Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stefan & Grandpa's trip out West

The Cave
It was time that I took Stefan back home after visiting use for this summer. He had planned out a trip with his grandma to go to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, to name a few. Stefan and Anita were going to make the trip then to Stefan's house and she would continue on to Spokane, Washington to be with our daughter Britt when she had her baby. Well, babies don't go on our schedule, they have their own. So late on my birthday, July 5, Britt went into labor and Anita got a flight to Spokane the first thing the next morning (the day Olivia was born). So now getting Stefan home was now my privileged. Since we had to make as short of a route as we could we decided to first go to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. We set out on our trip and got as far as Pecos, Texas where we spent the night. We found out that the caverns open at 8:30 am so we got up and left at 6:30 am to make sure we were there a half an hour before it opened, Stefan wanted to be the first in the cave. When we crossed the Texas/New Mexico border we realize that New Mexico is on mountain time, so we could have slept in another hour! Anyway, we made it to the caverns and had fun waiting.

We got in to the visitor's center and decided we would take the elevator down the 800' rather than walk. We wanted to see as much of the main cave as we could in the shortest amount of time. Well, Stefan and I were the first ones in the elevator so we were the first to enter the main heart of the cave. We tried to take pictures but it was so dark that the flash would not pick up the beauty of the cave.

There were areas of the cave that were spectacular, the "chandelier" that was 225 feet up on the ceiling of the cave, the "bottomless pit", and even saw an area where they hadn't explored yet. The information said that the cave went back another mile at least and possibly miles since it hadn't been explored yet.

Needless to say we had a great time exploring, and it was neat being so far down in the earth. We took the elevator ride back up to the top and Stefan got his picture taken in a cardboard cutout as a miner.

Stefan as a minor

Next it was off to Roswell, New Mexico to see if the UFO museum was worth going to but more importantly we wanted to eat at the UFO McDonalds that was right across where the new UFO museum was going to be built. When we arrived in Roswell it was obvious that the museum needed updating so we didn't attend but we had a great meal at McDonalds and in no time we were off to the Petrified Forest.

The Petrified Forest
Stefan and I traveled as fast as we could and we finally reached the entrance to the Petrified Forest in Arizona. We got there with only one hour until closing.

We started driving within the park and saw beautiful formations but no petrified wood. Finally we came to old route 66 where there was a monument to the first transcontinental highway.

Stefan and Grandpa on Route 66

The next couple of miles we saw wonderful hieroglyphics that were placed there by the inhabitants of the country many centuries, even millennia, ago. They were amazing, one looked like a UFO. Further down the road we started to see petrified logs, then we saw petrified stumps and even full trees that were laying on the ground, spectacular.

Stefan right in front of a petrified log

Finally the time came when we couldn't get out of our car anymore. The park has rules that if you are in the park you can take as long as you want to leave but once the park closes you have to stay in your car and head out of the park at your leisure. We drove to different areas of the park and saw many, many more logs, stumps, and in one area it was truly a forest of petrified logs. We couldn't believe our eyes.

We had done a lot in a day, Texas to New Mexico and to Carlsbad Cavern, up to Roswell for a UFO burger, then over to Arizona to a spectacular petrified forest. A trip we recommend to anyone. We had fun. We finally rolled into Flagstaff at about 9:30 pm, ready for dinner at Denny's! We had to get to bed soon because on the next day we headed to the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon

We started out the next morning from Flagstaff to go to the North Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon. Highway 89 is the closest route to take and that goes over the very east side of the beginning of the Grand Canyon called Marble Canyon. There is a wonderful bridge that spans this canyon called Navajo Bridge. Stefan and I stopped there and took pictures.

Stefan with Navajo Bridge behind him

Caught Sneezing

Stefan on the old Navajo Bridge

We finally arrived at the Grand Canyon. It is a long distance from the highway to the entrance to the North Rim, but we made it. I don't think Stefan expected much but when we got the rim itself it was surely breath taking. We hiked, very slowly, on the narrow paths with thousands of feet drop on each side and got out on a peninsula. We had a wonderful time as we were very close during these moments.

Stefan out on the Peninsula

Stefan with the South Rim in sight

We hiked for a couple of hours and had our picture taken together. It was a wonderful summer vacation, one that neither of us will ever forget.

Stefan and Grandpa on the ledge