My Favorite Experiences

Let’s leave the supernatural behind. I’ve got a long list of places I visited over the years so I thought I’d mention some of my favorite experiences.  That’s not as easy as it seems. but at least it’s fun to reminisce.

The very first trip I took was to Hawaii on 2007. My Mom and Sister went with me. We went to the Big Island. In a way I wish I could get that innocence back.

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I think I spent the whole vacation with my mouth open. Everything amazed me from the condo overlooking the golf course and the ocean waves to the Chain of Craters Road in Volcano National Park. Everything was new and fresh.

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The following year I went back to Hawaii. This time to Oahu.  This time my sister went with me  but my mom stayed at home. We were in a high rise building only a block from Waikiki Beach. And we saw rainbows ever day, morning and afternoon!

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That trip had so many highlights. Of course there was Pearl Harbor. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, everyone should go there and pay their respects. It is such a moving experience.

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I snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, a volcanic crater. What an amazing time!

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We spent a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, another don’t miss stop and nearly got blown off the “pali ” (cliffs) at Nuuanu Pali State Park, our first experiance with the trade winds.

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Jump to the fall of 2008. I was in a use it or lose it position with my time share points so I took another vacation. On a shoe string I booked Sedona, Arizona. This time I was traveling alone.

Snoopy Rock

Snoopy Rock

The Red Rocks of Sedona are breath taking but nothing prepared me for my first sight of the Grand Canyon.

On the South Rim, Grand Canyon 2008

On the South Rim, Grand Canyon 2008

I stepped off the tour bus and my head spun. I had to step back. The sight made me so dizzy. My mind kept telling me it wasn’t real. Nothing could be that spectacular.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

It’s fun to think back like this and almost embarrassing to look at my pictures. I’m happy to say I’ve improved in that department!

Time is Running Out

I was taking a leisurely stroll through my timeshare options until I got to Maryland.  As you can tell, I fell in love with that option. I was so enamored that I attempted to book a week, any week only to find that it was completely sold out. A big  NO VACANCY sign.

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That was a “wake up ” call for me. I may not have a decision to make if I continue to drag my feet. The last time I ended up having to take the “left overs” it worked out great. I ended up in Sedona  for my first visit. I liked it so much that I went back to the same resort a few years later. Still I’d rather make a decision than have it made for me. With that in mind I ran through the remaining exchanges to see if they were even available. Most weren’t.

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Of my 17 unvisited states with timeshares exchanges only 6 still have vacancies! One of them is just too expensive (The points are too high).

I think I’m going to go with Tennessee. Colorado has weeks available but not my first choices. Missouri just didn’t send my heart pitter patting although located in Branson Southwest should be able to find it now.

Michigan was way too many points! Shockingly high.

New Mexico ~ Located in Santa Fe , New Mexico..I’ve thought  about New Mexico a lot. There’the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque and the massive Carlsbad Caverns. There are several nature preserves too but the only times available as well as the long distances between the places I want to see, is summer. It would be very hot. It’s desert after all.

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Tennessee has 5 choices , most in Gatlinburg. With 5 resorts to pick from there’s bound to be some open reservations.

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I chose to enter a time range and not select a resort. Sure enough I had lots to chose from and since I’m traveling alone I only need about 3500 points for a week. I grabbed a week in May. Spring time in the Great Smokey Mountains is supposed to be nice.

Now I just have to see if work approved the vacation time! May is considered part of our busy season.

Oh Sedona!

Yesterday’s repost of Ben Stein’s very pertinent comments on the holidays went a little long so I’ll try to make it up to you by keeping this post short.

I was reading a magazine a few weeks ago and in the travel section was a 2 page spread about Sedona, Arizona. Now that in itself is not unusual. Sedona is a beautiful place deep in Red Rock country and a major vacation destination. What caught my eye was the list of “must do” items while in Sedona.

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I was thrilled to see that I have hit them all. (Except the Vortex tours). That must be a sign of a good vacation or maybe a well planned one. I’ve actually been to Sedona twice, once on my own and once with my sister. There was some overlap on the two vacations because some things were too good  not to do a 2nd time.

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For example, we took the drive to Williams to catch the train to the Grand Canyon. The first time my impression was beyond words. It was dizzying to step off the tour bus and see that majesty spread out before me. The second time was no less breathtaking but it was sweetened by being able to see my sister’s response to this amazing wonder.

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The article recommended the Out of Africa Safari which I did on my first trip.

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My sister and I skipped that on the 2nd trip to visit Montezuma’s Castle instead. I place those ruins high on the must see list. I enjoyed Out of Africa but if time is an issue, I’d have to vote for Montezuma’s Castle.

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Before we went to the “castle” we stopped at Montezuma’s Well. That isn’t as spectacular as the “castle” but it was still interesting and I climbed down the 100 steps the the base of the well.

Slide Rock State park was another spot on the list. I remember exploring that on my first trip and we made a short stop on our 2nd trip as well.

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The renowned shopping area in Sedona is Tlaquepaque. Our exposure was limited to the trolley tour through the area. I did the same thing on my first trip but if you are someone who likes to shop, this is not to be missed.

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Last but not least is the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

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This was a stop on the trolley tour so it became a stop on our tour as well. I took the trolley tour both times I was in Sedona. It is well worth it. The guides are fun and knowledgeable and it gets you familiar with Sedona. We had plenty of time at the Chapel. Clearly it was a major stop and a must see attraction. From the courtyard you can see such iconic landmarks as Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte and Madonna and Child, all beautiful red rock.

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Oh Sedona, those were 2 great vacations!

Give me an A!

A is for Alaska

Juneau

Yes, I can cross that one off with an asterisk because I went on a cruise-tour. It was nice and most normal people would be happy with it but I wanted more. I’d like to return and spend a week, maybe in Anchorage, and do day trips. I’d like to go to Kenai for the bears and Fairbanks for the Northern Lights(opposite directions if you’ve never been in Alaska) . I’d like to do some more wildlife trips and whale watches and take a small boat tour up to the glaciers.

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I might want to take another trip after that in an RV and drive the ALCAN highway. It’s supposed to be spectacular.

A is for Arizona

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Yes, I can cross Arizona off the list, also with an asterisk. I’ve been to Sedona twice. It’s beautiful. I love the red rock country and the weather, not too hot, not too cold. I’d love to take pictures in all the classic places especially in the fall especially around Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock Park.

The Grand Canyon is breathtaking but I want to be there as the sun peaks over the rim and the colors begin to glow in the warm early morning light.

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I haven’t seen the Saguaro National Park which is in southern Arizona, nor Monument Valley to the north. While I’m in the northern part I’d want to check out the slot canyons like Antelope Canyon.

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Oh Arizona, I barely know thee!

A is for Arkansas

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No I must confess I have not made it to this southern gem and I do mean gem. If I’m not mistaken Arkansas is home to Crater of Diamonds State Park. For a small fee I can dig for my own diamonds! I surely want to do that.

Arkansas is in the heart of the confederacy too. There are Battlefields and Military Parks. There are Nature Ways, Scenic Byways and one of the great natural wonders, Mammoth Spring! Oh and can’t forget the Presidential Library of Bill Clinton. And I haven’t even mentioned the Ozarks.

There are so many things I’d like to see in Arkansas I think it will end up with an asterisk too once I’ve made my first visit.

A is for Alabama

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No, another southern state that awaits. Sweet home Alabama, I love that song. Alabama has centuries of history from the civil war to civil rights and Native American Culture thrown in for spice. There are Zoos, and if you’re into NASCAR, the Talladega  Superspeedway. There are botanical gardens and outdoor trails. And once again, I am only scratching the surface.

So to sum up the letter A, there are 4 States in this group and I’m 1/2 way through, 2 down and 2 to go. All have plenty of great exploring. Do you live in any of these states? Have you visited any? What’s your “must see-must do” suggestion?

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona

And the answer is…The Chapel of the Holy Cross located in Sedona, Arizona.

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The Chapel was a gift from Marguerite Brunswig Staude who felt that a church should be dedicated to finding God through art.

Sedona is known for its spiritual energies and seems an appropriate place for a church that still seems ageless even in 2013. The groundbreaking was in April 1955 and completed in 18 months at a cost of only $300,000 a modest sum even for those days. The dedication was in the spring of 1957.

The most prominent feature is the cross which seems to be wedged into the distinctive red rocks as though it was just planted there by some giant pilgrim.

When you go to Sedona one of the first things to do is take the trolley ride. It’s a great way to get a feel for the area. The trolley will take you right to the Chapel and allow you time to climb the ramp to the top and explore the interior.

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Inside the chapel is intimate and unadorned. Benches hug the angular walls. Down the center are 14 pews in two rows of 7 each. Your eyes are drawn to the cross in the center with the floor-to-ceiling windows behind it.

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It creates an atmosphere to let the spirit soar.

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When I visited there was little decoration. Apart from two tapestries on the wall the only other striking color is the flickering ruby-red devotion candles.

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The Chapel is surrounded by the iconic rock formations of Sedona, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock, even a spire known as Madonna and Child.

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This is truly one of the “Must-see” sights of Sedona.