There are few things I love more in this world than road trips (namely: plane trips). This past week, we hit the road to Sedona, with a stop in Scottsdale along the way. Part Griswold, part Sideways and very little Into The Wild, the trip was a perfect LA hiatus.
Bringing the kids:
We brought our little canine son, Sammy, along for the ride: his first road trip! I regularly compare being a dog parent to being an actual parent (which I’m sure annoys the bejeezus out of actual parents). I think there are similarities when it comes to the road trip, though.
Is it weird that I need a diaper bag for my dog? The amount of stuff that one needs to pack to travel with their dog is a little ridiculous. Toys, food, the crate, blankets, wipes, cleaning spray, treats, leash, blankets, food bowls - good lord, the little prince is quite high maintenance.
Although we had to schedule a few more stops along the way than if it had been just adult humans, he was a well behaved snuggler the whole time (other than some mild separation anxiety). I didn’t quite realize this until after the trip, but I’m approximating that out of the 300 photos we took, 260 of them were of the dog. He was kind of like our Flat Stanley, but a living version that barked more. Every picture is just cuter with a dog doing vacation actions. Drinking a poolside margarita? Cuter with a dog. Watching a Red Rocks sunset? Way cuter with a dog. Taking a video of said sunset? 100% cuter if a dog is the AD on the shoot.
(We’ve become those people - or if I’m being very honest, we always were those people and just had less backdrops).
Choice of car tunes:
While we could have gone with Spotify or an iTunes playlist for the 8 hour drive, that’s not really going “full road trip.” Full road trip dictates that you listen to what the locals are listening to - and for much of the non-Beverly Hills adjacent drive on the 10, that appears to be country.
The only stations that are completely resistant of static are country and JTR: Jesus Talk Radio. JTR is boring/creepy, so the mutual decision was made to listen to country the entire time in Arizona.
Who decided that country was inherently uncool? It’s widely accepted, and even though my upbringing allows me to relate more to country lyrics than rap, I NEVER would have been caught dead blasting Garth Brooks. I was conditioned at an early age to respond to the idea of country with “Ugh - REDNECKS,” but you know what? Country really isn’t that bad. It’s actually pretty great. Wholesome lyrics that are easy to sing along to? Crooning about beer drinking without irony? Perfect road trip music! I was kind of sad when we crossed back into California and non-country Spotify playlists were back on.
But I’m still cool.
I love everything about hotels. I love the cucumber water at the check in desk, and I love the mini bottles of shampoo that are designed to only ever get halfway empty (the physics of their design is mind boggling!). I love room service - even the $20+ bagels. If The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was on when I was a kid, I’d be all about that show. I’m still trying to finagle my way into living in a hotel full time.
I love hotels.
We stayed at the new Saguaro Resort in Scottsdale, and this bizarre-but-pet-friendly Bell Rock Inn timeshare property in Sedona (there was a Groupon). I’m going to give the Saguaro 4 stars for affordability ($90/night? What?), a fantastic Mexican restaurant on property (Distrito), the Old Town Whiskey bar (GREAT whiskey sour), interesting take on desert colors zoning (desert flowers - brilliant!), friendly staff and two nice pools. Conde Nast Traveler agrees. The Bell Rock Inn gets 2.5 stars, primarily because they tried to get us to sit through a timeshare presentation, the pool was just meh, and they did not have a restaurant on property. At $70/night, though, I can’t complain, and Conde Nast Traveler was not available for comment.
…was just ok. With the exception of Distrito, everything was not as good as average meals in LA. Every restaurant in Sedona stopped serving food after 9PM, except one bar that kept the deep frier on. Note that this did not stop us from eating non-stop the entire trip. And those deep fried chicken wings weren’t half bad.
The thing with timeshare presentations:
I am not a sucker, except when it comes to over-investing in dog items, but I do like the idea of free things. This is why, 10 minutes after accidentally wandering into what we thought was a visitor information center, we found ourselves signed up for a timeshare presentation the next day. Just two hours! And we would get two nights hotel for another trip AND an helicopter ride! No need to buy anything! And that was going to be in addition to the OTHER time share presentation our hotel talked us into (with 2 more hotel nights and resort credit).
Yeah. They both got skipped. The thing with timeshare presentations is that you are investing time in a future vacation instead of enjoying the current vacation. That’s what work is for (I’ve heard).
Seeing the sights:
I’m all for international travel, but there is SO much to see in the United States. There are places in the US that feel more like a foreign country to me than places I’ve been abroad, namely small towns in middle America.
Who knew that on the way from LA to Sedona, there were National Parks and Monuments? There are: I have the passport stamps in my National Parks Passport to prove it (Yes, that exists and yes, I have it. Nerd alert.). We saw Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, AZ and Tuzigoot National Monument in Clarkdale, AZ. While I recommend short trips to both, let me summarize with: really smart groups of people built dwellings in mountainsides in the 11th and 12th centuries…and then mysteriously disappeared! No one knows how they died! Isn’t that super creepy/worth a look? I will note that our dog peed at both so, in his mind, he owns them. He gives all of my blog readers permission to visit.
In Sedona, we went to check out Cathedral Rock Vortex, which is one of these vortexes in Sedona that is supposed to exude some sort of mysterious energy that I don’t understand. This vortex was supposed to enhance all things feminine. I didn’t feel it, but the dog freaked out a little, so maybe there’s something there. We also played in a natural water slide at Slide Rock (super fun, but not dog friendly), watched a sunset at Airport Mesa and got in touch with our spiritual side at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Add that to a little wine tasting and drive by touring, and I say we did pretty good for two days.
And doing nothing:
Sometimes it’s just great to do nothing. Sometimes it’s ok to not fit everything there is to do in a location into your trip, because the importance of relaxation is paramount. Sometimes it’s ok to choose a mid day wine tasting over a historic off road tour of ruins. Sometimes it’s satisfying to turn the phone off and go to bed at 11, just because you can. Sometimes reapplying sunscreen should be life’s only worry.
I just always like to mention that everyone should wear SPF 50 every day, and reapply often. It’s the ginger in me. Even the dog wore sunscreen. That’s great that you tan, but I’m going to have Nicole Kidman-looking cancer free skin when I’m 50.* What’s up?
*Realistically my complexion will lead to some form of skin cancer. But I’ll try.