Friday, January 27, 2017

just a bit Out of Africa

It was one of those rare kinda weekends. The one where there is actually severe storms in Cali and cold and rainy in AZ! We weren't going to let it get us down. We found some awesome things you can do right around here with kids.
Sarah found this really cool thing -- Big City Hunt !

We raced around the city doing all kinds of crazy things during our scavenger hunt!  What a random crazy fun time. 
"looking for a contact" below:
Having company always inspires you to find new things but also new places to eat! And manOman did my sis find a WINNER on Yelp! Welcome Diner was not only the cutest, coolest place, it also had absolutely delicious food!  We talked to a regular who said they can't stop ordering new things every time they come! Everything was so fresh and tasty... I could go on and on. But just know - you should check it out! Welcome Diner's IG 

Another favorite we went to this week was Culinary Dropout . They have amazing pretzel fondue and the live music was awesome!
Something J and I have been wanting to do for a long time finally came true! We headed up to Camp Verde and stopped at Out Of Africa. Wow, what a fun experience. Between the fun shows with tigers and being able to pet a snake, Remy was in her happy place! 
Everyone was so kind and we made some awesome memories. We couldn't believe how close you can get to these beautiful wild creatures. 
When we first walked in there was a giraffe which is Remy's current favorite animal (even up there with puppies! such a random kid). We were so excited to show them to her. Not expecting quite how friendly Mr. Giraffe would be he swooped in with a huge kiss right at Remy and J! The look on our faces and yells were priceless. We learned quickly these animals like people a lot! 
Remy kept yelling "com'on diger... com'on" and "don't eat me wion!" She had no fear of the snakes, however J and Tia ran backwards pretty quickly when the snake came swiftly out of the cage! We enjoyed some tasty hot cocoa together as well. 
Our favorite part was probably the safari ride!  We love hearing all the fun facts about the animals and our tour guide made it so much fun. At one point you were able to feed the giraffe.  
She said if you want a kiss to put it between your teeth.. so of course J and I had to try.  J got slobbered but mine was more like a large kitten's tongue... and I mean very large!
Thanks to Sarah for being such a good sport in the cold weather and making it such a fun memorable weekend! Many Blessings!
See ya over on Instagram !

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Traveling AZ (in a nutshell)

Hello world!  I have been needing to write my ideas out somewhere for quite a while now.  Thankfully some friends were visiting the area and wanted some suggestions.  So I got all my thoughts written down and thought I'd get it out here as well!

Warning: This is long and descriptive. Feel free to scroll down and read about the area you are visiting!  Blessings to all!

Phoenix is central to a lot of things but everything is very spread out.  LA / San Diego areas are about 5-6 hours from PHX.  Joshua Tree National Park in CA is about 4 hours from PHX.  If you need any suggestions on this let me know!

We mostly like to get outdoors so most of my knowledge is about hiking and viewpoints.  If you need more suggestions on restaurants, I do know some great favorites around PHX/Scottsdale areas so let me know and I can share this too!  If you haven't yet, make sure you check out the 'downtown' strip in Gilbert. Very fun!
Near PHX area:

Camelback Mountain Trails:  Almost right in PHX (technically Scottsdale). Moderate to difficult hike.  Depending on which trail you take, you are hiking 2 or 2 1/2 miles one way.  Restroom at one of the trailheads.  Right in the middle of town this hike is very accessible, but a lot of foot traffic.
Canyon Lake - About 50 min from PHX area.  Viewpoints are incredible.  There are a lot of picnic areas and boat docks. There is a large marina where you can purchase tickets for a day-cruise, or rent small boats or kayaks.  So fun! The drive is very beautiful and windy.
Lost Dutchman Trail -  About 35 min from PHX. Small fee for parking. Restrooms. Trail is easy to hard depending how far you go and which trail.  Would be on your way to Canyon Lake above. 
Lost Dutchman Ghost Town- Very fun for the kids! There are ice cream shops, $3 dollar museum to see snakes/spiders/etc. Cheap souvenir shops and fun photo ops. There are also "mining" rides on a mini train. On the way to Canyon Lake above.   Make sure and try the "prickly pear ice cream" or Apple dumplings from the Saloon!
Saguaro Lake:  About 45 min outside of PHX area. Bathrooms. Parking is free depending on what you are doing. You can just check out the views from the dock area and also take boat tours and see beautiful Four Peaks views!
Butcher Jones Trail (Part of the Saguaro Lake area): About 45 min outside of PHX area. Bathrooms. 
IMPORTANT PARKING: You have to get your pass BEFORE you go (unless you are riding the fairy, free parking for this).  Make sure you stop at the gas station off of Highway 87 and get a pass. They are about $6.00 and very picky if you don't have one in your car!   This hike is 4 miles round trip.  You get to see some cool views of the lake that are just gorgeous.  Easy to moderate hike. Kids love this one! Highly recommend.

Payson, AZ -- hour and a half from PHX area:
There are no towns for about an hour until you hit Payson.  Once in Payson there are a lot of fast food places/gas/etc.

Tonto State Park Natural Bridge: 20 min outside of Payson.  $10.00 for one car.  Bathrooms. A BEAUTIFUL place!  There are about 4 viewpoints and a 2 1/2 mile hike if you are feeling adventurous.  Otherwise just take the .50 mile hike down to see. There is a waterfall and you can climb on the rocks (Most of the time.  At times the water level is too high and you can only go to the view points).  Love this park!
Waterwheel Hike: about 15 min outside of Payson (on the way to Tonto above). Free Parking. No bathrooms. 4 mile round trip easy to moderate hike.  A bunch of water falls and a FUN hike! When water levels are high you may get wet. Done it twice, one time I had to wade in water up to my stomach and the other time I didn't even get wet at all!
Horton Creek Trail: 6 miles roundtrip -- easy to hard. Free parking. Bathrooms at the beginning. Very beautiful hike but only a few viewpoints of the creek even though you can hear it the whole time!
The Mogollon Rim: 35 min outside of Payson.  Gorgeous drive! Free Parking. You can hike "The Rim" which is mostly paved walkway and there are a bunch of viewpoints from the rim. Or you can just drive and stop at each viewpoint.  Very gorgeous views! 
Painted Desert: 3 1/2 hours from PHX area... Another 2 hours past Payson. You'd drive through Mogollon Rim, but once you get past that, there's not much to see or do until you get to the Painted Desert. Check out their info here:
Lets take another highway! Points of interest along I-17
Sedona, AZ (one of my FAVORITE PLACES OF ALL TIME!): About 2 1/2 hours from PHX area.  Please see link for all info I got.... 
Prescott, AZ area:  About 2 hours north of PHX.  I would rather just drive a bit further to Sedona (above) but Prescott is very pretty! I have a few more ideas but the best thing in Prescott...

Watson Lake Trail: 4.8 miles around, easy to moderate. AMAZING views.  Kinda hard to keep on the trail but even just driving out to see it is worth it!
Keep going up I-17!Flagstaff, AZAbout 3 hours from PHX area:

Downtown Flagstaff is the coolest ever.  Very 'old school' and just about anything for anyone.  Lots of cool pubs and restaurants.

A few of our favorites:
"Macy's" (Chai Tea is amazing and the fruit waffles are to die for!)
"Diablo Burger" (Best burgers you have ever had!)
"Pizzicletta" (Authentic Italian pizza!)
Buffalo Park:  Right outside of Flagstaff, AZ.  Free Parking. Bathrooms. Easy 2 mile walk/hike.  Gorgeous views!
There are a lot of other hikes around Flagstaff to check out here:

Grand Canyon: 3 hours and 15 min from PHX area. 1 & 15 from Flagstaff, AZ. is all the info you can handle!  Very amazing place.
Page, AZ:  4 Hours from PHX. 2 hours from Flagstaff. Nothing to this town itself. A couple fast food places and a hotel or two but you are miles from anything else. So gas up and be ready for a beautiful but long drive!  Would be cheaper and nicer to drive to Flagstaff to stay.

That Dam: Cool to see :)

Horseshoe Bend: About 15 min outside of Page. Free Parking. No bathrooms (this could've changed now). A easy .25 mile hike.  When you get to the the viewpoint ledge there are no railings VERY dangerous but so very worth it. Watch the kiddos!
Antelope Canyon: About 20 min outside of Page.  The whole process is very confusing but worth it so stick it out! When we went it was pretty cheap for tickets but it looks like they have upped the price probably due to popularity.  We drove out to this little tent on the side of the road where they had dune buggies and tour guides.  We bought our tickets right at the tent. They take you on about a 10 min ride out to the canyon and walk your group through. There are no self-guided tours to my knowledge. It is on native american land and they require you to go through them for tours. Here is the info I found online:

Like I said, I'm not sure if they have just changed the rules or not but we just got our tickets right at the tent.  

Haven't done Lower Antelope but I have heard it is the same kind of set up.

The Wave: A dream of ours... haven't done but here is the info:

If you are looking at a specific area I didn't talk about let me know and I'll share if I know anything!  Places to stay: we use Airbnb and Hotwire mostly if we aren't camping. If you want recommendations on campgrounds let me know!

Hope this all helps a bit and you guys have an AWESOME TIME!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sedona Stuff

It's been a while since I've been on this here blog! Crazy few months to say the least, but a whole lot of blessings to fill our lives.
We decided to hit up a Sedona "Fall Day" this last weekend and pretty much just turned into “a” day because there were no fall colors and the apple cider stand was closed…. BUT there's never a disappointing day in Sedona! I thought I would share some thoughts on Sedona and the area seeing as how we know it better than our own back yard at this point! A few people have asked for some Sedona travel tips, so here we go!
Trails: Click on each trail name and it will take you to HikeArizona which is awesome for more info. Also, pictures of each trail will be after, if you have more questions than what’s stated feel free to write or message me on Instagram. Slide Rock State Park- Easy and great for kids! *7 miles north of Sedona *Bathrooms and changing area *$10.00 at gate, credit cards accepted. Most days only open till 6:00 p.m. A stunning location with fun for the family! If you go in the summer/late spring or early fall you can swim too! Unless you are like my crazy brother (and a few others) who went in November! Anyways, it is so fun to slide down the rocks. I've seen as young as 6-year-old kids swimming down. The colder it is the less people you will see which makes for beautiful scenery, but the warmer weather means more swimming and more people. There is a place to get treats as well. Perfect for the family, and perfect for the sights!
West Fork Traill- Easy - great for the kids!
*You can go for 11 miles we did about 4 *10 Miles north of Sedona *Bathrooms at Trailhead *$10.00 for Parking. Credit cards accepted (If you are adventurous, go past the parking lot about .10 of a mile up the road there is free parking off the side of the road) The trail is very easy but passes over the creek a few times, so balancing comes into play. If you don't mind getting a bit wet, there is nothing to worry about at all! Awesome coves and beautiful trees. There are some old country homes and a cool bridge at the beginning of the trail as well. Great for kids!
Bell Rock Trails Easy to Moderate
*There are three trails, we did the one that was about 4 miles round trip
*7 Miles southeast of Sedona
*No bathrooms at trailhead
*$5.00 for parking, credit card machine.
There are a few hikes to take. We did the one that goes all the way around the rock. So cool! The views are stunning all the way around. Saw a rattlesnake! Did it with a baby pack and 8 year old kiddo's and they loved it!
Soldier Pass Trail4 to 6 miles round trip
*No bathrooms at trailhead *Free parking Make sure you read the directions clearly. Most of this trail would be easy for kids but if you want to climb up in the caves, might be more challenging. About a mile in, the trail splits. You can follow the main trail to the left which provides some excellent views of Sedona. However, the real magic happens when you take the fork to the right which is more challenging and may be too difficult for kids. This fork will lead you to the caves which are incredible to climb up in and explore. We were the only ones there when we went. A hidden gem and a well-kept secret of Sedona. This was probably one of the coolest things we've seen in Arizona! Did it with the baby in pack, just not the cave exploring part.
Cathedral Rock Trail  Moderate (harder for kids)
*One of my favorites. Only 1.5 round trip, but STRAIGHT up and straight down. Very fun!
*4 miles southeast of Sedona
*No bathrooms at trailhead
*$5.00 for parking credit card machine (there isn't a lot of parking in actual lot. If you drive about .10 past the parking lot there are more free parking areas.)
This hike is my absolute favorite. It's short and sweet but manOman the views are incredible. What I love about it is, the whole time you are climbing, you see beautiful scenery behind you. Then when you get to the top, a mind-blowing view of the other side of the mountain, it will take your breath away. Take your time for lots of pictures. Done this with many different levels of hikers and all have enjoyed this trail. Did it with a baby pack and 8 year old kiddo's and they loved it!
*In Sedona This is a fun place to watch the sunset or just view most of Sedona! No hiking, free parking, donation box if you are so inclined. :-)
Vaultee Trail -
*Pretty much in Sedona, about 1 Mile out of town. *Bathrooms by Parking *Free Parking and a lot of it This is a gorgeous place to watch the sunset. You can walk about .10 right up to a small part of the mountain with panoramic views!
Devils Bridge Trail- Moderate (hard for kids)
*If you don't have a 4X4 or a car you want to take off-roading the trail is 4.5 miles round trip. If you do have one, you can drive past the parking area and right up to the trail. It will save you a couple miles of hiking, but you will have a VERY rough ride so make sure your truck is ready for it. *Free Parking and a lot of it (same lot as Vaultee Trail above). *Bathrooms by parking lot I have done both, the hike is very easy from the parking area to the actual trailhead since you are really just walking on a jeep road, but the Devils Bridge hike itself is the harder part. Did it with a baby pack and 8 year old kiddo's and they loved it!
Midgley Bridge Vista Oak Creek Access 
*4 miles north of Sedona *$5.00 Parking, credit card machine. Very congested but high volume in and out. *No Bathrooms The views of Oak Creek under the bridge are just breathtaking! Worth a quick stop. We also did a bit of the Huckaby Trail which brings you down to Oak Creek- fun for the kiddos. Very beautiful and nice to cool off in the shade!
We normally hit up Wildflower but a really fun local one is The Cowboy Club
You can order this amazing sampler with cactus fries (made from the Prickly Pear cactus), buffalo and rattlesnake meat! Nothing says the wild wild west more!

Where to stay:
Haven't needed to stay overnight in Sedona yet. We have stayed quite a few times in Flagstaff and there are many cheap, clean hotels. We liked the La Quinta! There looks to be some pretty awesome camping all down Oak Creek, you should check out!
Hope this helps a bit! It's pretty clear why Sedona is our favorite. Blessings!

Hope this helps a bit! It's pretty clear why Sedona is our favorite. Blessings! 

Check out some giveaways and pictures on Instagram