Quarantine had us homebound for about two months. The only time we ventured out with the kiddos is when my three-year-old had her tonsils and adenoids removed. Ice-cream and popsicles were supposed to be the welcome treat to keep her focused on something other than missing preschool. The only other adventures we decided to partake in were a few quarantine birthday parades and to say goodbye from a safe distance to the preschool staff. With the ending of Ducey’s Shelter in Place orders, we emerged cautiously and a bit befuddled—what would we find in our “new normal?”
As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, we wondered how we would celebrate our kiddos’ birthdays. Sadly, their original birthday plans were canceled thanks to COVID causing the play place to close down for good. After watching highlights from kid-favorite YouTube star, Blippi, showing highlights of indoor fun in Phoenix, the kids asked to go to Party Jungle. With updated sanitation practices and social distancing in place, we decided to attend the soft reopening at this beloved place in NE Phoenix as a family. We were the first in line to enter Party Jungle—the kids excited to ride the miniature Dumbo ride. (Fun fact: Party Jungle held a contest to name the elephants. I won the contest for naming the orange elephant Fandango. Big prize? $5 worth of Party Jungle tokens. Score!) We enjoyed an hour and a half with only one other couple and child in the whole place.
As small business owners, we also wanted to do our part to support the local community. We had lunch at Manuel’s Mexican and bought some sweet allergy-friendly treats from Gluten Free Bakery. That weekend, we also enjoyed pool time and a bbq with family. (Masks were worn and air hugs were given to those who were immunocompromised).
To commemorate two birthday parties, coming off quarantine, and making the most of a holiday weekend, we headed up north to Sedona Sunday morning. Thankfully, we didn’t have too much traffic driving in. Knowing it would be crowded, I made reservations a few days prior on Open Table. Due to limited menu offerings and having a toddler with multiple allergies, it was a good idea to be prepared with extra snacks and order what we could. The kids enjoyed the ambiance of the garden courtyard where we enjoyed brunch at Casa Sedona Inn. We then booked a tour with Sedona Trolley to enjoy the sights of Red Rock country. We thought we had time for a toddler-friendly hike at Crescent Moon Ranch State Park. However, due to holiday vacationers, we were turned away due to overcrowding. Thankfully we were able to check into our hotel early (Courtyard Marriott Sedona is beautiful).
We went to uptown Sedona to meet our trolley tour, only to find out due to holiday traffic, our tour was delayed more than an hour and we would not make it back in time for our early dinner reservations. This was upsetting to our toddlers who waited for what felt like eons. But, Mr. Bob, the GM, came to the rescue! He gave our family a private tour of one of his trolleys. The kids took turns pretending they were part of Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood, taking turns playing make-believe as the driver and passengers. The kids had the biggest smiles and seemed to cheer up by this thoughtful gesture. Mr. Bob for the win!
After the tour, we had dinner at Southwest Rock Kitchen at the Amara Resort and had dessert at Pussycat Gelato (which had delicious vegan options). We headed to our hotel to catch the sunset, wind down for the night, and get up and at ’em early to beat holiday traffic home. After one last breakfast at the hotel we headed to Tlaquepaque to enjoy the quiet beauty before the shops opened. There was a photoshoot happening and my preschooler said it looked like Belle in her yellow dress at her castle. We took photos and searched for our heart lock we added last year as a family to the iron fence adjacent to the cute shops. We ended with a yummy treat from the Secret Garden Café and went on our merry way, waving goodbye to the animal statues, making wishes as we threw coins in the fountains, and blew a kiss to the toad, hoping that just maybe one day, he would turn into a prince.
The “new normal” was observed carefully, enjoyed thoroughly, and appreciated thoughtfully as we spent quality family time post quarantine. I definitely recommend a safe getaway if it is in your power to do so.