Welcome back guys.
Our time is Zion National Park was unforgettable but we had to move on to other wonderful places to make more memories. Our entire trip was based on food and I cannot tell you how much delicious food we ate along the way, whether it was homemade meals or food that we bought at restaurants. As we exited Zion National Park, the Wyma’s suggested to stop at a restaurant called Peekaboo Canyon, Wood Fire Kitchen and this place was unbelievably amazing! Abby and I struggle at times to find a restaurant that offers vegetarian options and without trying we ended up at a restaurant that not only offered normal meals with meat but all of the meals within the menu were also VO (Vegan or vegetarian option). Abby had eggs benedict and her breakfast consisted of artichokes to replace the English muffin and it looked delicious. I on the other hand had vegetarian huevos rancheros and yes! I approve! It took me back to Mexico all over again (minus the meat). It wasn’t long before we headed to Williams, AZ but before we did, the Wyma’s and my trio decided to fuel up before hand and that’s when Eyra noticed the Sinclair dinosaur and the rest is history (Eyra the dinosaur slayer).
These pictures are what we saw prior to getting to Williams AZ.
Since we started our trip, showers were extremely limited except for Eyra, she was the only one who got complete showers with our camping shower every day. Abby and I couldn’t wait to get a full shower at our hotel in Williams, Arizona since all we really did was wash our hair and face during our camping week. The town of Williams is truly unique and also is an original location on historic Route 66. This place reminded me a lot of what I saw in Disney’s Cars. Now I know where the creators of Cars got their inspiration to create Radiator Springs and let’s not forget that the atmosphere in Williams, AZ was super awesome. A lot of people were dressed up in cowboy outfits and they had a cool show in the street, there was live music in a couple of locations, people could board the train to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in town and the stores were so unique that it truly made the small town of Williams stand out. As much as all of us (Wyma’s, Abby, Eyra and I) wanted to see the town the moment we arrived there, we all really wanted to shower first and get refreshed before heading out to experience what the little town of Williams had to offer and that’s exactly what we did. As we walked into town after a couple of hours of downtime, Eyra saw a horse in the street! This was not just any horse roaming around in the street freely but this horse and its owner could take the visitors of Williams around the town in a chariot! But all Eyra wanted to do was to pet the horse and the owner was kind enough to grant her wish!
We stopped by this restaurant called the Red Raven but apparently the only way to eat there is to have reservations. Clearly we didn’t have one of those, so we decided to eat at the Station 66 Italian Bistro that happened to be right in front of the Red Raven Restaurant and this place was sweet! Station 66 also had a local brewery within its doors. The atmosphere in the restaurant was different and awesome and it took me back to Boulder, Colorado. Abby ordered Mac & cheese and according to her, it was the best mac & cheese that she has ever had! I had to try it to believe her since that was a big statement but I was proven wrong the moment I placed that cheesy bite into my mouth. It was a combination of f*cking amazing and holy s*it this is good; I don’t know if we were just enjoying the moment or that mac & cheese truly was the greatest we had ever had but I am going to go with it was just plain phenomenal! We for sure recommend that meal and of course the whole Station 66 restaurant as well. That night we killed our time by visiting the local stores before heading to bed.
That morning we woke up early since all of us were going to have breakfast at El Tovar Lodge at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. To make the story short, I made us wrong reservations at the North Rim instead which from our location that was 4 hours away (and that wasn’t going to happen!). So Abby called the South Rim to try and obtain last minute breakfast reservations at El Tovar and it turns out we didn’t need breakfast reservations (only dinner). But the El Tovar suggested that we wear adequate apparel and they strongly encouraged us not to wear shorts. So we all grabbed our hiking gear and hiking clothes and packed them on our backpacks as we were going to change as soon as we were all done with breakfast. What’s the point of going to the Grand Canyon and not hiking it? It was a fine idea because that’s what we ended up doing, we looked pretty stylish and we all enjoyed our breakfast. The lodge was located on the top of the South Rim and the lodge was sick!!!
Once we finished our delicious breakfast, we all took turns changing on the lodges restrooms while the rest of us waited patiently in the lobby. The lobby was just as impressive as the restaurant and that is a similar look to what Abby and I are after for our house, except lighter and no animal heads hanging from the walls.
Off we went to the rim and the view was spectacular and as every visitor, Abby, Eyra and I took a family photo just to say we’ve been there. Before we started our hike we had to stop by the Hopi House for more souvenirs, this place was cool but the entrance door was so small that I couldn’t even fit and I am pretty short! The more we walked around the rim, Abby and I kept noticing a lot of idiots on the trail. I am not saying we are the best hikers in the world because we are not, but we at least follow the rules in the parks. We didn’t fail to see those who think are above the rules and those who think they are the toughest mofos around. This guy in particular who I snapped a photo of was A) Smoking in a National Park, because that is the best way to start a f*cking forest fire and B) Not following the trail because he probably wanted to take a nice picture for Instagram. But speaking up didn’t work since they just kept hiking outside the trail and ignoring what we said.
OK no more negative comments and enjoy these pictures of the rim.
We decided to take the bus to the Kaibab trail and along the way we saw a bunch of cool stuff. We noticed the Grand Canyon train, we saw baby elk and more spectacular views of the mighty Grand Canyon. Changing gears, I met Luke and Corrine at work almost 3 years ago and we instantly connected as they share the same passion that Abby and I do for the outdoors and not to mention that we are also neighbors. It’s great to see these types of friendships grow. I noticed as we were hiking back to take the bus to the visitor center that, right in front of me, I had both Abby and Corrine walking ahead of me. These 2 ladies are the smartest chicks I know, both of these ladies equals big talent and IQ’s off the chart. These ladies can put everyone to shame and believe me, that’s something you don’t see very often. As we arrived to the Kaibab trail, we all decided to split up and hike our separate ways since we didn’t want them stop constantly because of us so we decided to see each other back in the town of Williams for dinner.
The Kaibab trail wasn’t hard at all (at least on the descent) but what made it hard was the heat and it felt just like Delicate Arch all over again since there was minimal shade. In this case there were a few trees here and there along the trail that provided us with shade and our hike was more of a hike and stop. We hiked for a few minutes and stopped at a spot that had a little bit of shade. We weren’t the only ones doing this as the majority of the hikers along the Kaibab trail seemed to have adopted this method before us since it was only logical. On our way up Abby and I decided to get a breather, hydrate and to get a quick snack, well… We had to abort on the snack situation since a bold squirrel decided to intrude and tried to forcibly get our snacks, these squirrels are intense and have no shame. Check this guy out!! He even tried to steal Eyra’s pacifier!
The view of the Grand Canyon was beautiful and a sight to see, I was sad to see my pictures turn out differently from what we saw. Sections of the Grand Canyon looked almost purple in the far distance in person but looked differently on my pictures. On our way back to the top of the Kaibab trail, Abby took over Eyra’s pack. She really wanted to help since I had to carry Eyra uphill at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park and at Wall Street trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. It took us a good hour to get back into the rim but once we were up on the rim again, Eyra was excited to see all the mules again. She was so happy that we decided to kill a good 15 minutes just looking at them (and drinking a ton of water) before heading back to the bus.
At this point we didn’t know where to go and what to do and maybe we were talking pretty loud since our bus driver interrupted and gave us additional information on where we might like to go next. Our bus driver was so nice that he recommended we try out the Yavapai Geology Museum. According to the bus driver, this place was the place to go since the geology museum provided its visitors with a clear 14-mile view of the Grand Canyon! Abby and I liked that idea, so that’s where we headed.
I am so glad we did because I don’t know what happened to Eyra at that moment but all she wanted to do was spend time with her daddy (me). I couldn’t have been happier than to spend time with my daughter in one of the most spectacular places on the planet. I really hope she grows up with that sense of adventure and to know that there is more out there in this world. I think these pictures speak for themselves.
On our way back to the visitor center (which is where we parked our car) we noticed even more elk and Eyra kept calling them “horsees” while jumping all over the bus. Before we headed back to the car we saw a couple of people eating ice cream, can you guess what we did next? We headed back to the visitor center and got us some ice cream cookies. It wasn’t long before Eyra found her best friend (dirt) and it was so funny to watch her play in the dirt that a group of Chinese ladies started going paparazzi on her! They thought she was the cutest thing. I am not going to lie, Eyra is pretty darn cute! And just like that, we headed back to the hotel. I don’t know when we will be coming back to this spectacular place again but I assure you, it won’t be long and I will miss it! Next time we won’t be hearing Frozen’s Let It Go! In the background but instead Moana’s, Where You Are since that is Eyra’s new favorite movie.
Once back to the hotel we all took a shower again and got ready for dinner since we were going to meet up with the Wyma’s to spend our last night together in this special town. We went to Cruiser’s Route 66 Café and it was amazing! The detail of this place was incredible as everything in the restaurant was made out of antique car parts, shoot! Even Luke was impressed with the bathroom haha! This place was not only delicious but the live music was kick @$$. We tried to make the night last as long as we could but with a kiddo around it was hard for us to keep her awake. We all said goodbye to the Wyma’s as we were going to part ways and continue our trip back to Moab the following morning and back home to Iowa after that.
The following morning Abby decided to drive, we got our car all packed up and ready to go 15 minutes before 5:00am since we had close to 6 hours ahead of us, so leaving early was a must if we wanted to hike Arches National Park again. 10 minutes into our drive, a coyote came out of nowhere and destroyed the left side of my bumper and obliterated the fog light!! We were glad we were all OK since we were going pretty fast and a semi-truck was behind us. That being said, this accident could have been a lot worse. I am sad to report that the coyote didn’t make it; if it survived our collision, the semi-truck behind us finished him off. I was extremely upset of the outcome since this poor coyote didn’t even see us coming and neither did we until it was too late. I was also upset since we were weeks from exchanging our vehicle for a new one. Our vehicle was affected by the VW diesel-gate and we were just waiting on the next available day from VW to exchange our vehicle. I was certain that our car was no longer eligible for the exchange and I was super upset. Abby apologized over and over but I was just so upset at the moment that I decided to keep my mouth shut. Fortunately for us, the coyote did not hit the cooling system of the car and nothing else was damaged besides the fog light and half of my bumper. So we bungy-corded up, drove away and continued with our trip.
Our GPS took us yet another weird way to get back to Moab and I loved it since it brought me back to when I rafted the San Juan River 2 years ago. I showed Abby the exact location where we put in (embarked on the rafting trip) and where we ate in Bluff. We stopped in Bluff, Utah to check out Twin Rocks Café. We had about 2 hours left on our drive and we were making pretty good time.
Those 2 hours didn’t seem long at all since we got to Arches National Park fairly quick. We stopped by the visitor center and Landscape Arch remained closed (booo!!!) since our first visit due to maintenance on the road so we decided to head to Double Arch. Man, the parking lot was packed! Despite the fact that we had a horrible morning, we saw a car pull out of a parking spot and we took it. We had prime parking! We got our gear out and Eyra was adamant that she wanted to hike on her own and since Double Arch is a quick and easy trail, Abby and I obliged. Besides, Eyra looked ready for the task ahead. I want to say the 30 minutes that we were at Double Arch, 15 of those minutes we spent watching Eyra play with the sand. I don’t know what it is about the sand that fascinates Eyra but perhaps this is an early sign that Eyra will become a geologist. Our hike was awesome and Eyra had a great and quick time in Arches National Park.
Here are a few pictures of our 2nd visit to Arches National Park and the last park of our 2-week trip.
Before we headed to Thompson, Utah. Thompson is luckily only about 30 minutes outside of Moab. After leaving Arches, we decided to grab a quick bite at Zax Restaurant again. I was so hungry that I destroyed an entire pizza all by myself; well Eyra might have helped with a slice, but the desserts that both Abby and I got were off the hook. I figured I would get Abby the biggest chocolaty dessert that the restaurant had to offer in order to apologize for my behavior and moodiness about the car. I know it wasn’t her fault that she hit the coyote, and besides, a car can be replaced at any time but our lives cannot and I was just glad that we were all OK!!! We re-fueled and got more ice for our coolers for the remaining food. Luckily we didn’t have much left, just stuff we needed to keep cool like condiments, left over milk and cheese.
The place that we stayed in Thompson was nothing like the other campgrounds we stayed throughout our trip. This place was more like our crash pad for the night. It was pretty hot but we made it work! The following morning, we headed straight for Grand Junction to get my car checked out by professionals at the VW dealer and it turns out my car still eligible for the exchange. They mentioned that as long as the engine is operable, I am still in the game. We have made the appointment for the exchange and we are happy to welcome the 2018 VW Atlas in a matter of weeks. My oil was changed since I began leaking quite a bit of oil but it was due to a damaged o-ring. I was relieved and that day we drove straight to Brighton, Colorado (that’s where my in-laws live). That whole afternoon we did laundry, showered again, re-packed the car and took all of our trash out and cleaned our coolers. That afternoon was great to have the time to spend with our loved ones as we had so much to tell of our adventures but the night went by too quick.
The following morning, my brother Edgar and his wife Karla met us at my in-laws for breakfast first thing in the morning and I couldn’t wait to tell them how the rest of the trip went since they partook on the first week of the trip with us. Shortly after my brother and Karla showed up, Beka and the kids (niece and nephew) came over to spend a couple of hours with us since we were planning on leaving by noon that day and head straight to Kearney, Nebraska which is 5 hours away and the half way point to Pella. Time flies by when you are having too much fun, my brother in law stopped by and made our small family gathering complete. It’s the first time we have ever taken a family picture, but we captured the moment and we can’t wait to see everyone again soon. Our drive to Kearney, Nebraska was easy and we were closer to home. 2 weeks is just right for these types of trips. The following morning, we left a little later than planned, maybe it was because we were tired or maybe I didn’t want to hit another wild animal at the crack of dawn. But hey we made it back home, our house didn’t burn down, nothing got stolen and we couldn’t be happier to tell the tale.
We consumed 28 gallons of water on our 2-week trip, we fueled up 15 times and used close to 135 gallons of diesel, we drove 3781.6 miles and pushed the Touareg over 100,000 miles, we visited 6 National Parks, 2 State Parks, 1 National Monument, 1 original location of Route 66; ate at 9 restaurants, 11 members in total throughout our trip who partook on our adventure, 37 viewings of Disney’s Frozen, took 7 aspirin and 1 unbelievable road trip! I want to thank my wife and daughter for allowing me to make this happen and to our friends and family who made this possible and let’s not forget our readers who continue to support us since the beginning. We have more blogs coming and we are happy to have accomplished this amazing adventure. What will come next?
To be continued…