Our family is on a crazy road trip that’s taking us from our home in North Carolina all the way to the Grand Canyon, up into South Dakota, and back home on a route that will take us through the middle portion of the country. So far, I’ve been able to post 4 Travel Journal updates from the road.
In my last update we were getting ready to leave Albuquerque, New Mexico and head towards the Grand Canyon. We were so excited for the days to come of exploring more of the Southwest!
Unfortunately, we woke up to find that our rented Expedition had been broken into overnight. I won’t say too much about it right now as to not overshadow the trip. However, I will say that we were extremely blessed with how it worked out.
The car was full of suitcases and all sorts of other travel items!
Nothing in the car was of extreme value in and of itself, and almost everything was replaceable. But it would have been absolutely devastating to lose our luggage, souvenirs that we’d collected and other random travel necessities (like our Yeti water bottles, jackets, backpacks, etc.)
There are lots of details that I will eventually share about how that whole process worked out, but it only took about 2 hours from our initial discovery until we were on the road in a new car.
Again, we feel very blessed and know it could have been so much worse!
We didn’t do quite as much stopping as we originally planned on the way to the Grand Canyon because we were running a little behind schedule. But we did make time to drive through Petrified National Forest.
It was really beautiful and interesting to learn about…but I think we were all so anxious to get to the Grand Canyon that we didn’t quite give the Park the attention it probably deserved.
Arriving at the Grand Canyon felt similar to arriving at Disney World.
Not only did we all have butterflies in our stomachs because we were so excited, but the line of traffic just to get into the park was insane. When we finally parked, there were tourists (from every country imaginable) EVERYWHERE. Seriously, just like Disney!
After collecting our Junior Ranger books and NPS Passport Stamps we set out to explore. We visited several of the visitor centers and museums, did a few short hikes, and walked quite a distance along the rim. After dinner, we settled into a great spot to watch the sun set.
In hindsight, what we did next was not the smartest move.
During the planning of our trip we were very indecisive about where to spend the night after our visit to The Grand Canyon. We weren’t sure if we’d want more time there the following day, but we knew we didn’t want to pay the steep price for a hotel on-site if we were just going to leave first thing in the morning. Our other option looked like backtracking to Flagstaff.
Neither was ideal.
So without any planning, we decided to head in the direction of the 4 Corners. Assuming, of course, we’d come across lodging options.
We drove, and drove. We had no cell service so trying to google a hotel was out of the question. At one point I realized that we were likely going to be spending the night in our car…in the middle of the desert. It wasn’t an overly exciting feeling.
Finally, out of nowhere, a tiny little town appeared. Brent went into the only hotel and I sat in the car praying there’d be a room. As luck would have it, there was ONE room left. It only had a queen size bed, but at that point we would have made ANYTHING work!
So we bring in the kids sleeping bags and convince them that since we’re staying on an Indian Reservation, they can sleep in a teepee. I asked the front desk for a few extra sheets and did my best to construct a pretty fabulous structure. However, about the time I finished setting up camp- Brent finds Pocahontas on TV. We tore the face off the teepee so they could see the TV.
It was well past midnight (or 1AM across the street…super weird, but it had something to do with which tribes observe Daylight Savings) and here we were in the middle of nowhere, on an Indian Reservation watching Pocahontas. I can’t make this up.
Anyway, I will forever refer everyone to the Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites. We realized the next day as we made our way to The 4 Corners, if we hadn’t gotten that last room, we would have most certainly been sleeping in our car that night!
The 4 Corners Monument is where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah all come together. There are little vendors set up around the perimeter and a very cool photo opportunity. That is about it. So yes, you’ll drive for hours to spent about 30 minutes or less at this stop.
Is it worth it?
I’m just going to say- I love my pictures. But I would probably never do it again.
In fact, I made Mary Grace stand in line to re-take her picture because although it was cute…I wasn’t sure she’d be proud showing it off in a few years (she had her butt straight up in the air!) That being said, my major piece of advice is don’t leave this area regretting the pictures you didn’t take!
Getting back on the road, we all cheered when the Welcome To Utah sign came into view. It was an exciting moment as we crossed into a new state until Miller pointed out that we’d already been there at least 4 times that day (taking pictures with one foot in Utah and then circling the vendors!)
We were running so far ahead of schedule- since we didn’t stay in Flagstaff or The Grand Canyon the night before- so we made an unplanned stop at Natural Bridges National Monument. We took several short hikes and really enjoyed the scenery!
Our final destination for the evening was Moab. After SO much desert, I wasn’t expecting much. But I was shocked when we came to this amazing (happening!) mountain town. There were tons of restaurants, shops, and activities. People were walking everywhere and it was just super charming.
I could have easily spent a week in Moab! (And we will, one day!) We stayed out entirely too late, but it was just so much fun to be part of the vibrant little town.
I’ll end here for now with our Travel Journal even though I’ve gotten a few days behind in posting these. I’ve already written way too much for this post about exploring the Southwest! Can you tell we loved it?
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