Fun Fantasy Rituals or “FFR’s” as we like to call them are the actual dates we plan for each other monthly.  Up until this past weekend, they had always been planned as a single day event, activity, outing or some combination thereof.

Dana took FFR’s to whole new level when she planned a surprise weekend getaway to northern Arizona.  I received the “FFR Weekend Getaway” itinerary on Thursday that simply outlined the clothing I was suggested to bring for our adventure.  As is the custom with all of our FFR’s, questions are answered on a need to know basis and we’ve both learned from experience that it’s best not to ask and just let the mystery unfold on its own.

I was in the drivers seat as we headed north and as we approached Interstate 17 my mind was thinking about all the various destination possibilities.  Dana saw me calculating in my mind and simply smiled from the co-pilot seat.  My immediate thought was that we were headed to Sedona for the weekend, as we both love visiting and spending time in the amazing red rock landscape.

As we were getting close to the exit to Sedona, I looked over at Dana and she simply motioned forward and to continue on our northerly path.  Based upon the clothing she suggested, I knew we were probably not headed to the Grand Canyon.  It wasn’t until we were nearing Flagstaff that Dana provided exit information.

The directions led us to the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course that’s approximately 6 miles south of Flagstaff off Interstate 17.  As we pulled up, I still had no idea what was in store for us.  Dana checked us in and we proceeded to get harnessed up in climbing gear.  Dana also bought the optional gloves for us, a nice memento but a keen purchase to keep our hands protected for what was about to unfold.

I learned that Flagstaff Extreme has two experiences to choose from; the Adventure Course and the Zip Lining Course.    Dana signed us up for the Adventure Course that has 5 suspended courses that are strategically placed within the areas amazingly tall pine trees.  Each course includes obstacles and zip lines and range from 20’ to 60’ off the ground.

The instructor then reviewed how to tether ourselves to each course by way of two   safety lines attached to the harness around our waists.  The safety lines have magnetic latches so that one line always has to be tethered to the course at all times.  This is what provides a great sense of safety especially as each course gets higher above the ground.

Dana and I were the first of our group of 20 people of all ages to go across the demo/practice course.  It was about 10’ off the ground and we acclimated ourselves to the gear and how to “snap in and snap out” to stay safe and navigate the courses.

With that, we were off and on our way.  Being first on the course provided a great benefit of not only having no one in front of us, but to savor the cool 80+ degree temps, sights and sounds and the fact that the group behind us was a lot slower than we were so we never felt rushed along the way.

It was an exhilarating 95 minutes before it started to lightly rain and we were told to wrap up the third of five courses as lightening was spotted in the area.  We looked at each other, gave a high five, and made the executive decision to head off to our next adventure instead of waiting around to see if an “all clear” to resume was going to happen.  We were one of the first back to get a rain check to come back again and to snap a quick pic in the big green chair before making our way to Adventure #2.

Back in the drivers seat, I was instructed to head back south on Interstate 17 for about 40 miles.  Dana checked the navigation and provided me with the exit information just as I was trying to figure out where we were headed.   She instructed me to get off at the Lake Montezuma exit where we turned right and headed northwest on Highway 30.  The scenery was beautiful and 20 minutes later we were pulling into Page Springs Cellars for a wine tasting.

We love our wine, especially red’s that tend to be fuller bodied with a satiny smooth finish.  To date, I’ve not found many Arizona wines that have been aged long enough in oak barrels to find a smooth finish.  The other challenge I’ve noticed in tasting red wines in Arizona is that when served at room temperature they tend to be rather warm where I get more of the alcohol taste on the finish.  This would dramatically change if the wines were served at 63-65 degrees as universally recommended.

We found a cozy couch in the corner and proceeded to sample six of their red wines and a snack of Medjool dates stuffed with manchego cheese, paprika sausage and wrapped in bacon.  Personally, I loved the dates and was so-so about the wines.  By this time, it was almost 5:30 pm and we both looked at each other and is the case more times than not, knew instinctively that it was time to head out and get to our next place… where we were staying that night!

At the car, Dana provided directions to our next stop for the evening.  We made it to Cottonwood in about 20 minutes and found our way to a very cute AirBnB located adjacent to Old Town Cottonwood.  Dana grew up here and we stayed at the Iron Horse Inn here over Christmas almost 3 years ago.  We unpacked the car, freshened up and then walked the 10+ minutes to Pizzeria Bocce, one of our favorite restaurants in Cottonwood.   I ordered a special watermelon margarita that was the size of Texas that we ultimately shared along with a Carbonara pizza that was out of this world!

The stroll back to the AirBnB was just what the doctor ordered and it took about 10 minutes to literally fall into bed and pass out from the day’s adventures!

Day 2 began with coffee in bed and a review of the previous days adventures.  We determined, due to running out of cream for our java that it was best to get the day started and head out to our first adventure.

We drove through Cottonwood and Dana showed me some of the sights including the elementary school she attended.  We headed to the neighboring city of Clarkdale and stopped at Violette’s Bakery Café that’s housed in an old train caboose.  We grabbed a java to go and Dana had me head out of town on 89 A and I figured we were headed to Jerome as Sedona was the opposite direction.

Sure enough, Jerome was our next stop but I was very surprised as Dana had me take a route going around town and not up the hill into the main part of this historic mining town.  If you’ve never journeyed to Jerome, you owe it to yourself to visit and learn about its rich history while strolling into the numerous shops, bars, restaurants and art galleries.

Our drive took us to a dead end at the Jerome State Historic Park and the site of the Douglas Mansion built in 1916.  I’ve been to Jerome no less than a dozen times over the years and although I’ve seen the Mansion looking down from the city to where it sits every time, I’d never actually took the time to visit its rich history.  It’s a great story and well worth the time to visit.  We took a pic with Lyle Rex outside of the museum as he’s always up for an adventure too.

It was lunchtime and we made our way to The Mine Café that has a 5 Star review on Yelp.  I had a kick butt margarita to kick off the day’s drinking and Dana had a mimosa with fresh pineapple juice.  We split the Avocado Toast with bacon bits that was off the charts fantastic!  From there, we walked around the corner to Cellar 433 for a wine tasting.  We shared a red wine flight and Dana ended up purchasing a great bottle of rose and red blend that will be fun to try in the not too distant future!

From Cellar 433 we headed to our favorite store in Jerome, Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes.  Even if you’re not a fan of kaleidoscopes, you’ll definitely be one once you walk through this store that is one big demonstration of these remarkable visual experiences.  We’re actually looking at taking a kaleidoscope workshop to make our own at there studio in Jerome in October.

The last stop in Jerome was at Passion Cellars for a wine tasting led by Cody who was a wine genius!  Not only is he highly educated when it comes to all varietals, but his sense of humor and personality made their wines taste that much better!  We didn’t purchase any bottles but left there with a big smile on our faces.  Thinking back on it, I’m wondering if the smiles were from the drinks at The Mine Café combined with the wine tastings at Cellar 433 and Passion?!?!

It was getting late in the day and we unanimously voted to head back to our AirBnB to take a load off and make plans for dinner.  The night before, on our walk to Pizzeria Bocce, we stopped in at Colt Grill to check the place out after I noticed a menu rooted in BBQ offerings.

Back at the ranch (the AirBnB) we cleaned up and I opened a bottle of red wine we had brought from home.  We discussed dining options as Old Town Cottonwood has plenty of great restaurants for such a small quaint town.  We opted for BBQ and walked the 5 minutes to Colt where Brenda, one of the owners, warmly greeted us again after meeting her the night before.  Our eyes were definitely bigger than our tummies as we tried the brisket, pulled pork, coleslaw, bbq beans and the heart healthy seasoned fries (just kiddin on the heart healthy).

Any ideas of hitting any of the other wine tasting rooms along Main Street went completely by the wayside and it was only 8:30 pm!  I would have been happy if Dana could have highjacked a wheelbarrow at this point to roll me back to the house.   The walk did us good and we sank into an exceptionally comfortable bed and watched the remake of Overboard that was the perfect way to unwind from two non-stop days on the run.

We awoke Sunday morning and while having coffee in bed, we both realized that we were still stuffed and opted out of a morning brunch.  We took our time packing up and made a quick pit stop to say “hello” to Dana’s sister Danell on our way out of town.

Driving back south on Interstate 17 we relived the excitement of our first ever weekend FFR.  As you know, Mystery, Surprise and Adventure are the foundational principles behind Fun Fantasy Ritual and where we assist couples in steering clear of any “rut” and keeping their relationships fresh, vibrant and full of love.  Dana has a natural flair for bringing creativity and ingenuity to the forefront and why you should check out our Date Concierge if you’re looking for a bit of assistance in planning your own FFR’s.

So… what’s my scorecard for the first ever weekend FFR…  without a doubt,

10 out of 10 easily!