Doing the Loop: Apache Trail

On our past trip to Arizona we had read about the Apache Trail but it was the wrong direction to where we were headed (Sedona).  On this trip we decided to squish this in on and drive the loop on our last full day.

It takes close to 45 minutes to just get to the start of the Apache Trail from Scottsdale. When you do reach the Apache Trail, it is an amazing drive with the most incredible scenery and natural formations.  On the chilly day that we went,  there was light snow on the ground and snow capped Superstition Mountain up above. We took so many incredible pictures that day.– Without question it was the best scenery we saw on our trip.  I had found this guide to use which was a great help for there are not a lot of signs along the way to describe what you are seeing.

Out on the LedgeWe made several short stops –  especially enjoyed stop right before FishCreek Hill.  A paved path takes you out to the edge and we then followed a dirt path out even further to look over the Canyon.  It was really incredible.

However my words of advice for fellow travelers —  You need a full day to devote to this if you want to do  and truly enjoy the entire loop.  And be sure to include a nice hike at Lost Dutchman State Park or a boat ride ( I read there is a great one) to breakup the drive. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way at one of the stops. Between the time to get there and back and to do the loop can be very tiring for the driver. I wish we had made one long stop and turned around partway through.  Nevertheless, it still was a spectacular drive well worth seeing.

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Phoenix in December (It snowed.)

As the sun just began to rise over the desert, and we could see our breath in the frigid morning air, we began our journey to Koli Equestrian Center about 30 minutes south of where we were staying.  To think I had originally planned to begin our riding adventure at 7:30 AM…  Due to freezing morning temperatures we changed it to 9. 

Continue reading “Phoenix in December (It snowed.)”

Sun upon the Desert

A family climb up Cholla Trail was the perfect way to celebrate our first sunny day although the coldest day of the year in the dessert.   We were lucky to be able to walk to this trailhead that climbs up Camelback Mountain from our hotel.  We began the hike close to sunset and so only made it up to the first lookout.  The view stretched to the left of where our journey began in Phoenix, to the golf course just below us where my husband had playing that morning, beyond to Scottsdale on the left where my daughter and I had explored earlier that morning, and way out to snow capped Superstition Mountain that we would explore later on this trip. What an amazing view.

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We finished our day with dinner in Old Scottsdale with a restaurant chosen by my daughter, Mission Restaurant.  We were lucky to get a last minute reservation at the shared table and even luckier that a table opened up for us in this packed restaurant serving delicious modern Latin cuisine.  Uniquely prepared dishes wowed us from the appetizers, to our main courses, to dessert.

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There is usually a Thursday night ArtWalk but not tonight. Instead we wandered the deserted streets in the freezing temperatures enjoying the freedom to browse into windows without crowds.

Although our New Years was a huge disappointment (I chose to not post that pitiful evening), the first day of the new year was perfect!

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GOODBYE RVA… But not just yet…

Although our plan was to get up early and begin our drive to our vacation destination, we decided we could not miss two final stops in RVA to tour by car. Our helpful guide at the Visitor Center mapped out the best way see them and get to them.  First stop was to follow the blue loop road around Hollywood Cemetery passing Historic Grave Sites – including two presidents.  (Next visit we will definitely take one of the walking tours) Just wish we had known about this great map –   to identify what we were seeing.  HollyWoodNext we did a drive through of Memorial Drive – quick for by that time we were starving!  We decided to once again venture into one of the neighborhoods for food.  Clearly this is where the life is in RVA. – We headed into Carytown and quickly found an incredible lunch experience.. Can Can Brasserie – very well themed (I just love that), with delicious food and great service.   Excellent! Good selection of Beer on tap and in bottles too… I passed for it was too early for me.  However I left with a huge loaf of French Bread!  Yum!   We hit the road, sad to leave for there was so much more to do. I will be back to this city… but would pick another place to stay.  Parking is abundant and so no worries if staying outside of the city and driving in to the see the sites (many of them will pay for your parking!)

It turned out working well for there was not much see to along the way.  We had planned to stop in Wilmington NC  to see where they film the Dome but the traffic was bad and Matilda (our GPS) diverted us another way down a lonely rode through the countryside.  With little to see but crop after crop of tobacco (at the time we had no idea what it was) —   Our one stop was for our first batch of Boiled Peanuts along with some local produce.