Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Vacation

Wow...what a trip! We left for Arizona early on May 24th. We arrived in Gallup, NM that evening and spent the night at a hotel. The next morning we drove to the Petrified Forest National Park (probably 30 min. to an hour away from where we were). We decided to do the "drive through" tour, and figured we'd be through the park in about an hour or so. THREE hours later, which could have been a whole lot longer had we taken some of the trails, we finished our tour of the park. The kids earned a Jr. Ranger badge and were pretty proud of themselves.

Off to the Grand Canyon! We drove up through Flagstaff and then headed to Grand Canyon National Park, the south rim. When we arrived, we unloaded our stuff at the Yavapi Lodge. Of course we were greeted by ELK roaming just feet from the door of our motel room!

The Canyon was beautiful! The pictures we took don't do justice to how huge and majestic this place is. It is so incredible how vast and deep, and yet it is so still and quiet. The kids had a great time, and they earned their 2nd Jr. Ranger badge. After our two night stay, we headed further west to Lake Havasu, AZ.

We stopped briefly in Kingman, AZ so Kerry could introduce me to some of his co-workers there. Let me do a little back-up for a second. Kerry works as an "Information Technology Manager" in the office at PizzaCo. Inc. which has 24 (I think) Pizza Hut restaurants mostly located in Central Kansas, but 7 are in Arizona. Each year the name's of the office staff & managers get put in a hat to win a trip out to Arizona, or for the AZ people - a trip to KS. Kerry won last year, but we were busy with his parent's house remodel we didn't get to go. So this year we made it our family vacation.

Okay...back to the trip. After our stop at the dine-in restaurant in Kingman, we drove on to our "main" destination in Lake Havasu. We stayed a week and a half at Kerry's bosses' house. She lives here in McPherson, but also has a home there (and a couple other places too!). The house was beautiful & we had a great time. Kerry put in 40+ hours working at the various Huts while we were there. This is the main reason we were gone so long. It was getting up to 110 during the days, but humidity was pretty much nonexistent. The same goes for mosquitoes! ABSOLUTE HEAVEN! I love the palm trees & cactuses, but I really missed green grass!

We left Havasu and headed for the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. I've seen pictures of the dam before, but until you see it, I didn't realize just how big it really was! They are working on the construction of a new bridge & road that goes around it. Once it is done you will no longer be able to drive across it, how sad. Terrorism at work in our country! We reached Vegas in the late afternoon and found our hotel in the Old Downtown area - Fremont Street. We stayed at the Fremont. When the sun went down we loaded up the kids and drove the strip. WOW! When we returned to our motel, we decided to walk up and down Fremont Street and take in the outdoor shows going on. There were three live bands playing at different areas, and an FANTASTIC LED light show that goes on over head. It was pretty cool!

The next morning we headed for Zion National Park in Utah. We didn't have a lot of time before we had to be in Moab to meet up with my friend from college, so we took the shuttle tour of the park. We got off at the furthest point the shuttle takes you and did a little exploring on the "Riverwalk Trail". The scenery was breathtaking. The kids had a good time walking in the river and climbing around on the rocks. Unfortunately the requirements for the Jr. Ranger program at Zion would have taken too long to complete, so the kids didn't earn a badge there.

We loaded back up and headed to Moab, UT. The drive there was gorgeous. It seemed as if the scenery changed every five minutes or so. It would go from mountains to canyons to buttes and mesas to cliffs and back again. I think it was one of the most beautiful drives that I have ever taken. We arrived in Moab just before sunset, and met up with my friend Karen. We stayed at a motel and got everything ready for our adventure the following day at Arches National Park.

In the morning Lenae had to get a little swimming in at the hotel. Afterwards we got all packed and ready to head just outside of town to the park entrance. If you've never been to Arches, you can drive through the park and stop at the various "points of interest" along the way. There are also tons of trails that you can use to go exploring even more. We were able to take a mile hike behind the north and south windows (famous arches). The kids did pretty good. Again, pictures of these natural rock formations just don't do them justice. If you ever get a chance, you have to go!

That evening we headed back to Karen's home in Glenwood Springs. We stayed with her for two days. While we were there we did a lot of catching up. We also drove to Aspen and to Independence Pass. Going from over 100 degree weather to 50s while on Independence Pass was a little shock to the system! We even saw some snowflakes.

We headed to Aurora, CO (Denver) to visit Kerry's cousin four a couple of days before making our way back home. We had a good time as always. We were able to go out on the lake, and the kids got to go swimming at the pool in the sub-division where they live. Of course Kerry had plenty of fun harrassing Beth too. We are planning on going camping with them in OK over the 4th of July. Ought to be fun!

We arrived back home on June 12th. I was so glad to finally be sleeping in my own bed. Vacations are a great break from "life", but make you realize how wonderful "home" really is!