Thursday, July 7, 2016

I LOVE cactuses! Oh and I went to Arizona

When Marshal and I were on our ten year anniversary trip we made a promise to each other that we would take another trip together in five years. This year was the five year mark. We searched and searched for places to go. Nothing seemed to stick. Either the price was more than we could spend, with the other things we have going on, or we just didn't get too crazy excited about it.

Over the past several years, I have become more and more interested in going places I've never been. Kind of on a whim, I threw out Arizona. We did a little bit of internet searching and it stuck. Three weeks later, we were on our way.

I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me. I assumed I was going to have a good time. I was going on a vacation without my children; of course it was going to be fun. Y'all this vacation literally shocked me. I must of said "this is so beautiful" at least a billion times. I kept wishing my eyes were little video cameras, so that I could share everything I was seeing, with my friends and family at home. It was so much more than I had planned on. I was grinning from ear to ear every minute of it.

I am usually not a huge selfie girl, but my goodness, on this trip, I took a zillion of them. I know this makes me sound ridiculous, but I couldn't get over the pure happiness on my face. I wanted to capture it so I could keep it forever.

We stayed at a resort in Carefree Arizona.
Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot 
Carefree is not only an awesome name for a town, but it is the home to the America's largest sundial. Some new knowledge for you, right.

We stayed at The Boulders Resort and Spa. It is stunning! It sits on 1,300 acres of the Sonoran Desert foothills, surround with tons of boulder formations to explore. Wow you guys! Wow!You could go to Carefree and stay at The Boulders for days and never leave.

I have a thousand more photos of the resort alone. This post is already going to be a mile long with photos so I am trying to refrain. Eeek! 

One of the things that got me so excited about going on this trip was the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride. That has been a bucket list item for me forever. Marshal and I hadn't been at the resort ten minutes and I was over at the concierge getting it booked. So darn excited! I was absolutely amazed by it! So so fun! 

We saw these donkeys from the air. Ok they called them burros. I had no idea they lived in the desert. They told us that back in the gold mine days they brought them in and apparently abandoned them there.

Landing is kind of tricky. You just go where the wind takes you.  We had a chase crew that followed us on the ground. When we started getting closer they drove out to meet us. We had to deflate the balloon in a spot that didn't have vegetation that would tear up the balloon. As we were getting close to the ground the pilot told us that we were in a brand new balloon. The first group to ride in it. He pointed out how it was all pretty and clean and how it was about to get dirty once we landed. It was so cool!  Anyway, while the crew was putting up the balloon they served us breakfast and champagne.
Marshal was not all that crazy about the balloon ride. At 7,000 feet all he could think about was the basket tipping and us tumbling to the ground to our death. Maybe it is the emergency manager in him. The thought never even crossed my mind. Ha! 

Oh well, he got his adventure too. He chose taking a side by side out through the desert. I loved it because it allowed us to get truly out into the middle of nowhere desert. It was just us and our tour guide who was so great to us. 
The only time M is up and smiling at 5:30 a.m. 

We spent a lot of time traveling so that we could see some amazing places. We knew if we were going to be that close we wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. It was a three hour trip from where we were staying.  I already can't wait to go back!

We also spent a day driving to The Petrified Forest. It was four hours from our resort. On the way there we stopped to see the Meteor Crater.
And of course if you are going to do that, you might as well stop and get your picture made on the corner of Winslow Arizona... (Thank you to the Eagles for that song) 
The Petrified Forest was packed with amazing scenery. One minute you were seeing The Painted Desert.
The next minute you were seeing the ruins left behind by the Puebloan people and petroglyphs they drew on the rock surfaces.

Then the beautiful sand of The Blue Mesa.

And The Petrified Wood. Oh the petrified wood was unbelievable! You need to come visit me so you can touch it. I couldn't keep my hands off of it. I had to buy some and bring it home with me. Yes it may have caused me a little trouble getting through TSA.

 "Excuse me, ma'am what do you have in this suitcase?" "Wood. Why do you ask?" "I am going to need you to step over here with me for a minute."

Marshal watches Bar Rescue so on the way "home" we had to stop at Chilleen's on 17. Although, I am going to tell you, even if Marshal didn't watch Bar Rescue we would have probably stopped at Chilleen's on 17. Interstate 17 has nothing, and I do mean nothing, on it except a bunch of mountains and people that think the speed limit is 95. 

The moonshine drinks and the food was delicious in case you were curious. Great job Jon Taffer and crew!
We did spend a couple of days relaxing at the resort. I got Marshal to spend an entire day with me at the spa. Now before you get to thinking all sorts of crazy things over there, let me explain that the spa included a pool, meditation garden, sauna, organic garden, along with indoor men's and women's steam rooms, jet pools, etc. I got a massage and offered to book one for him. He doesn't even know what he is missing out on. was sooooooo goooood.

 Ok so Marshal didn't really like the meditation thing. I thought it was really cool. I am pretty sure he just made fun of me the whole time. I also loved picking fresh lavender to take back to the casita with us. He thought I was just making a mess.

I thought it was pretty funny he picked the one chair that just happened to be by the emergency telephone.
I had to take a picture of this shower. It doesn't do it justices, but it was huge and I loved it and I am not even exaggerating, I went back in that locker room and took a shower in there 5 times and just stood there. I know, I am a total dork. It was just perfect what else can I say!

We saw lots of animals during our trip. I really wanted to bring a chipmunk home. Imagine what TSA would have said to me about that.
 Our resort had tons of bunnies. Tons! I am pretty sure Marshal was excited that I wanted to stop every single time to take a picture.
I can tell you Marshal did not like me stopping to talk to the elk. He kept saying they were not my friends. They were though.

 I thought these birds had the funniest hair!

 The chipmunk is in the center of the picture, in between the top and bottom branch. Those suckers move so fast!
I tried really hard to see a bobcat and a mountain lion. Every time we left the casita I called them. "Mister Bobcat come see me." They did not love me. So sad. 

And this is as close as I got to a picture of a coyote. 
Oh well. We did get to see this crazy elephant made out of sand. I have no idea how someone can be patient enough to create something so detailed and amazing as this. 
Our last night in Carefree we ate at the resort. We kept searching and asking around for restaurant suggestions, but then ended up being too lazy to leave the resort. It ended up being so delicious and perfect! 

I had such an amazing trip. I can't wait to go back. I fell in love with Arizona and I think those cactuses are just the cutest! Until next time...
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