Raising good children is one of the best challenges anyone can face in life. Parents do their best so that their children don’t get to experience the hardships they faced. They provide a better atmosphere than what they had or try to do so at least. As I grew up I had my share of bad experiences that I stuck in my mind. These bad experiences defined what I should make sure never happened to my children. Many times I have been angry at my father for having his own way of doing things and being inflexible at that. But when I look back at time now, I can hardly remember what was it I should complain about. I only remember the good things that my parents were and did for me.
Our stop for the night from the West Rim was Flagstaff. The Holiday weekend had indeed a huge surprise for us. We discovered Delhi Palace and Himalayan Grill both had excellent user reviews. We opted for the former. Getting there we found the restaurant was jam-packed and literally overflowing. A 45-minute wait appeared insane after 5 hours of driving for the day, being eager to get to the hotel. I rushed the family out to the Grill which was no different. The host was understanding and said upright that he is short of staff but he will do his best. Sometimes some sort of appeasement works better and we stuck. We got seated within 10 minutes. We overheard a neighboring table talking about an hour since their order. We were much luckier and got some great food as a bargain.
The next morning – the last day of our trip – we took the 89A North to Sedona. Sedona would see us visiting for a second time in three years. We had loved the city then – the magnificent backdrops, the roads that were kept up like manicured lawns, the bustling city center lined with charming cafes, jewelry shops, many ethnic restaurants and most of all a ever-happy crowd of tourists and locals. Almost the perfect place to be. Well, except we had visited the city in the last week of December and not the Summer months. I am sure the Summer there will drive away people. Coincidentally we were in the city again during the last week of December this time around. The drive itself on 89A N is a scenic drive and takes one through 14 miles of canyon as we descended to the floor. I remember driving through the route last time around but it was after dark and there were snow showers. It was a real challenge to slow down on the ever winding roads and have vehicles close behind. That drive was as close to a nightmarish drive as I have been through. The valley below with the adjacent cliffs always wanting to gobble up the errant or speeding driver is something that will haunt me always. I had thought it was sheer madness on my part not to have planned better for that day and underestimated the 14 mile drive that took over 45 minutes. But this time around, it was sunny and the road was all inviting. We stopped at a bridge closer to Sedona.
Our only stop was to be for lunch. For food, Sedona hosts one of our favorite restaurants in the entire US and that is Chocalatree – a vegan, organic place that takes healthy cooking to the heights of creativity. Chilled Thai Coconut Soup and Chili, Mediterranean wrap, Avacado Herb sandwich, Coconut Creme Pie, Ginger Cinnamon Spice pie all then topped with Sweetened Almond milk made for a satisfying lunch. The place is also filled with their own items for sale that piques one’s imagination both in content and packaging. Check it out all online here.
Then the two-hour drive to Phoenix Sky International was a cinch. If you haven’t gotten TSA-Pre or GOES, then you should strongly consider it. We would have gone through the holiday security line at the airport in less than five minutes after getting into line both times – except that at Sky, the TSA scanner wouldn’t read our boarding passes due to the nature of print. But that added only another five minutes to get through as I had to go to a booth and reprint the passes. Check your boarding passes the next time – make sure that the bar code isn’t thick or smudged. For some reason, the TSA-pre personnel don’t have the ability to type in the pass numbers or references. Another much welcome upgrade on the flight and an hour-early landing topped off our holiday vacation.