax, until the farewell dinner that night (yes! It had been a week already!) As I started packing up what I could, I kept looking at that bottle of wine. There was really no way I could take it back with me. You can’t put that much liquid in your carryon any more, and there’s no way I’d put it in checked luggage; I’d have red, wet clothing by the time I got home. So I called up Deb in her room & asked if she’d like to share the wine. She said sure, come over around 5pm (she had a RIVER view room). So I went over, and she’d gone up & down the building inviting whoever from the tour she could find to come down. Several people had bottles of wine in their rooms, so it turned into a lovely party, um, wine tasting by the riverside as the sun was *just* beginning to lower. It was a really lovely, relaxing time. I had to thank Cheryl especially for the wine, as I really don’t think it would have happened without that bottle they gave me.







Then we headed up to the winery building for the Farewell dinner, which was a yummy cowboy barbeque with steaks grilled to order and all the fixings. And incredible scenery behind us.













We went inside the winery after dinner for a little presentation. Afterwards, we went out & had a campfire, with the young guy who’d entertained us during dinner, singing Country songs. It was hard to go to bed, knowing the next morning we were heading to the airport to fly home.

Next morning, I got my suitcase out *just* as they were picking them up, and went up to the Lodge for breakfast. We then loaded up into the bus for an hour-and-a-half drive to the airport in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was a beautiful drive, lots of interesting scenery, but also, a trip to the airport.

The airport is really the only part of the trip I complained to Disney about in my survey. They dropped us off at the airport around 10am. They’d told us not to book anything earlier than 11am, and most of us had flights at noon or later (mine was at 1pm). There was NOTHING at this airport. They had a pop machine before you went through security (which didn’t open until 11:15am) and they had a “coffee shop” that was just a very plain room with a bunch of seats and coffee that was only available until 8am. We had a very funny sort of bonding moment, all sitting in this “coffee shop”, appalled and perplexed by the lack of services at this airport. Boy, were we spoiled!

Once we got through security, there was a little newsshop that had candy & chips and THAT WAS IT. Nothing else. And since it was such a small airport, the planes were all small regional planes that had no food on them, either. So I didn’t have lunch until 4:30 pm when I arrive in Dallas/Fort Worth! Unacceptable! The very *least* they could have done is arrange for box lunches from the Resort, or stopped somewhere on the way to the airport to get food. We were stranded, with no options. Or they could have chosen to go a little further, and take us to the much larger Salt Lake City airport, which would have had food & more options for flights. But, all in all, it was a minor frustration out of a wonderfully run and executed trip.

And one of the BEST parts was, as I was hugging everyone goodbye outside the airport, I realized that I had not thought about work ONCE since my coworker had returned my phone call the previous Saturday. And that was a very, VERY good thing. So I *do* think I’m going to have to do more of these trips. I’m not sure which one(s) or when, but I will definitely be returning. Disney did a bang-up job of this, and their employees were top-notch. I DEFINITELY got my money’s worth out of this vacation.



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Last edited by sayhello; 07-01-2008 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 06-29-2008, 05:00 AM   #2
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SayHello: What an amazing trip report!!! The pictures, the itinerary description, the whole sense of emotion and ups and downs and why all in all it was so great -- this was a super treat for my Sunday morning, especially as our tour leaves in less than a week!! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this report together! And I'm very glad you had such a good trip.

Can I ask one odd, little question: the ABD info is quite clear about tipping guidelines and protocol for your guides, but I don't remember anything about tipping the bus driver. It sounds like, from your report, that he was really great too. Did people tip him as well?

Thanks again!
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Old 06-29-2008, 06:48 AM   #3
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for this trip report. My family and I are doing this trip in August (instead of our yearly summer Disney World trip) so we've been trying to keep up the excitment while we are missing Disney. Your report & photos are awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to do it. We will be reading and rereading it!
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by tammydel View Post
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this trip report. My family and I are doing this trip in August (instead of our yearly summer Disney World trip) so we've been trying to keep up the excitment while we are missing Disney. Your report & photos are awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to do it. We will be reading and rereading it!
Tammy
Thanks so much! Part of the fun for me in taking these trips & all the photos (this was just a sampling of the 800+ pics I took -- I love digital!) is sharing them with people. I loved reading the trip reports I could find in anticipation of my trip, so I'm glad mine can help in keeping up the excitement for yours. You will *love* this trip. I'm already trying to decide which one to take next year (but I still think I've already done the best one!)

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Old 06-29-2008, 11:11 AM   #5
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One other question - are there laundry facilities at any of the hotels? Especially perhaps at the end in Utah? We are planning on renting a car in Grand Junction and driving to Denver, I'd love to have some clean clothes for that!
Tammy

Last edited by tammydel; 07-02-2008 at 06:20 PM. Reason: originally wrote phoenix meant Denver!
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Old 06-29-2008, 03:54 PM   #6
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I have to agree with you regarding the Grand Junction airport. I actually was going back and forth about renting a car and driving to Denver, but in the end book a flight out of Grand Junction. I remember that "snack shop" well. Thanks for the trip report! It was nice to see the sights again.
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tammydel View Post
One other question - are there laundry facilities at any of the hotels? Especially perhaps at the end in Utah? We are planning on renting a car in Grand Junction and driving to Phoenix, I'd love to have some clean clothes for that!
Tammy
We actually decided to rent a car at Grand Junction and are driving to Denver for the afternoon and evening, then flying home from there the next morning. We thought it would be nice to visit one more place we had never seen, and we hope it will make re-entry a little easier. I can let you know how that goes...
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Old 06-30-2008, 03:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tammydel View Post
One other question - are there laundry facilities at any of the hotels? Especially perhaps at the end in Utah? We are planning on renting a car in Grand Junction and driving to Phoenix, I'd love to have some clean clothes for that!
Tammy
I can see you got an answer in the other Trip Report thread. I personally try never to do laundry unless I absolutely have to but I know some people did do laundry during the down time we had at the Red Cliffs lodge.

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Originally Posted by LocustPoint View Post
I have to agree with you regarding the Grand Junction airport. I actually was going back and forth about renting a car and driving to Denver, but in the end book a flight out of Grand Junction. I remember that "snack shop" well. Thanks for the trip report! It was nice to see the sights again.
The family of 3 rented a car & drove to Denver for a few days. We were all a bit jealous of them at that point...

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What a fantastic trip report! Thank you for sharing all your lovely pictures!
Thanks cici. I really enjoy sharing, and seeing people's reactions.

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Originally Posted by cindy18 View Post
We actually decided to rent a car at Grand Junction and are driving to Denver for the afternoon and evening, then flying home from there the next morning. We thought it would be nice to visit one more place we had never seen, and we hope it will make re-entry a little easier. I can let you know how that goes...
I think that was a good choice. Although I was ready to go home, one more easier day would have been nice.

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Absolutely incredible photos.... thanks for the memories!
Why thank you! I really love my camera, and it helps to have such lovely scenery & subjects to photograph. Glad you enjoyed.

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Old 06-29-2008, 10:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cindy18 View Post
SayHello: What an amazing trip report!!! The pictures, the itinerary description, the whole sense of emotion and ups and downs and why all in all it was so great -- this was a super treat for my Sunday morning, especially as our tour leaves in less than a week!! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this report together! And I'm very glad you had such a good trip.

Can I ask one odd, little question: the ABD info is quite clear about tipping guidelines and protocol for your guides, but I don't remember anything about tipping the bus driver. It sounds like, from your report, that he was really great too. Did people tip him as well?

Thanks again!
Wow, thanks! I'm glad you liked the report. You will love this trip, it was just a fantastic itinerary, with just the right mix of activities and things to see and down time. Less than a week! You must be thrilled. I'm jealous, I want to go back. Enjoy yourselves!

As for the bus driver, it was made clear to us that *everyone* but the guides were being tipped by Disney. The bus driver, the naturalists, the folks at the hotels, etc. Honestly, in retrospect, Tom was so fabulous I wished I had tipped him, but it wasn't expected. To my knowledge, no-one else tipped him (if they did, they were EXTREMELY discreet!)

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Old 04-24-2011, 01:20 PM   #10
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Many Thanks

Many thanks for taking the time to post this excellent trip report. All those pictures have rekindle a desire for my family to undertake a ABD tour. The scenery is simply stunning.

Rgds,

Stevie Kay
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:26 PM   #11
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Many thanks for taking the time to post this excellent trip report. All those pictures have rekindle a desire for my family to undertake a ABD tour. The scenery is simply stunning.

Rgds,

Stevie Kay
You are very welcome! I'm so glad you enjoyed my trip report. I still consider Southwest Splendors to be one of the best vacations I have ever taken. Let me fan the flames of that vacation desire! Go. GO! You won't regret it!!!!

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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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