Sunday, July 25, 2010


My sweet gal turned 11 last week.  When our kids turn 11 we take them on a special trip, just Mom or Dad and the newly turned 11 year old.  We ask them where they'd like to go and plan a trip around their interest.  My oldest loves the beach.  When she turned 11 I took her to Coronado Island. You can read about our special trip here, on my old blog. :)

A. loves the woods and hiking and nature.  She wanted to go someplace where we could hike and draw pictures of the nature around her.  We checked out various places and made the decision to go to Flagstaff and stay at Little America.  We picked Little America because it has a 3 mile hiking trail through Ponderosa Pines right on the grounds.  We thought it would be an easy way to be sure to have some forest to get to whenever we wanted to w/o driving anymore.

We left on her birthday after opening presents and getting hugs and sad goodbyes from everyone else.

Flagstaff is about 2.5 hours away from us so I planned to get there by lunch time, hoping to check into our hotel a little early and grab something to eat. 
We had a fun drive up, watching the temperature drop and the vegetation change as we steadily climbed higher in elevation.

                             Ahhh, 70's at last! :)

The hotel's check in was much later than I realized, 4pm, so arriving around noon was way too early to check in.  Instead we decided we'd go eat lunch and go up to Snowbowl to walk around a little and go up the SkyRide.   We had hamburgers at a place a friend recommended then headed up the mountain to Snowbowl.

A. waiting for her hamburger

A. is really affected by altitude so we weren't sure what was going to happen.  Would she be ok, would she feel sick, would she be ok until we started the ascent up the mountain on the skyride?  These were all concerns we had since the last time we were in Flagstaff she passed out due to the elevation!  There might be some reading this that are thinking, "Huh? High altitudes in AZ???"  Yes, Arizona has some very high mountains and we were heading up to the highest point in AZ!   From the top of the sky ride, Humphrey's Peak, the highest point in Arizona at ~12,600' would be just the next peak over to where we'd be going.  To put it all into perspective, when we left home, just a few hours earlier, we were around 1,200' in elevation.  When we got to Flagstaff, we had climbed to just under 7,000'.  A short drive to the base of the mountain and to Snowbowl and we were now at 9,500'.  The skyride takes you to the top and adds another 2,000', leaving us at 11,500'.  Since the last time we were there she had trouble on the trails around the base, we weren't real sure what was going to happen if we climbed any higher.  Having her pass out on an open ski lift wasn't my idea of a fun birthday outing. LOL

We parked and walked to the ski shop where you can buy the tickets.  She was feeling lightheaded and dizzy and her head was beginning to hurt.  Not good signs.  We decided that we'd drive back down a little bit to some trails and just do some slow, gentle walking through the woods.  No running, no sudden movements, just walk a little, rest, walk a little more, rest and drink lots of water.  She was good with that and since she wanted to draw, it was a perfect solution to her altitude issues.  Ironically, we ended up on the same trail that she passed out on the last time we had been there! It wasn't hard to recognize that groove of aspen trees.  This time though, we hadn't been up walking around at the base of the mountain and she wasn't running around on the trail, which turned out to be a much better experience! :)  

We walked a little ways into the forest of Ponderosa Pine and Quaking Aspen.  The smell of a Ponderosa Pine forest is heavenly. It's one of those things that you wish you could bottle up and take home with you so you could smell it whenever you wanted.  It's a mixture of vanilla and butterscotch and hits a memory chord with me of when I was younger and we'd go camping up in these same Ponderosa Forests. :)  We didn't get too far in when A. decided she was ready to start drawing.  We sat down, I opened my book and she opened her sketch pad.  We both just sat there soaking up the stillness and beauty of the area.

What A. was drawing

A's drawing

The ants and flies decided to start attacking us in this spot, so we decided it was time to move on.  We followed the trail back and took the other route through the Aspen trees this time.

Picture for posterity.  
This is where she passed out 6 years ago. Very glad to see she's standing and not face down in the dirt! ;)

What A. wanted to draw next

A's drawing of the Aspen

We stayed in the forest until the thunderstorm started to roll in.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  Just a perfect place to be with a very special girl.

I'll end this post with these video's I took.  Hope you enjoy the peaceful beauty of Northern Arizona.

 Solitary bird in the pines

Wind rustling through the Aspen

Make sure to come back to see more of our trip!


Jen U. said...

I love your drawings Anna! Your so talented!

Nikki said...

All the pictures from your trip are gorgeous! I love this tradition you have in your family - taking your kids on a trip when they turn 11!