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Our Last Vacay Before Baby

As we get closer to our little guys’ arrival (10 weeks!) the list of things-to-do to prepare continues to grow. They range from the practical and “duh-worthy” (setup baby’s nursery, make sure you have the essentials), to nerve-wracking (childbirth classes and labor prep), and the tedious (fill out pre-registration paperwork, make sure health and life insurance policies are in place), etc. But, there are some fun to-do’s in between— like take a last vacation before you’re officially a family of 3 (or in our case, a family of four, because let’s face it, our dog is pretty much a child). Let me start by saying I hate the term “Babymoon.” It sounds dumb and childish, and long before I was pregnant I thought people who partook in this ritual were indulgent (and dumb and childish). But, as the realities of parenthood continued to loom and the responsibilities of getting ready for said child while still working full-time took its’ toll, suddenly a chance to get away didn’t seem all that bad (or indulgent, or dumb). And since my husband is pretty much game for anything, he had no objections.

After we got our travel restrictions from my doctor (no plane rides after December, and no car-rides longer than a 90-minute stretch at a time), we had the task of figuring out where to go and when. Thanksgiving weekend seemed like an ideal time because I would have a few extra days off, and Nate’s schedule always winds down around that time anyway. And for emotional reasons it seemed like a good weekend to do it because last Thanksgiving we were grieving and healing from the loss of our previous pregnancy. This Virgo loves symbolism and bookending, after-all. There were also lots of places we were debating traveling to, but they needed to fit the travel requirements and we both wanted to go someplace we’d never really explored and could be equal parts fun and relaxing. Enter Sedona.

Sedona had been on my radar for awhile now. It’s a cute little Arizona town with natural beauty (those red rocks are breathtaking), an active lifestyle, and a dash of spiritualism (seriously, there were mystic shops on practically every corner). It’s also home to four vortexes, which if you believe in that kind-of-thing (which I do), are concentrated energy forces that are healing and balancing— perfect for being around when you’re growing a babe! Oh, and it’s also VERY dog-friendly (we didn’t leave Cardinal in the hotel room once and some restaurants had dog menus, much to Cardinal’s delight). Another benefit of traveling to Sedona is we could take plenty of pit-stops during our drive, which we did.

We decided to break up the trip going there by spending the night (and Thanksgiving day) in Vegas. I didn’t sleep well the night before, and the drive was a bit of a challenge for me, so after we hit the Bellagio buffet, I hit the sheets. But, that buffet was amazing despite the almost 2-hour wait and not-so-friendly service. I think we had 10 different kinds of desserts.

Then it was off to the Grand Canyon— a four hour ride from Vegas. I had never been and it’s always been on my bucket list, so I was very excited about stopping there. We went to the South Rim, which is the only area that’s open during the winter. Fortunately, it’s also the dog-friendly area. The views are breathtaking— it really does look like you’re staring at a Hollywood backdrop. And after a 4-hour car ride, a nice easy stroll along the canyon was exactly what our legs needed. We got there around 3.30pm, so it wasn’t too hot or too cool and we got some lovely sunset views as we were leaving the park. The whole thing was pretty magical.

After that, we drove another 90 mins to Sedona. Our check-in at The Sedona Real Inn and Suites was easy-breezy. They even gave Cardinal a welcome bag filled with treats and a travel water dish that we got plenty of use from. Just a sidenote about this lovely hotel, they could teach a class on hospitality. Every single person we encountered was so damn nice. The property has views of the Red Rocks and they have a really cute dog-park, which was conveniently right next to our hotel room. After we got settled into our room, we headed into town and ate at Pisa Lisa a very cute Italian restaurant that had AMAZING pizza and bruschetta. And we couldn’t help ourselves and also got some Gelato to-go.

The next day, we got up early-ish to enjoy the hotel’s complimentary breakfast. They have a sweet older couple who makes breakfast and we enjoyed eggs, sausage, and all the traditional hotel breakfast fixins’ (another sidenote: Nate and I decided that might be our retirement plan). Then, we headed out to do some hiking and exploring. The first stop I wanted to hit was one of the vortexes, which I didn’t realize is also a popular hiking spot: Bell Rock. After searching for parking for a bit (it was busy), we finally set out on the trail. We decided to do the “easy to moderate” loop, which ended up being a 4.5 mile hike. It took us a little over 2 hours. Cardinal and I were exhausted, but Nate seemed fine. I’m sure it’d be easier if I wasn’t 7 months pregnant and it wasn’t in the high 70’s. Afterwards, we went into town and got lunch at the Wildflower Cafe, which had delicious sandwiches and an amazing view of the rocks from the patio. And then we headed back to the hotel, so I could change for my spa appointment and Nate could give Cardinal a much-needed bath.

I had heard the spas in Sedona were wonderful, but I don’t think that could’ve prepared me for just how amazing my experience at Sedona’s New Day Spa was. The minute I walked inside, I was greeted like I was an old friend. They have a small changing area, cute waiting area filled with delicious snacks, a hot tub (that I was sad I couldn’t partake in), and an outdoor area for you to wait for your services. Rosie was the woman who did my prenatal massage and she took such amazing care of me. After all that driving and hiking and baby-cooking, my body was in serious need of pampering and she delivered. I felt like a new woman after!

That night, after a quick stroll through Sedona’s cute downtown area, we went to dinner at a place called Creekside, which apparently has the best views. Unfortunately, it was nighttime so we didn’t see much, but the dinner was fantastic. This was also the place that had a “dog menu” and we decided to indulge Cardinal and get him the “Steak Tartar” which was a pound of raw ground beef with a raw egg on top. Our 15-pound dog at the whole dang thing and was in heaven. We ordered the “famous Peach Cobbler” to split, and oh boy… was it AMAZING (and totally worth the title of “famous.”) Nate, who proclaimed he wasn’t that hungry for dessert, ate his fair share.

On Sunday, we started the trek back to L.A. with planned pit-stops along the way to Phoenix and Palm Springs. The drive back took us a little under 12 hours, but I didn’t wear my compression socks and my feet didn’t swell, so I considered that a huge victory.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip and a great way for us to reconnect and celebrate our last “vacay before babay” (which is what I used as a hashtag— who is childish and lame now, huh?) So, would I recommend going on a last vacation before baby? Absolutely. Would I refer to it is a “babymoon?” The jury is still out…

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