If you haven’t driven out west, in the less populated states, you might not be aware of how navigation works in desolation. My father in law once went to New Mexico with us and he is obsessed with GPS navigation. This was awhile back, but he just couldn’t believe that I would know where we were going because New Mexico is such a big state. I took my in-laws to White Sands and then up over Cloudcroft, NM because it is such a beautiful and dramatic change in climatic zone. From there we continued on to Roswell, and it had been awhile since I had gone that way so I called my Dad and asked “Hey Dad, I’m coming down from Cloudcroft, it’s a left at that tree, right?” He replied “Yes, after that longhorn.” Meanwhile my Father in law is trying futilely to boot up his GPS, of course, 10 years ago there was hardly cell service so it failed. About 20 min later there was a lone road crossing, and my father in law made me pull over so he could take a picture of the tree, though the longhorn was gone. Because even his Yankee eyes could definitely find the ONLY tree we’d seen for miles! The drive from the Grand Canyon was indistinguishable from that historic trip with my in laws. I have lived in the east long enough that even I was starting to worry when we entered the second hour of having seen no cars.
As I came around a bend it looked like there might be water ahead, or some serious heat distortion, but it disappeared behind a foothill. As I came around another bend I saw in the distance some industrial activity and definitely a large body of water. I was trying to remember what this could possibly be and the only thing I could come up with was Lake Havasu and that WAS DEFINITELY NOT ON THE WAY. While I was puzzling through Lemon piped up “I have to go to the bathroom.” I mumbled “okay” in that distracted mom voice and didn’t really think about it as I rolled through town. I saw a gas station on the left and tried to switch lanes but missed it. I decided to stop at the far edge of town, and as I rolled passed a gas station, I realized that town had ended and there were barriers on either side so I couldn’t turn around. I assure Lemon, now whimpering, that I WILL STOP at the next possible moment, even if she goes by the side of the road. Just then a right turn appeared WITH A NATIONAL PARK SYMBOL! And that my friends is how we visited 4 National Parks in 2 days as we came to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, which made far more geographic sense than anything my brain could come up with. It also was an amazing fit for us for schooling because the visitors center had an incredibly accessible and comprehensive exhibit on both water tables and hydroelectric power.
Here are some images from the visitors center which show the exhibits much better than I can describe them!
The exhibits were clear and concise, showing exactly where the water and power goes, and how the it works. The kids particularly enjoyed the cranking exhibit where you hand crank the turbine to light a light bulb, it was just hard enough to do that they really appreciated the water power! We had lots of conversations about water rights, and what kind of power natural resources give the holder. Honestly, completely unplanned, but one of the best stops.
There were walkways outside, and the center itself is very welcoming. Wild Thing basically played outside in the fountain because he was so excited to be out of the car. He also met the most adorable German family and proceeded to play chase with their little one. I took that opportunity to walk the older kids out to the dam edge, and look at some of the turbines they had on display.
There were two Junior Ranger books here, Glen Canyon N.R.A and The Rainbow Bridge. We were offered both and they told us we could complete the Rainbow Bridge without actually visiting, but I decided it wouldn’t count if we did that and we would be out West again, so we waited. All in all, we stopped for about 90 minutes! Definitely a desert oasis worth the stop and Lemon said the bathrooms were in excellent shape 😉 !