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A winter vacation in Arizona — in long pants

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The majestic scenery of the Salt River Canyon was especially impressive for a Prairie girl.

PHOTO BY CHER HEBERT Enlarge Image

The majestic scenery of the Salt River Canyon was especially impressive for a Prairie girl. Photo Store

During such a long, cold winter, many of us dream of a trip somewhere warm — where we can shed our jackets and boots, let the sun streak our hair and toast our skin and forget about snowdrifts and wind chills just for a while.

That was our plan when my husband and I were invited to Mexico with friends, but the lure of family was stronger and we decided to visit my brother at his new home in Arizona instead.
You’re probably thinking, "Hmm, not a bad trade off,"  except for the fact that he lives three hours northeast of Mesa in the White Mountains. Just days before we arrived, it snowed. Yep, the coldest winter ever and I take a snow vacation!

After landing in warm Mesa we rented a car and ramped up Highway 87 where we encountered not much more than desert.  Continuing northeast, pine trees began to dot the landscape and then multiplied. Soon we were engulfed in a full-blown pine forest and, fortunately, the snow had melted.  

We drove through the town of Show Low, named after a late 1800s bet between two men who thought the land in the area was only big enough for one of them, and whoever drew the lowest card would stay.  Mr. Cooley "showed low" with the deuce of clubs, staked his claim and named the town.

Minutes later we were in Pinetop-Lakeside where we enjoyed days of long walks through the cottage-like streets (in shoes, socks, jeans and hoodies) and leisurely strolls around the small lakes watching ducks watching us for treats (in our jackets, hats and gloves).  We also enjoyed many of their wonderful restaurants, a couple of days in light sweaters and even an early evening on the deck.

The week "up top" was great but the trip back down was spectacular. We took the more scenic route on US Highway 60 through Globe, Ariz., and were blown away by the Salt River Canyon and its majestic, red rock rises and dramatic, dizzying chasms. The road winds and turns through this pageant of natural beauty for miles — a true treat for a prairie girl.

So if you find yourself in Arizona and you downhill ski or just want a break from the heat (yeah, right), it is worth the drive.  

Say hi to bro’ when you get there.

Cher Hebert is a community correspondent for East St. Paul. She can be contacted at cherhebert@mymts.net

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