06 May 2009
WALKABOUT '09 - THE LINKS
Before I post the final installment of Walkabout '09 I wanted to share some info about planning the trip.
Originally when T-Rob and I were planning this years Walkabout tour we had considered Dublin, Ireland.
At the time gas prices were outrageous and air fare alone was $1200 RT per person. Hotels, rent-a-car etc would have made it a very expensive tour.
We started throwing out names of places here in the states we would like to visit. [At the time of our actual trip, airfare had fallen to under $400 RT to Ireland. Arrrrrrgh! It was too late though as I had not followed through in getting my passport]
Anyhow.... we had narrowed our list to Alaska, San Francisco, New York and New Orleans. We were on the verge of making a decision when T-Rob mentioned he'd be happy just touring the southwest.
The Grand Circle Tour!! Sounded good to me ...and the rest was history!!
One website in particular that was key in helping plan things was TRIPADVISOR.COM
It is a great resource for screening everything from 'what to do' to hotels and restaurants.
However.... I do NOT recommend you book your hotel through the website as i found the prices they offered were considerably HIGHER then rates I got when I called the the hotel directly.
The website also does not give you telephone or websites for the listed hotels. Basically, just GOOGLE the hotel of your choice and make reservations over the phone or via their website.
What I like about the site though is the personal reviews people leave. All my reservations were based on them.
This being said, here are links to places we went and stayed. I hope if you are planning to take the Grand Circle Tour yourself these will come in handy.
MONTEREY NON-SMOKERS HOTEL, Albuquerque, NM
-- As of this writing their website does not seem to be working. Let me mention though you can GOOGLE them. Great place to stay, decor is a bit dated but it is very clean and comfortable and in a great location near Old Town. Only $58 bucks during the week with a AAA card too!
SANTA FE BREWING COMPANY - Santa Fe, NM
-- Great bar and grill and performance place just outside of Santa Fe at the end of the Turquoise Trail aka NM14.
EL MORRO NATIONAL MONUMENT, New Mexico between Gallup and Grants
-- If you like hiking this is a MUST.
ACOMA PUEBLO SKY CITY, Acoma, New Mexico between Gallup and Grants
-- An amazing historical place. One of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. A city that sits atop a 367 foot sandstone mesa. $20 admission fee includes a camera permit. NO VIDEO recording allowed. You are a guest here - respect it!!
HOTEL MONTE VISTA - Flagstaff, Arizona.
-- Railroad hotel that is now 80 years old... ok it shows it to some degree. Regardless the beds were comfortable and the downstairs bar serves some stiff drinks - isn't that right T-Rob heh heh.
I still think its a cool historic hotel. It is also allegedly haunted although we did not see any ghosts.
-- Great place to go hiking. Make a day of it. I didn't get to walk Devil's Gate Bridge but oh well, next time.
BEDROCK CITY in Valle, Arizona
-- What a cool suprise. This is a 3D version of a Flinstones episode. A must if you are headed to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff. It is starting to show its age but nothing a new coat of paint wouldn't fix.
GRAND CANYON, Arizona
-- No introduction needed. This place is amazing. More exciting if you like hiking. Also, it gets REAL crowded in the summer. We were here in the spring and it was already crowded.
NAVAJO TRIBAL PARK, MONUMENT VALLEY - UTAH
www.navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm [or try GOOGLING it if the link does not work]
-- Another amazing place. $5 to tour the park on your own. Remember the road is VERY rough. We saw passenger cars on the road but they were taking a banging. I recommend a high profile vehicle or take one of the tours offered by the locals.
THE VIEW HOTEL, Monument Valley
The best hotel by far I have ever been in. VERY comfortable rooms and yeah...the 'view' is AWESOME!! All rooms face The Mittens. Watch the moon rise and sunrise from your balcony. WOWOWOW!
Also, the BEST shampoo I've ever smelled at a hotel.
MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
-- The best preserved Native American cliff dwellings in the US.
Make sure you go after April 5th though so you can see all the dwellings as only one is open during the winter season. We were two days too early. Dratz.
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS, Cortez, Co.
-- Great hotel only 9 miles from the park. Keep in mind that the park is located VERY HIGH UP. The road twists and turns along the edge and in a big vehicle was kinda creeping me out. I went VERRRRRY slow. It was nice to drive back and sleep in their very comfortable beds.
CHACO CULTURE, New Mexico
-- Journey back in time over 1000 years to a lost city. A must!!
On our return to Albuquerque from Chaco Culture, we checked in to the Sandia Peak Inn. It was ranked No. 1 on TripAdvisor.
Uh.. no. Yes, it was $59 on a weekend but this place was in no way better then Monterey Non-Smokers Motel [which was booked that weekend]. Musty room, light in the bathroom did not work and worst of all, I put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door as we were gonna be out of town most of the day AND THEY STILL CAME IN and cleaned the room!! And didn't even repair the light in the bathroom!!
Anyhow, as I mentioned we were out of town that day, our final adventure would take us to southern New Mexico.
Stay tuned and find out where we went.