Summer Vacation | Day 5

Day five of our vacation was spent in Williams, Arizona, just a short drive from Flagstaff.  We visited Bearizona Wildlife Park.

Bearizona is approximately 160 acres. Visitors will drive through more than three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest viewing North American animals in natural habitats when they visit. More animals are exhibited in Fort Bearizona, a beautiful 20 acre walk-thru area, along winding paths which is more of a “zoo” type setting.

The first part of the park wasn’t overly impressive to the kids.  Many animals were napping in the warm afternoon sun.  It did get much more interesting as we reached the bears, wolves and buffalo.

Rocky Mountain Goat

Rocky Mountain Elk

Arctic Wolf

White Bison

Brown Bison

Bighorn Sheep

Black Bear


Red Fox

Petting zoo.



River Otter


The jaguar did not cooperate for photos.



American Burro

We thought we should try to fit in one more adventure during our day, so we stopped at Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff before returning to our rental.

Walnut Canyon National Monument (Hopi: Wupatupqa) is a United States National Monument located about 10 mi (16 km) southeast of downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, near Interstate 40. The canyon rim elevation is 6,690 ft (2,040 m); the canyon’s floor is 350 ft lower. A 0.9 mi (1.4 km) long loop trail descends 185 ft (56 m) into the canyon passing 25 cliff dwelling rooms constructed by the Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group that lived in Walnut Canyon from about 1100 to 1250 CE. Other contemporary habitations of the Sinagua people are preserved in the nearby Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle national monuments.

We arrived shortly before they closed so we weren’t able to hike the lower trail, but we did get to see the cliff dwellings from the canyon rim.

Up Next: Day Six– The Grand Canyon and some adorable prairie dogs.

Summer Vacation | Day 2

After a long day of travel on day one of our vacation, we opted to stay close to Flagstaff on our second day.  Just a quick drive north brought us to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

The colors at the volcano’s rim are the dusky red, yellow, and orange of sunset, but the crater is only part of the story. Around 1085 CE the ground here began to shake, and a fiery crack spewed the earth’s insides high into the air. When the eruption finished, it had changed both the landscape and the people who lived here. Today, it teaches how nature and humans are linked to each other.

Can you find Sophia in the photo below?

Below is the view we had on our drive north to our next destination.

Next stop on our day trip, Wupatki National Monument.

Nestled between the Painted Desert and ponderosa highlands of northern Arizona, Wupatki is a landscape of legacies. Ancient pueblos dot red-rock outcroppings across miles of prairie. Where food and water seem impossible to find, people built pueblos, raised families, farmed, traded, and thrived. Today, if you linger and listen, earth and artifacts whisper their stories to us still.

The view on our way back to Flagstaff.

All that hiking made everyone hungry, so we stopped by Proper Meats + Provisions in Flagstaff to pick up steaks for the grill. One filet, one New York strip and one ribeye.  Mike grilled them to perfection.

Up Next: Day Three – Page, Arizona including Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Dam and a brief stint in Utah.

Summer Vacation | By The Numbers

Last week we took our first out-of-state summer vacation.  Minnesota daytime temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s weren’t high enough for us, so we opted to jump on a plane and fly to Phoenix, Arizona.  Daytime temps somewhere around…106 degrees.  We didn’t stay any longer in Phoenix than necessary to pick up our rental car and drive north.  Destination…Flagstaff.  We based out of Flagstaff for seven days with day trips to Sedona, Williams, Page and the Grand Canyon.  Flagstaff had temperatures similar to Minnesota.  Williams and the Grand Canyon, slightly warmer.  Sedona was in the upper 80’s and low 90’s and it was a cool 96 degrees in Page, Arizona.  We even hopped the state line and ventured into Utah where it felt as though a massive blow dryer was gently blowing in our faces.

Our day trips were sometimes a bit long, but oh so worth it.  We logged 1,197 driving miles on our rental vehicle.  Mike drove all of them.  Thank you, Mike!  We used 36.767 gallons of gas with an average mpg of 32.556.  We flew 2,840 miles round trip.  I took 2,697 photos on my Canon camera.  Not nearly as many on my iPhone.  We visited 3 national monuments, 1 wild life park, 1 state park and 1 national park.  We also celebrated 1 milestone birthday.  Mike turned 50 while we were there.  Happy Birthday!

Day one of our vacation began at 4am in order to catch our early flight. We arrived in Phoenix shortly after 10am and spent most of the day driving, checking out the area and buying groceries.  I did manage to take a few photos during the drive.  Some while we were moving in the vehicle.  Some at overlooks.  It was fun to see the changing landscape from cactus on hillsides to mountains to forests.

Our first official stop was for for a bite to eat.  We used our Yelp app and found a nice little restaurant in Black Canyon City just off the highway.  Sebastian and Mike had burgers.  Sophia and I had salads.  And there may have also been a delicious homemade cinnamon roll in there somewhere.  Great little place with wonderful food and service. I highly recommend it if you’re ever in the middle of somewhere between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Nora Jean’s Koffee Kitchen

A Cactus Sighting (or should that be cacti?)

Open Fields

The Sign Says It All

Road Side Rest Stop…With A View

Getting Closer To Flagstaff

Pine Forests, Grass and Horses

The View Just a Short Walk From Our Rental

With the sun already setting, we took a few photos before heading back to the house.

Up Next: Day Two – Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument.  No more (slightly blurry) photos out of a moving vehicle.  I promise.