Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NYE Weekend in AZ

Horseshoe Bend 

The Girl Squad

I did a road trip last NYE weekend, which inspired me to plan another road trip this year on the same weekend. In the past, I always felt that NYE was always overhyped. You want it to be grand, but you end up texting your friends last minute asking what their plans are, and paying expensive covers to go places. So to dash those feelings for me, these past 2 years I've planned road trips to get away from the hustle & bustle of my NYE anxiety and it's been an amazing experience!

I flew down to California for the holidays and extended my trip into January due to a friend's wedding, so when thinking up of places to go on my road trip, I decided on Arizona. I hit up my friend Kelle in Phoenix and asked her if she was interested and she said yes. Sweet! To save on cost, I stayed with her 2 of the 3 nights while in Arizona. When planning road trips, I try to save money and keep a low budget. I've been in a rental car, which I am very grateful for, since I think I've put over 2000 miles on it since I've been in town lol. We hit up Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Waterholes Canyon, and Sedona. Below is the day by day details of our road trip:

Friday December 30, 3016 
I hit the road from Irvine, CA to Phoenix, AZ around 11:30 am. I did this drive solo, which I think is the longest solo driving I've actually done. Usually I have someone in the car with me, but it wasn't as terrible as I thought it was going to be, besides the rain I hit. It ended up taking me 7 hours to get to Phoenix due to traffic. Plus AZ has an hour time difference, so I got to Kelle's in Phoenix around 8 pm. We caught up, I dragged her to Target (I scored some battery operated LED Christmas lights for my tent for $2.69! Christmas decorations were 70% off, I was pretty stoked on my find), went through the Taco Bell drive thru for a quick bite, and off to the airport we went to go pick up my friend Catherine who flew in from Seattle for this trip.

Miles driven: 375 miles

Catherine, me, and Kelle
Snow in the desert

Saturday December 31, 2016
The girls and I hit the road around 6:30 am the next morning. We were driving from Phoenix to Page, which is about 4 hours apart. With a few stops here and there, we pulled into the city of Page around noon. I booked the Quality Inn there ahead of time for $45/night (great deal I thought, plus free hot breakfast!), but the hotel wouldn't let us check in till after 3 pm... but that's ok, we went to Denny's to fuel up and figure out what we were going to do next. We had booked a tour to do Lower Antelope Canyon, but due to bad weather and flash flood warnings, they canceled all tours for the rest of the day. We ended up calling Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tour by chance because I was trying to figure out backcountry permits, and they said that Upper Antelope Canyon tours were still going for the day. So we decided on doing that tour instead. The tour per person was $48. We originally had opted for Lower because it was cheaper ($28/person instead), but Mother Nature was working against us that day. 

We ended up taking the 2:30 pm tour through the slot canyon. You have to go through a tour group to see Antelope Canyon because it is on Native American land. We drove past the Antelope Canyon parking area to where Adventurous Antelope Canyon is located and met there. They put about 7 people in a group and caravan you over to the canyon in SUVs. The ride out was bumpy and rough, but it was a lot of fun haha. Once there, your tour guide leads you through the canyon and points out the different shapes to spot in the walls. The tour itself is about an hour long. Kirk, our tour guide did a great job of leading us and taking pictures of us! We went during off season, and it was pretty crowded, I can't imagine what it's like during the summer months out there! 

After Upper Antelope Canyon, we headed over to Horseshoe Bend to catch the sunset. the parking lot was very full there. It's a short walk up a hill to get to the lookout. When we got there, it was really overcast and we didn't catch a sunset, but the view was spectacular. If you're scared of heights, you might want to not walk too close to the edge. A friend of mine said you can kayak down below, I will have to come back and do that! We headed back to the car after sunset, and while heading back a little boy approached us asking to use our cell phone because he got separated from his parents. Poor kid! He was on the brink of tears, he eventually got a hold of his mom. Apparently his dad was supposed to be with him, not sure where he went lol. The mother was definitely freaking out cuz she was at the lookout, which was a 10-15 min walk away. She was speaking Chinese to the boy, so I spoke Chinese back to her letting her know I would stick with him until we could meet up with her, or find the dad. Eventually the boy saw his dad and we parted ways, happy I could help in a situations like these! 

We finally headed back to our hotel and checked in. After cleaning up a bit, we went out to grab a NYE dinner and drink at El Tapatio. The food was delicious and so were the margs! The girls and I tried really hard to stay up until midnight, but we were so drained from the day, we all went to bed before 10 pm lol. 

Miles driven: 275 miles
Kirk on the right, and the others that were part of our tour group
 Do you spy the heart?
 The slot canyon was amazing looking
 A moment of solitude?
 Pretty sure our group hated us lol
The girls
The Candlestick
 Life on the edge
Notice the crowds?
Sunday January 1, 2017
We woke up around 7:00 am, got ready and packed, and headed to our free hotel breakfast by 8:30 am. After a quick breakfast we hit the road for Waterhole Canyon. Waterhole Canyon is located 2.7 miles pass Horseshoe Bend. Kelle had found Waterhole Canyon online and suggested we check it out. It's a slot canyon, not as narrow as Antelope, but just as cool I thought. 

Waterhole Canyon
I used this blog I found online as a reference for directions. Backcountry permit is needed for Waterhole Canyon, but after talking to the Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tour, they said that paying for a tour, you can use that same receipt and not buy a backcountry permit. Kelle and I had tried to plan ahead and mailed in a money order to Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park for permits, but I don't think that was necessary.

When driving on Hwy 89, past Horseshoe Bend and Page behind you, reset your mileage on your car and go about 2.6 miles. You will see a dirt pull out to the left right before you go over a bridge. The bridge is nondescript and you might go right over it without noticing it, so keep your eye out for it. The dirt lot had a closed gate when we parked, but on the right side of the gate, there's a slot where you can walk through. If you go over the bridge, you will see a small sign that says "Waterhole Canyon". 

After walking past the gate, you don't go too far down before you drop into the canyon. It might look like you're walking to a cliff, but if you stick to the left, you will see an easy enough path to get down to the canyon floor. Once on the floor, Kelle went right towards the bridge to see what was over there. She found a rope that lead further down into a canyon so we went left instead since we didn't feel comfortable dropping down further into the canyon. Per others, you go towards the power lines, which was to the left of us at this point. So we headed that way. Due to bad weather though from the precious days, the canyon floor had some major ankle deep puddles we had to maneuver over. We went about .5 miles down the canyon floor before we decided to climb out of it. We were all also worried about flash floods. You can get back to the car if you climb up and out of the canyon, or you can go back the way you came. We did not run into a single person while down there, only when we were almost back to the car did we see one couple. If you have time, this is definitely worth checking out! Especially if you like quietness and solitude. 

 Dropping down into Waterhole Canyon
 Kelle trying to figure out which way to go
 She could do this, we couldn't. She is 1/2 ft taller than both Catherine and me lol
Do you see them? Do you see the ants?

 Waterhole Canyon
 Those who wander are not lost
Keep on exploring

After Waterhole Canyon we headed to Sedona. While driving to Sedona, we went from rain, to a little sun, to hitting a snowstorm while going through Flagstaff. But we made it to Sedona eventually. We ended up only hiking Cathedral Rock (3 miles R/T) due to time and bad weather. I've done Cathedral Rock twice before, but this time was probably the busiest I have seen it! I blame it being a holiday though and parking is free on holidays. Kelle and I made it to the top of the trail, and when we headed back it started sprinkling. After the hike, the 3 of us headed to Picazzo's Organic Kitchen for an early dinner before we hit the road back to Phoenix. We pulled into Phoenix around 9:00 pm that night and all headed to bed early again lol. 

The only time when we saw blue skies
 Top of Cathedral Rock 
Arizona plants

Miles driven: 270 miles

Monday January 2, 2017
Catherine had a 6:00 am flight, so I dropped her off at the airport by 4:15 am (Mountain Standard Time) and then hit the road for Los Angeles. Well, 4:15 am AZ time, is 3:15 am CA time, and tiredness creeped up on me within an hour of being on the road. So I pulled into a rest stop right outside of Phoenix and took a 45 min nap before going back on the road. This time it only took me 5 hours and 45 min to get back to LA, I didn't hit any traffic leaving that early lol. 

Miles driven: 375 miles

Overall, this was another great road trip! It was technically Catherine's first time experiencing AZ, and she really enjoyed the state, even though her words were "this state is weird, you go through every kind of terrain and weather change" lol. It was also great hanging out with Kelle again, I hadn't seen her in 3 years! Happy I brought in 2017 with another great bang!

Total miles driven in 4 days: 1295 miles

Until next time Arizona!

No comments:

Post a Comment