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