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Old 07-09-2008, 12:01 AM   #16
cindy18
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So, everything was terrific this evening. We had about an hour out at the canyon, watching the light change as the sun went down and also seeing a few amazing condors flying overhead. On the way into the park we also saw what looked like an entire elk family grazing along the side of the road, and that was pretty neat too. While we were at the canyon, Tiffany and Geraldine got the kids to play a couple of games, which was impressive given the age ranges. But every kid participated, even though some of the older ones pretended to be too cool at first. There were a few surprises just as the sun went down, which I won't reveal so anyone coming on this trip can be surprised, and then it was off to dinner.

We went to this placed called We Cook Pizza and Pasta. It's exactly the kind of place you can imagine hanging out at in college, or over the summer if you're a camp counselor, when camp is done for the day. You order at the counter and get it when they call your number. This wasn't dinner that was included in the tour, but Disney picked up all the soda we wanted. The kids sat together at two tables (by age) with Tiffany, Geraldine and Freddy (our driver), and the grown-ups hung out together, and that was really nice and a lot of fun. We even started talking over dinner about what other Adventures by Disney tours we were thinking about taking, and whether we might plan to go on another one together.

A word about the weather: today was really picture perfect. On a guess, it got up into the mid-80's. The sky was cloudless in the morning, although some clouds came in over the afternoon. Very low humidity. As soon as the sun started to go down, the weather cooled off quickly. Hard to ask for much more than that.

When we were driving to dinner from the canyon, I realized that I was more relaxed than I had been in months and was having simply a wonderful time. It was a great feeling, one I hope you all experience soon.

Now we're all back at the hotel, packing, in anticipation of 6:30 am bag pick up. We'll see tomorrow how much fun Disney can make 6 hours on a bus!
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:37 AM   #17
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Do you have to be a DVC member to join a Disney Adventure trip? I was hoping not because this sounds like a great way to explore new places with my dd10. We absolutely love Disney, but I would love to share other parts of our country with her.
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:13 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by 3happydancers View Post
Do you have to be a DVC member to join a Disney Adventure trip? I was hoping not because this sounds like a great way to explore new places with my dd10. We absolutely love Disney, but I would love to share other parts of our country with her.
Hi 3happydancers,

Anyone can book an Adventure by Disney trip. Ownership in DVC is not a requirement. The trips and schedules for 2009 should be available on the website sometime next month.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:39 AM   #19
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Thanks for the packing tips/advice Cindy18! Glad to hear that everyone is having a great time. Can't wait to read more. . . .

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Old 07-09-2008, 11:27 AM   #20
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Thanks so much for doing your live trip report. My family is going in August and this is helping so much!
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:12 PM   #21
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So we survived the 6 hour coach ride up to Moab. The big thing to report is that it's really fine. The ride is in 3 hour chunks, and the time passed by much more quickly than I had expected. Most of the kids sat together in the back, with the grown-ups taking up the middle and front, so that was pretty nice too.

But to backtrack: we were all up early this morning and on the coach on time at 7:30. The first half of our ride took us past the Grand Canyon again and then onto the Navajo Reservation. It was sad to take last looks at the canyon, but then the landscape changed pretty dramatically on the reservation, so that was very interesting to look at. We watched a movie (a Disney movie, of course), and right around the time the movie ended, we were arriving at Monument Valley and Gouldings Lodge. We had lunch at the Lodge and then set out in two....well, I'm not sure what to call them. Not jeeps, not vans. Sort of pickup trucks with seats in the back. Anyway, we rode out to Monument Valley in the trucks and had a 90 minute tour of the rock formations. We got out a few times to take pictures (at one place there was a particular photo op where we could get on a horse with amazing views in the background) and just took it all in. We were all covered in red dust when the tour was over (this REALLY felt like the desert) but the sights were amazing.

We washed up a bit and got back on the coach for the second 3 hour ride. We watched another movie and played a couple of fun games, and before we knew it, we were in Moab. Again, the scenery changes on the ride were really interesting. In case you guys didn't know this, there are serious mountains in Utah! We arrived at Red Cliffs Lodge at about5:45 (we went forward an hour when we crossed over into Utah from Arizona) and were welcomed to the lodge with water, lemonade and cookies and a brief orientation. The rooms here are terrific: very large and very comfortable, and the views are spectacular. The kids are in heaven because the lodge is a working ranch and there is a beautiful pool plus other neat stuff. Dinner tonight was in a private room, and everyone seems to be in a great mood.

The weather has gotten hot again. I think the Grand Canyon was the coolest it's going to be. The high today in Moab was 101, and the forecast high for tomorrrow is the upper 90s. Again, it's not humid at all, and it cools off a lot at night. As always, we all know to drink lots of water, wear a hat and keep up with the sunscreen.

Some more about the lodge: there's a winery here, and there are wine tastings every afternoon. A bunch of the adults had wine with dinner, and it was pretty good.

Finally, in case I haven't been saying this enough, Tiffany and Geraldine are just terrific. They are always laughing and making us laugh (at 7:40 this morning, as the bus pulled out, they had Rhinestone Cowboy blaring on the coach's speakers and they were dancing up and down the aisles and singing at the top of their lungs), and they are always happy and helpful and determined to make whatever we want happen. I think everyone on this tour has complete confidence in them and is so happy we have them as guides. I know I feel that way, as does the rest of my family. I think one or the other of them will be on most of the tours for the rest of the summer, so those of you who have tours coming up are in for a treat.

Tomorrow is the big hike to Delicate Arch. Once I catch my breath from that one, I'll report in.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:16 PM   #22
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Thanks so much for posting your reports, cindy18! It's fun re-running the trip with you as you go. I'm trying to refrain from all the "Just wait until!"'s... I'm so glad you're having such a great time! The Grand Canyon is spectacular, and sharing it with everyone makes it even better.

Quote:
I realized that I was more relaxed than I had been in months and was having simply a wonderful time.
Isn't that an amazing feeling? That's when you know you're on a great vacation!

Looking forward to more of your report! Remember, it's really only a 3 hour drive, then another 3 hour drive! Not just 6 hours...

sayhello

EDIT: Oh, I posted just as you posted, cindy18! Glad you survived the 6-hour drive. Isn't Monument Valley something else?

Be VERY sure to carry at least a couple of bottles of water each for the hike to Delicate Arch! It's *very* exposed, no cover or shade at all. But it is a spectacular hike, and *SO* worth it when you see what's at the end! Delicate Arch was the highlight of the trip for me.

ENJOY! Although you hardly seem to need my encouragement to do that!

Last edited by sayhello; 07-09-2008 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:10 PM   #23
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Hi 3happydancers,

Anyone can book an Adventure by Disney trip. Ownership in DVC is not a requirement. The trips and schedules for 2009 should be available on the website sometime next month.
Thanks a bunch for the info! I'll look out for the upcoming info.
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Old 07-10-2008, 07:44 AM   #24
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Hi Cindy18....
I am really enjoying your trip report! This is something that I am seriously considering doing. I know my son would love it, he has always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. Just a quick question though....I am a single mom so it would just be myself and my son (10 years old), would we feel comfortable/safe on this tour?
I am glad you are enjoying yourself....I am enjoying reading about your trip!
Thank you
Erin
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:24 PM   #25
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Just a quick question though....I am a single mom so it would just be myself and my son (10 years old), would we feel comfortable/safe on this tour?
Absolutely! The only questionable piece might be the Amara Resort, where some of the rooms were pretty far away & rather isolated because of how the building was set up (you had to go in & out of the building and along a couple of long corridors to get to the rooms). I think if you make it clear to ABD you want to be in a central location, near the others, you'll do just great.

It's a *fabulous* trip!

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Old 07-10-2008, 04:26 PM   #26
cindy18
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Erin 1998, I agree with Say Hello. You and your son would have a blast on this trip, and you would be very much a part of the group. Our rooms at the Amara were just past the pool, and we felt very safe and comfortable there. We weren't out and about late (Sedona closes down kind of early). At the Grand Canyon, we were all pretty much together in the evenings, even the evening that was "on our own", and here in Moab, the nights are all at the Lodge. It feels very, very safe and comfortable. I think you guys would really enjoy yourselves.

And thanks for all the comments Say Hello. Reading your trip report shortly before we left helped us understand better what was to come, and I know we are experiencing many of the same things you did on that trip (apart from the snow...).
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:51 PM   #27
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OK, here's the report on the hike to Delicate Arch:

First, a bit of background. I am a city girl, and I don't hike. I do workout twice a week and do yoga once a week, but I mostly do weights, and I hate cardiovascular stuff. The weather was well into the 80s by the time we set out this morning, after a very good breakfast with very amazing views, and after picking up our park guide Preston right before we arrived at Arches National Park. Everyone had backpacks to carry water bottles, everyone was wearing a hat and loose clothing, everyone was wearing shoes with good tread (no flip flips, and generally no sneakers without tread) and everyone had on lots of sunscreen.

You drive through the park for awhile before you get to the start of the hike. Everyone had the option either to do the hike (3 miles round-trip, with some real elevation) or stay on the coach and take a tour of the park with Preston, stopping for some easy hiking and views of some arches. After some back and forth, absolutely everyone in our group opted to do the hike. Tiffany said that in all her Southwest Splendor tours, she thinks she could count on one hand the numnber of times that's happened. So we were psyched. Tiffany took the front and Geraldine and Preston (who came along because there was no one to show the rest of the park to and who, for the record, was wearing jeans and cowboy boots) took the rear, and everyone went at his or her own pace. There is almost no shade on this hike, but we found what shade there was, and we stopped I think 4 times on our way to Delicate Arch. The stops were well-timed, because at all but the first one, I was really breathing very hard, and I sat down and took several minutes to catch my breath completely. In other words, the stops helped a lot. The early part of the hike is not too bad, and then it starts to get a little steep. For me, the hardest part was the slick face rock portion, which was pretty much all up. The good news is that the rock isn't slippery at all. My Merrills gripped it well. But it was pretty hard on the legs and also on my lungs. One of the rest stops was towards the top of the slick rock, and that was a very big one for me. For other people, the hardest part was right before you get to the arch itself. You need to go pretty much single file around a bend with a fairly steep drop off, and a few people got pretty tense about that. For me that wasn't too hard, I think because it wasn't uphill!

But all of it was so completely worth it when we came around that last bend and saw Delicate Arch. It really is spectacular. We all stood there for awhile and savored the fruit of our labors, as it were, and then we did family photo shots with the arch in the background. We were given some free time after that, and pretty much everyone decided to make there way around so that they could actually stand under the arch. This looked a lot easier than it was, as the rock sloped off more steeply than it first appeared, and there was quite a drop. Also, standing in the middle of the arch is a bit overwhelming, because there is a major drop on either side. But again, it was all well worth it to see this amazing arch up close and personal.

We did several group shots with the arch in the background before it was time to start heading down. On the way back to the coach, we did not stop at all, and people were much more spread out than on the way up. The general rule of thumb was to drink a bottle of water on the way up and a bottle of water on the way back. I think most people stuck to that, and a lot of people were also pouring water on their heads to cool off. I did that a few times and it helped a lot. We got Adventures by Disney "cooldanas", which are bandanas that can be put on ice and then wrapped around your neck or forehead. A lot of people (including me) were wearing those too. The walk back was much easier than the walk up, but because we didn't stop, because it was the second half of a three mile hike and because the temperature was probably approaching the upper 90s, we were all completely exhausted by the time we got back to the coach. Freddy had the air-conditioning blasting, and one by one we staggered in, sat down and looked at each other's red faces. We were sweaty, smelly and exhausted, but every single person in our group felt a real sense of accomplishment. Also, everyone was pretty into the arch.

We drove back to Moab, said thanks and goodbye to Preston and then explored the town for a few hours, picking among several restaurants for lunch. Our family went to the Moab Diner, which is as basic and old-fashioned as it sounds, with excellent ice cream, and then we checked out some of the shops.

The hike itself took, I think about 2 hours and 15 minutes. We got back to the lodge at 3. We have the afternoon free, but lots of people signed up for activities (horseback riding, ATVs and hummer rides, for example). Our family is grateful to be doing none of those things and instead is resting. I sense a dip in the pool later on, but for now we're just drinking more water and relaxing.

Everyone who is taking this tour, do the hike. My kids really don't hike at all, and neither one of them had any trouble. They both were hot and tired at the end, but neither of them complained, and DD 12 said it was not as hard as she had thought it would be. Everyone encouraged each other and cheered each other on. When one person thought my face looked too red, he just took my hat off and poured some of his own water on my head. Everyone shared small fans (which we also got, along with the cooldanas, at the start of the tour) and water spritzing bottles, and everyone looked after everyone else's kids. What you see when you get there is so spectacular and sort of incredible, and it's really worth it. Promise.
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:43 PM   #28
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Great report. I love that you are doing it in real time.
Sounds AMAZING.
Will you be posting some pictures when you get back?
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Old 07-10-2008, 07:20 PM   #29
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Oh, cindy18, I am *SO* glad you did the hike, survived it, and enjoyed it! The Arch is just so unlike anything else I've ever seen, and, as you said, completing the hike gives you such a sense of accomplishment! I'm amazed that your *entire* tour did the hike! That's fabulous. We had 14 people, and 4 of them didn't do the hike...

I am so enjoying your report! I'll be gone for the weekend, so I guess I'll be reading the rest after you get home! Enjoy the river rafting!

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Old 07-10-2008, 07:57 PM   #30
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Thanks Disneygrl 36, glad you're enjoying it. It's actually fun to post in real time because it's like reliving the events of the day and almost like trying to make sense of them. Some of the sights are so awe inspiring that it's almost too much to take in, and only when you reflect on them afterwards do you appreciate their full majesty and the extraordinary geological history of the places we've been (and where we are right now).

I think we'll put up some pictures, if someone teaches me how to do it. Between DH and me, I think we're going to wind up with something like 1300 pictures, so it may take awhile to sort through them. Tiffany and Geraldine have been taking tons of pictures too, and if I understand correctly, those pictures will also be available for us to view online (and purchase).

Thanks for the support, Say Hello! The guides were also really surprised that every single person on our tour (that's 29) did the hike. The tour has gelled so well that maybe it's not so surprising. The kids all hang out together regularly now, notwithstanding the differences in ages. And the grown-ups do the same. After dinner last night, all the kids were in the pool until 10 while the grown-ups just hung out talking and laughing. And it's the same way on the coach too. It's great.

DD 10 said to me today, as we were in the middle of the hike, no less, that she wanted to take a different tour with this exact group every week. When I asked her how come, she said that she really liked everyone in our group and LOVED our guides. You can't really ask for more than that.
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