The last couple of days have been amazing. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it is to have my family here with me. It feels so RIGHT!
After the unexpected delay of their arrival, J and I went to the airport on Friday at noon and shortly after the plane landed, we could already hug and squeeze each other [thanks to US Immigration in Canada before boarding!]. As you can see on the first photo [taken at the airport], we are all glowing :)
We took my parents and my cousin to their hotel to drop of their luggage and then drove back to our apartment for a quick tour ;) Since J and I hadn’t had breakfast yet, we took my family to CafÃ© 50’sÂ for the first American lunch with burgers and sandwiches. The rest of the day, we spent at the beach, took a walk from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice and back and then finished the day by taking a ride on the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel :)
Saturday morning, we met my family at their hotel and then went with my Dad to pick up their rental car – a Ford Edge. Nice car!
We then took the Pacific Highway 1 heading towards Ventura. Unfortunately, J couldn’t join us on Saturday. We stopped in Malibu at the “Malibu Inn”Â for a hearty breakfast. The Malibu Inn is famous for its breakfast entries that are named after movie titles and a nice interior design with hardwood floors and a beautiful bar. My parents instantly loved the place and ambience :)
We took a walk on the Malibu Pier afterwards and then drove to Ventura where we checked into their hotel and then visited J’s parents.
We went out to dinner with J’s Mom that evening [J’s Dad wasn’t feeling well] and ate at “Jonathan’s Mediterranean Cuisine”Â in Downtown Ventura. It was a great night.
Sunday morning, I picked up my parents at their hotel and we drove back to LA to pick up my bags before we left for Flagstaff/Arizona. It took us about an hour to get out of the LA city limits and then, with diminishing traffic you could also feel the temperatures rising while we were driving into the desert. It was a nice drive though and we made it to Flagstaff in about 7.5 hours.
We stayed at the “Fairfield Inn”Â, the same hotel that I stayed at when I went on the US trip with my geology class in 1998. It was a nice dejÃ¡ vu. We had some dinner at “Sizzler’s”Â and then headed to bed right away.
We got up at 7:30 a.m. the next morning and had a Continental Breakfast at the hotel. I have to say that I am quite impressed with how much continental breakfasts have changed in the last couple of years. While most hotels used to offer no breakfast at all or, if they did, it usually just consisted of coffee, toast and jam, the continental breakfast has improved at many places. There was cereal, yoghurt, bagels, cream cheese, toast, jam, muffins and Danish, and fruits as well as coffee, tee and different juices.
We explored the historic Downtown area of Flagstaff in the morning and then headed for the Grand Canyon.
We stayed at a hotel in Tusayan, right outside of the National Park area. Since we were a little too early for check-in, we got some towels at the Front Desk and decided to take a quick dip into the hotel pool :) It was quite warm, but a little windy, so it was really nice.
At 3 p.m., after checking into our room, we got a Park Permit and then drove into the Grand Canyon National Park. On the way to the parking lot, we could already catch a glimpse of the Canyon – breathtaking! I’ve heard some people refer to the Grand Canyon as “a big whole in the ground”Â before, but for me it has a great fascination and I think the view and the geology of this place are exceptional.
The National Park Service offers free shuttle buses within the National Park area which is a very convenient service, because you can hop on and off the bus at different locations to enjoy the view and/or walk along the”South Rim”Â [and catch a bus some place else]. We walked along the “rim trail”Â and had a beautiful view of the Canyon. We also saw quite a few different animals like squirrels [of course ;)], chipmunks, lizards, colorful birds and even a condor!
After getting some drinks and salty snacks [as the Grand Canyon guide suggests ;)] and a short rest, we took another 2 km-hike to a view point where we waited for the sunset.
Sunrise and sunset are the most beautiful times of the day to be at the Grand Canyon, because the light changes so quickly and bathes the Grand Canyon in an amazing light and set of colors. It was beautiful!
The shuttle bus took us [and a whole bunch of other sunset viewers] back to the parking lot afterwards and we were back the hotel at around 9 p.m. – just in time to still get a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant.
So far, so good the update – as for the lack of posts in the last couple of days, you can probably guess that we’re having the time of our lives and are enjoying every minute :)