We wandered around the shops and found funny t-shirts for the kids (somewhat of a challenge to find something not “too risqué.” However, we managed. Oldest found one with the googley-eyed stack of cash used in the Geico ads next to googley-eyes floating in mid-air with nothing, labeled “Before Vegas” and “After Vegas”. Thing 2 found a Vegas snow globe for his collection. I skipped my book on this leg of the tour. But I chose something else with Hubby. We went to the gallery where we purchased an original King Kong poster a few years back and found a similar print of the Wizard Of Oz made with a similar process (using the original three-paneled presses). I can’t wait to see it hanging next to the King Kong print.
On our Vegas Night, we loved Blue Man Group! Thing 2 sat next to me and could barely stay in his seat he was so excited. The show included drumming on a PVC pipe organ, spitting and catching paintballs and marsmallows, and covering the entire audience with toilet paper. It was interactive, high energy, fun! Here’s a link to a video, if you want a taste of what we experienced. http://www.blueman.com/about
We ate a late dinner at Molto Mario’s restaurant in fake Piazza San Marco. Fake Venice was pretty cool, I have to admit. Even though we dined at close to 10:30 at night, the trompe l’oeil ceiling of the sky with puffy clouds made it feel like we were out on a sunny day, amidst canals winding through the place, musicians playing in the square, restaurants and gelato shops.
Our morning was great! After breakfast, we met our trail ride guide and horses for a one-hour ride. Our horses were: Thunder, Lightning, Roany, Ace, and can’t remember hubby’s…
We traversed up and down a steep, sandy path, through high desert land overlooking Zion National Park. We all loved riding and decided we would look for other opportunities to be around horses.
I loved experiencing the canyon trails from a different means in each place.
Oldest, especially, complained of being tired and he seemed to be coming down with a cold. So, we changed our original plan to hike the Narrows thorugh the river and opted for an easier way to explore Zion.
We drove through the park: beautiful mountain road, winding through the rocky hills. We actually drove THROUGH the mountains via a tunnel blasted through the middle. We couldn’t find parking at the visitor’s center se we parked just outside the park in Springdale and took the shuttle back into the park.
We stopped at the Weeping Rock for a short, half-mile hike to see the cliff side dripping water everywhere. It gave the illusion of being in a rainforest in the middle of high desert country – interesting phenomenon.
Next shuttle stop was Zion Lodge for lunch, cafeteria style burgers, dogs, and deli. This is the only park we visited that had the kind of simple, American Junk food I expected (or was worried) to see everywhere along our trip. I’m hoping I won’t hate the scale when I get home. I have made good choices most places.
Over lunch, we took a vote on what was the favorite park and what was the favorite activity. Majority voted Bryce as the most unique vistas, geological phenomenon and Lake Powell a close second. Horseback riding, tubing and three mile hike in and out of the Bryce Amphitheater all made a strong showing for family favorite activities. We couldn’t come to consensus of the best one.
We made two more shuttle stops at Zion, to see the Three Patriarchs – a short 100 yard climb from the shuttle afforded a spectacular iew of the three mountains in a row, named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then to the visitor center where I bouth my book of scenic Zion views. We shuttled back to Springdale, where the boys found their t-shirts and a snowglobe.
Hubby did the driving from Zion to Vegas. The resto f us enjoyed the change in scenery.
There were these very cool looking trees. I must look up what is the species. They had thick brances like a palm tree with many branches each with a tuft of broad leaves at the tip.
We checked-in to the Venetian. We have a luxurious suite with a king BR and a LR with pull out sofa, roll away and a dining area. We ate dinner at Cafe Lux. I was bad in the car and snacked on fudge and cheezita and trail mix. So, I had veggies for dinner. It was fine for me, though.
After we ate, we went swimming at the 10th floor pool, which was open until 10 p.m. There was a hot pool with fountains in it. It felt great to hae the warm water on my sore muscles. I have really enjoyed this active vacation filled with hiking, tubing, swimming, horseback riding. Today we slept in and had room service for breakfast. I ate oatmeal, strawberries, yogurt and one small pastry. (I couldn’t resist).
We headed for the main pool on the 4th floor and swam for an hour. Hubby is playing in a poker tournament. The boys tired of the pool (OMG!) so we are now in our luxurious suite, watching a movie, 17 Again.
After breakfast, we hit the road – that is, after a short errand of picking up a Styrofoam cooler, some ice, and a case of water. The kids were intrigued by the giant cacti dotting the landscape in some spots and thickly settled, like forests of saguaros in others. We stopped to see Montezuma’s Castle (another misnamed ruin, since the Aztecs had nothing to do with building this Pueblo village thought to be a thriving community between 1100 and 1450 A.D.)
Hubby liked the drive on Route 17 as we continued North – speed limit 75 was a first for him. We arrived at the Maswik Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park and walked a short way down Bright Angel Trail, where the mules walk and then climbed back up and caught the Hermit Road Suttle to explore a little more. The boys reacted with anticipated awe.
Thing 1 immediately wanted to know the dimensions of the vast canyon. After hearing 270-something miles long, none of us could wrap our heads around it.
We ate a small snack, a short rest in the room, dinner at the Lodge, and then took a shuttle to Arena, where we walked a paved path to the rim trail and walked along the rim trail to watch the sunset. We’re back in our room and ready to get a good night’s sleep before tomorrow. I will dream of the vivid hues that filled the sky and the way the white shelves of rock turned to burgundy layer by layer as the sun set. Phenomenal!
Our flight was delayed about 1 ½ hours but we made it to Phoenix and saw my aunt, said good-bye to Noah and rented our car. Hubby upgraded to an Esplanade and we juggled our luggage, trying to figure out the best way to fit it in and still have room to sit.
After a half-hour drive from the airport, we pulled up to the Fairmont Scottsdale –beautiful resort. Our suite is huge!
We swam in the pool from 5-7 pm (got a snack at 5 o’clock of tortilla chips, salsa, fruit smoothies, since we hadn’t eaten lunch. We ate dinner at the resort at LV Bistro. Organic fare, dinner was delicious! Fresh salad with heirloom tomatoes and radishes, beets, cucumbers. Salmon with haricot vert and mussels. Oldest son had hanger steak. Thing 1 and Thing 2 both ate chicken tenders. Hubby enjoyed his scallops and shrimp.
We returned to the pool for an hour after dinner. Now we’re trying to stay up a little longer to adjust to the time change. Phoenix/Scottsdale was 116 Farenheit when we arrived today. But as they say, dry heat is easier to take.
Hubby and I have decided to lay off the wine and cocktails this week to stay as hydrated as possible while hiking in the desert and at higher elevations.
As for being with my boys tonight after they were away at camp for three weeks—I loved it! Hearig all of their fantastic tales of color wars, dippies, the new campers from Spain and France, the Apache relay race, freeze games at mealtime, loomster cocntests, and more. I’m thrilled they have these fond camp memories.
I’m lucky my children like one another. So far this first bucket list trip is a hit and we haven’t even started yet!
This is the beginning of my travel log for a dream family vacation to some of our nation’s national parks. As I write, I’m sitting at the gate, awaiting a flight from BWI to Phoenix, Arizona. With me are my husband, three sons, and my little cousin, Noah.
The kids just finished their annual summer camp at Camp Tall timbers and Noah will meet his mother in Phoenix. Once we complete the cousin-hand-off, the Leibow family’s first bucket-list trip will officially be underway.
The idea for this trip grew out of a family movie-watching experience. We saw the movie The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In the film, the two main characters, being treated for terminal illnesses, decided to carry out every adventure on their bucket list before it’s too late.
Luckily, my entire family is happy and healthy. But we do have limited time. My oldest is entering high school in the fall. We decided that since we only have five more years with us all living under one roof that we would each make our own bucket list of the places we would like to travel together. Then we compared our lists and came up with our family bucket list.
This first bucket list trip is a trip to the Grand Canyon and more. Here’s the plan: Fly to Phoenix, spend one night in Scottsdale. Drive from Scottsdale to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, stopping a Montezuma’s Castle along the way. After a night and a full day at the Grand Canyon, we’ll head to Lake Powell for two nights. Then it’s Bryce, Zion, and then off to Vegas.
I insisted that seeing the natural wonders of the world will exceed any Disney “Fake” place.
My oldest responded, “Mom, we’ll love the real stuff but I really like the face places. I’m psyched for Vegas!”
The logistics for planning for this trip for a family of five might just be the most complicated trip I have ever planned. We pieced it together on our own instead of joining an organized tour. What I ended up doing, though, was to borrow an itinerary from a tour company and mimic their route and how many nights they stayed in each place. I figured they had done this a million times and know how long to spend in each place and where were the good stopping points along the way.
Since we plan to haul our own gear from place to place and stay in a different location practically every night, packing bags worried me, too. But I came up with a great system. I bought enough of the jumbo-sized Ziploc bags for each person to have one per lodging location. I packed what each of us needed for that night in the bag, and tossed them into a suitcase for that particular place. That way, we have one suitcase per location instead of one suitcase per person. I ended up packing one additional bag with toiletries, extra t-shirts, a raincoat, etc. that we might need anywhere. That means that we only have to carry two bags. This will save us a lot of lugging in and out, as we’ll avoid dragging five bags in and out of each hotel or lodge.