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Old 07-10-2008, 09:45 PM   #31
sayhello
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Originally Posted by cindy18 View Post
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).
1300 pics! You definitely beat my 850! I can help walk you through how to post pics... there are a few options. Let me know when you're ready. The guide's pics will be available on PhotoPass. You'll get a letter with the details on how to access them. They're available online for 30 days after you first access them. Unfortunately, they are VERY expensive if you want the digital pics ($125 for the CD) and individual prints aren't cheap either... Although apparently there are ways to get around it, like having everyone on the trip put all their pics on one account, have one person order the CD (you get all the pics on the account no matter how many there are, apparently), and then split the cost and reproduce (you get the rights to the pictures when you order the CD). I haven't tried this, but since you all get on so well, it might work for you...

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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.
That's really very cool. We all got on well on our tour, but there wasn't nearly the level of camaraderie that you describe. That's really, really wonderful. Congrats!

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Old 07-11-2008, 11:46 PM   #32
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Let me pick up where I left off, resting yesterday afternoon, after the hike to Delicate Arch. A lot of people signed up for horseback rides, hummer rides or ATVs, and they came back with great reports from those activities. The ATVs in particular were a huge hit. Last night was junior adventurer night, which means that Tiffany and Geraldine took all the kids for dinner and a Disney movie, and the grown-ups were able to eat by themselves. This was really nice. The kids had pizza and ice cream, played some games and watched the movie (with popcorn of course), while the grown-ups enjoyed a fairly romantic dinner at Red Cliffs Lodge, looking out over spectacular views as the sun went down. The kids were done at about 10:15. What struck me was how well they all played together. The age range, as I think I've said before, is something like 7-15. There are more boys than girls, but not by much. And they all hang out together. It's great!

A lot of people hung out talking last night. There is already much discussion about doing another Adventure by Disney tour, perhaps as a group. The current tour under discussion is Quest for the West, which seems like a good follow-up to this tour. We've also agreed to keep in touch. My kids were already getting very sad when they thought about today being our last day. DH and I are too.

This morning was very unusual on the tour, in that there were no scheduled activities. People who wanted to do horseback riding or ATVs, etc., who didn't get a chance to on Thursday had another opportunity this morning. So I was up and at breakfast in time for my 8:30 horseback ride. DH kept me company at breakfast, but both DDs slept in, and I think a lot of other kids and grown-ups on the tour did the same thing. The horseback ride was very nice. It was all walking, up and down and around a fairly narrow, somewhat complicated trail. Beautiful scenery. The horses were very good and very cooperative, and the guides were a lot of fun, knew a lot about the area and had great senses of humor. We had to wear long pants, so by the time it was over at 11:30, we were all pretty hot, but I was really glad I did it.

Lunch this afternoon was at a pavillion at the lodge overlooking the Colorado River. Hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, that kind of thing. Afterwards, we put bathing suits on under shorts and t-shirts and took a short coach ride to the Colorado River for our long-awaited white water rafting trip. What fun!!! We were in 4 different boat, and our boat had Tiffany in it too. Each boat got a guide. We all wore life jackets, and the guides gave us some straightforward but comprehensive instructions and safety tips. All in, we went 7 miles down river, looking for the other boats so we could have some pretty major water fights and otherwise hoping for rapids. Most of the rapids were pretty gentle, but we had one set of rapids just past the lodge that were borderline Class 3, and they were amazing. We got really wet going through them and hung on for dear life while always rowing forward. Our guide said after we got through them that that was one of the best rides through those rapids she had ever had, and Tiffany said the same thing, so we were all really proud of ourselves. The ride ended much too soon, and after the kids played around a bit in the river, it was back on the bus for the ride back to the lodge.

We got back to the lodge at around 4 and pretty much every kid ran for the pool. Almost all the grown-ups hung out there too, talking and exchanging address and email information and trying not to think too hard about the fact that the next day we'd be going our separate ways and saying goodbye to this magical week. Tonight is our last dinner and a campfire. I think people are actually so sorry the tour is ending that they are almost not looking forward to it.
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:39 AM   #33
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I got up thinking - did she post? did she post? Yes! She posted! Again thanks so much for doing this. We are about month away and your live day by day has helped us get little "feel" for our week to come.

Question: I see that one afternoon and then the next AM you had oppertunities for horsebackriding/ATV/hummer tour. There will be some difference of opinion in my family which to do. Did anyone do 2 of these, one each day? Do you think it would be too exhusting? Do you happen to know the $$$?

Silly Question: Does breakfast ever include ham? My son is not bacon or sausage guy. For that matter he is not an eggs, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, etc... kind of guy. Bottom line is brekfast is always a hard meal for him to eat out. The best we usually do is ham, toast and some fruit. Is there ever anywhere we could purchase a little something for him if breakfast doesn't work out for him?

Have a magical last morning!
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:13 AM   #34
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Tammy: First, there were people who did more than one activity. Several people did the ATV on Thursday afternoon and the horseback riding on Friday morning, or visa-versa. I don't think it's too tiring, although we were sufficiently wiped from the hike that it would have been hard for us to get back to the lodge Thursday afternoon and start another activity right away, although many people did and were very happy to do so. So yes, you can definitely do more than one.

On breakfast, I do not remember ham at all in the mornings. For what it's worth, I don't do big breakfasts and never ate eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes or any of that stuff. There was always fruit, there were always muffins and most places there was also toast and bagels. There were cereal options, and at the Grand and Red Cliffs, also hot cereal options. At Red Cliffs there was yogurt too. So hopefully your son will find enough. In terms of alternatives, certainly at the Grand you could leave the hotel and walk to a fast-food type place (or a diner) to try to find breakfast for him. That may be an option at the Amara too. I don't know when the cafes and restaurants near the hotel opened or if they served breakfast. That won't be an option at Red Cliffs. Also, most mornings, departures are kind of early, so I'm not sure how much time you'd comfortable have. At least at the Grand and Red Cliffs, we ate the same breakfast that was offered to all guests. It may be that the Amara has more breakfast options then what they put out for us.

Hope that helps! I'll post about last night and this morning later today.
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:22 AM   #35
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Thanks Cindy. From what you've listed he'll manage. I tell him all the time he has to find a "regular" breakfast food he likes.

Can't wait to hear about your last night.

Safe trip home.

Tammy
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:39 PM   #36
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Hello from Denver, where we are spending the night before flying home. The tour is over, and there is real sadness all around about that.

But first, back to last night. We had dinner as a group outside on the patio of the lodge, with the spectacular red cliffs and the Colorado River in the background. A 16-year old named Devon, who has a great voice and his own CD out, sang songs for us while we ate. It was a great dinner, freshly grilled steak and chicken and all the appropriate side dishes. And for once, the wine was on Disney instead of on us, and that was pretty nice too! As has become the custom, the kids sat together at two tables and the grown-ups sat together at two tables, and there was lots of picture taking and laughing. We passed around a sheet of paper and exchanged addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Geraldine made a terrific toast, and we were all toasting each other at all the tables.

When we were done, we went into another room for some reminiscences. On the first night, we had to introduce ourselves and say what we were most looking forward to. On our last night, we went around talking about what had turned out to be the best thing for each of us about the trip. There were some very neat answers from both the kids and the grown-ups. It was hard for me to come up with something, because pretty much everything was so great. Someone said that each day seemed better than the day before, and in some fundamental way that was true. It wasn't because the activities or the sights got better, they just got different. It was because we were having more fun doing things together. So when it was my turn I said that my favorite thing was the dinner at We Cook Pizza and Pasta, after sunset at the Grand Canyon, because to me it was the night when we started being friends instead of friendly acquaintances.

There were some other neat things that happened in that room, but I won't tell because it's worth waiting for the surprise.

Afterwards, we went down by the river and had a cookout with smores and singing. For once, we had a surprise for Tiffany, Geraldine and Freddy. While we were sitting around at the pool before dinner, we realized that we wanted to find some way to show our gratitude to them for everything they did to make the week so special. It would have been logistically impossible to buy them presents, and anyway we never would have agreed on what to get them. So we wrote a song to the tune of Rhinestone Cowboy that mentioned some of the highlights of the week. And with the help of Devon, who had come down from dinner to the campfire, the grown-ups all stood there singing to Tiffany, Geraldine and Freddy. We were totally off tune and only barely in time with the music, but I think they really liked it, and I even think the kids got a kick out of it. After that, we just took a ton of pictures and hung out talking until pretty late while the kids ran around the lodge playing games and laughing. It was a great night.

But ultimately we realized that we all had to pack and get to bed, so we left the campfire. Bag pick-up was at 7:30 this morning, and the coach departure was at 8:30. Everyone was taking the coach to Grand Junction except for one family who had a late afternoon flight and had arranged to stay at the lodge and get a cab to take them to the airport. The coach ride was pretty sad. Tiffany told us some funny stories and we watched a cute Pixar short film, but people were pretty quiet. When we got to the airport, they put Rhinestone Cowboy on one last time, and everyone sang. Then we got out and stood around, taking final pictures and hugging. There were lots of tears.

And that was that. Our family walked over to the Hertz counter, picked up our rental car and drove to Denver. We were the only ones who did that. Most people flew back to Phoenix to get connecting flights home, and a few flew to Denver to do the same. Because the tour ended on a Saturday, we thought it would be nice to extend the vacation one more day and see some of Colorado, so we drove straight across the state to Denver. It was a great idea, because the drive is spectacular, even though it's on an interstate highway. We drove through some magnificent mountain ranges and ski resort towns and stopped in Vail for lunch, which was a lot of fun and very pretty. We got to Denver in the late afternoon, explored some fun areas, had a nice dinner and are now relaxing in the hotel room. Our flight home is tomorrow morning.

A word about the airport at Grand Junction. There's pretty much nothing to do there except sit around. It looked like it was working out ok for our group because so many families were on the same plane and they were just hanging out talking. But try to schedule your flights as early as you can. The longer your wait, the more bored you might be.

So, that's the tour. I think I'm going to write one more post, maybe tomorrow from home, summarizing some thoughts that I've had about it for the past few days. In the meantime, keep those questions coming. I'm going to be more than happy to talk about any aspect of the tour that you guys are interested in. And one thought for now: if you're at all interested in this tour, take it!!!!
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:35 AM   #37
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We had the same idea. We are going to rent a car and drive to Denver. We are spending one night in Glenwoood Springs and then 3 nights in Denver. We live in New York and thought we may as well take advantage of being out there and see a little more before we come home. Wish Disney was in charge of planning that part for me.

I can only hope our trip is as great as yours! I have really enjoyed your report, thank you againfor keeping it up the whole week.

Tammy
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Old 07-13-2008, 11:25 AM   #38
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Thanks so much for posting all this information, it was awesome! Looking forward to next month when they'll open up reservations for next year.
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:16 PM   #39
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It really sounds like you had a wonderful trip & that you bonded with all the other travelers.........now that is Disney Magic.
I am looking forward to your final thoughts & some pictures when you get time.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:34 PM   #40
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Waiting to see your pictures now!
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:11 PM   #41
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Hello from New York, where we are home and trying to get used to busy city life after such an amazing week in red rock and canyon country.

First, the official picture count was 1,359. We watched the slide show on the computer late last night, with Rhinestone Cowboy in the background, of course. A few of the Grand Canyon actually manage to keep you a small sense of its vastness and majesty. What's neat is looking back at the early group pictures and seeing how we were all standing with our families and looking happy but sort of formal and then looking at the later pictures and seeing not only how loose and casual and relaxed we look but also how we're all scrambled as it clearly didn't matter who we were standing next to. The evolution is very obvious when you go through the pictures chronologically.

Second, I've been trying to figure out what the components were that made the trip so truly terrific. I think it's a lot of things. To begin with, there's the scenery. I don't think it's an accident that almost every family on our trip was from the East Coast. The difference in the landscape is so incredible and it never gets boring or old. Everywhere you look it's so unusual compared to what we're used to back home. And unusual in a stark, intense and magnificent way. In looking at the pictures, it's clear that they can only give you a taste of what the rock formations and canyons and plant life is like. Being there is really something.

And after the scenery, there's how easy everything is. I've never done a tour vacation before. Having someone else handle virtually all the logistics really adds to the relaxation factor of your vacation. Apart from having to show up on time and get your bag packed on time, pretty much everything else is taken care of for you. Even when you have "on your own" time, the guides suggest restaurants and activities and help you make plans. Speaking as someone who is a major planner, it felt pretty good to give the responsibility to others for a change.

All the hotels are good to great without being fancy. I would rank Red Cliffs as my favorite (because the rooms were so big and the setting so spectacular), the Amara second (very comfortable) and the Grand third, because it's the most plain, was third, but it really was fine. The food is fine, and occasionally quite good. But the trip is not really about the hotels or about the food. There was plenty of food and comfort for a good night's sleep and a safe home away from home. And that was what all the places needed to be. I really am not aware of any hotel in any of the places we stayed that was nicer than the ones Disney chose for us.

Of course a lot of what made the tour so great was the way our group connected, and that is something that changes from tour to tour. But I do think that it's a certain fun-loving and friendly kind of family that is drawn to Disney and to an Adventure by Disney, so I think for all the tours, there will be really good people who like to laugh and are interested in the sights and who want to meet other people (otherwise, why do a tour). The age differences among the kids mattered less and less every day, so that at the end, they were just all playing together. And the more the kids hung out together, the more the grown-ups were free to hang out together and get to know one another. I believe this has to happen on every tour. There's a lot of togetherness, and a lot of shared "WOWs" and a lot of laughter. These things bring people together.

And finally, there were the guides. I take it as a given that it takes a certain kind of person to be a tour guide, to begin with, and to be a Disney tour guide even more so. So, out of the box, I suspect that all the guides who do these tours are really terrific. But we only had 2, Tiffany and Geraldine, and they were really special. It was clear how much they liked each other, which of course helped. They were definitely in sync with each other, and while I won't share a lot of the stuff they did that is worth waiting to be surprised by, I will tell you that there were several times that I was laughing so hard I had tears coming out of my eyes. Of course they were really knowledgeable, about the areas we visited, about the things we would see on the drives, about the hotels, about the activities, all that stuff. And of course they were really personable and terrific with the kids. These are things that we all would expect from anyone Disney would trust with us. But the two of them had something extra, something that I think Disney can't teach, that is just in who they are, and their warmth and genuine interest in getting to know us and watch us experience this part of the country for the first time pervaded our whole adventure. The consistent themes on our last night were how sad we were that the trip was over and how big a role Tiffany and Geraldine played in making the week so great.

And I would be remiss not to mention Freddy, our driver. Freddy is very cool, knew his way around the roads really well, has 3 kids and 10 grandkids and seemed to get a big kick out of all of us, especially all the kids. We looked forward to seeing him every day too.

So that's it really. To reiterate a point I made before, if you are interested in seeing this part of the country, take this trip. You will have a blast and I think you will come home changed. I know we are now eager to see even more of that part of the country, maybe Bryce and Zion Canyons and also are considering Quest for the West, just because it must be gorgeous in Wyoming too. It's true what they say: the memories will last a lifetime.

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions. Thanks for reading.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:18 PM   #42
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Cindy18,

I have tears in my eyes! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. We've been to Sedona and GC and I agree, they are gorgeous, majestic, awe-inspiring but your insights throughout the entire trip have been just such a delicious icing on the cake.
Do you work for Disney?

Looking forward to the 1,359 photos!
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:25 PM   #43
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Redzinner, your post made me beam. Thanks very much. Nope, don't work for Disney, although it would certainly be a fun job. Tiffany told our white water rafting guide that Adventures by Disney was accepting applications, and I asked her if there was an age limit. She said no and that she had helped train a guide in her 50s last year. Something to consider....not sure I'd have the stamina though.

We have to whittle down those 1,359 pictures!!! I think we'd implode the site if we posted them all.
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:54 PM   #44
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O.K. Cindy you have to help me.
The situation is that we are doing this ABD trip insted of our yearly summer trip to Disney World. The kids and I are really missing Disney. We know we are going to love the ABD trip. But if you could post a few pictures it sure would help!!!
Really reading your report was so great, but now it's slipping down the page, we'd love to see those pictures! It doesn't have to be all 1,300 at once (but that would be ok with me).

Tammy
(just looked for a begging smiley but couldn't find one - imagine a smiley down on it's knees!)
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:11 AM   #45
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TammyDel, I've been away for a few days, so I haven't been on this. I asked DH to choose a few of the ridiculous number, and I promise we'll post them soon. Any special requests?????
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