Arizona Trip

We went on vacation!!!  Sometimes it feels like we never do anything cool or interesting or out of the ordinary for us, but last weekend rocked that notion right out of our lives.  We took a weekend trip to Florence, Arizona and had the best family vacation ever!

We left our house at 5:15 AM which means we were all awake by 4:30 AM.  Yuck.  Becca and Ty thought this was a great arrangement while Henley and I dragged ourselves from one task to the next with little enthusiasm and some puking from Henley.

We picked up Grandma and Grandpa Hawkins and Aunt Lexcie and headed to the airport.  Allegiant airline flies from Boise to Mesa on Fridays and Mondays for about $100 roundtrip, so we were able to travel very cheaply, but the only baggage we were allowed was one backpack per person.  I even surprised myself with how efficiently we were able to pack, and since we stayed with family and had access to their laundry rooms we actually over packed for the weekend!

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As you may well know, we try to limit screen time around our house in favor of free play, reading, and spending time outside.  That being said, I loaded our iPad with shows and games for our flights.  Wouldn’t ya know that my girls were not satisfied with the iPad?  Thank goodness for a well stocked snack bag and a seemingly endless supple of stickers.  We also brought silly putty eggs which were excellent for Mr. Rancher, Henley, and me to mess with but a bit too messy for Becca.

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When we arrived in Mesa, the weather was 45* and rainy.  Not exactly what we were hoping for from Arizona.  Luckily, the weather cleared by the next morning and we were able to spend most of Saturday on the four-wheelers (or “quads” if you’re from Arizona).

Mr. Rancher and I drove together on a four-wheeler and our girls rode in a Polaris Ranger with Grandma and Lexcie.  Our entire relationship can be traced back to two four-wheeler rides and it was a little romantic and a lot of fun to be able to cruise around, sans little children, and go a little crazy.  Here’s our token selfie!

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We drove all over the desert and saw so many cactus.  The Saguaro cactus are huge!  I fell completely in love with the Arizona desert.  Mr. Rancher and I have since had several very serious conversations about uprooting our ranching operation and moving it to Arizona.  I think we’d better visit in July to see the full scope of life in the desert though.

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Miss Henley jumped on with us about halfway through the drive and loved the four-wheeler.  While the Ranger is safe and a great way to haul a lot of people over rough terrain, it can’t compare with the freedom, speed, and overall excitement of riding a four-wheeler over the same country.  Henley found her inner daredevil on this trip and rode on the four-wheeler as much as possible.  Becca did as well.  Our girls love to be outside, exploring and having adventures.

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The destination of our Saturday ride was the “Trestle” or a railway bridge that spans the Gila River.  Ty and his cousin Kyon had to show off their carefree spirits and climbing ability by scaling to the top of the bridge and giving all of us a mild heart attack.

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Here we are at the mouth of a train tunnel.  We tempted fate and walked through the dark tunnel to the other side, just for the heck of it.  It is an active railway, though not frequently used.  I was nervous walking through, but did it to prove I wasn’t a wimp.

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Isn’t the desert beautiful?  The two weeks of rain leading up to this photo certainly helped!

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On Sunday we went to church with Ty’s aunts/uncles/cousins then headed back out into the desert to visit the historic Coke Ovens.  We weren’t able to make it all the way there due to some tire trouble, as you can see below.  We were lucky to meet someone with an air compressor in the back of his vehicle.  And no, Ty is not peeing in this picture.

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Henley and I took advantage of the tire issues and snapped a sweet-matching-pink-jackets selfie.  I borrowed the hat from Ty’s cousin Kaden to hopefully spare my forehead further sunburn, and Hen and I rode with loose hair on Sunday.  We were dust and mat covered by the end of the day, but we looked cute for the photo-op.  Miss Becca took a nice long nap from the time we arrived home from church to the time we returned from our ride.  She was wiped out from two days of traveling and adventuring.

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Henley spent most of the day on the four-wheeler with us and had a great time.  She and I hiked around a bit during our lunch break too.  She loved Arizona and the focused quality time with so much family.

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Alas, day two did not end as well as day one.  Mr. Rancher’s and my four-wheeler died a few miles from the pick-ups and we had to be towed the remaining distance.  It was a dusty and embarrassing ordeal.  Our faces, hair, and clothes were full of Arizona dust by the end of it.  Ty’s aunt Krista was nice enough to get a photo documenting our humiliating ride back to the trailers.

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We spent Sunday night at Uncle Phil’s house in Queen Creek where we celebrated Krista’s birthday, had a family home evening of ten-or-so families.  Our friends Matt and Liz and their girls were able to drive over from North Phoenix to have dinner with us.  Henley loved seeing the familiar faces of Amelia and Addie while Becca and Audrey spent the whole night tackling or putting each other in head-locks.  Just as soon as we could pry on off the other, they would jump right back into their wrestling match.  After a while, we mostly just left them alone to sort it out.

Always the showoff, Mr. Rancher decided he couldn’t leave Arizona without a swim and jumped into Phil’s freezing cold pool.  He and Tanner cannonballed and slid down the waterfall slide repeatedly to prove their toughness and unflinching sense of fun.  Henley and Becca both wanted to jump in, but settled for dipping their feet into the cold water.  After we made it home, Krista texted me this photo.

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She had told us how dirty and gross their pool was, assuring us that we weren’t missing out on anything by not being able to swim since it was so cold outside.  Ty, of course, had to prove her wrong and swears he enjoyed his frigid swim in what he called a “clean pool.”  Well, apparently there were seven other creatures who were in that same water…glad I didn’t jump in.

We loved our trip to Arizona!  Not only was the scenery absolutely gorgeous and the four-wheeling exhilarating, but the family we met and got to know better were so hospitable and fun to be around.  We are so grateful for their hospitality in driving us around, housing us, feeding us, and allowing us to use the machines and fuel to explore the beautiful land.  They were excited to meet us (or get to know us better) and made every effort to welcome us into the family.

Henley already has plans to return to Arizona, especially to play with Paisley, a “new” cousin who is just three years older and sealed the deal of their friendship with a flower-necklace.  Mr. Rancher and I already have more concrete plans to go back to Arizona next year, or sooner if we can find the time.  I know I’m repeating myself, but we loved our trip!  It was relaxing, rejuvenating, and unifying for our family.  It was just what we needed amidst this incredibly busy and demanding time of mom being busier than ever, banking renewals, tax filing, and anticipation of a year’s worth of hard work waiting just around the corner of the next rainstorm.

We love Arizona and our Arizona family.

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Papa Chandler

I make big promises and commitments to this blog, then life happens.  A very real and tender part of life happened these last two weeks as Ty’s maternal grandfather, better know as Papa, passed from this earth.  Papa was an integral and powerful person in Mr. Rancher’s life and his passing, while peaceful and necessary, was difficult to go through.  Ty was quite close to Papa and will miss him terribly.  We are thankful to know that this is not the end, that Papa is feeling better at last, and we will see him again someday.

I was privileged–and elected–to write the obituary and life sketch for the funeral.  Ty delivered the sketch and added some of his own personal stories to his talk.  He did a wonderful job speaking and gave a great tribute to his Papa.

Here is a copy of the life sketch, which is all the recreational writing I have managed over the last few weeks.

George Lawrence Chandler, better known as Laurie, was born on January 31, 1932.  He was the fourth child of Vernon and Naomi May Chandler.  He was born off of Ripple Rd. in Annex, Oregon.  Naomi often said that Laurie cried the whole first year of his life.  Vernon and Naomi’s children, in order of birth, are: Thelma, Frank, John, Laurie, Eldon, and Jean.

When Laurie was four years old, his parents bought their ranch on Monroe Creek just North of Weiser, Idaho.  Vernon and Naomi raised their family at this ranch as well as crops and cattle.  Laurie and his brothers, Frank and Eldon all helped their father with the work on the farm as well as custom farm work throughout Weiser.  In between Laurie’s Junior and Senior year of high school, he and his brothers were running a mobile hay baler, one of the first in the valley, when Laurie was caught under the wheels and run over.  He spent the whole summer in a full body cast, which was removed the day before school started again.  Papa always said this was when he knew his mother really loved him. Papa had one leg shorter than the other thanks to this accident.

Laurie attended school at Eastside School, Weiser Junior High, and Weiser High School which was then held in historic Hooker Hall.  He graduated from high school in 1950.  After high school, he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Korean War.  He served as a cook for two years.  Papa loved to talk about his time in the army and the people and cultures of Korea.  He was proud to have served his country, but did not want any recognition for this service.  Papa was a true patriot who felt his duty to his country very deeply.

After returning from the army, Laurie served a two year mission for The Church of Jesus of Christ of latter day saints in the Midwestern United States.  While on his mission, Laurie bought his first car, a gray Hudson Hornet which he used for missionary work and then drove home to Idaho.  Papa was so proud of this car.  He enjoyed his mission and the time spent serving the Lord.

Laurie met Zelda Ruth Froerer in 1958 on a blind date.  He knew he wanted to marry her after three dates.  Ruth took a little more convincing.  They were married on March 11, 1959 in the Idaho Falls Temple.  They drove the Hudson through California, Nevada, and Arizona for their honeymoon.

Laurie and Ruth began their married life on Monroe Creek and started to farm and run a Holstein dairy.  On January 19, 1960, their first daughter Cary Jill was born followed by Kimberley, Casey, Sue and Jennifer over the next nine years.  Laurie, Ruth, and the kids all worked together on the farm—there are pictures of babies on the feed wagon and cattle drives.  Laurie loved working with his children and grandchildren.  He would often say “come on kids, we’ll be back for supper.”  Papa was a hard worker and a very strong man.  He was 6’4” and spent most of his days scooping silage by hand, pitching hay by hand, and harvesting crops by hand.  He couldn’t stand to be idle and worked long hours every day.

Laurie loved agriculture of all kinds.  He worked in a feedlot in Payette scoopin’ silage in order to pay for his mission.  He helped his dad raise Hereford beef cattle and farm hay crops.  He ran his own successful dairy that milked 100 Holstein cattle and produced the hay and feed for the dairy on his farm ground.  Papa was especially proud of agricultural advancements and technology.  He started out with horse drawn hay mowers which then had to be pitched into wagons and the dumped into loose hay stacks.

It was a proud day when he bought his first tractor, an Olliver.  I remember bringing home my first GPS tractor a couple years ago, and showing it to Papa.  He was so amazed by the GPS system and controls of the tractor that really showed how far farming had progressed since his childhood.

Papa used horses to feed his cows in the winter.  He loved to ride horses as well.  Some of his favorites were Zephir and Bingo.  He also had a team of Welsh ponies, Star Fire and Red Cloud.  Papa made a small cart for these ponies to drive in parades.  I know I learned to love horses and respect their usefulness from Papa.  He always said he loved to ride because it made him feel young again.  He said “a horse makes me feel like I have fresh legs under me again.”

Papa loved riding out at the River, gathering cows with me and Casey.  He would tell Casey that the ride out was great, half of the ride back was great, but that last quarter of the ride was AWFUL!

Laurie was a committed member of the Church and held most positions within the Church.  He could see the hand of the Lord in all the nature around him.  He was fascinated with how the natural world worked and produced so much good for all of us to enjoy.  Papa was a deep thinker and always had deep questions about how the world was formed.  How the hills and valleys came to be and how the cows were able to take something so simple as grass and turn it into milk or prime beef.  He liked to have these deep conversations while riding horses together.  Laurie did not like to hunt, but did like to take pictures of wild life and ride in the hills to see nature in its raw beauty.

Laurie was also active in the Farm Bureau and served as the president of Washington County for several years.

Laurie did not like to travel or be part of large social events.  Nannie swears he was always late, on purpose, for Relief Society dinners or parties she wanted to attend.  While Laurie didn’t like travel, he supported Ruth traveling and helping the kids with 4-H projects.

Papa’s greatest accomplishment was the family of five children, 17 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren.  Papa liked to tell his grandchildren stories about his life and was a great storyteller.  He said “a story’s no good if you don’t add a little to it.”  He loved to weave humor into all his stories and embellish the details just enough to make them interesting.  All of us here today have stories about our time with Papa.  We know he loved us and loved to share time with us.  Even the babies know that they were special to Papa.  Papa was one of those men who loved babies and would help with all their care.

He was a great example to all of us about the importance of hard work, persistence, good humor, patriotism, family, and faith in Jesus Christ.  May we all do our best to live up to his legacy and love.

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After collecting memories and stories from family members, this life sketch was pretty easy to write.  My only regret is that it was written after Papa was coherent enough to talk about his own life.  It would be nice to hear directly from him, what his greatest accomplishments were and what he most wants us to remember about him.

Perhaps life histories and life sketches should be written before a person is about to leave this earth.  I can imagine a person’s reticence to writing their own obituary/life sketch, but perhaps if viewed more as a life history the process could be an enjoyable and rewarding one.  And what a legacy to leave for future generations!