We began our one-year anniversary by renting bikes from the hotel (free for guests…holla) and had a great time meandering our way around Scottsdale’s bike paths and golf courses. The relative coolness of the morning made for a nice ride.

After checking out of the hotel, we headed up I-17 to Montezuma Castle, an ancient cliff dwelling which was very cool. Drea, the history buff, enjoyed it particularly.

Next stop: Sedona. Nestled below the famous red rocks that change hues with the daylight, Sedona has a uniquely picturesque desert setting. It was especially fun driving into it, as Drea had never seen any landscape like it in her life. We stopped at the beautiful Chapel of the Holy Cross, and grabbed some lunch. I had looked up a fantastic gourmet pizza place my family ate at a few years ago, hoping it would be as good as I remembered. We weren’t disappointed, and tore up on some Caesar salad and BBQ chicken pizza.

My plan was to stop at Slide Rock State Park, a beautiful recreation area complete with a slide rock and “jumping rock” nestled in Oak Creek Canyon. Unfortunately, a rainstorm and the park’s crowdedness made it a less appealing diversion, and we decided to skip it in exchange for some more time at the Grand Canyon.

We drove through my dad’s childhood home of Flagstaff, AZ and took the scenic route up to the Grand Canyon. The extra time paid off, as we experienced some great, surprising lush landscape. Drea got some great shots…

We checked into the Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan, caught the Grand Canyon IMAX film, and made the 15-minute drive north to the South Rim about half and hour before sunset. We found our own little private cliff and just watched the sun sink over the canyon rim. It was awesome.

It was a memorable anniversary. I’ll have a lot to follow up on next year!