Yes, we had a good time. Great memories were made. (See my photoset on Flickr.)
With that said, our little trip to the Grand Canyon didn’t pass by unscathed. I had chosen a time of the year that it appeared was on the cusp of too late to be comfortable. We knew it was going to be warm, but not too warm for us to have a good time. I was wrong.
We set out driving across the southLAnd, almost perfectly eastward bound. I had worked a long week, up until the day before, so Deanna started behind the wheel. Our Honda Odyssey has served us well since 2002, and with the recently rebuilt engine (covered by Honda Corp.), we knew it would continue to get us where we’re headed, with low MPG, and decent comfort. This trip was no different.
We rented a small U-Haul trailer, to carry along all of our crap, and THAT was an awesome decision. For $150, for the week, we had not only the additional space, but also a decent sized container to lock our belongings in, at the campsite. Oh yeah, we were camping!
We took our fairly new 8-man Coleman tent, and adapted what we’ve learned from tent-trailer camping, to a more rural, tent-camping opportunity. We were sure that it would be just fine. Well, in most locations, it would have been great. We visited several of the important spots nonetheless. It really is breathtaking! This trip also marked the second time we had the opportunity to celebrate #3’s birthday camping. He turned six.
There were two variables that made the Grand Canyon not the best choice for tent-camping, with 4 little ones.
#1, The temperatures were supposed to be in the high 70’s, with a touch of very low 80’s. That would have been great. Unfortunately a record breaking heatwave rolled in, the day we arrived. Yeah, it was much hotter than we had planned. By our last day it was over 90 degrees. Not cool, literally!
#2, The uniqueness of the Grand Canyon is 90% awesome and 10% difficult. You see, there is no water for play. Most camping situations have some sort of river, ocean, or lake to play in or around. Of course there is water at the Grand Canyon, but it’s at the bottom of the massive canyon! Since there’s no way our little ones could have made a hike down the canyon, let alone back up, water play was out. And so was our respite from the heat.
This actually forced me to consider an alternate ending, to our little road trip. On our third day, when the temperatures had risen into the 90’s, I took our little Dell-buntu Netbook down to the Park HQ, and piggy-backed on their WiFi. A visit to Travelocity found me a very low cost motel in Prescott. “Why Prescott?”, you ask. Because it was not a long day’s drive away, and it would take us through Sedona. Have you been to Sedona, AZ? You should! In fact, a trip to the Grand Canyon should include Sedona, every time.
So we ended up leaving the Grand Canyon a day early. We packed up on Sunday morning, taking our time, and hit the road well before lunch. I chose to take the casual, windy path. This showed us more of beautiful Northern Arizona. In fact, I think I fell in love with the state, by seeing the northern half. The upper canyon area above Sedona, near Slide Rock State Park, was just gorgeous. We’d love to stay in one of the lodges, and visit that area alone.
A short stop in Sedona, for t-shirts and ice cream, was worthy even though the 100 degree temps were uncomfortable. Hey, it’s a dry heat! Back on the road, we stuck to the state highway, instead of the large multilane freeway. Yes, slower, but more direct and prettier. Plus, we’d have missed the unique township of Jerome otherwise!
The Prescott Valley area was quite beautiful. So wonderful that I checked their county sheriff’s website for job listings, when I got home. Yeah, that nice. No, they’re not hiring my kind right now. We stayed in an America’s Best Value Inn that night, in Prescott Valley. It was the lowest priced place, on Travelocity. The quality of the place was reflected in the amenities. Yeah, it was on the cusp of being a dump. We did have the blessing of Papa John’s Pizza for dinner though! (There aren’t any on the Central Coast of CA, so we miss it.)
Being over 2 hours closer to our planned overnight visit to great ol’ friends, the Lunds, allowed us to not be rushed the following day. However, it was also the end to the beautiful northern Arizona views. Within an hour out of Prescott Valley, we were in the Arizona you all picture; flat desert. I did get to make a shot I’ve wanted for quite a while though. (See photo on the right.)
Our road trip slowly came to a close, first with the visit to the Lunds in Temecula, then stopping off at my parents in the VC the following day. Splitting up the long trek home was a worthwhile option. I highly recommend it!
Above all, we made great family memories and we supported the great state of Arizona!