Catching Up: Flagstaff Staycation

   We had nothing planned for the week before Sky and Fire went to their grandparents house in Kansas so when D told me that he was going to be working overtime, the kids and I decided to head up to Flagstaff a few days early to see the sights and enjoy a little cooler weather.
   Sky thought that we needed a picture of Earth too...

  We had planned to stay at a friends house while they were out of town but there was a mix up with the dates so we couldn't get into their place until after dinner time.  What to do, what to do?  A McDonalds with a playplace for the win!

On our first day there, we headed to a drive-through wild life park called Bearizona.  We got there just as it opened to make the most of the morning.
Sky and Fire were too cool to take a picture with the bear at the entrance, until they saw Water and Earth doing it!
  We walked around the park and saw the animals that they had in habitat cages and then headed for the buses
  We could have driven through the park but my kids love riding buses and I knew they would have a better view of the animals this way instead through our trucks dark tinted windows.  It was a good choice- the bus was open and the kids had their heads at the window for the entire drive.  The driver was an elementary teacher and he catered to the kids- they laughed so much!
We saw deer,
bears (even one in a tree!),
 and reindeer.
  When we got back to the park, we stopped at the petting zoo and Earth was in his happy place.  I had to drag him out of here so that we could eat lunch.
The kids loved Bearizona and it was totally manageable for me with four kids by myself.  It was a great way to spend a morning and I'm sure we'll be back.

That afternoon, we headed back to the playground we'd stopped at on our way to the Grand Canyon.  Last time, there was a new playground under construction but this time it was open.  We went to the this playground almost every afternoon that we were in Flagstaff.  It had something for every kid and the they went from activity to activity and had so much fun there.

Someone's too cool for a picture!

We had to stop at Target for a few things  and this card was so massive that I felt like I was driving a bus.  You can't see it in the picture but there's room for two kids in the baby seat where Earth was sitting (Water wanted to be with the big kids so he sat on Sky's lap- such a good big sister!)

On our second day in Flagstaff, we went to Sunset Crater National Park.  This one is another great place for kids and it's a two-for-one deal.  The national park encompasses both a volcano and native pueblo ruins.  The kids had so much fun exploring the paths around the lava flows.  I kept having to yell ahead to them to stay on the path because some of it was still really sharp

  Poor Fire kept asking where the lava was.  He had thought we were going to see a live volcano, like the ones he's seen on TV.  I had to explain to him several times that he was standing on lava, old lava that cooled a long time ago.  Sky loved seeing where it had folded on top of itself, "like a sandwich"

The drive to the pueblo ruins was so beautiful!

  The pueblo was inhabited about 1000 years ago, shortly after the volcano erupted.  The kids weren't so interested in the ruins but I thought it was pretty amazing to see them

Six pictures and this was the best one...

Another couple walking past tipped us off to this vent hole at the bottom of the walking path.  Its a natural formation that accesses a cave under the ruins.  Depending on the air temperature, air either flows in our out.  It was blowing out pretty fast today and all the kids thought it was pretty amazing
  While the kids weren't very interested in the ruins, Sky and Fire asked a ton of questions while we walked around them.  I told them to save their questions and that we'd find a ranger to ask.  Luckily, there was one at the top of the path and we asked about where the doors were, where the people were and why they'd left, what they ate when they lived here, if they had horses, if they were here when the lava was, and where were the dinosaur bones.  I was so proud of Sky and Fire for thinking so much about what they were seeing and listening to the answers from the ranger.

  We had a picnic lunch at a beautiful rest stop

And then made one last stop at the volcano
I didn't know this when we came to the park but this isn't a volcano like you picture one- this is actually a cinder cone and all the lava flowed out from the base of it, rather than coming down the slopes.  Apparently it flowed for more than 10 years!
All the kids were pretty done at this point, and I was done with herding them but then they discovered the interpretive signs around the path.  It became a game to race from sign to sign (Sky won every time).  They would wait for me to catch up, I would read the sign and answer their questions, and then say, "One, two , three, go!" and they'd be off again.
  This was one of the most interesting lava shapes we saw- it's called a squeeze up

After dinner we headed into downtown Flagstaff for some ice cream
And I was a "yes" mama when it came to puddles in the town square :)

D's dad and step mom got into town late that night and we met at their hotel the next morning.  We all piled into our truck and headed out to see an asteroid crater.  I didn't realize that the crater was on private land when we planned this trip so the entrance fee was pretty expensive but I think it was worth the cost, at least to see it once.
  There are several levels of viewing platforms and a great museum and movie as well

We had lunch at the crater and then went swimming at the pool at R and C's hotel.  We had some great BBQ for dinner and then made our way back to the town square.  We got treats at a little chocolate shop and the kids ran around while R joined the impromptu swing dance that was happening there.
  Sky and Fire left early the next morning to take the train to Kansas with R and C and I drove home with the little boys.  While it was more stressful than I thought it would be and there was more orneriness on the kids part and shouting on my part than I would have liked, we had a great trip  to Flagstaff overall and I'm looking forward to going up again.


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