Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

Road Trip Video #4

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3 1/2 months have now passed since we returned from our trip of a lifetime. With life consuming us, these days of exploration and ease seem like a lifetime ago. It was an amazing adventure, one we will look back on with fondness for decades to come.

Grace collected photos and little videos from every leg of our journey with the goal of documenting our adventure in a series of 5 (10-20 minute) videos. It has been a couple months since her last video. With all that has been going on she hasn’t had a spare moment to finish her last two videos of the trip, but last week, with the conclusion of the second quarter of school, she had a few days off and finished video #4. This video highlights our week and a half of vacation following Disneyland but before we reached Missouri. (Our adventures in Missouri will play out in Gracie’s final video.)

Some of the stops included in this vacation highlight reel include:

The Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Petroglyph National Park, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Roswell NM, and Carlsbad Caverns.

I think Gracie did an excellent job of capturing the adventure, the beauty, and the incredible memories we made as we rolled cross country in our converted school bus.

Enjoy #4!

The Grand Canyon

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“Vast, magnificent and inarguably beautiful, the Grand Canyon is easily Arizona’s most distinguishable landmark – and a natural wonder that you simply have to see to believe. Stretching 277 miles from end to end, steep, rocky walls descend more than a mile to the canyon’s floor, where the wild Colorado River traces a swift course southwest.

In the Grand Canyon,

” Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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Grand Canyon National Park encompasses canyons, river tributaries, and surrounding grounds. The Grand Canyon is situated in Arizona’s northwestern quadrant. With five million visitors making the trip to the canyon each year, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. In addition, the park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. 

The Grand Canyon had a long and arduous road to becoming a national park, beginning in the 1880’s with several failed congressional bills. After making multiple visits to the area, Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a National Monument in 1908. The bill to grant national park status to the area was passed in 1919 and signed by then-President Woodrow Wilson.
 
There are two public areas of Grand Canyon National Park, the North and South Rims. At 7,000 feet above sea level, the Grand Canyon South Rim is the most accessible section of the national park, with numerous places where visitors can pull over to admire the views. The Grand Canyon North Rim, 1,000 feet higher than its southern sibling, isn’t as popular because it is harder to get to, especially when harsh winter weather closes access roads. By car, the trip from one rim to the other is 220 miles. However, if traveling by foot, the distance across the canyon is 21 miles via the Kaibab Trails.”

It was a shock to our systems moving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.

This probably wouldn’t have been the case had we visited the South Rim but we chose to visit the North Rim so we would be in closer proximity to our next few stops. As we climbed from the desert of Vegas to 8,000 feet elevation the temperatures dropped from over 100 degrees to 58 degrees.

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We also encountered our first rain of the trip since our first day in St. Louis. 

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The drive in was beautiful. The drive into the Northern entrance takes you through a forest of Ponderosa Pine and yellow Aspen trees. You have no clue you are approaching the Grand Canyon until you run into the Grand Canyon Lodge, situated right on the edge of the canyon.

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When we got out we were greeted with chilly temperatures, drizzly rain, and thick, pea soup fog. We were a bit disappointed by the limited visibility due to the fog but were determined to make the best of it and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience, nonetheless.

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“Can you see our breath?”

 

Our first stop was to the Ranger Station to walk through the visitor’s center and so the kids could pick up Junior Ranger booklets to work on while we explored the park.

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One of the requirements for earning a Junior Ranger patch at the Grand Canyon is to attend a Ranger led education program. We headed over to the lodge to sit in on one about condors.

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After the program we stepped outside where Toby and the kids caught their first sight of this awe-inspiring view. I had visited the Grand Canyon as a kid but was still blown away by the awesome site, not fully remembering how impressive the Grand Canyon is in person.

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The low laying fog prevented us from seeing the full vista, but it was still an incredible experience. We were able to walk along the rim and even step out  on a walkway that extended over the mammoth crevice.

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The walk out to the end of the walkway was heart stopping for Rusty and I. Precarious under the best of circumstances, after a day of rain the muddy walkways made the climb out to the edge feel down right treacherous.

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As Rusty creeped to the edge he just kept saying,

“Why are we here? Why are we doing this?!”

It definitely didn’t feel OSHA approved with its crumbling walkways and large gaps in the railing.

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Rusty was shocked by the complete lack of safety measures and expressed his concern with:

“Really?!! Someone could die!”

To which a passing stranger responded with a laugh, “Only if they jump.”

Seeing the risks for two impulsive boys off their ADHD medication, Toby kept an iron grip on both boys.

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The walk out was terrifying for this Momma, who is scared of heights, but the views made the risks worth it.

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WOW!

We opted not to hike, as originally planned. The muddy trails made hiking challenging and by the end of the day the boys were having a harder time controlling themselves. So we stuck close to the lodge and just walked around the rim of the canyon.

After an hour in the rain and cold everyone was chilled so we stopped in the lodge café for hot cocoas to warm us up while the kids finished their junior ranger booklets.

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We left the Grand Canyon by 6:00pm for the long drive we still had ahead of us to reach our campsite for the night just outside Bryce Canyon.

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Next Stop: Bryce Canyon National Park

The Planning Begins!

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Family night turned into a planning night as we dedicated the evening to mapping out the route for our big vacation next summer. This is one of those “once if a lifetime” trips that have been talked about and dreamt about for years. It is now going to be a reality. Toby is busy turning our school bus (purchased this summer at an auction) into an RV. Now we need to begin mapping out our route and booking our campsites.

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So that became the activity for family night.

The kids all weighed in with opinions and wishes. Oh, if only we could see them all! But, alas, we had to trim the fat (so to speak) and make tough decisions. Even with all our cutting, trimming, and refiguring we were left with a 24 day trip around the western United States…and a very full trip at that. We recognize this will probably be the only time we will take this particular trip, especially with our kids getting older, so we are trying to fit as many sites into this trip as we can.

We would love to hear from those of you who are familiar with some of these sites or who have made this trip yourselves. Any suggestions, recommendations, or things you’d do differently? What are the “must see sites” you’d recommend? Nothing is written in stone, so now is the time to share your knowledge and expertise. We’d love to hear it! 🙂

Here is the final schedule we came up with…our itinerary…for our family trip of a lifetime.

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Day 1- Leave home, travel all day to St. Louis, Missouri

in our big yellow school bus turned RV. (Travel= 10 hours)

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(Camp at St. Louis NE KOA)

Day 2- Tour St. Louis arch, drive through my old hometown of Waynesville, MO and onto Branson, MO. (Travel= 4 hours total)

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(Camp at Branson, MO KOA)

Day 3- wake early and spend day at Silver Dollar City.(Travel= 0 hours)

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(Camp at the same campground)

Day 4- Travel to Independence, MO where we will spend the day visiting Mimi Joy. (Travel= 3 1/2 hours)

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(Camp at Kansas City East, Kansas KOA)

Day 5- Travel all day to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Mosca, CO. (Travel= 11 hours)

(Camp at Alamosa KOA)

Day 6- Spend day at Great Sand Dunes National Park.(Travel= 0 hours)

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(Camp at same campground)

Day 7- Drive to Mesa Verde where we will spend the day touring Mesa Verde and Four Corners. (Travel=  4 hours)

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(Camp at Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA)

Day 8- Drive 5 hours to Bryce Canyon National Park. Hike and camp.(Travel= 5 hours)

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(Camp at Cannonville/Bryce Valley, Utah KOA)

Day 9- Drive to Zion National Park. Spend 1/2 day hiking and exploring then drive onto St. George, UT. (Travel= 4 hours total)

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(Camp at St. George/Hurricane, Utah KOA)

Day 10- View Grand Canyon and drive through Las Vegas strip. (Travel= 3 hours)

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(Camp at Las Vegas, NV KOA)

Day 11- Drive to Sequoia National Park. (Travel= 6 hours)

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(Camp Visalia/ Sequoia, CA KOA)

Day 12- Tour Sequoia National Park and drive onto Yosemite to spend the night. (Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Yosemite West/ Mariposa, CA KOA)

Day 13- Tour Yosemite National Park and then drive onto Great Basin National Park to spend the night. (Travel= 7 hours)

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(Camp at Great Basin/Ely KOA)

Day 14- Drive to Provo, UT (Travel= 4 hours)

(Camp at Salt Lake City, Utah KOA)

Day 15- Tour Temple Square/ SLC (Travel time= 0 hours)

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(Camp at the same campground)

Day 16- Drive 4 hours to Rexburg, Idaho and then through the Grand Tetons. (Travel time= 8 hours total)

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(Camp at Yellowstone Park/Westgate KOA)

Day 17- Spend the day exploring Yellowstone National Park and then drive onto Devil’s Tower Monument.(Travel= 4 1/2 hours)

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(Camp at Devil’s Tower KOA)

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Day 18- Spend the day touring Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Monument.(Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Mt. Rushmore KOA)

Day 19- Enjoy Rapid City, South Dakota. (Travel= 0 hours)

(Camp at the same campground)

Day 20- Visit Wall Drug and Badlands National Park. (Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Badlands/ White River KOA)

Day 21- Drive 4 hours to De Smet, South Dakota to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home and then onto Mitchell, South Dakota to see to corn palace. (Travel= 5 hours total)

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(Camp at Mitchell, SD KOA)

Day 22- Drive to Nauvoo, Illinois . (Travel= 8 1/2 hours)

(Camp)

Day 23- Tour Nauvoo, Il and then onto Hannibal, MO- birthplace of Mark Twain. (Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Springfield KOA)

Day 24- Drive 10 hours home.

Day 25- SLEEP!! (Yeah, right)

AND

Back to reality 🙂