A Sunday Afternoon Drive
The Ox Bow Saloon in Payson, Arizona

A Sunday Afternoon Drive

In keeping with our family tradition of over two decades now, this weekend, being Memorial Weekend, was designated as the end-of-the-schoolyear-going-to-the-ranch. Normally the schedule would have been to leave on Thursday night and come back Monday, (back when we homeschooled and set our own schedules). However, that did not take into account that Jordan and Natalie both had finals on Friday, and Jordan had his promotion on Friday evening. So everything got shifted, and early Saturday morning, Paul woke the kids, packed up his Tacoma and Laurent’s little Yaris and all the kids and they took off on their adventure.

That left Jacob and I to fend for ourselves. We stayed home mostly, except for going over to Laurent’s to feed the kitties in the evening. We also worked together on making a chicken and rice casserole, which took surprisingly long to bake … not sure why, but next time I will set the temp for higher from the beginning.

Anyway, I did chat briefly with Paul while they were all cooking hotdogs around the campfire, and found out that there had been the usual car emergency at the ranch – this time Laurent blew a tire and had to put on the donut.

This morning I got a call from him – he was at the park in St. Johns with everybody, and they were trying to decide what to do about that tire. Nothing in St. Johns or Showlow would be open until Tuesday due to the holiday, which was a problem. Natalie was sick on the first day of finals, so she needs to be at school at 9am Tuesday morning; and two other kids have doctors appointments midday Tuesday.

So we decided that Dad and Laurent would drive to Show Low, Laurent would wait there with Jordan and Alyssa, and Paul would drive on to Payson to meet me, where he would hand off Natalie, Efrain, Ellie and Ruben to come home, then he would go back and pick up the other three, leaving her car there to be dealt with on Tuesday.

And that is how I came to have a lovely Sunday afternoon drive up to Payson. It’s been a few years since I did that drive. I take it slower now, carefully-carefully on those mountain curves. But I did enjoy seeing the beautiful mountain vistas once again!

When we arrived there, the Circle-K we always stop at was a hopping place, with lines backing up from every pump and vacationers hustling and bustling in and out of the store and across the parking lot. As I circled the pumps looking for the most opportune place to get in line with a pump on the right side of the vehicle, I passed a guy, sitting in the open back end of his little red hatch-back, facing out into the hubbub. He had a guitar, and he was singing for all his might, like he was born in a country western band. BIG voice! I don’t know what he was singing, sounded like he was making it up as he went, but so good! If I were prepared like my friend Jim Fugelstad, I would have had my camera along so I could capture a portrait, because he was a character. A seasoned traveler, he looked, with a weathered bandana tied around his head, and a wild, ginger beard beneath twinkling eyes. There were stories in that face. As I left with the kids on board after filling the tank, I took one more swing by him so I could stick my arm out the window and give him a big thumbs up and a smile as I went by. He gave me the biggest grin as he kept on singing, and I went on my way with a lightness in my heart, thankful to have shared that moment of joy. It was totally worth the drive.

Annette Heidmann

I homeschooled four kids all the way through high school and then fostered/adopted 7 more children. I am wife to a very smart mathematician; I dabble in photography, write and sing, paint in bright colors, and love being Catholic!

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