Monday, July 12, 2010

Tour de Arizona

Not to disappoint, but this blog post will have nothing to do with cycling as the title may imply.

This post details my family's 2nd annual exploration vacation of our great state of Arizona. In these hot summer months in the desert of southwestern Arizona, my boys and I like to enjoy the cooler spots of Northern Arizona. This year we have invited Andrew's parents to join us in a quaint cabin in Christopher Creek, north of Payson, AZ.

Here are the highlights:

Tuesday, July 6
Andrew, David, and I begin our trip one day earlier than my in-laws. We head to Mesa so Andrew can participate in a pistol shooting match. Somewhere between our stop at Bernardo's for steak hoagies on the way out of town and the edge of the urban sprawl of metro Phoenix, I realize I forgot the camera. A phone call to my FIL to remind him to bring his camera relieves my disappoint only slightly.

(As a result of not having my own camera, photo documentation of the trip will follow in another blog post at a later date.)

David and I play in the hotel pool and order room service. Andrew shoots at targets for fun.

Wednesday, July 7
The vacation officially begins at Bass Pro Shops in Mesa. This is where we rendezvoused with Andrew 'rents so we could caravan north to Payson. Andrew got a fishing pole.

We arrive in Payson ready for lunch. We eat then patronize the local Basha's supermarket for food and essentials. From Basha's our migration continues just a few miles north to Christopher Creek.

Having never stayed at the Christopher Creek Lodge, we didn't know what to expect of the cabins offered there. We were more than pleasantly surprised. The knotty pine two-story cabin had a large one-room downstairs with a king-size bed, bathroom, kitchenette, and dining area. The steep and narrow stairs led up to a loft with 4 twin beds. The whole thing sat on the bank of the creek with the porch overlooking its cool, peaceful waters. Near the entrance to the property there was a rustically adorable playground with swingsets, tractor tires, a see-saw, a two-story playhouse, and horseshoes. I fell in love with the quaintness of everything!

We relaxed creek-side that afternoon and evening. David explored and discovered. Mommy discovered the chill of the water when I retrieved his thrown shovel from the creek.

The men folk grilled carne asada outside and we ate at a sturdy picnic table inside the cabin, enjoying the view of the creek out the window.

After dinner we talked and laughed and after dark we retired to our beds to fall asleep with the cool piney air lofting through the open windows.

Thursday, July 8
Andrew and his dad were up and at 'em early to get their fishing on down the hill at Tonto Creek. Meanwhile the woman folk tended to breakfast and the toddler. David was exploring more. The guys returned successful with 10 rainbow trout.

The afternoon brought a visit to the Tonto Creek fish hatchery and a return trip to Payson for lunch. Then it was back to the cabin for naps and an afternoon rain shower.

The guys returned to their fishing hole with David where the little man snagged his first catch and the big boys caught 2 more fish. It was quiet time for my MIL and me.

Andrew and my FIL were back at the grill cooking up a delicious marinated tri-tip for dinner. Yummmmm.

More conversation and laughs into the evening. More sleeping in the coolness of our surroundings.

Friday, July 9
Our final hours in the beauty of Christopher Creek. The men fished again. The girls and David relaxed and packed up.

We left our cabin and were back in Payson again. We made a visit to the Rim Country museum to tour a re-creation of the Zane Gray Cabin.

After the history lesson we drove to Pine, AZ, and ate lunch at a local diner. With full bellies we drove through Strawberry, AZ, and practically straight up to the top of the Mogollon Rim on our way to Flagstaff.

It was overcast and cool in Flagstaff. We checked into the hotel. The girls went shopping and the boys enjoyed the hotel jacuzzi.

Pizza, salad, and breadsticks from our favorite Flagstaff pizza joint for dinner and Baskin-Robbins ice cream for dessert was on the menu.

Saturday, July 10
It was the end of the vacation as we knew it. Reality was only a few hours away in the heat of the desert.

We took advantage of the delicious and free made to order breakfast at the hotel before departing. Next stop, Phoenix for a lunch break.

Reality smacked us in the face in the way of the 106 degree heat that met us as we exited our vehicles in the Valley of the Sun.

With lunch digesting we were on to our final destination: home sweet hot, uh, I mean, home.

There are bags to be unpacked, laundry to be done, and real life to be lived. Now I'm only left to fantasize about cooler weather and daydream of next year's trip.

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