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So astute readers will remember that when I went to Arizona 3 years ago, I wasn't able to see the Grand Canyon due to a huge snowstorm in the northern part of the state. I had to see it at least once so booked another AZ trip but added on New Mexico this time. Started with two nites in Scottsdale at the well-priced 3 Palms Hotel which was decent but not the super bargain and location of before. We picked up our convertible, oddly the best priced rental in a sea of surprisingly high rates, got some Mexican food on our way into town and after relaxing, hit the town. First was happy hour at Frasher's, a bar packed with displaced St. Louis Cardinals fans (being baseball playoff time in late Oct.) then the Thurs. art walk in Scottsdale. Where we saw 70's hit maker Bobby Goldsboro and his art, I didn't go for the photo op with him tho. I even got to use my limited Russian at another gallery, where one of my random memorized lines "Is that your dog" was appropriate. We went back to two restaurants we loved last time but it wasn't as great as before. Fri. we went to an arts fair in Scottsdale then shopped at the newish Record Room who carry good stuff priced fairly cheaply. He let me get behind the counter and play all the stuff I was thinking of buying. We then decided to brave the hot sun at the Arizona State Fair for half priced admission, fried bacon (two bites was enough) and a few rides and games. We needed to sit somewhere comfortable after so had tasty happy hour beers, sausage and pretzels at the Brathaus whose owner/chef I'd met before (food report here CHOWHOUND). Some of our only music on the trip was seen at the Yucca Tap Room on Fri. w/ The Resonars (the one band I knew), Good Men Die Like Dogs, Rumspringer, and Low Culture, then "dinner" was at the Nogales hot dog cart at 1AM.
We headed out fairly early on Sat. hitting the Old Town farmer's market in Scottsdale first then driving up to Flagstaff via Jerome and Sedona. Jerome is a really cool old copper mining town up in the hills, very old looking and even tho it's touristy, it didn't feel like you were overrun with tourist stuff. Saw a bit more live music, a band at the Spirit Room doing 70's covers (wish I had a less blurry photo of them). We literally had the Jerome PoPo looking for us cuz we didn't park in a great spot but we got out of Dodge in time.
Made our way to the Red Rocks National Park where they told us we could fit in the 2 mile hike if we hurried, so we booked thru the paths since we didn't want to be locked in the park for the nite. It was really pretty but it would have been nice to take our time a little more. Since we didn't get into Haunted Hamburger for lunch earlier, we were starving and just grabbed one of the first places we saw in Sedona for a buffalo burger and salad. Wish we'd spent a little more time in that earthy crunchy town but we wanted to get to Flagstaff before it got too late.
Flagstaff is cool but it's a college town and we happened to arrive the nite of "Tequila Sunrise" when the kids wake up at 6AM and drink all day. Nice. It wasn't too horrible that nite as we wandered around from brewery to the cool lounge at the Hotel Montevista to the bar Mia where we saw some Americana type music. More outdoor activities at Walnut Canyon the next day, known for its caves where people lived years ago. Wanted to watch football (hard to remember that games are 3 hrs earlier out there) so got brunch with an awesome bloody Mary and wandered around more. The trains are a constant here often keeping you from getting from one side of town to the other, sometimes keeping you awake. After watching the Pats eek out a win against the Jets, we hit a couple of the nicer restaurants in town then did trivia at the Montevista. Second time we've called our team The Wes Welkers which always gets a response from someone, this time the trivia moderator who's originally from NH.
Now it's time for the raison d'etre of the trip, the Grand Canyon. We stop in the town of Valle for a nice breakfast of biscuits and gravy and hash browns then get to the airfield for a flight over the Canyon. Good and windy so you know what that means in a small 8 seater airplane - Yours truly, after feeling like I'd conquered that nauseous feeling, literally "threw up a little in my mouth" which I'm not sure is better than using the air sickness bag (that Andrew serendipitously took a photo of me getting ready to use). TMI perhaps? The views were nice but that left me feeling crappy for a while. But we've only got 24 hrs there so after checking in and laying down for a bit, it was time to go out and trek around the rim of the Canyon and I started to feel normal again. There was no way we were going to go all the way into the Canyon and back up tho so we missed that opportunity. Felt okay to eat at the hokey Canyon Star that evening, the dude singing and playing guitar was a trip and provided our big excitement for a Mon. nite.
Had a headache all nite and the next morning, felt like shit for a while but managed to keep it to dry heaves haha. Andrew got breakfast back in Flag but nothing for me. We then hit the Meteor Crater which was fairly interesting but not worth the $16 cover charge, then the Petrified Forest which had some nice views, then a stop in the famous Winslow AZ to get a picture "standing on a corner". Wow, what a depressing town but we had a great lunch at the semi famous La Posada Hotel and a nice visit at their museum (the guy probably sees 8 people a week).
Spent the nite at the cute Wig Wam Motel in Holbrook. It's only $64 to stay here, real wig wams with 50's cars parked out front. Got some Italian food and played pool at the lounge next door. The best part of Holbroook was the wonderful Donuts Plus, good choices and good price. We headed east getting on Rt. 66 a few times on our way to Santa Fe. Stopped at the Rt. 66 Diner in Gallup which used to be a drive in restaurant and it looked cool but was kind of sketchy. It's hard to stay on 66 cuz it disappears a lot so it was easier to stick to the highway and finally check in.
The Lodge at Santa Fe was a 20 min walk into town and we ate at a well known spot for Mexican called Tomasita's then on to the dive bar The Matador which was great, esp. that first nite. The bartender and guy sitting next to me were super nice and into music, the ipod music was actually better than when the DJ started (rule #1, don't repeat bands, at least within a half hour) and we went back each nite but it never lived up to that first time. Thurs. morning was a stop at Whoo's, another donut shop, this one kind of gourmet but the pumpkin frosted cake donut was worth it. Nice breakfast at the Pantry, best iced coffee at the tiny High Spirits Espresso. Hit a park and wandered around until it was time for happy hour at the Agave Lounge. A fun dinner later in the boonies and back to the Matador. Fri. was shopping day but I got kind of fed up with Santa Fe and all the turquoise/jewelry shops or places selling Indian blankets. Super super touristy and not like a "real" city, wish we'd spent 2 nites there and 2 in Albuquerque rather than 3 and 1. But I did have a great lunch in the old school La Fonda Hotel. In my research, I'd found the "craft cocktail" place so before dinner we hit Secreto and had a fun time with John at the bar. He helped us decide on my "travel agent dinner" location since he also works at 315 Bistro and he had them save us seats. Unfortunately, my stomach was being weird (man I was sick a lot huh) and eating didn't help but I still stuffed in a good amount.
We took the scenic route to ABQ and checked into the Hampton Inn by the airport (a very dependable chain). Took the short drive to the Nob Hill area by the university and the famous Frontier Grill where we split a green chili cheeseburger (aka GCCB). Checked out Nob Hill Music, split tacos at Zacatecas, visited Mecca Records on the Matador people's rec, walked around Old Town, grabbed a hot dog, then to the international part of town for Andrew's first banh mi sandwich then later was dinner at the funky Blackbird Buvette downtown. We had an excellent GCCB and drinks and happened to be there during an early comedy show, unfortunately no one was too funny. We ended w/ pool at Anodyne which had great music (how often do you hear Kyuss in a pool hall) and literally 100's of beers. So even tho I felt crappy a few times and played some of the worst pool of my life, a great trip.