So once we got to Arizona and checked into our hotel (at a decent hour even), the kids went swimming, we had a nice dinner and we all just chilled a bit. We even slept in the next day – the kids did anyway; I woke up with the sun at 5:18 AM because the hotel curtain didn’t completely the window and there was no escaping that bright wake up call. And then we had our summer vacation! We went to the Grand Canyon – South Rim. It was hot, and crowded, and we had neither time nor money for any of the Grand Canyon ‘experiences’ like river rafting, helicopter rides or mule rides. But wow – what a neat sight!
Aside from looking at exhibits at the visitor center, we mainly took the shuttle bus (leaving our car and trailer at the National Geographic Information Center outside the park) around the rim, getting off at various spots for short hikes. The heat and elevation took its toll and my son tired before the rest of us. The air was regrettably hazy; probably a combination of air pollution and reduced air quality from regional wildfires. I’m sure no one has gotten the full effect of the grandeur of the canyon from these viewpoints for the past century.
Even with a short visit and a somewhat removed Grand Canyon experience it was a good day – we even saw an elk with her baby cross the road in front of the bus – and I’m sure the kids will have memories, and perhaps even the desire to return for a longer, more in depth (no pun intended) visit.
Following that break it has all been strictly business! Up early, on the road, drive, drive, drive. Traveling with pets and a Uhaul trailer is no vacation. You can’t just decide to explore off the beaten track, stop by an interesting attraction, or enjoy a leisurely meal. Our stops are quick and dirty – just gas and bathroom breaks and drive-through meals. We have put in long days – generally 9 to 10 hours – and that amount of time crammed together in a mini-van is difficult! No matter how good our intentions or attitudes at the beginning of the day, by about hour 7 we get crabby. Driving is a tiresome business.
I tell myself that this trip is a great opportunity for the kids to see something of the country – but the truth is the landscape is fairly relentlessly the same and the kids grow bored looking out the windows and turn to books and electronics to pass the time and I am the only one to see the truly notable and interesting things that pop up and quickly fade away in the distance. I am so amazed by how much space the rest of the country (on our route anyway) has compared to where we lived in California. Huge swaths of land, unmarred by buildings, punctuated only by fences, railroad tracks and the odd rusting remnant of some unidentifiable structure. I have been longing for space for years but even so find this area too immense, the vistas too far reaching, the distance between services nerve-wracking. Two more days to go.