After Bryce Canyon, we drove down to Zion. Bryce Canyon is around 8000 feet above sea level, and Zion Lodge is at about 4300 feet.
The drive down was awesome. It takes about 45 minutes from the entrance gate to the Lodge. The entrance to the Park is sitting around 7000 feet. And the peaks in this Park jut up to 12000 feet. It is simply incredible.
We drove through a tunnel, then back and forth, back and forth on switchbacks in order to drop our altitude to the canyon floor. The tunnel was built so long ago, prior to large cars and buses. They only allow one direction of traffic in at a time. If we had driven in the right lane, like normal, we would have ripped the entire top off the bus. Our bus drove down the middle of the road.
It was a nice change - staying on the canyon floor as opposed to the rims. Up to this point in our trip, we had been standing at the edge of the canyons looking down. Now we had to look up.
We drove straight from Denny's Wigwam to Bryce Canyon Lodge. It's at about 8,000 ft above sea level. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing. Humidity does not exist. It is stunningly beautiful. I was in absolute heaven.
Ok, so our time lapse video doesn't get us all the way up to the canyon. But it's still pretty cool.
The first order of business was to eat lunch. We ate in the Lodge - it is the only dining option at the Canyon. I ordered the fish tacos - made with fresh Alaskan cod. They were different, different flavors than the tropical ones I am used to in Florida. But they were quite good. My nephew said the fish and chips were amazing.
The Three Sisters
John Ford's Lookout - This is where he would come, on his horse, and visualize his next film.
Look closely. Do you see him?
We had to join in on the picture fun...
The next two might be my favorite photos from the entire trip.
If you're planning a visit - do not underestimate the sand. You will get covered.
Thanks for following along today.
Now that we are back in the bus, we are going to relax and watch a John Wayne classic filmed in Monument Valley on our way to Lake Powell.
After we left the Desert View Lodge, the bus dropped the other 6 Stus off at the main Visitor Center. Our kids really just wanted to hang in the hotel room. What is it with kids and hotel rooms?
Anyway, we chilled in our room for about 30 minutes, then we got up in search of lunch. We walked to the bus stop and got on the blue line and rode it to the Maswik Lodge.
The Maswik Lodge
The Maswik Lodge has a cafeteria and pizza pub. I thought the kids would be cool with pizza, but they opted for other things. Riley wanted a hot dog and Reagan wanted a sub. The cafeteria was nice. I like having options and the ability to make the kids' individual wishes come true is nice. Especially when they have so little control on a trip like this one.
I felt instantly at home here. It reminded me of Disney. =)
We leisurely walked from the Maswik Lodge back to our room. We walked along the rim trail.
Allow me a second to talk about the rim trail... It's a paved path that runs along, you guessed it, the rim of the Grand Canyon. If I spent much time thinking about it, it would probably freak me out. I am not such a fan of drastic heights. I nearly freaked out and cried trying to climb off the roof of my frame shop. But that's neither here nor there.
Riley had no desire to walk near the edge. He kept me in between him and the edge. And that was fine by me.
As we were walking back up the the Thunderbird, we came across a house built onto the side of the cliff. (You can see the roof of it on the right side of the photo of Stu & Reagan leaning on the fence.)
It was just hanging there. A house. HANGING there, on the side of a CLIFF. Riley looked at me and said, "NO way are we going in there!" I said ok. Reagan, who was ahead of us, yelled back, "Hey! This house is a gift shop!" Riley looked at me and said, "Huh, a gift shop. We could go in and take a look." (insert parental eye roll)
We meandered in and out like this for about an hour. We ran into the other Stus. They were going to continue on exploring and head out Hermits Rest (a great spot at the end of the red line bus route). Our kids were done. They just wanted to go back to the room.
The Hopi House, Verkamps & The El Tovar
Before dinner, we walked around to a few different spots. We went into the Hopi House first. It is a beautiful, visually interesting building next to the El Tovar. Like the Desert View Watchtower, this was also architected my Mary Colter.
The kids got a kick out of the tiny door.
Verkamp's is just a bit further up the rim trail from the Hopi House. It has some cool historical artifacts in it, and (of course) more gift shop stuff.
We had a bit of time left before our dinner reservation, we decided to spend it in the El Tovar.
This was our last night at the Grand Canyon. In the morning, we will be leaving and heading to Monument Valley, then onto Lake Powell...
The name definitely fits. It is simply incredible and grand.
Our bus ride from Sedona to the Grand Canyon National Park was long. LONG. The kids were kind of losing their minds. Luckily we were in the back of the bus, and our tour group was not at capacity. The extra seats on the bus came in handy. We spaced out - each monster had his/her own row for a while. They listened to music and played on their iPods.
The first stop on ourmassive family vacation was Montezuma Castle.
We left Phoenix after breakfast. Our bus ride took us through some of Phoenix's suburbs. It was cool, but long.
I really had no idea what to expect from the Caravan trip. And since I didn't know, I couldn't fully prepare the kids. Reagan was ok. Actually, she was incredible. She and I studied parts of the southwest over the last few months, so she kind of nerded out on all the history and experience. It was awesome to see.
However, Riley was not so interested in the trip. He liked it. He loved it even. But he was not happy about all the time spent on the bus. And I can't blame him for that. We covered so many miles, we spent so much time on the bus.
We love to travel. Although our roaming souls often come back to the same places.