Our Kids' Blog

Grand Canyon South Rim

September 27th, 2011 by Mommy


We visited the south rim for four days, so we had plenty of time to wander around and see the views. We were fortunate enough that we didn’t have to change rooms and could keep our nap schedules on each of the days. This trip was different because while the girls were more mobile they were less willing to cover as many hiking trails as we wanted. Also, Julia in the backpack is getting heavy and harder for us big people to cover as many miles. We did some hiking everyday while we were there, just not all 11 miles of the rim trail.


The girls enjoyed visiting the visitor center closest to our room. There were some interactive displays and books to read in the store. We seemed to make it there everyday at some point. We also rode the buses on the whole bus route to the delight of the girls. They enjoyed finding cool rocks and tried to have a rock collection at every location we stopped. We saw a lot of wildlife, some without having to go very far from our room. The girls played in quite a bit of dirt and climbed on rocks. Mama’s favorite thing that occurred was the girls missing views of the Grand Canyon and when regaining the view, they would exclaim with a lot of excitement, Julia especially, that they saw the Grand Canyon.


Julia learning the process for turning wool into yarn. Every time she had an opportunity to card the wool she would be over giving it a try.


Wildlife viewing is expected at the Grand Canyon. There isn’t much lush vegetation around the Grand Canyon, but they faithfully keep the grass around the hotels watered making for excellent grazing locations. We saw elk almost every night, deer one night, and one mountain goat. The only night we didn’t see any large game was the night Pat was with us. It was disappointing because we had told him all about the animals. Other animals we saw were the pests of the park: squirrels, chipmunks, and ravens. They told us that on the trails the squirrels have been known to chew holes in backpacks to get to food. The animal we went out for nightly hunts for were bats. The canyon walls are home to millions of holes perfect for bats. We walked along the rim looking for the bats and found them every night. The first time we saw them it was Julia who saw them first and kept repeating “bat, bat, bat” until we looked.


Maybe not the best photo of Julia, but the best photo of Julia signing her version of “I love you” in front of the Grand Canyon. This stroller got a lot of mileage on this trip offering relief to tired little girls.


Getting photos of the girls together is pretty hard. I thought this one was awesome, it captured a face we saw quite often from Julia when not happy with us. She is definitely a two year old.


A much sweeter face on Julia.


Catching Robby doing what he loves to do most at the Grand Canyon.


The girls were running around the two levels to the studio. They played in the dirt, inspected the rocks, and jumped off anytime a parent wasn’t looking.

It was such a treat for us to share part of our trip with our friend, Pat. It was a joy to see the excitement the girls had for him too. They have continued to talk and pray for Mr. Pat even once we got home. We feel fortunate to have been a part of his experiences of the canyon and enjoyed hearing his stories. We are thankful for his hiking experience and friendship with Robby especially on this hike. We had wanted to be cheering for him at the trailhead when he completed his hike out, but he was too fast and we didn’t make it in time.


Watching the sunset with Mr. Pat

We don’t think we will be back to the Grand Canyon for a while. We have visited three times in 10 years and want to explore and introduce other places to our girls. It is an amazing place to visit and marvel at. While we know the girls will not maintain long term memories from these trips, we hope the experiences of both the travel and destinations help inspire them to seek new experiences and to learn about the world, who is in it, and how beautiful it is.


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Grand Canyon North Rim

September 17th, 2011 by Mommy

Our first Grand Canyon stop was the North Rim. This is our first trip to this out of the way destination. It was quite out of the way too. Our first day there was filled with hiking preparations. Sandwich making, pack filling, quick rim visits, and getting settled for the night was our evening. The two different cabins that we stayed in at the North Rim were really nice. I was expecting them to be small and compact, but they were pretty spacious. The first one had a front porch with rocking chairs and the second one had two rooms with lots of sleeping options. The discovery was wonderful.


The guys started their hike early in the morning and the girls and Mama continued to sleep. We spent some time that morning repacking our bags so that the next 6 nights would only require one bag for the three of us. Then we ventured out for our day’s exploration. We hiked out to Bright Angel Point and checked out the canyon from the exposed point. It was amazing to see the canyon from this side. It felt like you were set into the canyon in a way the South Rim doesn’t offer. The hike was fun with the girls and while the morning was warm we did fine. Julia walked about half of it herself and was carried the other half. Emily kept going and never slowed us down. This hike paralleled the trail the guys hiked down in the morning. We wondered a lot about where they were and looked for them.



We walked back and had lunch at the lodge and did some additional exploring around the rim until naptime. After naps, we heard from another hiker who had seen Robby and Pat and informed us that they were hiking back out instead of continuing on their hike. They had assisted by carrying out the news and 10+ pounds of Robby’s pack contents. We met up with them and found out more information and got his belongings. Robby had started the hike with a headache and it had gotten worse combined with the heat coming earlier in the hike than they had planned and influenced their decision to hike back out.


We needed to fill some time before the guys hiked back out so we went to the Cookout Experience for dinner. This involved a train ride to a fun tent theater. There was a buffet to eat and singing entertainment. The girls had a blast. First there was a train ride and then after dinner they found two families worth of kids to run around and play with as dusk came in. The girls also loved having camp cups to drink their water from.



We we got back to the lodge we found out that the guys had beaten our hiking estimate and were already back at our cabin. We were very thankful that despite all the trouble that they were out safe and sound.

The next morning, Julia and Mama dropped Pat off at the trailhead where he was going to hike down to the next reserved campsite of their trip. The pre-dawn trip to the trailhead was beautiful. The sky was clear and it was our first opportunity to see a million stars and the milky way. Julia was a sweet companion and was a good girl including that she crawled back in bed when we got back and went to sleep.

Later that morning we checked out and drove out to Cape Royal and took in several of the canyon views. The girls took their naps in the car while we took in the views and then joined us for the last one which involved a hike. We watched storms across and in the canyon. It was fun to show the girls storms from a distance. We wondered if Pat was getting any relief from a rain storm, which we found out later he didn’t get enough to have it as a temperature relief. The rest of our day was spent driving the long drive to the South Rim through storms and dusk. We got settled in at the South Rim.


I love how Julia wouldn’t look at the camera earlier, but when given the chance to not to have to look she peeks back at Daddy. What a grin!

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All the Long Hours

September 13th, 2011 by Mommy


Are all the long hours in the car worth it? For us it is. The ride does get long, make our backs hurt, and it is boring for the driver when everyone else has something to do. But, it is also family time. It is time to see different parts of America. We get to talk to the girls about a million different things. We talked about how big the sky is. We talk about how many stars there are in the sky while we are seeing the Milky Way. We get to count rainbows. We were disappointed with only three, but one was a double rainbow. We talked about the wind turbines as we passed miles of them. At night the turbines have flashing red lights which are fun to watch when you are 4. We tried to spot at many trains as we could. The first person to see one would point it out as we continued to play games of counting engines and talking about what each one was hauling. The girls enjoyed hours of book reading, coloring, playing with toys, the occasional nap, cheering with each state we crossed, counting the mosquitoes that traveled with us in our car after stopping at a rest stop, playing running games at rest stops, and asking lots of questions.

We were delighted with an amazing drive in and out of the valley Albuquerque is found in. We did the drive at night and the lights of the the city were beautiful. It was by chance that we turned around and looked as we drove out. If the night lights would have photographed well we would have tried. This memory will have to be one that stays in our head. Another unexpected driving surprise was the bear that ran across the highway as we drove out of Colorado. We didn’t expect to see a bear and this one was moving fast. He was gone before the girls even looked up. What a treat.


The wind turbines are really cool to see, but we settled with a moving photo of them.

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Walnut Canyon National Monument

September 10th, 2011 by Mommy


We thought we had timing our arrival to Arizona well. We had to pick up Pat from the Flagstaff airport. Only, we forgot that Arizona goes by a different time than most of their time zone so we were in the state an hour earlier than we had planned. We also heard from Pat that his last fight was running late. Based on this information and our location we decided to detour over to visit Walnut Canyon National Monument.

The canyon is one of many ancient cliff dwelling communities found in the west. There is a hike down into the canyon (lots of steps) to place view the dwellings. We didn’t take the hike with our little people and just viewed the dwellings from the visitor center. It was good that we didn’t try the hike and steps. The girls ran out of energy quickly and thunder started up while we were hiking along the rim. The outing was perfect for the time we had and it was wonderful to get out of the car and stretch our legs after spending so many hours in the car.


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The Big Texan

September 10th, 2011 by Mommy


The wonders of traveling America and the things you can find. This classy joint will cook you up a great steak dinner in the ambiance of saloon meets . . . not really sure what. There really isn’t any way to explain the Big Texan, but to stop by and see for yourself. Maybe it is the Texan version of Wall Drug. It may be corny, but for the girls it was amazing. They loved the color and all the visual entertainment found inside. They loved looking at the sample meal placed to demonstrate how much food was in the 72 oz. of steak dinner. They mostly loved their new cowgirl hats they got with their dinner.

When we sat down to eat all Emily would talk about was they new hat she would be getting. She decided that she wanted her hat to be blue. Lucky girl, when dinner came they brought her a blue one. Only two disappointments about our visit: one was that no one was attempting the 72 oz. challenge while we were there, the second was that the cowboy band was not playing. We were eating a late lunch/early dinner and there were not many people there to eat. Bonus was that we got in and out quickly and could drive several more hours after stopping to eat.


Emily and her own special cowboy band.

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Thursday School

September 9th, 2011 by Mommy


As promised to Emily, when we returned from our trip it was time to go back to Thursday School. When we discussed Thursday School the girls were so excited. Then Wednesday night came and they were wide awake at bedtime due to excitement. They were excited to see their friends at school and we talked about several of them.


Thursday morning came and Julia got up for her therapy session and Emily was sound asleep. When it was time to wake up to get ready for school Emily didn’t want to. She was tired and wanted to stay asleep. I knew this would happen in her life, but I was hoping for something closer to Middle School, not a preschool mother’s day out class. When she did get up she just moved to the living room and laid back down saying that she was stretching. Ha! All normal morning drama aside we did get to school right on time.


Emily’s class is the oldest class in the program. Most of the kids in the class are familiar to her from last year, but the teacher changed as did the classroom. She is a little uncertain about the changes. A day later, she is still talking about wanting the things that were familiar to her from last year. When we went into the class our usual outgoing kid held back and took it slow. Even the presence of her best friend in the class didn’t warm her quickly to the new situation. I’m sure in a couple of weeks we will be back to the usual bubbly excitement of running to class faster than Mama can keep up, talking non-stop with her friends in class, and the bounce of familiarity with everything. Until then we will just have to be encouraging of trying new things and of change. This is such a great life lesson for Mama as much as for Emily. Change is essential, but in changing we learn about ourselves.


Julia is still in the youngest class in the program. They seem to have fewer teachers this year in the program and have capped the enrollment. Julia too had a deer-in-the-headlights reaction to her class. Her teachers are different and unfamiliar to her, but the classroom location is the same. When Mama dropped Julia off she got clingy and didn’t want to join the other kids. Mama left her in the arms of a teacher and didn’t look back. I didn’t get a phone call so I guess the call of the paint and play-dough won her over. She was SO excited to see Mama at the end of the class. That was identical to last year. In last years class she was one of two girls and it appears that this year the boy/girls mix is much more even. She too has her best friend in her class so hopefully when the Mama’s were not looking they played together and enjoyed their day.

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