So back to the Grand Canyon. Before we left, Jess had researched additional landmarks around the Grand Canyon. And boy are we glad he did. Because as I mentioned, having Lou near the rim of the Grand Canyon is basically a bad idea.
To any of you considering taking children: there are many fenced off locations at the rim, and you shouldn't let me scare you away. The Yavapai Museum of Geology is actually located literally on the rim, and it's enclosed so you could always camp out there and safely view the Grand Canyon from their wall of windows. That said, there are many areas that are not at all blocked off or enclosed. And some of the fences are gappy. If a child wanted to (Lou), they could slide right under (or over).
And here's the thing: Lou can't help but find danger or illness or anything that involves abandoning sanity. And she's clutzy. She trips over really thick air all the time. So we were not at all encouraged to tempt fate. Instead we headed to Wupatki National Monument. Let me just:
Oh, my archaeologist heart just can't get enough of this.
So Wupatki National Monument is home to Pueblo ruins dating back to 1100. As in the year. The largest pueblo (at the site of the visitor's center, pictured above from the front and back) has over 100 rooms, and housed just as many people. In its hey day, it is believed that thousands of smaller pueblos were surrounding it. There are a handful remaining today. They. Blow. My. Mind.
I could've spent all day here. No lie. Some of the ruins you can walk around; some you can actually go in. Of course, you're asked to leave everything as you find it and treat the ruins with respect. But I did love that we could actually wander in and through these beautiful structures. And just one question - the doors. Why so short?
I climbed to the top of a pueblo that the park service has deemed The Citadel (for it's shape and location, pictured below). It's at the top of a mesa and you can see for miles around. On the informational sign, I read that they guess that this was likely used as a defense structure, so they could see enemies. But then again, no one really knows. For all we know, they just liked the view. I loved that sentiment. :)
By the time we got to the main (giant) pueblo, Annabelle and Lou were tired and it was pretty warm outside. Of course, I wasn't about to miss out, so we took them to look from afar, snapped a photo (below), and Jess and I took turns hanging in the little visitor's center with them. They have a great little hands-on exhibit, and they were seriously entertained forever.
So all of this to say, if you do make a trip to the Grand Canyon - kids or not - I highly recommend Wupatki. It's extraordinary and so beautiful. Cue another photo dump.
P.S. Did anyone notice that Annabelle's wearing her wedding shoes? Honestly, we just have issues with apparel and vacations. She had her "tie shoes." But apparently her feet grew since she last wore them and they pinched her toes. Somehow she left the house wearing her fancy shoes. So sure. Why not hike in fancy shoes with bows? To her credit, she did not complain one bit about tromping around in those fancy little things. And when we got home, I took a Bleach Pen to those suckers, and they're almost as good as new.