Friday, September 23, 2016

Run to the Pines

This classic car was at the pump next to ours when we fueled up today.
September 23, 2016

Most of the time, it's pretty awesome living in a resort town. All the reasons that people choose our mountain community as their getaway on long weekends and vacations are the daily blessings we locals get to enjoy as part of our normal lives. There are down sides, too, of course. The traffic and crowds during the summer and ski seasons, as well as during long weekends and special events, are always a headache. Yet, we also enjoy the benefits and good times the "flatlanders" are here to enjoy.

This is one of those event weekends, our annual Fall Festival, when people from the desert valleys drive up to see the changing of the leaves. Phoenix and Tucson really only have two seasons: the warm season (known around these parts as "winter") and the bowels-of-hell season (also known as "summer," which begins around April 1st and lasts until about October 30th).

Other events associated with Fall Festival are a community talent show, an arts and crafts fair (my favorite), a quilting show, a big parade, and assorted other affairs. One of the most popular is called Run to the Pines, a huge car show featuring old automobiles from every era, lovingly restored and displayed.

This year is the 33rd annual Run to the Pines (for our family, it's our 27th event since moving here in July 1990). We began attending when Sarah was a toddler. There were some years when Mark even worked the car show, grilling burgers and hot dogs for attendees, as a volunteer from his job as a groundskeeper at Pinetop Lakes Country Club.

Fall Festival officially begins with the talent show on Thursday evening and runs through Sunday night, but we begin seeing increasing numbers of classic vehicles long before Thursday gets here. Soon the streets are filled with cool old cars, adding to the traffic, but still fun to see.

Now that he's employed at Denny's, Mark works the weekends, especially these big weekends when the restaurant is filled with out-of-towners, so he isn't able to go to the car show. However, he still had a chance to enjoy the old cars that were in town. At 4:00 on Friday, all the owners of the classic cars gather in Show Low and then slowly drive along the main highway through Lakeside and Pinetop, showing off their vintage vehicles to people lining the roads, waiting to watch this informal parade.

The highway does not shut down. The classic cars share the road with everyday traffic through town. Nonetheless, people start setting up their camp chairs along the sidewalks an hour before the parade starts, anxious to get that first look at which classics will be displayed in the car show. There's a lot of waving and cheering and yelling as the cars pass. The occupants of some cars throw candy to the kids. Some show off their power by slowing to almost a stop, and then roaring into life and "laying rubber" on the road. It's a lot of fun.

When I went to pick up Mark from work at 3:30, I was surrounded by vintage autos heading to Show Low. When we stopped to fill my tank on the way home, there was a truly awesome old car at the next pump (so I sneaked a picture of it, the first one at the top of this post). After we got home, Mark quickly changed his clothes and then we drove back out to the highway, set up our camp chairs, and watched hundreds of old cars go by. Literally, hundreds. It lasted a full 45 minutes. I took 120 pictures (of which less than 60 were worth keeping), and I only snapped shots of maybe one out of four or five cars.

So, if you're into classic old cars, I hope you enjoy these pictures. And if you're in town, I hope you enjoy our Fall Festival!

This one had a cool door that opened upward and closed downward!

There were lots of patriotic flags flying. One car even had a "Vote for Trump" placard
in the rear window, causing the group closest to us to let loose a string of obscenities.
Dang liberals!

There was even an old Sheriff's patrol car, with lights flashing and sirens wailing!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Weekend Surprise

Jacob, Mark, Mary, Jake, Dylan, Chris, and Sarah.
I love it when all three of my kids are together!
Friday, September 9, 2016

By Friday, I am beat. I usually run a few errands and then go home, looking forward to a quiet evening doing whatever non-stressful thing I feel like doing. This past Friday was no exception. Mark and I were both in the couch recliners with our feet up, watching old episodes of The Sarah Connor Chronicles (from 2008), when we heard feet on the porch and then the front door opened.

We don't stand on ceremony much. My children know they are always welcome to come in unannounced at any time. I looked up as a tall guy walked in the door, and I opened my mouth to greet Dylan. Then I closed it again and stared hard. My brain was a little slow to comprehend the message my eyes were sending. It was my older son, Jacob, who'd walked into the house. My son who lives in Utah. Ten hours away.

Jacob's coworker Jordan, Jacob, Mark, Jake, Dylan, Chris, and Sarah.

Jacob is a practical joker by nature, and one of his favorite things to do is surprise people, by any means possible. That includes never telling us when to expect him when he comes to town. Or, in this case, not telling us at all that he was coming.

A friend of Jacob's got married on Saturday here in our area, so he'd made the drive to attend the wedding. He was accompanied by a coworker, Jordan. Jordan was a nice guy, but we were all disappointed that Danielle hadn't come along, too. She stayed at home to work instead.

Two brothers, Dylan and Jacob, enjoy a visit at El Rancho.
Friday, September 9, 2016

Jacob had barely arrived when he announced that he wanted Mexican food from El Rancho. He'd been craving it since I'd texted him pictures from my birthday dinner there eight days earlier. He also wanted to surprise his siblings, so I called both Sarah and Dylan to ask them if they wanted to go out to dinner tonight. Why? "Oh, I don't know," I lied. "I just feel like being bad."

Sarah fell for it, although after we hung up she confided to Chris that it was weird for me to do something like that. Dylan begged off, though, because he'd been fighting a nasty cold and just wanted to rest after a long day at work. So Jacob drove over to their apartment to surprise Dylan in person and drag him out to dinner with us. It wasn't too hard, once Dylan realized his brother was in town. They all returned to my house not long after Sarah and Chris arrived, allowing Jacob to surprise his sister, as planned.

We enjoyed a wonderful El Rancho dinner, but especially we enjoyed being together for the evening. It's an amazing blessing to be part of a family that truly loves spending time with each other, just being ourselves and sharing fun and laughter and memories.

Sarah and Dylan play a competitive game of the latest version of Guitar Hero.

Jacob got a motel room for the next two nights, and he spent Saturday attending his friend's wedding and visiting other friends he hadn't seen in quite awhile. I didn't see him again until about 2:30 on Sunday, when he came for Sunday dinner. For the next couple of hours, all the kids enjoyed their time together, playing video games and watching videos and indulging in their typical horseplay. Then, as was usual in the days before Jacob and Danielle moved away, Jacob took command of the kitchen.

Jacob works hard to tenderize each steak by hand.

I always wonder what skinny people with small appetites do for family gatherings, because ours always seem to revolve around good food! And Jacob has a real gift for it.

Jacob's steaks were perfecto!

Jacob made this salad, packed full of fresh vegetable goodness.

On the side, a baked potato bar.

My dinner plate. I was so full, I didn't even have seconds!

Jacob and his friend Jordan spent their last night in my living room before they headed home to Utah the next morning. They got up at 5:30 and dropped Mark off at work on their way out of town at 6:00. As always, it was hard to say good-bye. Yet when I gave my son a parting hug, it was nice to be able to say, "I'll see you in two and a half weeks!" 

Jacob's flaky lemon bars are a family favorite!

Because we will all meet again, very soon, when we all join up in Anaheim, California, for our annual family vacation. So it wasn't truly good-bye. It was, "See you soon!"

Oreo Cream Pie, by Dylan and Jake. Seriously delicious.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


My dad Myron and stepmom Kathy at home. Dad turned 82 on Sunday.
I got this picture on Sept. 5, 2016, the day after his birthday.

It was a busy weekend. There were two birthdays to celebrate; we enjoyed an unexpected visitor; and we had a great Labor Day barbecue!

In my immediate family growing up, there were three of us born in September: me on the 1st, my dad on the 4th, and my mom on the 29th. Mom has been gone since April 2002, but Dad is still hale and hearty. So, of course, I can't have a birthday without remembering that his special day falls just three days after mine.

You may recall that my birthday celebration ended up being a three-part affair, with a small, impromptu party the Sunday before my birthday, dinner together at our favorite Mexican restaurant on my actual birthday, and then plans for homemade cheesecake and ice cream on the Sunday after my birthday, which happened to also be my dad's birthday. 

Naturally, I called to invite him to join us for dinner and dessert, but he never answered his phone. I thought he must really be partying hardy with his friends all evening! He finally called me around 9:00, when our party was winding down. Turns out he'd shut off his cell phone at church that morning and forgot to turn it back on until almost bedtime!

We finally got to stop by and visit him the next day for an hour and a half after our Labor Day barbecue. I brought him a birthday card and a small ice cream cake, since he missed out on my homemade stuff. He does love his ice cream!

Sarah, Dylan, Jake, and cousin Savannah play a rousing game of Phase 10.
Chris wasn't able to join us since he had to work.
Sunday, September 4, 2016.

On Sunday, we got an unexpected visit from my lovely niece Savannah, who drove here all the way from the Valley to join the party. It wasn't entirely unexpected, since I'd teasingly asked her on Saturday, on Facebook, when she was coming back to the mountain. She said she was considering Sunday dinner. I wasn't sure if she was serious, but I said, "Great! See you when you get here!" I'm open for a visit from my amazing family members any time, anywhere! Maybe she was kidding, I thought, but I hoped to see her at my door.

More Phase 10 monkey-business with Jake, Savannah, Sarah, and Dylan.

To everyone's delight, she made it in time for the fun! Savannah and Jake have the same, shall we say, "twisted" sense of humor, and Savannah and I can talk for hours (literally) about everything. And she brought me a big, beautiful, colorful bouquet!

My bouquet from Savannah.

The cheesecake turned out perfectly.

And the homemade strawberry ice cream was absolutely to-die-for!

My multi-day birthday party finally drew to a close, but it was very pleasant with good food, good people, and good fun. However, as if that weren't enough, Chris had called me that afternoon and invited us to a Labor Day barbecue the next day. We accepted!

Chris donned the doggy chef's apron I'd given him
last Christmas, and he grilled us up some yummy chicken.

Chris and Sarah live next-door to Chris's mom, Brenda, and together they all put on a really nice barbecue. It was a great way to end the long weekend, and the food was outstanding! Thanks for allowing us to join you, Brenda, Chris, and Sarah!

A delicious spread for our Labor Day barbecue.

Sarah and her dad, Mark, enjoy dinner al fresco.

Mark, Chris, and Brenda. It's so humorous to take pictures of people chewing!

Sarah brought their baby, Frodo, out to join the barbecue.

 Jake looks on while Dylan cuddles Frodo.

Dylan says this video is too boring. Perhaps. But I think sometimes the best part is listening to the people talking while they think the camera is focused on something else, like an adorable guinea pig!