Saturday, June 17, 2017

Brookses in the West 

Days 13-16

Starting out with a pro-tip:

Make sure you travel big the year you have a kid in fourth grade. Families with a fourth grader get into national parks FOR FREE! 

Day 13

We spent the majority of day 13 driving from Albuquerque to Petrified Forest National Park and then on to Flagstaff.

The park had itineraries mapped out for if you have an hour to spend there, a half day, or a full day, which was so helpful. We were able to do almost everything. The park is 28 miles long and a road runs the length of it. Off that road are paths into the Painted Desert and short, paved hikes through beautiful crystallized fallen trees and rocks covered in petroglyphs. It was one of my favorite days so far. The fact that the Lord can turn wood into crystals...there's a sermon there somewhere. 

Also, I just couldn't stop taking pictures so scroll fast if you want. 

We camped in Flagstaff that night, and while the campsite was a small, back-in nightmare (Preston! There's a light pole! You are only a millimeter away from the garbage can! That tree is about to be in the front seat with us! I should take the girls to the playground and come back in thirty minutes? I don't see how that is helpful, but ok.) we were camping at the base of a beautiful mountain, 
the air was crisp, it was probably the best evening so far.

She was very proud of her filthy feet. I can tell you standards on nutrition and cleanliness drop dramatically while camping. 

Day 14

We got up and headed into Sedona, taking a long-way around so we didn't have to drive the camper/barge through Oak Creek Canyon and the hairpin turns and precipices of death it offers. (Even Preston has his limits.)

Sedona is breathtaking. That is really the best word for the scenery. The rocks and cliffs that surround it are indescribable. The town itself feels rather Gatlinburg-ish, but it is a tourist destination so that is the draw. We spent about four hours there and loved it.

We drove down to Phoenix where Preston has two aunts and an uncle whom we see about once a year when they come to Tennessee, but we had never visited. We were excited to spend a few days with them and they seemed excited to have our crazy.

Aunt Donna had to get a special permit so we could park our classy camper in the street of her classy Phoenix neighborhood for two days. Her neighbors were impressed by her classy RV-driving relatives from Tennessee. Cousin Eddie has arrived, People of Phoenix! 

Seriously, these three people made us so welcome, and actually wanted us to take turns sleeping at their houses, and fed us, and treated us, and loved us so well. It was overwhelming and humbling to be shown such grace and love and hosted so well. They told us they were blessed by us, which made me cry because most days I feel like we are just a loud bunch of cartwheeling nutcases, and the fact that they wanted us and loved us overwhelmed me. We were so, so blessed to be with them. And they had full sized showers with unlimited hot water and I really could have spent two days straight in the shower. 
Aunt Pat and Uncle Larry have a little dog, and that may be barking I hear coming from our suitcases. They girls were IN LOVE.

Day 15

The first day we went to the MIM in Scottsdale, which I highly recommend whether you are interested in music or not. It was fascinating. Music is a part of every culture, across the world, and always has been. It is a wonderful museum which we all enjoyed very much. It is divided by country and showcases instruments from that region and shows videos of indigenous people and the music they play. It was another one of "eye-opening our way isn't the only way" places. We really enjoyed the Oceania hula dancers and the recycled orchestra from the landfills of Paraguay. There were also special exhibits from American performers. The girls especially enjoyed the room where they got to bang an enormous gong and show off their drum skills and where Mommy got a migraine. The MIM is definitely a two thumbs up, five star stop from all of us. (Unlike the Alamo, which makes everyone groan. Well, except Preston who thinks we should appreciate our history. Whatevs, Man.)

The next stop was a Butterfly garden where Preston made a close personal friend. Lillian desperately wanted to get him to transfer her arm, but he wouldn't leave Preston's rear. 

The butterfly garden also offered a short video about the monarch butterfly which was fascinating. The girls love nature shows and this was a highlight. 

Day 16

The next day we went on a cruise on Canyon Lake where we were able to catch glimpses of big-horn sheep and even a bald eagle (which I was never able to spot, but pretended I did so the lady next to me would quit trying to show me because it was getting awkward - like when you have to ask someone to repeat themselves four times and then by the fifth you just give a little laugh and go "sure" and you probably just agreed to move to some remote island and sacrifice yourself to their volcano). The scenery was nothing short of spectacular and I might be slightly obsessed with the prickly beauty of the desert. 

We ate lunch at Rubio's. Uncle Larry has been talking about this little restaurant since last summer when we said we were coming. It makes me cry a little that we don't have a Rubio's in stupid Franklin. They have the best fish taco I've ever eaten and the best corn tortilla in the history of corn tortillas and all other Mexican food is henceforth ruined for me. Stupid Franklin with its stupid no Rubio's. (Don't say stupid, girls.)

We had a care package waiting on us from some of our very favorite people who happen to be the family of Eva's best friend since she was two. They blessed us immeasurably with fresh magazines and a game for all the girls. Hands and feet of Jesus from Franklin to Phoenix. The Lord is so kind to us. Tears even now. 

Last night Preston and the girls went swimming while I took the car to Walmart for an oil change and one last round of groceries. 

We arrive home one week from today, and everyone is wearing a little. Because we wanted to come all the way to Phoenix we knew this trip would probably be the longest we would do, and I definitely think 2-3 weeks is more manageable than 3-4, but we are still really enjoying it. Just with a little more sleep in our eyes. 

We will see things for four more days (Grand Canyon, Zion, Mesa Verde) and then we will drive three days straight to get home. We were originally supposed to go through Kansas City, but we decided to nix that day since part of the reason we were going there was for a Lego Discovery land, and everyone has already spent all their souvenir money, so if we go there we will just have to deal with begging and weeping and gnashing of teeth, so home we go. 
Right now we are on our way to the Grand Canyon to ride bikes along the rim. This is one of the things I booked a full year ago, and we are so excited for this day! Pray we don't fall in! 

Grace for Cousin Eddie,

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