Warm Weather Break

I packed up ten days of chaos and pointed my truck southwest. After a couple of Advil, my back was better and I had two days of driving to get to Scottsdale, where two little grandkids were waiting for me. But first I had two days of driving ahead of me.

I got a late start due to packing up, so I bee-lined it to I-40 and spent the night at Grants, NM. Then early the next day I stopped at McDonalds for my favorite breakfast—a spicy chicken McGriddle. It’s not on the menu, but I swear it’s the best breakfast in town. I probably had five of them during the sojourn.

I munched on my sandwich as I listened to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I took the exit to the Petrified Forest National Park. The last time I had been through, the park was closed, I can’t remember why but it wasn’t Covid. I figured I could do a short loop through the park, hopping off the interstate and then hopping back on about 20 miles down the road. Wrong. There was no on-ramp down the road, so I had to continue through the park. And am I glad I did!

Some of the most gigantic fossilized logs I have ever seen were further down the road. All along the way there were sightings of huge petrified trees that had fallen and sections were still aligned, albeit broken like glass straws. My husband Scot had always told me about this place, but he and I never went there together. It’s a pity, too, because it would have been great to share the Oohs and Aahs with someone. I ooh’d and aah’d all the way into Holbrook, AZ where one of my favorite Route 66 motels is—Wigwam Motel. I tried to book a room/wigwam, but they were sold out for weeks. I followed Google Maps south of town which surprised me, as I thought it would route me onto I-40 into Phoenix, but instead I got the scenic, two-lane roads through the mountains into Scottsdale.

I like driving two-lane back roads, but it forces me to concentrate more and I had hoped to have the brainless driving on the interstate. Full disclosure, my Little Blue Truck assists me and steers me back between the lines when I drift too close to either side. At first it was a little disturbing for the steering wheel to fight me, but I have gotten not only used to it but somewhat dependent on a smart vehicle to help me stay safe.

Finally, I turned into the gated community of my hosts, Kristi and Mark, parents of my daughter-in-law Paige. What fun to see my <two-year-old Ollie, and his <three-month-old sister, B.  It was great seeing Paige and my son Tom, too! Mark and Kristi live just north of Pinnacle Peak, a striking landmark. I added hiking the peak to my ToDo list, as well as changing my oil, playing tennis or pickleball, golf, getting a carwash, spending time with my grandkids, seeing the Chihuly glass exhibit, going to a cooking class and soaking up some sun. I had five days to do it all.

I love Facebook. It keeps me connected to people that have been important to me. In the course of a conversation, Kristi and Mark talked about going to Cave Creek to some fun dinner place. The name was ringing a bell in my brain. I couldn’t figure out why, so I went to Facebook and entered it in the search.

Lo and behold, two of my childhood friends lived there! Susan and Patti Martinsen! Our families are so close that when their folks died, they got their cemetery plots next to ours. I visit their grave site every time I go visit family at the cemetery for two reasons: 1. I literally walk by them on the way to my family plots, and 2. They are like family. The three of us got together for lunch and then a visit at Susan’s home on the outskirts of Cave Creek where I had the privilege to see her amazing collection of Native art and her own gallery-worthy paintings. It had only been probably 45 years since we had last seen each other. How lucky was that?

Then one of the Facebook birthday reminders was for my friend Richelle. It reminded me not only of her birthday but jogged a recollection that she had said she was going to be in Phoenix on her birthday.

And finally, Catherine from Alexandria, MN posted on Facebook that she was visiting friends in Scottsdale and showed photos of her hiking. OMG, it turned out she was less than two miles from where I was staying!

Catherine and her friend Anita and Richelle and her friend Mary joined my son Tom and me at the Desert Botanical Gardens to see the Chihuly glass exhibit. We met there early evening so we saw the glass during daylight and then, after the sun set, we saw the exhibit lit up at night. And thank Facebook for this, too! It was because another friend, Wanda, posted pictures at the Dale Chihuly exhibit while in Phoenix. She was the only reason I even knew it was in town!

And by the way, give my son Tom an award for hanging with a bunch of grandmas. He was a good sport about it all. I am so lucky.

All the good times and fun got the better of me. I suffered a stomach ailment (I attribute to eating cauliflower tortillas, my son attributes it to close contact with his kids who had stomach issues earlier in the week) that took me out of commission for a couple of days. As I age, it seems I get more and more stomach issues. Tough, but it didn’t slow me down—too much. It allowed me to lay out in the sun to catch a few rays (also on my ToDo list.)

Paige, Tom, Mark and I golfed at Desert Mountain’s Chiricahua course. I don’t know if I have ever played a course designed by Jack Nicklaus, but now I can say I did. It was a little hazy, but the views of Scottsdale and Phoenix were spectacular! And it definitely isn’t a course to walk. It’s all uphill and downhill. The group talked about putting “towards the mountains” or “away from the mountain” and I thought mountain was a reference to the hole. But no, it was referencing “the mountain” upon which the course is built. And it did make a difference. If the ball was downhill from the mountain and the hole, a person had to hit as though it were uphill, even if it looked like it sloped down. It may have been the Winchester Mystery House effect of up is down and down is up, but believe it because it is true. And I actually birdied a par three. Which didn’t make up for all the other holes, but it was cool just the same!

I got most of my ToDo list done except for hiking Pinnacle Peak. I guess I had to save something for next time.

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