Day Trips in Arizona

SedonaBeating the heat in Phoenix and Scottsdale during the dog days of summer is no easy feat.  Sometimes the best way to escape the heat is to escape entirely, even if only for a day.  Here are some popular day trips to consider this summer . . .

Pack up your camera equipment and head north to Sedona for the day.  Sedona is a mecca for hikers, mountain bikers, golfers, art lovers AND shoppers, all of who will enjoy the jaw-dropping vistas of Sedona’s red rock formations.  First-time visitors to Sedona may want to consider signing up for a Jeep tour which is an exciting, off-road way to experience Sedona.   If you time your visit right, you may be able to enjoy one of Sedona’s many festivals.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  This gorgeous park is located on Carefree Highway, about 15 miles west of the I-17 freeway.  This 23,000-acre desert park has the beautiful Lake Pleasant as its crown jewel.  There is a fee to enter the park ($6 per vehicle), and there are multiple ways to enjoy this desert oasis.  From fishing, boating and hiking to camping and swimming, there is something for everyone at Lake Pleasant.

Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon is only 4 to 4.5 hours north of metropolitan Phoenix, so it’s entirely possible to make the Grand Canyon a destination for a day trip.  Assuming you don’t want to hike into the canyon or take a mule trip down its depths, you will have a good 4-5 hours to take in the stunning vistas of this national park without having to find overnight accommodations.

Verde Canyon Railroad.  This is a fantastic day trip any time of year, and you’re sure to see abundant wildlife as well as Indian dwellings.  The train leaves from Clarksdale, about 2 hours north of Phoenix, and is ridden 4 hours (out and back) along the Verde River through the gorgeous Verde Canyon.   Consider taking one of the moonlight trips during the summer months, to experience the Sonoran Desert after dark.

Jerome.   This is a must-see for visitors to AND residents of Arizona.  This historic copper mining town is located between Prescott and Flagstaff, at 5,200 feet elevation, and is only 90 miles from Phoenix.  This mountainside town features lots of shopping, dining and art, all within historic buildings.  This fun day trip is suitable for all ages.

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How to Find a Good Contractor

Whether you are considering listing your home for sale, and making much needed updates to maximize your ROI (return on investment), or whether you’d like to update your existing home, you are probably going to be enlisting the services of a contractor.  Like most fields, the contractor field is very wide and deep, and finding a good, reputable contractor may seem like a bit of a Herculean task.  To that end, here are some suggestions on how to find the best person to help you undertake any remodeling task.

Interior Updates
First, ask your friends and family if they’ve used a contracor in the past. A second source of recommendations to consid
r is your neighbors.  While you can ask them in person if they’ve got a contractor they’d recommend, another source of information is through the website www.nextdoor.com.  This is a fantastic, free resource for anything neighborhood-related, and members are very willing to share their experiences with contractors, good and bad.  A third source of recommendations to consider is your local tile store, flooring store and hardware store.  Chatting with the store manager or employees will often yield several names of reputable contractors in your area.

When you’ve got a list of 3-4 names, it’s time to check these individuals out, to make sure they are reputable and legitimate.   In Arizona, the Registrar of Contractors maintains a list of all registered, licensed contractors in a handy database available to the public: http://www.azroc.gov/forms/contractorsearch.html.  This database maintains a comprehensive record of the status of the contractor’s license, any complaints that have been filed against the contractor, the amount of bond they maintain, as well as how long they’ve maintained a license in this state.

Next, contact the contractor and conduct an interview of them (by phone or email).  Some questions to ask include:  Do they take on projects of your size?
Can they give you a list of previous clients?  How many other projects would they have going at the same time?  How long have they worked with their subcontractors?  Would they be personally supervising the project?   The next step would be a face to face meeting, in which they can see the project you’ve got in mind, and so you can ascertain their personality and see if it’s a good fit.  Follow up this in person meeting with phone calls to 2 or 3 of their references.  Ask how their remodels went, and ask if you can see photos of the final product.

The final step is to collect bids (always ask for itemized bids in writing) as well as payment schedules.  Typically, with larger remodeling projects, contractors require 10% at the time of signing the contract, with 3 payments of 25% evenly spaced throughout, and then the final 15% once the remodel has been completed.   Then, it’s off to the races with a remodel that’s sure to increase the value of your home, or of your continued enjoyment of your home.   As always, I’d be happy to share with you who I have had success working with on home remodels.

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