Monday, February 26, 2007

Meteors - Walnuts - Sunsets

What do meteors, walnuts, and sunsets have in common? These four seemingly disparate items all play a part in the end of the Arizona drama (and if you haven't spent any time with four young kids lately, you won't get the drama allusion) that was our southwestern trip.

Saturday - February 24, 2007

Another spectacular blue sky day in this other worldly area of the United States. The only thing left of our brief snowstorm are small puddles that evaporate into this parchment dry air minutes after the sun hits the pavement. Everyone is in good moods, their bellies are full and we are on our way to more parks. That junior rangers gig was so successful we are going to try it again.

We loaded ourselves into the Suburban and headed to, what we think, is one of the great wonders of the world. I first spotted Meteor Crater from the air when flying cross country about 20 years ago. I wondered how I had achieved the age of 40 and never heard (nor seen pictures) of it. It's still privately owned in the middle of cattle grazing land, flat for as far as the eye can see.

We missed the tour by minutes but walked the rim and tried to convey to the kids what this was, and how it happened. I think they got most of it, and while there was no badge at the end, it did hold their interest. Even the museum part (thank goodness for all those interactive displays), with all the newspaper stories about people who were casually having dinner when a meteor had the nerve to crash through their roofs.

We stumbled upon Walnut Canyon on a previous trip, and it has all the ingredients a young child needs to ensure terrified parents and grandparents (bringing great joy to some percentage of the participants). Walking trails without rails where a misstep means a plummet of several hundred feet to immediate death, the chance to encounter wild animals, and views that look so much better if the child is leaning over a precipice all the while proclaiming their emerging adulthood in phrases such as: "I'm old enough to run here, Vovo", and "I'm not a baby, I won't fall." Add to this the excitement of ice on the path and you have the makings of a Griswold vacation.

The added benefit, of course is the burning desire to do whatever it takes to complete the junior ranger booklet and earn the coveted plastic badge.

This is such an interesting and startling walk, first down long winding staircases from the ranger station to the valley where you can then circumnavigate what looks like a mountain peak stuck right in the middle of the chasm. On the way there are overhanging cave like dwellings to linger in, some with the soot of fires still blackening the stones. We imagined the original dwellers setting up house, and figuring out who got which bedrooms in these overhangs. Lots of opportunities for imaginations to run wild.

With the kids duly sworn, and tired from their trek, we told them we were going to look at more rocks. Dismay. Another 15 cent plastic badge. Breathless anticipation. I'm telling you they have really hit on something here.

Sunset crater is so unlike anything they had previously seen we were glad that we had saved it for last. With the lava flows, petrified skeleton like trees and weird colors you could imagine being on another planet. The kids were tired, we were tired, and the beds were beckoning. I think we wore them out, and the Pleasant Family storytime was shorter than usual.

Sunday - February 25, 2007

It is a long ride back to Las Vegas. To make it more interesting (we thought) we would head back through Sedona where there are MORE ROCKS. I've never understood the fascination with this town, and don't understand why it is on the "must see" map of the southwest. But there was one interesting side note:

Adam has a MIO navigation device that is quite remarkable, but sometime common sense should prevail. A case in point as we approached a clearly closed RT 89 (we could tell by the big barrier across the road that said closed) between Flagstaff and Sedona. Adam argued that MIO told him to take this road so he was going to. Kristin very astutely noted in regard to MIO: “IT doesn’t know the road is closed!” We went down the road, turned around 9 miles later and took the alternate route. The funny part was Adam seemed determined to let MIO plot our return north over the same closed road. This went on for about 10 minutes and two turn arounds til he finally looked at the map and yielded to what his lying eyes were telling him … too funny.

The highlight of the trip was a stop at a roadside junk stand (gift shop - sorry, my bias is showing), followed by lunch at a Jack in the Box where some young lady was having her baby shower. No kidding. We sidetracked through Jerome, the hilltop ghost town, that I imagine is more interesting if you actually stop and get out of the car.

Speaking of the car, we have a pretty comfortable 9 passenger Suburban, and even if you have NO imagination the potential for child interaction given the hours we spent in the car should be obvious. Plus even though I am not claustrophobic, sitting in the 3rd seat with a young child pressing against you on either side (because of the car seats they have to be on the outsides) gave me the heebie jeebies.

As we head into the sunset, on the horizon I see the the glimmer, the shimmer, and more adventure heading at us at 75 miles an hour. Las Vegas, sweet Las Vegas.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

So do you think it's a millenium baby flaw or a consequence of being identical twins that both your sons seems to suffer from lying eyes syndrome. I'm quite sure being the sister of those identical twins that if the road said it was closed and a machine said it wasn't, that I'd believe the road...but that's just me. Maybe it's time for us to take a road trip together, just our map and some very expensive gas.