Road Trip: From Neon to Zion

Next stop on our trip was the typical family destination of Las Vegas. We arrived in from New York with mum and dad and were set for 3 nights of booze, gambling, sex and debauchery.  Only one problem was the kids followed us.  Nevertheless, we wouldn’t let those handbrakes stop us.  We checked into our digs, the massive with a capital ASSIVE MGM Grand hotel.  The kids loved it and couldn’t wait to hit the slots.  I think Piper was heartbroken when I told her that… she couldn’t double up on the pokies.

So, is the Vegas the place to take your kids? Well, obviously it’s not the most kid friendly destination but if you do take them here are my tips (all two of them)

  • Stay somewhere with a killer pool, MGM was huge with a pretty awesome lazy river. I forked out for some floating tubes and we cruised the river for hours.

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  • Go midweek. If you are with the family try to avoid the weekend.  By Friday the place was overrun with bux (stag) do’s and hen’s parties. The pool was  was a sea of finely tuned bodies drinking cocktails in the sun. As I said a terrible terrible place (please note tongue tucked firmly into cheek).

20160914-dscf0917We had a good couple of days here though and even managed to have a night on the town (thanks mum and dad).  We started like those Vegas cheapskates, plying 1 cent slot machine to get a few free drinks.  We casino hopped a little before getting stuck into some craps at Caesars Palace (I’m not sure if it was the real Caesars Palace?).  We’ve never really played Craps before but after watching for a couple of rolls we decided to give it a go.  We got talking to a guy, let’s just call him ‘George from Michigan’.  We called him that because that was his name and he was from Michigan.  He gave the best short explanation and within 3 minutes Ez had the dice on the hand.  Her first roll was more Greg than Trevor Chappell (i.e. more over than underarm), landing off the table, much to the ire of Pancho the old Mexican dude next to us.  She soon, sorted out her action and had a few good rolls.  The dice soon made their way around to Pancho who was on a bigger roll than a Big Mac.

We left an hour later with a few drinks under our belts and our pockets full of chips.  They were the corn chips I had been eating earlier but we did win about $100.  We left the next day and said farewell to mum and dad.  It had been a great couple of weeks with the girls loving having them around and I feel growing closer than ever.  For those that care, we did see the Bellagio fountain show, New York, New York roller coaster, some outlet shopping and the strip in all its glory.  We didn’t see Alan, Phil, Stu, Doug or Mr Chow, so a little disappointing.

 

vertical 1.jpgFrom Sin City we would travel to Salt Lake City, Utah – the Mormon capital of the world and home to some of the friendliest people we have met so far. We picked up our SUV and headed to our latest Air BnB property.  We were staying in suburbia in the basement of the family home of Cindy May and Alvin (not their real names).  Sorry, Ez just informed me that was their real names.  A lovely Mormon couple who lived in a massive house. They were grandparents themselves and were super kind.  Cindy May offered the girls popsicles one day.  They had no idea what she was talking about until Ez translated they were ice blocks, needless to say the kids were delighted!  Their Air BnB basement was a 3 story house with a fully kitted out movie cinema. It was so nice to have some home comforts after the hectic previous couple of weeks.  We also found their Mormon mission notebook and aim to put in practice some of their wisdom

  • No R rated movies in the house
  • Laugh at your children’s jokes
  • Complement the wife on her cooking
  • Make time to ‘enjoy’ each other’s companies.

I should be fine with most of those.  Ez will need to call council when we are home to pick up all the excess DVD’s.

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We chilled for a couple days, drove up through the mountains to Park City and across to Antelope Island – an island that looks out over the Great Salt Lake and is home to bison.  It was here we had a family photo shoot.  Erica’s photography inspiration lives here and she shot our family in a pretty awesome setting.  Evie ended up in her undies waist deep in the lake (I guess we were lucky she kept her undies on). But in Ez’s words, at least there is proof I was on this trip too now.

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After a few days in SLC it was time to tackle the famous Utah national parks. We headed down towards Capitol Reef. There is an old Mormon settlement in the middle of the national park with fruit orchards everywhere (the town is creatively called Fruita). We picked apples and ate plenty of home made apple pie. We spent the night on a cowboy ranch and got a tour of the property with 8 year old Tylee. We are now fully caught up on rodeos and cow roping (yes that’s a real thing). Piper and Evie kept looking at Ez, asking if Tylee was speaking English.

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At Bryce Canyon we copped a bit of crappy weather and I’ll be honest we didn’t exactly have the most luxurious accommodation.  Cowboy cabins and caravan parks in the rain is as about as much fun as a sunburnt massage. The canyons were all covered in fog so we couldn’t see much, but we got to see some deer and plenty of yellow aspen trees (Ez was excited).

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We headed into Zion national park which had been on Ez’s bucket list from the start.  I’m not usually one into National Parks and as I may have said before my idea of the great outdoors in probably sitting in row 3 at the SCG,  but even I could say it was bloody amazing. We did one of the easy hikes with the kids, Ez made it through the start of the Narrows (a hike up walking calf deep through the river).

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Our accommodation in Zion was a western wagon (see below). A cool novelty when we were booking it. It had 4 beds, some blankets and a torch.  As the afternoon grew long Ez informed me it was going to be 0 degrees overnight.  Cold, but then I realised maybe she was taking Fahrenheit.  So googled the conversion.  It would also be 0 degrees Celsius.  A huge thunderstorm came overhead, the cabin leaked and it was as cold as an Arctic outdoor cinema. You could snap my nipples like a Kit Kat (family size).  We survived the night (the kids somehow had a great night’s sleep) and left the next day when we saw the forecast was going to  hit minus that night.

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After another day exploring the National parks and going on a family hike  we hit the road and started our trek down to San Diego.  We felt like royalty checking into the Holiday Inn in middle of nowhere Utah that first night out of the igloo.  I now know how those Chilean miners felt.  More exploring the next day through Utah,  visiting slot canyons and sand dunes. The kids loved getting back to nature, climbing rocks, running on the dunes and having some outdoorsy fun!

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We continued the drive down to the coast over the next couple day and visited 4 states within an hour one day (Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California) before arriving in San Diego.  This would be our starting point for our West Coast road trip, but more about that next time.

The kids have been on fire lately, so I’ll leave you with some of their best

Piper when we were reading the rules of a game to her, we said you have to be 2 +.  She let out a big ‘YES, Evie is 2 and I’m plus!’

Piper explaining family to Evie

‘In our little family is just us and in our bigger family is nanny and poppy and guys like that’

And one from the wife explaining a mattress to me

‘The mattress is a weird tempura one’ (she meant Tempur, not covered in Japanese batter).

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There are more photos from Utah on Erica’s gallery

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