Day Five: 2008 Great Circus Road Trip

Monumental Circus Adventures

States visited this day: Colorado, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico

Circus Truckster Conversation: "This is the best trip ever!"

We awoke this morning and set out from Cortez, CO for the Four Corners Monument and Navajo Tribal Park. For a small fee, you are allowed to enter a small, circular open air market, with a low, flat marble monument. There is an 'X' etched in the marble with the names of a state in each one of the sections; Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah. It's the only place where you can stand in four states at one time.

(click for a larger version)

The monument was not very busy, but we still dutifully waited for the "X" to clear of people so we could have our family picture taken in all four states at once. A kindly gentleman, formerly of Illinois himself, took our family photo for us. Hubby offered to do the honors for his family as well.

We walked around for a little bit, then climbed back into the Circus Truckster and made tracks further into Arizona. Our destination: The Grand Canyon.

Or so we thought.

At the intersection of 160 and 163, Hubby decided to take a right, and we were off to visit Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park near the borders of Arizona and Utah. It was a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g drive, and I had plenty of opportunity to take pictures of the scenery. As we neared Monument Valley, the landscape became more interesting.

Hubby pulled off the road to take a picture of a far off Monument Valley. A friendly little dog trotted up to Hubby right away. Hubby is the kind that would take in every stray that crossed his path. (Which may or may not explain why he married me) He told the dog to sit and it listened. He held out his hand and asked the dog and the dog put his paw into Hubby's hand. Clearly, this little guy was someone's pet. The clowns still in the Circus Truckster, watching intently and making plans. "Mom! Maybe he'll come with us!" I suddenly had visions of Aunt Edna's dog from National Lampoon's Vacation. "Uh, no."

Once we reached Monument Valley, the first thing we did was visit the visitor's center. Not so much to buy a trinket or get more information. We'd all been holding our water for three states, and it was time answer nature's call before hitting the bumpy trail.

Back into the Circus Truckster, we followed the 17-mile unpaved loop around the park, between and around all the natural red rock formations. I was in awe of it, and clearly I was not the only one. Just a few minutes into "trail ride", Buddy pipes up with "Thank you God for all the rocks."

At times, Hubby pretended the truck was struggling on the hilly terrain and getting stuck in the soft sand. I was overwhelmed with the desire to climb on the rocks and let the sand slip between my fingers. (I always did love sandboxes when I was a kid)

When the trail ended, we were near the visitor's center again. There were a few mud huts that the kids played in for a bit, and I got my chance to see what all that soft-looking red orange sand felt like. (It was HOT to the touch!)

Now that the clowns had been exercised a bit, we piled back into the Circus Truckster, gave the kids water, and were off on our way to the Grand Canyon. For reals.

Grand Canyon Web Cam

It was a long drive from the Utah/Arizona border to Grand Canyon National Park. Along the way, Buddy proclaimed all Taco Bells were "Ding Bells!" That's going to stick around for a while, I can tell you that! Once near the Grand Canyon, we tuned the radio to the "park station" and were welcomed by a voice that sounded (to me, at least) like Bucky's! She got a little repetitive after a while, though, so we turned down the sound and made our way from the East Entrance along Desert View Drive to the South Rim, stopping at the Watch Tower along the way. After the Tower and surrounding area was sufficiently explored, we continued towards Grand Canyon Village. We got out and explored a bit around there, giving the clowns more time to stretch their legs.

Hubby assisted the clowns in getting to a few precarious spots here and there, and I took pictures. There were a couple of times near the Watch Tower that my inner Mommyvoice was damn near freaking out about how close the clowns were to the edge WITH NO GUARDRAILS, but I did my very best to remain calm, take the picture quickly and order Hubby to get my children away from the edge of the cliff without sounding too hysterical.

(Click each of the pictures for a larger version)


There were a lot of people and cars vying for space near the Grand Canyon Village, and we opted to pile back into the Circus Truckster, make our way South and find a nice little spot in which to call it a day. Hubby had done a LOT of driving. As it turned out, there was a lot more to do that day.

We aimed the Circus Truckster for Williams, AZ. Unfortunately, the one hotel that had a vacancy had cardboard boxes for mattresses. We had already spent one nearly sleepless night during our vacation because of a bad mattress, we weren't going to repeat that mistake. We headed West for a bit over to Ash Fork, but didn't find any place we would be willing to close our eyes at. With an eye on the gas gauge, Hubby double-backed and found a lovely, reasonably-priced hotel near Flagstaff.

By the time we reserved a room, we were all tired, hungry, and more than a little slap-happy. At some point, Hubby confiscated Sweet Pea's "Summer Leopard" and secured him in the sunroof of the Circus Truckster. You would laugh at the double-takes when there is a summer leopard's tail sticking out the roof of your vehicle.

Dinner was the last thing on our agenda before we could finally call it a day. We ended up at the Village Inn near Flagstaff, AZ. Thankfully for the few other patrons that were there, the Circus was seated in the corner. I guess our reputation had preceded us. We were more than a little silly during our meal -- parents included! After the long day and all the miles we'd traveled, "Clucker Dunkers" (an item on the menu resembling chicken nuggets) was VERY funny. Unfortunately for Punkin, she wasn't too thrilled when that suddenly became her new nickname.

We eventually finished our meal and they kicked us out left to make our way back to our home for the night.

The following day, we would take the kids down the road they knew from the Disney Pixar movie "Cars"; Route 66.

(You can see all of the pictures here)

for those of you who are finding these virtual vacation posts dull as dishwater, don't worry, we only have another two or three days left


eclectic said...

I can't believe you did the Grand Canyon and Monument Park all in the same day. When we did the GC over spring break we were there for 3 days. You guys are some kinda speedy!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Why oh why do they always stand so close to the edge?!

Sharkey said...

Not boring at all! I'm enjoying your travels. In fact, I think I prefer reading about your trip over actually riding in the car with three kids for thousands of miles. :)

That Buddy cracked me up with his thanking God. Too cute!

David said...

I have been following the Big Tent on the road, and enjoying your trip vicariously thru you guys.
Not having travelled in almost a year, I so miss it. But your trip sounds wonderful.
Thanks so much for your warm comment on my post. It means much to me.


Circus Kelli said...

Eclectic - I know! It was a little "National Lampoon-y" at the Grand Canyon, but even I was getting a little claustrophobic with all the people. (Claustrophobic at the Grand Canyon! Who'da thunk?) Plus, it was getting late and we were tired. Hub's hip (he needs hip replacement) was in no condition for any hiking.

Jenn - I wish I knew. I refer to those photos as "This is when Mommy had the heart attack..."

Sharkey - Ha! I can certainly understand that! The clowns did pretty well, but still... :)

David - It was a wonderful trip. Good luck to you today.

kcinnova said...

Why oh why do husbands always let the kids do that?!? If they were the ones who bore and birthed babies, I think it would be different. Or at least I tell dh that when he is scaring me like that!

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous pictures of the rocks! Made me want to climb, too!

Maddy said...

That's some trek! Holidays indeed. I certainly take your point about husbands and strays, and I have similar views about motivations too!

Your 'cat' looks like our 'sable' but there would be a riot if he was stuck like that.

Nance said...

The lack of guardrails floored me when I first visited CO. The next thing to strike me was the nonstop parade of daddies who ENCOURAGED their kiddies to get close to the edges. OR CLIMB A BIT OVER ONTO AN OUTCROPPING. I wasn't with my family at that point, but I had to turn away before I screamed, "Are all you people crazy, or WHAT?!"

...what a bunch of cluckerdunkers.

Circus Kelli said...

Nance - Yep. We're just a bunch of cluckerdunkers.

Maddy - Cheers back at you! It's always good to come back home, isn't it?

Mama Zen - I loved those red rocks. Did I mention that? :)

KC - Because Daddies are cluckerdunkers. That's why. (hey, email me, I don't have your email!)

WILLIAM said...

The pics are awesome.

Dragonfly Dreaming said...

It is on my list of things to do before I die, see the Grand Canyon. The pictures were amazing.

Ortizzle said...

Superb pics. Now I know I must see the Grand Canyon. As soon as I get over my vertigo...

Bone Machine said...

One of our students was discussing the Grand Canyon the other day. She was saying how some rather highly educated (?) person that she had talked to recently thought the Grand Canyon was in a state where it obviously is not.

Being something of a wiseass, I said "It's in Canada, right?"

Dragonfly Dreaming said...

I am very envious of your trip. * sighs * I can't wait for the day we can do that with the kids. Double paychecks will certainly speed up the dream, heh!

Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I'll tell you right now - having cats will once and for all cure your desire to play in sandboxes!

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