Our Road Trip…20 Hours, 1200 miles, a 2nd Grader and a Sleep Hating Toddler

Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona

Since our last road trip was affectionately dubbed “Vacationpocalypse”, and the road trip before that we learned (the hard way) that Tater gets car sick, so understandably, I was a bit on the nervous side last week when we packed up for a week in Nevada and Arizona.

My husband had a 2-day business conference in Nevada, and after that was finished, we took a 5 hour drive out to northeast Arizona to see the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert for a day, and then headed west two hours to Sedona for two days before heading home. All in all, it was 20 hours-plus of driving over 6 days, and while the kids did pretty good in the car, Junior didn’t sleep well at the hotels so we are starting off this week very tired!

It was definitely a lot of fun and we made wonderful memories. Because of homeschooling, I was able to write the trip into our curriculum, and the kids did hands-on science and geography lessons, explored the history of the region, did road trip math, and completed several Junior Ranger programs. (Plus, I purchased the entire Schoolhouse Rock series on DVD, so the kids were learning while we drove as well. Hahaha.)

Having Fun Building Cars at the Childrens Discovery Center
Having Fun Building Cars at the Children’s Discovery Center

While my husband was working, the kids and I headed out to the Children’s Discovery Museum in Nevada. This was our third trip there, and it never disappoints. Although, 7 year old Tater has stopped wanting to play at the imagination make-believe stations and has taken more interest in the hands-on science experiment areas. Sniff Sniff.

We drove through several sections of old Route 66 while driving from Nevada to Arizona. The random, side of the road attractions really made me feel like I was stepping back in time. The small town of Seligman, AZ was especially cool to see.

Driving Route 66 was Quirky and Just Plain FUN!
Driving Route 66 was Quirky and Just Plain FUN!
I Sort of Wanted to Stop Here for Lunch...
I Sort of Wanted to Stop Here for Lunch…
This is a Still Working Motel on Route 66
This is a Still Working Motel on Route 66

We finally reached Holbrook, which is the gateway to the Petrified Forest. It was 17 degrees when we woke up the next morning! We spent most of the following day at the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, which is actually one park. It was beautiful, and because it was off-season, there were maybe 10 other groups in the entire National Park! We had the place pretty much to ourselves to wander around in.

The Snow and Blue Skies Made for the Perfect View
The Snow and Blue Skies Made for Perfect Views
The "Blue Badlands" of Northern Arizona
The “Blue Badlands” of Northern Arizona

Tater learned so much about geology and earth science while exploring the “Blue Badlands”…it’s such a surreal landscape, and we took some fantastic hikes.

If you ask my kids, though, the highlight of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest was becoming Junior Rangers. At every National Park and National Monument in the US, there is a Junior Ranger program, where kids fill out a workbook about the park and earn a badge or pin. The workbooks include scavenger hunt, puzzles, and “draw what you see” type activities to help kids get the most out of their time at the park.

The Junior Ranger Badges and Pins the Kids Earned on Our Trip
The Junior Ranger Badges and Pins the Kids Earned on Our Trip

After spending the day there, we packed up and headed two hours southwest to Sedona. The snow was just beginning to melt, but there was still enough snow on the surrounding mountains to give an amazing contrast between the red rocks and white snow.

Beautiful Sedona
Beautiful Sedona
Hiking in Sedona
Hiking in Sedona

Montezuma’s Castle was another highlight—and another Junior Ranger destination. The “castle” was a collection of Native American cliff dwellings that were mysteriously abandoned by their inhabitants about 800 years ago. Tater had so much fun imagining living in one of the cliffs!

Fascinated by Montezuma Castle's Cliff Dwellings
Fascinated by Montezuma Castle’s Cliff Dwellings

After a day and a half in Sedona, we headed back home. It was a quick trip, but we managed to pack a lot in as per usual. I can’t wait to see where our next adventure will take us!

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