I grew up in the winter wonderland, known to many as Flagstaff, Arizona. From age 1 to age 8, and then again from age 17 to age 21, Flagstaff is where I would call home. Living in Chandler, Arizona now, often times (especially, times like the winter season), I miss the snow and all the fun to be had in it, with it and from it.
Snow is fun, snow is cold, and snow can also be something that you do not want to wake up at 2am and have to shovel or blow off the driveway to get out of. However, what I remember the most is the times that I spent in the snow, just plain having fun.
My wife went to school with me up at Northern Arizona University, and was (to some degree, still) a great and avid skier as well! So, she is well versed in ‘all things snow’.
Our kids on the other hand, are still young enough to fill up their memory banks with as much snow as you can get. So, this past weekend was the first ‘major’ snow fall in Flagstaff, and we felt it very necessary to spend some time up there and get our kids to know more about snow!
Saturday December 15th is when it all went down.
4pm: Got a call from my wife saying “pack the bags, we are going to Flagstaff for the night!”
My wife was out shopping, and I had the eagle eye on the kids at home… it was drizzling and a bit on the chilly side.
In less than one hour, we had five kids packed with warm layers, beenies, gloves and the best snow shoes we had. Movies, check. Snacks, Check. Diapers, Check. Sippy Cups, Check. I had the whole list checked off, and did not miss a beat. Get in the car!
5pm: On the road to Flagstaff
With a quick stop at Grandma’s house to pick up a tube (the kind that you pull behind a boat) and the details about the hotel, we are on the freeway!
730pm: Arriving in Flagstaff…what a beautiful sight!
This is what we see as we are pulling into Flagstaff. This was taken somewhere where around Munds Park area.
8pm: Check in and took a pit stop to eat
Guess what!?! Stromboli’s is closed! what!?!, no way…yes, it is true, our favorite place to eat dinner is now closed… some BBQ is now there…needless to say, we did not stop there.
Instead, our second favorite place, Oregano’s was calling our name. and we ended up there. A little pizza dough can keep the kids happy while the pie is being crafted in the back.
after the pazzooki and a full belly, we headed out to see some lights.
930pm: Little America
If you are ever asked the question “where can we see the best Christmas lights”, and you happen to be in Flagstaff, most locals will tell you to head on over to Little America. We are very familiar with this fact, so we headed there. We unpacked the kids, bundled them up and headed out to the Christmas light path, and started the short walk through the area. After a couple snow balls, slips and spills, we are now in the middle of freezing and shivering zone! The two littles are doing great, not a cry between the two, but number two has some different feelings. She is now freezing here ‘super cute’ boots off, and her toes are now numb…the oldest has to go the bathroom, and the third is diving into the snow head first!
11pm: Back to the hotel
Time for a little nap. Two year old in the crib, everyone else scattered throughout the room. Some sleep happened, but not the best. Six foot tall beds, feet hanging over, and bedspreads being used as sleeping bags for those on the floor.
8am: Breakfast is good, especially when it is free!
Gotta love continental breakfast, in the hotel, with free waffles, coffee, and juice! Although I must admit that the coffee tasted like dirt (we ended up going to Circle K afterwards just to get coffee!), and the hot water ran out… we ended up polishing off the waffles and packed the car back up, and headed out to Wal-Mart to get new boots for number 1, number 2, and number 3.
930am: Daddy, my toes are frozen…
Into Wal-Mart we go to get snow boots for the three oldest. Of course, they do not have their size, so we got them to the closest to their size as we could (figuring they could always grow into them for future use). Money spent and lip balm ready, we were off to get the tube pumped up.
10am: Next stop, mini-mart for air!
Walk into the mini-mart on the corner of Humphrey’s and Highway 180 (Fort Valley Rd.), and looked around at the inner-tubes area they have in there. Noticed the air pressure system they had their and asked if I could get my own tube pumped up there, Yes sir! Walked back outside and started going through the tube skin, searching for the actual tube. My idea was to take out the tube part and use that alone, without the skin. But, you know what happens next right?, the tube was not even in it!… I did not check to see if the tube was in it, when we picked it up…dummy! So, after a discussion, we opted to buy two medium sized inner-tubes, and so glad we did. After getting the map to the best sledding areas, we were off.
Ha! Look, it’s only 10:30am!
The drive past Secrist, the turn off to the SnowBowl and beyound the Museum of Northern Arizona was spectacular. Nothing but white crystals and mountains filled with white capped trees…simply gorgeous. Off to the cinders we were. Passing cars that were stuck on the side of the road, and not a thing we could do to help because we did not have a shovel and our two-wheel would not be able to pull them out, we continued down the road. The road started to get a little bit more icy as we passed the turn off to Wing Mountain Play Area. We quickly eliminated the idea to make it all the way to mile marker 233, and turned back around, and drove into Wing Mountain.
11am Wing Mountain, we have arrived
After paying the twelve dollar per car fee, and parking in a newly rototilled area, we started the procession. I packed the snowball maker, and glad I did, first thing Dad did was make a perfect snowball (machine assisted) and threw it at number 1. Direct hit, and it’s on now! Number four wanted to hold the snowball maker, and he is very convincing, I let him have it. Time of his life. He could not get enough of making snowballs. The two older boys headed for the top, and all the rest of us, went about half way and start the tubing fun!
12pm Tube Funning…
Number two getting cold, and the rest of us have migrated to the top of the hill, where the ‘really fast’ runs are. She heads down to the giant bonfire, and we watch the others travel really fast down the hill on the tubes. There were a lot of people there, crashing, bouncing, and bumping into one another, but all smiles. I ended up taking number four down with me on the tube, and we were 90% of the way to crashing, but ended up just fine! One lost boot on the way down, but recovered by a spectator, we were back up the hill! A couple more times and we were then on our way to join number two at the bonfire.
1pm Getting our second wind
After a small rest and a few perfect snowballs later, we were on our way back to the ‘middle’ hill. It started to get really packed now, with people and a bunch of teenagers and kids. This is when it gets scary. When you mix teenagers and young kids with snow hills and accessories, accidents happen. As we were tubing down a run, there would be teenagers walking directly in the path, and of course they do not listen…this is the time we call it quits and head back to the truck.
130pm…and we are out!
Three full hours or fun filled excitement, no fuss from the two littles, and the older ones were doing just fine (minus number two’s hands being super cold, but she’s a girl anyways, so it is okay). We get snowed off and head back into town. Back to the mini-mart and unplug the inner-tubes to let the air out, and we are on our way back to the valley. One pit stop to the woman’s restroom at Taco Bell and we are off. Here is the view we have for about an hour…perfection comes in many colors.
God has given us the opportunity to visit wonder places such as Flagstaff, Arizona, and we are overly thankful to HIM to have such wonderful experiences. God’s creation has given us so many things to be thankful for, and a winter wonderland is just the tip of the iceburg (no pun intended).