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National Parks Vacation Review

September 11, 2008

What a long trip! I was really ready to be home by the time it ended.

Jason drove the whole way.20th June, Friday – Home to Phoenix – The first day we started in the afternoon and drove to Phoenix, AZ. Golly it was hot! Luckily the AC in the Excursion kept cool because it was about 115 degrees outside the whole drive.

Giant bird Guillotines

We passed by many beautiful mountains and valleys but we were awestruck by the wind farms. There seemed to be tens of thousands of wind turbines. These spread across the landscape and we were wondering how this is better than an oil derrick off the coast?

Jake is a very big dog!We were planning on just finding a hotel in Phoenix but we called our friend, Scot, and he insisted we stay the night at his house. This was a real blessing. We got to catch up on old times, play with his big dog Jake, and Trenton even got to swim in his pool. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Check out the pictures from Friday.

A neat rest stop with large boulders21st June, Saturday – Phoenix to El Paso – We loved staying at Scot’s place. He made us yummy pancakes in the morning and his Great Dane, Jake, was a lot of fun to play with. It was already 103* by the time we left at a little after 10:00.

As we drove through Tucson, Jason was kind enough to stop and get me a yummy iced mocha from Starbucks. mmmMMmmmm…. Later in the afternoon, as we drove through Benson there were severe downpours and the wind was trying to toss the Excursion around. I was glad Jason was driving.

We stopped for lunch at a McDonalds in Lordsburg and it was the worst McDonalds any of us have ever been to. The cashier thought I was saying “8” number 10s when I was saying “a” number 10. Also to top it all off, there was no coke.

The dark storm looks so ominous.There were a lot of dust storms going all the way through new Mexico. We slowed down to a crawl when we could only see about 20 feet to the truck in front of us. We were slowed down all the way into El Paso. Duke had to wait for several hours for us but was able to check into the hotel and pick out a place for dinner for us. 🙂 

Check out the pictures from Saturday.

El Paso.22nd June, Sunday – Carlsbad Caverns – We started off the day with the long drive to Carlsbad. We saved some time by getting food to make sandwiches in the car before we left El Paso. I don’t know how Duke did it but he managed to fit all our stuff in the Excursion. Eight people with 10 days worth of stuff plus a cooler and two toolboxes.

Troglodytes The Caverns were so majestic. It was a little eerie to enter the darkness of the cave but once we saw all the neat formations we forgot we were about 800 feet below the surface. We took the self guided tour and glad we did. This gave us the freedom to go at our own pace. We paid for the listening devices which was well worth it. It was nice to hear about all the amazing things in the cave.

Hall of GiantsThe story of the cave is really amazing. Locals had always known of its existence but it wasn’t until Jim White first explored the cave in 1898 that they realized how vast it was. White first explored the cave with only a lantern and wire he used to build a ladder. He said that “…any hole big enough to house that many bats must be a whale of a big cave.”

All the formations were so amazing. I took a total of 462 pictures in the few hours we were in the caves. Lucky for you I narrowed it down to only 197 pictures in the Photo Gallery for you to look at. 

Check out the pictures from Sunday.

Harrison, Trenton, Michael, and Jordon.23rd June, Monday – VLA & Petrified Forest – The VLA was really neat to see. It was amazing to see the scale of the antennas. The Visitor Canter was informative and the kids liked the gift shop… actually they liked all the gift shops on the trip.

My wonderful family and a very old treeAfter the VLA we drove to Petrified Forest National Park. It was hot…. really hot. It was hard to get out of the air conditioned car to explore and take pictures. Some of my pictures are directly from the car and I just rolled down the window a crack.

I’m sure this National Park is great by itself but it’s hard to be oooed and aahhed after seeing Carlsbad Caverns the previous day.  

Check out the pictures from Monday.

On the road again...24th June, Tuesday – Grand Canyon – This was the first morning we really got to sleep in. We checked out of the hotel at 11, the last possible minute. We got some Del Taco for lunch and hit the road to the Grand Canyon. 

There were some neat sights along the way. We stopped in Bedrock City to stretch our legs and grab some 5 cent coffee. I managed to get some cool pics of the kids; Trenton, Harrison, Jason, and Duke.

Isn't that Grand?The Grand Canyon was amazing. The vistas all showed the vast expanse of the canyon. I can’t imagine what the first person who came across this site felt.

After the Grand Canyon, we drove on as far as we could. We passed through Page, AZ and near Glen Canyon Dam (wikipedia) and Lake Powell. We made it as far as Panguitch, just outside of Bryce, at about 1:30 am! 

Check out the pictures from Tuesday

My two favorite boys25th June, Wednesday – Bryce & Zion – We were so tired when we pulled into Panguitch that we didn’t care how sleazy the hotel looked. It looked pretty bad at night, but once the light of the day hit it, it wasn’t too bad.

We drove on to Bryce Canyon National Park and I believe the kids were starting to enjoy the sites more. Before now they seemed more interested in their gameboys than the scenery. The vista points were all named and each had their own unique rock formations.

A group of mountain goatsZion National Park was the best park since Carlsbad Caverns. When we pulled off the road, it wasn’t just a vista, it was a playground for the kids. They could run around and climb up the mountain! The tunnel was also really neat to drive through. It is over one mile long and the windows are awesome to peek through the mountain. 

Check out the pictures from Wednesday.

At Treasure Island we went to see the Sirens of TI show.26th June, Thursday – Las Vegas – We finally made it to Las Vegas! Las Vegas or Bust was written on the side of the Excursion. We were all really ready to have a day without extensive driving.

We wanted to enjoy some of the free shows around Las Vegas. We went to the Forum Shops, mostly for the air conditioning, then tried to see the show outside Treasure Island. The show ended up being cancelled because there was a little breeze.

RevOlutionAll in all, the free entertainment in Vegas turned out to either be closed, cancelled, under repair, or not free at all. We ended up doing some more shopping then back at the hotel for some much needed rest. 

Check out the pictures from Thursday.

My boys on the dam.27th June, Friday – Hoover Dam – Another hot day so let’s go to a giant crowded, concrete structure that radiates heat! Hoover Dam here we come!

I’m surprised how many times I’d been to Vegas and had never been to Hoover Dam. The Dam is massive beyond belief. I loved all the Art Deco architecture.

Teeter-totter for bikesAfter Hoover Dam, we stopped by Bootleg Canyon, a bike park that Michael played at with a friend. It was really hot out but Trenton still managed to play on the obstacle course. 

Check out the pictures from Friday.

Mystere.28th June, Saturday – Las Vegas – We were all really ready to be home. Saturday night we saw Mystere, a Cirque du Soleil show. It was a lot of fun. There were funny characters and a lot of acts that seem impossible to do. I wouldn’t have believed the acts if I didn’t see it myself. 

We drove home right after the show. It was really nice to be in my own bed after the long trip.

Check out the pictures from Saturday.

The trip was a lot of fun. I’m really glad we did it. It’s a great experience for all the kids.

To see all the pictures, check out the Photo Gallery. The route

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