Touring the four corners with the family

21 July – 11 August 2016

Family flew in to San Diego on 21st July and we spent a couple of fun days with our niece Kate and her family.

The beach was top of the list of activities and everybody learned how to boogie board. We were having such a good time there, that we decided to abandon our plan of touring the city of Angels and stay an extra day. (The drivers were very relieved!)

Kids big and small give boogie boarding a go.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from Kate's when we were having so much fun, but it was time for our big road trip to begin. First stop was a campground a little away from Anaheim which would give us a chance to test out the new tent and have a bonfire before heading to Knott's Berry Farm theme park the next day.

First 'Smores' night

Knott's Berry Farm, we were told, had some great rides and as nobody in our party was particularly into Mickey Mouse or Princesses, it seemed a better fit than Disney.

Bring it on Knott's Berry Farm!

California was still in the grip of a heatwave, so it was going to be a hot day; first stop the water ride. This was probably not such a great idea as it meant that a couple of our party spent the rest of the day in wet clothes!

The grandparents had an item to tick off their bucket list while we were there. They had never ridden on a roller coaster. Perhaps the 'Accelerator' wasn't the best choice for a beginner! It lasted only 27 seconds and felt like a rocket ship launching. Christine spent 27 seconds thinking, 'I hate this, I hate this....' After that all the other rides seemed quite tame!

We retreated from the heat to the local IHOP for lunch and to enjoy the air conditioning. Fortunately lunch happened after the Accelerator!

Next morning we were headed to Vegas.


Wet again!


The drive to Las Vegas was a hot one and as we crawled through roadworks on reaching the city, Harvey was particularly hot and bothered. We were staying at Circus Circus, a casino which offered both motel rooms and an RV park. The facilities were a little dated but it suited our purpose. Another advantage was that it boasted the 'Adventuredome'. A massive indoor fun fair, lots of crazy rides out of the sun.

Everybody got a wrist band and the 'Coaster Cred' challenge card. Polly was the only one brave enough to complete the challenge, riding on all the rides to win the free T-shirt. The last ride was a terrifying six storey high roller coaster at New York, New York at the other end of town. The drive there was scary enough, seeing the roller coaster made the grandparents feel sick. Polly was undaunted and completed the ride, bagging her prize.

Fearless Polly

James tries his hand at shooting.

Enough of cities, we were headed to Zion National Park. Booking a campsite six months earlier, when they first became available, meant we had one of the few with electricity. The fire was lit, we enjoyed dinner outside and the cookies, marshmallows and chocolate assembled to make Smores for dessert. Then the apocalyptic thunderstorm started and we ran for cover. This was to become a trend of the road trip each time we lit a camp fire.

Next morning we headed to the shuttle bus. To say that Zion was busier than on our last visit in 2008 was an understatement. It seemed all the parks we visited were teeming with humans.

We took the bus to the Temple of Sinawava and set off to hike 'the Narrows'. A popular hike, it involves walking along the river bed, so at least you keep cool. Some of us decided it wasn't enough to be cool only on the lower legs and dived right into the river. A good plan for staying cool until you have to get back on the bus and ride back to camp soaking wet!

We continued with the wet theme back at camp, exploring the river and getting soaked again.

The camping life, dinner at Zion

Cooling off again back at camp

Hiking 'the Narrows'

Onward to Bryce Canyon. It was relatively close by, so we were able to arrive in time to find a campsite and were pleased to find it much cooler at the higher altitude.

The weather seemed threatening again, so we opted to tour the overlooks by car rather than hike. By the time we headed back for dinner, yes the storm was starting.

By the time we reached Grand Canyon, it seemed rock fatigue was setting in. 'What do you think of Grand Canyon?' was greeted with 'more rocks'. We decided we would curtail our road trip, missing out Mesa Verde and Four Corners. The drivers weren't sorry, it was a lot of driving in a short time.

At one point we thought the kids were turning to religion to help them through, but apparently it was only the free bracelets on offer which grabbed them!

Needless to say, once we'd visited the Canyon and set up camp near the town of Williams, the rain and thunder started, so the first outing of our new hammocks lasted only a few minutes!

Warm up for Grand Canyon

More rocks!

Tired people in front of rocks!

It was a two day drive back to San Diego and after seeing the temperatures at Joshua Tree National Park, in the desert, we opted to check into a motel for the night and enjoy the swimming pool instead.

In San Diego we had the luxury of using Kate's house again, despite the fact that they were away in Mexico. This was a fabulous base to enjoy what San Diego had to offer. We visited the Embarcadero to see the aircraft carrier, Point Loma and Old Town.

Angels and......

.......Monkeys in Old Town!

Point Loma

Two birthdays were imminent, just after the family were leaving San Diego. Gareth and Christine celebrated their ever increasing ages with a day trip to Seaworld.

That's no way to act at our ages!

By the time we made it home from our exhausting and fun day out, the rest of the team had a birthday cake waiting for us!

Celebrations were rounded off with a steak dinner before the rest of the family flew back to the UK.

We survived the experience without abandoning anybody at the roadside!

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Birthday time!