My husband and I made the best of it during his TDY in Arizona.  We wanted to spend our time together exploring and taking in as much as we could from what Arizona had to offer.  I haven’t spent a lot of time in the state (just passing through and I went to Phoenix before when I was much younger), so we had HUGE plans. We managed to schedule in two trips for me to fly down.  The first long weekend that I was able to visit was Columbus Day.

We focused our time exploring Northern Arizona during this time around.  I flew into Phoenix late Friday night.  Early morning on Saturday, we drove north towards Flagstaff.  Our first stop was Montezuma Castle National Park, located in Camp Verde, AZ.  The park was just a 30 minute drive from our next stop at the Verde Canyon Railroad at Clarkdale, AZ.

Montezuma Castle was fascinating. It’s a cave dwelling that is elevated from the ground and practically chiseled in the rock.  The term Montezuma Castle is actually incorrectly named because Montezuma had nothing to do with the particular tribe that lived in the area.  When it was first discovered, that was the name it was given and it just stuck.  It was actually created by the Sinagua people and they lived in the vicinity for over 300 years.  From what I learned, we actually don’t even know what happened to the people, they just seemed to disappear. 

What boggles my mind is that they managed to live elevated off the ground like that for so long!  It’s incredible to even chisel a home out of rock and to top it off, live in a dwelling with lots of other people!

After checking out the welcome center at Montezuma Castle, we were ready to continue on to our train ride through Verde Canyon with the Verde Canyon Railroad.  It was pretty cool timing because it happened to be “Octoberfest: Ales on Rails” when we went.  Before the scheduled train departure, they had a bunch of booths set up with locally brewed beers.  It was the perfect opportunity for us to tryout some local drinks.

The trains had open air canopy cars and fully covered traditional train cars for the passengers to enjoy the sights, you can either stay inside or go outside.  My husband and I pretty much stayed in the open air car the whole time.  It was awesome to be on a train that allowed you to get the full-on sensory experience as you’re riding along.  We were able to see some truly amazing sights on the train ride.  It’s a great way to get to see parts of the canyon that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see in a car.

We continued our drive north and settled in Flagstaff for the evening.  We had to rest up because we had another exciting day ahead of us!  The next day, we got our day started early and kept driving north to the Grand Canyon!  My husband and I have never been before this trip and we were both utterly excited.  Before settling in for the night in Flagstaff, we went to the store and stocked up on water and granola bars for our hike through the Grand Canyon National Park.

Once we got there, I could hardly contain my excitement.  It was breathtaking to finally see it in person!  What was also surprising is how many foreigners that have traveled from all over the world to see it too!  I felt like never left New York City hearing countless different languages spoken around me.  Really, I believe that everyone should take the time to visit this unbelievable place.  It’s an incredible natural wonder of the world and it’s right in here in America! 

Being able to experience everything that my husband and I did on this trip just made up for the fact the Army separated us for four months.  I wouldn’t have had an excuse to visit Arizona again and who knows when I would have found the time to go on this awesome adventure!

My second trip to Arizona was during Thanksgiving in 2012 – and I spend most of my time in Southern Arizona in Sierra Vista, AZ where Fort Huachuca is located.  We were able to get a lot of exploring done there too and I’ll be sure to share soon!  Till next time….

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