Showing posts from October, 2013

The 2013 Great Western Adventure

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 7 (Friday, July 19)

Upon awakening at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ, once again, Ben thrashed me at Uno, 3-zip.  After cleaning up the room and loading the car, we made our last visit to the Grand Canyon Hotel buffet.  Since the boys had been extremely well behaved during the first week of our trip, I decided to get them each a special souvenir.  Dominic had his eye on the obsidian knife, so he chose one he liked, and Ben chose a toy train.  Upon checking out of the Grand Canyon Hotel, I asked if a National Park entry fee had been included in our package price (it had), and whether we could get a refund since we had the America the Beautiful pass (we could).  Score!

It was time to leave the natural world behind for a few days, and head for Las Vegas, baby!  We departed Williams around 10:30 AM, taking a quick cruise down the main street.  It looked like the stereotypical Route 66 town, and I would have liked to spend some time walking the street, but it rained about 90% of the time we w…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 6 (Thursday, July 18)

I woke up first Thursday morning.  I could tell Dominic was in the process of waking up, so I decided to have a little fun by getting my face about 2 inches from his, and staring straight at him with eyes wide open. Oh yeah, I scared the beejeebers out of him!  He let out a loud cry, and then everyone else was awake! While everyone was getting ready, I walked over to the post office at the Bright Angel Lodge to mail a postcard.  We checked out of Maswick Lodge around 11 AM.  One of my main priorities on this day was to get our National Park passports stamped at the visitor center, which was located on the opposite end of the park.  After checking out, we shuttled over to the visitor center, looking for some lunch and the passport station.  I wanted to look around the visitor center, which appeared at first glance to have some awesome exhibits, but the boys were hungry and cranky, so we looked around for a place to eat after stamping our passports.  Well, there were no good restaurants…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 5 (Wednesday, July 17)

Wednesday morning, we found ourselves back at the Grand Canyon Buffet for breakfast.  After breakfast, we headed for the far end of the depot, where we had heard there was going to be a shootout.  Dominic and Ben found front row seats.  It was a good show....not too cheesy and not too long.  After the shootout, we boarded our dome car on the Grand Canyon Express!  The boys loved the dome car.  The trip from Williams to the Grand Canyon was comfortable, and I really enjoyed the views from the dome car.  The landscape is not quite what I expected leading into the Grand Canyon.  We were entertained on our trip by Clyde playing his banjo, who did a rendition of "I've Been Everywhere", along with some other standards.  Ben enjoyed walking up to the cafe car, where we were able to walk from car to car while the train was moving. He also enjoyed spending time in the bathroom.  The boys behaved really well on the trip, probably because they could get free snacks and pop whenever…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 4 (Tuesday, July 16)

Ben and I woke first, so we went to eat breakfast at the Little America Inn buffet.  Ben had a hankerin' for biscuits and gravy.  At this point of the vacation, I was still going through the motions of eating healthy, so I had oatmeal.  After breakfast, Ben went back to the room, and Eric took a 2-mile hike through the pines behind the Little America Inn.  There was a great trail right behind the hotel that wound its way through the pines and provided some gorgeous views of the surrounding area.

The boys got in another swim in the morning before we left.  We checked out and headed toward Sunset Crater Volcano National Park.  On the way, we stopped at a Wendy's drivethrough for Sharon and the boys.  We should have gone in, since Sharon spilled ketchup all over her seat belt!  It took about 45 minutes to drive to the park north of Flagstaff.  We stopped at the visitor center and used our shiny new America the Beautiful pass to get in free!  We also picked up some National Park p…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 3 (Monday, July 15)

Being a weekday, Monday was the official beginning of my sabbatical.  We awoke Monday morning and went to our gourmet breakfast at Los Poblanos Inn.  I had some type of Moroccan tomato based egg soup called shakshuka, and Sharon had a sweet omelet.  After breakfast, which was delicious, we relaxed in the courtyard by the fountain.  I hauled all of our ever-growing luggage from the room to the car on my injured ankle.  After checking out, we stopped by the Los Poblanos store to check out all of the lavender based products.  There was a small petting farm outside the store, and Ben really enjoyed feeding the goats.

After grabbing some goodies from the store, along with a few cokes in real glass bottles, we made our way out of Albuquerque and on toward Arizona.  Our plan for the day was to drive from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, AZ, stopping at the Petrified Forest along the way.  This was the first long drive of the vacation.  For the state being in a drought and on fire for half the summe…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 2 (Sunday, July 14, 2013)

We awoke Sunday morning around 8:30 AM (not bad for staying up until 2 AM watching a movie).  Ben wanted to workout again, so I went down to the weight room with him, while Dominic caught some additional Zs.  On the way back to the room, we stopped at the gift shop (again).  Ben bought himself a carved porcupine that I haven't seen since, and I purchased some postcards.
Sharon finally got in touch with her Aunt Velma, who, it turns out, was actually in Santa Fe, so we didn't get a chance to meet up with her.  Around noon, after a quick lunch at IHOP, we headed over to the Sandia Peak Tramway for a ride to the top of said peak.  I thought this was actually really cool!  There is a ski slope on the other side of the mountain that folks from Albuquerque used to have to drive around, taking about an hour and a half.  About 50 years ago, some rich guy that liked to ski decided he'd just build a tram that took people straight from Albuquerque to the top of the mountain.  The pe…

Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 1 (Saturday, July 13, 2013)

Just like in Home Alone, the airport shuttle came to our house to pick us up around 11 AM.  Fortunately, we did not leave anyone behind.  Unfortunately, we didn't leave at least some of our luggage behind!  It's a good thing bags fly free on Southwest! 

Ben had flown before (on a plane), but not that he could remember, so he was a bit nervous.  However, the excitement of the moment took over, and he did really well at the airport and on the plane.  He was not too happy that we had to fly through some rain, but we made it onto the ground in Albuquerque without any major panic attacks.

Ben and I left Sharon and Dominic in charge of our bags while we shuttled to the rental car facility.  We got our car, and headed to the Marriott Pyramid North in Albuquerque.  As soon as we got checked into our room, we ordered room service!  Yeah, baby....vacation!! 

We went down to swim at the hotel pool in the evening.  There was supposed to be a hot tub, but we couldn't find it anywher…