July 4 2013: Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona

View from our hike on our last day.

View from our hike on our last day.

Hi friends!

The few days since Chris and I got back from our trip have been a bit crazy, but I really wanted to take some time to post thoughts from our trip as soon as possible. So without further adieu, last Wednesday Chris and I were in a cab and off to La Guardia to catch our flight …

And it was at the airport that pretty much all hell broke loose. Our first obstacle arrived right at the check-in counter. While trying to check in, we were told that the airlines (U.S. Air) had switched planes for our first flight into Charlotte, and as such, we no longer had seats on it. It would be up to Expedia (who we had booked our tickets through), to correct the mix-up.

Now folks, I don’t really know what happened here. When Chris got on the phone with Expedia, they were telling us there was nothing they could do about it, that everything looked fine on their end. The woman checking us in, of course, was telling us otherwise, although she got on the phone herself to call the airline and see what she could do. After about 30 minutes of sweating it out (as our boarding time was growing closer and closer), the woman checking us in was able to fix everything. (Which leads me to believe she could have done that all along … but what do I care–we had seats!)

Obstacle No. 1 down, we were then told that the flight we had so desperately been trying to book was actually delayed, so the rush was essentially all for naught. With our problems behind us (or so we thought), Chris and I hopped, skipped and took our time through security, then plopped down at a bar for some beers before we left.

Except that we didn’t leave. Not when we were meant to, I mean, and not for a very, very long time. At the end of the day we spent nearly five hours in the airport, missed our connecting flight out of Charlotte to Phoenix because of it, had to spend the night in Charlotte and caught the earliest flight available to both of us the next day, which wasn’t until 1 p.m.

This could have been a downer, my friends, but we turned the lemons into lemonade. We booked the Hyatt closest to the airport for only a little over $100 for the night (and it was beautiful, by the way), and asked the man sitting next to us on the plane (who was from Charlotte) where his favorite place was to eat.

And so began our  11 hours in Charlotte:

^^ Breakfast was at the Harvest Moon Grille, an adorable restaurant in Uptown Charlotte that serves (delicious) local, seasonal, sustainable farm-to-table cuisine.

^^ Breakfast was at the Harvest Moon Grille, an adorable restaurant in Uptown Charlotte that serves (delicious) local, seasonal, sustainable farm-to-table cuisine.

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^^Nothing fixes an 11-hour layover like a Bloody Mary. (And this was one of the best ones I've had my friends ... and I've had quite a few.)

^^Nothing fixes an 11-hour layover like a Bloody Mary. (And this was one of the best ones I’ve had my friends … and I’ve had quite a few.)

^^Is there anything more patriotic on the Fourth of July than a good old-fashioned American protest?!

^^Is there anything more patriotic on the Fourth of July than a good old-fashioned American protest?!

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So that was it for Charlotte, my friends. At the end of the day, I’m not sad that we had to spend a couple of hours here. I found Charlotte quiet, clean and charming. And the food was ridiculously tasty (although when are grits and biscuits not tasty … I mean come on ?!)

Anyway, after our stroll it was time to head back to the airport and on to Phoenix. My friend who we would be visiting lives in Gilbert, Arizona, which is located about 25 minutes southeast of Phoenix. She lives in a gorgeous 4-bedroom, 2-car garage, with a great in-ground pool out back, which she purchased at a short sale for an amount that almost makes me vomit it’s so low (especially when I think about how much money Chris and I almost spent for an apartment in Manhattan. I know it’s apples and oranges, but still …).

Anyway, this house is beautiful, and she has two lovely roommates, and the second we walked in the door they loaded us up with delicious food they had made on the barbecue, which we ate until our heart’s content and then spent the next few hours lazily swimming in her pool. The next morning we would be up early to head to Sedona for what turned out to be an amazing hike, so we took the evening slow and headed over to the SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler for dinner and some brew-skies:

^^Sunset in Arizona is just gorgeous, and I took about 5,000 photos that look just like this, and absolutely do not capture it in all its glory.

^^Sunset in Arizona is just gorgeous, and I took about 5,000 photos that look just like this, and absolutely do not capture it in all its glory.

^^According to their Website, "In addition to our core beers on draught year round, Brewmaster Anthony Canecchia keeps things exciting for SanTan fans by releasing specialty seasonal beers, small batch specialty beers, a weekly Cask Conditioned Ale as well as guest beers from brewers both local and around the nation. Like the Brewmaster says 'Craft Beer for Beer Drinking.'"

^^According to their website, “In addition to our core beers on draught year round, Brewmaster Anthony Canecchia keeps things exciting for SanTan fans by releasing specialty seasonal beers, small batch specialty beers, a weekly Cask Conditioned Ale as well as guest beers from brewers both local and around the nation. Like the Brewmaster says ‘Craft Beer for Beer Drinking.’”

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Then came July 5th, my friends, the day of all days. After eating breakfast at Liberty Market (which besides being really tasty had the most amazing bathrooms I’ve ever seen! Each stall was decorated in a different theme. Mine was recipes, and it had what must have been hundreds scribbled in black pen all over the walls, with spatulas, mixers and stirrers of all kinds hanging from the ceiling), we hopped in the car for the 2+ hour trek from Gilbert to Sedona, where we would hiking West Fork Trail. (We also intended to take in Slide Rock, as well, but we never got around to it. The people who were there, though, seemed to be having an awesome time … at least from what we could tell from the road as we drove by ;)

After driving through the town of Sedona, which is so picturesque it’s ridiculous, we finally parked and were ready for our hike. Here’s a little of what we found:

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I mean seriously … how fun does that look?! I guess hiking is something that I’m really starting to love, since we went for my birthday and now again in Arizona. I told Chris that I think hiking and snorkeling should be two activities we try to do whenever we go away somewhere. (And if you’re reading this Chris: No, I won’t go scuba diving, so stop asking :)

Anywayyyyy….after our hike we wiped off with water and baby wipes, got dressed in nicer clothes and headed back into the town. Our intention was do to a bit of bar hopping, trying out margaritas at a bunch of different locals. Of course that didn’t last when we got really hungry on our second stop. Oh well, we still get an A for effort.

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^^Our first stop (and first drink!) was at Canyon Breeze, which provided us with views like this.

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^^Statues like this one of Javelina were all around town. Apparently you can find these animals everywhere in Arizona, and Mina has seen a lot of them while out on her runs. I don’t know … I think there’s something cute about them ;)

^^We ended up having our dinner at a restaurant called Oaxaca (http://www.oaxacarestaurant.com/). It was decent, but it actually only got 2 stars on Yelp, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. There are probably much better places in this cute little area.

^^We ended up having our dinner at a restaurant called Oaxaca (http://www.oaxacarestaurant.com/). It was decent, but it actually only got 2 stars on Yelp, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. There are probably much better places in this cute little area.

And that was pretty much our Friday, my friends. It was so fun to get out and see what we saw. I can’t wait to get back and take on new hiking challenges soon.

In an effort to keep this post from dragging on even longer than it already has (sheesh), I think I’ll post about the last day of our trip tomorrow. There’s a lot to report there, and my fingers are getting tired. So until tomorrow my friends … bis bald!

4 thoughts on “July 4 2013: Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona

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