It may sound strange considering all the times we moved around, but Dad hates to travel. Because of this we never went on very many vacations. My paternal grandmother had moved out to Arizona full time (she used to go back and forth from Illinois to Arizona) and had been after us to come out and visit her. One year, Dad had to go to an engineering convention in Reno, Nevada. The conference was being held in March. Since we were already going to be out there, we decided we would go on to Arizona and spend around a week or so with Grandma. Mom called it our first ďrealĒ vacation.
†When we arrived in Reno, it was 40 degrees. I was wearing what they called pedal pushers back then and a short-sleeved blouse. Of course they had casinos downstairs in the hotel. Dad wanted to play one of the slot machines. I asked if I could pull the handle because it looked like fun. One of the employees saw me and since I was under age, they made us leave the casino. In the airport they also had slot machines. While we were waiting for the plane, Dad decided to play one. I went over when he had just one quarter left and asked if it would be all right if I pulled the handle again. He didnít see any harm in that. I actually won five dollars.
It was different being in the Pacific Time zone. I was hungry and ready to eat supper when it was only 3:30pm. Arizona was in Mountain Time so we gained an hour. On our way there the plane had to turn around in Los Angles. Thatís the only way I have ever been to California.
Before we left Florida, we asked Grandma what kind of clothes we should bring to Arizona. We had never been there before. She said just to bring whatever we wore in Florida. So we packed shorts and t-shirts. We had planned on going to the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest as well as some other landmarks. As it would have it, it rained eight out of the ten days we were there and the temperature never got above 40 degrees. And this was in Tucson. There was so much snow we couldnít go to the Grand Canyon because the roads were closed. We had to go out and by pants and long sleeved shirts.
We did get to see a couple of things while we were there. One of them was A Mountain, which was a mile high. I decided I wanted to climb it. I was surprised when I found out how easy it was. Half way up I looked down and Dad had started to come up after me. He let me climb the rest of the way to the top. As you can probably guess going up is easier than coming down. Instead of trying to climb back down, Dad kind of pulled me down the mountain. When I saw it from a distance, I couldnít believe I had been up so high.
Since there were only two bedrooms in Grandmaís trailer, Mom and Dad had one and I was excited because that meant I could sleep with Grandma. According to Grandma, I stole all the covers and rolled up in a cocoon. I tend to kick and thrash around when I sleep. I must have kicked Grandma a couple of times. After that she refused to sleep with me. So I had to sleep on the pull out couch the rest of the time. Whenever Grandma came to visit us, she slept in my bed and I got to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. Mom said she pities whomever I marry.
We went to Arizona again around four years later. We were living in Illinois this time. We decided to go in June and we did bring some pants and coats with us. It was 102 degrees when we first got out there. Dad and I were dying, but Mom didnít even sweat.
This time we got to see Montezumaís Castle and Sunset Crater on our way to Flagstaff. While we were at Sunset Crater some people asked us if they could video tape us walking around and use it as a tour video in the lobby. We said sure and signed the release papers.† I pretended I was in a movie. Mom said the reason they asked us was because we had three different age groups: child, middle age and senior citizen.
I had worn shorts up to Flagstaff, which is in Northern Arizona. It was windy and chilly the day we went to the Grand Canyon. I was freezing so I had to change into pants in the parking lot of the hotel. I used to wonder what was so great about a giant hole in the ground. Obviously I had no idea what I was about to see. We did not take a helicopter ride and they no longer offered the donkey ride down to the bottom of the canyon. I sat down on a rock because I didnít want to get blown in. We had 50 miles per hour gusts that day. Dad went down a little way to get some video of the canyon. He also picked me up a little piece of rock so I had souvenir of the Grand Canyon.
We also went to the Petrified Forest. Mom had said she had seen wood turned into stone before, but never a whole forest. I had my picture taken beside two huge chunks of wood. Grandma thought I didnít act too excited about it. She said I was seeing things a lot of people never got to see.
On our last day out there, Dad just had to go to the Pima Air Museum, which is completely on the other side of Tucson. Since it was blistering hot that day, Mom, Grandma and I sat inside the gift shop while Dad went on a tour and got some video of the airplanes. On the way back to Grandmaís trailer, her 1984 Cadillac started to smoke. As it turned out the fan belt was broken. The fan belt drove the power steering and the air conditioner. And it just happened to be record-breaking 109 degrees that day. It was the only day out of the whole trip Mom sweat.