Ann, Cara, Ben and Dave Hawkins of Ashburn, Va., ventured to the Hoover Dam and saw the Pat Tillman Bridge, in background, as well as other sights around the West Coast. (From Ann Hawkins)

Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Ann (the author) and Dave Hawkins of Ashburn, Va., and their kids, Cara, 15, and Ben, 12.

Where, when, why: On Nov. 2, we flew to Los Angeles and drove to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Palm Springs and back to Los Angeles. The main reason for the eight-day trip was to see the Grand Canyon, a first for all of us.

Highlights and high points: It was a great time of year to visit. There were no crowds at any of our destinations. We had planned the trip for the end of June last year but rescheduled when Ben broke his leg. November was terrific. Palm Springs set record-high temperatures in June, but we enjoyed sunny, mild days. And although it was cold at the Grand Canyon, the sun still shone!

The Grand Canyon itself did not disappoint. The views were incredible. We stayed at Maswik Lodge so that we could walk to the South Rim and check out the views at any time. I’ll never forget looking over the canyon for the first time.

My husband and I had been to Las Vegas before, but it was the first time for the kids. They got a kick out of the lights, the craziness and the excess. We took their photo with a couple of Transformers, stood in awe at the Bellagio fountain show and ate dinner next to an elaborate fountain in Caesar’s Palace.

Cultural connection or disconnect: We enjoyed many quintessential SoCal experiences, including watching the sun set in Malibu, strolling along the Venice Beach boardwalk on a Saturday morning and dining at an organic vegan restaurant in Hollywood. The last one was not a popular choice. The face my son made when he tasted their homemade ginger ale was priceless.

Biggest laugh or cry: We were at the Grand Canyon on a Monday night and turned on the TV to watch Monday Night Football. The TVs in the lodge have limited channels, and there was no ESPN. We ended up watching some old episodes of “Battle of the Network Stars” from the late 1970s and early ’80s. The outfits, obstacles and banter were dated and hysterical. We had a lot of laughs.

How unexpected: We’d planned a tour of Paramount Pictures, and it turned out that we had a private tour just for the four of us. We enjoyed a couple of hours on the back lot and learned a lot about the making of movies and television shows. “NCIS: Los Angeles” was filming while we were there, and one of the stars came off the set and waved to us.

Fondest memento or memory: The greatest gift was a week of traveling with my family. The kids are at great ages for travel, and it’s a lot of fun to see new places with them.

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