Arizona In The Summer

My mother turned 90 and my youngest sister orchestrated a party to end all parties. Somehow she managed to get all of my mother's descendants in one place and at one time. 

We came from every part of the country to help her celebrate. I don't think I've ever seen my mother more speechless.

I knew this party was in the works for months, and I steadfastly said there was no way for us to come considering we had two dogs who would not do well in a kennel.

I might be able to find someone to feed outside animals, but who could I trust with the dogs? When July arrived, I really wanted to see my mother. Greg was happy to let me fly out alone, but it would've been a huge rigamarole (and costly) to rent a car, find lodging, then return abruptly. Besides, he wanted to see my mom too. He is, after all, the first son-in-law.

I started looking into whether we could travel by car as a family. We tested the dogs on long car trips. After the first test, they did remarkably well and we were convinced we could do it. It's a big SUV, but by the time we loaded a cooler, two suitcases, dog supplies, medical kit, and a ramp for Nana, we were a tight fit.

It was then, my friend, Melina came over and offered to house sit. She convinced us she could handle Odin. I was skeptical so we did a trial run and left her alone with him for a few hours. He seemed indifferent. Indifference was acceptable.

We decided to take Nana because she required more medication and attention. Odin would be easier to handle without her as a distraction too.

I swear, had we left Odin with Melina one more week, she would've been able to handle him just like me. Once he knew she was all he had, he started to mellow.

Nana was a trooper. Not only did she ride well, but she was content to be wherever we were, even when there were dozens of boisterous adults in one house--not to mention little kids.

The only thing she didn't like was all the hot asphalt and rock in Arizona. I should've bought her booties.

And I wish my sister had selected a later date to celebrate our mom's birthday when the weather is more amenable--just like the Queen used to do. 

As of this writing, Arizona had finally ceased temperatures over 110 degrees, but while we were there it was brutally hot. The highest I witnessed was 118. Even at 5am, it was 100 degrees!

Arizona has a stark beauty to it. Despite the temperatures, life manages, from tough native plants to equally tough wildlife. 

We split our time between Tuscon and the Phoenix area. Just for ourselves, we took a side trip to Mount Lemmon in Tuscon, AZ. 

People, if you're ever in southern Arizona, you MUST go to Mount Lemmon. It was beautiful, awe-inspiring, and most importantly, cooler. We actually needed light jackets in the morning. The air was fresh and clean. You just wanted to breathe deep.

Mount Lemmon was named after Sara Plummer Lemmon, a botanist who cataloged many of the plant species there. There's a nice paved highway now, but when she climbed that mountain it was 1880 and on her honeymoon! I think her and I would've gotten along famously.

Mount Lemmon was the most relaxing part of our trip. I took lots of pictures, mostly of mountains! But I was also fascinated by the flora at 8,000 feet. I pinched seed pods from spent flowers and took pictures. If only I had thought to match the seed to the plant. 

If they grow for me, I guess I'll know what they are.

We could never have taken this trip without Mel's help. She made it possible to see my mother. I also have to thank the sister who put us up for a couple of nights, and showed us around the best sights of Tuscon, and the sister who pulled off the most amazing party I've ever attended. I hadn't seen many of my relatives in decades.

The road trip itself was fairly easy on the way there. The trip back was a different story. Part of it was our fault. We were ready to come home, but now we were two hours further west than where we started. Add to that, we kept getting detoured off the interstate, adding two more hours to the trip. And let's not forget the time change. Add two more hours.    

We got home at 1am and literally crashed into bed. It took several days to recover. We had both lost weight on the trip, but when we got back I was craving pasta with a vengeance. Apparently, carbs are what you crave when you're exhausted.

I should write two separate posts about what we saw, but I want to get this down before I forget.

Aside from Mount Lemmon, we also visited the Titan Missile Museum, and my favorite, the Pima Air and Space Museum.

The Missile Museum was interesting, but the Pima Air Museum was amazing. Even if you're not a plane enthusiast, it's jaw-dropping to see such a vast assortment of flying machines on over 80 acres, as well as an indoor museum that's over 250,000 square feet. And yes, Greg made us walk all 80 acres in the blistering heat. He was like a little kid in a candy store.

For you nature buffs, go to Mount Lemmon. There are a lot of trails, and beauty wherever you look. Even the drive up was mesmerizing. We had planned to spend time at the observatory while we were there, but it rained both nights. 

If you ever plan to visit Arizona, this is the most important tip. ALWAYS carry water with you. We made Nana drink at every stop. Even though she was cool and comfortable in the car, you can still dehydrate.


It was a wonderful trip, even the difficult drive back was worth it. Thank you to Melina, Blanca, and Diana who made this trip possible. We had a wonderful time!


Jackie said…
Wow what a wonderful trip and so glad all three of you enjoyed it then made it home safely Maria.

Arizona and Texas, sounds like they are competing for hottest summer on record!

100 degrees at 5am though means Arizona won that round for sure because even when we start out in the 80's our heat index stays there too until the sun comes out here.

Melina was a true blessing and so happy she and Odin worked out well so you could see your family.

Thanks for sharing, it will be special memories for everyone.
Luba said…
What an enjoyable story, Maria. I read it as though I was there with you, LoL!! Crossing my fingers and hoping we'll see some pictures of the flora you obtained. Wildflowers are just so pretty. It's good to have great neighbors like Melina... You know, vacationing is my favorite thing to do! And its good you got to see your family after some years. #Important!!! "Vacationing is like being wrapped up in your favorite blanket, it brings much joy and laughter." (Even though it's too hot for a blanket in Arizona in the summer). It's a feeling, a vibe!!! I love the mountains, a LOT! 💖 Mt. Lemmon sounds heavenly.
Mike Keyton said…
A brilliant holiday and a lovely surprise for your mum. Something you’ll remember. I love Arizona too — especially Kingsman for some weird reason
Maria Zannini said…
Jackie: The operative word was "safely". We came across three bad wrecks moments after they happened. One we saw happening and managed to steer away in time.

It's tough when you drive across Texas though. It takes ALL day! But you get to see Texas in different terrain, from lush vegetation to cacti and mountains.
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: I've been to other mountains, but Mount Lemmon has been my favorite. If I go above 12K feet I start to get headachy and it becomes hard to breathe.

The only thing we had to watch for, especially at the basin were rattlesnakes. They even warned us about them when we were at the missile silo. They're everywhere.

Maria Zannini said…
Mike: My mom was so happy to have everyone there. She wanted that more than anything.

When you reach that age, the only gift you want is time with your loved ones.
Dru Ann said…
I'm glad you were able to visit your mom and see other relatives.
Maria Zannini said…
Dru: None of us know how much time we have. I really wanted to see everyone while I could.

I know it meant the world to my mom.
Wow! I was born in Tucson and lived there until I was 35. I can no longer handle the heat but for all the time I was there, it was just the Way Things Were. I hardly noticed it. I am so glad you went to Mt. Lemmon. It's an amazing place, rising above all that heat. I had so many camping trips there as a kid. It was a treat to hear someone else talk about it.

I am especially happy you saw your mom. Her heart must be overflowing after having all her family gather around!
Maria Zannini said…
Marlene: Lucky you! We loved Tucson, but we especially loved Mount Lemmon. That made it feel like a real vacation. I would love to go back.

My mom was overwhelmed I think. Although she knew to expect a party she had no idea all her descendants would be there at once. It was perfect. My kid sister handled the logistics like a general to make it happen. I was impressed.