In case you didn’t know, we’ve been gone a lot lately.
Aside from work trips to both St Petersburg, Florida and Austin, we also spent three weeks in July & August traveling around the Western part of these great United States with our amazing kiddos. I’m making a slide show to show family, an old-school hard-copy album with slide in photos and hand-written notes as an heirloom… and of course, I’m going to blog.
Today, tomorrow, and Thursday, I’ll be posting a run-down of our trip. Of course there will be a ton of “big camera” photos, but we’ll also be sharing polaroids & cell phone snaps… and today, even a couple Disney Memory Maker photos.
It will NOT hurt our feelings if you’re not interested in these blog posts. If you’re just looking at our professional work to decide if you want to hire us… well, these photos aren’t exactly the kind of thing you’re searching for.
But if you want to get to know us, or you already DO know us and want to know more about this incredible trip… well, welcome to Personal Blog Post week here at McG. 😉
Our trip started bright & early on the morning of Saturday, August 18th… much earlier than Mack and I would have liked since we only got a FEW hours of sleep after our Friday the 17th wedding. Hence, our maybe-trying-too-hard smiley faces as we pulled out of the driveway…
Pretty soon, sleeping was the top priority. I mean, for everyone except Chauffeur Mom. That’s ok with me, though… I love a long drive!We tried to plan specific outings & stops for EACH of us on this trip… something that would make everyone feel individually important. Our first stop was picked just for Jack. It’s the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM. So many old west stars used to stay there, and he loved getting to find a signed picture of John Wayne on the wall!Yes, Mack realized the window in our hotel room actually opened, and onto the roof! So of course he pushed the kids out and they got a great view of the city.Our first touristy stop was actually unplanned. We were on our way to the Grand Canyon, but we didn’t realize our route would take us right through the Petrified National Forest! Of course we pulled off the main highway and took the scenic route so we could explore… it was so gorgeous!Mack might be posting a blog toward the end of the week with a few of his favorite photos of the trip, and his thoughts… I mean, considering I talked him into it. 😉 But he took the photo below of me & the kids, and it’s now one of my new favorite photos of all time.We didn’t get to the Grand Canyon with enough time to seriously hike, but we WERE able to walk several miles around the rim. It’s the first time Dorothy has been that it wasn’t freezing cold, and the first time Mack & Jack have really been able to explore, so we had a really great evening.
We found good Mexican food that night in Flagstaff, and the kids didn’t care about ANYTHING except the rubber sharks that came in the drinks. Keep your eyes open later in this blog post, and you’ll see another shark appearance.
Monday, July 19th was actually a pretty chilly morning at the Grand Canyon. Seeing the clouds settle down under us was one of the most gorgeous things ever. Eventually, though… those clouds burned off and it got HOT in the desert, and we had a super sweaty hike.
We decided to hike the Kaibab Trail, which is about a mile down into the canyon… and then a mile back up. The mile down is kind of a piece of cake, but I was VERY impressed that both of our kids beasted through the downhill AND the uphill without needing help!
They were both VERY proud of themselves when they reached the top alive. 😉On Tuesday morning, we left Flagstaff and headed to Los Angeles. Everyone was pretty worn out from all the hiking, so the kiddos mostly slept… and I colored, of course.
We loved getting to see my sister Sam’s new house in Tustin, and she joined the kiddos in making that night’s section of their Road Trip Video Diary.But Wednesday morning? DISNEY DAY.
We got there at park opening, because of course we did. The handsome lad in the back is Sam’s boyfriend Brennon who joined us, and who is completely precious. We kind of adore him.
Sam & Brennon both work at Disney, so neither of them feel like they HAVE to do anything when they go play in the park. So we were able to split off a few times and make sure each kid got to enjoy parts of the park separately and have some individual parent attention! Of course, Jack started with the Indiana Jones ride, which I wholeheartedly support because it’s amazing.Dorothy surprised us by actually being really into the roller coasters on this trip, and she happy-squealed all the way through Big Thunder Mountain!After lunch, we actually completely split up for a couple hours. Mack and I had a little miniature Disney Date while Jack & Dorothy were thoroughly spoiled by their Aunt Sam. I was so grateful for a little time with just my honey… and the kids were both pretty stoked to have a little time away from us, I’m sure!
We’re not the kind of people that outgrow Disneyland… even if she works there and sees it almost every day, watching the evening parade go by still brings Sam to tears, just like it does for me.
Disney Day 2 was spent at the California Adventure Park. Because I didn’t go here until I was an adult, I don’t have the same emotional attachment to this part of Disneyland, but every time I go, I learn and love more about it. We had such an amazing day!
After our photos WITH Chip & Dale, they decided there needed to be more photos of just them. I mean, they’re super handsome fellows, I don’t mind.
When Mack & Jack were doing some dude stuff, we girls staked out some of our favorite characters to meet. Dorothy was the first person in line to meet Mr Incredible, ElastiGirl, and Frozone, and they were AMAZING with her. They wanted to hear all about her family and her trip, and Mr. Incredible even wanted to see how fast she could run.
Here’s where I should go ahead and say… if you take your kids to Disney, don’t make the mistake of thinking they have to rush through character interactions. It is NOT just about a smiley picture and moving on. Encourage your kids to TALK. The characters love it, and it’ll make such a more poignant family memory. I have full conversations with every character I meet, even if the kids aren’t even in line with me!
Olaf was in a bit of a hidden spot, so we had TONS of time to visit with him. He challenged Dorothy to a jumping contest… which she, of course, won.
This will definitely be a family story for years… hey, remember that time we got to allllmost the end of the Radiator Springs Racers ride in CarsLand, and then it broke down? And how it broke down so competely that eventually they cleared the line and we got walked out of the ride? That was pretty awesome.Oh yeah… and then they played “Cruisin” when the neon lights lit up Route 66, and my sweetheart asked me to dance.At the end of the night, as always, we had our minds blown with Disney pyrotechnics. I don’t think the special World of Color show they’re doing for the 60th Disney Anniversary is as good as they one they had last year… but still, I cried my face off, and both of the kids were completely enthralled. The Disney story & legacy are so important to our family, and it’s definitely a part of us we’re proud of!
We slept SO hard that night… 18 miles the first Disney day, and 12 miles the second. But on Friday, July 24th, we got up early and headed north to our next destination. San Francisco is where we’ll start tomorrow’s blog! So if this one didn’t completely wear you out, we look forward to sharing more with you tomorrow. 🙂