Park Hopping Ep. 1: Cacti and Canyons

Majestic canyons, thorny cacti as far as the eye can see, rigorous hikes up rugged mountains, and balancing rocks towering delicately above the desert floor. Exploring the USA has been crazy amazing! We’ve been bouncing around the West; through Arizona, Utah, and a little corner of Colorado, so we wanted to just hit the highlights (which was all we were hitting too!). The reason we moved so fast out here is because of two reasons:

  1. We had to escape the rain/heat. There were some gnarly storms and hot temps. headed our way, and we wanted to see everything before the weather prevented us from doing that.
  2. We were on a little bit of a time crunch. Not so much in AZ, but definitely in Utah did we feel the need for speed. Dad took the week that we would explore Utah off from work, and of course that’s the week for rain in the desert! What are the odds, right?? We also needed to get the exploring that we wanted out of the way so we could crash in Phoenix for Dad’s business trip.

Anyways, we had a few things to consider as we mapped out our course of action. We had quite a few parks to hit; some were totally worth it, others not so much…so we’ve compiled this post with the good, the bad, and the ugly memories we made in this weeks episode of…..

Park Hopping Eps. 1: Cacti and Canyons

We’ve already discussed the first half of our Arizona shenanigans; if you would like to hear more about Chiricahua National Monument and a too close for comfort mountain drive, click HERE. After Chiricahua, we made our way to Saguaro Nat’l Park!! In case any of you were curious, it’s pronounced sa-WAR-oh; the “g” is silent, apparently. There were fields upon fields of saguaro cacti. They were e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e!!! Some were tiny and others were HUGE! Ann and I had a lot of fun by posing like them! As we hiked through the park we were blown away with the colors, yes many brilliant colors, of the desert in the springtime. Vibrant yellows, pinks, purples…it was amazing to see the desert showing off! (The landscape pics. don’t do it justice.)

Our next stop was the one and only: Grand Canyon National Park! One of my favorite memories was our method of transportation to get there, and let me tell you, it was quite the ride! We took the Grand Canyon Railway, established in 1901, to the south rim! How cool is that? We woke up extra early, so we were all grateful for the first-class ticket on the way there; we totally took advantage of the included breakfast on the train. Before we departed from the train depot we were treated to a wild west show and one of the cowboys taught Benji how to lasso! It so happened that our train was the first train of the season to be pulled by the antique steam engine. It was a beautiful engine and made for a fun and a bit bumpier than normal ride. Our guide on the train was telling us about the wildlife we may see, and as we approached the rim, came upon a CAT bulldozer and Bobcat equipment…of course the wildlife jokes followed suite! We also decided to take a bus tour rather than figuring the park out ourselves as we were on a time crunch of sorts, we had to make the evening train to get home. Since we didn’t have a ton of time and we wanted to utilize it well to see as much as we could, Dad and Mom figured the bus tour would be the best way to do that. After all the amazing sights we headed back to the train depot to catch the evening train…little did we know we were in for a surprise! On the way home, our train was robbed at “gunpoint” by some bandits!

It was so much fun, although, I have to be perfectly honest…I was freaking out the night before we went to the park. I have this really huge fear of death by falling; not necessarily heights, just falling. Somehow, the two are different in my mind. So I worked myself up the night before, and Mom and Dad totally helped out with that by explaining to us the dangers of the park and all the accounts of people falling off the edge!! Need I say more? I survived the visit, and so did everyone else, so it’s all good:)

Stay tuned for the next episode; coming your way very soon! Until next time!

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