We’ve been talking about going to California since Samantha came to live with us 8 months ago. I’m sure her young mind was beginning to think we were never going to get there. We decided to turn the trip into a little vacation before school starts next week and took the scenic route home from CA.
Day 1: Las Vegas– Hit three of my favorite highlights, Cheescake Factory at Caesar’s Palace and Bellagio Botanical Gardens and Fountains. Having lived in Vegas for 3 1/2 years , these spots never got old to me. We drove around for a while after arriving, looking at possibly staying in Vegas then decided not to. Tired and hungry, the half of a mile walk from the Bellagio to the Cheesecake Factory seemed twice as long, but the Chicken Madeira and Tuxedo Cheesecake were worth it. Sadly, we forgot the camera on this little jaunt.
We opted to stay in Primm rather than Las Vegas because it fit in our budget. The only other time we stayed at Whiskey Pete’s we got a room that had recently been refurbished. This time we got a non-refurbished room. Kind of ick! But at least the beds were clean and we sort-of slept through the noisy A/C. Really, what do I expect for $20 a night, right?
Day 2: Homeland, CA – Made it to Alan’s parents in the early afternoon. Visited family and friends. We left Samantha in Homeland and went to stay overnight and be spoiled by our friends, Dan & Charlene, as has become the custom. They are always so good to us! Samantha was thrilled to have some alone time with her MeMa, Papa, and little brother and sister who came to visit.
Day 3: Homeland, CA / Needles, AZ – Met Samantha’s birth mom and older sister, took them to lunch, had a visit that went better than imagined (mom said she would sign papers–woohoo!). Loaded Alan’s parents up on tomatoes from our garden and said goodbye for a while. It was such a relief to see how well Alan’s parents have been taken care of by Alan’s brother, Bill, and medical aids who come in every day.
We left around 7:00 p.m. and headed toward the Grand Canyon. Made it to Needles, AZ. I barely remember that whole stay, I was so tired.
Day 4: South Rim of the Grand Canyon – Spent about 3 hours basking in the glory of the Grand Canyon. The skies were slightly hazy because of controlled burns going on all around the canyon, but it was still breathtaking.
You can look at the clearest of photos of this place and get a good idea of the grandeur, but what the pictures cannot convey of this place is the power of the reverence felt there. Hundreds of people from all around the world were roaming the rim as we were and still, there was a hush that was too thick to disturb.
Next was Colorado. Arrived in Cortez around 11:00 p.m. only to find that all the hotels were booked because of a car show the following day. Turned around and stayed at the fairly new Ute Mountain Hotel & Casino 10 minutes back. It was quite nice (casino is on opposite side of hotel), but to our great disappointment the pool hours were not in our favor–1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. I guess that’s what we get for traveling in the evening, but hey, it was better on the gas mileage and left more daylight for sight seeing.
Day 5: Durango, Purgatory, Silverton, and Ouray, CO – I really love those old historic towns! We wandered through Durango’s Strater Hotel (built in 1897) for about 20 minutes and ran into the Housekeeping Supervisor who gave us a little tour of some of their beautiful rooms. We walked through shops of historic Main St., gandered at the train station, and then went to dip our feet in the Colorado river and watch the kayakers go by.
Ate a scrumptious dinner at Grumpy’s Restaurant & Saloon in Silverton.
We aslo took a little hike up a trail near Purgatory to be more a part of the scenery than just passing through it.
The drive between the towns and on toward Grand Junction is just gorgeous not to mention adventurous, winding in and out of the mountains.
Coming down the mountain into Ouray was my favorite.
Next time we go, and we will go again, these are the things we will be sure to see and do.
- Hike or a ride on a mule down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
- Visit Mesa Verde. We had to forgo this one because of the last minute need for a new windshield (just before the trip) and tire (losing tread during trip) for our cars.
- Stay overnight in Ouray and go to the Hot Springs pool.
- Kayak / Tube down the Colorado river.
We arrived home around midnight. Samantha did very, very well with the whole trip. She only asked “When are we going to be there?” a few times before we got to Homeland, but that’s understandable. There was only a slight tilt of the head and glare of the eye in complaint/question when I told her we would be leaving MeMa’s soon. I am still in awe and full of gratitude over her behavior.
It’s interesting to me to think that our first stop included the fountain show at the Bellagio set to the song “God Bless the USA”. That is very appropriate for how I feel after seeing such beautiful country!