Our family vacation times have been unusually limited this year for various reasons – some health related, some financial – so we try to work around it with little excursions when we can. Last Saturday we grabbed the opportunity to get out of the valley, out of the oppressive heat, and make for higher elevations.
We’ve never in all our 22 years in Arizona explored much south of Phoenix beyond Casa Grande, so it was with great anticipation that we set out for a brand new destination: Mt. Lemmon, located just to the north and east of Tuscon.
I was completely unprepared to find mountains tall enough to have a ski area and pine trees so far to the south! What a delight it was to see so many beautiful new sights throughout the day.
I didn’t know how well I would do with climbing, and was prepared to hang around next to the van while everyone else climbed higher, but Paul had other plans. When we arrived, after driving through the tiny community of Summerhaven to scope out their cute, touristy options for lunch, we followed the signs that pointed the way to the summit.
As we pulled into a shaded parking lot next to some brown wood-sided buildings, my husband, with that characteristic twinkle in his eye that says, “Have I got a surprise for yoU!” – jumped out, saying, “I’ll be right back!”
We wandered around in the shade, made use of the personal-size lavatories, and before long he was back, triumphantly waving in his hand tickets for each of us to ride the ski-lift all the way to the tippy-top of the mountain! I’d never dreamed there even was a ski area there, let alone that one could ride the lift in the summer! So cool!
There was excitement and trepidation as we all paired up for our ride. I was thankful Paul was taking Ruben, and Laurent was in charge of Ellie, as I wasn’t even sure I could get myself on the lift properly – was pretty afraid I would actually fall off in the process of trying to sit down on the moving bench when it came around. Thankfully, Alyssa was fine hopping on by herself, and I miraculously managed to get on and stay on, and up-up-up-and-away we went! And in spite of long-term fear of heights, I was utterly enchanted all the way.
We didn’t spend very long at the top before heading back down, just long enough to fill our eyes with the soaring vistas below, and get a little (or a lot) sunned.
Coming down was equally if not more fun, especially when we saw, coming up the lift on the other side, a giant stuffed bear riding in a chair by itself!
After our adventure, everyone was hungry, and it was Laurent’s turn to spring a surprise. She decided to take us to the Cookie Cabin, and get dessert for lunch. This place is known for it’s plate-sized cookies, a treat in and of themselves. She went all the way, however, and got cookie sundaes – five of them for our party of ten – and it was a monstrously sugary, devilishly delectable treat. To my undying amazement, the we managed to demolish nearly all of it! It was a truly memorable, and unlikely to be repeated, meal!
Full to the gills, we headed back down the mountain, blissfully tired, having satisfied once more the urge to explore. I hope it wont be long, though, before we are off to reconnoiter yet more of our state’s natural wonders!