Tammi DeVanof 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.
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
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,
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,
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.
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