Years ago we traveled like we were hippies from the 60’s….a VW vanagon….wherever the road took us….wherever the wind blew…with no hotel reservations. We weren’t total rebels…we got maps from AAA.
We had kids.
It’s hard to be “free as a bird” with one in diapers, one barely potty trained and one who loved to flush toilets.
But, we were thrilled to have had our “wings clipped.”
We’re not in our 20’s anymore; as Sam would be quick to tell you. We’re old.
It’s not that fun to sleep in the car anymore….we did that recently when we arrived at a camp site too late in the evening to set up our tent.
We groaned, creaked and cracked for hours the next morning. Where’s the Motrin?
We like our comforts…bed…pillows…hot coffee. We have a 12 yr old, who is very fond of electricity and sleeping in a bed…usually ours. Regardless of our now deep seated desire for creature comforts, I wasn’t worried about not having hotel reservations for our upcoming trip adventure.
With just one son at home, we decided it was time once again to undertake that time honored tradition of a family vacation by car.
This time it wasn’t a “V- DUB” it was a rented KIA. We had casually mapped out our route. The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Mono Lake & Yosemite National Park. I wasn’t worried about making reservations.
“Who goes to the Grand Canyon in July?” I asked.
“It’s not like we’re going to Zion National Park on Mother’s Day….” (Now there’s a story I must share sometime.)
“There are plenty of hotels around Yosemite! It’s not like we’re going to be camping there.
They keep saying on the news that everyone is having a ‘Staycation’ this year. It’ll be fine…..”
Yes, I have your family booked for our last available room Mrs. Stuart.
As we were packing the car, Sam repeatedly asked me, “Where are we staying our first night, mom?” Lying through my teeth I said, “Outside the Grand Canyon.” Sam really wasn’t satisfied with that answer, he wanted the hotel name and confirmation number. But he was so excited that he barely slept the night before and we left at 4 AM the following morning. Outside Corona CA, after pancakes and Dramamine, Sam was out.
We left CA and entered AZ. Sam slept through gas stops, potty stops and a drive-thru visit to DQ.
At a scenic overlook when I got out of the car, I remembered one of our favorite sayings from the road…”But it’s a DRY heat…”
I found two lovely Navajo women there, selling turquoise jewelery. Decades ago at a similar stop, I bought a necklace with a three inch chunk of the stone. I didn’t find anything nearly as large this time.
All the way to Williams, Arizona, the Great Spirit in the Sky treated us to one His magnificent lightening storms.
In fact, we were followed all 6 days by fantastic displays of God’s pyrotechnics. Seems there was a storm just circling around AZ, UT, NV and Northern CA.
After we had been driving for sometime through AZ, I thought I’d better find us a room for the night. The Arizona AAA Tour Book was a great resource. The first hotel I called wanted $250.00 for the night. Hubby wanted to know if that room came with someone to scrub your back in the shower and then tuck you in for the night. I told the girl at the reservations desk that I would call her back.
As I continued to peruse through the hotel listings, there was a particularly loud clap of thunder. With the possibility of sleeping in the car becoming a reality, I quickly called one of my next choices….The Red Feather Lodge, just about 2 miles outside the south entrance to the park. I had to practically stand on my head in the KIA (not an easy task to be sure) to get cell reception. I finally reached reservations for the hotel by holding my head just so, while we barrelled along at 70 MPH.
“When would you be visiting us?” the girl asked. “Tonight,” I said.
She put me on hold so that I would not hear her laughing. After what seemed like an eternity she came back on the line and requested my credit card number. It seems the Stuart family had gotten THE last room at the Red Feather Lodge. www.redfeatherlodge.com
Sam was jarred awake by a deep rumble of thunder. He was so excited by the light show and preceded to refresh our education regarding weather, storms, lightening and thunder. There were fantastic jagged bolts of lightening every 5-10 seconds in the clouds in front of us. I tried in vain to photograph one of them; I finally quit and just enjoyed the show.
When we reached Williams, Arizona, Sam spotted a Pizza Hut. The Hut in Arizona is nothing like CA. They had a salad bar, you could pick individual orders of pasta, and the kids working there were very sweet. Sorry, if I’m stepping on toes. After our meal we headed for our hotel. The hotel was very nice and the staff accommodating. We got our luggage in the room and then headed for into the park for Sam & Hubby’s first glimpse of the Grand Canyon…live and in person.
It seemed like it was the first time I had seen it too. The ten minutes when I was a tween with Teddy and Grandma, was a long time ago.
(See Clustr Maps: Connect the Dots! Part I)
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