Tombstone, Arizona - Desert Center and Valencia, California
There's really only three things I miss on the road - our kids and grands, a house for Christmas, and a bathtub. Having taken advantage of the tub over the last couple months, I was looking forward to enjoying the other two the end of last month!
Decorating for Christmas during major remodeling is challenging but not un-doable. With our crew getting done on schedule I'm able to put the finishing touches on the dining room before we head to the airport on the 20th.
Warning: lots of family photos!
Brian (my oldest, our number one) and Shalise and Ezra are flying into Phoenix from Burbank, and Jeff (my youngest and our number four) is due in from Seattle a half hour later. Flights are direct and cheaper compared to Tucson, although it means a three hour drive after they arrive. Jeff's flight is delayed, but we eventually get everyone loaded up and on our way to Tombstone by 4:00. I'm so excited to have them all here!! We rented a large SUV (free upgrade from a mini van which they didn't have although I'd reserved six weeks earlier) so everyone, including Tessa, has plenty of room.
It's dark long before we exit the freeway for the last 30 minutes on the two-lane highway. Ezra has been traveling for most of the day, and as we identify the few lights of Tombstone ahead, he gives us the best quote of the week: "Daddy? Are we still on Earth?"
|The best Christmas present!|
With cold outdoor temps we mostly play indoors with trips to "the wild west" of Tombstone, and the natural beauty of Chiricahua National Monument. It's a nice balance for spending precious time together.
|Daddy and Ezra time.|
|Mommy and Ezra time.|
|Family time - Ezra beats them all in Go Fish!|
|At Cochise Head Overlook in the Chiricahuas. The boys and I were here when Jeff was Ezra's age.|
|Ezra points out his best friend, Uncle Jeff.|
|Ezra comes by it naturally......|
|Love and laughter.|
|Getting it right - Cochise Mountain in the background.|
|Mommy and the kid overlooking the hoodoos.|
|Our desert looking very wintery.|
|Mommy and Ezra spin hoops during a short break on a drive near the house.|
|It isn't Tombstone without a stagecoach ride!|
|Beautiful daughter-in-law Shalise at one of our many saloons.|
|I saved a lot of the packing materials from our recent purchases which make for great imagination time for Ezra and I.|
|Visiting with the locals|
|Making sure Nawma doesn't see what he's up to.|
|Reflective grand son.|
|He's excited about his Christmas Eve present - a new book!|
|On Christmas Eve, anticipating Santa's face when he sees his cookies.|
|Yay! Santa liked the cookies!|
|Christmas at our new place!|
|Everybody's comfy and enjoying watching the little boy.|
|So happy to have time with Uncle Jeff.|
|Just so happy!|
|The flying robot is a big hit.|
|Such a ham :-)|
|His smiles light up the room.|
|Tuckered out and happy to be together.|
|Holiday tradition - the popcorn tin!|
|It isn't Christmas these days without matching PJs - what a perfect holiday we had!!|
|Still asleep when we head out. I'm definitely not ready for this visit to be over, even though we'll see him again in a week :-)|
The next three nights we're at White Tank Regional Park, one of our favorite campgrounds. The weather is cold and calm, and we spend the first day resting and missing the kiddos.
|A very different desert from both Tombstone and Desert Center.|
|Darryl and Dawn, shamelessly borrowed from Facebook.|
|Eucalyptus tree glowing beside the fire.|
|When you break a chair......toss it in!|
|Everyone backs off quickly while the blaze grows to over ten feet - note Tessa not on her blanket!|
|You're never too old for sparklers :-)|
|Welcome to the family Henry!|
|New Years Day we're all back in our circle.|
|Good friends and family who shared this community over 40 years ago. Note the "chair" and skull that was a very large, very dead Eucalyptus tree.|
|That tree keeps us warm for several days!|
|It seems like just weeks ago that he was too little to come down this slide on his own.|
|Now he flies!|
|The family matriarch, Anne.|
|Little Mason with Uncle Richie.|
|Maximus and I have great fun with a simple orange tube.|
|Hey! Don't forget this cuteness!|
|Grand-daughter Reese sleeps through our visit. She's beyond adorable :-)|
|And here's newborn Henry Miles with momma Megan!|
Hard to believe we had one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law, and zero grands when we went on the road four-and-a-half years ago. Our family has grown by three DILs and five grandchildren! Our hearts are so full :-))
It's also even harder to leave when we know it will be several months before we return. For now, it's back to Tombstone and more house-fun!