Mystery Revealed!

We leave early tomorrow on our long-awaited and much-anticipated Mystery Vacation™!

Without further ado, we are headed to . . .


. . . the Grand Canyon and beautiful Sedona, Arizona!

Brett has talked about going for as long as I’ve known him, and the girls are also very, very excited about visiting this awe-inspiring natural wonder. I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon in almost 50 years, but every visit I’ve made in the past was nothing short of amazing, so I’m very excited as well about returning and experiencing it all again.

Guide leading mule riders up a steep portion of the Bright Angel Trail known as Heartbreak Hill. The Battleship formation is in the background, and Cheops Pyramid beyond that. (on the other side of the Colorado River) NPS photo by Michael Quinn. Mule trips into the canyon - as well as rides through the park's woodlands to scenic canyon overlooks - are offered on both the the North and South Rims of the park. Learn more here:

We’ll be flying in to Phoenix, arriving fairly late in the evening so will stay overnight near the airport after we pick up our rental car. Next morning, after our free breakfast at the hotel, we’ll hit the road and drive up to Williams, where we’ll meet for lunch and a reunion with a high school friend of mine and her husband. Both worked at the Grand Canyon for many years following their early retirement from the business world. They are bringing maps, etc. and will help us figure out what to see and do while we’re there.


While we’re at the Grand Canyon we’ll be staying at the historic and elegant El Tovar Hotel. The El Tovar, which opened in 1905, sits right on the rim, and is centrally located to most everything in the Grand Canyon Village. Reservations for the El Tovar sell out in just a few hours; I had to get up very early here to make ours a year ago! The only scheduled activity we have so far is a mule ride along the rim (which was also reserved early because it sells out quickly), but we are thinking about renting bikes one day for some touring. Or, we may drive up to Page and tour the slot canyons in Antelope Valley. We’ll just wait and see what we feel like doing. The wild card will of course be weather. It’s forecast to be mostly sunny but cold while we’re there (below freezing at night). There were rumors of snow one day, but that doesn’t seem to be happening any more, thank goodness.


After our time at the Grand Canyon we’ll drive over to beautiful Sedona to take in and explore the incredible vistas and red rock formations. We have reservations at sunset one day for a Pink Jeep Broken Arrow tour, where we’ll get up close and personal to the rocks and do some rock crawling. It’s supposed to be very, very fun (and thrilling) – can’t wait!


Then we’ll head back to Phoenix to spend the night – our flight home to Hawai’i leaves early in the morning.

Ever since they learned our destination last week, the girls and Brett have been eagerly researching all they can about the Grand Canyon and what we can see and do there. We’re all excited about the restaurants and food choices there and in Sedona – Navajo tacos, anyone? I’m just happy that it all came together, that everyone is happy with our destination, and that after more than a year of planning we’ll finally be on our way!

I’ll try to check in while we’re gone, but the WiFi at the Canyon is not supposed to be very good, so there might not be anything until we get to Sedona. But, I’ll be back with a full report next week! Arizona, here we come!

20 thoughts on “Mystery Revealed!

  1. I’ve stayed at the El Tovar, it’s beautiful! It’s the hotel they visit in National Lampoon’s Vacation too! Have a wonderful time!


    1. Thanks, Denise! My parents stayed at the El Tovar on an anniversary trip one year and raved about it, but on all our other family trips we stayed at Bright Angel. The El Tovar has been on my bucket list for a l-o-n-g time so I’m super to excited that we’ll be staying there. I feel very lucky to have gotten reservations.


    1. LOL – at first Brett and the girls weren’t too sure about this rock-crawling, but after reading more they’re pretty excited!


  2. How wonderful! I went on almost the exact same trip with my parents when I was about 10 years old. I still cherish those memories!

    When we were in Sedona, we went on a hike at Eagle’s Nest trail. I still remember the beautiful views!

    I can’t wait to hear about your trip! I’m sure it will be amazing!


    1. Our family made this trip when I was 12 – we took the train over to the Grand Canyon from Los Angeles. It still remains the best trip our family took together. I thought about doing the train again when I planned this one, but the logistics were crazy so gave up on that idea.

      My last trip to the GC was when I was 15 – we were on our way home from a week-long church-sponsored trip on the Navajo reservation. We had just had breakfast at the El Tovar and were all standing in the lobby when we learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. Kind of too the wind out of our sails.


  3. It sounds perfect! M & I have promised each other that we will do some of the best national park tours while it’s relatively convenient for us. Especially the ones in California.

    Have an amazing time with your family


    1. Thank you!

      I feel very fortunate about having gotten to see so many of the California National Parks growing up in CA, but so many new ones have been added fairly recently (both Joshua Tree and Death Valley were just monuments when I was young) so I guess Brett and I will have to go back. I recently saw some photos of Yosemite, and because of the drought there was no water going over Yosemite or the other falls – very sad. Hopefully that situation will turn around soon. Brett and I talk about doing the western National Park loop some year – I think it would take us about 2 months to see them all.


  4. A lurker here… Do visit Antelope Canyon during mid day of a sunny day and bring your cameras. It’s a feast to the eyes. SPECTACULAR colors! We wanted to go back immediately after we finished the tour. Have fun! ~ ~


    1. Thanks for the input. My friend said the same thing! We’ll be taking a family vote on whether to go or not when we’re there – the weather will be what decides it for us.


    1. Thanks! It’s supposed to be in the high 60s – low 70s when we’re there, but below freezing at night. I know we’ll want to be up early at least one morning to catch the sunrise, but we’ll figure out how to stay warm somehow.


  5. Have a wonderful time! I love Sedona but haven’t been in over 10 years. I went to the Grand Canyon once when I was 12, and I still have fond memories of that vacation. I remember a town or artsy shopping center near Sedona called Tlaquepaque, it was very cool just walking around looking at the different jewelry and art. Also we stopped at a really neat touristy mining town called Jerome, worth a visit for it’s terrific views.


  6. I am actually taking the Amtrak to San Diego from Chicago on the 28th of this month. I have a two night almost three day stop planned, getting off at Flagstaff and will be renting a car. I have never seen this area before so hopefully I will be able to get some hints from you! FYI I am a widowed 62 female, recently semiretired. I am going to a nursing conference in San Diego and am combining a Amtrak pass with my conference. This is the 4th Amtrak pass that I have done solo since the big R date. I have done the 15 day pass 469.00 and have gone ALL over the U.S. And this past fall Montreal and this month will include Vancouver which Amtrak will cover. Maybe something for you to consider in the future. (This past fall I actually started doing some hostels …… My kids are shaking their head but they’ve been great) I joke with them that I spent years worried wondering where they are etc. and now they can worry about their mother backpacking around the U.S. Alone LOL!


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