Change is good, and in that spirit we decided to spice up our holiday travels this year. Instead of flying back to Washington, D.C. to visit my family for Thanksgiving, we picked a location, rented a house, and all met up there for the week. This was all Ryan's idea, and I have to publicly give him credit for devising such a brilliant plan for our holiday! Speaking of Ryan and his brilliance, he has launched a new website for Ryan Notch Photography, which is absolutely stunning. I encourage all of you to swing over and check out his work!
There really is nothing like the scenery in the American West. We did our best to take advantage of the beautiful landscapes around Sedona, and tried to get outside as much as possible. We also took advantage of having grandparents with us to babysit - a luxury we don't have back in California. Ryan and I went on a hike together on the Brins Mesa Trail one afternoon.
He took his 4 x 5 camera and I had the digital, so you're getting not only one, but TWO pictures on this blog actually taken by me! Can you believe it?
Since we were so close, we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. I'd never seen it before, and was blown away by how breathtakingly gorgeous it is. Ethan had a great time barreling at a full run towards the railings, until I ruined all his fun by putting him in the stroller. Now that he knows how to walk, he's completely over the whole stroller thing. He's also mostly over the "carry me" thing, unless I happen to need my arms to complete some household task. Then, and only then, will he want to be held. But I digress.
Cashing in another babysitting chip, we dragged Mary out on a hike to the top of Bell Rock. Treacherous at times, the hike was a fun challenge for the three of us (well, for two of us at least - Ryan's a real outdoorsy type, so it was a piece of cake for him).
The view was unbeatable, and once we scaled enough of the walls to get to the top we had some time to sit and take in the calm stillness of our surroundings.
Our next adventure was a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. Their website touts the ride as "Arizona's Longest-Running Nature Show" and after chugging along with them I'd have to say I can see why! The engine winds through the canyon at a crawl of 12 mph, which makes it easy to take in the sights and snap some photos. As the route goes through Prescott National Forest, you're surrounded by natural landscapes for the entire ride. The few exceptions to this are two houses that were grandfathered into the zoning laws and the ghost town of Perkinsville. I use "town" loosely, by the way.
Ethan was the train's unofficial ambassador, and took his title quite seriously. In order to fulfill his duties of passenger greeting, he ran up and down the cars, waving and blowing kisses to those he passed.
Considering that the train departed at two, that Ethan's nap time was supposed to begin at two, and that the ride lasted four hours, Ethan did an amazing job of holding it together on the trip! Of course, having an animal sound baby application on my phone helped keep him calm in the final stretch of our journey.
We had so much fun, and are already in talks about our next joint family vacation. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we'll see you in 2011!