Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Dam - Grand Canyon

Parents usually don't think it is sweet when the first thing they see upon opening their eyes in the morning are four little eyeballs looking at them with enthusiasm and expectation. Grandparents do. I remember reading once that the reason grandkids and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy.

Thursday - February 22, 2007 - Leaving sin city in our rearview mirror, we Burger Kinged our way to Hoover dam. The 3 bench seats in the 9 passenger Suburban were seeded with at least one adult per bench reducing the internecine warfare opportunities dramatically. Since the kids had driven from San Diego to Death valley and across the desert already, the scenery did not appear to interest them as much as it did us. I guess at 70 miles per hour, if you've seen one desert you've seen them all. Having said that, A&K took a beautiful picture in Death Valley proving the previous statement false.

Upon cresting the rim of the canyon and seeing the dam for the first time, the little ones were suitably impressed. When we told them that we were going to drive over it, their eyes lit up. This could be exciting. The tour to the bottom and walking through the cave like tunnels to the turbines was interesting. Adam has a real interest and knowledge in electricity production, so it was nice having him there to explain things to us.

It was a clear sunny, very cool day, with a pretty strong wind gusting down the canyon. Adam took Jonathan to get the car and the rest of us decided to walk across the dam to up the thrill factor and be able to say that we walked from Nevada to Arizona. (When the kids saw that there was a full sized road across the dam the idea of riding across it seemed to lose some of it's luster. They obviously expected something more terrifying.)

Kat and I often accompany Jami (sometimes four adult hands and arms are required to maintain stability) but Kat was in the gift shop so it was just the two of us walking across. I had my first heart quickening moment of the trip when walking across the turnout on the Arizona side a fierce gust came along, and blew Jami off her feet. She started rolling toward the short wall and safety rails that form the top edge of the dam. She got to her feet and with a small smile waited until I came to her. In a couple of minutes Kathy joined us and our little "Jame" held our hands the rest of the way.

Adam picked us all up in Arizona, and we began our drive to our next stop, the Grand Hotel in Tuscayan, Arizona. We chatted about the time change and explained that they were going to give back an hour they had borrowed on the plane trip out. They had to think about that for a bit. Located about 1/2 hour from the entrance to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the rustic atmosphere and indoor swimming pool at the Grand Hotel seemed the ideal place to overnight before our canyon experience. We were rewarded with an average dinner accompanied by a moving performance of young native Americans dancing to the sounds and rhythms of ancient tribal music. It really was special, and we were enthralled.

After dinner we relaxed in the lodge type atmosphere of the hotel, playing board games with the kids and just enjoying being there and being together.

Friday - February 23, 2007 started off with a snow squall. Looking out from our toasty warm rooms, we thought that this could be a problem. Is the middle of February really the best time to be here? Why are we just about the only people in this hotel?

Somehow, miraculously, during breakfast the sun brought forth the most perfectly clear, moisture-free air, morning one could hope for. It was cool and breezy, but the views were spectacular.

I'll let the pictures do the talking:

One of the (many) things I was totally ignorant of was a program called "Junior Rangers" run by the National Park Service. I was astonished to find something our federal government does with my tax dollars that I am in agreement with. Upon entering a national park the little kids request from the park ranger a booklet that guides them through a scavenger type hunt. At the completion of their visit they turn in the completed booklet and are quizzed by the ranger. If they pass (they all did), and after taking a hand raised, sworn oath to protect, preserve and defend the habitat, they are awarded a plastic badge embossed with the name of the park. Pretty, pretty good.

After a full day at the Canyon, we motored on over to Flagstaff for an excellent Mexican meal and a much deserved night of rest, the little cherubs carefully tucked into their beds (following their "Pleasant Family" story), and the adults questioning their own sanity.

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