Today marks four years of married life with my best friend – hurray!
This year, Bobby and I decided to combine an anniversary and babymoon trip into one fall weekend getaway. After our adventures in Sedona toward the end of the season last year, we thought it would be fun to head north even earlier in hopes of catching a glimpse of the leaves as they’re just beginning to change.
Well, turns out we were a few weeks too early in Sedona, but we got our wish in Flagstaff, and the overall beauty of both locations made for a refreshing and relaxing weekend, just the two of us (and, of course, our little navel orange … who is now the size of an onion!).
We hopped in the car on Friday after work, arriving at the Inn On Oak Creek a little before 8:00. I am pretty sure this place has nothing but positive reviews, and after staying there, we can see why. More on that in a second.
(Note: The above pictures were taken the next morning!)
We picked up our keys and got back in the car in order to make our dinner reservation at Javelina Cantina, which turned out to be just down the street. For a little backstory, Bobby and I took our first road trip to the Grand Canyon way back in September 2007 (before I started ye olde blog). On our way home, we drove through Sedona and stopped at a Mexican restaurant, where Bobby ordered his first beer (a Corona), having just turned 21. The food was amazing, but we neglected to remember the name of said restaurant and have been searching for it ever since!
All we have to go on is a picture that was taken of us with the restaurant view of Sedona’s red rocks in the background. We still aren’t sure whether Javelina Cantina was the place because as soon as we got there, we realized that it being dark outside made it kind of hard to see that same view … haha. So the mystery restaurant is still a mystery, but in the meantime we enjoyed some delicious Mexican fare.
We started out with chips and salsa, then added some guacamole to the mix.
Bobby ordered a margarita for the occasion.
For dinner, we shared the chicken fajitas, which were perfectly seasoned and came with a plethora of veggies and side options. It was a super delicious way to kick off the weekend.
Once our bellies were stuffed, we made our way back to the inn. The downstairs area where they serve breakfast was cute and cozy.
They were packed with guests for the weekend, so we were given two different king rooms on Friday and Saturday night (there are 13 rooms total). Although our rooms did not have the much sought after creekside balconies, they were clean, comfortable and beautifully renovated. The inn used to be a bed and breakfast and still has that vibe even though it has been converted into a hotel. (By the way, they didn’t ask me to say any of this – we just really enjoyed our stay.)
We had mentioned to the manager, Katie, that we were celebrating our anniversary, and were delighted to find a bottle of wine and a nice note when we entered the room. Katie apologized that they didn’t have a non-alcoholic option, but it didn’t matter – the gesture was still very sweet!
The inn continued to amaze us the next morning when we came downstairs for breakfast. They offer continental options such as orange juice, coffee, bagels, and muffins – perfect fuel for a day of hiking. But what really wowed us was the view from their main floor balcony.
Now we know why those creekside balcony rooms are popular! It was incredibly peaceful to sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of Sedona while eating. The temperature was also pretty perfect, which didn’t hurt.
After breakfast, we winded our way along the main road in search of none other than the West Fork Trail! This past spring and summer was a rough one for the Oak Creek Canyon area, as the Slide Fire burned more than 21,000 acres. Trails and parks have been closed ever since, but we were fortunate enough to arrive the same week that the West Fork Trail was reopened.
It was just as gorgeous as we remembered – albeit a lot greener this time around.
Although the leaves hadn’t really changed yet, we enjoyed walking along the familiar trail and stepping from stone to stone across the creek. We didn’t venture too far in, but it was a cool and shady walk that got the day started off right.
On the way back into town, we made a pit stop to see if our Sedona vortex was still hanging around near the small waterfall. And it was! These mini whirlpools are so cool to look at.
We made our way into the heart of town for a quick stop at one of my favorite stores: Earthbound Trading Company. Annnnnnd we ended up finding something that sealed the deal for how we’re going to decorate Baby Bender’s nursery! I’m excited to share more once everything comes together.
Next up: lunch at PJ’s Pub & Grille, where we hoped to catch the Northwestern game!
I decided to eat exactly what I was craving: a cup of chili and a basket of chicken tenders. Luckily, the NU vs. Wisconsin game was on, and we were thrilled to see our Cats come away with a victory!
The rest of the afternoon was spent hiking the Broken Arrow trail, which we found for the first time back in March. What can I say? We’re creatures of habit. But how could you not be when you have this view while walking?
Once our shoes were sufficiently coated in red dust, we made our way back to the hotel, checked into our new room and got ready for dinner at Cucina Rustica.
This was a great choice (thanks, TripAdvisor!) if I do say so myself. They knew it was our anniversary and as a result, the host spread fresh rose petals across our table. Our server started by bringing us a warm bread and olive oil basket.
We decided to start with the Caprese salad, made fresh with whole milk mozzarella, vine ripe organic campari tomatoes, organic basil and organic extra virgin olive oil.
For my entrée I chose Chef Lisa’s Luscious Lasagna, a classic lasagna layered with homemade bolognese sauce, Italian sausage, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. So good!
For our anniversary dessert, the waitress brought a complimentary cake. I don’t remember exactly what it was called but it was sweet and spongy with raspberry sauce, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The perfect end to a tasty meal.
The next morning, we packed up and drove a bit farther north to see the Oak Creek Canyon Vista.
This particular spot also has sentimental value. We snapped a picture here seven years ago and managed to recreate it again in 2014! Mother Nature hasn’t changed much, and I still apparently wear two hair elastics spread out on my wrist, haha. But the biggest difference is the third addition in the second picture.
We continued north to Flagstaff, where I hoped we could catch some early signs of fall. I’d seen pictures of Lockett Meadow in Arizona Highways magazine and thought it would be a great idea. Well, turns out, it might have been a better idea if we owned a truck. My failure to read the directions closely led to our definitely-not-an-SUV making a three-mile climb up a mountain just to reach the clearing. (To be fair, you’d think a meadow would be at the base of the mountains, right? Right.) It was a lot like accidentally driving on the Appian Way, except 20 times longer and scarier.
Thankfully, our car made it up in one piece, and we were rewarded with this stunning view of the San Francisco Peaks. Totally worth it, I exclaimed. Yeah I suppose so, Bobby (the driver) said.
Although I don’t think we’d attempt the drive again in our car, we were able to relax among the yellow aspen trees. The air was crisp and everything smelled amazing. We left feeling peaceful and ready to rock the drive back down.
To cap off a wonderful weekend of adventures, many of which were revisited favorites, we made our way to Diablo Burger in downtown Flagstaff for lunch, a burger joint we fell in love with nearly three years ago. I started out with a beer – Sioux City root beer, that is.
And I went with the build-your-own burger, topping it with caramelized onions, pepper jack cheese and Diablo’s secret sauce. It really hit the spot and served as the perfect send off.
In many ways, our wedding seems like it was just yesterday. Then I think about all of the incredible things that have happened these past four years, and I realize that it’s been a jam-packed journey so far! I have a feeling year five is going to be the most exciting one yet.
Happy anniversary, Bobby! I love you!