Road Trip- Our Family Quest For Summer Continued!
Our western adventures commenced anew after a restorative night at the Historic Cameron Trading Post and Motel. I was feeling a bit better because the black interior of the Truckster had been swept clean of the neon orange crackers that had been spilled and crushed. The kids were happy since their devices were fully charged and their snack supply had been replenished. My husband was in a good mood because he got to sleep on a couch alone in the living room of our motel suite, thereby avoiding the inevitable constant kicking when he snored. Relaxed and refreshed, our family quest for summer continued as we headed for the Grand Canyon.
We were about 15 miles into the desert when my daughter noticed a funny smell. Assuming it was our son’s shoeless feet, we ignored her until we all began smelling it. That’s when we noticed that the light on the dash indicating our emergency brake was still engaged glowed brightly. There aren’t many places to pull off in the middle of nowhere, but we quickly created our own and just as quickly unloaded the van as the brakes smoked and sizzled. My husband confiscated everyone’s recently filled water bottles to douse the burning brakes and we stood in the 100-degree heat watching for rattlesnakes until he deemed the Truckster safe to re-enter. My husband knows less than nothing about cars, so this was really a faith walk (or ride!).
About 30 minutes later, we arrived safely at the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. This national treasure is 277 miles long by river, 18 miles wide and a mile deep. The sheer enormity of the canyon is staggering, giving a sense of being consumed by your surroundings. It is profoundly inspiring. We stayed on the rim during our visit, although there are many opportunities for exploration. Hike the canyon, raft the river or camp the back country if you have a more adventurous spirit. Stay in the comfort lodging on property and shuttle to your destinations if you prefer a more relaxed approach. Whatever you choose, you’ll be awed by your surroundings!
We left the Grand Canyon and continued to the rootin’, tootin’ town of Williams, Arizona. This charming whistle-stop is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon and offers travelers six blocks of historic Route 66 food, fun and memorabilia. Hop on the Grand Canyon Railway, get a picture with Elvis, or wait until sundown for a genuine cowboy street show shoot out! My son acquired a much sought-after cowboy hat Williams and considered our trip a bonafide success upon its purchase!
Getting our kicks was the theme of the day as we ditched the highway and drove the iconic Route 66. Great stretches of very little gave way to some awesome roadside stops, like the tiny town of Seligman. While other Route 66 stops faded away with the construction of the interstate, this little commercial district tenaciously held on to its roots and vitality. Seligman is rumored to be the inspiration for the animated town of Radiator Springs and despite its population of roughly 450, has successfully promoted its historic businesses and unique stops as an oasis in the middle of the Arizona high desert.
A mere two plus hours beyond Seligman brought us to Kingman, AZ. Perched at an elevation of 3,300 feet, Kingman was a cool (both figuratively and literally) spot in our travels and just a stone’s throw(ish) from our next stop- the Hoover Dam.
My children took great joy in our visit to Hoover Dam, expressing verbally at every opportunity how many dam pictures they took, what dam facts they learned, and how high the dam observation deck was. Sigh. Hoover Dam truly was a marvel of modern engineering and worth the stop. Tickets are only available on site, though, and only a first come, first served basis.
Our final stop on our quest to reclaim summer was Las Vegas, the City of Lights. While most consider Las Vegas an adult destination, there are tons of great family-friendly attractions as well. Take a gondola ride at the Venetian, check out celebrities (of the waxed variety) at Madame Tussauds, or take in the Fall of Atlantis at Caesar’s with impressive special effects. Ride the Big Apple Roller Coaster at New York New York, followed by a trip to the arcade. Visit the M&M’s World and personalize your own M&Ms! You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much g-rated fun you can have!
After eight days on the road, our family road trip was nearing its inevitable conclusion. I gave up trying to keep the Truckster’s interior clean and focused on the fun we had together exploring this great nation. We saw incredible sights, experienced extraordinary beauty and spent a fantastic family week together without the usual interruptions of work, school, sports and more. Summer is back, Baby!