Summer 19 Road Trip Part III: Grand Canyon & Monument Valley

******Disclaimer for those afraid of heights- PLEASE READ*******

Please be aware, there WILL be photos below that show me standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and in the middle of a mojor highway in Monument Valley. I am a naturally cautious person, so I didn’t do anything overly dangerous, despite some of the angles that might suggest otherwise.


However, if you are the type of person that will have a panic attack just by viewing these photos, you might want to scroll on by. If you’re the type of person that’s going to message me and remind me to “be careful” or quote statistics about Grand Canyon deaths, please do skip this particular post (no hard feelings). I am writing this several weeks after we took these pictures, and am still very much alive, so there’s really no need to worry.

Much (sorry. Couldn’t help it).

OK, now that that’s out of the way, are you ready for the third installment of “Sewing on the Road”? I hope so, because the Grand Canyon was easily one of my favorite stops so far. (missed the first two in this series? Here’s Part I and Part II)

The Grand Canyon….

The weather, in early June, was just perfect, our RV spot right in the middle of the park made it easy to access all the wonders nearby, and we had the privilege of some amazing neighbors that made the whole thing even more fun. Monument Valley? Not so much. I’ll explain more down below, but every trip has its ups and downs, and Monument Valley was definitely one of those downs for me.

We stayed a full week in the Grand Canyon, and on the first morning after our arrival, I immediately went for a run to locate the giant chasm and see it again for myself. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before, as a kid, and did a mule ride to the bottom, but seeing it again after so many years, and with a more mature perspective, took my breath away.

The other thing that took my breath away (quite literally) was the elevation- coming from Palm Springs and San Diego (hello sea level!) was a massive adjustment, and I felt like I was slogging through mud on my training runs for most of our stay. Around day 5, it finally occurred to me that I wasn’t actually losing my mind ( I could NOT figure out why it was so darned hard to move my legs!)- but instead, that I had never trained at an elevation above 500 feet and my body was working overtime to produce more red blood cells and get oxygen to my muscles.

Once I had this figured out, I was able to give it a little extra help with some iron rich foods, a ton of extra water, and a reduced mileage load, and voila! I started to feel a lot better.

If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend it. Some of our favorite activities were the ranger led programs, and the kids all earned another junior ranger badge to add to their wall of national park triumph.

We also got to experience a bike tour of the rim, a couple hikes down below, and I even had time to set up my machines and do a little late night sewing.

Since I had picked up so many fun coordinate fabrics from So Sew English, I decided to make myself a little mini-capsule, using the Patterns for Pirates Cocoon Cardigan, the Jalie Nikita top (made in Palm Springs as a dress here), and the Inspire leggings.

I’ve made the Cocoon a couple times before (blogged here and here), and made the same modifications as last time- adjusting the pattern to use set in (rather than dolman) style sleeves and 10″ tall bands. The cocoon is a really satisfying quick sew, and seemed perfect for the pink cable knit fabric. Since I don’t know how to knit (yet- I keep hearing is a great activity for long drives, so I might have to learn!), this is the closest I can come to a me- made sweater. This color way of the fabric is sold out, but there are more colors available, including this pretty grey.

The bands did end up a little wavy along the edges, due to the extreme stretch of the fabric and a mismatch with my serger settings. I won’t lie, this drives me a little batty, but I’m hoping a little steam and a good wash/dry will tighten it up. The extra layer was welcome though in the cool evenings, and I love how it covers my backside, so I don’t have to worry about VPL.

Gotta love those nice deep pockets for keeping my hands warm!

Since I loved my Palm Springs Nikita dress so much (blogged here), making the tank view was a no brainer, and the lightweight blush athletic knit (similar here) was a great match for these leggings (made recently from pink yoga knit, but never blogged) and the cocoon cardigan.

I love the little drop hem in hte back (again, no worries about VPL), the back v detail, and as usual, Jalie’s sizing is spot on. I’m wearing it here with my Jalie Julia bralette (blogged here), another favorite.

Side split/drop hem detail over my flat butt:

And finally, I made up a pair of my favorite Inspires yet (I say that every time, but I’m not sure this pair can be topped). I absolutely adore this fabric- I know it took Meagan forever to design, but every second was worth it, because these leggings go with everything, and embody everything I love about sewing custom activewear- awesome fabric bases, unique prints, and a perfect fit. (curious about the Inspires? check out the Sew-Along here)

To avoid breaking up the print I went with the no-side seam hack of the Inspire tights, and put in a back zipper so I could store my phone on my runs (check out the tutorial on that here).

I hope you love this fabric as much as I do, because you’re bound to see it again soon- I’m planning on using every last scrap on things like a matching power bra, an applique tee for the princess, and maybe a few other accents here and there.

I’m wearing it here with another Jalie Julia- this time the camisole version (blogged here). There’s a full video sewalong in the Fabric Fairy group for this, if you like the style. I was thrilled that these colorful leggings gave me another chance to wear this unusually bright top, that normally doesn’t get a lot of play in my wardrobe.

There was actually a pretty epic thunderstorm brewing as we started to take these photos- you can see how windblown my hair was getting! We took the pictures quickly and then jumped back in the car and went for a drive out to the Watchtower while we watched the weather (from inside!).

There was one small hiccup during our Grand Canyon stay- my son Noah fell, while riding his scooter with the dog (bad idea, I know) and hurt his arm. We assumed, at first, that it was just a sprain, and iced and wrapped it. When that didn’t help, we tried to seek out medical care, but the Grand Canyon is NOT the place you want to have an accident, because their only clinic was closed for the summer, and there was nothing else around for MILES. This photo was taking just minutes before it happened…

Monument Valley….

We decided to keep an eye on it, and proceed to our next destination, Monument Valley.

If the Grand Canyon feels like being in the middle of no-where, Monument Valley is pretty much the face of the moon- only one (very run down) grocery store, no gluten free food options, and zero healthcare. We couldn’t even get amazon packages delivered to the KOA- Amazon wouldn’t recognize the address, and we also had no cell phone reception with either Verizon or AT&T. It was also very, very hot. Not only was this a problem for getting Noah’s arm evaluated, it was a disaster for my husband’s work needs, and darned inconvenient for my marathon training.

I did my best to just wake up early, hydrate and hydrate some more, but by the end I was really glad to be heading toward a cooler climate.

Can you spot us in the photo below?

Here’s a close-up:

We stayed for three nights, going on one tour of the tribal park, which was beautiful, but also sad as we learned more about the way the Native Americans were treated historically, and the poverty and drug addiction they still suffer from today.

While they need the tourism to survive financially, I got the distinct impression from our guide that we were also partially unwelcome, being perhaps a symbol of the oppression they lived under from the United States government for so long.

In addition to the heat, there was quite a bit of wind- but the kids made the most of it, as they always do. One of the things I love most about traveling, is how it encourages the kids (and me!) to be flexible- windy day? take out your kite!

We did have to do a quick reminder on our homeschool lessons about how electricity was discovered when this storm hit….

We also took a little side road trip to visit Natural Bridges National Monument, recommended to us by one of the other families at the KOA. We did a really great hike out to see a natural bridge, and the kids all earned another Junior Ranger badge, mastering more facts about the local ecosystem and geology.

Despite the similar name, the area was quite distinct from Arches National park, and really worth a stop if you’re nearby.

Although, I have to say, the ranger may have been downplaying it a bit when he said this was an “easy” hike to do while wearing a toddler- there were definitely some really steep spots and ladders that required all my balance and concentration. The view was totally worth it though.

These kids are getting to be really great hikers!

I managed one sew while I was there- a Durango tank from star-print bamboo lycra (So Sew English fabrics). I modified the tank a bit to have binding at all the edges, and adjusted the shaping, taking it in several inches along the sides so it would be a tighter fit at the bust, but still flare out at the hips (so I could knot it at the bottom). I adore this bamboo- it was exactly what I needed to survive the hot weather, and worked out great for fourth of july too (but still totally wearable afterwards- my favorite kind of holiday sew).

On our way out of town we hit up the Four Corners, trying out the “Frito Nachos”. I assumed these would be some sort of Navajo specialty, but they turned out to be, quite literally, fritos with cheese sauce and ground beef on top. I can’t say I’m a fan, but we were hungry, and gobbled them up anyway. It was pretty cool being in four states at once! Talk about multi-tasking…

After our three nights were up, we were all looking forward to getting back to a more populated area, and had learned several important lessons about making sure necessary services were accessible along our route. I also discovered that I’m really a (small) city girl at heart- I really love seeing beautiful, remote places, but I do not love lingering in them. Our next stop would put us near Mesa Verde in Colorado, and I’ll be making a separate post on that soon!

I know that was a long post- thanks for making it all the way through! If you’d like to follow along with me on social media, you can find me on Instagram here, and subscribe to my blog here.

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  1. jennifer on July 23, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    WOW! What a great trip. Love that you’ve sewed so much! Love those leggings (both!) but the multi-colored ones are so fun!

    • Sarah on July 25, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you! I love all the colors- they match so many things! And it has been a blast!

  2. Jan Murry on July 24, 2019 at 4:47 am

    Amazing a can’t believe you fit it your runs and sewing time with all this- must be extremely well organized!

    • Sarah on July 25, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      I’d love to say that’s true, but most of the time I just feel like I’m flying by the seat of my (me made) pants!

  3. Sheila on July 24, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing your makes. The pink outfit is great and looks so cozy! Thanks for the inspo and for taking us along on your vacay.

    • Sarah on July 25, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you for following along!

  4. Glenda Bell on July 26, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Hi Sarah! I’ve really enjoyed following your blog! You inspire me! I’m especially inspired to make some fitness wear for fall using that fabulous bright colored “knit sweater” look fabric you used for a pair of your leggings! Where can I get some for my very own???

    • Sarah on August 12, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      It’s from the Styled Magnolia Custom Fabrics 🙂 Enjoy!

  5. Cyndie on July 26, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Amazing trip Sarah! Thanks for blogging about it! Where did you get the fabric for the Inspires – the one that looks like multicolor knitted fabric?

    • Sarah on August 12, 2019 at 9:09 pm

      That fabric is from Styled Magnolia!

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