Our week continues! : ) After all the amazingness at Upper Antelope Canyon, we went up into Zion National Park, and stayed in Springdale, Utah, inside the park. It was a beautiful little mountain town. We had an awesome new hotel, and even Carter had his own “bedroom” (there was a huge walk-in closet big enough for his crib and some play space!). We walked out of the hotel and up and down the street to see all the shops. There was a great little store called The Prospector’s, and we bought some fluorite, copper ore, purple pyrite (high iron content, I think?), polished slices of geodes, and Clay even got a Mosasaur tooth! It was still in the dirt/stone it was found in..but he just had to dig it out. ; )
|The hotel had a big steep hill right behind it-perfect for Clay to excavate, ha!|
|Checking out the little town.|
|Look at all the minerals!|
|Getting ready to go into the very long, dark tunnel. We had to wait on a large RV that was coming our way..they measure the wide vehicles, and if they are too wide, they get an "escort" and oncoming traffic is stopped. ; )|
|Halfway down the mountain, we stopped to catch the sunset on the big arch.|
We had dinner in a Mexican restaurant, and they had the best green salsa! We played some games, had a late dinner, and walked back to our hotel. The next morning, we drove back through Zion and its crazy STEEP roads, back through the 1.1 mile tunnel (completely dark, no electricity, built in the early 1930’s I think). There were windows cut into the thick mountain side, and when you got out, and wound back and forth on the switchbacks, the 30 foot wide “windows” looked like dots up on the mountain! It was scary big and steep. Not much in the way of walls or rails. Eeek!! I even wanted to stay in the van to take pictures.
|Can you see the *tiny* window cut into the wall of the mountain? (it's right of center) That's one of the 30 ft. wide windows cut in the tunnel!|
|Looking down at the switchbacks (I think there were five..I got lost counting!)|
|Checking blood..and dinner : )|
There is a lot in the way of trails (and The Narrows!) that we didn’t get to see, it would take a week to hike it all. (and The Narrows is a long two-mile hike wading in 60% icy cold water) (You should have Respect for anyone who’s been, seriously.) It is gorgeous, and there was still ice/snow in spots not hit by the sun’s light.
Next, we drove down to the Grand Canyon. I run out of amazing adjectives to describe the majesty and the varied beauty of our country. For real. It quiets you to look out over this canyon, weathered over thousands of years. I’ve always wanted the kids to see it, but I was so worried for their safety. I went in 1998, and it was mostly unsafe, no railing. Now, it’s amazing! All safe boundaries (at the South Rim, anyway!), guard rails, visitor center, gift shop, coffee shop, it was definitely a destination! Years ago, there was only ONE hotel nearby (and it was NOT nice) (ok, it had hot water..I think I remember crying there). Clearly, the people were missing out on potential business, wisened up, and now it’s full of restaurants and beautiful hotels! Smarties, they are.
The kids really enjoyed freaking me out. Ches and the kids all walked out onto a lower, railed area that reached into the canyon, but not me. Nah. I’m older and wiser (and scared-er, haha!). We did get some good pictures up on this huge rock inside the safe zone. ; )
|Clay took this one! A great close up of looking down. : )|
|On the big rock, above the people, but totally safe. ; )|
|Clay was taking pictures, and Ethan didn't want to get up on the rock!|
|She is looking fashionable in the breeze, and he yelled, "I think I found a geode!!"|
Then, on to Flagstaff. We drove through the beautiful mountains (colder temps), and then stayed the night there. It’s a great mountain town with a lively downtown area, full of little shops. (We even just stopped back through there on our way back!) The next morning, we drove back north (yes, backtracked..) up to see Lava River Cave. Clay was dying to get his hands on some obsidian! The road was closed, so we parked at the entrance and walked. We gathered obsidian (super shiny black lava that cooled super fast in very cold temperatures). It’s only found where volcanoes and ice/snow exist together. It looks kinda like glass. We loaded him up, and went back south toward Phoenix.
|Flagstaff is at 6000 feet, so the temperature is about 30 degrees lower than Phoenix, and you have evergreens instead of cactus!|
We got in, ate, swam, and shopped a bit at the Chandler Fashion Mall. There was a Lego store (new Legos!), and an animal adoption center. Yes, I’m a wimp. We filled out paperwork to see a precious one year old puppy, but I’m strong. He is not going home with us. He’s a great dog, super friendly and calm..but it’s not quite time. : )
|His name is Bosley ; )|
The next day was more playing around, and a meet up! We met Stephanie and her kids at the Riverview Park! (More rock for Clay..gold and maybe Emerald chunks in their gravel?) They sweat, climbed, ran, found a wounded duck (made Stephanie feel guilty for not calling 9-1-1 for him!), slid, found fish, climbed some more, and had so much fun! Her daughter, Sydney, even brought two of her American Girl dolls! : ) It was a wonderful visit, and she’s SO sweet!
Then we walked to the ballpark to see the Cubs vs. Angels game! We had left field tickets..Ches was really hoping to catch a Kris Bryant homerun ball!! There were three into left field while we were there..but we didn’t get one. : ( I was super surprised at how PACKED it was there! We’ve been to spring training in Florida a few times, but the games were never SOLD OUT! Apparently it’s the Cubs big year (haven’t won a World Series since 1907-8!), and this team has promise!
|waiting on Kris Bryant to hit us a homerun ball!|
|It's a beautiful new park, sunset, and FULL! : )|
|Ethan is up at the fence trying to get the players warming up to throw him a ball! (Every now and then they throw them up to the kids!)|
|Sometimes ball games are not all about the game.|
|..no ball yet.|
I spent the better part of the game shuttling children back and forth to the restroom/snack bar/Italian Ice truck/shelling peanuts for them, ha! On the way out, I saw all the gourmet food trucks, big mustache pretzels, pulled pork, and clearly I didn’t do enough walking around!! I missed it big time, haha!
|I was getting this amazing picture of Sissy with the row of palms behind her..and Clay ran up (she didn't even know it!)|
|..and then she heard him breathing! : O|
The last Day in Phoenix, we met Heidi, and her husband, Greg, for lunch at Oregano’s! It was great pizza (and they get to go all the time!). We had a wonderful lunch, they are SO sweet!! We got to visit, catch up, talk kids, travel, and health. I didn’t want to leave. My youngest felt otherwise, ha! He was soo tired..and acting goofy. It was fine, Greg needed to get back to work, but I would’ve loved to have all afternoon!! : )
|Sweet, sweet Heidi! SOOOoo glad to finally meet her in person! Prayers bring you soo close together. Love her!|
Then..we left town. Our big vacation was winding down. We drove back up through Flagstaff to get on I-40, and to revisit that sweet town. Then East! We drove by Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest, and the Painted Desert. It has to be one of the most exciting roads! : ) We will stay the night in Albuquerque (I finally spelled it right!!) tonight, and see how far we get tomorrow. The kids want to do a super long day (11.5 hours driving=14 real-time, kid hours) to get home..but it’s us doing the driving, ha! Maybe it’ll be Sunday. ; )
Hope you are having a great week, blessed coming and going. : ) Hugs!
..the Lord will watch over your coming and your going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:8