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Old 07-05-2008, 10:44 PM   #1
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Southwest Splendors July 5-July 12 Real Time Trip Report

Hello from Sedona, where we have reached the Amara Resort and Spa and the first stop on this week's tour. I thought it might be cool to post in real time what we've done and are doing, while the memories are as fresh as they are ever going to get. I can't promise to do this every day, but as time and energy permit, I will.

We are me, 43, DH, 44, DD 12 and DD 10. We flew in to Phoenix yesterday and had a lovely afternoon and evening in Scottsdale. For people who can come in the day before the tour starts, I really recommend it. The travel day is always exhausting and stressful, and it helped a lot to have the afternoon and evening to relax. The people who flew in this morning are totally exhausted, and some had some rough flight delays, which must have been pretty tense.

We got to the Starbucks right before noon (it's at the end of Terminal 4, right by the International Arrivals gate and is much larger than the other Starbucks in Terminal 4). Our guides for this trip are Tiffany and Geraldine, and so far they both seem terrific and true to Disney form. They told us our departure time would be 1:30, so we got some lunch and walked around for a bit before meeting up with everyone else. There are 29 of us on this tour, pretty much evenly divided between adults and kids (and the kids seem mostly to be younger teenagers, although there are a few who are around 8). It's a very nice size, and there's lots of room to spread out on the coach.

We got right on the coach and met our driver, Freddy, who seems pretty funny. The coach is very comfortable and clean. We drove for about 90 minutes to Montezuma's Castle, picking up a guide right before we got there. It was a nice way to begin, because the castle is unbelievably cool but the whole tour takes less than an hour. After a short drive, we arrived in Sedona. The red rocks are really jaw-droppingly astonishing. I gave up trying to capture them with my camera, because I think it's impossible. So I just stared and pointed, and that's pretty much what everyone on the coach did too. My daughters, who usually aren't at all impressed by scenery when we drive, were amazed and fascinated, which I think is a good sign.

When we got to the Amara, all we had to do was walk into the lobby and pick up our keys. Our luggage was waiting for us in our rooms, which was very impressive. The rooms are very comfortable and clean, with a few unexpected goodies from Adventures by Disney, and the staff seems very accommodating. We had a little over an hour to settle in before dinner, which was in a private room on the 2nd floor overlooking the pool and some more magical red rocks. There was a live animal presentation and some orientation from Tiffany and Geraldine, along with a few surprises, before dinner and a really nice music show. Everyone is pretty tired, so the evening ended at about 8:15.

All in all, I have to say that this was a very good first day. Things went as well as they could have, and everyone has been warm and friendly. And the views are just as spectacular as we had hoped they would be. I was excited before we got here, but now I am really looking forward to every day.

Feel free to respond to this with specific questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:18 PM   #2
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Wow, thanks for the update. We want to go next year around the same time with our 13 year old. How does the heat compare to Disney World?
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:35 PM   #3
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Sounds you like are really enjoying yourselfs and are off to a good start! Hope the rest of the trip is just as smooth.
July 2001 - 1st Trip - Poly/Wonder (First vacation as a new family!)
May 2003 - Beach Club (Zach's surprise 10th birthday trip!)
July 2005 - 2nd Cruise - Beach Club CL/Wonder (My birthday and first trip to Disney with my parents!)
April 2007 - Oahu and Maui (Craig's Surprise 50th Birthday Trip to Hawaii!)
July 2009 - Rome and Venice - My 40th Birthday Last Minute Trip
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:24 PM   #4
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Hi again from Sedona. It's late afternoon on day 2, and we're resting before getting ready for dinner so I thought I'd post again.

The beds at the Amara Resort are very comfortable, I am happy to report. We all slept great. Because we're all still on east coast time, however, we gut up early. DH and I were up by 6, and the two DDs were up before 7. It was a beautiful morning, and the coffee in the lobby is excellent, so we relaxed and watched some Wimbledon (what a match between Federer and Nadal) before heading to breakfast at 8. The food was good, and everyone was psyched for our off-roading jeep tour.

We met outside the hotel at 9:15 where we were greeted by 5 red jeeps, each driven by a very amusing cowboy. and off we went. We road through Sedona and up into the hills for 2 very bumpy hours while our drivers regaled us with stories about the region, its history and its agriculture. We stopped twice to look around at some incredible views and ultimately wound up at the Sedona Heritage Museum. Even though it was only 11:15, we were all really hungry, so it was a good thing a yummy picnic lunch was waiting for us. After lunch, Tiffany and Geraldine talked to us about logistics for tomorrow and suggested an early sign-up for activities at the Grand Canyon and in Moab. Then we learned how to lasso, pretty poorly, and made corn dolls, also pretty poorly, but at least we tried.

At about 1, we had the option to go back to the hotel in the coach or set out on our own. We chose to walk into town and explore, which we did. We stopped for very good home-made ice creams and walked around until we were too tired to walk anymore. We thought about swimming at the hotel, but resting seemed a better idea, so that's what we're doing.

A word about the weather, since Wii Fit Mom asked. The heat is penetrating and ennervating, but it's very different from the heat in Florida because the humidity is so low. Because Sedona is in monsoon season, clouds apparently roll in every afternoon, and once they do the heat becomes much more bearable. We were really hot by the time we got to the museum for lunch, but right around the time that we left, the clouds started to cover the sun, and all of the sudden, it felt much better. I think walking around town would have been tough without the cloud cover. But the heat is clearly a big part of the reason why we are so tired, and they really do a very good job at keep you provided with water so that you don't get dehydrated. I'll let you know how things progress on the weather front as we get further north.
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Old 07-06-2008, 07:06 PM   #5
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Thank you for the great report. We did Southwest Splendors last year and we are really enjoying your reports. Who are your guides?
"The guy wearing the lampshade is seldom the brightest bulb, okay." Pepe the King Prawn
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Old 07-06-2008, 10:43 PM   #6
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Glad you're having such a great time! The Red Rock is just spectacular, isn't it? And it only gets more spectacular from there!

Have you been to the Grand Canyon before? I always love to read about people's reactions to the Grand Canyon!

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