Winter In The Desert

Warning: this post is long and contains an enormous amount of pictures.  There. You were warned.  If you continue, we’re probably related.

It already seems like a long time ago.  I waited for it to come, looked forward to it for weeks, and then it was over so quickly.  Our time in the desert.

I was a little nervous this year, the Roc has more behaviors that are hard to manage, like mouthing off for instance, than he did last year.  I was also remembering that while our flights to Arizona last year were fine, our return flights to Philly were long and exhausting when he refused to watch the DVD player I brought, wouldn’t watch the (free!) in-flight TV, didn’t want me to read to him, didn’t want to draw, and none of the snacks I packed were satisfactory.  Long. Painful. Exhausting.  So I was a tad nervous.

I was also obsessing about getting through security this year.  Last year the line was enormous and GC (who wasn’t actually traveling with us) badgered a man into letting the Roc and I “bud” in front of him, then he left for work leaving me to feel the angry stares of all those behind me blister the back of my neck, and deal with the Roc who has terrible trouble waiting in line with gobs of talking, moving strangers.  Of course, this year security was a non-issue and we breezed through no problem.

We did have some interesting moments during the flights and during our layover in Dallas.  He got the attention of a young lady at our gate…and not in a good way.  She stared daggers at us while we had a little picnic, the Roc was being a bit unruly and he did not agree with the lunch I had brought for him, very loudly.  There were some loud moments during our flight as well and when we landed I realized that she was 2 rows behind us – she stood in the isle and wouldn’t let us out, after she gave the Roc and I another nasty look.  I was half tempted to shove my chest with it’s “I love someone with Autism” slogan plastered across it into her face…but I didn’t.  I did however smile sweetly at her and then mutter a nasty name under my breath, I’m such a grown up.  To quote my husband “eff her.”  I did tell my parents about her, but her looks and obvious disdain did not affect me like it would have a couple years ago.  I guess I am growing thicker skin after all.  I’ve also learned that some people suck…and that’s all there is to it.

The Roc was ready to hike as soon as we found my parents at baggage claim and it was a gorgeous day so after a snack at the house we took a little walk at Saguaro East National Park.  I love leaving the deary East Coast and arriving under blue skies and sun, it’s the perfect escape in the winter.

The Roc immediately started following my dad, just like he did last year.

On Saturday we drove up the road towards Mt. Lemon and hiked in the Coronado National Forest.  We hiked in order again, this time with the dogs too.

We had a picnic,

and then hiked back, the Roc and my dad getting way ahead of my mom and I (we were gabbing.)  They are in the middle of the next photo!

On Sunday we drove downtown to go to our favorite restaurant (it’s the Roc’s favorite because you can sit outside in the courtyard near a fountain.)

After we ate we walked to the fountains and I let the Roc climb in one that was off.

On Monday we went to Sabino Canyon, the place the Roc was most excited about going.  The place he talked about weeks before we left for Arizona.  We rode the tram into the canyon again this year.

The Roc couldn’t wait to get down to the creek and climb around on the rocks.

We had a picnic lunch, and the Roc complained about being too hot – this was our first year that we actually wore shorts – it was hot!

check out that knife!

Then we continued hiking out of the canyon and the Roc was a little disappointed that there wasn’t any water flowing over the road this year.

The Roc did good this year and even though he complained some during the day he hiked all the way back to the car no problem, where he wouldn’t used the restroom, even though he clearly had to go.

On Tuesday we went back to Saguaro East for another picnic, this time my dad grilled and the Roc was afraid the fire in the grill was going to get him.

The view from our picnic spot.

After we ate we went for another hike.

Of course the Roc followed my dad, dragging his walking stick through the dirt, raising big clouds of dust!

He posed by a huge cactus long enough for me to snap a picture.  Seriously!  Look at that thing!

On Wednesday my parents got to witness a huge tantrum in the car on the way to the desert museum.  35 minutes of screaming because I sat in the front seat of the truck and not in the back next to him, Grandma sat in the back with him.  Lucky for him, they didn’t seem too fazed, might have lost some hearing though!  Lucky for me, they didn’t tell me to reconsider moving out to MN.

We all enjoyed the museum.  It is interesting to visit the same places and see the difference a year makes for the Roc.  This was the first year that he wanted to sit down and draw a picture at the little station in the cave.

He was also willing to climb into this turtle shell!

Some things stayed the same, like his desire to climb the rocks and be photographed.

On Thursday we went to Colossal Cave Mountain Park for a picnic,

a quick photo with a cowboy,

then another hike – this one was about 5 miles!

We saw a house that looks like a castle,

and after seeing signs to watch out for cows…we saw one on our drive out of the park!  (I made my dad back up so I could take a picture with my phone!)

On Friday we went to Catalina State Park for a picnic and hike (another 5 miles!)

The Roc was excited to find a big rock to climb (resulting in one of my favorite photographs of the trip)

and a little waterfall by a huge rock where we stopped for a snack before heading back.

On Saturday rain was in the forecast, but we went to Agua Caliente Park just to get out of the house for awhile.  It was cloudy and windy but it didn’t rain.

I had to pack up because we were leaving the next day.  Our return flights this year went really well.  The Roc drew for most of our flight to Dallas and then he was very good during our 1+ hour layover (except for when he got really upset when a couple of kids and a toddler tried to get close to him)  He did awesome on our second flight and we broke the rules right at the end as the plane was taxing to the gate.  The poor kid was going to pee his pants!  The flight attendant was really nice, as she saw him coming down the isle she lifted the rope and let us get back to the bathroom.

The trip was wonderful.  It was so great to visit with my parents and for them to see the Roc.  I love that he loves to hike and be outside and I love to see him happy.  He had his moments during the trip, and there were times I wanted to rip my hair out, but looking back, those moments are not as sharp and in focus.  Looking through the pictures reminds me of how he was very good most of the time, how happy he was, how he talked more than he did last year, how he gave hugs each night and patted the dogs too, and how he hiked and hiked without complaining.

Until next year, with the hope the GC will join us!


3 thoughts on “Winter In The Desert

  1. he did great! 5 miles is quite the hike! Looked like an a amazing time.

    My favorite photo was the one from the back looking into the fountain. So cool.

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