Wednesday, May 2, 2012

These Is My Words

Pontiac Vibes are great SUV's. We packed two mountain bikes, two road bikes, camping gear, a week's worth of clothing, food, two bodies, and a 24-pack of diet coke, with room to spare. With four cylinders it also gets great gas mileage. And so we packed for our week-long vacation! We are tucking in the corners of our Tucson experience this month and it's mildly stressful changing jobs and moving, so we were looking forward to the break. Tucson bid us adieu on Saturday afternoon pushing 100 degree weather.

Saturday afternoon/night: We pulled into Thatcher, tired and hungry. We walked around to find Mom and Dad lounging on the porch and admiring their newly updated backyard with their colonial wall and arch. Dad asked me to copy a design in a Tucson garden, which I did on my svelte MacBook. But I think I'll continue to stake out my financial future in medicine, not architectural design.

And the backyard looked lovely. We watched the sun fall through the arch, on the horizon and barbecued with Mykol and Sally. We then lounged on the grass in the back, enjoying the cool breeze and checking out constellations with more Mac products. And Dad shared stories of his piratical youth, fighting barbed wires and jumping off motorcycles. Check out the scars on his legs sometime. After that we desserted with Angel Food Cake. Yes. That has to be what manna looked/tasted like. The mystery is in the name. Fueled, we competed in Mexican Train Dominoes. We all enjoyed ourselves. Poor Anna counted her dots all night to a hefty total, so we talked after about how much we like card games.

We finished the night watching "We Bought a Zoo." I kept thinking what Jason Bourne would do to his child yelling at him. Hmm.

Sunday: A good, hot day. Anna and I went for a morning walk around the desert loop of neighborhoods, cotton fields, and desert plains. Dusty and sweaty, we showered and dressed for church. My dad is bishop in a singles ward so Anna and I felt twenty years older than everyone else, even though everyone is about our age. It's a great ward. My dad is a great Bishop. After church we napped, read books, and ate dinner. We read some more after, chatted with the parents, and crashed on the pull-out bed, exhausted after a day

Monday: The sun beat us up. We packed the car and pointed it east to Morenci and beyond. We turned north into New Mexico and then crossed back into northern Arizona. Soon we were in the White Mountains: Alpine, Eager, then Greer, our destination point! Greer is a great nook of a town. Mostly cabins it fits snugly in a canyon headed nowhere. Flanked on the east and west by mountains, you drive south for about five miles on a road, passing roadside cafes, lodges, cabins, a firehouse, and small grocery stores. The road is lined by a white gravel bike path and the Little Colorado River. If you've ever been to Breckenridge, imagine that but downsized and without a ski resort.

We pulled into the Greer Mountain Lodge, checked in, grabbed some travel guides and searched out our unit. Our cabin faced a small fishing pond. Inside we found a big room with a fridge, gas stove, microwave, walk-in closet, spacious bathroom, and satellite TV. We were pleased. We unloaded the car and changed into biking gear for a mountain trail ride in the afternoon. We were rusty, but excited to be out in the mountain air. After a killer climb we found a dirt road to ride. At the end of the dirt road we came across a Caterpillar operator smoothing the road. He shut off his engine when we pulled up and kicked his legs up on the dash for a rest, swigging out of a Gatorade bottle.

I asked him where the road leads to. He said to a fork, where we can go left to Big Lake or right back around to Greer on a highway. How far? I asked. He said, Ah, maybe two or three miles. Enough of a ride for you two to get back before the sunset to enjoy a beer. Anna and I smiled at him and then at each other, thanked him for the directions, and rode back home. I think working out in the country would be a good life.

We got back to the cabin and grabbed some dogs, marshmallows, chips, and wood. We drove a couple miles north of Greer to a campsite and made our bonfire. I loaded it up with pine needles scattered across the forest floor. Smells and memories of fathers and sons outings lifted up into our minds with the smoke. Well, for me, anyway. Nothing like a good bonfire to throw pine needles on. We read "These Is My Words." by the light of the fire. When the flames shrunk we killed 'em off with water and packed up the car. Anna, afraid of setting Greer on fire, returned to the pit to spit on it. She did, my girl literally spit into the smokey remains. I love that woman.

Tuesday: We thought it would be a nice day to take it easy. So we woke up late, went for a walk through Greer, and admired cabins. Greer is green, and with the Little Colorado it makes for some picturesque real estate. Someday, just maybe, Greer would be a good place for a cabin. My preference would still be Pine or Strawberry, AZ. After our walk we drove to the nearest roadside cafe for some greasy good breakfast. Eggs. Hash browns. Dry toast with butter and jelly from little plastic boxes. I always feel like a clover trying to spoon out all the jelly. For drinks the waiter asked if we wanted any vodka. Seems like they like to drink in Greer.

After our meal we went back to the cabin to read and lounge. I hiked the mountain across the field and river from our cabin. At the top I saw remains of last year's fire, the largest in AZ history, started by two good young men from Benson, AZ. They did all we did to our bonfire last night, but they didn't have Anna for the finishing spit. Hence, widespread destruction.

I hiked back down to our cabin where Anna was doing what is probably her favorite two things at once: knitting and listening to a book on tape. She looked at me and asked if I was ready for our drive up to Big Lake. We sat lakeside and read and napped. On the way back home we counted over 15 elk.

We made another big bonfire to finish the day. Marshmallows...

Wednesday: We woke up, packed the bags, bid adieu to Greer and drove up to Snowflake for a temple session. After that we picnicked in a park and drove into the evening to St. George to hook up with Anna's family for two days of biking, playing with kids, and more sleeping. I think one of the highlights of those two days was getting to know Richard Scarry with Anna. She flipped open the book and fell back into her childhood. (This is a tangent but one thing ebooks cannot do is look inviting to someone nearby. When I see someone reading an ebook I have no impulse to ask what they are reading or to look over their shoulder. But if someone opens a real book, it's as if the book's cover act as arms, gesturing a welcoming hug for you to sit up close and cozy with another reader and partake in its contents)  I also loved spending time with the Johnsons and Birks. The Boyers are a good and patient family. Ironically that tries my patience sometimes. Take one evening after dinner: the clan was deciding about a walk up "fat man's revenge." They spent almost five minutes being nice to each other and respecting each other's opinion while they tried to decide what to do. The way I grew up it was: "This is what we're doing." "Let's go, nope you can't stay behind." "You should have thought about it before we left." This might sound like a harsh difference, but it required no patience on my part when I was young. No patience but I got real good at practicing the refined art of complaining. But how can you complain with family who always make sure they are doing what the other person wants? The problem is if you don't have patience you are left standing in a quagmire of indecision :) Honestly, though, my glass is always half-full with my native and married families. I just might not always act that way. I'm a Hansen so my love comes out way overdue in most cases, usually when the people I love are asleep and I can't tell them at the moment.

We spent the nights playing some games and talking health care policy. I came out of those talks thinking it's all the lawyers' fault.

All in all, it was a great week. We played and slept a lot in some great warm weather. Life is finally more enjoyable with the summer heat arriving. I can't see why Anna disagrees. Those are my words...

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