Arizona is awesome! So awesome we were having so much fun exploring many of it's incredible parks, epic hiking trails, seeing one of the 7 wonders of the world, the good old Grand Canyon, celebrating our first Birthday on the road, Madden's first hair cut, (it looks horrible and I regret it but at the same time I chuckle at his likeliness to Lloyd from dumb and dumber) our first holiday (well two if you count St.Patty's Day) and so much more that we did not blog for over a month! However, we did cover quite a bit in the 5 weeks we had in Arizona and more importantly made memories with our kids that I will cherish for my life and fingers crossed they will remember most of them too!!
Ok here we go.....
Arizona! LOVE that there are no bugs! Seriously not one fly, mosquito or any other annoying pest that usually plagues us in our summer vacays back home once good weather hits. How amazing is that?
NO humidity just dry heat and sunshine all the time! Feels so good to not sweat and feel sticky in the heat, but if you do not find shade (which is immediate relief as its so cool because no humidity again) or drink plenty of water the desert heat will kick your butt (ask Alex on his dehydration fun from west Texas). Arizona has the Sonoran desert which is the largest living desert in the world and it is incredible! We learned so much about the Sonoran desert and it is impressive. I didn't know that its the largest living desert in the world, has the most rattlesnakes species in the world and how amazing the plant life and animals that live there are. We learned that the Saguaro cactus lives to be over 200 years old and will only start to grow their 'arms' once they are at least 50 years old. They are hard and spikey and super tall. We just couldn't get enough of them and it's pretty neat they only grow in the Sonoran desert and no where else in the world! Alex had to navigate parking the trailer between two huge Saguaro cactuses and thank God he didn't hit one as damaging one of those is a 'class four felony' here in Arizona. We had to look that up and a class four felony is right up there with kidnapping and negligent homicide...wowzers!
Our first stop in Arizona was Tucson which at the time we did not realize is more of a 'rough' city then we thought and the KOA we stayed in was apparently in the bad part of the city (South Tucson). Yes there were gun shots at night and one night we even saw an explosion (still not sure what that was maybe a car fire?) over our gated and razor wire safe KOA, but none of this surprisingly bothered us at all! lol Tucson was HOT like 34 degrees and sun all week we were there .
For our roadschooling duties we took the kids to the Living Desert Museum which was such an amazing experience for us all to learn about the harsh desert life and how all the plants, insects, reptiles and mammals survive together. The history of cowboys and Native Americans during the gold rush era was cool too and the kids loved watching the hilarious cowboy show at Old Tucson while Shyla enjoyed the Can-Can dancers. The kiddos even enjoyd their first horse back ride including Madden who of course has to do everything his big siblings do (my stomach was in knots, but the cowgirl assured me two year olds on horse is a normal and 'safe-ish' thang in the desert). I particularly found it cool to learn that the natives used the yucca plants to weave baskets, shoes, matts and would even eat the root of it. This is crazy because I just saw this plant as sharp and pokey and tried to avoid running into it as much as possible. Most of the vegetation in the desert is trying to survive so they're armed with needles, thistles and jumping cactus barbs (a jumping cactus literally stuck to me like static when I walked past it and it hurt like hell to pull out of my shoulder). We even squeezed in a quick trip to the Tucson mall for some much needed clothes shopping for Alex and me since he's lost weight from no stress, more exercise and eating paleo:)
After our week long stay in the Tucson KOA we happily moved along to the stunning Catalina State Park where I wish we could've stayed longer! Unfortunately upon arrival all 3 of our kids picked up a stomach bug (probably from the KOA since it was kid infested from spring break) and they puked for the first 24hrs there :( Thank goodness this desert state park had an immaculate looking mall literally across the street which is so not the usual when camping in the wilderness and we bought Lennon all new spiderman bedding! Once our crew was fit and ready to go this mama bear got us all hiking through Catalina State Park's seriously awesome trails! I was in hikers heaven and the kids loved it too although to be honest they start most hikes complaining that their legs are 'broken' or tired, but after I motivated them (threaten them) along we went all smiles! Notable mention, this park was literally covered with gofers and prarie dogs everywhere! So awesome!
Next stop was Picachu State Park which wasn't our favourite, but a short and sweet visit nonetheless and we went to the next door Ostrich Farm for a hilarious and educational day spent with Ostrich's of course, lots of other animals in their petting zoo and a monster truck ride through their farm with the back drop of the Picachu mountains. Pretty neat! We learned a ton about the Ostrich and the kids had a hoot feeding the animals except for when a donkey bite madden's wee finger (poor kid), but the rest of the day was a blast!
Fun facts about an Ostrich:
They live to be 70 years old and weigh over 200lbs!
Their eggs are so strong you cannot break it by standing 300lbs on it
Their three toe foot can kill a lion with one good kick
They can run 40mph for over 30 minutes!
Mesa & Apache Junction (Lost Dutchman)
Lost Dutchmen State Park followed and it was rated super high on trip advisor so we were super stoked to hit up this park. Gotta say it was pretty good, but Catalina had already stole my heart! lol The superstition mountains are in lost Dutchmen and we did do two amazing hikes around the base of them, once on our own and the next day with a lovely nomadic family who had 6 amazing children to join our crew for a 3 mile hike half way up the base of the mountain and back down. It was a great day and I was very proud of my kids making friends, hiking the rocky, dusty, prickly (damn cactus everywhere) yet awesome terrain of the desert.
While at the Lost Dutchmen State Park we visited the Ghost mining town for some American goldrush and western culture/history. The kids did not like the mine tour as the tour operator thought it was fun to turn off the lights while we were all under the earth in a dark, rat infested (yup saw them crawling the rafters myself) mine to show us the true affect! However, they did enjoy learning about brothels (no they did not fully get that history or sex education lesson, but they think it was a cool old house that lady's use to live in and men would only visit! lol They got a kick out of the bath tubs and couldn't believe it took 5 hours to fill with hot water and that 10 people would take turns sharing that one bath before they replaced the water! YUCK! I learned that the shot glass is called as such because its the size of your bullet! Instead of money they could pay the bar keeper with bullets and how big the bullet was is how much alcohol you got in your shot!
Next stop was Dead Horse Ranch State Park! lol Pleasant name right? No dead horses, but it was not like the desert we had been driving though for weeks, it was green had forests and a river! This great park was a perfect campsite for us to visit the Sedona area as it was only about a 15 minute drive. Sedona is our favourite place in Arizona by far since it offers a wide variety of incredible hikes, mountains to climb, vortexes to explore and just the awe inspiring beauty of its red rocks and warmth from the hippie like people got me thinking this is truly an amazing place that no wonder everyone raves about it!
The hikes we did were epic in every way. I will never forget my kids literally rock climbing up Cathedral Rock by themselves and me carrying my 35lb 2 year old on my back most of the way up and all the way down! The views up top were breathtaking, although my legs were shaking from the work out and the height! lol I loved the 1 mile hike to Airport Mesa we did and Shyla and Lennon climbed up wth me to meditate and try the whole vortex thang out for ourselves. These energy vortexes are believed to be uplifting energy that can bring about healing, inspiration, energy and so forth and even the natives noted these special spots within Sedona.
The Red Rock Crossing hike is just a piece of heaven on earth in my opinion. These famous red rocks in sedona are so grounding and beautiful to look at. The kids crossed a river with a pretty strong current all barefoot and brave to make it to the trail head and we spent the entire day exploring and playing in this natural gem. Check out some of our videos and pics from this gorgeous park. The kids loved it as the rocks are super smooth and warm, but not hot to touch and they make great fun jumping across crevice to crevice as well as finding hiding spots along the boulders and splashing in the cool river where we stopped to picnic on the way there and then again on our way back to the car lol!
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The Grand Freaking Canyon!!
For Alex's birthday we headed up to Williams, Arizona to stay just outside the Grand Canyon at the Williams KOA. Just a 30min drive and we were at the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. We couldn't get over just how cold it was. Phoenix area was a beautiful 32C while up in Williams due to the elevation it was around 10C during the day and it dropped to minus through the nights. We lucked out though as it didn't snow...thank God!
Numerous people told us about the dicey cliff edges are all around the Grand Canyon and that we should definitely watch the kids since there is no barriers anywhere and you can just 'fall off' into the canyon!! We took their advice and decided to book a jeep tour that would take us to all the cool places and we could spend extra care watching Madden our crazy guy from getting too close. They weren't joking...many there were so many places where it was a straight drop! Wow. Despite the dangers, the Grand Canyon didn't disappoint. Such an amazing awe-inspring view and it really takes some time to digest just what your eyes are seeing. The kids didn't really get it and after a few beautiful lookouts I think they thought they were all the same. For us though, these views were absolutely spectacular. Photos and videos simply don't do any justice for this place. Truly an amazing experience and another bucket list checked off!
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Lake Havasu City
After we finished our Grand Canyon tour we were again off to the desert area of Arizona to a place called Lake Havasu City. What a gem this little city was! Every day in Lake Havasu was over 35C when we were there and we managed to get our trailer right on their state beach on the beautiful Lake Havasu. This place is a motorboat/jetski enthusiasts paradise! All the big toys came were out an about on Lake Havasu. The cool thing about this place was that it had the original "London Bridge" from England. I had to google it to believe it, but its true. Back when London was looking to replace the bridge due it falling down (no pun intended), some guy bought it and brought it to Lake Havasu City, Arizona intended to bring tourism to their new town. They spent a few million to bring over the bridge brick-by-brick and they built the bridge here in Lake Havasu to bring people to their island from the mainland. Kinda quirky but cool. Regardless, the weather here was absolutely amazing and the kids got to try out jet skiing for the first time too. We needed a beach break after all the hot desert weather and also the cold Grand Canyon :).
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Last stop in Arizona was fitting called Arizona Oasis RV resort and helped break up the drive from our last spot to California (as we mentioned before long drives of more than 2.5 hours really takes it toll on us and the kids). This fun RV park gave us a great spot on the Colorado River where the kids met other children to play with and we got to play in the cool waters and play in the sand. it was here where we celebrated Easter our first holiday in the trailer. The kids were stoked when the bunny himself came out to visit the kids in the park! lol
Arizona has so much outdoor beauty and fun to offer and we definitely loved every minute of this great state. We will definitely need and want to return as there are a few things we want to see that couldn't happen this trip, such as Antelope Canyon in Page and slide rock canyon in Sedona to name a few.