Going to double-up here again!
We hit the ground running that morning. The sooner we could leave, the better…because we had about a 4 hour drive to the Grand Canyon and we wanted to have some time to enjoy it.
The clear plastic bins survived…but we had quite a few more bags than when we came. Hmmm…
As always, we tried to keep things organized as we packed them…but there’s always that last 20 minutes where you are just stuffing things anywhere you can find room. We knew we needed to stay in a hotel, after leaving the Grand Canyon, since we would still be between RVs, so we also had to keep a few bags separate for that. And we needed to be able to reach them easily. I’m talking plastic Walmart bags full of stuff, not those “fancy” clear bins. This is who we are now…
My mom snagged this picture and I’m including it because it cracked me up. It perfectly describes how we were feeling when the bellman arrived to get our “luggage.”
But we kept our chins up and put one foot in front of the other.
You know it’s bad when the bellman asks YOU to take a picture of him with the cart with HIS phone! But seriously, I can’t say enough about this guy. He worked SO hard to help us at the room and the car. It takes a village to raise The Raabs! Thank you, Carlos!!!
We said a tearful goodbye to my parents and to Vegas and headed east, for the first time on our trip…
On our way to Arizona, we passed through some crazy storms. I was so worried that the weather would be bad and change our experience of the Grand Canyon. This was going to be the climax of our revised trip…and it’s also something I waited to see my whole life.
Crossing the border, our watches didn’t change. We were stumped by this, but quickly were distracted by watching the temperature drop! It went down to 65 degrees, at one point! This was a HUGE change from where we had been all week!!
As we started approaching the road into the the Grand Canyon, it was lined with trees and gave us an instant sense of home…in the woods. It was sweet.
A few minutes later, we passed a digital sign that said the wait at the park entrance was up to an hour.
We’re newbies. We weren’t expecting that.
It was already about 12:30 and we still hadn’t eaten lunch. We were feeling a little stressed until we passed another sign that listed an AM radio station to turn to for info on the park. It talked about a free shuttle that picked up in the little town right before the park entrance! And with our National Park pass, it was free! Less than a 20-minute ride and they drop you off right at the Visitor’s Center! Score!!
After lunch, we hopped on the shuttle.
Here’s a picture of us (and some kind stranger’s finger): 😉
WE MADE IT!!! Just even getting this far felt like an accomplishment. 😉
It was about 85 degrees and breezy…just gorgeous. We decided to hike up the orange path after checking out the Visitor’s Center.
We all thought this was such a cool part of the display, especially since – just a few days ago – we were on the other side at the Hoover Dam!!
As we started up the path to the first overlook, it all felt so surreal. Everything we had been through, leading up to this moment. It’s uphill and then you reach the steps that take you down to the railing…and then it just…appears. There is it, the Grand Canyon. And you cannot believe your eyes.
I just stood there and cried.
I’ve seen thousands of pictures of it in my lifetime. I just watched a movie about it in the Visitor’s Center. But nothing compares to standing there. It was a really special moment for our family.
We stayed a few hours, hiked, took pictures, and soaked in all the views. But we had another 4 hour drive ahead of us to get close to Mesa for our appointment in the morning. It was hard to say goodbye, but we are thankful for the memories…
After driving for an hour or so, we thought we should start looking for some dinner places. Remember how we thought the same thing about hotels, the last time we were in Arizona?? No surprise…the same thing happened! We drove another hour and a half before seeing anything! Luckily, there was a BEAUTIFUL sunset keeping us distracted from our rumbling tummies.
All the sudden, in the distance, we saw a Sonic! Like a mirage! When we pulled off, there was nothing else around besides that and a casino resort across the street. We were really hungry and really tired. Joe suggested we check out the room rate at the hotel. This way we could get to bed earlier and only have an hour and a half to drive in the morning.
With our AAA membership, we got a great rate on the room! And they had several restaurants there! We pulled out of Sonic and into Cliff Castle!
After checking in and taking our “hotel go bags” up to the room, we went downstairs for a late dinner. Johnny Rockets – yum! They also had this at our hotel in Vegas, but they broke our hearts when we found out they didn’t carry malt milkshakes. But Cliff Castle?? Malt, baby!! ❤
Our tummies were full and we were ready for bed before another long day…
In the morning, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet (nothing like at Paris, still yummy!) and a slow morning. The hotel had free wifi! Woo hoo! So Joe offered to take the boys to the arcade and pool, before we left, so I could work on the blog. What a guy?! ❤
We packed the car and headed for Mesa.
The week before, when we were in Albuquerque, the boys got into a conversation with our waitress about cactuses. She said, “Oh, you would have to go to Arizona to see the saguaro cactuses.” These are the tall, cartoonish ones that most people associate with the word, although there are tons of different cactus varieties, as we’ve learned!
Anyway, this slipped my mind until we started getting close to Mesa and they just appeared on the side of the road!! I got emotional about it! We never would have seen them, if we didn’t have this appointment with Cruise America! What an unexpected blessing!! ❤
As much as I loved seeing the cactuses, I did NOT love watching the temperature climb back up. The Grand Canyon spoiled us!! Here’s a picture to prove it.
Imagine you have 4 hibachi grills surrounding you . Yeah, it’s hotter than that! I thought my flip flops were going to melt to the ground!
We finally arrived at the pick-up location. It was a little bit like the rental car experience, but after an hour and a half, we officially had the keys to another RV to get us home!
This one, for sure, can handle the name “Rigby” – it seemed fitting. It was 6 feet shorter than Eleanor…but more on that later. You get what you get and you don’t get upset!
It was 5:00 pm, and things were about to get interesting…
We had to get back to Albuquerque. The shop where Eleanor (and the rest of our stuff) was opened at 8:00 AM the next morning. The rental car (that was still filled with stuff) needed to be returned at 11:00 AM, about 15 minutes away from the shop.
Albuquerque was about 6.5 hours away. We decided to just start driving and see how we felt. Joe and the boys were now in Rigby and I followed in the rental car. As much as I loved the chance to drive the Explorer, this is not how I would have wanted to do it. It was hard to be separated. We were sad. But you gotta have grit…
Thankfully, the drive out of Mesa was absolutely GORGEOUS! I couldn’t help but snap a few pics (when it was safe)!
I can’t say enough about the mountains in the southwest. They bring me such joy and peace.
Joe and I checked in with each other every hour or so. Iced coffee to the rescue! After stopping a few times for gas or potty breaks, we decided to keep on truckin’ into Albuquerque. We were doing fine and adrenaline was doing it’s job. Plus, we were nervous to leave too much driving for the morning, since we had so many deadlines to meet.
At our last rest stop, we found a Camping World right off the exit into Albuquerque. Perfect. We could pull in there late, sleep, and head to the shop first thing in the morning.
Now 12:30 AM, we pulled in their parking lot, but noticed it was all gated off. Hmmm… We pulled around a little further and eventually saw a sign that said, “No Overnight Parking.”
Sometimes these things (Walmart too) vary from state to state. And this happened to be one of those. Cool. Cool, cool, cool.
We turned around and got back on the road to look for a Love’s truck stop, which seem to be everywhere. When we found one, there was only ONE space empty among 40 that were packed in tight with tractor trailers. The noise was UNBELIEVABLE! Strike two.
Joe did a quick search and found a Cracker Barrel RIGHT BY the RV shop. We drove over there and it was like a beacon of light! 😉 There was a big sign for RV parking with designated spaces. Thank you, Jesus! It was well lit, quiet, and empty. Time check – 1:00 am.
We parked and passed out.
We realized our sheets and pillows were still with Eleanor, which we could not get to until the morning. Adapt, proceed, and overcome.
You can’t make this stuff up…
But the silver lining was that it had dropped to 76 degrees. We didn’t need to run the generator (yay!) – it was perfect camping weather. We fell fast asleep. Whew! What a day?!
Goodnite, Albuquerque! Well, I guess, Good Morning…
|You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all… |
– Nehemiah 9:6