In 1985 my family and I where heading to Pine Top for a little end of summer vacation. After Carol packed the last of the supplies in the car, I was loaded Chad, Heidi, Jeremy and our English Springer Spaniel, Sadie.
The trip started off in a rush because we were aware that just above Payson, there would be a road closure lasting all night long due to some highway construction which required blasting through the massive rock mountains.
In Payson we pulled up to a MacDonald’s drive through. We kept looking at the time. The shut off was scheduled for 7:00 PM and it was already 6:30. The car in front of us had a bunch of screaming kids and the parents seamed to be very obnoxious. There was a lot of confusion as to who wanted what. It’s now was 6:35. Chad and Heidi were being perfect angels, so it seemed, with the three ringed circus in front of us, or was it a zoo? 6:40 was now staring me from my watch. Finally we made and received our order it one fell swoop. We hit the road eating on the fly and headed toward the construction zone.
Jeremy wasn’t feeling all that great, but did not complain too much. Chad and Heidi was perfectly content and all was well with them and their happy meal or whatever was in that box. As we pull up to the construction company’s signal person my watch was straight up at 7:00 P.M. We knew we were the last car through as we watched the road blocks go up behind us. After clearing through the construction zone, we were off and running right up to the speed limit of 55 MPH or possibly 60 on occasion. but not necessarily in a hurry. More like anxious to get up to the high country.
We enjoyed the fresh, clean air and the cool night time temperatures all the way to the cabin. We arrived at our destination close to midnight. Heidi grabbed her stuff and skipped into the cabin. After we knocked the chill off of the little• A Frame• cabin with a little fire in the fireplace my Dad built years ago, I energized the utilities and Carol tucked the kids in their sleeping bags. We were now officially on vacation and looking forward to a little R&R, which in military meant rest & recuperation.
The next morning Carol finished cleaning up the cabin and storing all our things. It was always good to come up after my Mother had been there. She would leave everything clean and put wild flowers on the table that she had gathered from the meadow.
On this vacation, Carol and I decided to do a little remodel on the bathroom. Was that what R&R really meant at the cabin, Renovation and Remodel? This bathroom had a 26″ square metal shower that she and I painted with blue enamel paint on a previous, 1973 vacation. We outfitted it with a dark blue shower curtain and matching rubber floor mat and also installed new blue and white spectacled floor tile. The bathroom measured 4 ft. deep by 7 ft. wide. If the walls were vertical, then it would not have been too bad. But the 4 ft outside wall is sloped at 60 degrees and has the toilet backed up to it and right beside it, a wall mounted sink which takes three and a half feet away from the 7 ft. which left you three and a half feet for the shower, storage and standing room. Did I mention the new shower curtain? It was blue.
With a few wood studs, sheetrock, screw, sheetrock mud, taped and a new 32″ door, we set out to make and this major remodel. We did not quite double the existing foot print of this space, but by extending an interior wall set at a 45 degree with and straightening it out after three and one half feet for an additional two feet, we created enough space to even change your clothes without bumping your head on the slanted wall. One more thing was re.quired to make this a •master bath•. As it was neYer equipped with a window we installed a toilet exhaust fan. This was now just like the big city.
While all this remodeling was going on, Chad and Heidi worked on some craft projects up in the loft. They played well together which we were thankful for, especially during the wall building portion of this project. Our biggest problem was with Sadie. Down in the meadow we had several cows show loved to chase. But when she would come back to the cabin, here liver and white fur would be covered in cow dung, or if you please “poop• for you city slickers.
Upon seeing this mess, I would attach her chain and pull her down to the pond a half a block away. I would take her chain off. pick her up and throw her out about six feet from shore. She didn’t mind the water when it was on her terms, but I don’t think she liked it when I threw her in. Every time she comes up on shore. I would check the color of her white fur. If it was still green, out she would go. Two or three more times would do it. Then I would pat her on her back and off we would go. back to the cabin. This water was actually warmer that the water out of the hose bib outside. She found that out when I had to rinse the pond water off of her. She did enjoy the drying off part though.
The next morning after breakfast, we were headed into town for some more construction materials. But to my surprise, there was Sadie covered in green, fresh, cow poop again. Down to the pond we went. She wasn’t quite as eager this trip or the next one. We thought she would never learn.
After we got back from the store, Chad and Heidi had something they had been working on and they wanted to show Carol and myself. They had us sit in the front room facing the kitchen with the loft above. There was a white blanket draped over the loft railing. Heidi and Chad ducked behind the blanket and asked if we were ready. We both said yes at the same time.
Suddenly, there was music playing. It was a song from •The Sound of Music• Something like “High on a hill is a lonely goat• and then some yodeling. Just as “High on the hiU- sounded, up jumped a lonely goat from behind the curtain along with several other characters. Chad and Heidi presented a complete puppet show. I would have given anything for a movie camera to capture all the production. It was great!
We finished out the day doing a little more work on the new master bath. Afterwards we got everybody cleaned up, sat down to another one of Carol’s great dinners and then went The temperature gauge read at the normal position all the way back to Mesa. At home, I flushed the radiator, checked the hoses and refilled the cooling system with the correct mixture of antifreeze and water.
The next morning, bright and early, we were off again. Up through the mining towns, left at the intersection leaving Globe and up the hill we go. Just as if on queue, out comes the water, up goes the gauge and off to the safety pull out, the same one we used last time. What was the problem? I turned around and headed toward the same gas station, filled the radiator with water and headed home.
In 1985, we were packing for our annual end of summer get away. A few days away from the hectic, busy bee syndrome would be so therapeutic and the cabin was the perfect to have this balm administered. That wasn’t all that had to be administered.
We were going to leave right after Jeremy’s “T Ball” game and make a mad dash back to the house for the last minute packing and then hit the ·s Line Highway•, out of the big city after the last swing of the bat. Just as we were packing the last of our supplies, Carol diagnosed Jeremy with Chicken Pox. After considering our alternatives we determined he could have them up in the mountains just as well as in the valley and we would just administer the Calamine Lotion and whatever else was required to keep him comfortable as the Chicken Pox ran its course. I had to carry Jeremy because he had the Chicken Pox on the bottom of his feet.
I went through the same routine of flushing the radiator. In addition I changed the upper and lower radiator hoses, installed a new radiator cap and refilled the cooling system. We threw the kids in the stilled packed van and off we go, finally. There was nothing else to do. This van has been cross country twice including a trip through the Colorado Rockies.
So off we go! You know the route. We hit the intersection and with our fingers and anything else we could cross, we zoomed up the hill with all of the positive thinking we could muster and then ….. out comes the water, up goes the gauge and into the pull out. What ……. ? Turn around time again. This time we were going to have a different program. We unloaded the gear, washed and cleaned the van and drove directly to a Chevy dealership in Scottsdale and traded the van with 200,000 miles on it, for a brand new, green Chevrolet Laguna (up graded Malibu) station wagon with air conditioning. We took the new car back home, loaded all the gear, supplies and baby Chad and headed up to the mountains. This time, we didn’t have to cross anything as we passed that now infamous spot on the side of the road. That doesn’t mean we don’t think about that ordeal. It does come to memory every time we go buy.
Oh, but the way. I received a phone call about three months later. A man called to tell me he purchased our van and had a question. “Did you ever have problems with it overheating?” I told him that it was a great van in the city and never had any problems with it over heating except occasionally, going up hill in the higher elevations, I experience some overheating. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that’s why we got rid of it after four attempts to get it up to the mountains.