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DREAMING OF A VERDE MERRY CHRISTMAS THE TIME I SPENT CHRISTMAS IN ARIZONA
The weather outside is frightful, and it will probably stay that way until May.
While I love the holidays and the opportunities to spend time with family, I’ve never been crazy about the weather. We’re less of a winter wonderland and more of an icy wasteland, but that comes with the Ohio territory. The only time I’ve ever gone away for Christmas was back in 1994, when my first wife’s father took the whole family on vacation. Paul Navin, my father-in-law, was a great guy. He was a respected workers’comp attorney and taught me a lot. After Paul was diagnosed with lung cancer, he wanted to do one last big trip with his family. It was Paul, his wife, Dana, me, my then- wife, Colleen, our newborn son, Max, and Colleen’s three siblings, Brett, Beth, and Emily. Together, we escaped the blight of the Ohio winter and fled down to Tucson, Arizona. The first place we went to was a resort billed as a destination for movie stars. I think that was true, but the movie stars must have stayed there in the 1930s! We checked in and discovered we’d be staying in these rundown cinder block cabins, all jammed together. It was terrible! After about a day of that nightmare, we were able to make a break for a place called Tanque Verde Ranch. Talk about a complete 180! Tanque Verde Ranch was really nice. It’s a big, beautiful resort out in the desert, with swimming pools, horseback riding, and tons of great stuff to do. We took some horseback lessons and got them really galloping. My favorite part of that trip was staying in the saddle when my horse took off running. I’m not sure how well I would have fared if he’d thrown me. Colleen was eight months pregnant with our second son, Garrett, so, unfortunately, she couldn’t participate in the more rigorous activities. She spent most of the trip in the cabin with Max. Lucky for her, being in the cabins gave her lots of time to get acquainted with the javelinas — small, bristly hogs that roam the deserts of Arizona. These guys like to wander around the cabins, and they stink to high heaven! You smell the javelinas before you see them.
Max at 10-and-a-half months and his Grandpa Paul on our Christmas trip to the ranch
was nicer than Ohio but cool for Tucson. I don’t know how beautiful I would have found Tanque Verde Ranch if we’d been out there in summer. The Tucson Chamber of Commerce says it only gets to 120 degrees F, but I talked to some guys who worked on the ranch and they told me their thermometer had clocked 160-degree days. If word got out that Arizona can get that hot, no one in their right mind would ever visit! It was great to enjoy a sunny Christmas for once. When we came back home after New Year’s, we walked out of the airport and into a 0 degree ice storm. Typical Ohio. Whatever your plans for this holiday season, I hope you’re able to stay warm and spend it with the people you love.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Compared to Ohio, that part of Arizona is like being on the moon. The landscape is so different, but it’s beautiful. We were out there in December, when the weather
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