My Life: Summer Travel Part 2 - Utah and Nevada

Part 1 of this post describes the first four days of our adventures in Arizona.  Click here.

Day 5 - Zion National Park - The Narrows

After driving in from Arizona, we knew we wanted to hike The Narrows in Zion National Park.  So we drove through the scenic road within the park and eventually arrived at the Visitor's Center.  We didn't really know what to expect, and we got information from a park ranger who suggested visiting an outfitter to rent neoprene socks and walking sticks since the water can be cold and the bottom is like walking on bowling balls.  So we headed into town, which is literally right outside the gate of the park. and not only got neoprene (like wet suit material for those unfamiliar) socks and walking sticks, but we also got water shoes too! 

This was one of the most incredible hikes I've ever done.  In most cases the water was up to ankle or mid-calf height.  We had taken the shuttle bus out to the stop for the hike, then hiked the paved trail for about a mile, and then enjoyed hiking up and back in the canyon.  Could we have done it in normal sneakers? Sure.  But the warmer shoes allowed us to be more comfortable and really enjoy, rather than worrying about cold feet!

Day 6 - La Verkin, Kanarra Falls, and Toquerville Falls

Instead of staying right in the town immediately outside of Zion, we selected an airbnb in the nearby town of La Verkin.  Day 6 was originally earmarked for a day trip to Bryce National Park.  But the kids were exhausted from many late nights, and we were off to a late start in the morning.  Also, our hosts had a book in the apartment with some pictures and instructions for some more local hikes. 

That morning, Kay knocked on the door and delivered a bag of apricots hand picked from his tree in the front yard!  So we got to talking, and ended up deciding to do two local hikes.  One to Kanarra Falls, and one to Toquerville Falls.  For the first, it was another mile or so of hot desert hike, and then a hike similar to the narrows, walking in and out of a rocky creek. ending in a shorter narrower canyon, that was like a cross between Antelope Canyon and The Narrows.  There was a waterfall and a scary metal ladder that the kids and I climbed to further explore a natural rock slide!

Toquerville Falls was in a super remote area that can really only be accessed by ATV, which our host and his friend offered to take us to, and we couldn't refuse!  Once we arrived, we enjoyed the natural swimming hole.  At the end of the day, we got to watch as our host harvested the chicken eggs we had been enjoying for breakfast during our stay.

Day 7 - Las Vegas - M&M World, Coca Cola Store, NY NY Arcade, O Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio

We arrived in Vegas and checked into the hotel, then spent some time on the computer researching and purchasing tickets for a show later that night.  We explored M&M World and the Coca Cola Store which were down the block from our hotel.  Then we met up with my college bestie and her family whom we vacationed with 2 summers ago in Colorado.  They live in LA, so Vegas was just a road trip for them that morning.  

The boys enjoyed the game room at the NY NY Hotel, and we all had dinner together.  Then their family went to bed, and our family went to see O Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio. It was an incredible experience, with acrobatics in and out of the water, and a dynamic stage that transformed between covering the water, to being deep enough to allow dives from great heights.  It was only my second cirque show, the first being one my parents took me to on our trip to Vegas in 1995.  It was unforgettable, and I'm grateful I was able to pass that unforgettable experience onto my children.

Day 8 - Hoover Dam and Las Vegas, The Orleans Hotel

On our final day of vacation, we explored the Hoover Dam with our friends.  I think if I had known more about it, I would have wanted to plan some water time on Lake Mead.  Now I know, and will plan to explore should I return to the area.  We had planned to return to town and explore some of the hotels.  On the way into town, our friends' eldest wasn't feeling well, so we broke plans to spend time together.  My family saw a billboard for Incredibles 2, so I used my Flixster app to purchase tickets for the next showing.

The movie theater turned out to be inside of a ginormous off-strip casino called The Orleans.  And after the movie, we followed the signs to the Bowling Alley that we'd seen on the way in.  It was the biggest bowling alley I've ever seen!  70 lanes!  And that was on the second story of a part of the hotel.  Unreal!  We bowled a game together, and then decided to stay for dinner at the buffet for the full Vegas experience!  It was fun to explore this off the beaten path Vegas spot.  Our next stop was to check out Circus Circus, but the timing didn't work out for us to see one of their free shows, and we were kind of done by that point, so didn't do the rides or games.  We did end the day with a beautiful sunset on the way back to our hotel!

Day 9 - Travel Home

We woke up and had breakfast in our room as we had every other day of the trip.  We arrived at the airport only to find out our flight had been cancelled!  This had not been communicated to us prior to arrival at the airport, so we got in a short line, which ended up being long because it wasn't moving.  I called the airline in parallel, and received the 30-45 min call back before we reached the front of the line.  The airline had put us on another flight with another carrier approximately an hour later, so we were able to make it home on the same calendar day as originally planned.  In hindsight, I think it was just one final adventure to make it exciting to get home.

My Life: Summer Travel 2018 Part 1 - Arizona

Day 1 - Flight to Phoenix, Cosanti, Arizona Science Center, Taliesin West

This year's trip took us out West.  We flew into Phoenix late Thursday night.  You can see how I rocked baggage claim in the middle of the night when we arrived early Friday morning!  We spent our first day exploring Scottsdale, AZ, with a stop at Cosanti to see the wind chimes by designer Paolo Soleri and a visit to the Arizona Science Center.  We concluded our day with a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, which was just as I remembered it from when my parents took me in 1995!

Day 2 - Sedona

Day 2 was spent exploring Sedona.  We started off the day at the Chamber of Commerce to get some information about hiking.  We wanted a hike with rocks and water, so after a mile or so in the incredible heat of the Baldwin Trail, we were rewarded with the cool waters of Oak Creek and the vortex near Cathedral Rock.  I have to say, I'm definitely a believer in and senser of the Earth's energy, and my family definitely got back in the car happier.  We finished our day with an off road jeep ride, where we were blessed with a driver who also knew how to handle my camera, and was able to get some lovely sunset family photos of us!

Day 3 - Grand Canyon

On Sunday, we explored the Grand Canyon.  First we biked around on the South Kaibab Trailhead.  We were so busy stopping to enjoy the sights along the way, we didn't even make it out to Yaki Point!  After we returned the bikes, we stopped in the General Store within the park for some snacks and drinks.  We finished up the evening taking the shuttle bus out to Maricopa Point, walked to Powell Point, and finished enjoying the sunset at Hopi Point.

Day 4 - Antelope Canyon, Kayak Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend

Lower Antelope Canyon was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.  It was a good almost hour (with stopping to take many photos along the way, of course) of walking through seemingly endless twists and turns of incredible colors and rock formations in this incredible slot canyon.  We spent the afternoon kayaking on Lake Powell, and the evening enjoying the sunset at Horseshoe Bend.

Part 2 of this blog post, highlights our adventures in Southern Utah and our road trip conclusion in Las Vegas!!  Click here.