The Grand Canyon - Live and In-Person

6.17.2017

I'm still visiting Arizona as we speak, but I have an hour to myself and couldn't pass up the time to begin writing about our trip to the Grand Canyon.  Last year I made it a goal to begin visiting all of our beautiful national parks; each year, I planned to visit a new park so that by the time Lewie turns 18, he will have seen at least ten of our national treasures.  I decided to start with the Grand Canyon because 1) it's been on my bucket list for a long time, 2) it's something Lewie would remember at age 8, and 3) it's only several hours away from family that moved here eight years ago.

We started our journey in Williams, Arizona--a small town that's famous for the Grand Canyon Railroad and Route 66.  We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and took the Grand Canyon Railway into the South Rim of the Canyon.  Before boarding the train, we were treated to a Wild West Show in Williams.  Then we went on a several hour train ride right into the Canyon.  When we arrived, a bus awaited us to provide an hour and a half motorcoach tour to scenic points along the South Rim.  From there, we checked into the Maswik Lodge where we stayed overnight in the park.

The Wild West Showdown



Watching the Williams, AZ "Wild West Show"

On the train to the Grand Canyon




While taking the train was an absolute highlight for Little Lewie, nothing beat the views of the Grand Canyon.  We took many beautiful pictures during the motorcoach tour, but the very next day, we took many more photos while hiking the "Rim Trail."   We have hundreds of photos of our excursion, especially since hubby, Little Lewie, and I each had our own cameras.  (Little Lewie took the most photos out of all of us.)  Here are some of my favorites:









I love this picture of Little Lewie gazing at the vastness of this marvel.

My husband was the most daring of them all--not afraid to get up close for the best picture.

Little Lewie taking one of MANY pictures.


An elk crossed our path as we hiked the "Rim Trail."  It was an amazing sight!


One of my favorite pics.
Of course, part of the Grand Canyon experience is learning more about its history.  We learned about how and why this amazing canyon formed (over millions of years ago).  We learned about the Native Americans (the Hopi) that inhabited the Canyon, and we learned about the very first hotel that was built in the Canyon in 1905, El Tovar, (a hotel that was considered one of the finest West of the Mississippi River).

So, to fully embrace history, we viewed the short documentary Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center (hosted by the National Park Service), we watched Native American performers dance at the Hopi House, and we had lunch at El Tovar.   Finally, Little Lewie and I spent several hours completing some National Park activities, so he could receive his Junior Ranger Certificate, Pin, and Badge.  I was so proud as he raised his right hand and cited the Junior Ranger Pledge; it was proof that he really did learn from his experience at the Grand Canyon instead of just observe.

Native American dancers at the Hopi House.



Lunch at El Tovar

The main room of El Tovar.  (There were tons of animal heads on display.)

El Tovar on the outside.

The Hopi House

Little Lewie taking the Junior Ranger Pledge.
Once our adventure at the Canyon ended, the Grand Canyon Railway took us back to the hotel in Williams, AZ.  It was a journey to remember and only the beginning of our Arizona travels...



Getting Ready for the Grand Canyon

6.03.2017

May has been a whirlwind at work...award ceremonies, Commencement, annual reports, final grades. If you work for a college, then you know that May is your busiest month.  I used to complain, but now I just accept it.  The reality is that once I get over this hump, I have a glorious summer to spend with my family.  Don't get me wrong--I still have to work e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y, but I do take some days off for vacation, relaxing around the house, and having play dates with Lewie.

This year it looks my dream is finally coming true.  We are going to the Grand Canyon!  Seeing the Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager.  When I met my husband, we went on lots of trips together--Hawaii, San Francisco, San Diego, New Orleans, Lake Tahoe, Spain, Ibiza. Then I had Little Lewie.  Everything changed.  I thought we would become these cool parent jet setters, but instead I became neurotic Mommy--worried about my son's safety at every corner.  A trip to the Grand Canyon certainly didn't feel right then; I was not going to be one of those parents putting my son on a safety leash.

I waited, and waited, and waited, and... well, now with Little Lewie being eight (soon to be nine), what better time to begin our National Park trips?  I booked the trip in December with my fingers crossed.  So far, so good.  No family emergencies--Check!  Everyone's in good health--Check!

So...here's what we plan to do beginning on June 8th:

Fly to Phoenix, AZ...



Drive to Williams, AZ to begin our Grand Canyon Expedition.




Take the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim of the Canyon.  (Lewie still LOVES trains.)




Stay overnight at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.



Experience an old-time Wild West Show.




Take a raft down the Colorado River to view the canyon from below.



(Photo courtesy of Viator Tours)

Travel to Scottsdale, AZ.

Desert sunset. (Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau)


Visit family that moved to Phoenix, AZ.




Visit the Phoenix Zoo.




Lounge by the pool.




Relax.  (Well as much as you can do with an eight year-old.)




Enjoy whatever other wild adventure comes our way.



This is definitely not the cheapest of trips, but I've been saving for a long time.  Here's to wishing for good health and a safe journey.  Now it's time to start packing :)

Mother's Day Recap

5.19.2017

Mother's Day was perfect this year; my mom, Lew, Little Lewie, and I went to our favorite restaurant, the Hopkins Inn, and then went to visit Lew's mom (Ninny).  As I grow older, I realize that every Mother's Day that I have with my mom is a blessing.  How could I not be grateful!  In her seventies, my mom still works 20+ hours per week, helps me pick up Lewie from school, and is constantly outside watering our plants and taking care of the yard.  She's nothing short of amazing.


Since there were a few rain showers on Mother's Day, we couldn't bask in the sun on the patio, but we could at least eat in one of our favorite rooms inside the old inn.  We admired the old post and beam construction and, of course, the old plank floors.  The best part, of course, was the company and food. We enjoyed our meals so much that, at times, they became the focal point of our discussion. The funniest part of the afternoon is when Lewie looked at his dessert, a frozen chocolate eclair, in horror. "Why are you making that look?" I asked.  "Is the dessert too big for you?"

"No," he replied, "but why does it have salad on it?"  We inspected the dessert and noticed they garnished it with a mint leaf.  We burst out laughing.  Lewie still didn't appreciate the mint leaf.  (He's one of the few kids I know that doesn't like the taste of mint.)  Still, we made it into a learning lesson--right along with him having to put his napkin on his lap and keep his button-down shirt tucked in at all times.  "Oh Lewie," I sighed, "we're just trying to teach you a little culture.  One day, you'll be sitting at a fancy restaurant like this with a girl friend or on a job interview."  Of course, mentioning these ideas in no way means I'm wishing away his childhood.  On the contrary, on Mother's Day, I wish I could wave a magic wand and keep all of us the same age for a very long time, possibly forever.




On Friday, my son brought home a fill-in-the-blank sheet called "All About Mom."  I was surprised how in just one short year, Lewie's answers changed from cute to sophisticated.  He knows me inside and out, even my age.  I can't fool him into believing I'm twenty-something anymore.

 Let me tell you about my mom.
My mom is 41 years old.
She likes to walk.
The best thing she cooks is chicken nuggets.
Her favorite food is chocolate.


Her favorite thing to do to relax is walk.
We like to walk together.


She is really good at the Atari 2600.
As you can see, my mom is special because she's the best mom in the world and the best thing that's happened to my life
(Those were exactly his words...how lucky am I?)