Ballard Girls Road Trip: Day 2 (Horseshoe Bend & Mesa Arrival)

Sadly, I didn't take any pictures at the hotel's breakfast buffet. But it should be documented that those girls ate lots of food and drank two cups of hot chocolate each, so we definitely got our money's worth. 

We drove to Page and decided to stop at the Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam. (I've never been to Lake Powell, and every time we've passed by, it's been late at night.)

 Rachel stole my camera and took these next few pictures:

I took this one of the girls (who color coordinated their outfits to match the red rocks and blue water) and then we were off to see Horseshoe Bend:

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed areas of the Colorado River. I originally saw it on Pinterest, and I just want to verify that those pictures you see aren't doctored up; it really is that amazing. 

The first part of the hike is up a sandy hill. Most of the girls took off their sandals and walked barefooted. It was a little bumpier on the descent to the lookout, but still perfectly fine for flip flops. I carried Kaleigh the whole way, just to keep her happy. Leslie was telling me that she couldn't believe that I was willing to carry her and I said something about it being easier that way. And then Kaleigh piped up, "I like to get carried because then I get attention." Well, at least she knows what she's doing. 

The lookout is only three-fourths of a mile from the parking lot, and this is the view: 

Crazy amazing. The Colorado River makes a 270-degree curve right around that rock. You need a wide angle lens to capture the whole shape. . . and you might also have to wait for people to move so you can get the best viewing areas. But here's our group, minus Leslie, who was standing behind me having a mini-anxiety attack that someone was going to fall off the edge:



Leslie was good and made me pose for another picture:

I think this is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip:

There were some other ledges that were a little more dramatic, but I had read the sign talking about the sandstone.

The orange rock all around you is the Navajo Sandstone, the largest sandstone layer in the United States. Composed of sand dunes from the Jurassic age, it stretches from Northern Arizona to Wyoming. At up to 2000 feet thick, the sandstone is very strong as a whole, using the compression of its own weight to hold it together. But there are places where the sandstone is not strong: the exposed rocks on the top and sides. Where you are standing may look solid and stable but the structure underneath may have fallen away, leaving a piece of rock jutting out over the abyss. 

Water and weather have beaten down upon the exposed surfaces of the sandstone, dissolving the calcium carbonate that glues the individual grains of sand together. This leaves exposed sand, and weakens the rock to a point that it may break apart under your feet. 

Do not stand directly on the edge. The rock could breakaway underneath you.

Layla did some more meditating:

And Lucy did some yoga: 

I kept having to peak back over the edge to see how pretty it was:

Careful, girls. . . that's a 1000-foot drop:

Leslie may or may not have developed an ulcer while I was taking these pictures:

Especially this one:

I convinced Leslie to walk towards the edge for a picture. . . and then she rushed back to safety.

Gracie & Gretchen:

I asked these three girls to pose for one more for me. A quick smile from Kaleigh:

And then she was out of there:

But not Rachel and Lucy. First they reenacted the scene from Titanic. . . "Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you, That is how I know you go on. Near, far, wherever you are. . ."

Lucy couldn't stop herself, improvising on the Lady Gaga song: "I'm on the edge of Horseshoe, and I'm hanging on a moment of truth. Out on the edge of Horseshoe, and I'm hanging on a moment with you."

And then it was time for some Imagine Dragons: "Cause I'm on top of the world, 'ay, I'm on top of the world, 'ay". . . Leslie pulled her camera out to take a picture of me during this one because she was afraid I was going to back up and fall off the edge. So let's say a tragedy like that did actually happen. Would you really want a picture of it. . . ? Steve says yes.

Did I mention it was pretty?

Kaleigh hitched a ride most of the way back. (And Rachel looks like a man on a mission because I lost my lens cap and offered a two-dollar reward if anyone found it.) 

I had Kaleigh walk maybe 400 yards on the way back. She sulked and pouted so dramatically that people passing us from the other direction looked at me like I was a terrible mother.


Here are the five cooperative girls at the end of the hike. (It's an iPhone picture, edited with Snapseed. Gracie has long arms, but not quite as long as they deceptively appear in the photo.)

I didn't take any other photos until we arrived in Mesa. Which is not to say that there weren't lots of things I wanted to stop and take pictures of:

A man pushing a overloaded cart with two flags, slowly making his way down the road.

A picturesque windmill in a lonely field. 

The dozens of roadside stands selling Indian art.

But we had to keep going. We had plenty of snacks, so we waited to eat lunch in Flagstaff. When you hit Flagstaff, you think you are close, but you still have a couple hours to go. . . and the trip is made painfully longer if you take a lunch break, and then later make a Dairy Queen stop, and a bathroom break, and a gas stop. The girls had been really well behaved, but we were about an hour outside of Phoenix when things started to fall apart. I told the girls we were having quiet time for 15 minutes. "What if we don't want to have quiet time?" one of the girls asked. "Then I'll never invite you on another road trip again." 

Not very nice of me, but it worked. 

We finally arrived at Elder and Sister Ballard's condo in Mesa, and everyone was relieved to be out of the car. The girls jumped out and ran straight into their grandma's arms faster than I could get to my camera, so there aren't any pictures. And then the girls got all of their energy out by riding their scooters up and down the street. (It worked out really well because the road was blocked off.)

Leslie later said that watching those girls ride their scooters together was one of her favorite parts of the whole trip, so I'm glad we brought them. 

The girls spotted some of the actors for the Easter pageant walking across the street, towards the church: 

Kaleigh told them they looked like pirates: 

Kaleigh and I went and picked Angela and Max up from the airport while everyone else had dinner. Max traveled like a champ, even though their flight was delayed.

After visiting for a couple hours, Leslie and I left with our four girls to stay with my cousins in Gilbert. Travis set up a tent for the girls to sleep in, and then he got a black light to show the kids some scorpions. . . so then Rachel quickly decided that she would be sleeping inside the guest house with us!

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