Do ya’ll remember when I went on vacation back in June? and promised to blog about it? And then I quit after just a few days? Yeah… that. I haven’t forgotten.
So surprise – I’m gonna tell you about Day 7 (of 15?). I make no promises to follow up with day 8 anytime soon (that would surely set me up for failure), but we’ll see. If you missed my earlier posts, catch up here:
Okay… Day 7. After our not so pleasant Day 6, we were really hoping for a better day today and it was better… right up until the end when we ended on a sour note.
Let me tell you all about it.
First, we woke up in Vegas. We were pretty anxious to get out of town after the previous night, so after having breakfast in the hotel (all the pizza that wasn’t eaten the night before), we packed up and headed out.
We made it all the way to the interstate (about 10 minutes from our hotel) when Joshua reminded us of his ONE Vegas request… he wanted to go to the The Pinball Hall of Fame. The Pinball Hall of Fame was just down the street from our hotel. That we had already left. And gotten quite a distance from on the INTERSTATE. UGH!
We had promised him we’d go so we took the next exit – did quite a bit of griping and back-tracking and found ourselves back at the place… just a few minutes before they opened! We took that pic in the empty parking lot – the kids thought the tree was so “cool”.
I got a total of ONE picture here. The rest were way overexposed and basically… well, they were just white. But either way – we gave the kids a little money for tokens and they played on all.the.pinball.machines. for about an hour. Sure – they could’ve stayed there all day but that would’ve also cost a zillion dollars and well… we didn’t.
SO, after that almost-forgotten detour, we were back on the road headed toward Hoover Dam. Since it is listed as one of the “7 Industrial Wonders of the World”, I really wanted us to see it!
Unfortunately – every other tourist within a thousand miles was also there the same day as us and it was a bit too crowded for my taste. Besides, we had planned to cover a LOT of miles on the road that day, so we really didn’t have time to wade through thousands of people and tour everything.
Instead, we walked around a little – took a few pics – explained the mechanics of it a little bit to the kids, then got back on the road. Here are some of my favorites…
This first one was actually Lake Mead – just before we got to Hoover Dam. Seeing how low the water was was really startling.
These pics are looking up from the dam to the North. The Colorado River was so green – the same as when we saw it the day before – and then that water line – it didn’t look real!
Richy and the boys leaned and looked waaaay over!
This is the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – just south of the Dam. I wanted to drive across it but Richy hates bridges and heights and since it wasn’t on our route by any stretch of the imagination – that didn’t happen. 😉
Oh – but we did briefly cross back into Arizona when we drove over the dam (that’s where we took all of these pics from). Somehow I missed the memo that the Hoover Dam crossed the Colorado River at the state line of Nevada/Arizona… so we actually entered and left Arizona 4 times on our trip!
Anyway – after snapping some pics, we drove back across the dam and headed north… back past Vegas and toward Utah! Sadly I can’t remember what we did for lunch that day. I’m sure it was sandwiches and fruit from the cooler but it just doesn’t stand out for me.
That blue line is our route for maybe the last 4-5 days I’ve posted so far (including this Day 7 post). We left Vegas, went south to the Hoover Dam then back-tracked back up through Vegas and to Utah (crossing through the corner of Arizona for the 4th and final time of our trip).
I didn’t take a bunch more pics in Nevada, but once we got back into Utah, we got off the Interstate and crossed over to get onto Scenic Highway 89. Since we wanted to hit as many National Parks as possible, this route took us through Zion National Park. This was not a park we had originally planned to visit – I’m not even sure I’d ever heard of it, but it was so close to our route – of course we went!
And I have to say… surprisingly, the entire family agreed that this might have been the very best National Park we visited… and we were only there for a short time!! It was SO beautiful and breathtaking and quaint and perfect. Tucked away in the mountains and red canyons – it was quiet, sublime…. a place we wanted to stay for a long time.
Even now (3 months later), the kids still ask if we can plan another trip to go stay at Zion National Park. We all want to go back!!
Here’s a small sample of pics from that day from the park and surrounding area. By the way – it was getting later in the day when we got there (I was so, so sad), so the pics are a little dark. But ya’ll… this place. My pictures don’t do it justice!!
Isn’t that beautiful?
And awe-inspiring. Then this below … it looked like waves – so smooth.
There were so many different kinds of rocks and textures…
This kind above was called Checkerboard rock (I think). How neat is that??
And a tunnel. My kids loved it – I hated it. I’m somewhat claustrophobic, so tunnels are not my thing. Or caves. Or parking garages. Or any small, dark, space where rocks or concrete might cave in and crush me. Just sayin.
This one looks crazy… all the patterns going in different directions?! I wish it wasn’t so dark!!
And there was the Blind Arch. It was very cool looking!
Sarah and I loved the places that were lighter – almost pink!
We stopped and got out at one pull-out area. The kids had a blast running and playing…being silly 🙂
Joshua – my oldest – is nuts ya’ll. But I love him! He’s also a ton of fun! Below is another of my favorite pics…
It wasn’t on purpose, but seeing myself with that camera… it’s how I spent SO much of our trip! I couldn’t get enough pictures!! And I had this lingering fear that I might drop my camera out the window so I always had my strap wrapped around my arm – even though I rarely (maybe never?) actually stuck my camera outside the window.
This last one was getting close to sunset – on our way out of the park. It was just gorgeous. Oh, oh, oh… and there was wildlife. Very difficult to photograph, but we saw some variety of deer…
and several Bighorn Sheep on the side of a mountain:
Can you see them? So… let me wrap this up. Gosh this makes me want to go back. After we left Zion, we drove quite a while longer before getting to our hotel. After having such an amazing time in Zion, we were not prepared for what else happened that night.
We arrived at our hotel just before 10pm. We thought the hotel was in a “town” but in actuality, it was in the middle of nowhere. We had squeezed every minute of daylight out of the park so we didn’t stop to eat or even make a sandwich. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we were starving and it was late. There was a restaurant at the hotel and the clerk said it was open for a few more minutes, so we decided to run in there to eat.
BIIIIIG Mistake!!! There was no menu (apparently it had been written on a board earlier in the day) but the guy who was running the place told us what they had. I asked about kids servings and he said they didn’t have a kids menu, but he’d “make me a deal” and give the kids smaller portions. I mentioned maybe ordering fewer plates and we’d just split them for the kids, but he insisted he’d give us “a deal.”
It was a decent, maybe slightly run-down family style restaurant in rural Utah. It wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination and I would’ve NEVER, EVER dreamed what was about to happen.
They brought the food out and it was amazing – I mean, really, really good. Thank God. But the plates were piled a mile deep with food and I knew my kids would never finish them. Especially being as tired as they were – even though they were saying they were starving, they never eat really good when they’re tired. I even asked Richy, “if those are smaller portions, I wonder how much a full serving would be?”
So we had all this food not being eaten and then we got the bill. Remember the “deal” the guy was going to give us?? He lied. LIED.
It was $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. He charged full-price for every plate. $15-20 each. Maybe more than full price… considering we had never seen a menu. Plus drinks. Five of the six kids ordered pasta – a fancy plate of spaghetti. Sarah and I ordered salmon and Richy had ribs. I didn’t expect the ribs and salmon to be cheap… but spaghetti? For kids? A small portion??
We had eaten at the very, VERY nice Salsa Brava where Guy Fieri had eaten for less than half that!!
It cost us more than our hotel for the night – more than TWO nights in a hotel. For a single meal. I wanted to throw up. We were taken advantage of in the worst way. It was late, we were desperate and hungry and the man knew it. We had no other options for a hot meal (although after getting the bill, I was thinking we should’ve eaten more sandwiches from our cooler!!) and we didn’t know the prices until we had already eaten the food.
After having one of our most favorite days so far on the trip – we were pretty sick after that meal.
If there was a silver lining – it was my frugal mentality. After all that – and considering my kids barely ate a fraction of the food, I was determined to NOT throw it out and to make the best of the situation – it cost SO much money. So we got to-go boxes and took all the extra food to our room. We put it in the frig for the night, then the next morning I double-bagged it all in Ziplocs, put it in our cooler and covered it in ice. I knew the next night would be in our big cabin with a full kitchen and I knew exactly what we’d be eating when we got there!!! Haha!!
So that’s that… Day 7!! I’m so excited after writing this… maybe I’ll do better to finish it up soon!
Thanks for reading!