Friday, April 23, 2010

Arizona Vacation - Day 5

Almost done....

Day 5

We woke up on Day five, ate breakfast, packed up camp (I was celebrating cause this was the last "pack up camp" of the trip...) then went to play in the Page/Glen Canyon area.

We started out with a tour of the lower portion of Antelope Canyon. It was INCREDIBLE!!!!! I totally loved it! It is a little pricey, but I thought it was worth it. It is a sandstone slot canyon just a few miles outside of Page, AZ. Here are some photos. (just know that our camera isn't all that great and the pictures don't even come close... For some better pictures of the canyon just do a Google search for Antelope Canyon and you will see some AMAZING photos! (they just won't have my adorable family in them...)

(a "real" photographer - or his backside at least... I just put it in here because I loved the stripes (would you call them striations???) on the walls, and this was the best shot of those...)

The upper portion of the canyon (a separate tour that we did NOT do) does not have stairs. it is just flat walking, in case you want to go but don't want stairs...)

This was Jason, our Navajo tour guide. My kids (especially Bryan) LOVED him! He played his guitar pretty much the whole time as we walked through the canyon and my kids couldn't get enough of him...

Here are two short video clips of us in the canyon. (and the kids playing "air guitar" along with Jason.) Hope they don't make you motion sick...

After Antelope Canyon, we went to go on a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam. We got there, only to find out that the next tour opening was in 2 1/2 hours. we booked our spot on that one, then went back to Lake Powell near where we had camped the night before, ate lunch, and let the kids play in the FREEZING cold water. They loved it.

this is a short clip of Aaron getting into the COLD water... crazy kid! (egged on by his crazy father!)

The kids would have happily kept playing in the water MUCH longer, but we needed to get back to our tour, so off we went again. (in hindsight, I probably should have just skipped the tour and let them play, since the tour was pretty boring for them, but I thought it was interesting.

This Dam is just MASSIVE! I don't remember all of the specifics, and I'm too lazy to look them up, but it was something like, if they took the amount of concrete that was used to build this dam, it is enough to build a 4 lane highway, 4 inches thick all the way from Phoenix to Chicago! THAT is A LOT of concrete!

For reference points, the circular building in the back is the Glen Canyon Dam visitors center. That's where you start the tour, and the bridge is the road that crosses the canyon.

picture above is canyon/river side, picture below is the "lake side"

Bryan next to a HUGE (retired) turbine

Now you can see the bridge again from even further down....

This thing was HUGE - just bolted right into the canyon walls... just incredible engineering!

After the tour of the Dam, we headed to Glendale to stay with my dear friend Mercy. More about that in my next (and final) post. (but you will probably have to wait until tomorrow, cause today is shaping up to be a really BUSY BUSY BUSY day!)

Arizona Vacation - Day 5

DAY 5 -

We woke up to a chilly morning, ate HOT cereal and HOT cocoa for breakfast, packed up camp, then off to explore more of the Grand Canyon. Took a few hikes, listened to a ranger tour, and the kids fulfilled their requirements to earn their "junior ranger" badges. We also went to the Grand Canyon IMAX theater to see the "Grand Canyon Movie." It was pretty cool. (I only had to close my eyes a couple times to avert motion sickness.) We had originally planned to have Aaron and Tim go on a helicopter ride into the canyon, but we ended up changing that part of the trip, and this movie was almost like we got to experience both FLYING through the canyon and boating through the rapids.

This cute little Mountain Bluebird was just hopping around our camp all morning, just a singing' away. He was just a delightful little thing!

Park entrance sign. (we were actually on our way OUT of the park at this time...)

We took the short hike on the Bright Angel trial, only down to the first archway/tunnel

Here are the kids receiving their jr. ranger badges...

We drove out of the park via the east entrance, so we could check some ancient ruins and visit the "watchtower." The tower was undergoing some remodeling, but we could still climb the stairs up to the top level and look out over the canyon.

The watchtower from a distance -

After leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove up to Page Arizona and set up camp at the Wahweap campground at Lake Powell. As usual, we were running later than I thought we would, and we didn't get there until after 6pm might have even been close to 7... and the camp store was closed. We unloaded the stuff they needed to set up camp and then I ran back into town to buy firewood. (we had the camp stove with us of course, bu that night was our "roast hot dogs over the fire night" - so we kinda needed a FIRE!) Tim and the kids set up the tent while I was gone and then walked down to the lake. We had another late dinner that night then off to bed! (one good thing about this BUSY BUSY trip - is that the kids we so tired every night that they were anxious to go to bed and fell asleep almost instantly!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Arizona Vacation - Day 4


So, we woke up in our hotel, the kids of course went swimming again after breakfast, in the hotel pool, then we packed up and checked out, heading to the Grand Canyon. We had a rather slow and laid back morning, so it was about 10:30 when we finally left Flagstaff. We drove the 30 minutes to Williams, then took highway 64 out to the Grand Canyon. We were about 30 or 40 minutes away from our destination (Mather Campground) when suddenly traffic came to a complete STOP! We waited, wondering what was going on. Saw several emergency response vehicles zoom past us... EVENTUALLY we got to the front of the line to find out that there had been a serious car accident (head on collision between a motor home and a passenger vehicle. I looked it up when I got home and if I remember correctly, there was 1 fatality and 11 injuries... Anyway, the road was going to be shut down for the next 5 hours!!!!! We turned back towards Williams. Our directions were to go BACK to Flagstaff, then take highway 89 out to highway 64 (just a few miles past where the accident had been...) then continue on. (if I had know that road existed I would have taken it in the first place - for crying out loud!)

I had a hard time accepting that it was REALLY going to take that long to open back up, so we (I) opted to stay in Williams for an hour to eat lunch, then see if we could get through. NO SUCH LUCK! We finally gave up after wasting ANOTHER hour) and drove the 30 minutes back to Flagstaff, then out the other route. When we reconnected with Hwy 64, we could see that they still had it closed down (going towards Williams)... Instead of getting to camp at noon'ish, then having the afternoon to hike and play, we didn't get there until about 4:30 - 5:00!!! WHAT A PAIN!!!! We quickly set up camp, then went to check out the canyon. It was just a tad bit CHILLY!!! It was ok is you found a spot IN the sun, and sheltered from the wind, but there weren't many of those moments. That wind was simply BITING! Weather notwithstanding, the canyon is truly amazing! I know some people say, "it's just a big hole in the ground..." Phooey on them! It is a masterpiece of God's handiwork!

Back to camp, build a fire, cook dinner, eat, then off to bed! It was FREEZING! In the main visitor's center they have a big screen that shows the current temperature, plus the forecast, plus the previous day's temps. It showed that the night temperature for the evening we camped there was 27*!! No wonder I was cold! Thank heavens for my little Mr Heater Buddy. I ran it in the tent while the kids were trying to fall asleep and then again when I woke up so the tent would be a bit warmer when the kids had to wake up and get dressed... It was funny, after I turned off the heater and then hunkered down in my sleeping bag, I could literally FEEL the temperature in the tent dropping. it was crazy. But it's ALL GOOD!

And now, some pictures...

(I was rather bummed that you can't actually see the grand canyon behind us... but it WAS there... I promise!)

(yes, that is snow on the side, we had small patches of it in the campsite too.)

When I got into the tent after putting the fire out, I found Katrina all snuggled up with Caleb - keeping him warm. It was so sweet - (if we could just stop the thumb sucking...)

(I even had to take a close up...)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Arizona Vacation - Day 3 (cacti adventures)

Day 3 (NOT my favorite day!)

we woke up, ate breakfast, packed up camp, did a couple short hikes, then hit the road to Flagstaff. Sounds easy enough eh?

The first problem of the morning was when Aaron ended up getting a huge cactus spike in his big toe. Apparently this type of needle (from a "teddy bear cactus" I believe)has a little barb on the end of it, so pulling it out was a big PAIN. (literally) (Aaron was trying to numb up his whole toe by sticking it ice water before pulling out)

We FINALLY got it out - with much weeping and wailing....

then we got back to the business of breakfast. Here I am in all my camping loveliness (and yes, I am aware that even though I blame my appearance on camping, it is pretty much how I look ALL the time...)

one of my favorite things about camping... Hot chocolate in the morning.

The next bit of "fun" was when we were ready to pull out the tent stakes but couldn't find the hammer. Apparently Bryan had been carrying it around while he and Katrina went on their morning walk about... SO the whole family got to stop and go on a "hammer treasure hunt." This shot is of Tim finding the "treasure." (after about 20 minutes of looking!)

As we were taking down camp, I kept telling the kids to STAY IN CAMP and help. Aaron wandered off again, with Bryan following this time, and somehow managed to have another run in with a teddy bear cactus. This time he got a big ball of it stuck to his sock/ankle area, right above his shoe. (so who knows exactly how many were actually poking into his skin and how many were stuck to the sock, but at one point I could identify at least 3 spines going into his skin...) At the same time, Bryan started screaming. HE ALSO fell on a cactus! I pulled a couple small barbs from his hand, but he was still screaming. I pulled down his pants to find two HUGE barbs (like the one's in Aaron's toe) in his BUM! One slid right out but the other was apparently another barbed on, and it was tough to pull. I held Bryan tightly and Tim yanked it out. After another couple minutes Bryan was fine and off and running again. Aaron on the other hand, was dragging the whole mess out. for 1 hour while we cleaned up, packed, and loaded everything else, he cried and whined and moaned and cried and whined and moaned and cried.... As we loaded the last stuff, we told him, "you have about 2 minutes before we are loaded and ready to leave. If you haven't pulled it out by then, we will just do with you what we did with Bryan. I will hold you and Dad will pull it out."

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! he continued to carry on until he saw us coming, then he hurried and pulled the final barb out.

After this crazy morning, I was DONE camping with the kids and ready to go home! (luckily the rest of the camping nights went smoothly and the kids were actually semi-helpful, so our camping days can continue...)

Needless to say, Aaron decided that Cacti are STUPID, DUMB plants, and that he hates them! Regardless of his feelings toward the plants, I happen to love plants and nature, so we took the "native plant hike."

Kids with saguaro cactus

It was fun for me that so many of the cacti and wildflowers were in bloom

Kids and dad with susperstitions in the background

By the park entrance sign

After leaving Lost Dutchman, we went to Goldfield.

Personally, I could have happily skipped this stop. It was an unorganized, waste of time and money. I know that sounds harsh, and it probably wasn't all that bad, but I kind wish we had skipped it. We took a SLOW and boring train ride, Aaron got to pan for gold which was his favorite part, Tim and the kids went on the mine tour (I stayed up to "guard" Aaron's pan of gold cause he wasn't done yet...), and we went into the "mystery house" which is one of those places where they build everything crazy so it looks like water flows UP-hill etc... I don't do well in places like that... they make me really nauseous, but luckily it was short, and I did mostly ok and wasn't too sick afterward. The best part of goldfield for me was that Tim has pity on me and spent an exorbitant amount on a yummy ice cream waffle cone for the family to share. YUM!

See how boring this train ride was. If you ever go - SKIP the train!

From here we drove BACK to the hotel in Mesa (since I left my wallet there) then continued on up to Flagstaff where we checked into hotel #2. We then went to the Flagstaff aquatics center (no pictures, sorry) to swim. (can you tell my kids love to swim?) We went there instead of just the hotel pool cause they have water slides, lazy river, and kids play area with slides etc... It wasn't as great as it looked in the online pictures, but the kids still had a great time.

We had hoped to go to the Lowell Observatory and take the opportunity to look through the telescopes, but it was overcast that night so there wasn't much point. Instead we went out to eat (Sizzler, YUM) and then went back to the hotel where everyone just collapsed and fell instantly asleep.