|With this to wake up to..... I can handle early mornings|
I don't remember mornings beginning so early when we lived in Colorado. I woke up at 6:00 to a bright sun in my face. I woke the kids up and we went inside to shower. Truck stops have clean showers and I was thankful to be clean this morning. It took s bit longer than planned to get the kids clean and feed, but after refueling, we were back on the road by 8:30.
|God is SO creative|
|I will admit to missing these views|
|Even Piggy enjoyed a 'shower' |
and breakfast at the truck stop
I had looked up the park hours for Four Corners, and we got there just about 9:00. We pulled in, paid our $5 per person fee and parked.
I had looked on my phone for price, admission, and address, but didn’t really look to see what there was to do here. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know I was expecting slightly more than what I saw. After parking we walked to the monument. What I saw did not look like a monument.
|I know - it's too small to read|
the photo didn't come out well.
There is one for each state.
I walked into a square. Like an open air market square. There were four sides, with an entrance at each corner. There were lots of people selling things – mostly jewelry. We walked around two of the sides (states) before noticing that the monument itself was just a mark on the ground. After walking through three states, we went to the monument. It’s nice. Well done. Just not what I had envisioned in my head. After taking photos – and Baby Girl sliding across the marker on her rear end – we finished looking through what the vendors had and left. Not a place I would visit a second time, but we can say we were there.
|The view from where we entered|
|There favorite - being in four states at one time.|
|The view on the way to the canyon - again, so creative!|
Three hours later…. Grand Canyon! I have not stopped for gas or a bathroom break since Colorado. At this point everyone is doing the potty dance. Be forewarned! Once you make the turn to get to the Grand Canyon (we went Hwy 89 to 64) you are in a National Park. There is no stop. No gas. No bathroom. Only two lanes going up a mountain. Make sure your tank is full and your bladder is empty. We drove for over 45 minutes to get up the mountain. The view was beautiful, although we were hoping it would pass quickly. We paid our entry fee and the man at the gate said “500 yards to the visitor center” where there is a bathroom and….. I stopped listening. I begin to drive. There are several turn offs to see the canyon, but no bathroom. Finally we see Tusayan Museum. I didn’t care what it was, there was a bathroom!
|Excuse the bugs, it's been a long drive. The girls got a kick out of|
the snow mountain. I hear "Frozen" songs the rest of the way to the Canyon
Finally, with everyone relieved, we wander through the museum and the Tusayan ruins. Very interesting. I like the little garden with an idea of what these people grew. We see the clothing and dishes that are believed to have belong to these people and a little of their history. We stamp our passport and leave the crowded gift store. This is not our main reason for coming, so we venture on.
I know we have gone more than 500 yards, still no visitor center. We come to a pull out – Grand View. Well, it sounds like a great place to stop and I am tired of driving. We eventually find a parking spot (NOT easy) and wander over to see the view. It certainly is grand. Breathtaking really. We hike just a bit, but the trail is rough and Big Girl is still broken. I’m less worried about her damaging her foot than I am about the heavy winds blowing us over (yes the gusts were that strong).
After a short hike, watching some 20 something’s jump from high rock to high rock (better view – and to impress girls), and hearing about eight different languages, we decided to give up our parking spot.
On to the visitor center. Finally. I don’t remember all this from the last time I was here. I know I was only 15, but it seems so commercial. As we are walking to the visitor center – with the park rangers – we see this cute little mole/gopher thing. It popped out of its little hole in the landscaping, grabbed a green weed, and then ran back to his hole. We watched him do this several times. The girls want to do the Jr. Ranger program so I wait in a long line to get the supplies, a map, and a newspaper. Then we wander past a book store, bike shop, bathrooms, ice cream shop, and a Starbucks (really!?). I cannot find the trail we need to get to the ranger talk. I can’t find a trail at all. Just parking areas, stores, and buses.
We go back to the van and I figure I am going to just drive. I drive about half a mile and say “I quit.” I am tired of driving. I am getting frustrated because in a National Park, a simple hiking trail should be easy to find and there shouldn't be so much traffic! I make a right hand turn and suddenly see two elk. That made our day. They were beautiful. I pull into the nearest parking area (other side of the visitor center where we just were) and the girls walk a few parking spaces closer to get a photo. I know the rule. Never approach a wild animal. We were not approaching, and we were still a long way off. We just wanted all the cars out of the way.
We walk a bit more around the commercial area and I make a decision to take a bus to a different ranger talk. This info is in the newspaper I got from the park ranger. Glad I finally looked at it J We hop on a bus and it takes us right to where we need to go. Along the way we see lots of r.v. parking, tent camping, a grocery store, train depot, and some other things. No views of the canyon. This is like a little city. We get to the next ‘town’ and find the ranger talk. The ranger was very knowledgeable and friendly. He spoke about the California condor. We all learned so much. He even answered lots of questions that had to do with the park in general. His chat lasted nearly an hour, then we went to another gift shop. How many of these are there!? Just outside this shop was a trail. Finally! It’s about 4 pm at this point. I know we can’t hike too far, but I am itching to go somewhere without a price tag. We start down the trail and take tons of photos. About thirty minutes into our hike I determine that we have gone far enough. The hike back up is always harder and the shadows are getting long. I don’t want to be driving too far in the dark. Being in a forest there will be large creatures I don’t want to hit with my vehicle. Less than halfway down my phone dies. Now, I am not so tied to my phone that I have to keep it on me and charged all the time, but being this far from home and in unfamiliar places, I want to make sure I can call for help if necessary.
I was right. Big Girl started slowing down about half way through our hike back up. I was worried about that. Going up puts more pressure on the injured part of her foot. It took just as long going up as it did going down.
6pm – Back at the top. We fill up our water and walk a bit to get to the bus. If I wasn’t so worried about driving in the dark we could take the bus all the way around – about 30 minutes. However, I have lived in Colorado and know what lives in the forest and what kind of damage it can do your car. We walk about half a mile and make it to the bus stop we need.
Back at the van we get a snack and settle in a bit. I begin to drive back down the mountain.
I have no idea how I left. I thought I left the same way I came, but this is not the same. That’s ok. Turns out I am in Grand Canyon village. Hmmm. I will remember this for next time. I will also remember to plan more than one day here!
Look! Elk! Two elk. They have huge antlers. Not wanting to be a burden on traffic I pull over trying not to scare the animals. Hahaha. Everyone behind me stops to take photos too!
My phone is so dead that even plugged in, it won’t take photos. Big Boy uses his. Back on our way. It is quickly getting dark. I am talking to Big Girl (the other two are fast asleep) about why I am going slightly under the 70 mph speed limit. I am in an unfamiliar place and I don’t want to see another elk. I mention that the cars behind me are catching up really fast. Just then I see an elk on the right side of the road. “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” He does. Mr. Big Antler walks - not runs – but slowly walks into the road. Right in front of me. I nearly come to a full stop before he moves on. Oy. This is why I don’t like night time driving. With the excitement over, Big Girl laid down. I wanted to at least get to Flagstaff and get to a hotel. I felt yucky after all that sweating today.
Driving. Driving. Driving.
Finally about 11 pm I get to Flagstaff. I find a hotel (not cheap!) and go to get the kids. They are good sleepers, so I am going to make sure they can walk in before paying. No such luck. They are all out for the night. Ok. Next idea. I find a place to park and just go to sleep. Nothing has gone as planned, but we are having fun. That’s all that really matters.