Lower Antelope Canyon

While we were in Page, AZ we heard that Antelope Canyon is a “must see”. So I researched it and found out that we can’t just go and tour the canyon on our own, we have to go as part of a paid tour group. Since we prefer to do our own thing and not have to follow a crowd we were not all that interested in doing that. Besides the fact that it’s a little pricey. I know I say this often but we are not on vacation. We can’t do every fun activity available at every location we visit; we have to carefully pick and choose what we all want to do as a family. If it costs money we have to decide if it’s really worth it.



There are actually 2 tours: Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon. We chose to do the lower canyon tour. I had a hard time finding much information online about this tour and how much it costs. I incorrectly learned that it would be approximately $80 for our family, and after seeing some pictures we decided we should do it.


It turns out it was $116 for our family of 4. The ticket prices added up to $84 ($25/adult and $17/child), but this canyon is on Navajo land and we also had to pay a tribal fee of $8 each. Anyway, this ended up being a pretty expensive tour. It was also very crowded and we were really having second thoughts about our decision to do this.


Well, I am happy to report that it was very much worth our time and money! This place was so incredible! I usually say pictures don’t do it justice, but I think these pictures actually turned out really great.

We did this tour with Ken’s Guided Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon. Our tour guide, Brook, was amazingly helpful. He helped me with my phone camera settings, he showed me the best angles to get the best pictures, and he even took my phone from me several times and took the best pictures. He was an awesome tour guide and I was so glad we got assigned to him.


He took pictures that he said had been used as Apple and Microsoft screen savers, and he showed us some shots that famous photographers took that sold for millions of dollars!


The waves and layers in these rocks were such an incredible site!


The tour lasted for maybe an hour or two (I don’t really remember), but the crowd really thinned out as we started through the canyon. Around every corner we would find new angles and interesting rock formations. Being a slot canyon, there were many areas with narrow passageways to walk through.




Brook took many pictures of the 4 of us together which was wonderful!




He was even very creative with some pictures like this one where he made a sand waterfall.







This last picture was right after we came up out of the canyon. We were down there in that tiny slot! It’s amazing to look back across the top and realize how much incredible scenery is down there below.


Like I said earlier, we don’t usually splurge on tours like this, but I am so happy we decided to do this one. Touring Antelope Canyon is such a unique experience and I would highly recommend it if you’re in the area.


Categories: Arizona | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon

Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are in both Arizona and Utah. We stayed at the Wahweap Campground in Page, AZ. We actually stayed here in the summer of 2015 but left after only a couple of days because it was 105 degrees during the day. We loved the area and wanted to come back again and see more of it when it wasn’t so hot. March turned out to be a great time to visit. The weather was much nicer and it’s still the off-season at that time so it wasn’t very crowded at all.


View from our campsite at Wahweap Campground

There is so much to do in this area! For starters, Lake Powell itself is absolutely gorgeous with the sky blue water and colorful rocks and cliffs in the background. It’s stunning!


Lake Powell at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The Glen Canyon dam and visitor center are close by so we went there to check out the dam and pick up Junior Ranger booklets. The dam is incredible to look at! You can walk across the bridge to get an amazing view looking down at the Colorado River. The visitor center also has great views of the dam and bridge and is very educational as well. The visitor center and bridge are free, but you can also take a paid tour of the dam which we did not do.


View from inside the visitor center






View of dam from bridge


View of Colorado River from other side of bridge

New Junior Ranger badges. Their vests have gotten too heavy to wear for long and we now need to add badges to the back of their vests.


Horseshoe Bend is another place that is a must-see in this area and it’s free! It is a section of the Colorado River that bends through the canyon. It is incredible, but also a little scary. There are no railings or anything to prevent people from falling off this cliff. I would be very hesitant to take small children here. Chris is afraid of heights and he didn’t like this very much, but I thought it was awesome! He was happy when I finished taking pictures and said we could go. 😉


Horseshoe Bend

Notice the people laying down at the edge to the right of us in the picture below. That was a good way to look over the edge and see the river below. It was very scary to stand at the edge!



Another fantastic place to visit in Page is Antelope Canyon, but that deserves a post of its own so stay tuned for that next.

Categories: Arizona, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Grand Canyon National Park

On our way out west we are passing by some areas that we visited a couple of years ago. Grand Canyon is one of those that is worth repeating. We were excited to be there when they got a little bit of snow. We don’t see snow very often so this was a treat for us.

Arizona does not observe daylight savings time so at this time of the year they are on the same time as Pacific. That means that the sun comes up pretty early in the morning and we were up bright and early to witness our first snowy day of 2017. This was at the Trailer Village RV Park right inside the national park. We love staying right in the park because they have bus transportation to take you where you want to go. And they have restaurants and lodges that are fun to visit.


I know it’s not much but it was better than nothing. This was Fat Cat’s first experience with snow ever. She didn’t know what to think of the stuff!


Later in the afternoon the snow had already melted off the picnic table but it started snowing again so we brought Fat Cat back out to see how she liked it falling on her head. I think her expression in this picture is so funny!


In the morning we headed out to check out the canyon before the snow melted.



We saw lots of deer out at that time of the morning looking around for some breakfast.


The snow on the trees was so pretty!


The boys enjoyed a snowball fight.


We enjoyed this so much! I know for those of you that live in cold climates where you see snow all winter, this would not be very exciting. I’m sure a warm and sunny beach scene with palm trees would be more appealing. As one of my friends told me, it’s all in your perspective. For us Floridians, snow is a novelty to us and we enjoy it so much when we see it.


After our one day of snow the weather cleared up and we saw a spectacular Grand Canyon sunset the next evening.


We did 2 hikes while we were there. The first one was the Bright Angel trail hike.


We started down into the canyon and about a mile down we heard loud thunder and it started to storm and sleet. We know from our visit here 2 years ago that being inside the canyon during a lightning storm can be very dangerous so we abandoned the rest of that hike and went back up.

This was the start of the hike and the skies were a little cloudy but not too bad.


But then the storm clouds rolled in and it looked pretty ominous.


The next day was much better for hiking and we did our favorite hike down the South Kaibab trail. We did this hike 2 years ago, but only went as far as the Ooh Aah Point. This year we continued on down to the Cedar Ridge Point which was amazing!


Starting down the South Kaibab trail


Spectacular views every step of the way


Ooh Aah Point







Cedar Ridge Point

This was on the way back up. See those ants crawling up the cliff? Those are people, and would soon be us. I was so tired at this point I didn’t think I would make it up there, but I’m here to talk about it which means I made it. 😉


Grand Canyon is such a magical place and definitely one of those places worth going back to again and again.

Next we moved on to Lake Powell in Page, AZ. Stay tuned…

Categories: Arizona, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Grand Canyon National Park

In my last post about Route 66 I mentioned that we spent a day at the Grand Canyon.  I had heard that when you go to the Grand Canyon, you look at it for a while, take some pictures and you’re done.  I wrongly assumed we wouldn’t want to spend more than a day there.  There is so much to see and do at the South Rim, you really could spend a lot more time if you want to.  I haven’t been to the North Rim yet so I can’t speak about that.


We started the day at the Visitor Center so we could pick up Junior Ranger booklets for the kids to work on, then we walked a lot of the rim trail.

They have shuttle bus transportation to take you to many of the points at the park.  The Orange bus route will take you to the east side of the park which is the least crowded.  You can also see beautiful sunsets from there.  The Blue bus route takes you around the Grand Canyon Village which includes 2 campgrounds, a hotel, a few lodges and several places to eat and shop.  They even have a grocery store and a U. S. Post Office!  The Red bus route will take you to the Hermit’s Rest on the far west side of the park with many scenic viewpoints along the way.  We went on all the bus routes that day and tried to see as much as we could since we had only planned one day there.


This squirrel was so cute and not the least bit afraid of people.  He tried to steal Chris’s banana right out of his hand!



You can see the Colorado River winding through the canyon in the picture below.


I loved this sign outside of one of the gift shops.  It was so appropriate to go along with the magnificent scenery of God’s Creation.


I saw many people standing out on narrow ledges getting their pictures — this was as close as I got.


This is how the boys entertained themselves while waiting at one of the shuttle bus stops.  I love how they so easily entertain themselves!


We thought sitting on the ledge would make a nice picture.


Or maybe hanging off the ledge instead?


We enjoyed this day at Grand Canyon so much and already were making plans to come back next year.  Well, it turns out we were able to return sooner than we thought.  We went to Cottonwood, AZ to stay at a Thousand Trails and had planned to visit some national monuments in that area.  It turned out to be a bad time to visit that area as it was over 100 degrees.  We immediately started searching for some place else to go that was cooler.  Previously I had wanted to stay at the full hookup campground in the Grand Canyon called Trailer Village.  It is very hard to get into that campground without making reservations way in advance.  While we were in Cottonwood I kept checking their website and eventually found 3 consecutive nights available that week!  We hitched up and left the sweltering heat of Cottonwood and headed to the cooler temps in the Grand Canyon.  It’s really nice to have a house on wheels so we can move whenever we feel like it.

Trailer Village was awesome and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to stay at an RV Park in the Grand Canyon.  It’s so convenient to have the bus transportation and all the other amenities available right there like stores and restaurants.  We enjoyed this campground so much and were able to extend our stay 2 more nights while we were there which gave us plenty of time to more fully explore the area.

When we were there the previous week for one day, the boys were not able to earn their Junior Ranger badge because we didn’t have enough time to do one of the required activities which was to attend a Ranger program.  We were able to get that completed on this second trip and they were happy to earn the badge for this famous park.


We saw so many elk wandering through the park, even right by our campsite.



With more time we were able to go on a couple of hikes into the canyon.  We did not go all the way to the bottom.  It is recommended that if you plan to go to the bottom, all the way to the Colorado River, that you don’t plan to do it in one day.  You need to plan to spend the night in a tent in the canyon.  They have ranger programs down there and plenty of people do camp overnight, so our kids have made up their minds that they want to do that next year.  I don’t know if I’m up for spending the night in the canyon with the scorpions so stay tuned to see if that really happens.

Anyway, we at least wanted to hike to the Ooh Aah Point because as part of the FtF Book Club we are reading books about a family that visits many different national parks.  We recently finished the book about the Grand Canyon and this was one of the points they mentioned in the book.  So of course we had to find it!  Here are some pictures from that hike.



We found it!


Ooh, Aah!


The next day we hiked down the Bright Angel trail to the upper and lower tunnels.  The boys love wearing their Junior Ranger vests with all of the badges they have earned so far.  Many other hikers on the trails stopped to compliment them on their badge earnings and to see all the places they have been.  In fact, many people on the buses also asked them about their badges and travels.  These vests generate a lot of attention!



The Lower Tunnel.


After that hike the boys and I went for a bike ride.  Chris couldn’t join us unfortunately because his bike was stolen back in California, but I don’t think he was too disappointed.  It was Sunday and after our 2 hikes that weekend he just wanted to chill out and watch whatever sports happened to be on tv.

The bike trails there were awesome and can be accessed right from the campground.  The views are priceless!



We heard that you can see the best sunsets from the Desert View Watchtower which is way at the east end of the park, about 25 miles away.  The shuttle buses don’t go that far so we drove.  Unfortunately we didn’t know that they don’t let anyone up in the watchtower after 6:30 and we got there at 6:35.  That was very disappointing because it was our last night there, but I was still able to get a couple of nice pictures.



The sunsets at the Grand Canyon are the most spectacular I have ever seen!


A couple of cute photo bombers.




And for all of you Fat Cat fans out there, you’ll be happy to know that she also enjoyed her time at the Grand Canyon.  The pictures below were actually at a stop-over in Williams before we were able to get into Trailer Village.  She was rolling around on the ground so happy to be out of the sweltering heat of the last campground.  It’s really amazing how the temperature can be so different only an hour away.


The cooler weather gave her so much energy she decided to learn how to walk the fence.



And at the campsite at Trailer Village she liked practicing her tree-climbing skills.


And she’s learning to be a watch-cat.


I hope you enjoyed this post about the most visited national park in America.  It definitely was crowded, but I’m so glad we were able to spend more than just one day there.

Categories: Arizona, National Parks | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Getting Our Kicks on Route 66

We stayed at two cute little towns in Arizona along Historic Route 66: Williams and Winslow.

Williams is a great place to stay if you are visiting the Grand Canyon.  There is a train that goes from Williams to Grand Canyon each day that looks really fun but we didn’t do it.  It’s quite pricey and you only get to stay at the canyon for about 3 hours before you have to board the train to return to Williams.  We only had one day to spend at the Grand Canyon and we wanted more than 3 hours there, so we opted to drive.  We ended up staying at the Grand Canyon for about 9 hours that day so I was really glad we decided not to splurge on the train.  And even 9 hours was not long enough, there is so much to see in Grand Canyon, but that is for another post.

We stayed at the Railside RV Resort in Williams.  The sites were really close together which I did not like very much, but the people who own or run the place are so nice and hospitable.  They have free breakfast every morning and a shuttle that will take you down to the historic district to visit all the fun Route 66 stuff.  We took advantage of the free shuttle and did some sightseeing.

The train station was really cool.




I love this sign!  Freedom is definitely not free and I am so very grateful to our military and their families for their sacrifices.  There is so much freedom in this traveling lifestyle that we are living, and I never want to take it for granted.




I thought this sign was funny.  We didn’t eat there, but I liked the sign.


We did eat here, at Cruisers Route 66 Cafe.


The guy singing was right by our table and he asked the boys to come up and play some instruments while he sang “My Brown-Eyed Girl”.  I love that song!


Jesse really enjoyed his ice cream.


After leaving Williams we went to stay at Homolovi State Park in Winslow.  This campsite was amazing!  We realized we really need to stay at state parks more often.  We had so much space all to ourselves.  It was so peaceful and beautiful.


The skies and sunsets in the evening were spectacular!  All of this was right outside of our door!  I think I could have stayed here for a month.





Even Fat Cat loved this place!  She sat outside all the time watching for rabbits and squirrels and any other little critter she could find.  Thankfully she didn’t find any snakes!  One day there was a rabbit as big as her that she was stalking, but I think she realized it was too big for her to tangle with.


Chris and the boys enjoyed a water balloon fight one day.  Look at Chris!  He is a still a kid at heart.


Homolovi State Park is home to the ruins of the Hopi Indians that lived here a few hundred years ago.  We toured the ruins and found lots of broken pottery that is preserved there.



Of course we had to be Standin’ on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona; it’s such a fine sight to see!  I love the Eagles music and I was so excited to be able to get our picture right here.  “It’s a girl my Lord in a flat-bed Ford slowin down to take a look at me.”  Well, she wasn’t exactly looking at me, Chris maybe, but I digress.



A few more random pictures from Route 66 that we found on our way to Petrified Forest National Park.


If you read my post about Santa Monica, you’ll see that we found the end of Route 66 there.  I would love to travel more of the “Mother Road” on our way back east but we haven’t quite decide yet which way we’re going.  We are heading to a Fulltime Families rally in Branson, Missouri so it’s possible we’ll be heading down more of this famous road.



I would love to stay in one of these!  They are so cute!


Next up, Grand Canyon!  Since 9 hours at the canyon wasn’t long enough we ended up going back and got to actually stay in the only full hookup RV park within Grand Canyon for 5 days.  That was awesome!  Stay tuned for that post.  First I have to sort through over 400 pictures I took.

Categories: Arizona | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Petrified Forest National Park

I have not had as much time lately to blog because Arizona kept us very busy.  There is so much to see and do there!  I have a lot of catching up to do on blog posts, and Jake keeps asking me when I’m going to do it.  He and Jesse love to go back and read earlier posts to remember things we have done.  That is one reason why I blog, so we will have a journal to read later about all of our adventures on the road.

One of the places we visited in Arizona was Petrified Forest National Park.  We are loving our nation’s National Parks and this one did not disappoint.  We started at the south entrance of the park and worked our way up.  We spent about 5 or 6 hours hiking and exploring the park.  It’s not a huge park so that was enough time to see everything we wanted to see.  At the beginning we looked at the giant logs near the Rainbow Forest Museum and watched a movie about the history of the park.  Then we looked at some more petrified wood in the Crystal Forest.  The logs have been petrified over many years and look like beautiful, colorful crystals.  The wood is so hard and heavy, it’s hard to believe it was really a tree trunk at one time.



Hiking through the Crystal Forest.



A petrified log bridge called Agate Bridge.


I thought that this park was going to be all about looking at petrified wood, and as beautiful as it is, I didn’t think it would be fun to look at several pieces of wood all day.  But there is so much more to this park.  It is part of the Painted Desert and that is a beautiful sight to see.  It really does look like God painted the hills in this desert, He is the Master Artist.

My favorite part of the park was hiking through the Blue Mesa and Forest.






Jake holding a heavy piece of petrified wood.


Next we checked out Puerco Pueblo which highlights ancestral Puebloan ruins and petroglyphs.  This is what they called Newspaper Rock displaying 2000 year old petroglyphs.





Next we stopped to see a 1932 Studebaker where historic Route 66 once cut through the park.


Then we hiked along the Painted Desert Rim Trail which had spectacular views of the desert.







And lastly the boys completed their Junior Ranger books so they could earn a badge from this park.


Petrified Forest National Park is right off I-40 and Historic Route 66.  There are so many interesting things to see along Route 66 in Arizona that I will write about in another post.  I hope you enjoyed this post about Petrified Forest.

Categories: Arizona, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sabino Canyon

We had a short visit to Tucson, Arizona — we cut it short because it’s over 100 degrees there right now.  There is so much to see and do in Tucson so we’ll have to plan to go back another time when it’s not so hot.  We did manage one sightseeing day while there despite the heat.  We visited Sabino Canyon in the Coronado National Forest.  Because it’s part of a National Forest we were able to get in with our National Park pass which has turned out to be a great deal.  $80 for a National Park annual pass for the whole family — we are getting lots of use out of it visiting as many National Parks, Monuments, Forests, Seashores and Recreation Areas as possible.

Sabino Canyon was beautiful.  The mountains are covered in Saguaro Cactus plants which I had never seen growing in the wild before.  It was a pretty cool thing to see!

Because it was so hot, we took the tram tour up the mountain which included a narrated educational tour into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  We got off at the last stop back down and hiked the rest of the way which was about a 2 mile hike.  In 100+ degree heat, that was not easy.  At one point we weren’t even sure we were going the right way and we just wanted so badly to get back to some A/C and cold water.  Well obviously we made it back and didn’t melt in the desert.

Below are some pictures from Sabino Canyon.














Earning another Junior Ranger badge…


Categories: Arizona, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tombstone, Arizona

We spent Memorial Day visiting historic Tombstone, Arizona.  We learned about the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral that took place on October 26, 1881.  We watched the re-enactment of the gunfight between Wyatt Earp and his brothers and their pal Doc Holliday against the Clanton’s and McLaury’s.  The wild west is well-preserved in this town of Tombstone where we visited many of the original buildings.

Meeting “The Lawmen”…


Gunfight re-enactment…




Pictures from the museum…




Throughout the day they had gunfights in the street…





There were other shows in the street like this scene from a saloon…



Jake and Jesse were arrested and going to be hanged for being horse thieves and outlaws…


A woman from the brothel had to put her tattoo (lipstick) on their cheeks…





Jesse was excited to find a mini-golf course.  I don’t think that was really around in the 1800’s.




And since Chris and I work for Wells Fargo, we thought this was interesting.  A Wells Fargo RV Park right in the middle of Tombstone.  No, we didn’t stay there.



Tombstone was a lot of fun.  If you are planning a visit, the O.K. Corral is $10 per person, but I think it was worth it.  Children 5 and under are free.  If your children are afraid of loud noises, I would wait until they are older.  I remember a few years ago when Jesse would have hated the noise of the gunshots.  He still wasn’t crazy about it, but I think a few years ago it would have really scared him.

Categories: Arizona | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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