We took a vacation to Phoenix over Thanksgiving break. Wayne grew up in that area, and though he went back a year ago for his grandma’s funeral, we hadn’t been there as a family since 2008. Which was before we even had Ben.

Day 1: Trip to Camp Verde

We drove about an hour north to Camp Verde, picked up Wayne’s dad (and his tiny dog), and went for a little hike.

This is how most of Arizona looks. Dry and brown with scraggly weeds and bushes. I’m not a fan of the southwest landscape.

Abby took a picture of me while I took a picture of her.

The kids posed for a picture on Larson Lane, named after Wayne’s family. This is the road he grew up on (although it was named something different back then).


Day 2: Phoenix Zoo

We spent the day exploring the zoo and enjoying temps a good 30 degrees warmer than what was happening at home.

Day 3: Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is more than 3 hours from where we were staying. We left at sunrise, stopping for an excellent breakfast in Flagstaff and again at a gift shop along the way. It was about noon when we got to the canyon. We had dedicated one entire suitcase to coats, specifically for this day, since it’s much colder at this elevation. But happily, the weather was sunny and warm enough to skip the coats in favor of sweatshirts. (Except for Wayne, as you see, who is never cold.)

We saw idiots going way out on small, unstable-looking ledges to get photos. We tried to position Ben so that it looked like he was doing something dangerous, but that was a fail. Emma, however, is standing sans railing. I didn’t breathe til she got back down.

Day 4: Thanksgiving. Wayne’s aunt and some cousins came over. We bought most of the food at Costco, since we were gone all day Wednesday. We ate, and then Wayne’s uncle made up some spontaneous games, mostly involving everyone guessing the word he was thinking of.  We tried to play a round of Telestrations, but that fell apart when Wayne handed me this drawing:


It looked to me like a house and someone making syrup. (It’s moonshine, for which I have no frame of reference.)

We had a little music, as well.

Also my children took some selfies on my phone.

Day 5: Local shopping

We did a little shopping – not for Black Friday, just to get out. We wandered around Goodwill, Old Navy, and another place or two. We found some clothes, but I was worried about extra things to fit in suitcases so I didn’t let anyone buy much. We tried In & Out Burgers with high expectations, but no one was impressed.

Day 6: Lake Pleasant

I noticed that many things in the Phoenix area are named with positive words. Lake Pleasant. Sweetwater. Happy Canyon. It’s like the street namers were on a positivity campaign. Anyway, we lazed around in the morning and then headed to a place called Lake Pleasant to feed the ducks and look around. On the way home we stopped to hike up a rocky steep trail that Abby and I did not enjoy. We went halfway up and then came down to wait for the others.

Day 7: Musical Instrument Museum

Some people wanted to go hiking again, and off-roading in the jeep, but Abby and I chose to avoid those activities and instead visited the Museum of Musical Instruments. It was pretty fun. We had lunch at 5 Guys and swung by Target, then relaxed at the house while waiting for the adventurers (who reported having an excellent adventure.)

This ginormous thing is tuned two octaves below the cello.

This is an animal, turned into an instrument. Abby was outraged.

Here she is playing a theremin, which seems like a hoax but apparently is a real thing.

Day 8: HLS Phoenix!

I got to spend the day at the Highlands Latin cottage school in Phoenix. It was really inspiring and a day I thoroughly enjoyed. Here they are at their school opening, practicing for their upcoming Christmas program.

One thing the kids enjoyed all week long was playing with the cats. Wayne’s family feeds multiple neighborhood cats, so there was generally a cat or two about.



About waymel

Christian. Navy wife. Homeschooling mom of 3. Pianist. Book glutton.
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4 Responses to Thanks-cation

  1. thanks so much for sharing all of this about your time in Phoenix. Sounds like something for everyone and the weather sure was better than here. Aunt Sharon and I have thoroughly enjoyed your photos too. I agree with you on how dry and gray/brown the landscape is. So glad you got to visit the school.

  2. Aunt Robyn says:

    This all looks very Pleasant… just as the namers intended. So cool that the street was named after the fam!

  3. maryswanbell says:

    Love this!! It looks like you had a wonderful time. The kids are looking so grown up. It’s funny how that happens…our kids keep growing and yet we don’t age 😉 Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

  4. Rebecca says:

    You got such great pictures! I’m jealous of your visit to the “real” Grand Canyon. It sounds like a very nice vacation!

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