Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Arizona Trip!

(Lots of words in this post, but also lots of pictures!  Feel free to skim and scroll.  This is mostly for my own memory, but if you enjoy the word parts too, yay!)

Our trip to Arizona was fantastic.  It was so great to spend a weekend away with my immediate family -- which has grown from six to twelve -- and explore a place most of us had never been before (or we had gone so long ago that we barely remembered it).

My parents took Josh and me* to the Grand Canyon in 1991, six months before Lydia was born, and 2 1/2 years before Ben was born.  Back then, we were a family of four.  I was 6, and Josh was 7 1/2.  I remember pretty much nothing about that trip, except a few vague impressions that are probably more a result of seeing photos than they are actual memories.

*Grammar lesson!  Yes, this is grammatically correct (vs. "Josh and I").  Take out "Josh and" and read the sentence; it should make sense.  Case in point:  "My parents took I to the Grand Canyon..." = nope!  This has been your daily Nerd Moment with Tabitha.

So this time, I tried to soak it all in, and capture as much as possible with my little phone camera.  (I actually brought my "real" digital camera with every intention of taking most of my photos with it, but then I realized that my phone camera is actually BETTER than my digital camera.  Ha!)

Now I will attempt to capture the weekend in words to go along with all the photos.  (And let's not talk about how I never finished my Scotland recap series and probably have already forgotten most of the second -- unwritten -- half of that trip.  Gah.)

Joe and I decided to take a train because it was (going to be) less expensive than flying, and less stressful than driving.  Let me sum up our train experiences (there and back) by saying this:  if you are going to be on a train overnight, splurge for the full ROOM, not just the "roomette."  The roomette is more like a creepy, claustrophobic closet that is impossible to sleep in and even more impossible to cram two small overnight bags into.  We learned this lesson on the way out, and after sleeping for mayyyyyybe an hour total on the ten hour train ride, we opted to upgrade our return trip to the full room.

The room on the return train was still not huge by any means, but it was much more spacious and comfortable than that awful roomette.  We had our own toilet, sink and shower.  We had seats that folded out into a full-ish sized bed, so that we could snuggle up and sleep on the same surface rather than using the teeny weeny fold-down top bunk.  (The top bunk will totally come in handy someday if we take a small child or two on an overnight train!)  AND there was an extra little seat in case one person wanted to sit while the other slept.  So, our round trip train fare probably ended up being about the same as if we had flown, but it was a fun experience, and now we know what's up if we ever do it again.

Teeny weeny "roomette" - this is how close
we were when it was in seat position...

Here's Joe on his top bunk. I could reach
him from my position laying down on the
bottom bunk. TEEEEENY weeny.

And here's the ROOM!  Joe is modeling how
spacious the lower bed is, and you can see
the top bunk pulled down.

Here's the view from the lower bed when it's in
the upright seat position.  You can see the extra
seat on the right, and the white space on the left
is where our little toilet/shower was!

Friday we arrived, noodled around town for a bit (in a sleepless zombie state), and then went to the rental house my mom had arranged for the family.  This place was lovely and huge and perfect, and my parents graciously covered the full cost of us all staying there!  Mom did a great job scouting the place out, so I might just make her plan all of my trips for the rest of eternity.  (kidding, kinda)  She also set up a meal sharing plan so that each adult couple provided a meal for everyone.  I loved getting to cook for everyone, and I loved that I only had to do it once!  We made dinner Friday night, then enjoyed breakfasts and dinners made by other family members the rest of the weekend!  (We packed easy lunches for Saturday and Sunday since we'd be out and about.)  Once the rest of the family arrived, we settled in and just hung out together.

My baby siblings with their significant others!  
(I still can't quite accept that they are adults...)

The cutest little one-year-old, Ezra!

Saturday we visited a couple of places in/near Sedona, famous for its red rock formations and general amazingness.  First we went to Slide Rock State Park, where it turns out there's a big creek that people can swim in!  Sadly, none of us brought bathing suits, so we didn't end up going in the creek.  But we got to walk around the park, through various trails and paths, and then had our picnic lunch and played Frisbee and velcro catch for awhile.  (Has anyone else ever played velcro catch?  It's these velcro "mitts" that you use to catch a fuzzy ball!  My mom found a set in a store recently and brought it along out of nostalgia, and it was THE BEST.  I've never been much good at playing catch, but I can stick my hand up and aim in the general direction of the ball flying toward me, and most of the time it'll land on the big velcro mitt.)

This is my favorite.  Jumping pictures with Zion (Ben's girlfriend)
and Braulio (Lydia's boyfriend), with a Levi cameo!

Panorama of the cool creek at Slide Rock, where lots of people were swimming and playing!

I love adventuring with this guy!

Ben and Levi playing velcro catch.

Serena and Ezra hanging out in the shade.

Playing velcro catch with my pops!

After Slide Rock, we headed further into Sedona to look for a good place to do a light hike.  Somehow we ended up in a residential neighborhood (I think my dad said something like, "I saw a cool looking mountain/rock and drove toward it until I couldn't get any closer."), and then Josh or someone figured out that there was a public trailhead nearby.  We ventured onto Sugarloaf Trail, which crossed paths with several other trails, and just followed the large rock markers set up to help people from getting lost.

After awhile, everyone except Ben, Zion, Joe and me decided to head back (some to prep dinner, some to not die of exhaustion/bad knees/etc).  The four of us attempted to find a spot that a nearby hiker said would provide a 360 degree view of Sedona.  We ended up making it to a spot with about a 270 degree view, realizing the summit was a bit farther than we had anticipated.  Zion was coughing up her lungs (she was getting over a cold), Joe was SUPER over it, and the water in my bottle was jacuzzi temperature (blech).  I forgot to track the hike from the beginning, but I turned on RunKeeper on the way back down, and I think the whole hike was about a mile round trip.  (IT FELT LIKE AT LEAST THREE TO ME.)  I'm sure it had something to do with a) being at a WAY higher elevation than I'm used to, thus having more difficulty breathing, and also b) the HEAT.  It was somewhere around 90 degrees, which I absolutely love when I'm standing still with a slight breeze at my back...but it's a whole different story to hike in that kind of heat when I'm used to Santa Barbara's 60-70 degree hiking temperatures.  Anyway, I was extremely proud/impressed/grateful/happy that Joe was such a trooper since he's a self professed Hike Hater.  I know he probably would've picked something else for us to do than hike, but he was a champ and I loved getting to do one of my favorite things with him in a new place.

Checking out the trail maps so we wouldn't get lost!


The whole group on our little hike!

I can't even.  How did my silly big brother
make such beautiful babies?!

Love, love, love hiking in new places!

I took this panorama to show that this hike is literally right above a neighborhood.  How cool to live so close to a trail!

Let me take a selfie!

Once we got home, we relaxed, had a delicious dinner made by Serena and Josh, and mostly vegged out.  (Veg'd? Veged? Whatever.)  I got to play with Levi and see more of his fantastic imagination at work.  We played Vehicles, Microphone Foot, and What's the Password (wherein I trap him in a big bear hug and won't let go until he says the password, which is usually "Aunt Tab is awesome" or some variation, but he always tries to get away with "Aunt Tab is crazy!" or "Aunt Tab is NOT awesome!" before he gives in and says it right)I just love that kid!  Once the kids were in bed, eight of the ten grown-ups played cards for a bit.  Serena taught us "Jerk" -- and I won the first round! 

Sunday we visited a local church that Serena found through a friend (I think?), and that was a lot of fun!  The church is comprised of 65% college students, so obviously a very young crowd on the whole.  We felt very welcomed, and I think my parents liked it even though they were some of the oldest in the room, haha.

Then we grabbed lunch at Cracker Barrel, because that's what you do when you are in a place that has a Cracker Barrel, right?  My mom and I played a game of giant checkers in the store while we waited for our table, and I probably would have won if we had played to the end.  May not sound too exciting to you, but I have played checkers against small children and almost never managed to win.

Anyway, after a delightful lunch, we set out for the Grand Canyon!  We parked at the Visitor's Center and took one of the shuttle lines to a couple different viewing spots.  Both spots we checked out were not fenced off (like the place in the photos from my childhood trip was), so it was kinda scary/exciting to be able to walk right to the edge and look out over the canyon.  We definitely kept a good grip on the kiddos!  It was such an awe-inspiring thing to behold, and I couldn't stop taking photos and audibly "wow"ing every few seconds. 

The thing about the Grand Canyon is, it's so enormous and deep and wide that it's kind of hard to really focus on any one part of it without getting dizzy or going cross-eyed.  (At least, that's how I felt about it.)  I felt so tiny, and God felt so very big in that place.  This is why I love being outdoors, you guys.  Witnessing so many different aspects of creation, realizing every bit of it was handcrafted by a Creator, is just...well, there are no words to adequately describe it.

The original four who went to the GC 23 years ago!

Petrie Clan without all the significant others and kiddos.
(Someone got a picture of all 12 of us at the GC, but not on my phone!)

He was happy, I promise.  :-)


The ladies!

Ben, Josh and Levi.

The boys!

Sadly, Joe and I had to leave the Grand Canyon ahead of the others, since we had a homebound train to catch.  Everyone else stayed behind to watch the sunset (can't WAIT to see those photos!), and we made the drive back to our Flagstaff home to load up our stuff.  Wouldn't you know it, five minutes before we arrived, we got an email from Amtrak saying our train was delayed by over two hours.  If we'd known before we left the canyon, we could have totally stayed with everyone!  So that was kind of stupid.  But we just took the opportunity to relax for awhile in the house, then set out to return the rental car and get to the train station.  (We saw the rest of the family pulling up the street as we were leaving the house, further exacerbating the frustration of knowing we could have been with them!  Such is life.)

The return train, as I mentioned earlier, was much more comfortable.  We managed to sleep pretty well, and even though the long train from Flagstaff to Los Angeles was SO delayed, we still somehow managed to make our connecting train from LA to Goleta!  We literally walked off one train and onto another, though, because the Goleta-bound train was about to depart in two minutes!  Once we got home it was Monday afternoon, and though I had thought of going in to work for the second half of the day, I made the obvious best choice and went home to do a whole lot of NOTHING (except a 30 Day Shred because, oh yeah, I'm doing that -- did I mention I also brought along my DVD, mat and 14 pounds' worth of dumbbells so I could fit in a couple more Shred workouts while we were in Arizona?  Yep).

 So there's the recap for our Arizona trip!

Phew!  That felt good.  Can someone remind me of this next time I do/see/experience something great and DON'T immediately write about it before it fades from my memory forever?