I guess I'll go back and update how the last several days have gone. After the Grand Canyon, we camped at the Navajo National Monument Campground in Shonto, AZ. It has some of the best preserved, original navajo cliff dwellings in the country. It has free primitive camping, an unbelievable view of a huge canyon, and red ants. But, that was not my concern... I was terrified of the HEAT! In the dessert, our car registered a temperature of 130 degrees. I am certain that was not accurate, but still... Even if it was off by 20 degrees, it was still outta control hot.
But the night was actually beautiful in the desert! We set up camp around 7pm, so the temp had already dropped to 88. we cooked fish, lentils, brown rice and corn and got in the tent to play pass the pigs and a round of war. we slept without the fly, under THE clearest and most beautiful sky I've ever seen. It was the perfect temperature all night.
In the morning, we packed up and headed to arches national park. Also ridiculously beautiful. We did a very short hike to see the double arches, and climbed just a little. I got so many great pictures of the girls climbing into a little cave. Harper stayed at the bottom yelling "echo."
That night, we did a last minute campsite change because the one we had planned on had "a LOT of bears.". Since we couldn't exactly hoist two coolers and a bin up into a tree... We opted for a less primitive site for the night. It was still private, and really nice, complete with a mountain view and babbling brook. It's really getting ridiculous how gorgeous some of these places have been.
in the morning, we headed to great sand dunes national park. These dunes were quite a challenge for the kids. Harper was exhausted and had "mall-leg" (which is what tom gets if he has to walk around a shopping mall for more than 15 minutes.) And marlie was pretty much bent over in the shape of a horseshoe most the time. Annalee was a trooper, pushing herself to climb up one dune. It was a lot harder than it sounds... Especially if both your feet were boiled off in the sand. Which mine were.
From the sand dunes we did a crazy through-the-night drive through the rest of colorado and into kansas. We arrived at 6am to visit our wonderful friends merrie and lance, and their son javan. It was so much fun there. Merrie is a great cook, and spoiled us with food and the best water I've ever tasted. (I really don't know if it is because we have been drinking hot water out of boiling nalgene bottles, or if her water really is the best, but it was seriously good.)
The kids all had a great time at the sprinkler park, and their little children's museum. It was sad to say goodbye today, but we had such a nice visit... I'm certain they will skip their upcoming honeymoon to puerta vallarte in order to come to rochester to visit us instead.
We were trucking along through illinois and indiana, when we called to confirm campground reservations. We were warned not to tent camp tonight because of the severe thunderstorms that would be happening all night. So, after a lot of vascillating between toughing it out in the thunder and lighting, or doing another drive through the night... We decided just to head home tonight instead of tomorrow.
So, with great sadness we are actually heading home. We should arrive around 4am, tuck our kids in their own beds and sleep inside our own house. I know I should feel so relieved to get home, but the truth is that I am sad to see this adventure come to an end. I feel like a kid that has to leave summer camp and just isn't ready to. It has been the best summer of my life, and I have to say that I have never been more thankful for the husband and family I have. Not every husband would let their wife convince them to do this crazy trip. And even fewer would be able to singlehandedly set up a tent as fast as tom can. It's kinda hot.
Well all, thanks for reading. I'm sure that more stories and quotes from this trip will surface again. Thanks to those that prayed for our fun and safety, and especially to those that opened their homes to us while we stunk so badly. Love to you all!