The first day there (a Tuesday), we did the Grand Canyon. I'd been when I was in grad school (and when I was 3), but Brian never had. We ended up having a good day.
|It didn't start out as a good day, though! Gabby acted like a 2 year old for the first hour there.|
|It is a spectacular sight, though.|
|Too bad I couldn't enjoy it at first.|
|She finally agreed to eat something. That really helped a lot.|
|Slight view of the Colorado River. You really need to see it in person if you haven't.|
|I did make Brian give me the camera so there was photographic evidence that he was there with us!|
After we spent the day at the Grand Canyon, we made the 2 hour drive to Flagstaff (Gabby thankfully slept the whole way). It was nice when we got there, but overnight a fire broke out about 15 miles away from the city. The whole next day looked like this:
|That's not a volcano|
|This was in the afternoon--in the morning, the smoke/ash were at ground level, and breathing was impossible.|
We decided pretty quickly that we couldn't stay in Flagstaff. Brian was already fighting a cold, and the ash was making his breathing (and coughing) worse. Meanwhile, I am very much allergic to smoke. We tried to go to the Lowell Observatory during the day, but the smoke was too bad for them to pull out the telescopes. So after lunch, we went back to the hotel and arranged to check out the next day (Thursday--2 days early). We decided to spend the rest of the trip in Phoenix, far away from the fire! I will say that even though our plans were disrupted, we were still very lucky--we weren't evacuated and we didn't lose any of our belongings!
On Thursday, we headed out for Phoenix. We made a couple of stops to break up the drive. The first was Meteor Crater, about 40 miles from Flagstaff. It's the first confirmed site of a meteor impact and the gold standard for all other impact craters. We space nerds loved it! Gabby was super well-behaved; she even made it through the movie (about 10 minutes) and when it was over asked for more! We decided to do the hour-long rim tour with her as well, and she was a trooper. The constant snacking probably helped!
|There was quite a bit of carrying--not because she was tired, but because she was slow!|
|Her favorite part was looking at the rocks and playing in the dirt.|
|She was greatly amused by the wind (43 mph gusts!)|
|There's the snacking!|
|Here we are "at the bottom." Really just a mock-up inside the museum. Notice the 2 year old nose-picking stage we're in. It was hard to get a shot in which she didn't have her finger up there! And, yes, that's a baby bump.|
We ate lunch at Meteor Crater, and then took a drive during Gabby's nap to Montezuma's Castle, a prehistoric Native American site between Flagstaff and Phoenix. The name comes from the fact that the first Europeans assumed that the site was built by the Aztecs. It was actually built by Sinagua culture (an offshoot of the Hohokam), and was abandoned well before Europeans arrived.
|It's a pretty impressive structure set into the cliffside.|
|Gabby was more interested in her "laptop."|
|FAR more interested!|
|She did finally put it down and agree to walk...for a minute anyway.|
|We convinced her that she didn't want to be carried using the cookie method.|
We spent our last day of vacation (Friday) in Phoenix, where we went to the Children's Museum (much better than Sacramento's!), and the Science Center (about the same as St. Louis's). This was by far Gabby's favorite day! I have no still pictures from then, but here are some videos! First, painting at the Children's Museum:
And now playing at the Science Center. They had a screen where she could see herself and a bunch of tiny robots. The robots (not very visible) jump around when she moves. She spent at least 30 minutes playing in front of it (mainly because she could see herself on TV).
So we had a good time, but a very tiring time! My tips for traveling with a toddler: DON'T!! But if you have to, get a suite (we didn't have one the first night and all ended up going to bed at Gabby's bedtime), make sure you plan snacks and mealtimes around their schedule, don't overload the day with activities, and don't mess with the sleep schedule! Gabby is one of the easiest 2 year olds I know, and even she got really fed up with all of the disruptions (see the Grand Canyon pictures)!