Happy 70th Birthday, Daddy!!

I love that we were all able to gather at my parents’ house to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday, even if we were a little early. Normally there are too many miles between us all to celebrate together, so this year was a special treat.

Today I want to wish my dad the happiest of birthdays. Thank you for all your support over the years. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for your love. I wish I had the words to tell you what my heart feels… How special you are to me… What an important part of my life you have been and always will be… How grateful I am everyday that you are my Daddy.

I love you more than you will ever know…

Happy 70th Birthday, Daddy! May all of your wishes come true.

Happy Birthday!!!

Nevada and California

Next stop on our list was Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent the night at Circus Circus and walked the strip in the evening. The next morning the kids were able to play in the Adventuredome. By noon or so, we were ready to hit the road.

Up next was California. We did not have a lot of time to drive too far into the state, but it was a state we needed on our map, so we decided on Death Valley National Park.

One of my favorite vacation pictures!

Not too hot considering it was June, but definitely hotter than we were used to!

Following Jim and Mary Beth to camp

Camping at Wildrose in Death Valley

Not sure what these are, but they were along the road in Death Valley.

Unfortunately, upon waking from camp in Death Valley, it was time for Jim and Mary Beth to head home. We had had such a wonderful time and it was hard to believe our road trip together was over. At the end of the road, they turned right, we turned left, and it was hard to see them go. We continued our way up California and found a campsite for the night in Markleeville. We were right on the river, so the kids had a great place to play and cool off.

Camp in Markleeville

Playing in the river

We entered back into Nevada, and since we were passing quite close to Reno, we decided to stop in to see my sister at work. We had been camping for a couple of days with no shower so we smelled of forest and campfire and sweat. Not exactly the freshest people around, but we figured a quick visit would be fine. She works in a doctors office, and apparently right after we left, one of the doctors came out of an exam room down the hall. He stopped right in front of my sister’s desk and asked, “What’s burning?” She laughed and said, “That’s just my sister!” We all got a kick out of that story…

Arizona

For the last several months, we had been planning a road trip vacation with Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her hubby, Jim. They wanted to see the southwest, and, in our attempt to get our kids to as many states as possible before they graduate, we needed to make a stop in four states. As it turned out, our goals lined up almost perfectly! Not to mention it was a great way to get to spend some time together. The first stop on our grand adventure was Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. None of us had ever been there before, so it was a great first stop. What an amazing park!

Petrified Forest National Park

The sun was perfect for a group shadow photo on the bridge!

Liam jumps pretty much everything he can find…

Jackrabbit!

After exploring Petrified Forest, we drove a little until we came to an Arizona state park where we set up camp for the night. The next morning found us on our way to Grand Canyon National Park. I wish I had words to describe its grandeur, and I wish my pictures did it justice, but neither is the case. Might I just say that if you ever have the opportunity to see it for yourself, do it. It is an experience you will not soon forget.

My pictures do not come close, you have to see it for yourself…

Ahhhhh…

Us girls left the boys at camp and went back for the sunset.

Desert View Watchtower

Inside the watchtower

Camp!

Nathan and CowCow snoozing in the hammock.

Three nights spent in Arizona, two national parks visited, and we were able to add Arizona to the states the kids have been to. (Our requirements to claim a state are that we have to see or do something special, and we have to spend at least one night.) Seeing the Grand Canyon was a bucket list item for several, and I am so glad we were all able to experience it together. Our time in Arizona had come to an end, and it was time to hit the road. Next stop: Las Vegas, Nevada.

Best. Vacation. Ever!

Earlier this week we returned home from what had to have been one of the best vacations ever. I have way too many pictures for one post, so I will share by state, but first, here is an overview of our GRAND adventure.

It all started when Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her hubby, Jim, came down for a visit. After a few days exploring the area around here, we all headed out together to Arizona.

Our first stop was Petrified Forest National Park. From there, we spent two days at the Grand Canyon.

In our quest to finish off the western states for the kids, a stop in Nevada was a must, so we hit the big city of Las Vegas.

From there it was off to California where we camped in Death Valley National Park.

WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA!! (We did not see a sign on the highway we were on…)

Unfortunately, this is where Jim and Mary Beth had to head on their way home, so we were on our own. We drove up through California, went back into Nevada, and continued on our way to Idaho.

There we had an amazing visit with my parents and my sister and her family. We celebrated my dad’s upcoming 70th birthday while we were there. The time went by way too fast, and before we knew it, it was time to head for home.

After leaving Idaho, we made it to Moab, Utah, where we spent the night. In the morning, we spent some time in Arches National Park before driving the final eight hours home.

 

It is hard to believe that after so much planning and anticipation, our vacation is over already. But, as with all good things, I suppose it had to end eventually. We brought home a lot of amazing memories from this trip, though, and it will never be forgotten! Time to start planning for the next one!!

Stay tuned for more pictures and stories from each state!