Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Viva Las Vegas!

We arrived in Phoenix late Thursday afternoon, but by the time we had unpacked, gone grocery shopping and finished dinner, it was pretty late. All three of us were exhausted. And neither Jon nor I were up to settling Jack down to sleep in the pack 'n play next to our bed, so when it was evident he was planning to protest into the night, we let him sleep in bed with us... a trend that continued for the next several days.

Now, we're no co-sleeping family. Jack loves his crib, and I love him in it too. But surprisingly, other than the fact that I woke up with a very full diaper in my face, it worked out well. I think we were all so completely wiped out the first few days that sleep in any form was extremely welcome! The only problem was in the mornings, when Jack was up and ready to go long before either of his parents were. Vegas is three hours behind Virginia, so at 5:15am our first morning there, Jack was jumping on our bed ... and sitting on my head. Then atempting to climb the headboard, play with Mommy's eyelashes, dropkick Daddy in the chest, crawl off the bottom of the bed, etc., etc., etc. No amount of fake-sleeping by his parents could compel him to lay down and shut his eyes. And he wasn't happy when either of us tried to assist him back to bed. I finally got him to to quiet down in my arms, while sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth and humming a song in his ear. Then he started humming back. At this point, #2 was also wide awake, and apparently annoyed that his older brother was closing in on his personal space. The Littlest Baby started kicking and punching the biggest baby, and Mom was caught in the middle. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I got both boys back to sleep. And then I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, watching the sun rise between the curtains. *sigh*

I would just like to add here that Vegas was Jon's idea. I was there two years ago for a conference and got my fill. But Jon had never been, really wanted to see the strip, and knew I'd never let him go without me. So we rented a minivan and all 7 of us drove up there for a quick weekend. In case you're wondering, we didn't gamble. We basically went to see as many of the sights as we could in one day. And to eat. Man those buffets are amazing!

So we spent allllll day Saturday walking the strip, trying to see as many features of Vegas as we could - the shops in Paris, the lions in MGM, the International Sampler at the Coke store, 4 stories of M&M products, the aquarium at Mandalay Bay, the Bellagio Fountains (our very favorite event!!), the gondolas in the Venetian, the pirates at Treasure Island, and the inside of every hotel we had time to run into because they are pretty impressive!

By that evening we were tired, sore and starving. Jack did really well for sitting in a stroller all day. But by the time we got seated in P.F. Changs he had had enough. He started flipping out, throwing food and dishes, screaming at the top of his lungs, trying to escape from our arms, and ultimately throwing his sippy cup on the floor right as a waiter was walking by with a tray full of food. I was pretty close to tears myself. I hate seeing my kid like that. First, because I feel bad for all the people sitting around us, but mostly because I know that he can be better, and that it's usually our fault for pushing things too far with him. Things improved once the food came out - it's amazing what a piece of lettuce can do. But from then on I tried to be especially mindful of Jack's limits, traveling is hard on everyone!

We left Vegas the next morning, after filling up on another breakfast buffet, and with a spare collection of bananas and Cheerios for the long drive. Our first stop on the way back to Phoenix was the Hoover Dam, a pretty impressive structure. And the scenery was gorgeous as well. But my favorite part was standing in the middle of the bridge, on the state line between Arizona and Nevada, straddling two different time zones. Yeah, it doesn't take much to entertain me.

We didn't stay at the Dam for too long, since we wanted to make sure we had plenty of daylight left to make our next stop - the Grand Canyon!

The drive from Vegas to Phoenix was quite desolate - a straight highway in the midst of a desert, with a gas station every hundred miles or so, not exactly convenient for those of us with small babies lying on our bladders. But that aspect of the trip was nothing compared to the 1 hour detour we took off the highway to reach the Native American reservation where we would access the canyon. It was long, winding, and hilly with little to see but sand and joshua trees. The pavement ended and we continued on a dirt road, passing the occasional ranch and, thankfully, a car or two headed the other direction. At least we knew the road was going somewhere! Finally, when I was almost certain we would need to make an emergency pit stop with no tree to hide behind, we arrived at the reservation. I was amazed at how many cars were in the parking lot, it seriously felt like we were in the middle of no where! The gift shop/office was actually a temporary trailor, sitting slightly askew at the top of the mountain. The whole thing seemed rather sketchy to me. Then again, this is coming from someone who has spent the majority of her time in the thirteen original colonies. I guess I'm just used to things being a bit more established on this side of the country.

We boarded a bus, the last one of the day, and headed out further on the reservation. Apparently there are several bus stops along the way, with different activities, food, and views. But since we were the last group of the day we were pretty much left with just the views aspect. Nevertheless, it was so worth the sketchy, awkward arrival. I don't know what I expected the Grand Canyon to look like, but it wasn't like what we saw. First of all, there were no walls or railings. We literally could walk right up to, and off of if we so choose, the very edge of the canyon. It was thrilling! I'm surprised they didn't make us sign any waivers before we set off though. There was a glass skywalk at this location where, for an exra $30 you could walk out over the canyon on a walkway made of glass. It sounded cool, but not for $30. Especially since you can't take pictures. I mean, if I can't post it on my blog and Facebook, it would be like it never happened right? It's much more fun to stand at the very edge and hold your camera out as far as you can anyway.

The final stop on the "bus tour" was a precipice where you could walk to the end, stand at the top of a small hill, and be surrounded on three sides by the canyon. It was chilly and breezy as the sun was almost below the horizon, but a completely breathtaking experience. Jack, for the most part, remained unphased. He also remained safe in his stroller, unable to teeter among the rocks and probably give Mommy a heart attack.

It was completely dark by the time we started our trip back towards the highway. Completely dark, on an unlit, winding, dirt road in the desert. There was some nauseousness in the back of the minivan, but fortunately no barfing. And all three kids promptly fell asleep by the time we hit the main road. Needless to say, it was a very peaceful ride back!

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