Friday, April 15, 2011

Snowy Spring Break Surprise!!!

This spring break we planned to take a couple days to go to the Grand Canyon.
Jeff has never been and I have only seen it for 1/2 hour before my family set up camp for what would be our last camping trip of my childhood. Rain flushed us out in the early morning hours and I've never been back.

Soooo Jeff and I drove out mid afternoon on Thursday and after 6 1/2 hours of gusty desert driving on the 40 we made it to Williams, AZ. We went to bed that night with visions of scenic vistas, hikes and a vacation filled with appreciating natures beauty.

We woke up the next morning and our hearts sank as we listened to the weather report of 2 days solid of freezing temperatures and snow....lots of snow....8 to 12 inches of snow.

Come to find out neither Jeff and I had checked the weather!

We had both been so preoccupied with all the things that we were doing to get on the road we never thought to go beyond the assumption that Arizona in the middle of April would be pleasant weather!!

So now what are we going to do???!!!

As we were discussing what to do Ashley kept interupting us with her foggy window pictures...which reinforced this trip wasn't going to be what we planned.

Saturday was forcast to be much worse than Friday so what could we do but get out the door ASAP and see what we could of the Grand Canyon.

At this point we focused on just making the best of it and counting our blessings throughout...

We didn't bring our chains (never had a clue we would need them) but we were grateful that we had just got new tires the week before, and I had spend the day before at the dealership getting my car all checked out.

We didn't have snow clothes but I was so glad I insisted that we all had one pair of pants....and except for Ashley each of us had one pair of pants!

Our jackets were sweatshirts jackets...but at least we had jackets!

On the way out of the little town we found a family dollar store (but nothing much was a dollar). They were selling shorts and summer clothes.  Finally we found some left over hats and gloves, they were only for kids with comic book characters and princesses. We bought 2 pair of kids gloves and one hat. We ended up passing them around the whole trip! Ha ha.

At the entrance to Grand Canyon there was a sign taped up saying

"No Visibility...No Refunds" 

Hmmm not a good sign.

The upside was we didn't have to pay the $25.00 fee because of Jeff's handicap placard.

We ran from the car to the visitor's center so we could find out more about the Grand Canyon.

We heard from the Ranger tell about how it was formed...we learned about the layers of rock that made it up...

We snuggled for warmth ;)

Then we ventured outside to see what we could see...



This is our Christmas Card picture of the view of the Grand Canyon....

There really is a big hole down there kids....


You just can't see it!

Taylor was secretly scared that one of us was going to fall in. That and this sign made it a breeze to keep everyone on the paths.  It didn't help that in every gift shop and book store we went into there was a new book that they were selling telling about all the instances of people dying by falling in the Grand Canyon.

A nice bedtime story I'm sure.

This was one of the first hotels they built to ferry up all the vacation seekers back when they started tourism....we were told to eat lunch here because the food was fabulous.

But being afraid of the fabulous price tag we would find for a family of five...

..we decided to go with the family friendly bacon burgers and such.

Since we couldn't see the Grand Canyon we decided to learn everything we could about it and made stops in the shops and museums and studios along the rim.

This architect made this chimney as a replica of the types of rock that are in the Grand Canyon from the smooth river rocks at the bottom all the way up to the mesas on top.  

On the walk back to the car snow decorated Taylor's Jimmy Neutron hair.

Ashley would swipe every area of snow that was starting to build up (look at her right sleeve)

Notice also her princess hat turned backwards because she doesn't like princesses anymore ;)

Jacob was more stoic about the whole thing...but just wait after awhile he was slinging snowballs with the rest of them.

We hurried back to the car because the snow was picking up more and more.

On our way out of the Grand Canyon we stopped by the IMAX theater and at least watched a movie of what we couldn't see.

We decided to cancel our hotel in the Grand Canyon because we didn't want to get snowed in. The next day was supposed to be much worse so we stayed in small town Williams another night.

There was no regular stores, movie theaters and the only restaurant that wasn't a mom and pop was Dennys next door to us. So we ate dinner at Denny's and then took advantage of the indoor pool and spa at our hotel.

This was another thing I was glad that Jeff insisted we pack at the last minute. So we got to use our bathing suits...never knowing it would be to warm up after a day in the snow!

The kids loved the pool and I have to admit it was fun to go swimming with them in the middle of a huge snowstorm. The drifts were piling up on those windows in the back.

Jacob showing us his swimming skills.

The next morning we awoke to even more of a winter wonderland. The hotel had a continental breakfast along with hot biscuits and gravy.

We got to meet lots of other hotel guests at breakfast. A good number of them were from other countries, a lot from New Zealand. They were there the same time we were and then off to another destination. They didn't get to see anything either but it would be much harder for them to come back!

I was cracking up when one of them had to ask me what the butter and sour cream packets were and someone else asked me about the gravy for the biscuits...she thought it was porridge (oatmeal). I was glad she didn't ladle up a bowl and try and eat it with cream and sugar. She would've had a shock.

Yep about 12 inches I think.

(Ashley loved it and never complained about being cold once)

We had quite a time digging the car out.

The whole family ended up helping some way or another.

At this point Taylor said "This isn't fun anymore."

Ashley and Jacob disagree. They thought it was lots of fun.

They were having fun trying to build a fort, and throw snowballs at each other.

(Who needs gloves when your sleeves go past your hands ;)

At about noon after the roads cleared some, there was a short break in the weather so we decided to venture out and drive to our next hotel in Flagstaff.

We stopped here first to get some maps and info and find out a bit about what was in the area.

By this time the kids were getting pretty stir crazy and the boys were a little out of control.

While Jeff was talking to the worker getting maps and stuff the kids were messing around playing with the rain sticks, walking like old people with the canes while being glared at by old people and repeatedly thumping the bench that was off center.

And of course trying on and trying out everything else they could get their hands on.

We ended up driving up the hill to check out the observatory. It had a great view but the road was a little windy and it was starting to snow again and I didn't want to chance it.

The lady said "Oh yeah someone slid off the road yesterday"

"But they're OK"

(this didn't make me feel any better)

I figured the kids would rather see a movie than hang out at the observatory anyway.

So we took the kids to see Hop after eating a late lunch at Olive Garden. The movie was actually better than I thought it would be.

During the whole trip the kids could be seen throwing snowballs at each other. They were such a bad shot Jeff taunted the boys as he was taking this picture and they still couldn't hit him.

Ashley especially could drum up a snowball from the smallest pile to try and throw at her brothers, gloves or no gloves. If one child got upset because another was fixin to throw a snowball at them I just reminded them that they probably wouldn't hit them, which was true they had horrible aim but lots of fun trying.

(we were scared they were going to hit a car or someone passing by and get someone mad)

The next morning dawned with beautiful clear blue skys...and lots of snow.

We debated driving back up to the Grand Canyon just to look inside but it was going to add 2 hours to our 7 hour drive so we opted to head to Sedona instead.

There was a couple of lookout points at the top of the mountain pass as we were heading down that had a wonderful view of the canyon.

It was just beautiful and we could see rivers flowing in the distance.

Thats the road we were going to drive down.

The drive was full of beautiful snowcovered trees sloped over the highway.

Then at the bottom we started seeing the red rocks that we saw in is Slide Rock Park.

and finally Sedona.

Our trip to the visitor's center gave us the tip to go up airport road and there we saw the most incredible view of the city of Sedona with the mountains in the distance. 

In the parking lot we changed into the rest of our church clothes as we watched the asain tourists in the distance taking photos.

Though they weren't taking photos of the view. They were taking photos of themselves in front of the bus they came on. We laughed as we drove away and they were taking pictures of the bus driver while hugging him.

The ward in Sedona was a small but mighty one. The little chapel was filled but we were told 1/2 of them were visitors.

We were greeted warmly by a number of people even though we were just visitors ourselves. I was amazed at how friendly they were and they even got Taylor to help pass the sacrament. It was fast Sunday and they invited visitors to bear their testimony. I considered it a couple of times but there ended up not being any time. A steady stream of wonderful testimonies given by their ward members took all the time they had and more. It was nice to see that what they might have lacked in numbers they more than made up for in spirit.

After church we changed into traveling clothes. The boys couldn't wait to get out of pants. Who knew that 50's would be shorts weather.

We stopped at this turn out to let the kids walk up some rocks that we saw people hiking on.

It was strange to me to see the snow sitting in the middle of cactus plants and desert brush.

Jeff and I helped Ashley climb up to the top.

(I loved looking at the steam coming off the ground in the background)

Jacob was proud that he climbed it himself.

We walked around downtown Sedona for a bit. Looked at the dirt shirts, candy stores and grabbed some lunch at this barbeque place before we hit the road for the long drive home.

I don't know if you can see it very well but the small cluster of rocks to the right are Snoopy rock. They look like Snoopy laying on his back....we'll it's easier to see when your standing in front of it :)

This was a famous church we saw on the postcards that we saw on our way out of town.

After 7 hours of driving including accidents (not ours), road closures and big rig trucks getting in everyone's way we were finally home.

Our prayer at the beginning of the trip was that this trip would bring us closer together as a family and looking back it definately did, just not in the ways that we imagined when we set out.

Here is the canyon we didn't get to see...

The waterfalls we didn't get to see...

the river rafting trip we couldn't go on.

So I was grateful for a little bit of time to help us reconnect when day to day life makes is feel so disconnected.

I was thinking isn't that how life is. How many times is the journey not what we planned or expected or perhaps even wanted. But, when we try to have a good attitude and have faith it can be better than we imagined and take us places we might not have ever gotten to on our own.


Costa Rica Baby! said...

Beautiful pictures Christine!!! Love the funny "vacation story".

AES said...

It looks like you had a great vacation despite not seeing what you went to see!

Piper said...

Love it- it turned out great and now you can plan another vacation "close to home" to actually see the grand canyon! ;)

Sarah Osborne said...

Wow! Awesome spring break! Your kids are great sports :) I'm so glad that the chiropractor was able to help Taylor. But holy cow, that boy got injured :( That is such a bummer that he's out for the season.