Our grand adventure

Dear April,

Where are you?

Your blog.


Dear blog,

I went here.

This was our my first look at the Grand Canyon. Amazing doesn't begin to describe it.

I’m back now, promise.


Your author.

(More details and a lot more pictures after the jump.)

A couple of weeks ago, we joined another family and went camping for a week near the Grand Canyon.

It. Was. Awesome.

I’ll be honest, it was with some trepidation that I headed west. Sure, I’ve always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, but sleeping in tents for a week with four kids(and the other family also has four kids, so we had eight from 4 to 12)? More than a few people gave me the “get the straight jacket” look. I may have given myself that look.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded.  It turns out, I can survive in a tent for a week and nobody fell in the Canyon. Victory!

Everything a family of 6 needs to live on in one minivan. Except that one bag. That's the toiletries bag. We'll just stink.

We took 2 days to drive to Williams, Arizona, where we camped at a very nice KOA.  The first night we camped at a KOA in Albuquerque, which was also nice if a little urban.  On Day 2, we stopped at Window Rock in the Navajo Nation on the way there. We also picked up our National Park Pass at the Hubble Trading Post that we would proceed to use the heck out of.

In Flagstaff we stopped at a great Route 66 Diner, which had us setting up camp in the dark.  The food was totally worth it.

Look mom, I'm in black and white!


On Sunday, we visited 3 National Parks: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments.  (Incidentally, almost half of Arizona is owned by the federal government. It’s nuts.)  You’re actually able to go into some of the cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon.  It’s a nice “hike” for beginners because it’s less than a mile round trip and all paved path. You can take a harder trail to the bottom of the canyon, but our crew was more than happy with the easier path. Plus I was huffing like a smoker heading back up the canyon. (As we were climbing up, I saw a guy walking down drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. I think he was just showing off.)

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the crater because of the monsoon.  Oh yeah, did I mention that August is monsoon season in Arizona? Fun fact!

Walnut Canyon
Little Miss looking into Walnut Canyon. These ginormous binoculars were a blast to have and a pain to carry.

Day 4 was a train ride to the Grand Canyon.  It started with a Wild West Show that was the highlight of the trip for my little guys. (Big hole in the ground? Meh. Cowboys with horses and guns? Awesome!)  The train trip was fun and good for little guys, but a little long.  I wouldn’t do it with older kids aren’t as impressed with trains and cowboys.

It's always good to make friends with local law enforcement.

The first look at the Grand Canyon was truly awe inspiring and we had fun bopping around the Grand Canyon Village.  We took a few steps down the Bright Angel Trail that leads to the canyon floor just to say we did it.  We stayed on the rim this trip, although we have plans to go back when the kids are bigger and do the whole canyon experience.

The Bright Angel Trail was beautiful and stinky: a delightful combination!

On Tuesday (Day 5) we stayed around the campsite and did laundry.  I can never escape laundry.  Then we went into Williams and had ice cream at another great Route 66 diner.  I could do a Route 66 Food trip in a heartbeat.  All I need is a sponsor. And time. And pants with an elastic waistband.

Yeah, this was a pretty nice night.

Wednesday (Day 6) we headed to Sedona.  It was a gorgeous drive down the mountain and then a fun picnic and hike near Cathedral Rock.   I never knew Arizona was so beautiful, outside the well advertised beauty of the Grand Canyon.  It was truly impressive.

Seriously, Sedona. You're gorgeous. You should let people know.

Attempts to wade in the creek were unsuccessful, as the red rock was slick.  (The Sprite helpfully discovered this for the rest of us by getting a full dunking. She’s a giver!) It was nice to stick our toes in the cool water.  While the temperatures in Williams and the Canyon rim were no higher than the mid 80s, Sedona was a bit toastier.  It was still cooler than Texas, though.

A view of Cathedral Rock. I have about 100 more shots like this. Come over and I'll set up the slideshow.

Day 7 (Thursday) was our final full day in Arizona, so obviously we headed back to the Grand Canyon.  This time we hiked the rim trail and did some more exploring. Oh yeah, and got caught in a hail storm.  August = monsoon season. Write that down somewhere if you ever plan to visit the Grand Canyon.

Yes my poncho is bright yellow. Any references to ducks will be met with swift shin kicks.

But, despite this and some scheduling issues (and losing my water bottle), it was another gorgeous day at the canyon.  I can not expressive how breathtaking it was.  If you have any opportunity at all, you should go see the Grand Canyon. (Yes, I will keep beating that drum, because you need to go see the Grand Canyon!)

See those people out there just above the trees? That's my husband and the Sprite with our friends. My heart may have stopped during this little adventure.

We planned to just drive out on Friday and stop at the Petrified Forest, but we hadn’t seen the “Desert View” drive of the Canyon, which was one of the things I really wanted to do.  So we took a couple of hours Friday morning to take that drive and I’m so glad we did.  It had some of the most beautiful views that we say, and we were all able to get farther down into the canyon at the Grandview overlook. (Write that down next to August monsoons: “Desert View is a must see.”)

Taking their last looks at the canyon. We got a good look at the river and started talking about when we could come back.

The final stop in the canyon was the Watch Tower where we finally spotted a California Condor with those giant binoculars we’d been toting around.  I’m very glad MTG brought them and even happier that he was the one to carry them.

Hey, look! I made it into a picture!

And that was the end of our Grand Canyon adventures. Let’s have a moment of silence. …

But the adventure wasn’t over! No, we’re still almost a thousand miles from home and we’ve got the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest to see. (I told you we used the heck out of our National Park Pass.) My grandmother had visited the Petrified Forest a few years before and she wasn’t overly impressed. Quoth she, “It’s just a bunch of rocks lying on the ground.”  Fortunately, my people like rocks.  I was more impressed with the Painted Desert.

The initial plan had us camping in Tucumcari, NM, but my insistence at seeing the Desert View through off the schedule, so we camped in Albuquerque.  And by camped, I mean stayed at a hotel.  And ate at a great place near the University of New Mexico. And had hot showers just a few steps from comfy beds.  That was my favorite campsite.

We didn't see much of New Mexico outside the highway, but what we say, we liked!

It was a wonderful trip and a great experience.  And yes, I can survive sleeping in a tent for a week.  Who knew?  And by the way, you really need to go see the Grand Canyon.


Ain’t it the truth?

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2 responses to “Our grand adventure”

  1. Mary Avatar

    Awww, thanks April. Fun trip. Makes me want to go. Someday, maybe.

  2. April Avatar

    Thank you, mom. I hope you are able to go some day. You’d love it.

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