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Old 08-21-2008, 05:32 PM   #31
tammydel
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Well here I am finally back and live from Moab, Utah!

There was no internet access in the rooms at the Grand and the WIFI in the lobby was s o s l o w. There wasn't time to wait for pages to load - except perhaps late at night and I was way too tired (Cindy I don't know how you did it!).

We packed up and left the Amara reluctantly - it was very nice there and Sedona is so beautiful. As we were leaving I discovered two things
1) We owed $$ because we forgot to leave a credit card with the front desk and had charged a few things to the room. The way you check in, just getting the keys and going straight to the room, it was easy to forget - luckily they caught up with me though so I wouldn't be on a wanted sign!!!
2) This is Geraldine's last trip for the season! She is awesome and it was easy to see that it was sad for her to leave the Amara. One of the aspects that makes this trip so wonderful is obviously the great relationship that our ABD guides have developed with the staff at each resort.

Our nature walk was very nice and amazingly not too hot. Our Red Rock State Park guide was very knowledgeable (this has been the case throughout so far) it is amazing the difference a little water can have on the landscape!

Back on the bus we made great time and arrived a little early at Grand Hotel. Geraldine decided we should go straight to the Canyon before checking in - we were pleased and excited. You really could feel the excitement build on the bus as we entered the park and got closer. Also you could see very dark clouds forming overhead. You could also see lightening and you could hear thunder. Geraldine talked to us about her "special" plan of how we would all first see the canyon - sap that I am I am tearing up as I type- she also passed out ponchos because it was starting to rain rather hard.

I can't remember right now if anyone else described this particular method of 'first sight' and I'm a little torn about giving it away - but I don't think anything can take away from that moment. So..
She had us all hold hands with our families and look down at the ground. We followed the sound of her voice across the street and to the guardrail. All of us, in line, holding on to our families, NOT peeking. Then she said "OK now" and there was this collective gasp that could be heard over the pounding rain. I'm sure in that moment everyone squeezed their families a little tighter. I know we did. There is no way I could describe the sight. All I can say is that it is a sight that you do not just see, you feel it to the very core of your being, it's an overwhelming feeling. Having seen many pictures and videos I can now honestly say, none of it can really give you any idea how it is to stand on the edge of the canyon looking out into it.
We spent a little more time looking, but it was raining REALLY hard by now, so we ran first to the gift shop and then to the bus.

The Grand Hotel really was fine. I thought the staff all went out of their way to be very friendly. My only complaint (again - so maybe it really is just us) my kids found the dinner buffet not to their liking. It was sliced beef, ribs and chicken all slathered in a very red barbeque sauce. Geraldine did get us some chicken w/o the sauce (she is so good) and we ordered - from the menu- some macaroni and cheese, we offered to pay for it to the waiter but he said not to worry about it. So the great staff really fixed our only issue.

Next morning the step on guide was great and the views from the spots that the bus took us to were fabulous. You get let off inside the Park at Bight Angel Lodge which is right next to the Thunderbird that ABD will be using next year. You folks should have great views and easy access to the canyon all the time. I asked Geraldine if it wasn't a little weird working with the staff at the Grand now that ABD has announced a new hotel for next year. She said it is a little weird but they know the manager well and because of the good relationship the guides have with him it is a little less weird than it could be.
Everyone had a great time going back for sunset views even though it was an "on your own" time. The guides played games with the kids on the grass near the El Tovar and we took great shots of the sunset. Then we all went back to town on the bus to a pizza/pasta (and Beer I should add) place. It was loud, crazy fun. The kids by this point were well bonded and sat together. Grownups enjoyed talking and having a cold adult beverage. My son started not feeling well - I think inspired by riding in the back of the bus with the other kids, he of course disagrees!- but it was a very short walk back to the hotel.

So the next day was another moment when I was glad I was on this tour and NOT trying to drive this on our own. Yes, 6 hours on a bus is a very long time. But it was our own little rolling island of civilization. You go for LONG times where there is really nothing. I live in upstate NY and have driven across western NY. I thought that there was nothing. This seems like a whole different country, sometimes planet. If we were on our own we would have been worried about where to buy gas, food and have rest stops. Heaven forbid anything go really wrong. You could go 100 miles and see nothing but a few trailers in the middle of a desolate field. If the years and having children have reduced my adventurous spirit to riding on a bus watching Disney's Cars movie, so be it, sign me up.
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Old 08-21-2008, 05:45 PM   #32
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On the way to Moab we stopped in Monument Valley. Amazing, these gigantic rock structures sitting there in front of you. I am having trouble describing the sights you see on this trip. I will go through and post pictures, but I know having seen the pictures before I came, they don't really give you the "feel" of what it is like to be right here. Sometimes I can't believe this is the same country that I live in. We have natural beauty where I live, but this is on such a different proportion, harsh in ways perhaps, but very humbling. Some description of Monument Valley I know, I'm sorry.
You ride in the back of these pickups with rows of seats and a roof cover. It is very bumpy and very dusty. I was jealous of some people who had bandanas to tie over their faces, that would have been nice! But the bumps made it exciting and the dust washes off.
I sure thought a lot about the native people and what their life is like there. This is tough land to live on...I guess that's a whole other discussion for another place and time.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:07 PM   #33
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Now we are here at the Red Cliffs Lodge. It is great, you kind of get that visiting a ranch experience. We had dinner last night (pasta, kids were happy) and settled in. The rooms are HUGE. We got the connecting rooms that we had requested (had them at the Grand as well). So two of these rooms together is so much space. I'm glad we are here for 3 nights, but I'm sure it won't seem like enough.
We did the hike to Delicate Arch this morning. Whew! Not for the delicate I tell you. I would say it is only moderately strenuous, although there are some uphill stretches that will take away your breath. But there is the issue of some of it being - well slanted, with some drop offs. My DH has a fear of heights, I usually don't. But on this hike, with the kids, I certainly was more than a little nervous at times. At the Arch, it ended up being my son and I who made the final trip around to stand under the Arch. I think Sayhello described it as walking along the inside of a bowl. Yep. I'm so glad we did it, I felt a real sense of accomplishment and was very proud of my son, I'm also so glad it's done.

Had lunch in town - Slickrock Grill, good food, slow service - perhaps they were overwhelmed by many of our group coming in.

Now we are back at the hotel. DH has the kids at the pool while I type. I wanted to get a massage after the hike and had asked last night, but they bring someone in from town and no one was available. Tonight is the Jr. Adventurer night out (and parent’s night out!)

I can't believe tomorrow is the last full day of the ABD trip! It will be a full one. We are horseback riding in the AM, and then there is a group BBQ. We all raft in the afternoon and finally we have our farewell dinner.

I have uploaded the pictures, I'll sit and try to pick out some good ones.

Turtlemom - I know you've begun your trip - If you get access to a computer - Have a spectacular time! I will be waiting to hear about your trip.

Any questions I'll try and answer as quickly as I can.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:32 PM   #34
tammydel
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Here is the jeep from the Red Rocks Jeep tour in Sedona


Here is a view while on that tour


My kids lassoing a bull


Just realized many pictures are onthe computer, but not on photobucket yet. I'll work on that.
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:03 PM   #35
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Here's acouple from Monument Valley


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Old 08-21-2008, 07:33 PM   #36
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I'm enjoying reading about your trip. We did this ABD in May and just loved it!! And reading about yours it like reliving mine again - except I have to go to work everyday and not do fun things!!

I am glad your family is having a good time.
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:34 PM   #37
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And here they are - some pictures of the canyon




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Old 08-21-2008, 08:34 PM   #38
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Tammydel! Great pictures. So glad you're enjoying the trip. I just got back from a jaunt to Seattle, so I've missed your real-time reports up till now. But I'm all caught up now!

You made it all the way up to under Delicate Arch! Yay! It's not easy, but it *does* give you a sense of accomplishment. Any pictures of your feat? A massage would have been great after that -- sorry they weren't able to arrange it.

Isn't the Red Cliffs Lodge wonderful? I loved it there.

Interesting about the Grand, it hadn't occurred to me about the "awkwardness" of the hotel change. Did either of the Guides mention why the change was made? I'm assuming it's because of the location; from what I hear the Thunderbird is more rustic than the Grand. But you can't beat the location!

So fun reading your reactions, and re-living the trip. Looking forward to reading about the rafting tomorrow!

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Old 08-21-2008, 09:03 PM   #39
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Just priceless ! Thanks for sharing your adventure
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:19 AM   #40
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We've been checking for your reports Tammy Del. Great to read about your week! Not surprised that it's blowing you away. We feel the same way about the scenery. Pictures don't capture it, and somehow you can't believe you are in the same country. You will have a terrific time today, and I hope you and DH had a nice quiet dinner last night with the spectacular views for romance!
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:04 AM   #41
tammydel
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On our way out to ride - but I just had to say:

Happy 100th Post Cindy18!
Tammy
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:27 AM   #42
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Tammy Del, you crack me up. Thanks for noticing. I know today will be a fabulous day for you. Have a blast.
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:42 AM   #43
tammydel
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Well - it is late Sunday night, on the way into Monday morning.
Most, if not all, of my fellow adventurers are home.
We spent the night last night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and are in Denver at a friend's apartment now until Wednesday.
There is much to go back and tell about. I just went back and looked at the pictures from the past few days, I can't believe how much we did in those last few days.
I will go back and write about those days and post pictures, but for now lets just say that if we could have gotten on a plane in Grand Junction and flew back to Phoenix with the whole group and done it all again, we would have.

Tammy
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:03 AM   #44
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TammyDel Thanks so much for all the updates! We booked our trip for next June and are so excited to hear all about your trip. My daughter will be fourteen, were there many teenagers on your trip?
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Old 08-25-2008, 08:51 AM   #45
tammydel
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Wii Fit Mama - (Love your name by the way - just got one before we left and I miss it!) Our group had 37 people and 17 of those were kids. I think - and I haven't had coffee yet, about 7 of the kids were teens of a variety of ages. The kids really made friends. I think within and age/gender group so long as there is at least one other, they have a buddy. If most schools are out when you go I'm sure there will be plenty of kids. Also don't worry much if they seem to have different likes/dislikes/styles or whatever. Sharing these experiences seemed to bond the kids no matter how different they were.
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