YOUR VACATION IN LIGHTS

Take It Easy and Take In the Other Arizona

"Slowin' down to take a look at me": William DeVan holds daughter Sydney, while Alexandria and Liam stand in front of Tammi DeVan. Who needs Sedona?

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tammi DeVan of Falls Church is the latest contributor to our Your Vacation in Lights feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to share the dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip can be the next guy's day-maker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near miss. To file your own trip report -- and become eligible to win a digital camera -- see the fine print below.

THE TRIP: A big loop through Arizona. Not the typical stops: Winslow, Payson, Mesa, Parker Dam, Lake Havasu and Hoover Dam. Our flights were in and out of Las Vegas.

WHO WENT? The family. My husband, William; Alexandria, 7; Liam, 5; Sydney, 2; and myself.

WHEN: Dec. 2-9.

WHY? Needed to see my dad, a.k.a. Papa Bill, in Mesa. Plus my road-warrior wanderlust was getting the better of me: The wide-open road was too tempting.

IT MADE IT ALL WORTH IT WHEN . . . we were standin' on the corner in Winslow, Ariz. Got to check that off my things-to-do-in-life list. Call me nuts, but looking on the blog of http://www.standinonthecorner.com/, some people are nuttier.

COOLEST SURPRISE ATTRACTION: Las Vegas is a hoot, but since all that happens there stays there, I'll say the best surprise was the Arizona Museum for Youth (480-644-2467, http://www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com/) in Mesa. It's dubbed as a child-oriented, hands-on fine arts center. The theme while we were there was wheels, including some oddly designed and decorated cars and a room with pretend motorcycles the kids could ride with a big screen in front of them, as if they were riding through the desert. I'm not sure where the "fine arts" come into play, but it was a fun time.

CHEAPEST THRILL: Getting upgraded to what I'd call a high-roller suite at the Aladdin in Vegas. This story is safe to leave Las Vegas: 1,800 square feet of highfalutin decor with a view of the Bellagio's water show, and all for the price of a basic room. (We paid about $150.) It was the first time we've ever wanted to spend time in a hotel room. Not bad for non-gamblers.

BIGGEST SPLURGE: T-shirts, mugs and the like from Winslow. Not a lot of money but a lot of dough to commemorate four lines of an Eagles song.

BEST TIP: If the Eagles have made an impression on you like they have on me, stay at Winslow's La Posada Hotel (928-289-4366, http://www.laposada.org/), a refurbished railroad hotel with fun, interesting rooms. We paid $75 a night at this National Historic Landmark. Its Turquoise Room is a fabulous restaurant, especially for a town of 10,000 people, and there is decent art throughout the building. The kids loved hearing the trains roar when we were outside, and there are lots of rocking chairs to take in the fresh air and scenery. I didn't even mind my husband chatting away on his BlackBerry, since it was a fun place for the rest of us to explore.

I CAN'T BELIEVE . . . I got in trouble at Hoover Dam. When I decided to run into the souvenir shop to buy a snow globe, we pulled over by the parking garage, but didn't go in the parking garage. Got out of the car and about five security guards started yelling with authority, "Get back in the car! Get back in the car!" Geez, nothing says terrorist like a family in a rented minivan.

SENTIMENTAL MOMENT: Driving through Lake Havasu City and seeing the London Bridge again. I saw it about 30 years ago as a kid with my family, so it was fun taking my kids to see this bridge in the desert. Nonsense attractions such as this one may have triggered my uncontrollable urges to see quirky Americana. If only I had started my snow globe collection back then.

DON'T NEED TO GO BACK TO . . . Meteor Crater, a hole in the ground from a meteor that landed thousands of years ago. I guess the size of this thing is impressive, but it just didn't do it for me. Maybe I was still relishing my purchases in Winslow.

PLACES WE KEEP GOING BACK TO IN ARIZONA: Tortilla Flats, population 6. Great scenery getting there. Also Rustler's Rooste, a restaurant on South Mountain in Phoenix. Great view of the city lights, band playing the country songs we all know and a slide to entertain antsy patrons, including me.

WHY DIDN'T WE GO TO SEDONA? GRAND CANYON? I've already been there more than once and wanted to try new places. Hitting the road and seeing C-list places (okay, maybe not the Hoover Dam) turned our trip into an A+ vacation.

* * *

Want to see your own vacation in lights? We'll highlight one report on the last Sunday of the month. To enter, use the categories above as a guide (use as many as you wish or add your own; for a list, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/vacationinlights) and send your report to Your Vacation in Lights, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; or e-mail vacationinlights@washpost.com.

Entries chosen for publication become eligible to receive a Canon PowerShot A610 (or equivalent) digital camera at the end of the year. Entries will be chosen on the basis of humor, originality and usefulness; are subject to editing; and become property of The Post, which may edit, publish, distribute or republish them in any form. Employees of The Post and their immediate families are not eligible. No purchase necessary.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company


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