First, we drove south, through Vegas and stayed at the Boulder City Hotel and Casino. This was certainly not the fanciest hotel, but the customer service was excellent. In the morning, we went for a hike on a trail they had that overlooked Lake Mead. Cocoa, our dog, loved the hike and the
weather was gorgeous, sunny and cool. I took pics of H and the kids near this huge rock, and they each did their best "Nacho Libre" pose.
On our way out, we drove over the Hoover Dam. As impressive as it is, I'm afraid that the bypass bridge they're building over it stole some of its thunder. It is soooo high and the beams alone are monstrously tall. I couldn't stop staring up at them. It's one amazing undertaking. And just to show how much history we're teaching our kids, their reaction at Hoover Dam was to recall all the scenes from "Transformers" that were filmed there.
From there, we drove on to the Grand Canyon. I gotta tell you, that is one heck of a drive. You have to go down below the park and then head all the way to the east edge. It took forever. At one point, we thought we were going to run out of gas because there was nothing for miles ahead of us. We were able to find one gas station, with the old-fashioned pumps (we're talking about rotary digits and only a pump sticking out of the ground) in a small town on the way to the new skywalk bridge. Apparently, the bridge costs an arm and some thigh muscle to enter, park, and pay to walk on the bridge. So, we chose to drive onto the far end, since that was the original plan anyway. The gas station was cool though.
And, on we drove. We made it to the Grand Canyon before the sun started setting and it was beautiful. Everytime we would move to another viewpoint and the sun would set a little more, it was like seeing a whole new canyon. It was really beautiful. That was the first time me and the kids had been there. H had been there once before when he was a kid. He said that he remembered that when he saw it, it made him want to pee his pants. His words, not mine.
It was awesome to hear the many different languages being spoken there. People come from all over the world to see this amazing sight. Near the lookout, there is a weathered rock where people had thrown coins on it when there was water on it and from throwing them over the edge. There were coins from all over the world on it.
Our next destination was 12 hours away and we did it in one night. We pulled up to my parents' house at 6 a.m. the next morning, really tired. But it was great to see my parents. They've done a lot of new things to their house and it's looking really nice. They have also quit smoking, and hadn't had a cigarette in four weeks! I had noticed the absence of the smoke smell in the house. I was so proud of them. This is the umpteenth time they've tried to quit and they seem to be really working at it. I really hope they can succeed this time. They also looked a lot healthier too. To combat the urges to smoke, they keep really busy at work and around the house. The result is that they both have also lost some weight. So, send a prayer and some good thoughts their way that they'll be able to keep it up.
We stayed with them for almost 5 days. We spent Easter at my Grandma's house with a lot of my cousins, aunts and uncles. It was good to see everyone and the kids had a blast with their cousins. They hunted Easter eggs and ran around playing all kinds of games. My grandma looked good, ornery as ever, but healthy. My Uncle Joe looked tired, but otherwise like he was doing okay. Unfortunately, my mom just updated me that he is developing a lot of mouth sores from the radiation and lost some more weight. So, the doctor has decided to put a feeding tube into his stomach in order to keep him fed and maintaining his weight and hydration with IVs if needed. So, definitely please send prayers his way.
So, after spending a relaxing time with my folks, it was time to pile back in the truck and head to Colorado Springs, where my brother is stationed with the Air Force. The plan was to stay there for about a day and a half before heading home. H was not eager to get back on the road at all. I think he would have bought another house in NM just to avoid having to drive ever again. But, we were off.
We arrived at my brother's house at about 11 p.m. that night and got settled in. The next day, my brother was off from work and we just relaxed around the house before going to a bookstore later and then a movie at the theater. The kids loved spending time with their other, older cousins and Tiny was already trying to plan our next trip to see them.
Unfortunately, we had to load up again and finally head home. Our trip home was about 9 hours and we drove straight through. Everything went pretty smooth, except for this little hiccup.
We had a complete blowout of the right front tire. I actually saw the tread roll off by my window. Thankfully, H was driving and was able to pull over easily. It took a while to change the tire and it was flippin' cold outside, but he did the job pretty well. We arrived home at about 11 p.m. and we were exhausted. But we were thankful to be home, safe, and had fun visiting everyone. But, I think next time, we'll be doing a little less driving and a lot more relaxing.