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Did you have the opportunity to get away for awhile this summer?


Our summer has been a bit tough this year.  The reason is that my son, Kai, had hip surgery (his 5th) and was confined to a wheelchair this summer.  He was in quite a lot of pain for the first few weeks, which thankfully subsided in July.


We were blessed to go on a family vacation toward the end of July before school started.  Every year, we go on a trip with my mother, my siblings and their families.  This year, we decided to go to Pinetop, Arizona.


We got on the road and started heading east from Phoenix.  The mountains of the high desert were beautiful along Salt River Canyon and we could see swimmers below.

Believe it or not, I have never been to the Eastern part of our state even though I have lived here for over 27 years.

Parts of the highway wound back and forth.

As we neared our destination, I began to see the pine trees that promised cooler weather.


We finally arrived at the cabin that my mother had rented for us all to stay in.

It was quite big – 7 bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms to go around for 5 individual families.

We stayed on the bottom floor so that Kai could get around easily.


A few of our mornings were spent going for walks.

We love to walk outdoors, but in the summer it is tough because of the heat.  So this was a real treat for us.  
If I were at home, I would be busy writing, gardening, managing the kids and/or consulting instead of taking a walk outdoors on a beautiful morning.  Pure heaven!


There were some beautiful gardens in the surrounding neighborhood.


This was my favorite garden. 
Did you know that you can grow these flowering perennials in the desert?  It’s true.  The only difference is that they will bloom in spring rather then in summer.


We didn’t see any wild animals, but did pet a friendly cat and saw a horse getting new shoes.


This kids favorite house had a model train track set up throughout the entire front yard.


The kids were interested in the model trains and small buildings while I like to observe the miniature landscape plants.



This is one vine that you probably will not find growing in the low desert.  This is a lovely Clematis vine and I have grown one before years ago when we lived in Phoenix.  The problem was – it never flowered because it was too hot.

I haven’t grown one since.  


We passed this bountiful vegetable garden.


I love this terraced garden, don’t you?


You don’t have to rely solely on flowers for color in the landscape.  I love the trailing ivy underneath these oak trees.

Besides our walks, there was fun to be had back at the cabin…


The kids had fun racing monster trucks down the driveway every evening after dinner.

It was nice for Kai to be able to participate in racing without having to run.


Gracie enjoyed sitting on the porch and reading her favorite book.


On rainy afternoons, grandma kept the kids busy with art projects.


During the week, each family was responsible for making dinner for everyone.  It was nice only having to cook once the entire week.

After dinner, the big kids would carry Kai and his wheelchair upstairs to play.

They would ‘charge’ the bad guy armed with a plastic gun and a cushion for a shield.


They usually triumphed over the villain.


Of course, we made sure to spend time fishing.


My husband kept our fishing line untangled and our hooks baited.


We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the peace and quiet of fishing.


Unfortunately, there was a little too much peace and quiet since we didn’t catch any.  Not even a nibble.


On our last day, we hiked around the lake enjoying the beauty of the woods.

We had a wonderful trip and 2 days after we returned home, it was time for the kids to start school.

**Thank you for letting me take you along on our summer vacation.**

NOW FOR THE WINNER OF THE “MINIATURE GARDEN BOOK” GIVEAWAY

And the winner is….

Junk Loving Girl!!!

Thank you all for entering.  If you didn’t win, head over to Timber Press where you can enter to win a copy of the book AND a miniature garden kit!

Do you have a special place that you spend your vacation every year?

Our family is very blessed to have a special place to visit every summer.

Now, when I say ‘family’ – I mean my mother, sisters, brother and their families as well.  It really helps that we all really like each other and get along.

Our special place is in Williams, AZ and is approximately 3 hours away and is up in the mountains.

 
My sister-in-law’s family owns a few cabins up there and they always make them available to all of us.
We look forward to this trip all year long.  
Cousins play together during the day.
We go fishing…. a lot!
We play games.
We visit local attractions, such as the Deer Farm.
The Grand Canyon is close by too.
Our first year that we visited, we all came up along with my parents.
They treated us all to a trip on the Grand Canyon Railway for a train ride up to the Grand Canyon…
We were visited by some train robbers on the way though…Kai looks petrified doesn’t he?
Thankfully, the sheriff showed up and arrested them.  He stopped to pose with Gracie too 😉
My parents had a great time too – although as soon as we arrived at the Grand Canyon – they ditched us kids and spent the day alone 😉
The next year, we decided not to go to our special place.  The reason for this is that we had a huge family trip planned in my grandmother’s memory to Europe.

We were all very excited to go.  But sadly, just 3 weeks before we were to go, my dad died suddenly.  So, we cancelled our Europe vacation and decided to go to back to our special place to rest, grieve and have a little fun if possible…
Despite our grief, we did have fun.  There was the treasure hunt (courtesy of my mom).
We followed our map to the treasure…
We found the treasure – $1 gold coins for everyone!
We spent time in town, which is on Route 66 and has some fun, quirky stores and ‘people’.
We saw some ‘loose women’ in town.  Not really, just my sisters, sister-in-law and me 😉
We like to take lots of pictures on vacation since we are all together.

But this time, we could feel my dad’s absence.
We did all wear our matching track jackets that we had made for our Europe trip.
*Even though it looks like there are quite a few people in our family – we have added 5 people since then.
The next year we visited, the kids had fun sailing boats that my husband had made for them.
My son, Kai, was so proud of his boat with his homemade sail.


Kai had just had surgery a few weeks before our trip, but it didn’t keep him from bowling and fishing.

In fact, his favorite superhero came up to see him…


‘Super-Duper’ made a surprise visit and challenged Kai’s cousins to a race.  Kai in his wheelchair and his cousins had a go-kart.

Kai and ‘Super-Duper’ won.
In case you are wondering….’Super-Duper’ is actually Kai’s uncle, who is a children’s pastor who just happens to play many characters for the kids at his church.  
*Believe it or not, Kai didn’t know Super-Duper’s secret identity when this happened 😉
The next year, Kai was back up on his feet and ready for fishing.
We had great luck fishing that day.
Every year, we also visit Twister’s for hamburgers, hot dogs and great ice-cream sundaes.  Then we visit the nightly shootout with the cowboys downtown – strictly for the tourists, of course.
Each family takes turns making dinner for everyone and we get to taste each others delicious cooking.  Then, in the evening, we walk from our cabins down to the road to see the deer and elk come down for the night.


The kids all pose for our annual family photos.


Sometimes, they get a bit silly.
This year, we will do much of the same including more fishing…


AND there is a new family member to come along…


It’s hard to believe that just a year ago she wasn’t even here yet.

**Thank you for letting me share some of our vacation photos from past years.  I’m sure I will have more from this year to show you all – of course, you might have gotten your fill of seeing my vacation photos by now 😉
**Do you have a special place that you visit?  Where do you go and what do you do?

One of my favorite summer places is a lake in the town of Williams, Arizona.  Every year, our entire family (grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins) make the 3 hour trip up to the mountains and stay for a week.

What many of us really like to do while we are up there is fish.  Actually, it is the only time that I fish each year.
We usually fish from the dam itself and it is such a wonderful, stress-free way to spend a day.
Last weekend, my husband and I left the kids behind (aren’t we terrible parents ;-).  We traveled up to Northern Arizona and visited some of our favorite places – Sedona, Flagstaff and Prescott.  

Since we were so close to Williams, I asked my husband if we could stop by and see what it looked like in winter.  

So, we headed that way and drove by our favorite lake.  There was still areas with snow, which I expected.

What I didn’t expect to see was our favorite lake frozen over….


As I stood by the water’s edge, I realized that this was the first time that I had ever been to a frozen lake.

Of course, I have been in the snow many times, but none of those visits had brought me to a frozen lake.

I realize that it maybe hard to believe that in all of my 46 years, that I had never seen a frozen lake, but it’s true.  I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and then moved to the Phoenix area when I got married.  So you see, my exposure to icy lakes has been somewhat limited.

This lake fascinated me.  I was pretty sure that I could throw a rock and it would sink through the ice….


I was shocked to see that the rock did not sink, but just bounced over the ice.

At this point, I felt like a little kid who has just experienced a new thing for the first time.


It is nice to experience that feeling again.

Before I know it, we will all be up there again and I will be hoping to catch some fresh fish…


What about you?

Have you experienced any “firsts” as an adult?

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I hope your week is off to a good start.  I am working on my latest batch of gardening articles and designing a butterfly/hummingbird garden.

I absolutely love fishing.  I really do….

I grew up fishing as a child when we would go camping each year.  And although my sister and brother would catch their share of fish, I never did….
It was really frustrating because I was using the same bait and fishing right next to them.  So as I grew up, I was happy to leave it behind.
Until we started spending time up in a small town in Arizona along Route 66 called Williams.  You see, my sister-in-law’s family owns some cabins up in the woods there and they graciously allow us to stay there each summer.
Close by the cabins are some great places to go fishing and 4 years ago, I caught my first fish.  It was a decent size rainbow trout and I was as excited as a little girl….I had finally caught my first fish!
So ever since, we spend time fishing up in Williams every year.
Sometimes we have to leave because of thunderstorms, like the one that was coming in the photo above.
The kids love fishing too and my husband is just wonderful about putting worms on our hooks….I won’t touch them 😉
Last year, we caught 18 fish in a period of two hours…..I caught 5.
But my son caught the most of all of us….6!
Even if we don’t catch any fish, I enjoy sitting and enjoying my beautiful and peaceful surroundings.  Sometimes in the midst of my busy life, I wish that I could just take off for a couple of hours and fish.
You know what?  I really could….we have stocked lakes just minutes away 🙂
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So, do you like to fish?
Where is your favorite place to go?

This has not been a very fun summer for me or our family.  We have been largely confined to our home as our son, Kai, recovers from hip surgery.  I have written about his journey which you can read here if you like.

Well, we received some great news from the doctor 2 weeks ago…Kai was allowed to start to walk again.  Yeah!!!  Although it has been slow going, he is making great progress – he has already ditched the walker the doctor prescribed and insists on walking by himself, he goes to PT twice weekly and is making great progress.   We have been waiting for this moment and decided to take some time to go on a little vacation before the kids start school.

We do have a favorite vacation spot up in the Arizona mountains called Williams.  Williams is a little town, just east of Flagstaff and is situated right on Route 66 and is the gateway to the Grand Canyon.  We are blessed that my sister-in-law’s family has some cabins up there that they graciously allow us to use.

We couldn’t wait to go, especially the kids.  We wanted to do something special for all of them – Kai because he was such a great patient and his sisters because they were so helpful to him and didn’t mind the extra attention that he got.  And so we packed up our van and started up the mountain.

Now all of us love to fish, so we dropped our bags off at the cabin and drove to the lake to start fishing right away.  My youngest daughter, Gracie, caught a fish but we had to leave soon after we arrived because a thunderstorm moved in.

The next day we went to one of our favorite lakes and started fishing.  The morning was windy and we didn’t catch a thing, not even a nibble.  I was ready to quit after 4 hours, but my husband talked me into staying for 15 more minutes.  Well, guess what happened?


 Kai caught a fish and the wind calmed down.  Over the next 2 hours, we caught 18 rainbow trout between the five of us – Kai caught 6!


We threw some of them back, but came back to the cabin with 13 fish which I cooked for the kids.  As for me, I caught 5 fish and 2 severely sunburned feet 😉
Although we were only able to spend two full days there, it was just what we needed as a family to refresh and rejuvenate before school starts again in only 5 days….
**I do want to apologize for not posting, visiting and commenting as often as I would like, but my life has been quite crazy this summer.  I am thankful that school is starting again and my life will get back to normal 🙂