Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 46 - Enjoying Havasu again.

We spent today splashing in the pool, visiting, sipping delicious homemade drinks, walking down at the lake, and BBQ-ing.... and a bit of trick-or-treating.
David's folks bought him this shirt in Sedona (dyed using the red rocks) for his 40th birthday. The kids thought it was pretty funny that it read 'Old As The Rocks'! HA.
A view of the lake.
Sarah was grapes for Halloween. Originally to be purple grapes, but no purple balloons to be found. SO - red grapes it was. Should have worn a red shirt - but she got tons of compliments and so she was pleased. Thank you Auntie Esther for the great last minute ideas!!
Joshua was a Canadian eh?! :) Didn't Daddy do an outstanding job with the face painting!!
Megan went as Miss Bedhead and was excited to increase her candy stash!!
Our Halloween experience in Havasu....
Kids got all ready and were excited to hit the pavement, start ringing doorbells and shouting out 'trick-or-treat' !! So we began to wander up the street realizing that there was not a single person outside. Seemed strange... it was close to 7pm, certainly in Halloween's past kids were out by this time. We began to question if we had the right day, was it in fact the 31st? Yes it was, but we were feeling a little odd about walking up to that first house. Chickening out, we came back and got the van (we knew we couldn't squish Sarah into the truck!!) and drove around a bit. No kids. Not one. Not a SINGLE child. The streets were empty. Next thought was perhaps they didn't "do" Halloween here. Could be. So we pulled into a gas station and asked. We were informed there was an event downtown, so off we went. WOW. It was packed with people (busier than Disneyland!!) and the kids were to stand in lines at the different downtown businesses and collect the candy. Yes, THE candy. The SINGLE piece of candy. Coming from Fort Mac where they got literally HANDFULS at each house, standing in line for up to 5 minutes, for a mini tootsie roll was disappointing to say the least. We pressed on and walked down the over-crowded streets for about an hour before calling it a night. We laughed and told the kids it would be a halloween they'd remember :) They still got more candy that they could eat in a week so it was all good (at least to me it was, they might have a different opinion!) :)
We came back to the house where Grandma & Grandpa had stayed to hand out candy, but they only had one ring of the doorbell the whole night.
We made popcorn and chatted around the table as the kids checked out their loot and found treats that they hadn't seen in Canada before so that was neat. It was nice to be outside without jackets this year, in shorts in fact and feeling warm. It wasn't like that last year, so this was an extra treat! :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 45 - The GRAND Canyon

I was really hoping David would write the post about Arizona's Grand Canyon. It's been his dream to go there for so long and he was so amazed that I wanted to capture his words here. But... we got behind on our blog and he's away at work and I'm going to try to get us caught up! Perhaps once he's home he can share some thoughts about his perspective of the Grand Canyon, and his desire to go back. :)
Friday morning we left Williams to head for the the Canyon. The indicator light appeared on the rental van regarding a low tire, so we pulled over to give it some air before heading out. In doing so, the mechanic noticed a split in the front tire! Isn't God good! We were able to pull into the shop and get it repaired rather quickly. Of course we were slightly antsy as the desire to get on the road was a tad greater than the patience level :) The little tire shop was great though and even gave us all hot cocoa to keep warm as that chilly air seemed to be following us!
An hour or so later we were back on the road and heading towards the canyon. What is truly amazing is that as you drive along a seemingly 'normal' road, it suddenly is split and you see a sight that is indescribable! I'm not sure how one can adequately describe the Grand Canyon. If you have been there, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, books and the internet cannot do it justice. As we drank in the view and began to snap our photos, we soon realized that we would be unable to capture the vastness & beauty on 'film'. David could have stayed all day and all night long! He looked at the hiking trails with longing and was already making mental plans I'm sure as to when he could return & venture out on those dusty trails himself!! So we spent the late morning and nearly all of the afternoon walking and exploring the Grand Canyon. What an experience! We took a scenic drive to get a different vantage point and then drove back to the visitor's center to the IMAX theater and took in an IMAX movie of the Grand Canyon. It was great to get a close view of the river and bottom of the canyon, even though it made us a tad dizzy. It made Sarah think of the 'Soaring over California' ride in California Adventure Park :)
After the movie, we drove back to Williams to grab a bite to eat and then continued on to Lake Havasu. The kids were eager to crawl into bed after a very full day and I think the adults were just as happy :)
Joshua snapped this shot of the van getting repaired.
Not a sign you see everyday!
The official sign.... are we really here!!!!? YAHOOO!
What an amazing experience to share with Grandpa & Grandma Gray!
Yes, I purchased a toque at the gift shop - like Megan I was frozen!!
What a great day! The kids loved seeing David so excited, as did I. :)
Megan pretty much froze the whole time! Most people were bundled and I didn't think it would be THAT cold and had only packed her shorts (my bad). She was a trooper though, and enjoyed taking in the views!!
Check out that grin! He didn't know if he should do the happy dance or have someone pinch him that he was REALLY there!!
Despite the signage, David climbed down and hung over the rock to get an incredible view!! None of us were very impressed (although he continues to claim he was totally safe!) and Sarah's tears apparently convinced him not to do that "EVER AGAIN!" :)
Beautiful walking trails to stroll along.
And now a series of photos... we took well over a 100 and picked a few to share with you :) Remember you can click on them to enlarge them. In a few you can see the depth & shadowing of the rocks, others you can faintly see the winding river, and a few you may be able to pick out hiking trails and switchbacks.
A candid shot!
It was nice to return home to temperatures in the low 30s, but no matter what the temperature was, the Grand Canyon was a highlight in our adventure that will be forever remembered.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 44 - Sedona

We were up a bit earlier this morning to get things put together for our road trip adventure! Everyone was busy packing and loading up again. It was just after 9am when we got out the door and on our way. Almost at Sedona, we pulled off the highway at Oak Creek Canyon viewpoint. The temperature dropped dramatically and we were cold! We saw people with mitts & toques on and we were in capris and shorts! BRR! The top of the canyon was at about 6,000 feet and we had reached as high as 7,300 feet on the highway. We enjoyed climbing back into the warm van and cruised down a windy road (Joshua felt a bit woozy) and made another pullout stop at Slide Rock National Park. The red rocks were amazing to see, but also the pillar like formations were outstanding. We were all in awe at the red rock mountain landscape. We got to Sedona and drove around, pulling over regularly to snap photos of the impressive rocks! After a stop at the visitor’s center, maps and brochures in hand, we drove to the little strip of shops & did some window shopping. There were lots of handmade items: jewelry, pottery, decorations and a candle shop. We hung out at the candle shop & watched them carve and create these beautiful pieces of art. The candlemaker was great at showing the kids the process of making these dipped creations and we purchased the one we watched her make. We haven’t purchased many souvenirs and we thought this would be a neat one to buy. The sun began to set on the rocks as we loaded back into the van for a little scenic drive before leaving Sedona & heading to our hotel back in Williams. Arriving around 6:30ish we unloaded into our rooms and Grandpa slipped out to buy some dinner. We enjoyed our Kentucky Fried Chicken while watching Survivor. By the time it ended, we were all done and everyone was ready for bed. Funny how 8pm feels like 11pm! Megan hasn't been feeling quite herself yet, and I refuse to give in to the fact that my sinus' ache, my nose is runny & I'm sneezing.... probably allergies! (*wink*)

Tomorrow we will be heading to the Grand Canyon, what an amazing sight that will be!!

It was a very overcast day... a blue sky would make these look even more amazing! Photoshop Chad? :) You could probably make that sky blue!
The rock formation is so interesting and it looks different at every angle. David would like to go back and do some hiking around them.
A quick pullover so we could photograph the welcome sign :) Funny how they used apple trees instead of rock as their sign feature!! Apparently they do grow apples in the region. There are actually a lot of trees in Sedona, it is amazing how quickly the landscape and vegetation changes in Arizona.
As we drove in, we started to see the amazing Red Rocks.
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We shopped a little downtown and Sarah thought these glowing pumpkins were very cute, and a picture was needed. :)
They had huge statues along the downtown street. Sarah is always happy to pose!
You'll note the long pants & hoodies, the temperature had really dropped the day we were visiting.
This is the downtown street, lined with the amazing background of mountains, now aglow with the setting sun.
It was quite something to drive down the street and see these rocky mountains all around the city.
The clouds broke for a little bit in the afternoon & we got a great view of some of the rock structures.
Apparently this is the most photographed set of mountains in Sedona. It is an incredibly beautiful city and surrounding area.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 43 - Home Sweet Home

It was a very windy day today which kept us indoors for most of the day. The kids did a bit of school in the morning, then we took Grandma & Grandpa to our exciting Wal-Mart Superstore and a tour of Lake Havasu. We turned the hot tub on so after lunch people slipped into the warm water & avoided the cold pool (although I think all the boys took a “polar-bear swim” and then quickly returned to the hot-tub!!). We enjoyed Auntie Esther’s Russian Chicken recipe for dinner (thank-you Esther!) and had a quiet evening at home. We were busy unpacking from Las Vegas & repacking for our trip to the Grand Canyon in the morning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 42 - Red Rock Canyon/Hoover Dam

Our first day with Mom and Dad Gray and unfortunately also our first day of lousy weather:( It was extremely windy and only about 18C which feels very cool when you are used to 30+.
We made a quick stop at McDonald's for a non-healthy, but edible breakfast and made our way to Red Rock Canyon. What an amazing site to see. The rock formation & colors were hard to capture on "film". It was also difficult choosing which ones to post as we took many, many photos! :) We commented on how brilliant it must look when it is wet with rain. We took the scenic tour & got out at the lookout points to walk around and take photos. The wind was very strong, and did make us shorten our visit a bit. Red Rock Canyon is a paradise for rock climbers and we were able to see a few climbers in action.
Many sensational rock formations!

Looking down at this canyon, we didn't have time to do the full hike (there's an 11 mile hike that you can do)... maybe next time!
Megan found a great spot to look down... waaaaay down.
All the different layers & swirls are very interesting! Looks like Joshua is holding up this bolder effortlessly!
Grandma pointing something out while the children try to not blow away!!
We drove along and stopped at the lookout points... as we drove away from the main red rock area, you could see the variegated rocks turn into large patches of color.
We figured we ought to get a photo of Joshua standing BY a Joshua Tree
We stopped in at the Lake Mead lookout point - Sarah's wind-blown look! ;)
We got to the Hoover Dam mid-afternoon. The wind continued to blow like crazy!! We parked over on the Arizona side (for some reason free on this side?!) and wandered down to get a closer look at the dam. The dam and the canyon are incredible to see and impossible to explain adequately.
Sarah mimicking the statue and Joshua seems to find this hysterical!
A viewpoint from the parking lot (on the Arizona side). This is the backside of the dam and the water would be at the top when the lake is full. The 4 'towers' are the water intake tubes that direct water to the turbines at the bottom of the dam about 600 feet below.
It's been nearly 40 days since we've felt cold... and no one seemed to like it much :)
It will be absolutely amazing when this bridge is done - it's unreal how high that is!!