Well, first things first. As you can see, I'm expecting another little one. And I'm quite far along - like 32 weeks. Only 8 more weeks to go.
Why didn't I bring it up sooner you ask? I really don't know. We decided not to make a big deal of it after the first trimester ended, then the later it got, the more ridiculous it seemed to make a big announcement. So here I am, announcing it when it seems like the baby is almost here.
It's been tough keeping up with a food blog during pregnancy. First there was the nausea, food aversion and extreme fatigue that came with the first trimester.
The second trimester seemed to be mostly trying to catch back up, and now that it's the third trimester, I'm scrambling to get things done before the baby comes.
I have no idea how things will change when this baby will get here, but if baby #2 is anything like Peanut was when she was a baby, I won't be getting much done. We'll see.
On to the trip. Our 13 day trip through the Southwest started by flying to Denver. We spent our first night in Colorado Springs. This was the only time of the trip we saw any snow. The main attraction we saw was Garden of the Gods, a great free park with many red rock formations and hiking trails.
The next day, we headed south with a detour through the mountains to see Bishop Castle, another free (donations appreciated) attraction.
This was by far the scariest thing I've done in a long time. The castle is definitely a sight to see, but climbing inside, or on the many catwalks outside will be scary to those afraid of heights (like me).
Building codes were definitely not considered when this place was built. However, it is amazing that one man built this castle over many years by himself, and I would recommend going out of your way to see it, even if you are afraid to do much climbing.
Next stop, Santa Fe. We got in late, so didn't get a chance to see the city, and headed out early the next day to the nearby Bandelier National Monument. This is a cool place up in the mountains with restored ancient Pueblos and cave dwellings, some of which you can actually enter via ladder.
On our way west, we did stop in Albuquerque because I absolutely NEEDED to see Walter White's house from Breaking Bad. We did see it, and it was instantly recognizable to us.
Unfortunately, there were many "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" signs all over the place (totally understandable - I wonder if they receive/d any compensation from the show?) and the owners were hanging out in the front yard. So no photos for us.
Our next sightseeing stop was at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
We were wondering if we would really enjoy this one, but since we had already purchased an annual park pass and it was barely off the highway, we figured it wasn't much of a loss if we didn't.
It ended up being pretty cool. The first part of the park is mostly views of hoodoo like rock formations, then you get into the actual petrified wood. Huge chunks of petrified logs in all sorts of colors are a pretty cool sight.
And onto the Grand Canyon. This was by far the most spectacular sight of the trip. I had never seen it before, and I was really afraid that it would not meet my (high) expectations.
It definitely did, and in fact, exceeded them. We were lucky that we got to see it at both sunset and sunrise. This is when we got the best pictures. However, I can imagine that it is a total zoo in the summer, so I'm glad we came when we did.
Next up, Hoover Dam, which was a must-see for Hubby. I was initially worried that Peanut would be bored, and would distract from, and shorten his sightseeing (he is the type of person that needs to read EVERY sign in a museum).
However, she seemed to love it, and for awhile even said it was her favorite part of her trip. The dam is really quite close to Las Vegas, which is probably why we noticed it got quite busy as we were leaving. We got there shortly after it opened, which seemed like a great time to go.
Then onto Las Vegas, which was really the entire point of the trip, since my sister was getting married there. We stayed 4 nights at the Vdara, which I would highly recommend to anyone who doesn't need, or prefers not to have a casino onsite.
It is located slightly off the strip, but connected to the Aria and Bellagio via pedways, making it pretty easy to get around.
The hotel is quite new, and all the rooms are suites with a kitchenette. And they're large. We had plenty of room. We loved the place so much that we stayed an extra night longer than planned.
With a toddler in tow, and me being prego, we didn't do much of the "Vegas" things. We did however see a show, since it came free with our hotel reservation.
We saw Zumanity, which is basically topless Cirque du Soleil. We also ate at a buffet, at Bacchanal at Caesar's Palace. The place was pricey, but I thought it was worth it, mainly for the experience. So many options, and the food was good quality.
After Vegas, we started heading north to Zion National Park. This was probably my second favorite of the parks we visited.
It was different from the others in that instead of being on the upper rim of the canyon, you are actually down inside of it, giving a completely different view. I would love to return here to hike someday.
Next up was Bryce canyon. Similar to the Grand Canyon, you're mostly looking down at the canyon from the rim. Beautiful in any case.
We also stopped for a few maternity photos just outside of Bryce Canyon in a place called Red Canyon within the Dixie National Forest. We loved it here because the views were great and there was no one else around, so I didn't feel uncomfortable baring my belly.
The last day of sightseeing we went to two National Parks. By this time I was starting to get "parked out". I'm glad we saw them though.
First of the day was Arches National Park. Apparently, they have the highest concentration of rocks naturally formed into arch shapes. We didn't hike to the most famous one, but we saw several in any case.
Lastly was Canyonlands National Park. We stopped here mostly on a whim because it was so close to Arches, and didn't end up spending much time there. We did one short hike to see an arch and canyon overlook and took a few pictures. Then it was time to start heading home.
All in all, it was a great trip, and we had a great time. Even though we didn't get to do as much hiking as we would have liked, we now know where we want to return someday to do some serious hiking.