My family is big on celebrations. For a while, my husband was under the impression that he never saw my family unless there was a party involved. And he's not far off in that assumption. So in honor of my mom's big 5-0 birthday and my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, now that all us "kids" are self-sufficient, childless (cutting it close on that one), and of drinking/gambling age, we agreed to go all out for a week long family vacation out West. 

We all convened in good 'ol Las Vegas on night one and immediately went big with Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles show which was insane. (Baby O must like The Beatles like his/her mama because he/she was kicking like crazy the entire time. :-) )  Other highlights included being coaxed away from my nervousness of gambling through the high-stakes War table, viewing the fountain show at the Bellagio up close, a full day of private cabana and pool time at the Palazzo Hotel, and the weirdest, most comical, and yes delicious (minus the hammered pork skins and stuffed slimy olives) meal at Bazaar Meat

We also took a day trip to the Hoover Dam while staying in L.V. which was its own incredible experience. Apparently, if you rub the angel statue's feet it's supposed to bring you good luck in Vegas -- which is ironic because we all wiped out that night on Blackjack. 

Las Vegas certainly its own special collection of society and offers a way of life that is foreign to me, but it was quite a ride for 2 days! After our 2am bedtimes, roller-coaster gambling tables, and constant barrage of food and drink, I think we were all ready for some smoke-less air and more scenic views. That's when we headed to the epitome of the west: the Grand Canyon. 

The Grand Canyon

Words don't do it justice and pictures can only begin to show it's beauty. What an incredible display of the power of nature. We rented an enormous van to transport us from Vegas to Arizona and made some fun pitstops along the way, like this adorable diner off the famous Rt. 66. Our mini road trip with 8 grown adults was entertainment of its own kind.  

We arrived to the Grand Canyon just before sunset. We stood on the edge and marveled as the colors changed with each minute, making memories of a lifetime together. 

The next day, we got up early and headed back to the canyon with a master plan. We hiked down through the Bright Angel Trail, about 3-4 miles with spectacular views (obviously). Then we packed in our mini-bus and drove to a picnic shelter where we noshed on homemade pb&j, pretzels, and fruit before hitting the Desert Watchtower for another angle. We were wearing thin by this point so on our way back to the visitor's center, we stopped at an old ruins sight, a few other overlooks, and then wrapped the day with the world's most perfect ice cream cone for the win. All that fresh air and natural wonder stole my heart for the #1 day of the trip award without a doubt.

Sedona

Another of nature's masterpieces- these red rock formations were absolutely breathtaking. We drove out from the Grand Canyon on our last day headed for Phoenix with plans to hit Sedona on the way. We stopped in the town at the foot of the cliffs which was incredible - a quaint stretch of dining areas and boutiques to browse that I just fell in love with. After a delicious patio lunch overlooking the view, we drove out to the famous Cathedral Rocks. It literally never got old just marveling at their magnitude. 

Our trip came to a close with some take-out Chinese and lots of hugs, realizing the close of this trip meant the start of many new things to come and just how incredible the time was that we were able to spend together over those 5 days. I feel so blessed to have this bond with my parents and my siblings-- that even though we're all so weirdly different, we all manage to get along. More than that, we actually enjoy each other. This trip was about celebrating milestones but we also created some while were there that will stick with me forever. 

Superlatives

Most likely to loose money gambling - Nick

Most likely to eat their gambling money: Catalina

Best dressed: Ross 

Best wildlife spotter - Jerry

Most likely to be eaten by wildlife - Matt

Most likely to have a Marilyn Monroe moment: Kelly

Best one-liners - Leah

Best actress for acting offended when the Palazzo gave them an occupied room so we could get upgraded - LYNN!

Best activity for 20-somethings to pass time in the car: Family Guy Mad Libs

Word of the trip: BANANAS

 

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