Post by Nomad Diaries

3 canyons, 3 states, 4 days. One of the best long weekends!

With such poor holiday allowance in the U.S (still can’t get over that) we try to squeeze a trip to see some new places whenever we can. You become picky with where you want to go and how much time to spend there, if you only have peanuts for the days off. Distances in the U.S or – broader – both Americas, are not small! So you kind of need few extra days as often standard weekend just won’t cut it (sobbing, thinking of those quick weekends away in Asia or Europe). But, then we thought – screw it, let’s do it. We decided that extra days of paid time off in the U.S will most likely never happen, so we may as well just use wisely the amount of days we have.

So here we are. Doing a trip to see 3 canyons across 3 US states in 4 days. Awesome. Pushing it with our freshly fledged 16 months old gal? Maybe. Especially that road trips aren’t her thing – we don’t own a car, so longer rides aren’t our usual gig (so un-American, I know).

HEADING NORTH

We start in Phoenix. Fern does surprisingly amazing during the 5h plane journey and, although we were exhausted from 4am wake up, we are happy that we are not ‘that family’ on the plane. Small joys :)

We rent a car and drive towards our first out of 3 canyons. The Grand one! Once we get out of the Phoenix city area, the scenery becomes truly beautiful. Bare rocks, wide-open spaces cuddling the highway and blue skies. Tiredness is still there, but it fades away slowly with every mile. We all are so hungry that could eat our own arms; so we stop for a light brunch at Nora Jean’s cafe, near Black Canyon town. Basic, tasty American food served  with big smile and warm hearts of the locals. We even get to have a proper espresso! Life is good.

Next we head towards Sedona. We make a quick stop at the Bell Rock, which is around 12 minutes drive from Sedona. Beautiful red rock formations surround the town, you can spot lots of little gift shops, art galleries, cafes and charming houses. It all almost looks like from a movie set! Would be wonderful to spend some more time there, but we are driven by our agenda and by Fern’s (ruined already) sleep schedule. Whole Foods supply visit and 3 nappy (aka diapers) changes later (don’t ask) we are on the road again.

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Grand Canyon greets us with $30 entry fee and a bit of a rain. The Maswik Lodge where we stay is cozy, old- school and kind of basic, but warming at the same time. Visualise an afternoon with glass of red wine under a blanket, with a nice book in hand. Nice, right?

Once we arrived, it cooled down and got a tad darker too. Doesn’t worry us too much – it’s getting late for our little traveler and we are all so knackered that could fall asleep standing up.

MORNING, GRAND CANYON

We wake up at 4am by our bundle of joy! Happy days. Can’t resist that smutch face though, so we snuggle a bit more in bed and slowly get ready for the day. Exercise, quick yoghurt and fruit (thanks, Whole Foods) tea and milk for some of us. Backpack, jumpers (aka sweaters), camera and we are ready to see the sunrise at the Canyon. It feels cold out and Fern is strangely looking at her little feet covered with socks and shoes. ‘Weird’, she must think (she has not worn socks since she started to walk – we got lucky, with the reliable summer on the East Coast!).

The views of the Canyon are breathtaking and we stop for few minutes just to stare on what’s around us. We also say ‘wow’ around 20 times. The size of this thing is overwhelming and more and more amazing colors appear as the sun comes up. The lighter is gets, the more structure to the formations, more bends, more shapes and shadows you can see. Pretty spectacular. We walk around the south rim edge near the Grand Canyon Village (no hiking for us with Fern..) and easily take a hundred photos. To top the whole experience up even more, we find a pretty good espresso at the El Tovar lodge.

We sit for few minutes in the morning sun on the bench looking out on the Canyon, just soaking it all up and letting caffeine to kick in (while our little girl runs around after random dogs and squirrels). It’s only early morning (only around 8am) and it seems strange and good that we’ve achieved so much already.

Our next stops are Marble Canyon and Bryce Canyon in Utah. We stay in both location for one night. Fast pace!

MARBLE CANYON

Marble Canyon has some interesting formations scattered around the wide area; all seems so serene and quiet. We see a very few cars and people. Silence and zero wind are combined with crazy hot afternoon sun. We feel sweat slowly dripping off our foreheads and Fern is red like a cherry tomato (not sunburn; poor thing always gets so heated in extreme conditions). That dry heat is so new to us. Can definitely feel some Arizona here!

We also worried about little withdrawals when we realize there is no reception or wifi in the lodge we are staying in. A little sad we are, I thought. But at 8pm, the bubs is nicely tucked in bed and we are seating on the terrace having a cold beer and the most amazing tender ribs from the (only) local cafe in the area. We feel grateful, happy and incredibly relaxed chatting away and watching the most beautiful black night sky covered with billions of sparkling dots. Not sad anymore. Who needs technology?

BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon takes us to another state – hello Utah! The only thing I remember about Utah is the Book of Mormon play in West End in London. Hilarious. But, we are not here to look for Elder Kevin Price or others, there is a canyon to be seen!

And isn’t it spectacular. We drive through the national park and to Fern’s amusement, we stop at almost every point to look out and take some pictures. Surprisingly, it feels busier than in Grand Canyon. But the views are incredible, the rocks vary by color from gray to almost bright red. The formations and shapes are also quite original; we can spot some spikes, tunnels, caves, layers. The combination of blue skies, green trees and red rocks is just beautiful – nature at its best (minus the loud people here and there).

LAS VEGAS, BABY

We finish our journey in 3rd state – Nevada. Last night is in downtown Las Vegas. Kind of a culture shock after quiet evenings in the middle of nowhere, with no wifi or city buzz. Downtown Las Vegas seems so crazy that it reminds us of the main street of Patong in Thailand (if you’ve been, you get me ;).

But we (and I mean 3 of us, Fern too) relax into it and soak up the experience and craziness. Music, live performances, casinos, oversized colourful drinks and half naked people dancing on streets and bars – you have it all! It is a lovely warm night and people around us seem happy and cheerful (maybe tipsy, haha). We treat ourselves to a delicious dinner and cocktails at the Therapy and then head back for a few hours sleep, before catching early morning flight back to NYC.

TOUCH DOWN

We touch down in New York, three of us with heavy eyes and rumbling stomachs. Uber at the airport can’t come fast enough! We need a holiday to recover from the holiday :) But despite the rushed agenda, little- big person sleeping on us on the planes, hours spent on the road, child’s vomit in the car, lack of our good daily espresso and bags of dirty laundry – we could not be happier.

Every trip is yet another experience we get to remember for years, if not forever. For me, it doesn’t matter if it is for a few days, weekend or few weeks – big and small adventures count. What matters are the curiosity, memories, time away from daily routines, lessons learnt and fun beautiful photographs you get to take. Plus, without sounding too corny, shared travel experiences are something that no money in the world can buy.

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