Let’s get back on track to the PCS move series. If you missed my previous posts in this series be sure to go check them out! In this post I will be talking about our visit to Nevada and Arizona. We were winter movers coming from Hawaii, so we decided to take a southern route hoping to avoid bad weather and heavy snow. Here’s how this next part of our cross country journey went:
We left Los Angeles late in the morning, and drove almost 300 miles east on the barren Route 15, which is nestled in between Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. Our path took us through the quiet, desolate California Desert dotted with small ghost towns and forgotten railroad junctions from the Old West, an eerie reminder of the cowboys and pioneers that passed through this area so long ago. As we inched closer we began to see mile markers and exit signs for Las Vegas, and soon enough we caught our first glimpse of the casino skyscrapers in the distance, we had arrived in Viva Las Vegas! This was our first time visiting Las Vegas…(but by no means a typical Vegas trip most adults do). We only experienced Vegas during the daytime because of obvious reasons when traveling with a toddler. We also did not stay in the city, but in a beautiful resort just outside of Las Vegas.
Things to do in Vegas with a toddler:
- Visit the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and get your picture taken. There is a small parking lot nearby and plenty of friendly tourists that are more than willing to take your family’s photo!
- Walk the flashy strip and see the mini New York City along with a miniature Statue of Liberty!
2.Theres no shortage of great places to grab a bite to eat on the strip. Our favorite was the Hard Rock Cafe! It is close to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and had great music and food!
3.Check out any floating exhibits happening. The Luxor Las Vegas Hotel featured “The Titanic” exhibit during our visit and we had a great time checking it out! The exhibit even included a 50×50 ft piece of steel siding from the ship! Our son enjoyed walking through this exhibit.
4. You can not play the slots at any casino with a minor, however you may pass through some of them in order to get from certain points of these large hotels.
We stayed 20 minutes outside of the strip at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort. This large resort is truly wonderful from the architecture, location, amenities, staff, and cleanliness. We were there during the winter months, so we couldn’t use all the amenities such as the lake or outdoor pool, BUT we did get to use the outdoor hot tub! This resort is surprisingly affordable ($130 a night) despite all the high end features. We even considered staying an extra night here because of how nice this resort was, but ultimately we didn’t because there was severe weather on the forecast that could have halted our trip for several days if we would have stayed!
On our way to Arizona we stopped at the Hoover Dam! We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, so we just drove across the dam and got out at on the other side to take some pictures. If you have more time, you can purchase tickets and actually take a tour inside the dam. The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel and a definite must see when driving cross country!
Onward to Arizona!
We left the Hoover Dam in the afternoon and arrived to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona early evening. Now this is where our story gets interesting. We stayed in a little town about 15-20 minutes from the South Rim of the Canyon. Our hotel was the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon. As we got closer, we called the hotel to ask the front desk lady if she thought we would have enough daylight to go straight to the canyon or if we should wait until morning. She suggested the morning so we could take our time and not be limited by sunlight. We agreed since we were eager to get out of the car, grab some food, and relax.
We got a delicious dinner at the “Big E Steakhouse”, seriously it was one of the best steak dinners we have ever had! If you’re ever in the area you MUST go here for dinner…and my husband says “Be sure to order the Bourbon Cake for dessert”! After stuffing ourselves we headed back to the hotel to take a dip in the indoor pool and relax until bedtime. We woke up early to get a good start on heading to the canyon when my husband pulled back the hotel curtain and saw SO. MUCH. SNOW! Our car was buried in it! He yelled to me in the bathroom to come take a look and I thought he was joking! Who would have thought that there were snow storms out in the desert!?
Still we headed to the Canyon in hopes to be able to see something…anything! Unfortunately we couldn’t see the canyon at all! All there was to see was thick fog and a heavy blanket of snow. We were all very disappointed in our luck. Since I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon before, we swore that the Grand Canyon is going to be a stop on our next PCS adventure (as hopefully summer movers). Moral of the story is if you are there in the winter time, go see the canyon as soon as you get there because you never know what you’ll wake up to the next day! hah!
Driving from the Canyon was like driving in a winter wonderland! Our Ford Explorer has 4 wheel drive so we were able to cruise along down the country roads without any problems. There was so much wildlife, the top of pine trees branches covered, and a beautiful blanket of snow along our route that helped make up for the fact that we weren’t able to see the Canyon.
We eventually made it out of the snow around Flagstaff, made a quick stop for lunch, and jumped on Route 40 heading east. While we were driving my husband saw a very familiar exit sign for the small town of “Winslow AZ” and couldn’t figure out where he heard the name before! He began humming the melody for “Take it Easy” by The Eagles and then it hit him! We had to make a pit stop in Winslow, Arizona! This was such a cool photo op treasure right on historic Route 66 running through the Winslow Mainstreet, complete with a parked “flat-bed Ford”, a mural “slowing down to take a look at me”, and statue of Eagles lead singer Glenn Frey “standin’ on the corner” where he received the inspiration to write the song!
There you have it, our journey through Nevada and Arizona! I hope you found this helpful if you’re planning your PCS trip through the southwest! Stay tuned for New Mexico and Texas next.