All the Love in Arizona

I went to Arizona about 9 years ago with my parents for baseball spring training when I was in college. It is such an amazing and unique place. I love the mountains, the cacti, and the climate. My family goes every year, and it never worked out for us to go before, until this year. We love when Ryan gets time off from work, and spending it in a beautiful place like Arizona is even better!

The kids have become good little travelers. They are used to driving 10+ hours in the car, so flying with them really isn’t a problem. The hardest part is all the extra luggage…suitcases, a pack-n-play, car seats, etc. Luckily, they enjoy helping as much as they can! We made it there in one piece, and it took some time to adjust to the 2 hour time difference, but we were excited for some fun adventures.

Travel

Day 1 – Chicago White Sox Spring Training Game

Baseball spring training is how the yearly Arizona tradition all began. My mom loves her Chicago White Sox, so my parents would always try to come out to see them play. This was the first time that all of us got to come, and that we had all 5 of the cousins together with Yaya in her happiest happy place! To be honest, my kids didn’t pay attention at all to the game. They were more interested in the hot dogs, popcorn and churros. But nonetheless, they had fun with the snacks and their cousins!

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Day 2 – Pinnacle Peak

Pinnacle Peak was a great starter hike. It was kid-friendly and we just got to take our time and enjoy the scenery. We loved seeing mountains in every direction, and the kids especially loved looking for critters!

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Day 3 – Lookout Mountain

The next day, we took just the big kids on a harder hike. They’ve all hiked Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock before, so we knew what they were capable of. We chose Lookout Mountain, which was perfect. It was definitely tougher for them, but they pushed through and made it to the top. They were very proud of themselves and enjoyed the beautiful view!

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Day 4 – Piestewa Peak

This was the “adult hike.” We knew we wanted to do a more strenuous hike, so Grandma Bev and Yaya watched the fab 5 while we hiked up Piestewa Peak. It was definitely a tough hike, but it was amazing. All of us are pretty physically fit, so this hike was perfect for us. We got an amazing workout in, closed our Activity rings on our Apple Watches before noon, and saw some beautiful views!

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Later that evening, we drove to Arizona State University to walk around campus and eat dinner. The highlight for the kids, however, was the rainbow chair!

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Day 5 – Out of Africa Wildlife Park

This was probably our favorite day of the week. Almost everywhere we travel, we like to try out the different zoos. My aunt recommended this particular wildlife park to us, which was like a zoo, but much more interactive. It was an incredible place with wonderful experiences!

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The park had multiple shows throughout the day, including 2 different tiger shows, and a giant snake show. All 5 of the kids were brave enough to pet the snake!

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The tigers were a major hit. The trainers at this park are unbelievably close to animals, and love them like their own pets. They run around inside to fences with them, play with them, and hug them. We enjoyed watching the tigers swim in the pool, play games, and we even got to feed them!

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Most of the adults and the bigger 3 kids got to ride on the “SuperMog,” which was basically a safari to get up close with the animals and feed many of them. Kibo, the giraffe was our favorite! We all got to feed him, and my crazy husband fed him from his own mouth! Luckily, the babies didn’t miss out too much. We walked around the park later and got to feed Kibo again. We made a new best friend!

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Our day at this park was something we’ll never forget, and we will definitely want to experience it again someday!

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Day 6 – Camelback Mountain

This was another somewhat leisurely hike that we did as a whole crew. The higher you went up, the harder it got, so everyone could go as far as they wanted and then turn back. Brax was going on 6 days of much less sleep than usual (thanks to the time change and few naps), so he was a bit “off” that day if I want to put it nicely. Luckily, we had quite a bit of backup to help us handle his meltdowns, so we were still able to somewhat enjoy our last hike!

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Day 7 – Outlet Mall and Hole in the Rock

Our last day in Arizona, we spent some time at the outlet mall because…why not? This particular outlet mall had a small train that traveled around the mall. All 5 kids hopped in the caboose and had a blast!

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Before we headed to the airport, we got in one last mini-hike up to the Hole in the Rock. It was a neat little area where the kids could climb around inside a rock. It was a great way to end our trip.

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Every day is a pool day!

After our hikes and adventures almost every day, we ended up back at the pool at our resort. This was probably the kids’ favorite part of the trip (except for maybe feeding the giraffes!) They had some fun water slides, and a great kids’ area. The kids were so easy to entertain out there and they loved every minute of it!

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What an amazing trip with such amazing memories. We are especially lucky that we had parts of both of our families there with us. Spending time with family is always good for our souls, and this was even more so being in such a beautiful place. We loved our time in Arizona, and we can’t wait for another visit!

Take me to the Mountains

We had such a wonderful trip with Ryan’s family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It had been years since we went on a trip with them where ALL of us could go together. Everyone is in such different phases of life, so it is always hard to get everyone’s schedules lined up. Megan’s husband, Tim was going to be in Colorado for work in March, so we all decided that he would stay once he was done and we would all come meet him there. We had never been to Colorado, so we were excited to see it. The weather was perfect for hiking and it was so beautiful there. No matter where you go, you are surrounded by mountains. I hadn’t seen the mountains in years, and I forgot how beautiful they are. The view never got old. We packed a lot of activities into one week, and it was one amazing week! Here are some of the highlights from our trip…

Garden of the Gods

We visited Garden of the Gods twice during the week, and went on a few different trails. These were pretty quick and easy hikes with absolutely amazing views. Kinsie loved taking pictures and looking through her binoculars, and Brax loved hiking by himself and collecting rocks!

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Pike’s Peak

We drove most of the way up Pike’s Peak, which is one of the highest summits of the Rocky Mountains (elevation 14,000 ft). We stopped several times along the way to look at the view and take pictures. We especially loved one of the lakes (which was frozen and beautiful), and an area called the Devil’s Playground. It got colder and the air got thinner the higher up the mountain we went, so we had to bundle up and take deep breaths, but it was all worth it!

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On top of the world…or at least the Devil’s Playground

 

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

We spent a day at the only zoo built in the mountains, and it did not disappoint! We were very impressed with this zoo…especially how many interactive exhibits there were. My personal favorite was the giraffe exhibit, where you can feed the giraffes up close. The kids (and the adults) LOVED everything about this zoo. The birds, elephants, meerkats, apes, and petting zoo were some favorite stops too. After the zoo, we drove up the mountain to see the Will Rogers Shrine. The kids loved climbing up the tower and we all loved the amazing view!

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The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

This was one of my favorite things we did. We had to drive almost 2 hours, but it was incredible. We walked along the bridge which surprisingly, ran over the Arkansas River! We enjoyed the view while the kids ran around in circles and played red light green light. Once we were across the bridge, there was a playground and a carousel that the kids loved. We took a gondola to get back across the bridge, which, I’ll admit was a little terrifying, but amazing! Then we ate lunch on the patio while overlooking the gorge and watching the gondolas and the zip-liners. It was an awesome experience!

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Playing at the park across the bridge

 

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Riding the gondola

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Helen Hunt Falls

On one of our last days, we took a quick hike around a small waterfall, which the kids loved! Brax could have watched that waterfall all day! We hiked around the waterfall and ended up getting to see more more beautiful views. The kids did great, but eventually took a little break and hitched a ride!

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Spending time with Family

This vacation was so special to us, mainly because it’s so rare that all of us get to be together. Whether we were hiking and seeing a beautiful mountain scenery, or hanging out in the amazing house we rented, or driving in the 15 passenger van together, we just enjoyed each other’s company. I cannot even believe how blessed I am to have married into this amazing family, and I am so grateful for them!

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