Okay, so this is going to be a pretty big one.
Just came back from our big trip, which was out west for the second consecutive year. Last time, we spent most of our time in Arizona, although we did spend an afternoon into an evening in Nogales, Mexico.
This time, we similarly spent some time in Arizona, as well as a few hours (and really not much more than that) again in Nogales, Mexico.
However, we also went to a lot of other places. The flight out west was to Las Vegas, as well as the departing flight out. We went from Las Vegas and through Rachel, Nevada (the closest you can really get to Area 51 without risking getting into serious trouble - which I am unwilling to do with my ten-year old son accompanying me) to the eastern end of California, just outside of Yosemite. The next day, we went to Yosemite National Park, and then headed through Sacramento and into San Francisco. Then the redwoods of northern California (the southern portions of the Pacific Northwest), and then down to Bakersfield and into St. George, Utah. Like last year, we visited the Grand Canyon, although we did the more remote North Rim this time around, and even got the chance to visit the Horseshoe Bend outside of Page, Arizona. After that, we headed up to Colorado and got a day to visit the Rockies and Mesa Verde, before heading back down to Arizona, entering into Nogales and revisiting one of my son's favorite places, Tombstone. The driving finally got a bit more relaxed after that, as we headed to Phoenix, before finally winding down back towards Las Vegas, but making a wonderful stop at the Hoover Dam on our final night out west.
After leaving Las Vegas, we had slightly less than 24 hours in Dallas, Texas. This was not originally part of the plan, although the airline had changed the itinerary. So, we made the most of it. The first place we headed after picking up the car rental was to Dealey Plaza, the site of the Kennedy Assassination back in November of 1963. Then, we made a small stop at Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy was pronounced dead. Ironcally, even the airport that we landed in, and would eventually take off from the next day, had some significance with the Kennedy Assassination, as it was here that Kennedy landed prior to the assassination, and where his body was taken after he was killed. It was also at this airport, which is now in the shadow of the much bigger Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, that Lyndon B. Johnson officially took the oath of office to become the 36th President of the United States.
On our second day in the area, we would visit another place with some signficance to that day, as we visited the Kennedy Memorial in Fort Worth, Texas, which is under the shadow of the former Hotel Texas, where Kennedy spent his last night. We also visited the active water fountain, and saw the longhorns being marched through Exchange Street, in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
We did a lot for the limited amount of time that we had there, I think. Moreover, it felt like such an enormous privilege to get to do all of this with my son, of all people. It was a bit draining financially, and at times, all of the driving got to be exhausting. However, the memories already stand out to me as great, and he himself judged the trip very highly, rating it 7 and a 1/2 stars out of 5 stars!
And so, to me, that means that it is time to take a moment and be appreciative, to be thankful for such a blessing as this trip proved to be.