One of the (many) highlights of the trip was Carlsbad Caverns. It was AMAZING. Even the kids really enjoyed our visit there. Pictures do not do it justice, so if you’ve never been… you just have to experience it for yourself. Analise’s favorite part of the nearly mile-long walk in the underground caverns was Fairyland. She still recognizes it in the photos. And of course, the evening bat flight from the cave entrance was awesome. Definitely worth planning an overnight stay to see that unique sight.
The Grand Canyon was, of course, beautiful. But it was HOT, the kids had been up early, there were lots of people there, and my kids wanted to play on the rocks, which was a little too nerve-wracking with the drop to the canyon floor just feet away. Analise had a meltdown after disobeying us by jumping on the rocks, and so we left after about 20 minutes. Definitely not a GRAND experience. As Brian reminded me, the kids just can’t grasp how huge it is. It’s awe-inspiring for us, but they can’t understand the depth and the beauty of it. Next time, I’d like to plan to be there at sunset, as I’ve heard that’s a beautiful experience.
After a disappointing experience at the Grand Canyon, we had a long afternoon with whiny kids in the car. Hot, tired and hungry, with grumpy parents, and we were driving 4 hours to Las Vegas. Food was many miles between, our windshield caught a rock and cracked, and at some point, Brian mentioned maybe I’d better check our reservation in Las Vegas online (on my phone) as he had a feeling he might have made it for the wrong night. ?!?!?
We had booked the hotel through Expedia (for a lower price than the conference rate, though it was the same hotel!) months in advance, and actually before we knew the schedule of Brian’s conference. After battling intermittent internet on my phone, we realized that indeed… it was Sunday evening, we were headed for Vegas, and our hotel reservation was not until Monday, but Brian had to present at the conference on Monday morning. ARG! More phone problems, dealing with customer service, finding out the hotel rate was twice what we’d paid, and so we finally settled at Starbucks to calm our frazzled nerves and use their internet so Brian could find us another hotel.
He ended up booking us a night at the Desert Rose Resort, just off the strip and less than a block from where we’d be staying the next two nights, at the Monte Carlo, for the conference. I was a bit irritated about having to stay one (short) night in one place, then move to another. But once we arrived, we very nearly canceled our other reservations to stay at the Desert Rose. It was AMAZING! Full kitchen, huge king bedroom, separate from the spacious living/dining room, delicious full continental breakfast, free wireless (as compared to $15 a day at the MC), 2 pools. It was awesome. Highly, highly recommend it, and if we ever go back, I won’t stay anywhere else. Back to the trip to Vegas… Now the experience is comical, and turned out to have many blessings in it, but man, was it a long end to a frustrating day!
So we set out for the last couple hours of the drive from Arizona to Vegas, via the Hoover Dam. I was excited to see the Dam, as I’d never been there. But we’d been way-laid for a couple hours, and it was going to be dark. We thought we wouldn’t be able to see anything. Much to our surprise, the dam was well lit, and there was construction going on for the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. It is INCREDIBLE! What a feat of engineering! And the Dam is amazing too. Seeing it at night was really different, but still very cool. And it was 109 degrees outside at 9pm! Crazy!
Ok, more thoughts on Vegas and the California part of the trip another evening. Enjoy a few photos… Click on the first one and it will open in a small window and you can click through them all.