We are home and happy to be here! But what a fun time we had.
We flew into Phoenix without any problem on Wednesday evening. Then we drove up to Williams, AZ, which is the town closest to the Grand Canyon, which was 2.5 hours from Phoenix. We didn't see much of the landscape because it was night but talk about some amazing stars. I don't think I have ever seen that many stars. The car had a sunroof so I just laid back and looked at them. Really cool. We stayed at a holiday inn that night. Thursday we were up at 4:15am to drive up to the Grand Canyon. We wanted to get there well before sunrise at 6:30. The books all said to arrive an hour before sunrise to see all the colors appear. We paid to get into the park ($25 per car for 7 days, too bad we don't have the free senior pass that dad has) and were told where to go by the ranger. Good thing it wasn't far from the entrance because the sky was already starting to turn purple in the east. We got to the lookout called Mather Point and there were 2 or 3 other cars there. So, it's completely dark and I'm walking towards what I think is the canyon, a little nervous after hearing from numerous people about the little girl falling to her death a few days before. I find a rail and start making my way up the path. All of a sudden, I look over the rail and can see this whitish colored rock formation and saw how large/deep it was, and that was when I could only see about 100 feet in front of me because of the darkness. Well, we got onto an outlook and waited for the sunrise. As the minutes went by more people started coming so we moved to a less crowded area. Then the light started to get stronger and you could really see. It was Ah-mazing. The hugeness of it was indescribable. People were taking tons of pictures and it started to get brighter and brighter. Suddenly, the sun popped up over a rock formation and within seconds was too bright to look at. The colors were so cool and the rock layers were very distinctive. But Brett and I kept saying "A river carved this? No way, only God could make it." It was so cool to see something like that, especially since it was my first time ever seeing a sunrise.
After sunrise, we walked around the "Rim Trail" which was a paved trail that went around the rim of the canyon. Brett got adventurous, as expected, and climbed down some slopes to get out on some un-railed outcroppings. I was going to try until he lost his footing and skinned his shins up and scared the crap out of me. But I did follow a "trail" out to an outcropping which was cool once I got out there but I was really freaked out climbing down the trail to get to it.
It was getting a little busy in that area so we got back into the car and drove to the village area where we parked and got back on the rim trail so we could hike up to Hopi Point, which the guide book said was one of the best places in the park for views. We hiked on the rim trail again, this time unpaved and after about 2 hours we got to Hopi Point, which was amazing. We thought we had seen a lot of the canyon from Mather's point but now we couldn't even see Mathers from Hopi and there was still so much canyon. Turned out that the canyon extended another 95 MILES west of where we were standing. So we didn't even scratch the surface. We jumped on the shuttle bus to see some more sights and then headed to the gift shops and the car.
We drove from the Grand Canyon to Williams and then west to the Hoover Dam (bad traffic and not that interesting to be honest) and then up to Vegas. We got in about 4:30 and met up with Lynk, and his friend Scott at New York, New York to watch a good band and hang out. Josh joined us there and then Nancy showed up later. It was an early evening since we had all been up early for either the sunrise or to catch a plane so we went to bed about 11. Friday Brett and I hoofed it down the strip to check out Wynn and stopped a few places along the way. Sarah and Mom - checked out the gandola ride at Venitian, reminded me of when we went all together. Lynk and Scott met up with us at Wynn (Josh was playing poker and Nancy was working). The weather was nice so we went back to the room and I laid out at the pool for a while. Then we did dinner at the buffet at Planet Hollywood (Sarah, we ate there together with Josh when it was still the Alladin, it was called the Spice Market Buffet). It was really good - excellent crab legs and I even had some sushi. Then we went back to NYNY and watched that band again. I played some slots and actually won about $20 on the penny and nickel machines. It got late so Brett and I headed back to the hotel, I played some more slots (lost this time) and went to bed.
Saturday the boys wanted to watch football and bet on some games so Nancy and I went to Bellagio and window shopped in Prade, Gucci and Tiffany. Then we had lunch and looked around the shops in Planet Hollywood. I wanted to play some slots so Nancy and I hit the penny machine. Well, I found one that was doing really good. I actually won $76.00 in one spin. That's 7600 pennies. Talk about excited. And that was off of only $5. I took a picture of the pay ticket and put it as my wallpaper on my cell phone. So I cashed out after winning that, didn't want to risk losing anything.
Nancy and I wanted to go to a cool nightclub but didn't think the boys would want to wait in a line for several hours to get in. So we found a place at Mandalay Bay that was a restaurant that turned into a nightclub at 10:30. So you could have dinner there and then hang out until the nightclub part started. The food was really good, brazillian bbq - yummy. I got a Rum Jungle drink with 160 proof rum but was afraid to drink it so Josh had mine as well as his!! Josh left after dinner and we waited for the club action to start. I was interested in seeing what they were planning on doing with this rope ladder that they strung up from the ceiling over the bar/catwalk. Well once the club started going, the dancers got into their cages that hung over the tables (we were kicked out of our table and were sitting on a couch by this time) and started dancing. A lady wearing very little clothing started dancing on a stage outside the club to get people to come inside. And the dancers in the cages and on the catwalk were pretty much just wearing bikinis and neon colored knee socks. Then another lady was walking on the bar, pouring drinks from the bottle into guys mouths. I still think they should have had a muscular guy doing the same thing but they didn't. So, back to the rope ladder. During one song, two dancers climbed the ladder, hooked some rope onto a safety belt and jumped from the ceiling. The ropes were actually bungy cords and they would bounce up and down and do flips and the splits and everything. Then another lady got onto a zip line and zipped up and down the length of the bar 20 feet over everyone's head. Then there was 2 dancers who swung on a swing and hung upside down and did some amazing stuff. Nancy and I did some dancing and then called it a night. Played some more slots back at the hotel (made $5 from $3 on a penny machine) and went to bed at 2.
Sunday Lynk and Nancy left early for the airport and Brett, Josh and I just packed up the room and headed to Bellagio to pick out a gift for Tracy. I'm glad that she liked her lounge suit and jewelry, I thought they were really nice. So we left Vegas at noon, thinking we had plenty of time to get to Phoenix by our 6:15 flight. Wrong. It took us an hour to get through the Hoover Dam area, which was only 10 miles or so. Then the desert road was beautiful driving but slow since it was no passing for most of it. Then there was an accident on the highway once we got into Phoenix so my expert navigational skills and map reading got us around that to the rental car place. Then the gas pump that Brett pulled up to didn't work and we had to wait for another one to open up. We finally get to the rental car return and it's 5:30, so Brett gives me a bag and tells me to get on the shuttle bus while he returned the car. The stupid escalator wasn't working so I had to wait for the elevator. Then I get on the bus but get freaked out when the bus leaves without Brett because I didn't know the flight number or anything. I call Brett and he tells me to catch the plane without him so at least one of us would make it back. I get into the airport, run, pulling my bag behind me to the counter where I tell the lady who is at the end of the huge check-in line that I need to get through the line fast to make my plane. She said there was no way I could make the flight and to wait in line to get re-booked on the next flight out. I'm crying by this time because I can't find Brett, don't know which line to get into (re-book line, full-service line, self-serve line.....) and I'm upset knowing that my flight is leaving in 15 minutes and I won't be on it and see the kids that night. Brett shows up and talks to the lady who wasn't helpful for him either. We get into the full-service/rebooking line and start asking about flights going into Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville, anything that was within driving distance to Indy. Everything was either booked or left already. So the lady books us on the first flight to Indy which was 9am, arriving in Indy at 3:45. She asks for our id and my drivers license wasn't in my wallet!!! I had given it to Brett the night before when we went to the club and hadn't gotten it back. So, even if the lady had helped me cut in line before Brett was there, I wouldn't have been able to get a boarding pass without my id, which was with Brett who was still at the rental car place. Everything was working against us getting on that flight home that night. After we got settled down, we talked and figured that there was some reason we didn't know about for us not to be on that flight. I guess either someone else needed our seats more or maybe there was going to be problems with the plane or with our ride from the airport or something. God didn't want us on that flight and we couldn't do anything about it.
So we find a hotel shuttle and stay at an Econo Lodge in a very nasty area. We hoof it to the gas station down the block, looking for something for dinner. Nothing looked good. Then we saw a roach coach parked across the street. Now, I can't read spanish but I recognized Burrito and ordered 2 to go. We ate at the hotel and I have to say that it was the best burrito I have ever had. So, even though our whole day had been one frustration after the other, God still supplied us with a clean, cheap hotel and a hot dinner. Yea.
Flight home this morning was uneventful, thank goodness. We're very happy to be back and thankful for all the help our parents gave us with the kids. And I'm very glad that we are all traveling to Cancun together this time!!!!!!!!!!!!