...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

One Grand (Canyon) Adventure

Over spring break, we took a trip to the Grand Canyon.

There is a story behind this trip, but we'll go into that another time.

But the gist of it is that our kids accomplished a goal so our celebratory hurrah to be glad of that was an electronics free camping trip to Arizona and the grandeur of this immaculate place.

Friday afternoon, we packed up our Suburban (and packing for five days of camping for eight people meant we had stuff strapped just about every which where) and headed out.

We stopped at a hotel in Page, Arizona for the night (so as not to have to set up a tent and campsite in the dark of night).  I had found this handy hotel which had triple queen beds so we only had to get one room instead of the two we normally need when we stay somewhere.  Score!

Saturday morning, even though we were far from home, the Easter Bunny still found us and brought us treats galore AND these nifty t-shirts (designed and printed by my uber-creative sister-in-law...thanks Jenny!!).

We took a quick jaunt to the Glen Canyon Dam and nearby bridge and did a bit of exploring on the rocky hills near Page and then we were on our way.  

A couple of hours later we arrived at Mather Campground which is within Grand Canyon National Park so we were really close to everything the park had to offer (p.s. it was a great little camp site).  

We set up our ginorma-sized tent, blew up our air mattresses (if you ever go to this place, bring mattresses, it is REALLY rocky), set up our camp and we were ready to see the sights.

Our first stop was The Watchtower on the southeast side of the canyon.  This place was really fun.  It offered great views, but also a lot of native history, and a fun story to boot (the tower was designed by one of the first successful female architects in the US...my girls ate it up).

The artwork inside the tower is NOT original, but was done by native artists when the tower was restored and the site was even dedicated by native tribes.  It is really beautiful.

Aaaaand, we even found a little bit of home in the building (hello, Utah!).

The Watchtower lives on Desert View Drive which also houses the Tusayan ruins and museum (which is not huge, but is a great little explore if you are making a day of driving Desert View Drive...which we did).  There are also several lookouts along the drive which offer gorgeous vistas and amazing scenes overlooking the canyon.  Mmmmmmmm, delicious!

Back at our campsite, we found that we were quickly able to make friends with the local wildlife.

Except, some of our "friends" were more friendly than others.

While we were VERY careful not to leave food out for our neighbors to chomp on, we didn't realize that our over sized raven pals would make themselves at home and explore EVERYTHING we had left out no matter what it was.

He doesn't look so big, but these guys were HUGE.

Meet the holes our raven pals pecked in our tinfoil, our matches, and our plastic water container.
He and his buddies were NOT good neighbors (but they did give us a laugh and force us to get creative in the way we stored things).

But, despite the issues with the locals we were still enamored with the beauty that surrounded us.

One member of our group had a hard time with the heights, which ended up adjusting some of our activities, but everyone had fun exploring the canyon's rim...some from more of a distance than others.

And some of us were not so intimidated by the heights we set out to inspect some of the more adventurous bits and pieces that were readily available.

Three levels of adventurer: Parker -- no fear (almost), Me -- cautious but willing to try almost anything, Gavin -- wants to come with me, but needs some distance from danger (totally understandable).  Generally speaking Josh can't watch as we do things like this, we make him too nervous.  Poor daddy.

There were so many bits and pieces of fun along the way, it was a great trip.

Mountain lion crossing -- not a sign I've seen before.

Starting sooooo many fires -- 'cause it was DANG cold!!

Football, frisbee, reading, building, cards, hide and seek, and lots of other fun -- it is great to watch kids get creative.  I love that about camping.

We did end up leaving a day earlier than we planned for a few reasons:

1. It was REALLY cold at night.  It was 17 degrees our first night (and our propane heater ran out of propane halfway through the night).  The second night felt MUCH warmer (it was a balmy 24 degrees).  This made sleep rough and my babies very uncomfortable.  Fires in the morning were a MUST and we were all up with the sun at 5:00 each morning so that meant a bunch of wood, and we had a limited supply.  Mostly, we just weren't quite as prepared as we had hoped for that much chilliness.

2. Since one member of our crew had some struggles with the heights (we knew from previous experience that there were threads of this issue, but we didn't realize how severe it really was) we couldn't do the hikes that we had planned because pretty much all of them require walking tight edges and steep slopes.  While I do not shy away from pushing my kids to expand their horizons and grow, I am not a fan of terrifying my sweethearts and forcing them into situations that honestly petrify them.

3. We got sick.  We all shared a cold that blossomed while we were there making several of us (me and Ellie in particular) miserable.  It was NOT awesome.

A few other memorable moments:

*Josh and I woke up the first night to the screeching and howling of a pack of coyotes that were after something.  It was really loud and raucous.  I had thought I needed to use the bathroom, but after hearing that I decided I was wrong and I would wait.

*We were able to attend sacrament meeting at a communal meeting house used by all the local religious groups.  Every sect has an assigned time to use the building.  Because the LDS branch was so small Josh, Bryce, and Parker were asked to help bless and pass the sacrament.  I was very grateful that we packed white shirts and dress clothes despite the inconvenience of one more bag of stuff that would really only be used for an hour.

*Sitting around the fire together.  I am convinced that most people would really learn to love and appreciate each other if they sat around a fire together.  There is something magical about it.  

*We met amazing people.  That seems to happen no matter where we go.  

Anyway, it was uncomfortable on several occasions, but it was still a great experience and a very memorable trip.  Thanks, Arizona, for a wonderful spring break.

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