Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Travel Day

Before we left Flagstaff on Tuesday, we stopped by Walmart to stock up our food supplies.  While we were checking out the sandwich meat and cheese we saw the biggest containers of sour cream we have ever seen.  Seriously, they were larger than the twins' heads.  It needed to be documented with a photo.
Then we set off, back to Utah.  Our next destination was St. George, but we were definitely open to stopping whenever something caught our attention.  
 We had several hours to admire the landscape.
 We stopped when we crossed the Colorado River at Marble Canyon- according to the GPS on my cell phone at the time.  Sometimes it said we were back in the Grand Canyon and sometimes it said we were at Marble Canyon all during this same stop.  It's not like we wandered very far either.  We walked from the parking lot and onto the pedestrian bridge.

 The restrooms were decent here, but the stalls were a little short.  I feel like it's not quite right to be able to see people's heads over the stall doors.  I shouldn't have to face people again until I have all my clothes put to rights after a trip to the loo, right?

 A little further down the road there was a pull out area that sold Navajo trinkets, and had places to wander around.  Stop #2.

 I'm certainly glad my walls are a bit more wind proof than these.
 This rock looks like it could lose its balance at any time and squish tourists.  But it didn't stop us from taking a picture by it.

 There was supposed to be a picnic area by a lake along the highway that Ryan wanted to stop at for lunch.  Unfortunately, it's still closed for winter in April.  So we drove along, looking for any area we could pull over and eat, and eventually found this.  You can see how close we were to the highway, but we were starving and didn't much care where we stopped.  Sandwich time again!
Our first stop in St. George was the temple.  It has a distinct look, which is nice.  The nearest temple to us looks a lot like the Spokane temple, which looks like most of the others built during the same time period.  Not that I'm complaining, but variety is good too.

 We checked out the visitor's center and got a picture with the Christus statue.  We were not going to make it to Temple Square in SLC this time in Utah, so we made do.

After our visit to the temple grounds, we grabbed a couple of Dominoes pizzas and met my mom for dinner at Pioneer park.  The kids had been cooped up quite a long time by this time in our trip, and were ready for another adventure.  So we climbed all over the rock cliffs, along with my mom and her new husband Kevin.
 It's hard to tell with pictures, but these rocks were massive and we were up pretty high.

 Annie had to show me her shoes all covered in red, dusty dirt.

Then it was time to check into our hotel.  Our plan had been to do laundry at the hotel, but the 1 small washer and 1 small dryer made us rethink that plan.  We were out of clean clothes and families of 6 people need more laundry space than the hotel provided.  So Ryan saved the day and took a couple of pillow cases full of dirty clothes to a laundry mat close by.  He said it was filled with Spanish speakers who all got really quiet when he walked in.  He ended up being helpful and making change in quarters (we brought plenty from home) for someone who was disappointed the quarter exchange machine wasn't working at the laundry mat.  It was established Ryan spoke Spanish and seemed like an acceptable person, and talking resumed and included him.  Meanwhile, I got all the kids through showers back in our hotel room.  It required the kids breaking eye contact with the Disney channel, since cable is a novelty for us.  Although the kids did agree it is silly to pay for cable since it includes a TON of commercials.  Netflix has spoiled us all.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Grand Canyon

I like that Arizona doesn't "do" the daylight savings switch.  It was nice to get there and be on our regular time schedule.  We checked into our hotel in Flagstaff Sunday night for our two night stay.  There wasn't anything cheap closer than an hour away to the Grand Canyon, unless you wanted to camp.  Ryan did make a camping reservation for us way back in January near the Grand Canyon.  We watched the weather over February and half of March before deciding that perhaps camping wouldn't be the best plan.  We don't have gear for nights that freeze, and there is still a chance in April.  So we made hotel reservations instead.  Even though it was an hour plus drive each way, I was not sorry.  Especially at the end of our day at the Grand Canyon, and it got pretty cold and windy.  Camping would have been miserable for me.  Ryan and the twins, being warm blooded, probably would have faired ok.  I would have been a shivering, teeth-chattering popsicle.  

We parked in the first parking lot we found, which was by the general store.  We had everyone bring a backpack for carrying water and snacks, and sweatshirts when the need arose.  We even packed sunscreen and then forgot to use it.  Not our smartest move.  The Grand Canyon roads were undergoing construction, so we wandered a bit trying to find the buses.  We found the main station, admired the lines and then walked to the next bus stop.  It was going to be at least a 45 minute wait, and we were still fresh.  We had a much, much shorter line at the next stop, and hopped on the bus to Kaibab.  Some internet research alerted me to a manageable trail that goes below the rim of the canyon, and that was our first destination.  I guess only a fraction of visitors go below the rim.  Well, we drove over a thousand miles to get there, and by golly, we were going to get the most out of our experience.  

 The first part of the trail had some major switchbacks.

 We made it to the "Ooh Ahh" Point.  The walk wasn't so bad going in, but we knew it would be a "longer" hike getting back out.  Technically it's 1 mile there, and 1 mile back.  But I might say that it feel like .5 miles getting there, and 1.5 going back, if it's only a two mile trail.  :)

We took the bus back, and ate our picnic lunch at the tables in front of the General Store.  We ate a lot of sandwiches on this trip.  From here on out, it's just going to be a lot of photos of the different views of the Grand Canyon.  We went from one end of the canyon to the other on the bus system.  I can't remember where each photo was taken, but the views were all glorious.  

I have tried to compile pictures from our camera, Ryan's phone and my cell phone. 

About this time, we switched bus lines to go west.  The line to get on that bus was so long, and so slow.  We watched buses come and not stop.  Only every other bus would gather tourists at the junction, and buses came about every 15 minutes.  So.  Very.  Slowly.

 The girls started to get pretty tired at about this point.  I found them propping themselves up on railings and trees.

 We didn't get off at every stop, but we did see a lot of them.  As we headed toward evening, the wind picked up.

 We went all the way to the end of the line- Hermit's Rest.

 We walked quite a ways out, past the crowds and enjoyed quiet views.  And stacking rocks.

We got on the bus headed back to the main junction, and rested our poor, tired feet and legs.  Many of the rides we took had us squished between many standing people, but we found seats on the ride back. We were told many times to squish in more.  We thought we were packed in tightly, and the bus drivers would tell us we could fit at least 8 more people.  We are people, not sardines!  My arms got pretty tired of holding the bars across the top of the bus, and I felt bad sticking my backpack in the faces of my kids.  No matter which way I faced there were bodies everywhere, except on the blissful trip back.

We decided we were not going to stick around to watch the sun go down over the canyon.  We figured the crowds would get crazy on the buses again after sundown, and we were pretty pooped.  I got a picture of the sunset and the family, so we are going with "success."
No one wanted more sandwiches, so we decided on McDonalds in Williams, the town next to the Grand Canyon.  What would usually cost us about $20 of dollar menu items cost us $40.  Lame.