You know that saying, “ Be careful what you wish for?” well, years ago, one winter season I wished for snow and all that goes with it. Now, I know there was no way snow was coming into the city of Phoenix, with it’s palm trees, cacti and pools everywhere. We don’t have normal Winter seasons here. But snow up north at the little red house would be nice and doable. I wanted the real deal, the snow falling, the piles of snow surrounding us, the ice cycles hanging…yep, I wished away. Even though I am an adult (at least I have to play one in real life) I was having a little girl moment with wanting some snow.
You see, I always loved those wintertime scenes where there is snow everywhere. Just once in my life I wanted to be right in the middle of it, with snow falling down all around me. So one day while watching the news down here in the city with our spring like temps, the local news was reporting snow the following weekend up north. It was Winter break for our kids and they still had a week left so we packed up our truck and headed to our little red house.
Okay, first let me explain a little about the route up north, it’s part of the Mogollon Rim and a scenic route at that. There are parts that are way up on cliffs and the roads can be a little frightening for anyone who is afraid of heights. The road we were going to go down is an old dirt road that they use for logging, at least they are now, so it is kind of a mess.
I always joke with my husband that anyone wanting to know what it is like driving down the Grand Canyon should take one of our scenic drives around the rim…but close your eyes if a passenger and if you are afraid of heights. Also another big tip, some of our roads are only dirt, stones and giant potholes. We have to go down an old road like that to get to our little red house.
Some of those off the beaten path roads are closed during the winter months. The first snow had not happened yet so the drive up was open and beautiful. We had called our friends up there letting them know we were headed up and when to expect us. Always do this when traveling in Arizona, it is huge here and there is a lot of open space where there is no cell service.
I packed extra blankets, and warm clothes inside the truck along with extra food. We have food up north, mostly dry goods and canned goods, plus tons of winter gear and blankets inside the house but I always pack extra food and water with the truck when traveling up to the high country.
I packed a bunch of craft projects to do with the kids. We had tons of DVDs and VHS tapes from the library. The night before we got up there, I made tiny little caps and scarfs for the snowman I was going to make with my kids when the snow came. There is also a huge china cabinet in the main room up north filled with books on all subjects. Even though we have no Internet service up there, the kids still brought their eye pads to watch shows and books they uploaded onto them.
I always prepare casseroles and pack easy road trip meals when we go up north. We usually have company or we have little potlucks with our neighbors and friends up there when we visit so I make sure to pack plenty of extra food to share.
We had wood stacked up on the side of the house all already for the old cast iron stove and the house is well insulated. In other words, we were prepared for our little wonderland of snow headed our way that weekend.
The first day we got up there, there was no snow, no clouds, nothing. Then it happened, that first tiny snowflake fell from the sky. I remember looking up with a huge smile on my face and turning to the kids to see their reaction, slowly little bits of ice fell all around us. The snow had made it in to our little town in Pleasant Valley.
We decided to head down the street to our neighbors place to visit and share dinner with them. They have a huge picture window that we all watched the storm form while their giant cast iron stove had a huge fire keeping us all warm inside.
Then we heard the news, it was reporting that they had to close down the main road that leads to several towns up there in the mountain areas of Arizona. In other words, stay off the roads; the snow storm was making conditions very dangerous to drive.
Looking out that huge window watching that snow continue to fall my husband turned to me and said “ looks like you got your wish this year” and he was right. I could not believe that snow could just keep on falling like that, didn’t it ever stop I was wondering and at that moment huge headlights lit up the window.
“Who could that be” we heard our neighbors say. They have a cowboy bed and breakfast but no one was scheduled to come in that night and with the main roads closed, we were all wondering who would be on the roads at that time of night. Our town is pretty hidden and way off the main highway, which was closed, and then there is that cliff you have to drive down. We could not imagine who would be out on a night like that in the middle of a snowstorm.
A man and his young son got out of their vehicle “ We can’t get to our cabin” the man said walking up to the front door. Our neighbors welcomed them inside where it was warm. The man explained how he was headed up to his place farther up in the woods when his truck could not get over the snow banks and he had chains and a 4 wheel drive vehicle “ I never seen a storm like this before and I am from Alaska” he explained.
They had a second cabin in Arizona that they were building off grid and were headed up to it when the storm hit. They wanted to know if they could spend the night at Dead broke inn until the storm let up and then head out.
Our neighbors put them in the Saloon where there is another cast iron stove to burn wood in to keep warm. I imagined them waking up later that night not knowing their surroundings thinking they had gone back in time to the 1800’s and the old west waking up in an old cowboy saloon. How many times have we all done that in strange and new places we fall asleep in?
And the snow kept falling. My husband and I decided to head back to our little red house down the road and even that was hard driving out of our neighbors place, the snow had piled up in areas that made it hard to drive. I turned to our neighbors in a joking manner and said “Might have to spend the night in that saloon as well”
We got home; it was just down the street but in a storm where you can’t see and the snow keeps falling it’s still pretty far. The little red house was toasty and warm inside. We made hot cocoa and watched old movies for a while.
Alley always comes up with us (remember she is clingy) and the kid’s cats stay home back in the city. Alley was not coming out from under the covers and she was staying close to my feet like always. She is clingy because we rescued her from a pile of garbage one year when she was barely old enough to have her eyes opened, she was around a pile of boxes and trash someone had just dumped in our alley one extremely hot day. She was barely alive and the no kill shelters were not taking anymore animals at that time because they were so full, they just could not help. It was during the big housing crash and some of our neighbors were being foreclosed out of their homes and were abandoning their pets, so the neighbors that were still around took on added responsibilities of leaving water and food out for some of these animals. Alley became our responsibility but that is another story all on it’s own, this is a story about that snow.
We stayed up awhile watching the snow fall then headed off to toasty warm beds piled high with thick comforters, wondering when that snow was going to stop falling, it was late, but it was still snowing. At around 4am I woke up to get some water. I turned on the facet and nothing came out “ Oh no” I said out load, even though everyone was asleep. “Oh no, Oh no, Oh no…” the pipes had frozen. My husband had protected them the night before, but things like this still happen.
I opened the front door to see what was going on out side. The snow had finally stopped, and what I was looking at just took my breath away. Even though it was still dark out, the moon was enough lite to make the whole place glow. Snow looks like Diamonds I thought to myself. Little specks of lavender and blue along with sparks of light sparkled here and there, all around the little red house. Everything was silent, and so beautiful. My husband was awake and stepped up behind me “ Wow ” I heard him whisper. He was just as mesmerized as me. He always tells everyone he is blessed, going around saying with a big smile on his face that he is the luckiest most blessed person you will ever meet, it is just the way he feels. At that moment looking out at how beautiful snow is, I too felt blessed. What a special gift we were just given. I couldn’t wait for the sun to come out so I could wake up the kids and make snowmen, or snow angels, snow balls, etc…
After years of watching people sleighing and singing at Christmas, building snowmen, snowball fights and snow angels…finally I got my snow. I discovered something that I already knew but never felt, snow is crazy cold “brrr, let’s get back inside, it’s freezing” I said turning to my husband. The aw had worn off, a little at least.
“Okay, I know what we can do ” I turned to my husband and said once I closed the door behind us. He was looking at me funny. He knows I have my crazy city girl moments where I remind him of Lucille ball from the I love Lucy show. Even though I was cold, I started heading outside with buckets and I started pilling in snow.
“What are you doing?” My husband started laughing
“ I am collecting snow to melt, what’s it look like” I started shoveling snow. That is when I realized snow is hard and cold and not so much fun after all. Especially not wearing the right kind of gloves, which I wasn’t. We still had that frozen pipes problem and I figured if I melted enough snow, we would have enough to fill the toilet tank so when the kids got up they would be able to use the bathroom. Maybe a little too much information but part of life. The water wasn’t coming in but the toilet still flushed. Hey, work with me here, at least I am being honest about my ignorance and how the whole world of snow and ice work. Even though embarrassing, I am very entertaining at times. You will never be bored in our home. When the pipes freeze there is a whole lot of mess coming your way…remember be careful what you wish for.
When the sun came out it was even more beautiful. Our neighbors came over to check on us when they heard our pipes froze and to let us know another storm was headed our way again later that evening.
My husband and I looked at each other knowing we had to get out that day or who knew how long we would be stuck in town. Highway 260 was open again but once that storm hit, they would close it down again. Plus we couldn’t leave too early in the morning because of the black ice. We still had a scary cliff to drive off of to get to that main road and that was where most of the snow was.
I will never forget once calling up north to ask if the roads were passable one winter and our real estate agent telling us “ If you ain’t here, you ain’t getting here and if you are here, you ain’t getting out”
Now years later here we were, about to be stuck in town. We had to leave. The kids had school in a few days and we had things to finish back in the city. I wanted snow, not a blizzard. We had to get out before that next storm.
We packed up and headed out around 1pm. Most of the snow would melt some off the roads by then and we wouldn’t have to worry about that black ice…hopefully.
Our friend/neighbor decided to follow us in his four-wheel drive truck, to make sure we at least made it to the main highway.
That old dirt road high up on the rim into the valley can be pretty rough and scary. It keeps a lot of those faint of hearts from visiting this little town where time has stood still all these years.
While driving down that now snow covered dirt road we did run into two vehicles that had slipped off into the ditches because of it being slippery. Thank goodness there were people there helping them out. Thank God it wasn’t on the cliff side.
It was the most beautiful drive back home and we basically had most of the roads to ourselves since the roads were all closed the night before. It was like we were the only ones on the planet in some areas. Once our friend got us to the top of the rim, we waved our good buys and thanked him.
Back home in the city, we breathed a sigh of relief when the local news came on talking about all the road closures because that second storm did make it in. We were safe back home. Our friends and neighbors were safe back home and I got to experience what being in snow really is like. That was enough for me. You guys that deal with that every year, are all amazing. Wow, it is not easy, oh and snow doesn’t feel like a cloud or cotton, or a big puffy marshmallow. Thought I leave that little bit of the obvious for anyone else that decides to wish for snow…remember, be careful what you wish for. I still love snow though and anyway who can pass up snowmen and snow angels.
We did get to make those little snowmen right before we drove back to the city. I pulled out my little bag of mini caps and scarves and we had fun with snow and our imagination. Everyone please stay safe out there in those winter storms and wherever you are always look for the good things even when you feel like it is all bad. If you start looking for the good, you too will start walking around with a big smile on your face like my husband, telling everyone you are the most blessed and lucky person they will ever meet…Happy Winter days everyone.
Some information on the photos- most of these photos are of that snowstorm trip. I had to go back and search for them in our archives. There are some that aren’t though and those are from another little trip we took at a different time when there was still a little snow up on the rim. I found a beautiful video that was posted on YouTube of snowfall up north and it is only about 2 minutes long. If you are a follower of my blog there might be some places you recognize in the video like the elk statue, which is right across the street from our little red house and the rock house where I love photographing the horses.
It was so beautiful after that snowstorm but we didn’t take a bunch of photos on our drive back to the city so this video is the closest thing to showing you what it was like. It is gorgeous and exactly what it was like that day we drove home…a beautiful Winter wonderland in Arizona’s high country. Hope you all enjoy, Jacqueline Mart did a great job with her video.
I also wanted to send many prayers to the people of Montecito California. Thank you to all the emergency responders and kind people helping and volunteering their services. May God bless you and keep you all safe.