Road Trip 2013: Day 14, September 12, 2013 (Happy Birthday Reagan!)

(click here for today's pictures)
Celebrating Reagan's 8th Birthday at the Grand Canyon
Waking up this morning, the kids were pretty tired.  Campbell was kind of awake when I asked her what color her toothbrush was (I get hers and Keaton’s confused).  She answered me “purple” and then said “don’t talk to me, I’m sleeping.”  A few minutes earlier, I had told Keaton who was the only one up to tell Reagan Happy Birthday.  I pointed to Reagan and Keaton shouted “no” at me.  Later I realized
that Keaton told me “no” because I had not pointed to the right mass sleeping in the floor.  A minute later, she found Reagan and said “Happy Birthday” to her.  Well, it was something like Happy Birthday!

This morning in the car, I asked the kids what their favorite thing so far had been.  Anderson said seeing Nonna and Pops.  Graham said he liked the muddy hike (Zion).  Campbell liked the monorial and Reagan said that Disneyland and “this” was her favorite.  I asked her what “this” was and she said “well, it’s my birthday, I have a good breakfast (oreo poptart), am wearing my apple earings and
found a dime.”  That’s the life!

With Annie on the movie, we zoomed through some beautiful countryside.  And before long, we were in red rock canyon.  The rocks were bright red and even went through 2 rock tunnels.  We passed out another snack for the last few minutes of the ride.  One thing we have noticed is that there is so much land for sale around here-make you want to open a bed and breakfast!

Reagan has spent the day counting how many time that people say Happy Birthday to her.  The count started in Disney when she was wearing her birthday button.  Of course if you say it multiple times then that counts so it didn’t take too long for her to get to 100 happy birthday.  

At some point the kids started talking about our old dogs, Belle and Bailey.  Anderson asked when Robby got Bailey and Robby answered him “1996.”  Anderson said “1996!” like he had never heard of something that old.  

The drive to Bryce was pretty-driving along a green valley.  We could tell that Bryce had many visitors just like Zion because there was a line to get in the park.  Thankfully, this park didn’t have mandatory shuttles (I really do not like buses-that is actually putting it mildly, I hate and abhor buses-though I will happily travel on a bus when I am old and it is my only means of traveling.  Robby just added though that I could travel on a bus when I am old and when my husband is dead)  We stopped at the visitor’s center to get some information, bathroom, buy an ornament and of course postcards.  Next trip, we will have to have a postcard budget.  I didn’t think ahead but in 4th or 5th grade our class collected postcards from each state.  Maybe the Dennie kids will do that soon.  That would really be fun to put on a wall in the school room.  

The entry to Bryce was pretty but not as impressive as Zion.  When you drive up to Zion, you are immediately surrounded by the beautiful rock formations.  Now Bryce is a different story.  Robby heard the park ranger suggest a trail when asked for a good trail for seniors.  Then Robby asked what was a good trail for kids and the park ranger suggested the same trail.  

We found a parking spot and then climbed up a bit of a hill and then we saw it-Bryce Canyon. Seriously, it was beautiful-different but beautiful.  The canyon is filled with rock like formations called hoodoos.  It was just oddly beautiful-not the emptiness of the grand canyon but full of those rock formations.  When we approached the trail, Keaton saw horses with riders on a trail.  She started clapping her hands and shouting “moo, moo.”  We still have a ways to come on her animal learning!

Now let’s tallk about the trail the ranger suggested.  Ha, ha, ha!  It was a short little trail into the canyon.  Steep and on the edge of the cliff!  First we went to the top called Sunrise Point and laid out a few rules to everyone (in a line, away from the edge, no running or being silly, yada, yada, yada) and we also gave Whitman a bottle (despite his jacket, I think that his bare legs caused him to be more cold than hungry)  Robby wore Keaton in the carrier while I finished giving Whitman his bottle. Robby also held Campbell’s hand and I held Graham’s hand as we traversed donw the edge of our Queen’s Garden Trail.

I didn’t think too much of having to come up the trail as old people zoomed by us-we were practically crawling down it.  Better safe than sorry is a good motto when you are responsible for so many others.  We went a bit (not the .8 miles that the trail goes) and stopped to take our back picture at a reasonable safe spot.  

Then I stayed back at a bench with Keaton and Whitman, while Robby continued down a bit with the others.  We were able to see them and Keaton happily yelled their names, yelled “hi” and made silly faces at them as we waited.  I could see Robby sat everyone down and take a group picture.  Then one by one he led them to the top of a little hill to take more pictures.  Then they started back up the hill.

When you got close to us, I had put Whitman on and we were ready to continue walking.  But Robby and the kids were not-they were pretty exhausted from that hike back up.  They rested for a minute and then we pressed on.  And after a few minutes, it felt like my heart was about to beat right out of my chest (I was wearing Whitman but still!)  We were all relieved to see the top of the trail and needed a drink back in the car.  We were pretty lucky that it was overcast and cool or we might just have died out there!

We then used the bathrooms and loaded up.  If anyone was watching us, I am sure they were pretty tickled since it took us about 20 minutes to load up-we had to change Whitman and Keaton’s diapers, put the coats up, put the carrier and stroller up, put the camera and tripod up, clean up the kids areas and collect trash, wash out the cups from this morning that had milk in them, refill them with a drink, pass out a snack, start the movie, set the gps and yes, Robby even trimmed a few of his fingernails! But the hope was that after all of that getting ready, we would be able to drive for awhile without stopping.  

Along the way, Graham asked “are we in a rusty town?”  He meant an old town and Anderson replied “yep, and people live in it.”  Robby wanted to know if they would want to leave here and Graham said “no, they don’t have good houses.”  We are pretty fortunate.

And we were pretty fortunate about our lunch stop.  We are in a little town and the choices were limited-McDonalds or a pizza buffet across the street.  It was 2:30 so no one was in the pizza place but Robby saw the buffet still out.  We figured it was worth a try since we did have to eat out for lunch because tonight would probably be sandwiches.  The man said that buffet closed at 2 but we could still eat it.  Robby said that was fine since there was lots of pizza out (well, enough for us anyway). So Robby started to pay, I heard him listing the kids ages so the man could charge us (they had a tiered system of kids prices-8 years old paid more than 6 years old and so forth-neat idea).  The man ended up not charging us for the kids since he wasn’t going to make more pizza.  Sweet-we all ate for 10 bucks!

The pizza was good and we had almost finished up when a bus load-I am talking bus load of Japanese tourist came in to the restaurant.  It was a small place to begin with but with the tourist inside the place was packed.  The worker man told the first few folks that the buffet was closed and they could order off of the menu but when he looked up and saw at least 30 little Japanese people in line, they quickly reopened the buffet.  And as we drove off, it was quite a site to see-a restaurant with not a single car in the parking lot but full of people.  

So as we were in the middle of NO WHERE, we hear those dreaded words “Momma, I’ve go to go poopoo.”  Nothing was around-absolutely nothing at all.  Robby put the pedal to the medal while I worked on plan B.  Thankfully, plan B was not needed.  We drove past a “scenic view” and it had bathrooms.  So Robby zipped across the other lane of traffic and came to a screachiing halt for Graham.  Campbell, our mimic, also said she needed to potty so along she came with us.

We walked into that “bathroom”-if you can really call it that.  It was one of those without plumbing “bathrooms.”  Graham saw that, he saw the flies, he smelled the smell and even though he was still grabbing his bottom, he said “Momma, maybe I didn’t need to poopoo, I just need to peepee.”  Ha! Nope, I made him sit despite his protest and he did his business.  By the time Campbell had finished, I had my shirt over my nose and has holding back gags.  I guess that bathroom was better than plan B-not real sure.

For Reagan though, that stop was better than our plan B.  Native Americans were out selling their jewelry and though we aren’t usually side of the road purchasers-we did let the big girls pick something out.  Reagan bought a necklace and Campbell bought a bracelet.  They were both so proud of their new jewelry-though Keaton was not as pleased.  I debated buying her something but she would just accidentally break it so we passed-some candy appeased her just as much when we climbed back in the car.

The three hours we had to get to the Grand Canyon really flew by and the landscapes that we drove through were so varied.  Right before the canyon is just meadows.  In those meadows was the Grand Canyon sign.  We let some of the kids jump out to take a picture.  And during the picture I sat in the car but I was laughing so hard that anyone outside of the car could have heard me.  Reagan poses like a model every picture that we take.  The other day she was on a rock with her legs all posed ready for a picture-I had to make her get down.  She was looking more 16 than 8.  But my Campbell is not physically able to stand still for a picture.  If her hands are not on someone else then they are waving around in the air.  Today as Robby snapped the picture she started pointing at him like she was shooting.  Robby told her to stop so she did the next logical thing-pulled up her skirt. She is a mess, mess, mess!

Only 10 percent of the Grand Canyon visitors come to the North Rim and I had in my head that it was going to be more desolate than it is.  There are lots of campgrounds, a lodge, and all different sized cabins.  We are in a cabin-I think it is the frontier cabin.  There is a smaller cabin which Robby toyed with getting but this one became available as he was booking yesterday and he got it.  We have 2 double beds and they even have a roll away in here.  There is a little bathroom and another little tiny (closet) sized room as well (perfect for Keaton).

But here is the good part.  As Robby was checking into the room, the lady said that we had the most coveted room here because our front porch faces the canyon.  He told her that he just booked it yesterday and she was very surprised.  The little cabin could not be more perfect-I think we might just sell our stuff and move to the edge of the Grand Canyon.  It is just gorgeous and I wish I was old enough to ride on that bus because in the morning I would wake up before the sun and set on my front porch and watch the sun come up over the Grand Canyon.  Unfortunately, God has not gifted me as a morning person so I will just sleep in my cozy cabin right next to the Grand Canyon as the sun comes up.  

Now moving into this cabin was a bit of a challenge.  When we stayed in a cabin on the South Rim, we parked right by the door.  Not today, we had to park in the parking lot of the visitors center.  There were people that could get you to the cabin but we sure didn’t need someone watching as we tried to load all of our stuff up so we declined.  We quickly consolidated into 2 bins, one ice chest and a bunch of stuff that could fit on the back of the stroller.  And Pops and Nonna will be the only ones to understand but that was a lot of consolidating.

After unloading, we followed the trail behind our cabin and just hiked on down the hill.  Straight down the canyon.  Poor Robby was a nervous wreck, more so than me.  But the kids have no concept of danger and Graham has gotten more and more antsy the last 2 days and can’t be still (he needs someplace to run, run, run but there aren’t many of those in the edges of cliffs!)  

I am talking we were walking on the side of the canyon-at one point there was nothing on either side of us.  Robby said that he wanted to take a picture but since he was pushing one stroller and holding Campbell’s hand and I was pushing the other holding Graham’s hand there were few pictures from that adventure.  The kids did great and so enjoyed the walk.  Though at one point, Keaton who was riding in the stroller looked over the edge and said “whoa!”

Tomorrow we plan on staying on solid ground.  After our walk, we ended up at the main lodge. People were everywhere watching the sun set and we sat for a minute looking out the windows.  Then we went to the little deli for supper.  The choices were limited but we found a piece of pizza, a huge bbq sandwich and elk chili.  It doesn’t sound like much but we really had the right amount of food and we even found some ice cream for the big party that was happening next.  

We found our way back to the cabin and it is dark, dark out here (and quiet-well, except when we are out walking).  We could even see the lights from the South Rim and Robby could see the blinking lights from the airport over there as well.  

Back in the room, we sang Happy Birthday to Reagan and had cake and ice cream.  I think that she enjoyed her 8th birthday and even said that it was the best one ever.  Then we put Keaton to bed and everyone played on their kindles until Keaton was sound asleep.  Everyone found their beds-the girls on the roll away, the boys in the floor, Robby in one bed and Whitman and I in the other bed.  I do not think these bed arrangements will last very long though.  I will let you know how things changed during the night.  

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