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Many of you have visited Williams, AZ along with us as I share the adventures of our annual vacations spent up there.

Besides being located along the historic Route 66 and being the gateway to the Grand Canyon – we also enjoy the cool weather, spending time with family and fishing.

Each year, we are fortunate to stay in cabins that are owned by my sister-in-law’s family.  They are very generous and we are so thankful to have places to stay each year.

Typically, each family stays in an individual cabin.  In the past, we have stayed in the ‘grandmother’s cabin and also in the ‘main’ cabin.

However, this year, we were excited that we were to stay in what my youngest daughter, Gracie, calls the “Dead Animal Cabin”.
This cabin is owned by my sister-in-law’s cousin.  

And, he is a hunter, who has decorated his cabin with some of his ‘trophies’…
There are a total of three large heads of elk mounted on the walls…
This one was so large, that he had to remove the blades from the ceiling fan to fit the head.
Now, we don’t hunt and so the culture of hunting is somewhat foreign to us.
But, the kids love the seeing all of the animals hanging off the wall.
In addition to the elk, there are also other animals as well…

Now for the ‘mystery’…
When we arrived in the cabin, it was a bit dirty.  My sister-in-law, Marisue, who had arrived earlier did some cleaning and found the first clue of our ‘mystery’:
An empty condom wrapper
I promise it wasn’t used for what you think….this a ‘family appropriate’ blog after all 😉
We found the second clue to the mystery on the dining room table.  It was a list.
Take a closer look at the third item on the list, which is the second clue to the mystery…

Box for testicles
Yes, it does say that.
I couldn’t imagine what these two clues pointed too.  At first, we didn’t even know that they were connected and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.

So, my sister-in-law, Marisue, called her cousin and got the entire story.
 1. Hunter friends of her cousin had recently killed a Desert Bighorn Sheep while hunting.  
Photo by: Andrew Barnes
 2. So they contacted him so that he could collect the testicles.

3. He then put the testicles into a condom (remember the empty condom wrapper?)
4. Then he packed the testicles on ice in the box for testicles and drove them to the airport where they were shipped to a sheep farmer up in Montana.
Why?  Well, farmers use the semen in the testicles to artificially inseminate their female sheep.

So, that is the story behind the empty condom wrapper and the list including a ‘box for testicles’.

I couldn’t have made this story up, even if I had wanted too.

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 🙂