For the past several years, we have left the day after Christmas to go visit Jon's mom in Oregon. We love seeing her, but we are always (okay, instead of "we" I should say "I") worried about weather. We've had some nasty fog and slow driving conditions that absolutely stress me out to the max.
So, this year, we decided to go south to enjoy some "warm" weather and not have the stress about driving conditions.
Uh huh! So, an unusual snow storm hit central and southern Utah on Christmas and continued into the next day. We decided to still try it and had some snow and slower driving for a little while, but rather than turning and heading over the mountain pass right after Nephi, we decided to stay on the Interstate and go across on I-70. It was a great decision and with the faith our prayers and my mother's prayers, as soon as we crossed, we had dry roads and blue skies the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon.
We got to a little town called Tusayan at the base of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon around 7:00 that night. We checked into our hotel and then went and got pizza - really expensive pizza. $30 for a large pizza! Geez! It was okay - not great, but okay. It was freezing, so after dinner, we were happy to just go to bed.
The next morning, we got up and went to an IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon. Then, we drove into the canyon to find look-out spots to see it. We stopped at our first one and the parking lot was packed so Jon let us out and waited for a spot. It was pretty cold, but gorgeous!
While we were there, Hailey got really sleepy and I could tell she was really, really cold. We got back in the car with the intent of driving to the next lookout, but Hailey started to dry heave and looked awful. I think between the windy roads and the IMAX movie, we made her sick.
Plus, it was starting to get really, really crowded, so we just decided to head towards Phoenix.
The kids were great in the car and we got to Becky's house about 4:30 in the afternoon or so. My parents have flown there on Christmas Day, so it was fun to overlap with them for a couple of days. From this point on, I was terrible about taking pictures!
Most of us stayed in a La Quinta Inn (we had Emily and Kate sleep at Becky's so that we only needed to get 1 hotel room). It was great! We played games and hung out with the Mortensen's and my parents. The kids played outside (even though it was probably the coldest week of the year in PHX).
On Sunday, we went to church with the Mortensen's, went and saw the new Phoenix, AZ temple and had a yummy Sunday dinner together.
On Monday, Jon, John, Emily & Jack went golfing (even though it was quite cold). My parents left around lunch time to fly home. We went back to the hotel and let the kids swim. They spent most of the time in the hot tub and a little time in the heated pool. The Mortensen's came over and Brooklyn & Jake swam too. The only bad thing was that there was so much chlorine in the water that it literally took most of the color out of several swimming suits :(
After swimming, we got the kids dressed and walked across the parking lot to Red Robin for dinner. We all love that place and it was fun to all have one last meal together! The kids were really, really good!
We hated to say goodbye to the Mortensen's the next morning, but we left about 8:30 or so and headed towards Las Vegas. Again, there was an unusual snow storm expected in Las Vegas and Southern Utah, so we debated on the best, safest way to get home. We ultimately decided to stick with our original plan and drive to Vegas to spend the afternoon and night with our friends, the Larson's.
We were so excited to see the Larson's! The kids and Jon hadn't seen them for quite awhile. I had got to see Becky and their cute baby Sarah in September, but what a treat to see the rest of the kids and Doug too! The Larson kids are so fun and sooo friendly and made the kids feel so welcome. They had a great time playing together while we visited with Becky. Their home is beautiful and it's just always such a treat to be with them!
After a little while, we took all our kids (except Lindsey), down to the Las Vegas strip to see M&M world. We attempted to see the fountains at the Bellagio, but they must not have been turned on. The strip is not an uplifting place at all - obviously, so we had to keep telling the kids not to look up, but yet not too look down!
We got back to the Larson's house just in time to leave with them for a Las Vegas Buffet dinner. The Larson's treated us to dinner (which is such a rare treat for us). It was really perfect!! There are 11 kids among us so the fact that they could get up and get whatever they wanted was absolutely perfect! (Again, I was just an idiot and didn't get one single picture with them)! We had a great time and the kids were fantastic!
We came home and put the kids to bed, visited more and then went to bed. We were supposed to hit bad weather on the way home, but we were so blessed with perfect roads and blue skies. I literally kept tearing up because of how calm the drive was. The Lord answers prayers!
We had a wonderful time. As always, it was so nice to get home. The house was a disaster from Christmas day, gifts, preparing for Christmas, etc., but thankfully over the next couple of days, we got it all back to normal.
Thank you to the Mortensen's and Larson's for letting the Clampett's come and crash at their houses!