Grand Expectations (Day 8)

We woke up at our Navajo cabin B&B wondering if it would be inappropriate for the kids to pee on the ground outside (there was only one bathroom inside the house remember).  While pondering, they just did it anyway.

We went inside the house for the breakfast, which was basically old cereal and spoiled milk, so we skipped that and started our journey to the Grand Canyon, snacking in the car.

Katie plugged something about the South Entrance to the Grand Canyon in her phone’s Google Maps app, which seemed fine for about an hour, and then it told us to take a right off of the highway onto a dirt road.  About a mile and a half onto the bumpiest dirt road we have ever been on, and some intense discussion, we turned around.

We found a rural desert gas station where a nice lady sent us back the right way.  We arrived at our Grand Canyon stop about 1:30 and met Don from Arizona Luxury Expeditions.

Yes, this was our splurge for the trip.  We figured, when are we going back to the Grand Canyon?  We should do this right.  Don and his crew made sure that we did.


Don started us out by shuttling us right to a Yavapai Point where we walked around, seeing sights, and talking about how the Grand Canyon came to be.

It’s time for Ten Key Trips TRIVIA!

Q:  How old is the Grand Canyon?  (meaning, when did the Colorado River start cutting this thing up?)

A) 6 million years old

B) 60 million years old

C) 600 million years old

D) 5,000 years old, since that’s how old the earth is.

If you said D, at this point, I won’t try to change your mind, so you’re right and you are going to some version of HEAVEN!

If you said B or C, you guessed one of the ones I would have guessed originally.

The scientifically correct answer is A, 6 million years.  The rocks that you can see at the bottom though, unearthed by the Colorado River, are up to 1.8 Billion years old.

On to trying to keep our children from falling into the Canyon.


Quick lesson, children behind glass are easier to keep from falling to 5,000 feet.

We got back in the shuttle and ventured to Maverick Helicopters for our Grand Canyon helicopter tour.  The boys had no idea we were doing this.  Even when we were standing by the helicopters, we were still selling the boys on this being a special time that they get to see the inside of a helicopter.  Eventually we spilled the beans and got in for our ride.

The helicopter tour was as incredible as you might expect, definitely worth it as a life experience, and the best part was listening to the boys chatting back and forth on the headsets.  Owen even serenaded our group with a stunning rendition of ba ba blacksheep.


We finished with the copter and followed Don to our campsite.  Arizona Luxury Expeditions was founded by Don Stevens several years ago after he spent about a decade doing day trip tours from Phoenix to all of the Arizona hotspots (and other regional amazing sites) like the Grand Canyon, Page, Sedona, etc.  What he learned was that a day trip just doesn’t cut it for these experiences, and these trips should be treated more like a safari in Africa.

His service is glamping in an amazing place, eating food prepared by a legit chef (Mark), and the special treat of hanging with a tour guide that knows everything you may want to know about the place you are and can take you to all of the neat spots not yet discovered and destroyed by the internet.

I can’t say enough about what a great job they did and how everything was well worth it.   This post can’t possibly capture their 5-star hospitality.  Okay, back to what we did.

Owen took to the campsite cornhole like it was his calling.

Next up was our private family dinner in our special dining tent.  Mark poured the wine… generously.


Katie said she was going to do some portion control on this trip.  Well, that was before we tasted Mark’s food.  2nd’s please.  (Mark used to be the executive chef on a cruise line and knows a thing or two about destroying well-intentioned diets.)

Mark’s assistants included Sam, Don’s 23 year-old son (one of the nicest guys you’ll meet), and Andre, our kid.  Andre’s favorite part of the trip so far was probably hanging out in the kitchen tent helping with the plating and food crafting.

I had promised the boys all the Smores they could eat that night, and man did they hold me to it.  How do you do your Smores?  We had an epic debate about whether or not to light the mallows on fire.  Andre charred those suckers.


Finally, we ended the night in our heated tent with two Queen size beds, watching the boys’ epic light battle with their flashlights.


A “couldn’t be more perfect” first day at the Grand Canyon.  Thanks Don!

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(1) Comment

  1. Heather Beckham

    Wow. Not sure what to say because this sounds so incredible. What great family memories!

    Will ask you to remind us of what service you used when we visit the GC in about 10 years.

    S’mores and flashlight battles are the best! Carter and Kenzie roasted S’mores for the first time last week! We definitely catch ours on fire.

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