Mommy Traveling Pants

Family of 5 traveling the 50 states before they graduate. We are a close knit family who enjoys road tripping in our 9 passenger conversion van. We have been traveling since our kids were 6, 8 and 9.
Living in: Michigan, United States
  • Day11

    Williams AZ

    April 22 in the United States ⋅ 🌫 13 °C

    We got home and had a little happy hour while we made surf and turf for dinner. We had sparkling sodas and sangria with chips and salsa and guacamole. Grilled up some steaks and salmon and veggies. We had a nice dinner and ended the night with games. We played the game where you hold the device to your head and have to get the person to say what it is. Heads up or whatever. It was funny. We played for a long time. Then, Paul and the kids played the game like quiplash called phsych. They start with a phrase about one of the people in the game and you have to fill in the blanks with something funny and everyone chooses their favorite. They were laughing so hard. They had fun roasting Paul and his gray hair and such things. Paul was a good sport. I ended up falling asleep on the couch and going to bed while they played till late. I would hear them laughing then it would go quiet while they were typing, then laughs again. They had a good time.

    Today, since I am typing for yesterday now, we are heading to Sedona to look around and take a Jeep tour. Good Morning ...”and if I don’t see you later, good afternoon and good night.”
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  • Day11

    Grand Canyon

    April 22 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Off we went to see if there was more to see. We drove into the village where there were hotels and trains. We just kept driving. Paul spent the next hour humoring me because I was determined to see if there was more. “Hooonnneey, just keep driving.” Cheesy smiled followed that. “Pull over! Pull over.” Same hole different view. Though pretty. “Pull...never mind, same hole.” “Stop!” Same hole but this rock formation looks like a duck. It does! How cute. Nobody really cared about the duck. I showed Paul and Matthew said, “Dad, won’t see it. He’s not creative enough.” After some finger tracing and guiding his eyes, I think he saw it. He never even sees the taillight faces on the back of cars either that the kids and I point out all the time (Makes the drive to and from school more entertaining). He sees numbers and dollar signs. I see those, too but on receipts. Paul started getting tired of driving and I figured if I let him take a snooze in the back, I could go wherever I wanted. Ben hopped up and drove his first national park. I taught him how to drive with his future girlfriend or wife. Always say yes and smile. He obliged. “We’re stopping again?” “Honey. Smile. Say, yes dear.” Evil smirk. We were headed for one last stop at the East rim called Desert view. I will tell you that the drive to desert view is quieter, less people and great views. I highly recommend that.

    Ben got me to the Desert View while Paul slept. Ben was the only one who would get out to see it with me. He is so sweet that way. He is going to make some girl really happy. His heart is big. So he and I walked out to the lookout which had a balcony and a tower. There you could see a whole different view of the canyon which included the Colorado river and to the right, the Sahara desert. Amazing views. “Ben, lets climb the tower.” Side glance and a smirk. He thought it would be crowded. It wasn’t bad. Kind of cool. It was a winding staircase up to the top four floors. There was some Indian drawings on the walls. It was neat inside. We got to the top for about 30 seconds when Ben grabbed me by the shoulders with a disgusted look. He spun me around and said it warm and there is a poonsie smell up here. Let’s go. I started to laugh. It did smell. We giggled all the way down. They missed out because I think this was the best stop.

    We were near the East rim gateway which led us out to Flagstaff and back home. It was about an hour and 45 back. Ben got a taste of winding mountain roads. I had to keep telling him that if he is driving, he does not get to enjoy the views. He kept sneaking a peek to his left and the car would slightly veer. Hey! Once we got out to the highway to Flagstaff, Ben had enough. Paul drove the rest of the way. I would highly recommend doing this loop. I would start on the East Gate, no lines and drive out the South Gate. The views in and out of the East side are amazing. You would miss out if you don’t do this. Flagstaff is a cute little town. Full loop drive without stops is about 3.5 hours. I am glad we went the full way.
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  • Day11

    Grand Canyon AZ

    April 22 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Anyway, just a little honesty about family. After breakfast, we packed a picnic lunch and headed to the Grand Canyon. Usually, I am really good at researching how to attack the places we go. I did research the Grand Canyon but I could not get a good grasp of how to see it all. I know why. Honestly, it is amazing but there isn’t much to the park unless you want to do some major hikes and we weren’t too interested in climbing rocks. Usually, we are ambitious but I think we are all tired from all the activities. Our cabin is less than an hour from the south rim. When we got near, we had to sit in a long line which separates into 4 or 5 lanes to pay the 35 dollar fee. Unless you end up in the first lane which doesn’t spread out into other lanes. We sat in the lane while cars (plural) passed us by the dozens. Paul was getting more and more frustrated as he realized he chose the “sucker” lane. If you go, stay to the right as the lanes divide even if the sign says commercial vehicles stay to the right. It took us a while to get through.

    Once we got in, we drove toward the main area where everyone Was. It was crowded but not overwhelming. I have to imagine it is ridiculous in the summer. You have the choice to drive it yourself or take a shuttle. We are not much for being trapped in a tour. We walked to the viewing area called Mathers Point. We were startled by the scene before us. A rocky landscape in shades of reds and browns and greens that cause your body to gasp and hold tight to your loose items of clothing and photographing devices for fear of a stiff breeze sending them over into this vast hole in the ground. It was really hard for your brain to register exactly what you were looking at. Depth perception was not computing. You did know that this little chain link fence was your only safety net from a hardy bump from an unaware tourist or a stiff breeze blowing you over. Of course, you could see the idiots who think its a good idea to climb way out over the edge to get that selfie (while we record to make sure we get the action real time as he plummets to his death). We saw a small memorial stone over the fence on a ledge where some 18 year old lost his life. He or she had to have jumped to the rock where the memorial was and falling to their death.

    So, we walked along the fence for about a half a mile...looking at...well, the same whole in the ground. We were a little disappointed in the reality of what our expectations were of the Grand Canyon. I pictured the Brady Bunch going to the Grand Canyon and yes I tried to do the donkey thing down the canyon to an old ghost town. Hmph. Yes, they have a tour like that but it is a 5 1/2 hour ride down (10 1/2 miles). WTDonkey! Our hour and a half horse ride in Yellowstone was an “a**” breaker. I cannot imagine on a donkey. Who is the dumb “a**” here? Then you spend the night and go back up in the morning. My family would have killed me dead. No Brady Bunch family adventure. Matthew and Elizabeth said they pictured a big crack in the ground so maybe they were pleasantly surprised by the enormous hole. Ben...he just asked, “Where are we again?” He is usually a day late and a dollar short.

    We hopped back in the car to find a picnic spot.We had lunch with caribou wandering around us. We just saw a picnic table and stopped. Paul went to find a garbage can to throw away our garbage while we loaded the van again. He hopped in the van, pulled forward a bit and said, “See that archway right there? We just had lunch in a cemetery.” What?! Ew. That is weird. Strange place for a cemetery. What were the caribou eating in there? Ew.
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  • Day11

    Williams AZ

    April 22 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    Weather: 60s and beautiful

    States: Arizona

    Cities: Williams, Flagstaff

    Miles: 220

    Hours: 3 hrs 30 min (driving there, through, and back)

    Sites: Grand Canyon

    Restaurant:

    Hotel/Home: Lovely Little Log Cabin in Williams VRBO #1083110

    Movies:

    Audible: Resisting Happiness (get you thinking book- has a religious base- it is good)

    I am writing a day behind if you have not already figured that out. Once our days get busy and we aren’t driving, I lose writing time. Yesterday was our first full day in Williams at our cabin. It is really a lovely cabin. It has everything thing we need. I woke up before everyone, made my coffee and toast and sat out on the deck in the sun to write, have my coffee and enjoy the warm sun. Matthew is always my early riser so he came out with hot chocolate and sat with me. Eventually, everyone woke up. Paul made blueberry pancakes and bacon and everyone ate outside.

    I will say that these trips are not always perfect or don’t always go as planned (but most of the time they do, strangely). We were having some communication issues between us causing some friction. Teen angst. Parental ‘nagging”. Misunderstandings. So, last night before bed we ended up in a pow-wow to air our issues. We passed the peace pipe. Tears were shed. Somehow, Paul got his mail order Phd in psychology and was able to mediate the whole discussion. It needed to happen. That is what these trips are great for. Being in close quarters is a recipe for some aggravations but it gives us the opportunity to work them out and realize nobody has bad intentions. We are trying to teach them how to be good adults and they are trying to become those adults on their own. They have to fly and we have to let them. It ended well. Funny that a lot of it revolved around Elizabeth and I but we are never closer than on these trips. I always say that I love these trips because she hangs with me the whole time and holds my arm or hand everywhere we go. I love that. I am so proud of who these kids are becoming.
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  • Day10

    Williams AZ

    April 21 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    We didn’t spend much time at Hoover Dam before moving on to Williams where we rented a house/cabin for a few days. We plan to see the Grand Canyon and go to Sedona on another day.

    We drove through Willams, a little town founded in 1881. You can see the history in between the Safeway and the chain hotels though it is well preserved and looks like a little old town. The Safeway had everything you need. We loaded up on groceries and headed for the house outside of town. It is fairly secluded with a few homes dotted in the trees. We opened a large green cattle gate and drove up a long road driveway into the trees and found a cute little modern log cabin that looked just like the pictures. The inside is just as cute. We got unloaded before dark and started a chicken kabob dinner. Ahhh. Time to relax. Sort of. Oh yeah, since they were little, we have always hid jellybeans around the house. We didn’t do it at the hotel but i did it when we got back to the house. The kids still ask for them. So I obliged and hid them in the loft. It is still a mad scramble but now they tackle each other. They have fun.

    What a great trip we are having.
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  • Day10

    Hoover Dam

    April 21 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We said our goodbyes to Stone and headed toward Williams, Arizona via the Hoover Dam.

    I think the Hoover dam is cool. I am not one who needs the full internal tour dissecting the inner working of this monumental site but I do like seeing it. We got pulled over at the security check point to have our van opened up for inspection. Underwear falling out, smells wafting out and wrappers swirling out as the side doors open. I think they just wanted to see what the van looked like inside. If he had any intention of inspecting the car, it was a fleeting one after he looked inside. That would have been an all day job.

    We drove across the dam to a lot on the far side so we could walk on to the dam. The kids were not fully embracing this field trip nonetheless, I think they enjoyed seeing it. We got our “I’m in Nevada.” “I’m in Arizona.’ pictures. The two clocks on the dam were pointless to show a time zone difference because Arizona doesn’t participate in the clock change. Party poopers.
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  • Day10

    Esthers restaurant Las Vegas

    April 21 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    After mass, we headed to pick up Stone for brunch at another breakfast restaurant he likes in the Art district called Esther’s.

    Again, it was a trendy cute local restaurant with delicious food. All homemade bread, egg dishes, these to-die-for baked and fried red skin potatoes, pancakes, french toast and the likes.. We ate well in Vegas considering we thought that would be the worst city for food of them all. We said our goodbyes to Stone and headed toward Williams, Arizona via the Hoover Dam.Read more

  • Day10

    Roman Catholic shrine of the most holy

    April 21 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Weather: sunny and 80s and gorgeous (Vegas), 60s and beautiful (Williams)

    States: Nevada and Arizona

    Cities: Las Vegas and Williams

    Miles: 230

    Hours: 3 hrs 15 min

    Sites: Hoover Dam

    Restaurant: at Excalibur,

    Hotel/Home: Lovely Little Log Cabin in Williams VRBO #1083110

    Movies:

    Audible: Resisting Happiness (get you thinking book- has a religious base- it is good)

    Easter Sunday was perfect. We Packed up our room, grabbed a bite for breakfast and headed to mass on the Strip or behind the Strip, Roman Catholic Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer. That is a mouthful. We arrived early obviously because it is Easter and we are in tourist land and in Vegas. Three bad combinations for arriving to church late. Those who only go on holy days, those who go on vacation and those in Vegas who danced with the devil the night before and are trying to Holy Redeem themselves. Those were the ones sleeping off a hangover in the back. It was a large church. It filled up. It was an ok mass. Nothing special.
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  • Day9

    Vegas strip

    April 20 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

    We set off to explore some more places. The kids liked the Bellagio Fountains. Everyone was exhausted and had enough of the late night crowds. Now we are all in bed. Easter mass in the AM. This will be the second Easter mass Paul and I have done here in Vegas. The first one was terrible. It was the dullest priest. We are going to a different church, I think. Then we are having brunch with Stone again at one of his recommended restaurants. Such a great day.

    goodnight.
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  • Day9

    Venetian Hotel

    April 20 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We shuttled back to Aria and Ubered to the other end of the strip to the Venetian to meet Stone for dinner. I love the Venetian. Why? Because I love Italy. My homeland. Not really but I pretend. I love the Piazza in the middle with shops and restaurants and a sky that looks like you are outside.. We had dinner there at Mercato Della Pescheria. We had a delicious meal. We filled the table, again, with crispy calamari in Calabrian chili aioli, sautéed mussels in white wine pomodoro sauce, Italian meatballs, Tuscany board of meats and cheeses, Fettuccine Bolonese, a Mediterranean Seabass and a Mediterranean Seafood Risotto. We all shared everything. I also got my favorite, an Aeperol Spritz. Delicious meal, great ambiance and family time. Great to spend time with Uncle Stone, too. Stone had to get back to his dog and rest his foot.Read more

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