June 28, 2014 Off to Napa

We woke up to much better smells and sunshine 🙂 We all slept great and Rob, Willow, Scott and I sat outside in the sunshine drinking coffee while the kids continued to get some rest. The wind was blowing in the right direction and the ocean was sparkling in the distance…great morning! We were chatting away when our neighbor (who arrived late in the evening) came walking around the corner to chat. This was okay, it is nice when people are actually friendly. He was around 70 (he told us this at one point) sporting a t-shirt with a tear down the front and some Disney pajama bottoms. He also was using a cane that was a piece of oak painted black with a gold skull attached at the top. Interesting guy to say the least. He asked us where we were from and then walked into our site and made himself comfortable at our table. Okay….ummmm, awkward! We all tried not to laugh and he just sat there and told us all kinds of things. He was telling Willow she was looking good, we learned that carrying a bat by the driver’s seat is considered a felony and that he rented this RV for the weekend to convince his wife that they needed to buy one. At one point he said “It’s hell to be 70 isn’t it?” Was he considering us to be right there with him…Rob says back “Well your only as old as your pajamas” We started laughing because this whole situation was just getting weirder by the moment! Willow and I decided to walk on the beach…sorry guys 🙂

Digging in the sand...so simple yet so fun!

Digging in the sand…so simple yet so fun!

The boys made a sand dollar heart.

The boys made a sand dollar heart.


We found lots more sand dollars and enjoyed the peaceful beauty of the beach. There were a lot of guys in wet suits surfing by us as well. It was really beautiful!
When we got back to the site the guys had rid themselves of their new buddy but we learned that they actually went into his RV. He wanted to show them and his wife and daughter were not even dressed yet…his response to them was “It doesn’t matter!”
We made a big breakfast and enjoyed a meal with our friends.
DSC_1291

Beautiful place for a morning walk!

Beautiful place for a morning walk!

After a walk on the beach we all decided to pack up and get going to Napa.
The Weston’s decided to go the more direct route while we decided to go Highway 1.

One the way down highway 1 we were so exited to be able to see the zebra grazing with the cows on the Hearst property (these are the descendents of the original zebra the Hearst had in his personal zoo).

Zebras on the side of the road!

Zebras on the side of the road!

So cool to see them so close

So cool to see them so close

Further down the road we stopped to look at a whole area that had many elephant seals. They are pretty funny creatures. Watching them move their massive bodies across the sand is pretty hilarious!

Elephant seal enjoying the sunshine!

Elephant seal enjoying the sunshine!

They all just flop down and soak it up, funny to see them try to get back into the water

They all just flop down and soak it up, funny to see them try to get back into the water

More elephant seals

More elephant seals


We continued on the highway and enjoyed some truly spectacular views. As far as you could see was the ocean! I was a little freaked out about taking the RV on this road. They said that it isn’t as easy for RV’s and there are narrow parts and steep areas. Scott, of course, did an excellent job driving. The road was not that bad, just winding and slow.

Highway 1 views

Highway 1 views

A coffee stop...so nice to rollin an RV!

A coffee stop…so nice to rollin an RV!

I love the landscape colors!

I love the landscape colors!

These deer were in the field next to where we were staying in our RV

These deer were in the field next to where we were staying in our RV


Our journey did end in Napa about 7 hours later. We met up with the Westons and walked downtown Napa for some dinner. It was really fun and Napa is pretty cute so far.

Tomorrow we are picking them up in our RV and going to go see some vineyards and then the kids are going to be watched by a friend of Willow’s family (her aunt lives here) and we are going to go out to dinner.

Advertisements

June 27, 2014 Morro Bay and the Hearst Castle

Goodbye Disneyland! That was a time full of fun, walking and crowds. Glad we went with friends and now glad to be leaving. Standing in lines in the sun for hours on end with people all around you can really sap your energy fast. The girls kept on singing the same little songs and playing the hand games when they were waiting. It was great that they can just go with it and pass the time but after you have heard the little tune, let’s say 200 times, it starts to drive you a bit crazy they were pretty cute though!
We drove out of Anaheim at 9am and set our sights on making it to Hearst Castle which is just outside of our next stop, Morro Bay, CA. The Hearst Castle is one of the many homes of William Randolph Hearst. He was a newspaper baron who was born in 1863 and judging from what we saw he didn’t skimp and he spent a whole lot of money!
The drive into Morrow Bay was really pretty and as we continued on towards San Simenon we followed along a section on Hwy 1 that ran right alongside the ocean. We missed seeing the ocean! It is funny that all of us were so happy to be near the sea. We life in such an amazing place that we take it for granted sometimes.

The front doors of the Hearst Castle

The front doors of the Hearst Castle


You could see this huge mansion at the top of a hill and we knew that must be Hearst Castle. We had to drive up to a visitor’s center where they shuttle you up the hill and take you on guided tours of the property. We chose to do the grand tour which would take us into the 4 grand rooms in the castle. Once we were loaded onto the shuttle we listened to Alex Trebek tell us all about the location and some of the features of the property. Apparently William Hearst had the largest privately owned zoo on his estate.

Outside on one of the patio areas

Outside on one of the patio areas

What a view!

What a view!

The stairs were very detailed with tile and beautiful

The stairs were very detailed with tile and beautiful

He had kangaroos, deer, zebra’s even polar bears! There were little structures still on the property that the animals could find shelter in. We saw an arbor that he had made on the property with concrete pillars and wooden slats above that was one mile long! At the time it had fruit trees planted all along it and grapevines growing above it. He built it as a place to ride your horse through while out on his property. We were wowed even before setting foot on his estate! We got off the shuttle and met our guide.

He took us usurp a huge flight of stairs and we stood on the courtyard that was in front of his entry doors. The VIEWS!!!! I cannot explain how amazing the views were. We were probably 1,000 feet above sea level with wide open views of the ocean and hill sides. There were numerous fountains, statues and lamps. The landscaping was lush and beautiful with azaleas, roses, fuchsia, palm trees and oaks. He actually built the home around the oaks and even had a few moved. We could not enter through the front doors because in the entry way there is a 2,000 year old mosaic on the floor. The front of the castle resembled a church from Italy. He was an only child and lived a life that most never dreamed of. At the age of 10 he and his mom traveled to Europe and he was greatly inspired by the architecture and art there. He always aspired to build something like it for himself. When he built this castle he actually brought many things from Europe to complete his house.

The 15th century ceiling from Spain

The 15th century ceiling from Spain

He had ceilings that were from the 15th century Spain, tapestries that were probably 20 feet by 30 feet. There was one that appeared to be 40 feet by 60 feet! There were light fixtures that were all silver. In fact he had the biggest private collection of silver in the US. It took him and his famous architect 28 years to build the castle and many areas remain unfinished. We were first ushered in the side door of the main entrance and shown the vast entry area with the mosaic and the sitting areas. The room was huge, filled with furniture and tapestries hung from the walls. An enormous fireplace that you could actually stand up in if you climbed inside it. The room was lined with choir stands from a church. The ceilings in each of these grand rooms were different and very old. One from Spain from the 15th century was undergoing a cleaning process that was scheduled to last for the next 10 years! Some of the tapestries in the home are envied by museums that only have a copy of the ones hung in this castle.

The dining room (we couldn't use a flash so the pictures are not very crisp)

The dining room (we couldn’t use a flash so the pictures are not very crisp)

We toured the dining room next which had a table that could easily seat 50 people! This guy had some pretty famous diner guests over. They claimed that John F. Kennedy, Douglas Fairbanks, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplain and many more visited the Castle. As we learned about Hearst and his possessions we also learned that he was married with 5 sons and then decided to live openly with his mistress Marion Davies in California. His wife became tired of this affair and moved to New York with her 5 sons…but never divorced him. He sounded like quite a scoundrel to me!
We then entered the billiard room with a whole bunch more old artifacts and antiques. Then we went into the theater which had 200 year old silk on the walls and watched a film that showed Mr. Hearst with some of his guest at his estate.
After the formal tour we were allowed to walk the property and explore. There were three “cottages” on the property as well.

One of the "cottages"

One of the “cottages”

We couldn’t go inside any of them but they were lovely on the outside. On one side of the estate there was a pool that he titled the Neptune Pool. It was home to one statue that was 6,000 years old! The pool was huge, all marble and surrounded by numerous statues and water features.

The empty Neptune Pool

The empty Neptune Pool

The pool was empty due to the major drought in California but it was just as stunning empty. As we meandered through the estate the kids were noticing that this guy liked his naked statues. Pretty much everywhere you looked you could see at least five at a time! One of them was rather….detailed and Katherine was appalled! She said “Mom, they show EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING!” Oh and that they did. There was another pool that was under the tennis court which he titled the Roman Pool.

The Roman Pool under the tennis courts

The Roman Pool under the tennis courts

It had over 1 million tiles and some had gold flake in them! It was over the top ornate…like everything else in this place!

The area that he kept his Polar Bears

The area that he kept his Polar Bears

We walked around and took lots of pictures and then decided to head to our RV spot about 40 minutes away. The Weston’s couldn’t find any hotel in the general area so we decided to have a big sleepover in our RV…it sleeps 10 they say 
We got the RV Park at 7pm. As we drove down the road that the park is on we noticed some concrete buildings that seemed to be right next door….wonder what that could be. Oh a sign…..the city water treatment plant…in other words a turd whirler! Gross!!! Okay it can’t be that bad, all the reviews were good on this place…someone would have said something!

The view from the end of our RV...turd whirler is literally behind the fence!

The view from the end of our RV…turd whirler is literally behind the fence!

View from the front of the RV...the glorious ocean :)

View from the front of the RV…the glorious ocean 🙂

We find our spot right at the entrance which is alright I guess…the turd whirler is just a stone’s throw away but our view the other direction is all ocean with the big Morro Rock in view. We park get some dinner going and wait for our friends. When they arrive we all get a laugh out of our location…there seems to be a shift in the wind direction right as we start dinner. Wow….interesting….lets go on a beach walk. There are great dunes that the kids climb as we head towards the water. It is now pretty dark and we are making our way with our flashlight apps on our phones. Katherine finds a little sand dollar and we all get so excited! Then we shine the light down at the sand and it is covered with little sand dollars. Willow loves the sand dollar and always searches beaches for them. She struck gold! It was so fun collecting fist fulls of these lovely little things from the ocean.
The kids cozied up for a little movie time and Scott, Rob and Willow and I sat outside and chatted. The air was getting worse and worse as we sat outside. We tried to tough it out by covering our noses with our sweatshirts until we couldn’t take it anymore! Ugh! So gross!!! We retreated into our little 180 square feet of living space. Hey, you make it work if you have to 🙂 we had fun having this adventure with our best friends, it was hilarious!
Tomorrow we are headed to Napa for a couple of nights…sweet dreams!

June 24-26, 2014 We are off to Disneyland!!!

We loaded up the RV with the 100 degree sun beating on our backs. I was in a full-out sweat by the time we drove away from Palm Desert. It is amazing to me that people live here and actually get used to this heat!
We traveled from Palm Desert to Anaheim Ca. which was only a couple of hours away. As we were driving into Anaheim Ellie asked how many more hours we had 

One benefit to these pavement RV spots...chalk art!  Ellie made a hopscotch that went to 100 :)

One benefit to these pavement RV spots…chalk art! Ellie made a hopscotch that went to 100 🙂

They are so used to the 5-6 hour drive that they were pleasantly surprised by the two hours we traveled.
The RV park was nice, clean across from an elementary school and a couple of miles from Disneyland. We bought a three day shuttle pass to get from the RV park to Disneyland. It was great because the shuttle actually stopped right at our park and then five stops later we were at the park.
The first night we decided to check out Downtown Disney.

Visited the Lego store in Downtown Disney.  There are some amazing sculptures made from these plastic bricks!

Visited the Lego store in Downtown Disney. There are some amazing sculpures made from these plastic bricks!

It is basically a big shopping area past the two park entrances where they have stores and restaurants. We walked around and then had dinner there. We headed back to our RV around 7pm and just hung out the rest of the evening. The pool at our place was quite small but the kids still had a little swim time. We planned on meeting up with the Westons at Disneyland in the morning so we all got to bed to get some rest before the big day

Katherine, Bella and Ellie were so excited to be together!

Katherine, Bella and Ellie were so excited to be together!



Out the door and on the shuttle we arrived at Disney at the 8am opening. We bought Park Hopper tickets that allowed us to go to California Adventure. We had never been there before. The kids were excited to get on some rides so we headed over to a big roller coaster.

Our first ride, the carousel

Our first ride, the carousel

Ellie opted out of that one so she and I went on the carousel instead. The Westons found us and we spent the rest of the day with them. The kids had SO much FUN! How could you go wrong when you have your best friends and you are playing at Disney? All of us had gotten fast passes for the new cars ride so after a bunch of rides and lunch we headed that way. Cars land is so amazing.

Cars Land in California Adventure.  Lightning McQueen was driving by where we were having lunch

Cars Land in California Adventure. Lightning McQueen was driving by where we were having lunch

It totally feels like you are in the movie! Disney does what Disney does and it is crazy! The landscape looked so real! The various shops from the movie, Route 66, the V8 Café, even the fountain was there. It is really remarkable, so creative and so fun to walk down Route 66 and feel like you just jumped into the movie. The ride was really fun too. You were taken through a bunch of the scenes that were in the movie all while seated in one of the character cars. Near the end of the ride you pull up beside another group of riders and you race. They take you screaming around one bend after another as you are neck and neck with your opponents. It felt like we were racing around Arches National Park…the landscaping was just so cool! That was my favorite ride in the California Adventure park.
We tried to see it all during our day there. In the late afternoon Rob and Willow took our kids to their pool to swim and Scott and I caught the shuttle back to our RV to grab some sweatshirts for the evening.
Once everyone was all cooled down we had dinner and then we went back to downtown Disney to meet up with some friends that were in the area on vacation. It was so fun hanging out, having an ice cream cone and chatting with our friends.

Katherine and Ellie had fun trying on all the mouse ears with Solana.

Katherine and Ellie had fun trying on all the mouse ears with Solana.

The kids had so much fun. One of the girls is in Ben’s class at school and the other is in Katherine’s class. Funny to go all the way to California to hang out with two families that we know from Bellingham 
We said goodbye to them and then headed to the World of Color light and water show that they have at California Adventure. We had to get Fast Pass tickets for it that morning and the show wasn’t until 9:45pm. It was so cool! They had all these water sprays and light and fog and they projected movie scenes onto the “water walls”.

So many photo opportunities :)

So many photo oportunities 🙂

We all loved it! About half way through Ellie looked at me and said “I want to go to sleep” sign of a good day! Scott and I carried her back to the shuttle and we all got on, collapsed into bed and went straight to sleep.

Off to Disneyland today! We arrived just at opening and went on a bunch of rides before the swarms of people arrived. It is amazing the amount of people who go to Disney! We hung out with the Westons all day and walked miles!

Splash Mountain, Ben is prepared to get soaked sitting in the front

Splash Mountain, Ben is prepared to get soaked sitting in the front

Ellie has wanted to go to a Build a Bear forever so she decided to spend her money there...this is Lucy :)

Ellie has wanted to go to a Build a Bear forever so she decided to spend her money there…this is Lucy 🙂

Ben decided to spend his at a place you build your own car...he had a fun time and the car  is pretty cool!

Ben decided to spend his at a place you build your own car…he had a fun time and the car is pretty cool!

The kids were having such fun! After a bunch of Disney we went to the Westons hotel pool for a few hours then back to the park for two more rides. We said goodbye to Disneyland and we walked to the Cheesecake factory for a late (8:30pm) dinner. With some slow service we were finishing up after 10pm. We had to get out of there because out of the 5 kids 3 of them were actually asleep at the table  Needless to say we carried Ellie the mile back to the shuttle stop. The walk back felt 10 times longer than the walk to the restaurant but we made it. Our shuttle finally arrived and we were all passed out in our beds by 11:30pm.
We are saying goodbye to Anaheim in the morning and heading to Morro Bay CA. to visit the Hearst Castle. It will be a long day of driving but we are looking forward to seeing the ocean again 

June 21-24, 2014 A time of relaxing and HEAT

Happy first day of summer! This is the first time all of us have seen the thermometer hit 106 degrees on the first day of summer 🙂
We got going by 8am considering the 6-7 hours of driving ahead of us. Goodbye asphalt park 🙂
The road from Williams Arizona was long and simple. Everything pretty much had the same color and the landscape didn’t vary much. Low growing little bushes and a lot of sandy soil. We could tell the temperature was rising a we drove.
At one point a huge semi passed us going the other direction with a bunch of white things in its trailer. I said “I wonder if those were potatoes or onions or something?” to Scott. Thirty seconds later the aroma of onions filled our RV…question anwered 🙂 We passed a few more during our drive. It was funny to all of a sudden have such a sweet onion smell fill our vehicle for a minute of two.

We made it to California!

We made it to California!

After about 150 miles we turned onto Route 66….for 1.2 miles 🙂 A short little drive but we decided to capture the moment anyway. The next 100 miles after that was something I could have lived without!
It was a LONG, SRAIGHT highway. As far as you could see it just went straight! Scott welcomed the easy driving, the only thing about this road was that although it was long and straight it had thousands of “dips”. The dips were like constantly going up and down over waves. At fist I thought that it was fun…different than just boring. After about 100 dips I didn’t think it was fun anymore! Apparently as I have gotten older my ability to handle these kind of things has pretty much disappeared.

It was blazing hot so we took a picture quickly and jumped back in the RV!

It was blazing hot so we took a picture quickly and jumped back in the RV!

We dove on Route 66 for 1.2 miles :)

We dove on Route 66 for 1.2 miles 🙂

This was really apparent a few years ago at the Lynden Fair when I gave Scott a hard time about not going on the roller coasters or the things that spin you all around. I had to back up my words with taking Ben and Katherine on anything they wanted (not stubborn or anything). It all came around to bite me when the last ride Katherine and I went on just about did me in. I was SO sick! I seriously couldn’t handle anything else, we stopped at Haggen to buy some Dramamine hoping it would help me…I was sick for the next 10 hours! Scott got the last laugh on that one! I am so not okay with dips! Ellie unfortunately is right there with me. By the 50 mile mark on our lovely dippy highway she made her way to the bathroom and threw up. Poor thing! I was darn close but tried to distract myself in whatever way possible.

I don't know if you can tell but this is the "dippy" highway :(

I don’t know if you can tell but this is the “dippy” highway 😦

When we finally were off of that horrible road we only had an hour to go. A stop at Costco for gas and groceries and we were off to our condo. The temperature had now reached 104 degrees and it felt like a furnace was blowing straight in your face. People actually live here!
Our condo is great and it is nice to stretch out and relax.
We pretty much just hung out the last couple of days. We swim a lot! What else is there to do in this heat?

Swimming at sunset

Swimming at sunset

Still 99 degrees outside but much more pleasant this time of day :)

Still 99 degrees outside but much more pleasant this time of day 🙂

We pulled under this tree not realizing that our AC unit was almost a gonner!!!! Yikes!

We pulled under this tree not realizing that our AC unit was almost a gonner!!!! Yikes!

They actually spent time in the HOT TUB! Crazy kids!

They actually spent time in the HOT TUB! Crazy kids!

They swam at least 4 tmes each day...total fish

They swam at least 4 tmes each day…total fish

We thought about going to Joshua Tree National Park but it is just too hot to attempt that one this time. Today will be much of the same. The temperature is supposed to be 106! The kids are not complaining about so much pool time and they are definitely sleeping well!
We are enjoying the time to unwind but are eager to get going again. Tomorrow we are headed to Anaheim to meet up with the Westons and do Disney for two days. That should be busy but fun 🙂
As we continue to see things, spend time together and reflect on the beauty of our world we are reminded that this is for now and how much more amazing heaven will be. We can not fathom what God has in store for us. We praise him for his goodness to us as undeserving as we are and we are so very thankful for his blessings in our lives. We miss our family and friends but we also cherish this time with our kids. They are growing so quickly and it is so fun to do more and more with them. Thankyou to everyone for keeping us in your prayers, we have just over a week to go!

June 20, 2014 Trains, buses and tours

We were up and going and ready to head to our train ride by 8:30am this morning. The company also put on a “shoot out” at 9am that you could go to and then board your train. We grabbed a couple of seats in the front and watched a 15 minute dialogue with four cowboys and a Marshal. They did a good job making it entertaining. It was actually pretty humorous, the kids enjoyed it.

Watching the wild west shoot out before we boarded the train

Watching the wild west shoot out before we boarded the train

We then waited for another 25 minutes or so and then were able to board our train. We were in a Pullman car. Our particular car was made in 1923 and had all original parts. It was really neat looking! The seats could be switched to face one another or sit one in front of the other. We decided to face each other so two people rode backwards the whole way. There wasn’t a whole lot of let room though so I wouldn’t say it was a particularly comfortable ride 🙂 The other thing about the car being a 1923 vintage is that the air conditioning consisted of ceiling fans and open windows 🙂

Waiting to board

Waiting to board

Inside the Pullman train car

Inside the Pullman train car

It was nice to be able to open the windows though, it made it easier for any pictures and it just felt neat to have the wind blowing in and hear the click clack of the train as we traveled along.
Our train car guide was telling us that this company now has to manufacture all the parts to their trains since they can’t be found anymore. The trains really made the whole tourist area of the Grand Canyon possible. Before the trains started running there the only way in was in a buggy or a Model T car. If you were coming in a buggy is would cost about $20 (in todays dollars that is a few hundred) if you were coming by train you could get there for $3. Travel to the Grand Canyon exploded and many people began to visit. The trains stopped running in the early 80’s until a company decided to refurbish the trains and start them up again to help reduce the amount of cars traveling to the Grand Canyon. Today they say that it helps keep 40,000 cars out of the park a year. That was interesting although all the money they make is definitely an upside for them too 🙂 It is crazy how commercial everything is…they are always trying to sell you something. It get’s a little old.

Watching out the window during the ride to the Grand  Canyon

Watching out the window during the ride to the Grand Canyon

We did have a two hour ride into the Grand Canyon so after an hour it was feeling a bit long. The girls entertained themselves by playing hand games. It was cute, I remember doing all those kind of games as a little girl too. It’s fun to see them doing it and laughing 🙂

The girls were playing all sorts of games on the 2 hour trip

The girls were playing all sorts of games on the 2 hour trip

Once we made it to the Grand Canyon train depot we got onto a tour bus and started an hour and a half tour to some lookouts that we were not allowed to drive to. It was a nice way to get around although we kind of like doing our own thing we realize 🙂 The benefit to the tour bus was that we didn’t have to wait through various shuttles that the park offers to see what we saw. The views from every stop were amazing…of course. Really no way to describe the Grand Canyon besides INCREDIBLE!

Such a view!

Such a view!

Both the train guide and the bus tour guide told us of two people who had recently died at the canyons. One guy was standing for a picture and a gust of wind grabbed his hat…he tried to catch it and lost his balance. The other was just over a week ago when a young man was taking a selfie on the edge and a gust of wind made him lose his balance. These two stories put such a fear in me that the kids were not allowed ANYWHERE close to the rim! So scary! There are many areas that have no railing and you can get as close as you dare.

Notice the little dots on the edge of the right hill...people standing out there!  They were stressing me out

Noice the little dots on the edge of the right hill…people standing out there! They were stressing me out

People were way out in some places and I felt so stressed out! We saw enough from our safe vantage points along the way.

More games with the Canyon view

More games with the Canyon view

The stops at the view points were 30 minutes long which seems like a long time when all you have been doing is sitting for hours. We walked a bit and then would just look out at the view and wait to board once again.

There were some areas that went straight down although I never got close enough to the edge to see them :)

There were some areas that went staight down although I never got close enough to the edge to see them 🙂

At the end of our bus tour we were dropped off for a buffet lunch. This is a kids dream (at least ours) to eat what you want and as much as you want 🙂 Ben was so happy. I think we could have saved a bunch of money and just skipped the tour and went straight to the buffet!

Ben was so thrilled to eat a buffet lunch!  We had to tell him to slow down :)

Ben was so thrilled to eat a buffet lunch! We had to tell him to slow down 🙂

After our bellies were full we had only about 45 minutes before we had to board the train for the two hour ride back. We had wanted to do a hike but that would not be enough time. The weather was quite warm (86 degrees) so I kinda think a hike would have been out anyways. We walked around and saw some of the historic buildings including the first hotel built at the grand canyon. We also saw the last remaining settlers cabin. There were many view points along the way. We saw a couple of California Condors soaring through the canyon.

The mock train robbery on the way back to Williams

The mock train robbery on the way back to Williams

Once we were back on board we had some entertainment it the form of a fiddler that was fun. One the way to the Canyon we had an accordion player. About 30 minutes outside of Williams we had a mock train robbery that the kids loved! It was kind of a way to tip the cowboys for their show that morning. You were supposed to hide your money somewhere so they could see it a little and then they would “rob” you. Ben was robbed of his dollar and was laughing the whole time. Katherine and Ellie thought it was real in a way…not a scared way though.

We ate at a diner on route 66

We ate at a diner on route 66

We decided to grab dinner at a diner on Route 66 since it was pretty late by the time we were back and getting ready to eat. We walked a few block and found the diner, we were seated and enjoyed looking around at all the vintage decor. They had old gas pumps, lots of Coke signs and the expected black, white and red theme. The food was okay (we are definitely in a tourist town) but we had fun. We walked back to our parking lot RV park and got everyone into bed.

The end of our evening in Williams

The end of our evening in Williams

We enjoyed our time at the Grand Canyon. If we were to do it again I think we would have been our own tour and camped much closer but this is what you learn as you travel. The views were far more magnificent than I expected and we feel so blessed to be able to have seen all that we have.
Tomorrow we are headed to Palm Desert to some vacation condos for three nights so there will probably be little to write about…we will see. We are expecting temperatures of 110 degrees so our time will be at the pool for the first half of the day and inside somewhere air-conditioned for the second half 🙂

Thanks so much for reading and we miss everyone!

June 19, 2014 What a sight!

We were off and on the road by 8am this morning. We had a lot of miles to cover on our way from Virgin Utah to Williams Arizona. Our plan was to drive straight to the Grand Canyon and see what we can, visit the visitor’s center and watch the video and then head to our RV Park.

Entering....

Entering….

This is the main lookout that was carved into the 1.1 mile long tunnel.  There were also a few more just not as big

This is the main lookout that was carved into the 1.1 mile long tunnel. There were also a few more just not as big

The drive took us back through Zion and we were once again ushered through the tunnel. It turns out that this tunnel was built in 1930 and it 1.1 miles long. The men who blasted and worked to complete it finished it in only 3 years! It is considered n engineering marvel. I knew it seemed long 

Our second time through the tunnel

Our second time through the tunnel

The tunnel was built to connect both sides of the park. It was so fascinating to see how one side of the parks landscape was so vastly different than the other side. The side that the shuttle system operated on was all the red sandstone and the other side was more of the light colored rocks…I am sorry I don’t know the type.

The side of Checkerboard Mesa, it almost looks quilted!

The side of Checkerboard Mesa, it almost looks quilted!

It was great to be able to see it again. Checkerboard Mesa is so amazing. It really looks as if it had lines scratched in it to make it into one huge checkerboard pattern.

Looking out from the Navajo Bridge

Looking out from the Navajo Bridge

We finished our drive through Zion and headed to the Grand Canyon. We made one stop at a huge bridge that spans the river. It was so high that it gave you a dizzy sensation looking over the edge. It was on the Navajo Indian reservation and there were ladies set up at tables selling jewelry. The girls picked out a necklace/bracelet combination that was pretty. The views from the bridge were so pretty!

We made it to the Grand Canyon!

We made it to the Grand Canyon!

After a few quick stops and five hours later we were driving through the gates. We entered through the desert view and stopped at that visitor center and climbed the lookout tower. The tower was really beautiful and provided some really amazing views of the canyon. There were 85 steps to the top and views all the way around. Half way up the tower there is a deck that you go out onto for views as well. We loved seeing a verse right there on the wall…it really speaks such truth. The earth that God created for us is filled with such wonder and beauty. We feel so blessed to be able to see just a little of it! These canyons are beyond description!

Katherine got a side ache and claims that she has to lay flat to get rid of them :)

Katherine got a side ache and claims that she has to lay flat to get rid of them 🙂

Ellie is checking out the view from the top of the lookout tower

Ellie is checking out the view from the top of the lookout tower

So amazing! This is out of one of the tower windows

So amazing! This is out of one of the tower windows

Such an expanse, so many channels and valleys running through the bottom which is a mile down! We headed from that visitor center to the next one that is near the main south entrance to the park. Their movie theater was out order  but they did have another movie area that projected the movie onto a white sphere that was hanging in the middle of the room. It was so cool! They gave more of a scientific “story” to how they feel that Grand Canyon was made…I am leaving that one as a question to ask when I get to heaven because it just seems impossible to figure out.

DSC_1056

The inside of the tower was just as cool as the outside.  A really neat structure that was built with much care and creativity

The inside of the tower was just as cool as the outside. A really neat structure that was built with much care and creativity

We walked from the visitor center to the Mather lookout point. Again….AMAZING! Pictures don’t even come close to telling the story but they are better than nothing. We oohed and ahhed like everyone else. Some crazy people were off on an edge that had no railing and they were sitting dangling their legs over. No sense people, no sense!

We loved seeing God's words amongst such a magnificent background!

We loved seeing God’s words amongst such a magnificent background!

Our campground…okay, I need to stop using the word campground because these are RV Parks…no camping…lots of concrete. Our RV PARK is in Williams which is about 60 miles south of the park so we decided to hit the road. In the morning we are taking a train from the area into the Grand Canyon and catching a bus tour then hiking a bit and explore some more before heading back on the train. I am sure this will be a lot of fun! I am excited to see the park this way and hear some of the history of the area.

views from one of the outlooks

views from one of the outlooks

The tower

The tower

DSC_1072

No words to describe!

No words to describe!

Photo by Katherine :)

Photo by Katherine 🙂

Crazy monkeys :)

Crazy monkeys 🙂

View from Mather Point near the south entrance to the park

View from Mather Point near the south entrance to the park

The movie projected on the sphere...crazy looking!

The movie projected on the sphere…crazy looking!

DSC_1085

Mather Point photo-op

Mather Point photo op


Our RV park is, well…clean. We are one of 124 other RV’s and our site is lava rock and asphalt…but it is clean  We can’t complain though, there were some we passed on the way that I would be scared to stay in! There is a hotel owned by the same company so Scott took the kids to the hotel to use the pool while I stuck around a did a bit of laundry. They only have five washing machines for all these RV spaces so it was lucky that I nabbed two when I did! There was a line…such excitement 🙂 Once Scott and the kids were back we had dinner at 9pm (so late but that is what happens sometimes) and off to bed. Looking forward to tomorrow and our fun times at the Grand Canyon!

We felt so small

We felt so small

June 18, 2014 Headed to Zion National Park

We got up and going this morning since we had to be ready to go on the shuttle at 9am. All sun screened and ready we made our way to the office and onto our shuttle.

Sisters :)

Sisters 🙂

The ride into the park was about 25 minutes. We met a sweet couple on the shuttle who were from England. They really reminded me of my great Aunt and Uncle, Mark (Margret) and Percy. They were probably in their 70’s and they were going in for their second day of hiking. They were so friendly and we chatted while we were on our way to the park. We were pretty sure we were going to try to do two different hikes that we thought the kids would be able to do.

The free shuttle system that the park offers stops at 8 stops for different hiking trails. We first hit the visitor’s center to watch the introduction video about Zion. I love to hear all about the history of an area. It was really fascinating when they were talking about the Mormon settlers who came into the area. They actually are the ones who named all the places inside Zion like the Three Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), Angel’s Landing, The Great White Throne and many more. They were the ones to give the park the name of Zion meaning “place of refuge”. When it first became a national park in 1909 it had been named Mukuntuweap and then was changed to Zion in 1919. Pretty interesting stuff!

Our first walk along the Virgin river

Our first walk along the Virgin river

We caught the train once again and headed to the last stop to hike the Riverside Trail. It was a 2.2 mile trail that followed the Virgin River. A very easy walk, the hardest thing about it was avoiding the squirrels. They are super bold and freak us out. The stand their ground and give you a stare that seems to say “FEED ME!” One time we came around a corner and one was sitting at Ellie’s eye level and she about jumped out of her skin!

This is where the you start to hike the Narrows.  You can see the hikers in the river behind them

This is where the you start to hike the Narrows. You can see the hikers in the river behind them

At the end of The River Walk the trail goes down to the river bed where people start the hike up the Narrows. I wish that we had done more research about the area because that would have been an awesome hike! You have to come prepared and ready for that one. Many people had rented neoprene socks and hiking boots and walking sticks to go up the river. You actually walk most of the hike in the water. So cool! We will be planning a trip again that involves this hike. It would also be better if they were all a little older. If you do the whole hike it requires a permit and it is 15 miles round trip. We would not do anything that extreme 

Ben doing what he loves...climbing rocks!

Ben doing what he loves…climbing rocks!

We settled for having a snack along the shoreline while the kids put their feet in the water. We headed back down The River Trail to the shuttle and headed back down the valley to a shorter walk to the Emerald Pools. This hike turned out to be a little more difficult in that we walked up hill a bit more. The Emerald Pools were pretty basically a couple of small pool of green water that were green because of a certain algae that lives in the water. I am pretty sure our pool took on that color a couple of summers ago The real beauty of this area was the way the stone was carved out and two small waterfalls sprinkled down from above. Being so warm it was a welcome shower for all of us.

Ellie wanted to leave her mark...her name

Ellie wanted to leave her mark…her name

The water was not a stream, just a heavy rain that fell down from the top of this rock wall above us. The walls had white mineral deposits on them that made them so pretty with their red rock and white stripes! The rock wall gradually went up an out until it was as if you were standing under them. I felt as if we were in the Garden of Eden, the scenery was just so lovely and peaceful. We didn’t feel like it was too busy either. We have been really blessed with little crowds of people. I am expecting that the Grand Canyon may be a different story.

They were spotting little fish and later saw some bigger rainbow trout swimming upstream

They were spotting little fish and later saw some bigger rainbow trout swimming upstream

Once we walked back down the trail we took the shuttle back down to the entrance where our RV park shuttle was to pick us up. We stopped into a little brewery and had some onion rings and fries and then caught our shuttle back to camp.

Our lunch spot..not too bad

Our lunch spot..not too bad

Our picture taken up by the Emerald Pools

Our picture taken up by the Emerald Pools

Zion was so beautiful and we would definitely love to come back! There are so many neat hikes to do for every fitness level. We all had such a great time exploring! We couldn’t have had better weather either, it was about 80 degrees with some light winds. Tomorrow and the next few days are supposed to reach into the 90’s.

The trail up the the Emeral Pools, check out that rock face!!

The trail up the the Emeral Pools, check out that rock face!!

Getting a little rain shower under the waterfall at Emerald Pools

Getting a little rain shower under the waterfall at Emerald Pools

Back at camp we took the kids to the pool and then I took them down to the river that runs behind our site. The RV Park made a little walk way down to the river’s edge. The river was a really shallow river (in most areas we were to find out), not too strong of current. We started to walk in the water downstream. Ben and Katherine were ahead of Ellie and me and before I knew it they were about 100 feet downstream of us. I told them to wait and then Katherine fell, got swept a little bit and hit her knee. Really scared her! She was crying and shaken. I told her and Ben to walk back on the opposite side of the river since it seemed shallower there. She was pretty frazzled and I was frustrated that they had gone so far ahead of me. The river wasn’t necessarily deep but there were parts in the middle that were probably up to my waist. You could walk on some bigger rocks and stay on some of the sand bars and make your way across. She and Ben came to a giant log that was stuck on shore and they climbed up it. Ben made it on and over (he had his flip-flops on still) and she became paralyzed at the top. She had no shoes on and was really beginning to cry. I didn’t quite know what to do. They were not in danger but I am also no super fond of deeper water where weird things can lurk beneath the surface. I also have this weird reaction when our kids do something that it not the best idea of all time…I laugh. I tried not to laugh because she was freaked out but I couldn’t help it a little. I attempted to be subtle.

This is the rock wall that runs upward with a waterfall coming over the top

This is the rock wall that runs upward with a waterfall coming over the top

I tried to talk her down but that wasn’t working. I sent Ben back to her thinking he would go back over the log but he decided to go in the deepest part of the river and started to get swept a bit while say “oh no, ouch, oh boy, oops my flip-flop…” His limbs seemed to be going in all directions while he attempted this “rescue mission” He was saying it all with a smile and I was really trying to not laugh (Katherine later told me that she saw me laughing and it wasn’t funny, I think I should start saving for her counseling later in life). He was trying to chase his flip-flop and I said to leave it and help his sister instead. I made my way across and she had managed to climb back down the log and finally reached out and got a hold of Ben’s hand and then grabbed my hand. It was a good lesson in why to stick close by and the power that a river has even when it looks really small and friendly. I hugged her and explained the importance of safety around water. I forget how they really have had no experience with rivers…I am actually glad this happened it was a good lesson for each of us

I feel like I am standing in what could be the garden of Eden

I feel like I am standing in what could be the garden of Eden

Back at our site we made a dinner and then smores. We had said we would make smores with them tonight and those of you with kids know that you want to have them eat the sugar and then get it out of their system before they go to bed. When it is 80 degrees outside the last thing you really want to do it have a camp fire, but that is what we did. We were all so warm we had to sit far away to roast our mallows. We also decided that smores in a hot climate definitely don’t taste as good. There is something about a chill in the air, cold chocolate and gooey marshmallows that make a smores delicious. They were still okay but not the same. Played some games and off to bed. We have a long driving day tomorrow to the Grand Canyon. We are staying in Williams which is 60 outside of the Grand Canyon so we are stopping at the canyon first and then continuing on to the RV Park. We are so excited to see this amazing place!

We had some onion rings at a little place at the end of our day.  They were really small :)

We had some onion rings at a little place at the end of our day. They were really small 🙂