Friday, September 15, 2017

Our First Family Vacation (April 1989): Northern Arizona and New Mexico

April 8, 1989 (Saturday):     (Corn Springs, Quartzite, Oak Creek Canyon)

Our first family trip (not associated with visiting family) where we actually stayed in motels. Rachael is 8, Sam is 4 and Andrew is 1. Rachael and Sam each gave a brief description of the trip (Sam’s as dictated to me), portions of which are incorporated.

We left home at 9:55 a.m. We drove down Hwy 10 past Desert Center, then took a dirt road eight miles to Corn Springs, 132 miles from Redlands, about 30 miles from Blythe. It was HOT, about 100 degrees. Corn Springs is an oasis with palm trees surrounded by stark, barren mountains (the Chuckwalla Mountains). The “Mayor of Corn Springs,” Gus Lederer, lived there raising 18 burros from 1915 to 1932. Gus died in 1932 from a bite on his spine by a black widow spider. We ate sandwiches on a rock near some wonderful Indian petroglyphs.

We stopped in Blythe, California, at 1:40 and purchased gas for $1.29/gallon (very high). We stopped in Quartzite, Arizona, at 2:15. At the Rock Shop, Sam bought an arrowhead for $.50 and Rachael bought an arrowhead for $.50 and a small piece of turquoise for $.50, using their own money. Some dogs were in the shop and Andrew “bow-wowed” at them. One was an old, very thin, whippet.

Just past Quartzite, we took Hwy 60, then Hwy 71, then Hwy 89. About seven miles before Prescott, we stopped because Andrew’s diaper smelled yukky. We had to use a ½ box of wipes on him and his car seat.  On to Sedona. We stopped for gas, then drove to Don Hoel’s Cabins, ten miles north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon. Beverly Doll, my paralegal, recommended them. The smaller cabins were full, and it was late, 7:00 p.m., so we paid $62.80 for a larger cabin, double what we wanted to pay. Our cabin has two bedrooms (three double beds) and a kitchen (with a stove, refrigerator and plates). I drove back to Sedona for ½ gallon of milk and pork chops. We didn’t have salt and the pork chops were not a great hit, so we all had peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Rachael and Sam each had their own beds in one room and Judy and I had Andrew in our room. Andrew woke up at 3:00 a.m. howling. We had to change him and give him a bottle. We got little sleep the rest of the night.

April 9, 1989 (Sunday):        (Slide Rock State Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff)

Sam and I took a hike up the side of the mountain Sunday morning, starting about 7:45 a.m. It was steep with lots of loose pine needles and loose dirt. Sam could not stand up, so I held his hand and dragged, and carried him up the mountain. We got ½ to ¾ of the way up before heading back. We had a beautiful view of the rocky canyon on the other side. We were gone an hour, then Judy and Rachael went on a hike for a ½ hour to 45 minutes. Sam said, “I liked the cabin hike. I liked going up, I didn’t like going down where the spikes were [yucca leaves].” We would like to have spent more time at the cabin. The kids enjoyed the playground this morning, including some swings.

We stopped at Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon. Beautiful red sandstone plateaus lead down to rock shelves and a slowly moving stream. People were sun bathing or swimming in beautiful shallow pools. One boy was trying to hook a trout swimming in a foot of water. We stopped and saw two life-sized sand sculptures of Jesus in Gethsemane and the Last Supper (which had been vandalized – Jesus’ head had been knocked off). We got out of the car at Midgely Bridge in Oak Creek Canyon, which covers a tremendously deep canyon. We hiked down off the side of the road to get a better look at the canyon.

We drove to Tuzigoot National Monument near Jerome. Tuzigoot was built by the Sinagua Indians which we learned a lot about on our trip. The ruins are made of limestone. The stone doesn’t weather well and the government has had to restore it fairly frequently. The ruins are on top of a hill surrounded by a beautiful green valley, marred on one side by smelted ore refuse. We loved a sign which said, “Please stay on the trail” and had a picture of a rattlesnake next to it. The weather was still hot, a predicted high of 95 degrees (and it felt at least that).

We drove to Jerome, a former mining town, “A City on a Hill,” now an artists colony. Lots of vacant buildings exist, but many are being restored. We ate our usual food, homemade sandwiches out of our cooler, hard boiled eggs and fruit, in a small terraced park in town. Andrew destroyed another diaper and smelled up his pants.

We drove back to Sedona and went through Tlaquepaque Shopping Center. It had very expensive art galleries and jewelry stores. It was modeled like a Mexican villa. We drove to Flagstaff and stayed at the Red Roof Inn Motel for a more reasonable $31.47. We stopped at Smith’s Food King for fruit, baby food, cereal and yogurt.

April 10, 1989 (Monday):     (Sunset Crater National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations, Gallup)

We bought gas in Flagstaff for $1.15/gallon and stopped at Smith’s Food King for crackers, bread, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, ice, milk and bologna.    

We visited Sunset Crater National Monument. Sunset Crater is an inactive volcano that last erupted in 1180 A.D. There are hundreds of acres of lava beds. This was one of Sam’s favorite spots. Sam is in to volcanoes and was especially thrilled by it all. We took a mile long nature trail up through the lava beds. Sam was our leader. We got a picture of Judy and the three kids standing on the edge of acres of lava flow, with fine ground lava at the edge and 12,683 foot Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona, in the background (we climbed Humphrey’s Peak as a family about 10 years later). Sam said, “We went to the volcano place with the lava. We stayed on the lava trail and saw all of the lava on the volcano. We went close to the volcano.”

We then visited Wupatki National Monument which was connected to Sunset Crater by a loop road. Wupatki was also built by the Sinagua Indians. Surprisingly, the Indians were attracted to the area after the eruption of Sunset Crater. The rich soil made it good for farming. A circular area was used by the Indians to play a game similar to handball. There was also an amphitheater. Sam and I spotted a large spiny lizard which we chased into a bush, and as Judy puts it, “terrorized” it for about 5 minutes. Wupatki was occupied from about 1120 to1210 A.D. There were other ruins which we saw from the road, Wukoki, Citadel, Nalakihu and Lomaki, but we only stopped at Wupatki. We had originally planned to see the grandfalls on the Little Colorado River, which are on the boundary of Wupatki National Monument and the Navajo Indian Reservation. However, the ranger said that it was a dry year and the water was little more than a trickle.

We traveled up Hwy 89 toward Grand Canyon and then turned east on Hwy 264 over the Hopi and Navajo Indian Reservations. We got a beautiful view of the Painted Desert after turning off Hwy 89. It was beautiful pinks, reds and purples. The roads were rough and not kept as well as state or federal maintained roads. We stopped in Second Mesa at the Hopi Cultural Center where we saw some beautiful kachina dolls. We also sampled blue corn bread and a blue, pastry-like roll with a corn tortilla flavor. We bought one roll for $1.00 for Rachael to take to school and share with her second grade class. It is called Piki bread and is made of blue corn and chamisa ash (a sagebrush type plant). Rachael wrote, “We bot some piki bread from an Indian store. We bought some fry bread too it had eyes nose and a mouth.”

We purchased gas in Chinle, right outside Canyon De Chelly. We couldn’t get into Canyon De Chelly because it closed at 5:00 p.m. We got there at 4:00 p.m., Arizona time, but the Reservation goes on daylight savings time while the rest of Arizona does not. We drove to Ganado and also were unable to go to the Hubbell Trading Post because it was closed.

We continued on to Gallup, New Mexico, where we checked out several seedy motels. Luckily, we found a very nice one for less than any of the icky ones we looked at. It was the Country Pride Motel, for $27.63. I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and purchased chicken for $13.53.

April 11, 1989 (Tuesday):    (Acoma, Albuquerque, Santa Fe)

We took Hwy 40 toward Albuquerque. We made a detour on Hwy 38 to go to Acoma, New Mexico, the “Sky City.” It was founded in 600 A.D. and is the oldest, continually inhabited city in the United States. This was one of the highlights of our trip.

We paid $13.00 to take a bus tour to the top of the mesa where the village is, no tourist cars are allowed. There is no electricity or piped in water on the mesa, although they do use generators and car batteries. There are presently about 50 people living year-round on the mesa. They collect water during the rainy season in open cisterns for use year round. Some of the original windows, made of mica, are still in place. They are 3 inches thick, and while one can see neither in nor out, the sun’s rays can penetrate the “glass” and light up the room.

Rachael and Sam each bought a piece of “Acoma glass” (mica) for $.25. We also bought and enjoyed a large piece of fry bread, mush like a scone, with a smiley face in it, for which we paid $1.00. There must have been 12 to 15 vendors on the mesa, each selling her own pottery. We have seen a lot of pottery in all the Indian trading posts, but the Acoma style really captured our fancy. Judy bought a round lined pottery sphere (greenware, not Indian shaped) painted with Acoma designs (geometric lines) made free-hand (incredible) with a yucca plant tip for a brush. Most of their pottery is black and white with some clay color on some pieces. We would have liked a traditional Indian-made pot, but they were more expensive and much less detailed. Judy guesses that the softer clay cannot take the intricate designs. We paid $15.00 for ours and got it from the woman who made it. When Judy asked her how long it took to make, she said one week (but we don’t believe her).

The old church was built in 1629 and now has an interesting mix of ancient and modern décor, including imported statues from Spain that are hundreds of years old. The church is made of sandstone, coated with a mud and straw adobe mix. The walls are 9 to 11 feet thick. There are two bell towers. One of the bells was secured by trading five girl and five boy Acoma children to the Mexicans to be slaves. They observe several religious ceremonies, including one where two teams of men race through town with roosters tied to poles, then tear a live rooster, which is hanging from a pole, apart. Whoever gets the biggest piece of the rooster wins it and gets to bury it in his field for good luck for his crops. The cemetery outside the church is over 60 feet deep. When the weather erases the name from a cross, another body can be buried on top of the one already in the grave and a new name is placed on the cross.

I took some steep stone stairs, hewn into the rock, off the mesa. The stairs went down through crevices, and in some spots were almost vertical. Hand holds were also hewn into the rock. Some steps were built in with sandstone slabs. Since it cost $5.00 to take pictures, we did not take any. However, Judy did take a picture of the mesa from our moving car, out the window, as we left.
We drove to Albuquerque and visited the Rio Grande Zoo. During the first half of the zoo, we thought it might be one of the great small zoos. The exhibit environments were really wonderful – very natural – and the animals all seemed up close rather than hiding out somewhere. We especially liked the Komodo dragon exhibit, the raptors and big cats. In the latter, each exhibit had running water, either a stream or waterfall. The other half of the zoo was very ordinary and much older. A lot of construction was going on, and it is obvious that this is a zoo on the rise. We were impressed. Andrew really liked the orangutan, which was rolling around in a big plastic tub. At the gorilla exhibit, we had to pry his hands off the bar to pull him away from watching two young gorillas playing together. In general, Andrew liked the big animals, the ostriches, elephants, giraffes, etc. He would point excitedly at them and grunt. He was on my shoulders, and when we would walk away from his favorites, he would really pull on my hair while he turned around to strain for a last look. Rachael also liked the funny orangutan and so did Sam. Sam also says he liked the cheetahs. I liked a huge swimming soft shell turtle and Judy liked the screaming lemurs. Sam and I also liked the very active and playful bobcats.

From Albuquerque, we took Hwy 85 to Santa Fe and stayed in a Motel 6 for $29.58.

April 12, 1989 (Wednesday):           (Taos, Santa Fe, Gallup)

We got gas in Santa Fe for $.97/gallon, then headed for Taos, New Mexico. We visited Taos Pueblo, which has existed since 1300 A.D. It is at 7,000 feet and is two miles outside Taos. Taos Pueblos is more commercial than Acoma, the old lifestyle appears preserved for tourists rather than for principle. All of the buildings are made of adobe and homes are stacked five stories high. Each home has an outdoor oven and electricity and running water are forbidden. However, the adobes had screen doors, the selling of goods was much more organized (much of the wares were imported from other tribes – we never figured out what, if anything, was made in Taos itself) and some of the girls selling goods looked like disco fashion queens We paid $5.00 to enter, but then had the option of paying $5.00 to use a still camera, $10.00 to use a vcr, $15.00 to do any sketching and $35.00 to do any painting. Goods were expensive and prices varied tremendously. Indians competed with each other selling postcards, bread and handmade items. We bought an herb bundle composed of sagebrush, lavender and other plants for Grandpa Cannon’s birthday (the smell was wonderful, but over powering) and two postcards. Rachael bought a corn necklace for $3.00. A large mountain near the Pueblo was turned over to the Indians in 1970 by the federal government by court order. It is now off limits to all but the Taos Pueblo Indians. We all liked Acoma much more than Taos Pueblo.

We drove into Taos itself. We were a little disappointed by the surrounding terrain. With its reputation for drawing artists, we expected something a little more spectacular. We stopped by the Kit Carson home, but it did not look worth the $6.00 entry fee. We did enjoy walking quickly through some shops around the plaza where we saw a lot we liked but could not afford.

We backtracked toward Santa Fe. Along the way we stopped at a roadside stand outside Espanola and bought a strand of chili peppers for $7.00 and a cob of blue corn for Rachael to take to school (for $1.00). The owner was such a salesman that we couldn’t have left without buying something. He met us at our car (we were his only customers), gave Judy his card, gave the kids an apple and some dried corn, and talked our ears off!

We ate lunch at Rancho Casados in Espanola and paid $23.88 for the traditional New Mexican cuisine. The kids each had an ample children’s plate for $1.50 and Judy and I had chimichangas, Judy’s with a good green sauce and mine with a not so great red sauce. One of the best parts of the meal was hot sopaipillas with honey.

In Santa Fe, we visited the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Built at the urging of Archbishop Lamy, head of the Catholic Church in New Mexico (the character in Willa Cather’s book “Death Comes for the Archbishop”). Lamy is buried under the main alter. The church is beautiful and amazing because it was built largely by Indian labor.

Just down the street, we visited the Loretto Chapel, or Our Lady of Lights, built for the nuns at Lamy’s urging in the 1870s. It was the first Gothic architecture building west of the Mississippi and is famous for its “miracle staircase.” When the building was planned, they forgot to include a staircase to the choir loft. After a week of prayer by the nuns, a mysterious man arrived, and over a period of six months, built the spiral staircase. He never sought payment for his time or the materials. The staircase has no nails  and no visible means of support. Engineers still marvel at the construction because it does not seem possible for it to stand, structurally. One engineer surmises that it stands because of its weight pushing down upon itself. The banister was added later by another workman. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving were married there.

We enjoyed the cohesive architectural style in Santa Fe: earth colors, rounded corners, flat roofs with protruding beams. It is soft, peaceful and very “artsy.” Much of the wares in Santa Fe  were of high quality and high price – investment art.

We purchased baby food and some gas in Grants and drove to Gallup where we stayed in the Country Pride Motel again, the same motel we stayed in two nights previous. For dinner we stopped by Albertsons and bought ribs, as well as cereal, bread and more baby food. We also stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a dozen donuts.

April 13, 1989 (Thursday):              (Canyon De Chelly, Hubbell Trading Post, Petrified Forest National Park)

We got gas in Gallup for $1.05/gallon and then traveled up Hwy 264 to Ganado where we visited the Hubbell Trading Post. It had such a build up that we were real disappointed. It was very expensive and didn’t have all that much stuff: some food, rugs, a small sampling of pottery, tourist books and jewelry. We decided Gallup, New Mexico, is the place to go to get Indian items. It has trading posts all over the place. The trading post has a small visitor’s center and two Navajo women were weaving rugs using an old loom. In the car, Rachael drew a picture of one of the Navajo woman weaving a blanket. Rachael wrote, “Then we saw hubbal trading post it wasn’t wearth it thoe my mom and dad and me were really disappointed too. But I loved the hubbel trading post visitors center. We saw Indian weavers in the trading post too!”

We left Ganado, up Hwy 191, to Canyon De Chelly. At the visitor’s center we bought a book for Navajo school children, called “Coyote Stories.” It contains 14 stories, each about an encounter of coyote with a different animal or man, such as “coyote and the porcupine.” We drove the south rim of the canyon, to each of the lookouts but the last one, which was an additional 11 miles.  From the road it looks like ordinary juniper country, but inside the steep canyon it is beautiful.

One of the highlights of our trip was the hike to White House Ruin, a 2 ½ mile round trip up and down a steep canyon. It was beautiful 70 degree weather, the hike was challenging, but fun, and the ruins were pretty spectacular. A very steep trail lead down a 500 foot cliff. At the bottom was an octagonal hogan and a Navajo girl was herding sheep and goats in an enclosed area. Not too much further we crossed a river. Judy and I had to take our shoes and socks off to carry the kids across. White House ruin is a cliff dwelling built by the Anasazi, partially on the ground and partially up in the indentation of a cliff. Rachael and Sam were very cute in the University of Wisconsin t-shirts I bought for them at a seminar I attended at the University of Wisconsin the summer before. We promised Sam a rest in a small cave near the top of the canyon and used the shady rest site as an incentive to keep him moving. It worked. Both Sam and Rachael were able to hike the whole way by themselves (Judy and I carried Andrew). We ate a lunch of bologna sandwiches, with tomatoes and cheese from our cooler, at the top. We shared our sandwiches with a very nice white and brown Navajo sheep dog which befriended us.

Of our hike, Rachael wrote, “We took a long hike about 1 and a half miles down a steep canyon we went through two large tunnels in the rock. When we were at the bottom of the canyon we got to a stream. Dad carried us across, too!! After everybody was across the stream we walked a little while longer and came to some cliff dwellings. We read a thing about the cliff dwellings and then hiked back up to our car.” Sam said, “We went on the Canyon De Chelly with the tunnels. Dad took me across the river with bare feet…I didn’t need to be carried at Canyon De Chelly…I liked going into the tunnels at Canyon De Chelly. I took a rest in one. I took a rest there because I needed to get more muscles for my legs. The rest helped by giving some muscles for my legs. I remember hiking way up in Canyon De Chelly. It was really deep. The really deep gave me some muscles.”

Time was getting late, so we left in a rush to drive the 100 miles to Petrified Forest National Park before it closed. In the car, Rachael drew a picture of Canyon Del Chelly which included the river and a squirrel we saw. From Ganado, we went down Hwy 191 to Hwy 40.

Petrified Forest National Park was a disappointment. We zipped through in an hour to get out by closing. In the north end we were able to admire the beauty of the Painted Desert, with beautiful vistas of pinks, reds and interesting rock formations. We did not get to see much of it, but it was similar to the terrain near Tuba City. Newspaper Rock was disappointing. We had expected something spectacular and could not really see anything. The Indian ruins were pretty dull compared to some of the neat ones we have seen earlier on the trip. The part of the park that was supposed to be the best (Agate House and Rainbow Forest) was already closed when we got there. We did see one nice turnoff at Crystal Point where there were many large multi-hued petrified logs. Outside the south end of the park were two large rock shops rivaling those in Quartzite, with great selections of petrified wood. Some of the wood is very beautiful, but the cost would be fairly large to get some big chunks of it. The kids bought some small chunks of petrified wood and our resident artist, Rachael, drew a picture of a petrified log. Rachael wrote, “We got some petrified wood of our own. I got two peaces of petrified wood, some fools gold, a geode, a piece of turcoise, an arrowhead, and some other things.”

Holbrook, Arizona, also has a number of rock shops. Between Holbrook and Quartzite, a rockhound  would be in heaven.

We were somewhat disappointed with our drives through the Hopi/Navajo lands. The driving was generally unspectacular except for Canyon De Chelly and the beginnings near Tuba City (the Painted Desert). Some of the nicest country we saw was from Ganado to I-40 on the way to Petrified Forest where the terrain was hilly with large junipers, much like the country below Cedar City, Utah.

The kids and Judy have remarked several times that the trip has been fun. We’ve been exhausted each night as we’ve come to the hotel. We’ve done a lot of driving (today alone over 300 miles). But hopefully, having some experiences the kids will always remember.

We stayed the night at the Super 8 Marco Polo Hotel in Winslow, Arizona. We purchased some milk at a Circle K and ate at McDonalds.

April 14, 1989 (Friday):       (Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Grand Canyon Deer Farm)

We got gas for $1.13/gallon in Winslow. We drove to Meteor Crater. It was the first identified, and largest and best preserved crater created by a meteor in the world. The crater has an impressive depth, it is 560 feet deep, deep enough to fit a 60 story building within it. It is 4,100 feet across, with a circumference of more than three miles. 20 football fields could be put side by side within it, and if they were, two million spectators could be accommodated on its slopes. A meteor 80 to 100 feet in diameter, at a velocity of 43,000 miles per hour, hit this area. It is estimated all life within 100 miles was killed. The crater is also known as the Barringer Crater after Dr. Barringer, who developed the theory that the crater was created by a meteor. His family still owns the land. The site was designated a natural landmark in 1968 by the Department of the Interior. The meteor fragments are composed of nickel and iron and are extremely heavy. All of the Apollo astronauts were trained here. The visitor’s center has the original space suit of Charles Duke, Jr., who walked on the moon, and pictures and patches of the Apollo, Gemini and other flights.      

Meteor Crater was a yawner for me, but the kids and Judy loved it. Rachael was in Young Astronauts and particularly ate it up. She wrote, “We also saw a meteor-crater it was really neat! A rock had come out of space and hit the earth really hard. It made a very deep hole it was almost a mile wide. We watched two movies about the meteor crater and space.” Sam, describing our visit to Meteor Crater, said, “A stone goes in the meteor crater and then the stone makes fire. Some of the stone is inside the meteor crater. Some of the meteor crater goes away. The meteor crater hole is empty. We saw a space suit and a rocket outside, a different kind of rocket. You could touch the rocket outside. We watched a movie about astronauts floating on the moon.”

We drove to Walnut Canyon National Monument. When we got there, Judy questioned whether we should. Nothing is really said about it in the travel literature. It is right within the Flagstaff city limits, although out in the forest. It turned out to be one of my favorite spots on the trip. The first view is a beautiful terraced canyon with S curves, somewhat like Goosenecks. A stream which created the canyon was dammed in 1904, so the bottom is now dry and covered with green grass. The terraces are dotted with pine trees, yucca and other plants and rock overhangs. The peninsulas within the S curves are pyramided toward the top. The hike is .9 miles round trip with approximately 284 stairs. The trail leads down the mountain about ½ to ¾ of the way, and then does a circular trip around one of the S curves on one of the levels where the Indian ruins (Sinagua) are found. The Indians built their homes under the overhangs putting in walls of rock and mud for front entrances, sides and walls. The doorways have holes above them so that when fires were burned inside, the doors could be covered and the smoke could escape through the holes. The insides of the still covered homes are entirely blackened from the fires that burned inside. Most of the homes were in the same leveled tier, on both sides of the canyon, although there were some ruins in different levels. The weather was in the 70’s and the air clear, sunny and beautiful. This, along with the hike to White House ruin in Canyon De Chelly, and the Acoma Sky City, are the three highlights of our trip for me. These Sinagua Indians are related to those of Tuzigoot and Wupatki and are from about the same period. We saw turkey vultures flying above the canyon.  Sam didn’t like Walnut Canyon. “I didn’t like that dark, dark fire, that black. I didn’t like the deep ones.”

25 miles west of Flagstaff and 8 miles east of Williams, Arizona, we stopped at Grand Canyon Deer Farm. It was expensive, $12.50, but the kids loved it, particularly Andrew who is our nature boy. The central focus is a herd of 75 fallow deer in an open area that can be fed corn. In addition, a few mule deer, sika deer, muntjac, a llama, goats, sheep, turkeys, chickens, ducks, squirrel monkeys and a cockatoo. Rachael and Sam got to hold baby goats and Sam was able to pet some chickens. Andrew refused to be held and was thrilled to stare at the deer and goats. We bought feed and Andrew tried to coax deer to eat out of his hand. Sam really seems to have a way (patience) with animals. Outside the deer farm, we had lunch on a bench in a grassy area with trees. Bologna sandwiches with cream cheese, sardines and pork and beans. Sam’s favorite part of  the trip was the Grand Canyon Deer Farm “because we got to pet the deers and hold the baby goats and got to carry them and Mom took a picture of us holding them and we saw a talking bird.”

Some of our trip ideas have been very successful. Our little cooler has been repacked with ice every morning and has kept Andrew’s bottles, mayonnaise, lettuce, bologna and tomatoes and cheese fresh. The water cooler has always had sufficient water and has stayed cool, even overnight, for1 ½ days. We managed to find motels in the $30.00 range, except our one splurge in Oak Creek Canyon. It is a little hard sleeping in the same room with the kids because we have to go to sleep early and lay awake in bed in the morning in order not to wake the kids.

We purchased gas in Kingman, Arizona, for $1.21/gallon. We remained on Hwy 40 to Needles, where we bought dinner at Carl’s Jr. for $16.96. We then did a diagonal jog on Hwy 62 down past Amboy Crater, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, to home. Sam said, “I didn’t like nothing in the car in that long drive.”

We budgeted $750.00 for the trip and did it for $547.32: $92.01 for gas, $56.43 for souvenirs, $71.50 for attractions, $208.62 for lodging and $118.76 for food.

All in all, our first real family vacation was so much fun we’ve decided to be better about getting out and visiting new places and getting to know our surroundings.


  1. Was that really us? It was a lifetime ago. It's so fun that you took such great notes. I love the quotes from the kids and the details of the expenses. Ah, the good ol' days.

  2. This is one of my favorite trips of all time. I didn't realize it was our first! I remember so much of this so clearly. I really enjoyed the petrified forest and remember being g bummed that we didn't get to stay longer since so much of it was closed. I remember how good all that fry bread was and how cool those mica windows were!