Weekend Warrior Series: 72 Hours in Sedona and Phoenix, AZ (Winter Edition)

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Now that I’m a workin’ woman, it doesn’t mean that I can’t travel anymore- it just means that sometimes they’re shorter / weekend trips. I’m now a proud member of the “weekend warrior” tribe.

I appreciate that I have the opportunity in my free time to continue writing these blogs because writing gives me the chance to recount my travels, and dive deeper into learning about the destinations that I go to. I feel that being educated as a traveler is extremely important- to get to know the land and the people and the culture so that you can properly respect their traditions and customs and become a part of the community.

For this weekend warrior series trip, Conner and I headed to his home-state of Arizona. We flew into PHX, and drove up to Sedona which was only about a two hour drive.

Day 1: Saturday in Sedona, Arizona

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I really enjoy trying out new and unique places to stay when I travel, and to try to become as immersed in the community’s genuine environment. This is why I love using Airbnb- it gives me the power to select from a variety of interesting places to stay (sometimes unique experiences such as sleeping on someone’s yacht). This trip we stayed in the most truly Sedona hippy-style charming standalone studio. It had a labyrinth in the backyard and so much open expanse to roam outside.

This studio was equipped with a library, reflection space, tarot cards, and every kind of tea that you could possibly imagine, as well as a calm and serene atmosphere. It was lovely and peaceful.

We headed into town that afternoon to see the sights. Our first stop in Sedona was at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We didn’t get the chance to go inside because the parking lot was a zoo, but from my outside view of the building I can sense why people flock to Sedona for a spiritual escape.

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The chapel perfectly blends into the mountainside

We spent the rest of our afternoon wandering around all of the funky shops that Sedona has to offer. I admired the artwork in the various galleries, and liked browsing the ethnic crafting in the Native American and ethnic posts. I also liked checking out all of the new age/metaphysical healing shops that were on Sedona’s main road, with their enormous sized crystals and various wellness themed trinkets. I bought myself a tree of life necklace with the chakras outlining the leaves.

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Isn’t Arizona supposed to be WARM? 😉 Look at all of that snow!

I also bought the ultimate souvenir of Sedona: a custom-made one-of-a-kind hand dipped candle from Sedona Candle Magic. These candles are truly incomparably gorgeous works of art and worth every dollar you’ll spend (around $30 on a medium sized one at the time we bought) because they’re REFILLABLE! Yes, once the tea light inside burns out after about 10 hours, you simply replace it with a new one. Each one is completely unique, and there is probably every design available to order that you could think of.

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I chose a Sedona sunset scene

Later that evening we went on a sunset four wheeling adventure with Red Rock Western Jeep Tours. It was so much fun- and so informative about the area’s history. Our guide Sarah was extremely knowledgeable and told us all of the insider and local intel about the region such as where to hike to see the best sunset scenes, and the down-low on where locals go to admire the best views of the red rocks.

I have no idea how Sarah knew how to drive our four wheel jeep so skillfully that it didn’t flip when as we catapulted vertically through the rocks and mud. Beware that four wheeling jeep tours are a bumpy ride!

Day 2: Sunday at The Grand Canyon South Rim

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The next morning we braved the snow and headed up in elevation to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Williams, AZ. When we got to the park, the sun came out with perfect timing for us to get a peek at the enormity of the canyon, and I wished that I could’ve hiked it a bit- but for safety reasons we’ll just have to be patient and wait for next time.

There was a lot of helpful information at the visitor’s center about the history of the canyon including a 360 degree spherical video projection on how this massive landmark was formed. By the way- this year 2019 is the 100th Birthday of the Grand Canyon! There is a lot of special programming at the Visitor’s Center to commemorate the occasion including the Desert View Cultural Demonstrators who are members of Grand Canyon’s 11 traditionally associated tribes, and the “100 Years of Grand”  centennial project to showcase archival materials around the early years of Grand Canyon.

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BIG cavern

When we returned to Sedona that evening Conner and I had drinks at the famous Mariposa which was listed as one of the most scenic restaurants in America for the year 2018. I got a prickly pear cocktail (because when in Arizona, why not celebrate by drinking the nectar of local cacti?).

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This restaurant’s outdoor patio did have one of the best views of any restaurant I’ve ever been to- even though it was too chilly in February to sit on the patio for dinner. When the sun set and reflected off of the red rocks and the sky set fire, I was more than eager to brave the weather outside to watch the colors rise up the mountainside and enjoy the sights. Even our waiter ran outside with his iPhone camera to take some pictures…

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Day 3: Monday Afternoon in Phoenix- Hiking Camelback Mountain

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On Monday we drove back to Phoenix, and after spending two days in temperatures below freezing, I wanted to be able to outside, so we hiked the infamous Camelback Mountain on the border of Phoenix and Scottsdale. The mountain has a total elevation of 2,704 feet and superb views of the Phoenix-Scottsdale area at the top. Beware that finding trailside parking is almost as challenging as the hike itself, and to be extremely careful if you’re hiking in hot weather.

It was a strenuous hike with an elevation gain of about 1,250 feet in just over 1.4 miles- that’s STEEP! In fact, there’s literally a helicopter pad halfway up the mountain so that airlift rescuers have access to hikers who have fallen or become too dehydrated in the desert heat to go on. Not scared off yet? Just remember to be smart:

The city’s campaign ‘Take a hike. Do it right.” advises hikers

  • Watch the weather
  • Dress appropriately
  • Bring water
  • Keep in contact
  • Team up
  • Be honest
  • Don’t “trailblaze”
  • Take responsibility.

We started on the Cholla Trail side which is supposedly the “easier side” to hike up (this is under debate with Conner’s family who are local, and other locals as well) and it was still a pretty treacherous climb toward the end. We’re talking straight boulder rock scrambling and hoping you have a solid enough sense of balance to hold grounded to a sheer slab of rock on the mountainside. The view was worth the challenge at the end. You can see for tens of miles, and the wildflowers that were blooming all around the region were gorgeous.

Also, I had never before seen a saguaro cactus in my life. In person, they’re huge! In fact, the saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States. But they’re a very slow growing cactus- a 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. In prime conditions, the saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall and when the rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated, it can weigh between 3,200-4,800 pounds. To read more info about the saguaro cactus, see here.

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Look how small I am with the elderly cacti

Overall, the long weekend in Arizona was a success and the Spring weather was lovely. I would love to take a trip back to Sedona and the Grand Canyon when it’s warmer weather, but for now I’ll just have to hold onto my memories though burning my one-of-a-kind Sedona candle and by testing out my new prickly pear cocktail recipe 😉

Do you have any additional Sedona or Arizona activities? Share them with me!

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