Utah

After celebrating Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday up in Idaho, being able to visit with my grandma who, at 88, is just as beautiful as ever, swimming at the hotel, going out to breakfast, and just enjoying each others company, it was time for our family to head towards home. Saying good-bye is always the hardest part, but on Monday morning, that is exactly what we had to do.

It is a long way from my parents’ house to ours, so we planned on making it in two days. Our goal on that first night was Moab, Utah. We wanted to spend some time in Arches National Park before finishing our trip home. Unfortunately they are doing road work in Arches at night so the park is closed from 7pm-7am. We got there right at 7pm…

So we went to bed and planned on being at the park right at 7am. There were many other people who had the same idea, but it did not take too long to get in. We only had a few hours to spend before we had to start our 8-hour drive home. Quite honestly, we could spend two weeks in Arches NP and it would not be enough, so a few hours did not come close. We got a nice taste of the park, though, and definitely plan to go back.

Critter prints in the sand

Landscape Arch

The kids in Partition Arch

Liam found a nice view

Catheryn found a heart in the rocks

I believe this was the Black Arch Overlook

Double O Arch

After a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center, it was time to leave. The drive home was pretty uneventful until we were almost out of Colorado. There was a black critter standing by the fence, and in the middle of cow country, one would simply assume it was a cow. But as we were passing it, I realized it was a bear. “That’s a bear! That’s a bear!” I yelled. (I get really excited about wildlife.) Just as we passed him, Rob stopped and we all watched him run across the road behind us. He was a big, beautiful bear!

Hard to see, but that’s a bear!

Just a few miles later we were back in New Mexico and on the final stretch. We made it home at about 8pm. 12 days, almost 600 pictures, four new states, and 2,700 miles later, we arrived back home to Charbie and the kitties and our little house in the canyon. As much as I wished our vacation were not over, it still felt nice to come home…

I am the restless sort, though, and my brain is already thinking about where we can go next…

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!