Ireneliz Rafols' American Road Trip of a Lifetime
Service Contracts Coordinator Ireneliz Rafols and her husband, Production Trainer Eduardo Rafols Velazquez, are longtime weekend campers. They love to spend time outdoors hiking and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Two years ago, they used Eduardo’s Years of Service trip to take their children to Disney World. This time, they wanted to venture farther from home. Inspired by a travel blog she’d read, Ireneliz decided that hiking in Grand Canyon National Park was perfect.
The trip kicked off at the airport – it was their kids’ first flight.
When the family landed in Las Vegas, Nevada, they rented a car for their 10-day road trip. Then came the iconic site visits of the Hoover Dam and Route 66.
The highlight of the trip came early when they explored the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Having grown up in Florida, the children were floored by the elevation. And the view was life-changing.
“When I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, I didn’t know anything could exist that was that beautiful,” Ireneliz recalled.
It seemed nothing could outshine the monumental size and majesty of the mile-deep canyon and colorful exposed rock.
But Ireneliz soon got used to being stunned.
In the following days, they explored Lower Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon Dam, each locale offering a new spectacular view. Thankfully, the crowds stayed small, and the sky stayed blue.
At a Navajo trading post in Cameron, Arizona, Ireneliz’s family wanted to try a new cuisine, so they ordered the Navajo Taco, a large fry bread heaped with spices, ground beef, beans, chopped green chili, fresh lettuce, tomatoes and tangy cheddar cheese.
Ireneliz said the size was comical, but they enjoyed its unique flavor.
For a few days, they stayed at an Airbnb in Utah. She was happy she booked the home after so many days of hotel hopping.
“After spending all day walking around the desert, it really felt like coming home,” Ireneliz said, “We’d just sit in rocking chairs and watch the sun rise and set.”
From there they explored the different biomes of Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park and Valley of Fire State Park. Despite being geographically close, the parks seemed worlds away from one another.
Where Bryce Canyon was cold and boasted a maximum elevation of 9,115 feet – a peak Ireneliz and her family hiked – Zion was at a low altitude and covered in trees.
The last three days were spent in Las Vegas exploring everything that the city’s infamous strip had to offer.
Ireneliz hasn’t decided where her next Trip of a Lifetime will be, but this experience opened possibilities to explore the natural wonders beyond Florida and the United States.
"There are no words to express how appreciative my family and I are for being granted this opportunity,” said Ireneliz, “We are eternally grateful to Arthrex for its constant generosity."
For every five years of employment with Arthrex, employees are eligible for a company-paid Trip of a Lifetime to recognize their dedication. Look for more Trip of a Lifetime highlights on the Arthrex Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.