Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Anniversary and 'BabyMoon' Roadtrip

During the second week of November we embarked on what we thought would be around a ten day road trip to various National Parks in the West. So, off we went in our wagon loaded up with camping gear and food. Our first stop was Joshua Tree National Park, a few hours east of Los Angeles. We got to the Park around 2:30 on a Friday afternoon after searching for an open site for over an hour we finally gave up- every single campsite was taken! After an interesting time trying to find a hotel, we finally found a room for the night and headed to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner.
The next morning we drove in through the South entrance to the park and found a nice hiking trail so we could stretch our legs before getting back in the car to head to the Grand Canyon. Here are some pictures from our little excursion.

We even saw a wild tarantula! He was a pretty cool little guy and posed for some photos.

And of course...we had to take a belly shot! This was taken around 6 months.

Back in the car we went for our drive to the Grand Canyon. It was a pretty interesting drive but boy, were there some straight, boring roads!! Here's a little bit of what I'm talking about...

I mean seriously, you could have propped your knee up to the steering wheel and taken a nap this road was so straight! Don't worry, Matt stayed awake. Down the straight roads we went until we reached Grand Canyon National Park! Again, our camping plans were foiled but this time by Mother Nature. The temperature was much lower than had been forecast so rather than brave 9 degree nights and 15 degree mornings we, once again, found a hotel. This time it was a bit easier. We had already made a reservation at a hotel just outside the park for our anniversary so we just checked in a day early!
The next morning we were up early, off to hike the rim trail. We had originally planned to hike down a ways into the Canyon, but as with every other 'plan' we had for the trip thus far, it was changed! The Rim Trail was a very nice 8 mile trail along the Rim (duh) of the Canyon. Here are some pictures!

What would a picture of the beautiful Grand Canyon be without my belly in it? This was taken only a day after the previous belly shot- I must have had a big breakfast!

We found another nice wild animal to pose for a picture. Unfortunately, this elk wasn't as cooperative as the tarantula and only offered a nice butt shot.

Happy One Year Anniversary!!!
Notice the beginning of Matt's lovely 'matt-stache'?

Here is a shot from the picnic table where we stopped to have a snack. Not a bad view for a mid-morning snack, right?!

To celebrate our anniversary we made a reservation at the restaurant at the El Tovar Hotel. Since we're still working on the whole 'documenting our lives on film' thing, of course we forgot the camera. Here is a nice picture of the Lodge I found floating in cyberspace.

Our meal was awesome! Matt had chicken cordon bleu- which he is still talking about- and I had an amazing buffalo fillet. Fat and happy, we headed back to the hotel and got ready to leave for Death Valley the next morning.
Once we got to Death Valley our plans to camp finally came to fruition! We found a nice little site in a campground being patrolled by a rather curious but friendly coyote. As it was with many of the elk in the Grand Canyon, the coyote in Death Valley are so used to seeing people that they (for the most part) leave you alone if you don't bother them. Having never seen a coyote in the wild my first reaction was, of course, to run, jump in the car and get the heck out of there! My fears of being eaten alive by a rabid coyote soon faded as Matt told me a little more about them. Now, needless to say, I wasn't about to walk up to it and start cuddling but this coyote was pretty cute! Sorry, no picture... I know, I know, you're very sad but he was much cuter than this guy!

To sum up the night (yes, that's singular!) we spent camping in Death Valley- painful!!!! I knew taking a road trip at 6 months pregnant might pose some challenges and discomforts but WOW was sleeping on the ground- sleeping pad and all- uncomfortable! My hips and back were incredibly unhappy and spent the night screaming in protest to the whole sleeping on the ground thing. At least I had some NPR on our radio and yipping coyotes to listen to as I waited for the sun to rise! Once the sun started to come up, I headed for the hammock Matt set up. Yes, we had a hammock, haha. At least it's a camping hammock!

Our lovely little campsite
Words cannot describe how happy this hammock made me! I really should have moved in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep but my somewhat exaggerated fear of coyotes came creeping back and I decided I'd tough it out in the tent until morning.
Here are a few pictures of the day we spent in Death Valley.

'Scotty's Castle'- a mansion an insurance tycoon from Chicago built in the middle of Death Valley in the early 20th century. Interesting story behind it all but not as interesting as our blog (kidding)... so you'll have to Google it if you want to learn more.

Kind of a belly shot... walking around an old well where you can find old shards of glass from travelers passing through in the early 20th century and before.

Ahhh! Don't fall in the old volcano!

Some very dry ground at 190 feet below sea level.
Anyways, after the painful night of little sleep on the ground we decided that anymore camping would be a bad idea. The down side to that was that each of our next planned (there's that silly word again 'planned') stops were for camping and there weren't any hotels nearby. It also seemed a little silly to keep spending money on hotel rooms when I was just uncomfortable overall, in the car and at night. So, from Death Valley we decided to head home. Talk about a long day of driving! We made it back in one piece and although we cut the trip pretty short we had a great time seeing some of the beautiful sites in the West! We're already planning our next trip with Grayson!

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