RoadTrip U-Turn!

We had a great road trip to our new RV spot this go around, traveling along the I-40 and historic Route 66.  I had my camera packed up in the house this whole trip, so this post only contains cell phone photos, sorry!

Now that we know our truck is safe (just annoying) to drive, that takes a lot of stress off!  We also got a new lower hitch in an attempt to get our trailer more level, and now the trailer pulls better than before (mainly less sway).

We also unintentionally broke up the trip into 1 hour segments. We started in Williams, AZ and drove about an hour and decided to check out the famous Meteor Crater.  I stopped at the Meteor Crater over a decade ago while on my way (solo) across the country.  I remembered it being pretty cool, so I thought Aaron and the kids would enjoy it, as well as get some home-school points. ;)

The admission was WAY over priced, but we decided since we were there, we might as well...

We spent about 15-20 minutes actually looking at the crater, and about 35 minutes through the little museum.  The museum was nice and interactive for the kids, which they seemed to enjoy.

I'm pretty sure if Aaron wasn't allowed to explain things, he'd shrivel up and die...

Simon attempting to lift the heavy meteorite:

The Earth rock was much easier to lift... :)

After talking with some tiny house enthusiasts in the parking lot there, we then drove another hour to Petrified Forest National Park.

I never had high expectations for this park, as I've naively passed right by it several times while driving along I-40 in the past.  Both Aaron and I were SO GLAD we decided to stop!  It was AWESOME!  And coincidentally, we passed by our new tiny house enthusiast friends while driving through the park! :) But first we started at the visitor's center to learn all we could:

I wish we had more than half a day to spend at the Petrified Forest, but I have a feeling I will be back again some day. :)  We were all a little glad that my camera was packed up for this visit, as I would have spent all my time taking photos, and I never would have left!  It was nice to simply enjoy my surroundings and experience the awesomeness alongside my family in the moment.

Do you see that big ol' petrified log sitting on the top here?

Aaron was in nerd heaven.  His main focus of study at Purdue was Soil Science, so he was geeking out a bit...

There was a long winding road throughout the park that had several observation points and trails.  

Aren't these petrified logs GORGEOUS!?

The sun was setting, and we hadn't driven in the dark since Kentucky, but we then drove another hour, to Gallup, New Mexico to our new RV spot.  

If you didn't catch that... yes, we're BACK in the wonderful state of New Mexico!  

"Wait... what?  I thought you were headed West, not back East!?"  

You're right, our original goal was to make it to the Pacific NorthWest... however, life happens and plans change.  I can't go into too much detail about it right now, but yes, we are headed East for now.  I'm just thrilled to be back in New Mexico, my favorite state so far (well, probably tied with Arizona)!


March 27, 2016

Adventures in Arizona, Part 3

We found a great RV park in Williams, Arizona... home of the Grand Canyon Railway.  The kids have been bugging us for a while about riding a train, and since we didn't want to drive our whistling truck all the way up to the Grand Canyon, this was a great option... an expensive option, but still a great one.  In the morning before boarding the train, the show starts with a funny cowboy shootout skit in Williams:

The kids kept asking what was real and what was not.  The even asked if the horse poop was real. :)

Once the show was over the kids were so excited to board the train and show their tickets for entry...

They were waiting for the conductor to punch their tickets (like on Polar Express)...

The conductor wasn't punching tickets, but she did stop to talk with them, which was neat:

There was a musician on board to entertain us, and Aaron & I enjoyed singing along to the Johnny Cash songs:

On the long train ride up (2.5 hours which we didn't realize until boarding) we saw a controlled burn in the middle of nowhere (ironically after the musician sang "Ring of Fire":

We finally arrived and the kids immediately ran to the wall to check out the view:

Aaron was in teacher mode, explaining to the kids the geology of the Grand Canyon and why it's so cool:

Here's Aaron taking his beloved photo-sphere:

Here's the result (it's much cooler when viewed on his phone)!:

This was as close to the edge as I would go:

Aaron then took my camera to get a shot of me taking in the view:

Both Aaron and I have seen the Grand Canyon before, but it's a different experience with kids...

Somebody was nice enough to snap a pic of our family with Aaron's phone... and I'm so glad they did because we didn't end up getting a shot of the official Grand Canyon National Park entry sign, since we came in on the train:

The following photos are single shots I took along the Grand Canyon's South Rim:

We didn't end up hiking down into the canyon at all because they warned us that the trails still had some ice and were not safe for young children.

Here are a few HDR shots I took of the Canyon (3 photos merged together to achieve a high dynamic range), which I uploaded here in low resolution for now:

Every once in a while, we'd take refuge from the cold wind inside one of the several gift shops surrounding the South Rim.  This building is a replica of a Hopi house and serves as an art & gift shop:

Sometimes the magic of the Grand Canyon seemed lost on the kids, as they preferred to stay inside and play:

However, with the promise of ice-cream, the kids were more than willing to humor me and sit nicely for a photo:

It didn't matter that it was freezing out... the treat of ice cream trumps weather every time:

When it was time to head home on the train, we were all ready.  We got in a little trouble for the following photo op... Oops!

Right after we took off, we all saw a gang of elk:

We also saw some antelope racing away from the oncoming train:

The train ride was long, and the kids barely made it all the way home...

But things got exciting again when the cowboys arrived!

They ended up boarding our train and robbing everyone! ;)

When the sheriff came around to investigate, Simon was quick to point out the direction the bad guys went:

After all those shenanigans, we watched the sun set as the train eventually rolled back into Williams.

Originally, we didn't even plan on visiting the Grand Canyon.  We didn't even plan on heading up to Northern Arizona.  I'm so glad we did though, as I'm sure this trip will be very memorable for the kiddos. :)

March 26, 2016