McG 2015 Road Trip Recap : Pt. 1 | McGowan Images Blog


McG 2015 Road Trip Recap : Pt. 1

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…

McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_01Pretty soon, sleeping was the top priority. I mean, for everyone except Chauffeur Mom. That’s ok with me, though… I love a long drive!McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_02We 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!McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_03Yes, 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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_04McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_05Our 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!McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_06McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_07McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_08McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_09McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_10McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_11McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_12McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_13McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_14McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_15McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_16McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_17McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_18McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_19Mack 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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_20McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_21We 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. McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_22McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_23McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_24McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_25McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_26McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_27McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_28McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_29McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_30McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_31McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_32McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_33McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_34McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_35McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_36McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_37McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_38

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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_39

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.

McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_40McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_41McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_42McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_43McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_44McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_45We 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!McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_46McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_47McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_48McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_49McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_50McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_51McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_52McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_53McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_54McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_55McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_56McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_57McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_58McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_59

They were both VERY proud of themselves when they reached the top alive. 😉McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_60McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_61McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_62On 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.

McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_63We 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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_64But 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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_69Dorothy surprised us by actually being really into the roller coasters on this trip, and she happy-squealed all the way through Big Thunder Mountain!McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_70McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_71McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_72McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_73McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_74After 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!McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_75McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_76

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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_84McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_85

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!

McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_86McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_87Olaf 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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_88McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_89McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_90

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.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_91Oh yeah… and then they played “Cruisin” when the neon lights lit up Route 66, and my sweetheart asked me to dance.McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_92McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_93McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_94At 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!

McGowanImages_McG2015RoadTrip_Blog1_95We 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. 🙂

  1. Bobbileigh says:

    First, I LOVE Jacks shirt on the second Disney day!! I am also glad to hear I am not the only one who is moved to tears by Disney fireworks. I meant to do Grand Canyon when I went to Vegas, but you know too much alcohol stopped that from happening, after these pics it is def back on my list!

  2. Vicky says:

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! I absolutely love the polaroid of you guys with Mickey!!

  3. Adria says:

    People who don’t love your personal blog posts are CRAZY! I love learning more about your sweet family and your adventures, and you can DEFINITELY still see some seriously stunning “big camera” photos! I kept finding more things I needed to comment on! Such beautiful color and perspective. The photo of the El Rancho with the reflection is perfection on a stick! And Jack looking out over the canyon – how handsome is he??? And Dorothy showing off her speed for Mr. Incredible, and the two of you dancing in Radiator Springs? GAH! I want your life!!

  4. Ambo says:

    I love love love these blog posts! I’m so glad you guys had a blast! Those family memories will last forever!

  5. Taylor says:

    Such a beautiful family! Love ALL of the pictures and love how you told the story through out of each day and what it was like at Disney!! Dorothy and Jack look like they are having the time of their lives!

  6. Erica says:

    I know this isn’t news to you, but your family is precious! I love seeing all the fun you have. I think your personal blogs are my favorite! 😀

    Also, Jack’s nerd mashup shirt is amazing! My favorite part of this blog is the picture of Dorothy overlooking the Grand Canyon. I nearly teared up.

    To conclude, you guys are wonderful!

  7. Ann says:

    Love this. You are making some fabulous family memories. That is so important. And I love the old-fashioned car trip!!!

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