Hey everybody! If you noticed that I’ve been MIA, it’s because I was on VACATION! Our family took a trip from Kansas to the Grand Canyon to San Diego and then back up north into the Sierra Nevada mountains of California to visit some friends (and see some pretty amazing Sequoia trees, too!).
We logged 4,000 miles of driving on our trip. We had a great, great time, but we were also ready to get back home. I’ve been home a week and haven’t quit running yet. We returned home to 3 kids, needing to go 3 different play practices for our town’s Children’s Summer Theater. It’s been a fun experience, but after that first week home, I’m tired already, lol. I have barely had enough time to think!
I thought I’d share a little bit about our trip while it’s fresh in our heads. Being a large family, we typically only do big vacations every 2-3 years. This was one of those years. We usually prefer to stay in a condo, where we won’t have to leave for a week and don’t keep moving.
Well, this vacation was a little different. This one, had us moving every night for the first 3 nights. After the first day my 3 year old was asking to go home. By the end of our trip, we think she forgot where home was. We had to remind her by describing all of her toys to her. Suddenly, her face lit up when she finally remembered, lol. It was so funny.
This trip, we planned to make most of our food in the hotel over night in the slow cooker or to eat a lot of sandwiches, with a couple of exceptions. The first night, our goal was to make it to Amarillo, and I had packed Taco Salads (or Walking Tacos, as my kids like to call them when they eat them out of a zip lock bag) to eat in the car on the way. I, of course, had to take a picture of what making dinner while driving down the road looks like, lol. (I had precooked the meat and put it in the ice chest).
We stayed the night in Amarillo and when we got up, we were really feeling like we were in vacation mode. We happened to remember that we’ve heard about Cadillac Ranch before and thought we should go and see it.
It turns out, all of these cars are just in the middle of a very dry farm field. Nothing too impressive. The morning we were there, it was incredibly windy and COLD! We had bought some spray paint so that we could spray paint on the cars, which my kids thought was pretty neat!
After that, we set out for the Grand Canyon. We ended up having to make a stop in New Mexico for 2 new tires, as ours were making weird noises and we were worried we’d end up with a flat. Of course, I had to snap a picture of my kids while they patiently waited for the van to get done so we could get back on the road.
I couldn’t find a hotel cheap enough very close, so we stayed 2 hours away in Winslow, AZ. The next morning we would drive into the Grand Canyon and spend the day there!
After a gorgeous, yet exhausting day at the Grand Canyon, we headed to San Diego, the next morning. We drove through the dessert where it was 107 degrees and just 3 hours later, in San Diego it was 62 degrees. Quite the difference!
While in San Diego, we enjoyed taking a boat tour of the San Diego Bay. Here we are, getting beat to death by the wind on the Flagship Tours boat with the San Diego skyline in the background.
While in San Diego, we rented a house on AirBnB for a few days, where we were within walking distance to La Jolla Beach. My kids loved seeing all the sea lions in the wild, just sitting there so close to them.
Other places we stopped while in San Diego was the Fleet Science Center
and the Cabrillo National Monument, where we saw a beautiful lighthouse, a neat statue AND some of the most beautiful coastlines you’ll ever see!
(this photo is from inside the lighthouse)
Before we left San Diego, we had to get some time swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Even though it was only in the 60’s and 70’s, my Kansas, land locked kids were determined to play in the ocean, no matter how cold the water was!
We think we may have left a set of our car keys on this beach, as we made it home with one less set of keys than we left there with. Luckily, we had brought a spare!
After our San Diego adventures, it was time to head north. We thought we’d let the 3 year old navigate, but when we realized she was studying the wrong state on the map, we thought maybe we should give Siri a try instead. 🙂
First though, we had to stop through Hollywood. We had kids who wanted to check some things off on their bucket lists. One was to see the walk of the stars and the other was to see the Hollywood sign. It turns out, Ryan and I were not very thrilled with this part of the trip. We hate the L.A. traffic and it was pretty dang hard to find what we wanted without too much stress.
We finally found the Hollywood sign.
Right after I took this photo, I asked Ryan if he would take a picture of me and the kids with the Hollywood sign. He agreed and said he didn’t want to claim he’d been here, and didn’t want to take the photo. LOL. Well, apparently he didn’t want us to prove we had been there either, as he cut the Hollywood sign out of the picture.
I got a good laugh out of this one. There is no Hollywood sign in this picture, lol.
No worries though, our pastor did us a favor and cropped it in for us….. LOL
After being totally stressed out for several hours in L.A., we headed a little North, to Hume Christian Camps by Hume Lake, CA. We have friends who live there and we promised our 11 year old we’d take her to visit them. Their 12 year old daughter was best friends with my daughter 2 years earlier, when they lived near us. They were so excited to get to see each other.
The trip in to Hume was a bit dreadful. We get carsick and the roads were very curvy. I’m scared of heights and there were no guard rails on these mountain roads. I was hanging on for dear life. LOL. My poor husband did an amazing job listening to my back seat driving without getting angry with me.
Once there, the scenery is beautiful and very worth it though!
The Lake is only a few minutes or so from Sequoia National Park, so we got to drive out and see the huge trees. I love pointing out how tiny the people are in this picture at the base of the 3 trees. It is estimated that these trees are 1,000 years old!
We also had the chance to do some paddle boarding and canoeing/kayaking on the lake while we were there. Ryan and I even took the 3 mile hike around the lake twice. It was so beautiful, that it made it simple to do!
Last, but certainly not least, we drove about an hour into King’s Canyon National Park, near Hume Lake where we saw this huge and amazing waterfall. This was as close as I could get without getting drenched!
Finally, we had to leave Lake Hume and drive the hour and a half out to flat ground again. By the time we were out of the mountains, we had 3 kids who had puked on the way out. Thankfully, we had plenty of plastic ziplock bags packed with us, and we didn’t have much to clean up.
The 2 days of driving all the way home was probably the worst part. The kids were tired and cranky and so were we, the parents. But, we all made it in one piece and we have all of these amazing memories to show for it!
We are so thankful that we had the chance to take the kids on a big trip like this. None of us had ever seen the Grand Canyon and we rarely get to the ocean or the mountains, so this was definitely a trip to remember!
We’ve gone up north, down south, back east and now, we completed the out west portion of our trips. Of course, not all of the kids were there for every trip, so we may have to do it again sometimes, just not any time too soon!
I hope you have enjoyed our vacation in pictures. In the mean time, check out how we eat on the cheap while on vacation.