1. My pyromaniac children get to light things on fire without immediate danger of burning my house down.
2. Men "cook" (I use the term very loosely, mind you)
3. I get to take pictures of my children while they are sleeping and looking their absolute worst and they can't do anything to stop me. Usually, they don't even notice because they got a lousy night's sleep on the lava rocks.
Although this snapshot proves that they don't have to be asleep to take a really bad photo:
Thank you ladies. You are beautiful.
Thankfully, we didn't lose anyone at Grand Canyon. So we continued our vacation down old Route 66.
There were many many photos, but I will be merciful and not post every "Burma Shave" sign and pictures we took of clouds that looked like dinosaurs eating teddy bears. Just the Roadkill Cafe, because it really does exist, Virginia.
THE GRAND CANYON CAVERNS.
That photo way above of my lovely grils was taken there. And this one of small annoying sisters and brother nomming big teenage brother. The gift shop has the most amazing selection of overpriced cheap tourist trap garbage you could ever wish to find. But you don't care about the gift shop, you want to see the cave!!!!
I'll just share the high points.
Can you tell I have a thing for cool rocks? But there are two TRULY UNIQUE things about the caverns:
That was Bob. He was a bobcat. Until he fell into the entrance hole to this cave, wandered around in misery and died here. Now he (as you can see on the informative sign) is a mummified bobcat. Funny, when we brought Thing One and Thing Two here when they were very small people with short legs, this was all they remembered about the cave. Poooorr Bob!
Someone else died here, sad and alone:
Gertie the Giant Ground Sloth died in here eons before Bob took his first breath. Above her head is the original ladder-way into the cavern that really foolish tourists used before there was a new-fangled elevator.
After the Caverns, we drove madly into the setting sun (The big yellow one is the sun!) so we would still have daylight when we arrived here:
This is the new suspension bridge under construction at the Hoover Dam. Very, very cool. I think it is supposed to be completed this year.
Oh! I almost forgot why you came back! The event that happened after we spent 2 hours hiking in the dark with inferior flashlights!
I must explain Uncle Scopp, first. He is amazing. And very cool. And easy going. And level-headed and reliable. And every so often....IMPULSIVE. Sometimes he has adult-ADD. When an idea pops into his head, he acts on it, and it usually results in FUN. That is why this vacation even happened in the first place.
So after the picture above was taken (mercifully this happened when we were leaving), we had an ADVENTURE.
The back road to the lava tube (a dirt road going nowhere with the occasional cow) had "puddles." It has been raining just enough to keep things cool for our vacation. Except here. For some reason, all the water that has fallen in the last decade has gathered here:
Why is Thing Two standing in muddy water? That would be because about 30 minutes before, Uncle Scopp tried to drive his car through this muddy water. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
I think the term is High Centered. Thing Two has one leg on the "high" portion of ground under the water, and the other leg on the low portion. A considerable difference, yes? So a car trying to drive through this would get stuck. Very stuck.
This is what "high centered" looks like:
How did I escape this peril? See the grass way in the back? I skipped the road entirely and used that instead. Who says a Honda Odyssey isn't an off-road vehicle?
We spent the better part of 30 minutes (mercifully short time, considering) trying to get Uncle Scopp's car out of the mud trench. Most of that time was spent looking for large branches to put under the tires and finding discreet places for grils to go pee in the woods where the boys wouldn't see. That's the amazing thing about boys: they don't care about "discreet." All they need is a tree and a tailwind.
Here is how the adventure proceeded:
One: Uncle Scopp sucumbs to the irresistible urge to drive into a deep puddle (as all the licensed drivers in my car watch and keep saying "he wouldn't" and "he won't" and "no way, he did") and he sits there spinning his wheels until we can stop laughing at him and offer to help.
Two: We extricate Uncle Scopp's family from the car, and substitute Thing One as driver. Why would I do this to my daughter? Because I firmly believe that irresponsible teenage grils should be given the opportunity to help themselves get out of difficult situations. Someday, she will be on a road trip with her peeps and they will get stuck in the mud. And Thing One will say: "Hey! Been here, done that! I can do this!" She now has mad mud-unsticking skills.
Note that Thing Two is multi-tasking. He is pushing the car out from the dry high ground AND yelling at the little children behind me! He's so helpful.
Three: Hubby and Uncle Scopp put logs & branches under the tires and attempt to herniate themselves pushing the car out by brute force. Thing Two continues to multi-task. Thing One is grinning madly because she is having fun spinning the wheels and not having to push anything more than the accelerator. Me, I'm getting a workout, too, you know! I've had to push the shutter release on the camera a dozen times already, and be assured I will be doing some really heinous laundry as soon as we return to the campsite.
Have you wondered why Thing Two finds it necessary to multi-task?
Because this is what is going on behind me:
Jamikins has fallen into the mud. Totally and completely an accident. This is not normal mud, people, but wonderful Arizona clay.
And note the guilty looking Ecalir, there? Crouching off to the right, ready to flee if Mom turns around to discover what she has done?
She was doing high kicks, for some unknown reason, and kicked her shoe right into the muddy pond. I was actually quite pleased by this, as now we are going to throw away the dog eaten shoes and find a shoe store somewhere in this wilderness to replace them!
No need to flee, Eclair. "Oh. Okay, I thought you were gonna kill me!"
Four: Once the car is out, look about in despair and ask your brother "What in the world were you thinking?" It is very important that you do not say this until the car is unstuck. 'Cause your brother has a big stick, there, and might shove you into the mud.
And that's what brothers are all about, too. Sometimes they're exactly what you need to get yourself out of the mud.
Unless, of course, it was a brother who pushed you in to begin with.