Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Name 'Grand Canyon' is Well-Earned

After the craziness of our last trip, moving back to the U.S. and getting married (all in the span of 3 months), we tried to slow down. However, a new job and another move didn't really allow our life to take on a semblance of normalcy until the start of the new year.  And normalcy is nice, until it gets boring.

And just about the time boredom might have set in, we headed for Arizona to visit Luke's grandparents and see the Grand Canyon!

The drive up from Phoenix offered some interesting sights: some hot air balloons on the side of the highway, and a quick stop at the family's old vacation cabin! It's too bad that I never got a chance to visit when the grandparents still owned it; I've heard stories of fun memories from that place.

When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, the weather didn't afford us the best views. But it was still incredible to see in person! I was surprised that you can walk right up to the edge in most places instead of being blocked by a safety rail. As long as you're careful and have a bit of common sense when taking pictures, you'll be fine.

It soon became too overcast to see much of anything, so we ducked into a little museum to learn about how the canyon was formed.


That night, we slept in a lodge on the edge of the canyon. The blue sky that greeted us in the morning looked promising for better views!

There ended up being low clouds and some haze, but the sunlight broke through and made the canyon look beautiful anyway. The colors and shadows of the canyon constantly changed as the light shifted, which was amazing to watch.

On our way out, we stopped by Desert View to see the watchtower and lookout point.

There were a few more things to see on the drive back, too.

Once we got back to Phoenix, we got to hang out with our grandparents for a few days! They've now moved out of their big house, but it was a cozy and welcoming place for everyone to relax. We can't wait to visit them at their new home soon!

Caught a bird on the feeder!

View from the front door: Colorful desert paradise. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Now that we're even more behind on the blog, let's just dive in and continue, shall we?

Our plane headed to Dublin, the very last stop on our long Europe trip! The flight was delayed, so we didn't arrive at our B&B until 10:30 p.m. Luckily, it was pretty close to the airport. That left us with just enough time to check in and immediately go to sleep.

The next morning started with a surprisingly delicious continental breakfast at our B&B. What a nice change from the underwhelming food in London! (Yes, the stereotype is true.)

After taking a bus into the city center, we walked down O'Connell Street, taking in the sights. 

This bird has no respect for statues.

That turned into wandering around to whatever looked interesting.

It wasn't very difficult to find the famous Temple Bar.

Since we were still in the British Isles, of course we stuck to the theme of having fish and chips for lunch. :)

Also staying true to our overarching trend of frugality, we saw a free exhibit at Dublin Castle.

Walking outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral didn't cost any money, so we opted to do that instead of paying to go inside. We were pretty burned out on churches and cathedrals at this point; they all start to blend together after a while. And this being Ireland, you couldn't walk 20 feet without hitting a church (or bar. Again, Ireland). 

Ginger kids will take over the world!
Then onward we went to St. Stephen's Green, a nearby park with an adorable cottage at it's perimeter.

Visiting a school isn't a typical activity during our travels, but we couldn't leave without checking out the historic campus of Trinity College.

It was time for dinner, so we decided to shake things up and have sandwiches at Quizno's instead of Subway. No regrets; that turkey, ranch & swiss sub is fantastic!

We only had 1 full day in Dublin, but it turns out that's all we needed. The next morning, we arrived at the airport extra early in an attempt to secure an exit row seat for my tall fiance. The seats were available, but not at a price we were willing to pay. Although I was annoyed about both waking up earlier than necessary and missing breakfast for nothing, we were finally on our way back home!

Despite all the uncomfortable transportation at the earliest and latest hours, the mostly awful to adequate food, the lost sleep due to noise and sub-par accommodations, and the frustration when some plans inevitably didn't work out, we had a great overall experience on our 2-month European adventure.

With the trip done, we were finally returning to America for the first time in over a year. It was time to kick back, relax and reco.....  Just kidding! We had a wedding coming in less than a month. We traded one kind of crazy days for another. But it certainly wasn't boring!