Southwest Friendscation (Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon)

I've noticed that I mainly only blog when I travel...which means I either need to travel all of the time or make a conscious effort to blog everyday types of things- after all, I really do want to remember those too!

But for now...

This was our first time doing a vacation with our friends and we had a blast!! Not only that, but Eden was loving life being with her best friend since birth (literally- Bayli came to the hospital when she was one month old, to meet Eden) 24/7 for 5 days! And to top it off, we left on Bayli's birthday, so they got to celebrate together all week long! 


I always love seeing the diversity of the earth! While I am not naturally drawn to the red rock, desert , southwest scene, I still wanted to explore it and I definitely loved how different it was and gained an appreciation for its unique beauty! Annnnd I mean, the Grand Canyon…yeah that’s pretty sweet!

We were gung-ho and fresh as we pulled out of town and made our way to St. George for the night. We made it a little ways down i-15 to Santaquin before we stopped to eat sandwiches on sourdough and to switch things up as far as car passengers go. From there it was the girl's car and the guy's car, which made for some fun conversations and awesome girly playlists in our car (thumbs up). J

We pulled in pretty late to the Ott’s house in St.George, where they were kind enough to put us up for the night. Their house was beautiful and we had a great time chatting with Julie that night and before we left the next morning. When we drove through St. George that morning it was fun to actually see everything … part of the time I felt like we were in Disney’s Cars and the other part of the time it felt like the Flinstones set, haha. Especially with all of the dinosaur themed Sinclair gas stations.

We stopped in Kanab to grab a bite to eat –wanting to stop at the Three Bears Cottage and Creamery, but finding it closed we went to a recommended restaurant called Houston’s . I would give the food a 4/10 there, but the company was good and there was a fun cowboy/indian themed shop next door that had an adorable little western town setup outside in the back. We spent quite a while there taking photos and I even ran into  a couple visiting from Italy and got to embarrass myself with my rusty Italian! J

From there we visited a cute park before we set out to Page, AZ – which would be our hub for the remainder of the trip . 

When we got there, we were surprised to find our VRBO being cleaned – especially since we arrived 57 minutes after check-in time.  BUT then we realized that Arizona time was an hour earlier than Utah time, since they don’t observe daylight savings (luckies) and we were actually 3 minutes early, haha.  We decided to go check out the Glen Canyon Dam which we had driven by in awe on our way to the house. It was pretty amazing to see as we walked across a bridge, overlooking it and parts of Lake Powell. Everywhere you looked there were either canyons of red rock or plateaus of it emerging from the water.

Finally, we headed back to the house, and checked our place for the next few days! It was sweet! The kitchen was awesome, there was a PERFECT table for playing games on, and rooms and beds to fit us all really comfortably. After we unpacked a bit and made a grocery list, Valeri and I went out to collect the items and while we were at it, picked up some seriously yummy NY style pizzas from Stromboli’s for dinner. Once we got the kids down, we had a blast playing games and eating delicious rubbish – afterall, vacation is the perfect excuse for such things.

Sunday morning after getting up and ready, we went to the church. We all loaded into our cars ready for the drive…that was like 50ft up the street, hahaha! I had just barely put my buckle on when we were pulling into the church parking lot and we just had to laugh – we totally could have walked. During church Jude decided to make it a little more exciting and pull a blowout on us. Well, not literally on us, but you know what I mean --- he decorated his carseat a bit, his pants, and his onesie. 

Of course I had like 6 outfits for him a block away at the house, but didn’t bring one bc I though we’d be good for one hour. Those are always the times they get you though…those babies, they know how to make things exciting with their impeccable timing – it’s a gift. Anywho, as I was wrapping my freshly diapered baby up in his blanket, I had a vision of Ariel in her ocean tarp, and decided to whip something up. We all got a good laugh (I wish I’d gotten a picture too) and Jude was content.

After church, we decided to go in our church clothes (we did stop and get Jude some clean clothes) to take pictures by Horseshoe bend that was “just” off the road…by almost a mile we found out, haha. So we trekked in the red sand and harsh sun to horseshoe bend. It was stunning - I had seen it in pictures and couldn’t wait to see it on this trip, but it totally exceeded my expectations. The depth of it was unreal and the contrasting colors of the red rock, dark water, brown sand and green algae were just beautiful. It was nerve wracking having our cute kiddos all up there though, with nothing between them and the edge of the cliff other than a light breeze…they listened so well though and were on their bums most of the time while we kept a pair of eyes glued on them every second. I was totally feeling good and in awe as I sat down and Valeri started to help Eden get situated next to me for a photo of our feet over the cliff and then as I looked in front of me and to my right side (I was sitting on an area that curved back past my right side) I was suddenly, the next moment, NOT OKAY! Haha, I felt the panic sink in as the reality of the distance downward that I was next to, hit me. Valeri quickly helped me back up and encouraged me, knowing that I had been excited about this shot and really wanted it, to scoot over a bit and sit farther back with just my feet barely over. She helped Eden safely snuggle in by me and then snapped the photo!

We then headed home to cool off, eat some lunch and then our little fam headed to the upper Antelope Canyons for a hike…upon arrival, we learned that you could ONLY enter the canyon with a tour group and that would have been a price tag of about $150 . We are willing to fork out the dough for amazing experiences like that though, especially on vacation, BUT the last group had left 15 mins before we got there.

The rest of our trip was packed though, so we knew we most likely wouldn’t squeeze in Antelope Canyon. It was the only thing on our list that we didn’t get to do though, and with kids in the mix and lots of driving, that’s not bad! So we made our way up to Wahweap overlook and the Jones’ met us up there to watch the beautiful sunset over Lake Powell. The lighting was perfect and the kids were adorable, playing with rocks and doing their own unique kind of yoga poses :D .

I remember as a kid watching a Full House episode, where I think it was Michelle, who didn’t want to go to bed because she thought the adults partied after she went to bed. She may have even had a dream about it, but when she went out to look found that it was all in her head, as the adults were doing boring adulting stuff…welllllllllllllllll, I think that was an episode to comfort kids and help encourage them to go to bed and to think that adults don’t do anything fun once they are in bed, BUT we totally partied with brownies, ice cream, take 5 bars, etc and games once those cute kids were asleep! It made for an even more exhausting vacation, but was so worth it!

The next day we stopped in Cameron, a town about half way from Page to the Grand Canyon, where we got some authentic southwestern food for lunch . Valeri and Garrison split a Navajo taco and Reed and I split a combo platter (taco, enchilada, and tamale). The girls even split and authentic southwestern pb&j, haha ;) . Then we finished our next leg into the Grand Canyon. It was crazy, because one minute you are surrounded by plains of sage brush and red sand and rocks and the next you are in a dense forest.

On the drive through the forest, I would peek over at the breaks in the trees and all of the sudden, there it was!! The grand canyon – and it was ‘stomach droppingly’ grand! Valeri, almost felt sick looking at it, haha – in a good way, I think…Unfortunately the change in elevation, combined with (probably) a lack of sleep, and an approaching storm gave Reed one of the worst migraines he has ever had L  - so he really was sick. He was basically in survival mode while he caught a quick glimpse of the canyon and we snapped a few family pictures real quickly. Then he headed back to the car, covered himself with a blanket from head to toe- to get warm and block the light from his vision- and fell asleep.

With him out, we drove up further to the Grand Canyon Village, were there were more beautiful views to see and capture in photos. I was so curious, in the gift shop there, about how far the workers traveled to get to work every day or if they just worked their seasonally. To my surprise they said they lived really close to the gift shop and pointed in the direction of a residential area – I hadn’t really ever thought of people actually living at the Grand Canyon. They even said that there is a k-12 school there – the only one in a national park in the country!

From there we headed back to our rental in Page – things were quite uneventful. Eden rode with the Jones’ and I had two sleeping boys in my car. I didn’t want to disrupt Reed with the radio, so I just rode in silence and downed a couple of bags of fruit snacks, that Valeri had given me, to stay awake. Soon after we were past the park entrance Reed woke up and started talking a bit, which was really nice. He was still feeling really bad and wanted a small snack that didn’t  have sugar in it. He ended up eating a bite of a string cheese and then tossing it aside. After about another 20 mins he informed me that he was going to lose it. I couldn’t think of a bag that might be around for him to throw up in – and was a little worried about getting it in the car anyway (that smell tho, ugh!) so we pulled over in the middle of nowhere so Reed could take care of things. I hopped out to bring him some water and looked up to see a bazillion beautiful stars in the pitch black night sky, I would have stared longer, but the wind was freezing so I got back in the car pretty quickly. Garrison (who had pulled over when he saw us stop) came over and gave Reed some gum and even wiped down his shoes (That happened to get in the path of throw up during the event) with baby wipes.  We bagged up the shoes and got back on the road. Fortunately, Reed slowly began to feel better after that and we had a really fun time talking the rest of the way back.

That night after we got the kids down, we went straight to bed as well – no partying that night- we were exhausted and had to pack up and be out the next morning.

Initially, we wanted to take our time getting home and stop by Bryce National Park and Reed was going to miss his class that night, but had recently learned that he had to take a test in class…so we headed straight home and he studied almost the entire drive home. We did make a stop in Kanab, at the Three Bears restaurant, since we found it was open on our dive back through. It was good, but nothing spectacular – honestly, my thoughts were that maybe these small tiny town restaurants don’t have much competition when they are in the middle of nowhere, so mediocre is okay. I don't mean to be mean - just trying to be honest, but I will say that the fresh homemade bread on my sandwich was may favorite part!

Though I love to travel so much, there is nothing like coming home to your house – the familiar smell, the ease you feel, and to sleep in your familiar bed again are all amazing.  We were only in our home for a total of 30 minutes, after we got back, before Reed was out the door to drop Eden and Jude off at his parent's and to take his test and I was on my way to BYU to hear the Bucket List Family present…so we held off on relaxing just a while longer --- it was totally worth it though.


Valeri made the most fun and amazing video of our trip (split into two parts). It's the most wonderful keepsake and treasure of our trip! My favorite segment is in part II (Wahweap Overlook), but of course I love ALL OF IT!!!!! <3 <3 <3 (Also, if you want some beauty tips from someone who knows the science behind the look - check out her youtube channel HERE! or through the videos, as they are on her channel.)



My Verdicts on some first for this trip:

-After this trip, my verdict on traveling with friends, is DO IT! Of course, it depends on your friends and the different dynamics , but we had SO much fun with the Jones’. We loved having girl/guy convos, we loved that our kids could play and entertain each other (especially in the car) -Eden’s favorite part of the whole trip, hands down, was just spending time with Bayli.  Valeri and I share a passion for taking photos/videos and it was fun to bounce ideas around with her, share files, and that we could each take pictures of each other’s family. I didn’t break my tripod out once! We also, loved that when we weren’t seeing sights, we were still having so much fun, just spending time together, talking, and playing games. It was really fun to watch their family dynamics and learn from their interactions as well.  And splitting costs on certain things never hurts the situation either!

-After this trip my verdict on VRBO/home rentals is…DO IT! I just loved having a house and how easy it made so many things that are usually difficult about traveling. The one thing I would say is that there is a cleaning fee at each of the rental properties…so if your vacation requires you to stay at a different location frequently, then this probably isn’t the cheapest option, as you will spend money on a cleaning fee at each rental. However if you are staying in one spot for most of your trip or a few nights in a row, since the cleaning fee is a onetime gig, it is the way to go! I’m telling you!

-My Verdict on the Grand Canyon is GO!! It is jaw dropping – seriously! So beautiful! I would definitely plan to see other attractions in the general vicinity though, as just seeing the canyon doesn’t take all that long. There are things to do more in depth there though, like camping, hiking, riding donkeys, doing Havasupai  - which we didn’t do (didn’t even really look into since we had our kids).

-My Verdict on Horseshoe Bend – GO!! If you are anywhere nearby you HAVE to make a stop there. It is a short hike off the road, it is SO BEAUTIFUL and no photos that you have seen will do it justice. I will say to keep your kids on a leash or keep your eyes on them at all time, as there is nothing to keep them from going right over the edge!

-My Verdict on restaurants from our trip…If you are traveling through Kanab and can wait to eat…maybe WAIT. We only ate at one place in Page – Stromboli’s, but if you like pizza I would definitely say GO! And I would recommend Cameron Trading Post Restaurant for the cultural experience and 
the food was good – especially if you like spicy, they take it up a notch!

-My verdict on Take 5 Candy bars…EAT THEM! Give me all the Take 5s! 

-My verdict on road trip vomiting...if you're gonna do it, do it in the middle of nowhere at night and enjoy the amazing view of the stars! I guess technically I am not the one who was throwing up, but Reed did say he stopped to look at the stars amidst the commotion.