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Old 07-15-2011, 10:26 PM   #1
Bobo912
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Another Adventurer back from SWS

We got back on Tuesday night from Southwest Splendors. This was our third ABD trip and it was every bit as wonderful as the first two. We already have some great trip reports on SWS, so I'll give you the Reader's Digest version.

Our adventure guides, Chris and Tiffany, and motor coach driver, Dan, were awesome. We had a group of 16 - 9 adults and 7 kids, ranging in age from 7 to 16. They were all very nice, well-behaved kids and it was a pleasure traveling with them and their parents. Since the group was small we were able to make a few extra stops that are not typically a part of the itinerary.

The Amara was beautiful and so peaceful. We all had ground floor rooms by the pool. I loved Red Cliffs Lodge. Everyone there was so nice and helpful. Our entire group was upgraded to the cabins by the river. There was a lot more room than we needed for the just the two of us, but it was a wonderful surprise. The Thunderbird was not as nice as the other resorts, of course, but it's definitely worth giving up a little luxury to be able to stay on the rim. I took a walk before breakfast one day and when I stepped out of the room, there was a elk just outside the door grazing in the grass. I had the rim trail almost entirely to myself. And during our free afternoon we were able to use the shuttles to visit several areas of the park and attend some ranger talks. On our Tauck trip to Yosemite last year, the biggest disappointment was the lack of time in Yosemite Valley. Our lodge was just outside one entrance to the park, but it was over an hour drive to Yosemite Valley. So we didn't have much time there and I felt rushed the entire time. Staying in the park is definitely the way to go.

All of the meals we had with the group were very good and actually better than I expected.. We had buffets for breakfast every day and they were all good, even at the Thunderbird, although I'll admit that I had heard so many bad things about the eggs that I didn't have the courage to try them. We were very fortunate to be at Red Cliffs for their Sunday brunch. It was fabulous. Their regular breakfast buffet was very good also. We had some good meals on our own, as well. I recommend the prickly pear ice cream at the Black Cow Cafe in Sedona. It's next door to the Cowboy Club.

The entertainment provided by ABD was excellent, especially the Hopi musicians and dancers at the Grand Canyon. All of the activities with the group were a lot of fun. On our own we did the Hummer tour and ATVs at Moab. Both were great. We did the bus tour at Arches National Park, rather than the Delicate Arch hike, because I knew it was going to be hot and I figured DS would get cranky before it was over. Since our group was small, the guides split up, rather than both guides going on the hike as they usually do. If you're going on SWS and debating whether the Delicate Arch hike is for you, but afraid you'll be missing out by going on the bus tour, let me reassure you that the bus tour is great. We saw 10 arches, I believe. We exited the bus several times and took some shorter hikes up to the arches to see them up close and take photos. The local guide, Preston, was knowledgable and entertaining. I think I made the right choice for us. But the hikers had a good time too.

I'm probably forgetting some things that I meant to tell you all about. Did I mention how fantastic Chris and Tiffany are? Guess I did, but it can't be said enough. If anybody has any questions, I'll be glad to tell you what I know.
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Old 07-15-2011, 10:46 PM   #2
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Sounds like you guys had a good time.That's on are to do list, with all these great trips reports It's hard to pick which one to do next.ABD always does a great job
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Old 07-16-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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Hey, Bobo912! So glad you enjoyed SWS, although not surprised! Chris is da bomb, isn't he? And I've heard such great things about Tiffany.

I'm so glad that people are finding the Thunderbird worth it for the experience of staying on the rim. That's one part of the trip I missed in 2008; I'll have to go back and do that some day.

It sounds like the bus tour has been enhanced. The first reports I read about it, they didn't get out of the bus much, and didn't see the arches very close. I'm so glad they've made it an equally good experience. (Although I'm still very, very happy I did the Delicate Arch hike. However, I did it in May. I cannot *IMAGINE* doing it in July or August!!!)

Thanks for your reportlette. Glad to know the trip still remains great!

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My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
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Old 07-16-2011, 08:10 PM   #4
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Sayhello, I didn't realize that we would be getting off the bus either, so I suppose that is something new. We hiked up close to 3 arches. I would guess it was around 1 1/2 miles total. I think ABD is constantly making improvements. I know the guides checked out our rooms at the Thunderbird before they let us see them. We didn't have any of the issues that others have reported. I think it was Kristilew who had no hot water (or was it no cold water?) and sheets that came off the bed. We didn't have any problems at all and I loved being able to look out the window see the canyon or step out of the room and be right on the rim. And if you ever make it back to the Grand Junction airport, they now have a Subway restaurant that serves sandwiches, pizza and wine! I think they may have remodeled the airport since you were there. It was quite nice for such a small airport.
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Old 07-16-2011, 10:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobo912 View Post
Sayhello, I didn't realize that we would be getting off the bus either, so I suppose that is something new. We hiked up close to 3 arches. I would guess it was around 1 1/2 miles total. I think ABD is constantly making improvements. I know the guides checked out our rooms at the Thunderbird before they let us see them. We didn't have any of the issues that others have reported. I think it was Kristilew who had no hot water (or was it no cold water?) and sheets that came off the bed. We didn't have any problems at all and I loved being able to look out the window see the canyon or step out of the room and be right on the rim. And if you ever make it back to the Grand Junction airport, they now have a Subway restaurant that serves sandwiches, pizza and wine! I think they may have remodeled the airport since you were there. It was quite nice for such a small airport.
Man, that *is* a change! That would have been nice... This trip just gets better & better all the time. I didn't think it was possible!

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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:25 AM   #6
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Welcome back! Glad you had a great time. We too did the bus tour in Arches and really enjoyed it. Someone on our tour was really looking forward to seeing the arch from the Indiana Jones movie and didn't realize he had to take the bus tour to see it.
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Old 07-17-2011, 08:08 PM   #7
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Bobo912, I'm so glad to hear you had a great time! Every time I hear about someone else's experience at the Grand Canyon, it brings the peace and beauty of it right back. Although it seems like forever since I went on SWS (it was August 2009, not that long ). I learned so much on the DIS boards before we went, and chatted a good bit about it afterwards too. I know you've been thinking about it for a long time too - isn't it great when things work out so well? So... what's your next trip?
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Old 07-17-2011, 09:43 PM   #8
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Thanks, glassslipper! It will be interesting to see what new developments 2012 brings. Our Australia trip was cancelled in 2009 and I'm still hoping to take that trip at some point, so it could be the next one. But I'm also seriously considering Peru. I'm eageraly awaiting the announcement in August. There might even be something new that leads me in a totally different direction. I'm pretty sure there will be another ABD in our future.

Thanks to you too, Aunt Cawa, especially for suggesting the Tempe Embassy Suites for our pre-night. The staff there was very nice, the shuttle was convenient and we were able to start our adventure relaxed and refreshed.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:29 AM   #9
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Bobo, so glad you had a great trip! I do think ABD constantly tries to improve! I'm sure they had a little chat with the Thunderbird folks too, after that first year. It sounds like things have defintiely improved, or at least the guides know what to look for now!

Which makes me wonder - you mention the Hopi dancers. We, too, were so impressed with these dancers. Have they changed the venue for this performance or is it still in the room where you ate that night?

Thanks for sharing about your trip!
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:50 PM   #10
Bobo912
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Hi, Kristilew. The dancers were in the same room at the Thunderbird. We didnít have the issue with the sun shining in our eyes, like you guys did. Maybe just because it was cloudy, but itís possible that our dinner started later, because it got dark shortly after we arrived. A more picturesque location would be better, but they probably donít have a lot of banquet room options at a National Park. It is monsoon season in Arizona from July to mid-September, so outside would be risky too. We had a shower or thunderstorm every afternoon in Sedona, the Grand Canyon and Moab. Fortunately, they were short and didnít really interfere with our activities. A nice covered pavilion with a view of the canyon would be nice for the performance, but I donít suppose there is anything like that available.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:23 PM   #11
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Bobo 912

Did you bring a laptop on your trip?
I am interested in knowing if internet is available in the hotels or other areas on the trip , And if so, is it free or what is the cost

Thanks in Advance

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Old 07-19-2011, 03:38 PM   #12
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dismiss, I didn't bring my laptop, but I know for sure there was free wi-fi at the Amara Resort because DS connected with the iPod. I don't know about the other hotels.
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