We left bright and early Saturday morning from Casa Grande for home. Looking at maps I knew we were about 4 hours from the Grand Canyon, and about an hour of that was out of the way. Do I or don't I? The travels there didn't go super smoothly and I was not looking forward to the drive. But it's the Grand Canyon! And only an hour away from our route! So I said screw it, we're just going to do it. I'll regret it big time if I don't.
So in following that attitude I decided to take a little detour and drive through Sedona as well. I had heard it was gorgeous so I figured we're so close, might as well! It was so beautiful! And such a neat little town I definitely want to take a trip to again.
That drive was a lot more "out of the way" than I had anticipated and was very slow going but next stop, Grand Canyon!
It took forever to find parking but once we finally did I was so relieved! Best part is we got a free military pass for all of the national parks which is such a great perk. It would have cost us $25 to get in just to the Grand Canyon. We went in the south rim entrance and were told to drive to the Visitor's Center and check out Mather Point.
We had to walk a little ways but then came up to this. Brady giving Layla very important directions on how to not fall into the Grand Canyon. (There were rails. Thank God).
It was breathaking.
I'm not a heights person so I was doing my best to enjoy the beauty of it without being freaked out how far down the fall would be!
Looking like tourists as much as possible. And proof that Rascal was there as well.
The kids thought it was fun for like 10 minutes which I pretty much expected. Brady wanted to climb all the rocks and down into the canyon and Layla just wanted to eat a snack. I stopped and took SO many pictures. And clearly Brady was not having this one, ha!
Some nice volunteer offered to take our picture. I plan on blowing this one up for the wall, no? Oh well at least it'll make for a good memory!
They were much happier on the trail climbing the rocks. And the hot chocolates this morning were SUCH a good idea, mommy!
After a million pictures were taken we made our way back to the car to refuel the kids with snacks and drinks. We drove around the south rim to the east rim and the drive was spectacular.
Much better attitude wise after some snacks!
The view from every angle was just amazing!
Don't worry there was a grassy area just next to those rocks...and then a million foot drop. There were a ton of people standing on the edge of those rocks. No thank you, this was nerve wracking enough for me. And the sun, obviously in their eyes.
We kept driving and I would stop ever so often to take pictures.
Such a wonderful, beautiful place. That I will definitely bring another adult (Brian) along with should we drive there again, I kept telling them this was a visit of a lifetime and that'd they'd appreciate it one day. Ha.
We drove through northeastern Arizona as my plan was to stop at the 4 corners and then drive through southwestern Colorado to home. Northeastern Arizona is beautiful. It's like mini Grand Canyons a lot of the drive. BUT there is nothing out there. Nothing. Anytime I saw a gas station, I would fill up. I always kept at least half a tank of gas in my car at all times just in case. And I went about 3 hours without cell service so that was
terrifying fun. If my car had broken down there I would have been SOL. Thank God it went smoothly.
So back to our 4 Corners visit. It closed at 5 but I thought we would have enough time to get there. I have been wanting to go to the 4 Corners since I was a child. I have no idea why. I do get a little too excited about seeing new states so the idea of being in 4 states at the same time really enthralled me. Welll our little detour through Sedona and our time in the Grand Canyon made it so we were going to make it to 4 Corners at 7 pm. Umm that wasn't going to work. There were literally no towns nearby with hotels so the best we could do was pass 4 Corners and stay in Colfax, Colorado which was about 40 minutes from it. I thought about just skipping it but it's seriously something I've always wanted to do and knew I would regret as we literally drove right through it. So I said screw it, we're turning around in the morning and we're going! Like I said, feel free to call me crazy.
We left bright and early again and made it in record time! Layla decided she'd be a monkey at the 4 Corners. Ok. Sure.
There it is! 4 states at the same time! Colorado, Arizona, Utah (which I'd never been to!), and New Mexico (which I visited for the first time the trip to Arizona).
Some nice lady offered to take our picture for us. Much better smiles than the Grand Canyon one!
They had all of these neat Navajo stands where we bought some magnets. They were so sweet and remarked how much energy my children had and how cute they were as they were running the entire time. "I told them to get their energy out now as we had more driving to do!" They understood.
Aaand a quick selfie living out a childhood dream (yes, I am a nerd).
Next stop was Durango, Colorado. Such a cute little mountain town! Layla obviously enjoyed window shopping. We had about 6 hours or so until home this day so we decided to take our time and make as many stops as we wanted.
We stopped at Home Slice Pizza and had a giant pizza. That was delicious!
And mama got a delicious latte at an adorable coffee shop.
We spent about an hour and a half there and our next major stop (which was a slight 20 minute detour off the route home) was the Great Sand Dunes National Park
It looks so crazy as you're driving up. There are these huge sand dunes with these big beautiful mountains in the background. They're the tallest dunes in North America and they're so cool to see in person!
The kids were uber excited: SAND!!!
The snow runs off from the mountain causing this creek.
The water was a little cold but they had a ton of fun playing in the "ocean".
It was a little windy too!
They had so, so much fun running up and down the dunes and playing in the sand. They declared this the "BEST PART OF THE TRIP!"And so much cooler than the Grand Canyon!
Rascal had a lot of fun running in the sand too!
We spent at least an hour playing in the sand. They could have spent hours there but we still had about 3 hours till home so we had to head out because mama didn't want to drive through the mountains in the dark.
We played in the creek for a little while after that.
Definitely a place we want to visit again (and next time, definitely bringing Daddy!).
It was the perfect end to a crazy, wonderful, stressful, exciting, beautiful family vacation.
I'm still a little in awe that we saw and drove as much as we did. Definitely a vacation for the books. Brian got home a day after we did and I feel like I'm still playing catch up from the week we were gone. So glad we were able to make it work! Brian has a work trip in May to a town in Texas...hmmm we haven't been to Oklahoma or Texas yet.....! ;)