S: To Arizona and Back: The Summer of 2011
BC: Love you Forever
FC: Arizona 2011 | Arizona 2011
1: The journey begins... | Grandma, Hannah, Ethan and I got up early on July 5th, 2011 to start the long and exciting trek to Chandler, AZ. I was given the opportunity to complete part of my physical therapy education at East Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Mesa. We packed the Tahoe and left Grandma's house by 7 am. We were given this amazing chance to see the southwestern United States and we took full advantage. From Kansas to the Pacific Ocean, we had a lot of adventures along on old Route 66. Our first stop, after the Oklahoma border, was the Oklahoma City Federal Building Memorial.
2: After a quick photo op at the Oklahoma Welcome Center, we kept going on to the Oklahoma City Federal Building Memorial. Hannah grabbed her camera and documented this memorial in her own style.
6: Texas Welcome Center July 5, 2011 After Oklahoma City, we turned west onto Route 66. This is the Texas welcome center on the way to Amarillo.
8: Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, TX July 5, 2011 | Just west of Amarillo, on the south side of the road there is a field full of nose-down Cadillacs. We grabbed our spray paint and got to work leaving our mark at Cadillac Ranch.
10: The Big TEXAN | By the time we were out of spray paint, everyone was hungry so we headed back into Amarillo to the Big Texan to eat. There was a big stage in the middle of the restaurant with a timer behind it. If you are able to finish the 72 oz. steak, you don't have to pay for it. We saw three people try, but no one could finish. The kids got cowboy hats and cups and a trio of cowboys sang to us at our table. Grandma and the kids got to ride in a Limo back to the hotel. I was so excited they got to ride in a limo that I forgot to take pictures AND forgot our leftovers!!
11: After the Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan, we all went for a swim in the pool and hot tub at the Amarillo Hampton Inn. We were excited to see what adventures we could find in New Mexico and Arizona the next day.
12: Sandia Peak Tramway Albuquerque, NM July 6, 2011 | Sandia Peak Tramway is the world's longest aerial tram. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to ride! The ascent took about 15 minutes. At the top was beautiful views and expensive food. Ethan did NOT want to go anywhere near the edge. | Ethan stepped too close to the cactus
14: Continental Divide | July 6, 2011 | After a quick photo op and a tiny fight, we continued on toward our hotel...
16: Wigwam Motel | We spent the night of July 6 in Holbrook, AZ at the Wigwam Motel. The Wigwams were these little concrete tee-pees with two beds, a tiny bathroom and an air conditioner. It was fun to stay at the place we had seen in Cars SOOOO many times with Ethan.
17: We went to dinner at a little Mexican restaurant and saw this sign right next door! During dinner, the electricity went out and we saw a Double Rainbow!!
18: The Grand Canyon
20: We arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park on the morning of July 7, 2011. We walked around the Grand Canyon Village, ate lunch in the cafe and finally checked in to our room at the Yavapai Lodge. After dropping off our suitcases, we jumped on a bus and rode around to different viewing areas. Hannah was fearless, sitting and standing and climbing on the edge of the canyon. Later, while running to catch the last bus back to the Village, she tripped on the sidewalk and skinned her knees and elbows. We were immediately surrounded by people from many different countries offering band-aids and alcohol wipes. I was just glad she didn't trip while standing on the edge. Next stop, Chandler, AZ.!
22: We Made It!! | This was our temporary home for four weeks in Chandler, AZ. Thank you, Karen and John!
24: Fun in the Sun!!
25: Grandma, Karen, Hannah and Ethan were able to enjoy HOURS of Arizona sunshine while I was working at the rehab hospital. They spent later afternoons in the pool, went shopping and spent some days with Kyttra and the kids.
26: Canyon Lake & Tortilla Flat | July 16, 2011
27: On this sunny Saturday, we jumped in the Flex and Karen drove us all up the windy, curvy, DIRT road to a beautiful view at Canyon Lake. We then went on to Tortilla flats and were able to touch the giant Saguaro cactus! Then back down the other side of the mountain for Mexican food. We took the highway home.
28: Jerome Grand Hotel | July 23, 2011
29: We drove up the windy road to Jerome, AZ to the Grand Hotel. It was once a hospital that served the mining community in the 1920's and remains mostly unchanged. We ate in the Asylum restaurant, and on the way out, Hannah captured a ghost in the elevator shaft! After lunch, we parked the Tahoe and visited the artist's shops up and down the roads of Jerome.
30: Slide Rock State Park | Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona
31: After lunch and shopping in Jerome, we drove about 30 minutes to Slide Rock State Park. We searched for about an hour before finally finding a tiny place to park the giant Tahoe along the tiny mountain road. We then had to walk about a mile, dodging oncoming mountain traffic, back to the sliding part. We all took a turn in the icy water with the thousand or so other visitors. | I am glad we got the chance to go.
32: Cliff Diving! It took a little deciding, but after sitting on the edge, pondering the height, Hannah and her new friend Brandon decided to take the 30 foot plunge off the side of the cliff. She only did it once though. At least we weren't still at the Grand Canyon! On the way home we were stuck in traffic for hours, but at least we had a beautiful view.
34: Party at Satur-Dave's!! | Darby | Fletcher | Leo | Kyttra | Old Friends | Grandma and Karen
35: We loved hanging with the Burge's on the Arizona weekends! Swimming in their pool, introducing the kids and even waiting an hour (or more) for pizza at Grimaldi's. | Burge Fun
36: S c o r p i o n H u n t
37: At the base of San Tan Mountain, armed with only a black light and a bottle of water, we set out on a scorpion hunt. We saw lots of the tiny critters on our mile long hike. The best part about the trip was winning the free admission tickets to Wet 'n' Wild Water park in Phoenix! | Friday, July 29, 2011
39: On Saturday, July 30, we used our free tickets to Wet "n" Wild Phoenix. we arrived just as they were opening and raced the crowd for a good seat. For the first two hours there were no lines at all for the big slides, but after lunch the wait was up to an hour! We had a good time sliding and swimming, then drove home to take a nap!
40: California here we come!! After crossing the border to California (we survived the desolate desert of western Arizona) we stopped to take a photo of the mountain view. This was about an two hours away from Oceanside, CA.
42: Oceanside, CA | August 5th and 6th were spent on the beach of the Pacific Ocean. We had a little room in the Motel 6 only a few blocks away from the beach. Our beach was lined with smooth, colorful stones. the temperature was a cool 78 degrees which made the water temperature about 60. None of us wore enough sunscreen...
43: The kids rode their boogie boards most of the second day on the beach. We were able to walk out on the pier and eat burgers and shakes at Ruby's. We even saw a pelican and a shark caught by a fisherman!
45: Ruby's at Oceanside, CA
46: Las Vegas, baby!
47: After leaving sunny California, we stopped for an afternoon adventure in Las Vegas! We rode the New York, New York Roller coaster, toured the Luxor (can't wait 'til Hannah's 18th birthday) and the MGM Grand and walked around 118 degree downtown Vegas in August. Can't wait to go back!!
48: On the afternoon of August 6, we left Vegas and headed north toward the Extraterrestrial Highway. Ours was the only vehicle for over 100 miles as we ventured toward Area 51. | Area 51
49: We slept in a trailer at the Little A'Le'Inn near Rachel, NV. After some alien burgers and souvenir shopping(and an interesting encounter with some locals), we braved the lonely night to try to spot a UFO. Ethan and I saw something flying overhead...
50: After the night in Rachel, NV, we took off toward New Mexico. We spent one night in the middle of NM(only to sleep), and then continued on AALLLL the way home to Wichita. A few miles from the Oklahoma border, we ran into a tornado type storm. Billboards were snapped, semi trucks overturned and crazy wind and rain that stole the driver's side windshield wiper! As we emerged from the storm, we saw a rainbow. It was a great trip, but it was wonderful to see that Kansas border! | Almost Home!!
51: Hannah, I fell so lucky to have been able to spend this incredible vacation with you. Ever since you were born, I've wanted to show you the world. I'm happy to have traveled the southwestern United States with you. Someday... New York. I love you forever, baby! -Mom